Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ★★★★

    As this indolent induced era of summertime drifts into oblivion, one can't help but to reminisce on films of day's past. The dog days of summer have been infused with blockbuster pictures, offering nothing more than a vapid level of entertainment. This period of the film industry has dwindled away and left us with a reduced intellect, along with a slothful mind. Autumn cannot come soon enough.

    When we think back to films of recent memory, ones that have touched us with their warming grace, a story of a young boy, with little knowledge of his individuality, seeps into the consciousness. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is the first film in a franchise that has since swept the world with its amazing characters and adolescent intrigue. A masterful combination of environment and atmosphere set this origin tale above all the rest of its breed.

    The delightful exposition begins on a darkness enshrouded night on Privet Drive; a seemingly quiet and serene suburban neighborhood that could not have been better depicted, even if Norman Rockwell had painted it himself. Our glimpse of first life comes in the form of an elderly man, whose beard can be used as a timeline of a vast string of memories. He pulls out a contraption that inexplicably captures the light of the street lamps. Thus, an indication that this is not your ordinary tale.

    Next appears a small cat, who certainly isn't what she seems to be. Our feline morphs into an older woman, who permeates sophistication and elegance. Lastly, a motorcycle comes into sight from above. Hagrid, a tall and bulky man who would fit the profile of a Paul Bunyan progeny, swoops down and delivers our protagonist in style. Harry Potter is to be left with his aunt and uncle. Never to hear of his past or future. Of course, until the time is right.

    As the younger years of our main hero are to be a magical experience, (with a family-oriented ambiance) the choice of direction, in this case, couldn't have been more ideal. Chris Columbus, a man who has birthed captivating films from "Home Alone" to "Mrs. Doubtfire," brings his distinct brand of imagination to a film that seeks to defy the constraints of reality. Columbus never fails in his exercision of the artistic semblance of truth, as he successfully creates a world that has never existed and, most likely, never will.

    The exterior shots of the Hogwarts Express, chugging along to the school of witchcraft and wizardry, are the most aesthetically pleasing scenes of the film. And the institution itself, becomes a home to our young Harry. Where peers are fatefully befriended and bonds are everlasting.

    Secondary characters are introduced in unforgettable fashion. Most memorable being the personas of Severus Snape, the overbearing and intimidating professor, and Draco Malfoy, who pleasantly serves the purpose of dramatic foil. Severus Snape is a name built to impose fear, as the pronunciation essentially mimics the words of sever and snake; a brilliant tactic of name typing. Malfoy is also extremely utilitarian, and accentuates the qualities of Harry masterfully.

    Harry Potter advances through his first year of education with an external conflict of competition, stemming from the brutish game of Quidditch and the rivalry of the disparate houses to supernatural villainy. Internally, Harry battles the uncertainty that surrounds his existence, and his feelings of contempt. Thereby, implanting a theme of the struggle for identity. A most promising premise for a picture of this caliber.

    John Williams, a name that I never tire of hearing, creates a tone of elation with his ingenious and beautifully performed scores. The quality of his work, by this particular moment, has pervaded films for decades over. Ne'er lacking in enchantment or refinement. I have witnessed countless performances that would not have been as formidable, if not for the underlining tonality of Williams' genius.


    Of all the fine art forms that this external world has to offer, the art of film is the only one that is bound by its collaborative nature. One individual would never be able to fulfill the requirements of a task such as making a motion picture. From set designers to assistants to the director, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is a collaboration that warrants the skills of numerous intellects. Much like the circumstances of the film call for the various expertise's of our three main characters. (Hermoine sufficing for intelligence, Harry for courage, and Ron for good company.)

    The brilliance of "Harry Potter" lies within the character himself. His relatability to any child is what makes this picture excel. What child wouldn't want to imagine himself or herself stepping into the extensive halls of Hogwarts, where the surroundings are filled with the symbolism of life, both literally and figuratively? (Many of the paintings can converse, and others become a mirror of actual occurring events. My favorite of which, is a painting of four wizards sitting roundtable, as Harry and others also have an intense discussion.)

    What child dares not to imagine themselves at the sorting hat ceremony or involved in mischief with close friends? The answer would be relatively minuscule. For, it is in the instinctive nature of children to project themselves into the role of their favorite lionheart. A technique that Harry Potter invariably succeeds in. After all, he's "just Harry."

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