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Reeltime: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Reeltime posts are not regular reviews but real-time commentary posted whilst watching the film. You can follow live or read the archived post at the end.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:01 pm

John William’s mysterious theme over the WB logo is a great start.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:03 pm

Introducing key characters through their personal styles of magic is a nice touch. Flying motorbike in particular, obviously.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:05 pm

So I actually saw this in the cinema in 2001 for my sister’s birthday. So she might well have been jealous of all these birthday presents.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:06 pm

Sixteen years ago I didn’t have beer. Now I do. So by that metric I’d say the film’s aged pretty well.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:08 pm


Wait, so the snake can read English?

|[P]| 15 July 20178:11 pm

Ah some classic Daniel Radcliffe acting with the nervous swallow and sullen look. I think it’s fine to make fun of child actors once you know they turn out fine, right? I mean, I assume Rupert Grint is still around somewhere, right?

|[P]| 15 July 20178:13 pm


This seems like a rather brute force approach if you’re using, you know, magic. Isn’t there a more precision method than carpet bombing a family with a dead forest of letters?

|[P]| 15 July 20178:16 pm



Watching now I have some sympathy for Mr Dursley. He’s willing to move his entire family to protect Harry from a world he thinks killed Harry’s parents and actually stands off against Hagrid. Brave guy.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:16 pm

“Yer a wizard, ‘arry!” That is the best line in this film, isn’t it?

|[P]| 15 July 20178:17 pm

“Muggle” is really going to annoy me as well. The “good guys” are some of the worst snobs in this franchise.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:20 pm

If the Dursleys are Harry’s guardians then this is a kidnapping. So, if they’re happy kidnapping him now, wouldn’t it have saved everyone a lot of angst if they’d just kept him in the first place?

|[P]| 15 July 20178:21 pm



Ah, I might have forgotten the ending if Quirrell’s purple turban didn’t stand out so much…

|[P]| 15 July 20178:23 pm



Diagon Alley is still one of coolest ideas, if very Neverwhere.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:25 pm

Hagrid just described Hogwarts as even safer than Gringots, which seems like further justification for keeping Harry there.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:29 pm


This seems like a really expensive method of wand selection. Wouldn’t a separate room result in less breakage? Not quite as impressive a scene for wand foreshadowing I suppose.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:32 pm



The magic effects are pretty awful so far. It really made me appreciate the subtlety of the Lord of the Rings’ magic effects.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:33 pm

Even the Weasleys are badmouthing Muggles which seems particularly weird.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:35 pm



I remember the Hogwarts Express being my favourite shot of the film.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:36 pm

“I’m Ron. Ron Weasley.”
“I’m Harry. Harry Potter.”
“I’m James. James Bond. No, that doesn’t work at all.”

|[P]| 15 July 20178:40 pm

I know these child actors will improve as the franchise goes on but I’d forgotten how painful it was at the start.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:41 pm



Ugh, the Hogwarts arrival is horribly shot.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:42 pm

“Malfoy. Draco Malfoy.” Ah, so he’s the MI6 agent.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:43 pm



That’s a much better visual.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:46 pm



I get that Americans love this for all the robes and old buildings but, having gone to an English private school, it just looks like a school.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:49 pm


Well that cameo felt incredibly forced. Straight through the table.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:49 pm

Oh I actually recognise some of these corridors from Gloucester Cathedral!

|[P]| 15 July 20178:51 pm

So far I think Chris Columbus’ stilted direction actually has a lot more to answer for than the kids’ acting.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:54 pm



Alan Rickman makes up for a lot. Which then makes me sad.

|[P]| 15 July 20178:57 pm



I’d forgotten Zoe Wanamaker was in this! There is a ridiculous amount of talent in this film. I presume a lot of it is actors wanting to do something that their kids/nephews/nieces would enjoy. Same as all the cameos in Spice World

|[P]| 15 July 20179:01 pm



It’s already clear that health and safety is atrocious here, one day into term. How to they get insurance? Or pass Ofsted? I mean, at least The Worst Witch recognised that Ofwitch inspections were a hurdle.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:03 pm

