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Last updated: December 28th, 2002
Why HP and the Philosophers Stone, the movie, isn't as great as the book
It's obvious that the task of making this kind of a movie isn't easy, especially considering the outstanding work of J. K. Rowling. It's also quite obvious that you'll have to cut some scenes and rewrite others, but still some scenes have been lost that I think are quite important for the story. The casting of actors and locations couldn't have been better but unfortunately the script is not that good.

But let's start from the beginning. The snake-scene in the beginning of the movie is plain and simply great. It's just wierd that Mr. Dursley doesn't, erhm accidentially, break Harry's glasses when he's yelling at Harry when they return to their home. Newcomers may wonder why they're broken - or indeed what's happening when Hermione casts her first spell!

From the scene with the letters to Diagon Alley everything seems quite nice. It's a shame that Harry doesn't get to meet Malfroy until Hogwarts but on the other hand the result is quite nice and not a major flaw. The wand choosing scene lacks the measuring tape (which could have been quite fun). On the other hand, the 'mistakes' that happens when he swings a non-match wand is a nice addition to the book. But when Mr. Ollivander stands in the back of the store it would have been nice that he, when he said 'I wonder' returned the wand he was holding and went for another one.

Another noticeable deviation from the book is the departure of the train, where Harry doesn't meet Ron until some time after the train has left platform 9 3/4. The scene in the train is, however, one of the best in the movie.

The Great Hall is great too, and the animation of the sky blends perfectly into the scene. It's just really wierd that Ron Weasly gets sorted before Harry Potter (now that they were sorted in order of lastname in the book). It would also have been nice if Harry said "What? ... oh, nothing" when his scar hurts during the sorting. This would make him a lot less supernatural. Actually there is quite a few other scenes where he seems to know more about the wizarding world than he ought to (he doesn't seem surprised often enough). It's also a shame that he doesn't say Voldemort at least once, that makes someone blink and ask him not to say the name (ok, Hagrid did so once at the Leaky, but still). This would allow Dumbledore to tell him to call things by their proper name in the end of the movie, as in the book (I think this is important). Of course they ruined this by making Hermione say "Voldemort". (Only Harry, Dumbledore, Lupin, Sirius, and Pettigrew do so (and McGonagal though somewhat reluctantly)).

Then comes the introduction to the Potion class, where Snape pushes the 'I'm an evil bastard' concept so much that it is hard not to laugh - really nice. The following flying lesson is also fine, although somewhat rewritten from the book.

It's fair enough that only one Quiddich match, due to time constraints, made it through the script to the movie, especially because the one match that did make it is a masterpiece (except for the animation of the grass field and the backgrounds - they are terrible). It's also allowable that the Snape - Quirrel scene has been moved from the forest to one of the corridors of the castle. It's also allowable that the scenes where the dragon was send away were cut down to one sentence - at least we got some fine fire spitting when it lit Hagrid's beard.

It's on the other hand a terrible mistake that will hunt the second movie that Ron and not Longbottom was put in the forbidden forest scene. And it's a shame that the scene with the meat eating flower in the dungeon is rewritten, since this was one of the few times that Hermione lost her senses.

There are two other scenes I really miss from the book. The first and most important is the logic test that Hermione passes in the dungeon. I think that it is a very important (yet little practized) wizard skill and that it should be emphasized that Hermione masters this too.

Finally the Dumbledore visits Harry in the hospital scene lacks another very importent line, made by Dumbledore in the book: "To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all - the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things which are worst for them.'

And last but not least it would have been great that someone said 'Is this his first points?', and another replied 'I think so' when Longbottom got his 10 points at the final feast.

With these few changes which in all shouldn't make the movie more than 10 minutes longer the overall feeling of it would have been much better, and it would give especially the adult audience that haven't read the books a much more complete picture of the qualities of the books. In other words it could have come close to Lord of the Rings (masterpiece), but as of now it only "pretty good".

PS: In the books only Dumbledore, McGonagall, Harry, and Sirius say Voldemort, but in the movie Hermione says Voldemort once (at the fireplace just after the Forbidden Forest scene).