Review by Elliott
A few weeks ago, it was announced that J.K. Rowling was working on a script for a new movie based in the world of Harry Potter. There are rumors that they may make even more than one movie from the HP universe. Follow this link for more details. This is fantastic news!
Back in 2009, my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Before this day I had only seen the movies. I like them but I hadn’t felt compelled to dig into them any deeper. I had no idea, that ………………would………… at the end of that movie. Yes, I know some of you probably thought that was obvious, but I was completely surprised. I left that theater determined to read the books and find out what happened next. Over the next few weeks I bought all 7 of the books and began my 3407 page journey. I managed to finish the final book about 2 months before the next movie came to theaters and it was an awesome journey! The Harry Potter series has become my all time favorite series, dethroning both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
I’ve been thinking about reviewing the movies for a while, but wasn’t sure of the best way to do that. After some thought, I’ve decided to review them 1 or 2 at a time. Considering that I only write 1 review a month this might take awhile, but hopefully sometime next year I’ll have reviewed them all. I’ll be doing other reviews inbetween them as well.
Harry Potter is an 11 year old boy with a mysterious scar on forehead, who lives in a closet under the stairs of his Aunt and Uncles house. His parents died when he was a baby and he has lived with them ever since. Aside from his parents death he knows very little of his past. The Dudleys, his aunt and uncle, are very proper and proud people. They like to show a good face,even if that means being fake, they like things that are normal and loath anyone they deem as different. Although he doesn’t know it, Harry’s parents were wizards. His aunt and uncle have hidden this from him with the hopes that he won’t turn out to be like them. They don’t do it out of love for Harry, they do it in order to protect their own reputation. In fact they treat him like trash, abusing him not physically, but emotionally and mentally. However things are about to change.
On his birthday a giant man called Hagrid shows up with a big surprise. He tells Harry that he is a wizard and that he has been invited to attend Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s at this point that he also learns the truth of what happened to his parents, that they died protecting him. Harry and Hagrid head off to Diagon Alley to pick up his school supplies and then to the train station to get on the Hogwarts Express, which will take him to Hogwarts castle. On the train, Harry makes two friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. It’s these three characters that we will follow for the next 8 movies. Upon arriving, they are sorted into one of four house. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all sorted into Gryffindor and now the school year can begin. We follow them around as they go from class to class, learning about everything from Herbology and Potions, to Quidditch and how to levitate a feather. After a while they discover that something secret is going on. After some investigating they find out that a special object, called the Sorcerer’s Stone is being kept safe somewhere in the castle. Upon learning this they also suspect that someone is trying to steal the stone. They then take it upon themselves to find it before the thief. There’s a lot of plot lines and characters that I have left out, but that is the gist of the story. Now let’s look at some moral applications.
The Mirror of Erised
One night while Harry is exploring the castle in his invisibility cloak, he comes across a room that contains a large mirror. He discovers that if he looks in the mirror he can see his parents standing right behind him. Night after night he comes back, hoping that somehow he can get his parents back. One night he is joined by Prof. Dumbledore who explains to him how the mirror works.
“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.”
One big takeaway from this, is that we can’t dwell in the past wishing things had happened differently. We need accept the past and make the best of the future. Dumbledore warns him that many men have wasted their lives in front of the mirror. A second takeaway is that we need to learn to be content, just like that man who saw himself just as he was. It can be difficult to be content, but we should strive to be like Paul in Phil. 4:11-13:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
As Harry, Ron, and Hermione make there way to the sorcerer’s stone, they must confront a number of challenges. One of those is a life size game of wizard’s chess, where the pieces actually move themselves and attack with swords. Ron being the most skilled chess player of the group, assumes the leader position. The game goes back and forth with them taking some pieces and losing some pieces, until they reach a pivotal decision. They can win but it will require Ron to sacrifice himself, in order for Harry to checkmate the queen. Without hesitation Ron makes the decision to sacrifice himself so that the others can continue on. He isn’t killed, but it does knock him out. My takeaway from this is that we need to be willing to make sacrifices for others. Ron didn’t receive an immediate reward for winning, in fact he was knocked out cold. But he didn’t do it for a reward, he did it for the good of others and because it was the right thing to do. We should be willing to make sacrifices for others, even if we don’t get anything out of it.