“What do they think they’re doing?! Keeping a thing like that. Locked up in a school.” Ron’s the only one who’s noticed this is utterly negligent.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:06 pm


The Chasers handle the Quaffle. He’s just a pick-up artist, isn’t he? His name is even Wood.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:08 pm



“It’s levi-oh-sa, not levi-oh-sa.” Classic Hermione.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:11 pm


And now they have a troll loose. Thank God someone can take control.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:14 pm

Although they still didn’t actually find the troll until three kids got into a fight with it and accidentally took it out. Oh, and apparently they award house points for “dumb luck”.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:17 pm


Remember when having “thousand” in a name made it really cool. At least it was in the nineties. Hadn’t it stopped being cool by the time this film came out?

|[P]| 15 July 20179:19 pm



Love the quidditch commentator!

|[P]| 15 July 20179:24 pm

Quidditch does look very cool even if the point scoring around the Snitch makes most of the game pretty redundant.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:27 pm



I remember my sister coming into my room when I was playing the Star Wars Episode I soundtrack and asking why I was playing the Harry Potter soundtrack. It wasn’t just that they were both John Williams, but that I was listening to the podracing flag parade which mirrors the Quidditch opening. There are a lot of structural parallels with those two key scenes. This jostling shot is basically podracing.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:32 pm



I’d make fun of Harry’s use of the invisibility cloak but I’m actually pretty jealous of the idea of getting to hang out in that library all Christmas.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:37 pm


This may be the most relatable moment in the film. These days Dumbledore’s intervention would have been about mindfulness and the importance of being present in the moment. I’ll take the mirror thanks.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:38 pm

I still cannot understand the American name change given that the Philosopher’s Stone isn’t something Rowling came up with.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:46 pm


Oh right, Draco thinks they can’t go into a forest because that would be too dangerous. The school being so dedicated to student safety thus far.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:55 pm


“I’ll fight you.” Go Neville.

|[P]| 15 July 20179:59 pm

Did they keep Fluffy’s only weakness in the same room that he’s guarding? Or did someone decide surreptitiously to bring a gigantic harp on his break-in instead of, say, a music box?!

|[P]| 15 July 201710:04 pm
2616760662_5bb233b397.jpg
You can keep calling it Wizard’s Chess, but we all know it’s Battle Chess.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:06 pm

I do respect a story that goes for a climactic chess battle though.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:12 pm


So Quirrell admits everything he’s done as soon as Harry arrives, even though Harry still suspects Snape. If only Voldemort had started whispering to him earlier…

|[P]| 15 July 201710:14 pm


Yeah this is a weird way to have a conversation.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:14 pm

How many house points do you get for murdering a teacher?

|[P]| 15 July 201710:15 pm

Oh no, wait, the best line in the film is still coming up: “Alas, earwax.”

|[P]| 15 July 201710:17 pm

I do like how freely Harry uses Voldemort’s name throughout the whole film despite others’ apprehension. Brave or foolhardy, but a nice touch.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:20 pm


That grin. Did they still think Hermione and Harry would end up together at this point? There was overlap between the books and films, I think.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:21 pm

Wow, Hogwarts’ chess team must be pretty awful if that was the best game they’ve seen in years…

|[P]| 15 July 201710:27 pm

I feel like the whole of Year 1 basically vindicated Mr Dursley. Even though Harry wasn’t even a blood relative, he wanted to protect him from a horrifically dangerous school run by grossly negligent teaching staff that ultimately almost resulted in Harry’s death.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:30 pm


Pretty harsh on Slytherin. But I guess Snape isn’t eligible for house points despite being only halfway competent person on staff other than Filch.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:36 pm



As a closing shot, I guess it shows they know who the best character was. No, not Hagrid, the Express.

|[P]| 15 July 201710:42 pm

Well that’s a wrap on Year 1. Given all the amazing adult acting talent I’m really looking forward to the director change once we get to Year 3. As well as the kids obviously improving as the franchise goes on. When fans rewatch the films, do they actually start at the beginning or halfway through? I can’t imagine feeling the need to watch this one again.

1 Comment

  1. 16 years ago?!!? Jesus Christ. 😣

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