Hermione is an incredibly smart young girl. She studies hard and makes learning a priority. However a side effect of this is that she can be a bit of a know-it-all and a show off. Half way through the movie is a scene where Ron is mocking her for knowing so much. He states, “There’s no wonder she doesn’t have any friends.” Hermione overhears this and quickly runs away and hides. This is a great example of how we shouldn’t treat others and the damage that our words can inflict. Most of us can probably relate to this situation. Most of us have a co-worker, friend or a family member who can be difficult to deal with. Maybe it’s their personality or their attitude, how they act or talk. Over the last few years I’ve had multiple co-workers who didn’t fit in very well with our group. Often times they would get mocked by others when they weren’t around. I’m ashamed to say that I joined in on occasion. Sometimes people can just get under your skin. As christians we are called to a higher standard. In Eph. 4:1-3 it states:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
As adults you would think we would be more mature than these young kids, but often we are no better. So next time you’re dealing with one of “those” people, think of this verse and think about the patience and love that God has already shown us. Fortunately Ron and Hermione make up, but it’s not until after they fight a giant Troll. You don’t want to have to fight a troll every time you need to repair a relationship! 🙂
Harry vs. Voldemort
In Harry’s quest to protect the sorcerer’s stone, he enters the final chamber and there sits the mirror of Erised. But he’s not alone, Prof. Quirrell is already there. We find out that all along Prof. Quirrell has been after the stone, but not for himself. He wants the stone for Lord Voldemort, who is using his body as a host. The Prof. forces Harry to look into the mirror. He sees himself in the mirror, his reflection takes the stone from its pocket and then puts it back. It’s at this point that the actual stone magically appears in his pocket. Harry tries to run away but is stopped by the Prof./Voldemort. They offer him a chance to join them, but Harry refuses. Voldemort orders Prof. to kill him. But as soon as the Prof. touches Harry, it burns his skin. Harry sees this and grabs onto his face. The prof. face begins to smoke and crack and then his whole body falls over in a cloud of ash. Voldemort has been defeated and the stone saved. So what possibly could this all mean?
Dumbledore:“It was because of your mother. She sacrificed herself for you, and that kind of act leaves a mark.
[Harry reaches up to touch his scar]
Dumbledore: No, no. This kind of mark cannot be seen. It lives in your very skin.
Harry: What is it?
Dumbledore: Love, Harry. Love.
This is one of the biggest theme’s throughout the series. The power of love, not a romantic type of love, but a sacrificial love. The idea of good/evil and love/hate being unable to coexist makes me think of 2 Cor. 6:14-16:
For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God.
Although there are some good moral points that can be made. Some of the attitudes and actions of the main characters shouldn’t be emulated. One of those has to do with language. Ron tends to use a lot of mild profanity. Once I have kids, I think it will be quite a while before I let them watch this. Secondly throughout the series we see over and over again, Harry’s disregard for authority. It would seem that he is above the rules and all authority figures. We could just use the cliched excuse, “Oh, he’s just a teenager”, but we shouldn’t. Most of us have gone through rebellious phases, I know I have. 🙂 But regardless of age or excuse, we should respect and obey those who have authority over us.
Rom. 13:1-2: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
1 Pet. 2:13-17 : Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
In contrast to Harry and Ron’s poor attitude towards rules, there is Neville Longbottom. On the night that they sneak out to protect the stone, Neville tries to stop them before they leave the common room. It doesn’t stop them, in fact Hermione casts a petrifying curse on him. However, his courage to stand up to his friends is not a waste. At the very end of the movie Prof. Dumbledore is awarding some final house points, 10 of which go Neville for his act of courage. It’s those 10 points that push Gryffindor into the lead to win the House Cup. Often times we aren’t rewarded for doing the right thing, but in the end it’s worth it.
I’ll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag. I love all of the movies in this series. This first movie is one of my favorites and will always have a special place in my heart. Being the first movie, we get to see and experience a lot of fun and amazing new things in this new magical world. This movie sucks you right into the world and you won’t want to leave. For me that’s part of what I love so much about these movies. Aside from that, the story is interesting and evolves and grow as the series continues.
Now that the series is over and I’ve gone back to watch the first movie, you can see how much special effects has changed and how much better the acting has become. You could look at those as negatives, but it’s really interesting to see how it changes and grows as time has gone on.
This movie is full of action, fun, and mystery. The quidditch games are still great, even by today’s standards. The music is unforgettable. As far as book to movie adaptations go, this movie does an excellent job and sets the bar very high for the rest of the movies. If it sounds like I’m obsessed, well I sort of am. I actually keep all 8 movies on my phone just in case I feel like watching them.
I was a little fearful to even try to review these, consider how much they are loved, but hopefully I’ve done an adequate job of reviewing the first one. So what did I miss? What are you favorite parts of the movie? Let me know in the comments below and thank for reading!!!