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September 13, 2012 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-13

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4B -- Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com






'Sorceror' still magical after a decade?


childhoods, but they also end
up sharing some common tropes
Like in the salons of 77th with each other. It's a comfort
and 78th century France, food: When you read "Harry
this weekly installment Potter," you become a student
at Hogwarts, a close friend of
will feature two Daily Arts Harry's, who shares in his suc-
writers discussing the finer cesses and cries at his failures -
points ofrsmediums the movies simply don't have this
farts magic, though.
from at least 70 years ago. I don't presume to understand
whythe novels possess this unique
skill. Perhaps it's because of the
As the first notes of film com- time commitment of a book. You
poser John Williams's famous spend more time in the pages than
score trickled from the screen, in front of the movie screen, and
I was, for a moment, trans- thus develop a deeper connection
ported back to my high school with the characters. Or, maybe it's
years, when I played sick to lay because in the book, the charac-
in my bunkbed all day, the sixth ters take form in the mind, mak-
"Harry Potter" book in hand. ing them closer to you because
It's a good feeling, remember- they are, in a sense, inside you. A
ing those childhood moments. simpler (and less psychological)
Sadly, the nostalgia soon passes. answer might be that J.K. Rowl-
As the movie starts, a realization ing's strongest competence as an
blossoms over me: Every part of author comes from her quick and
the Potter universe I love comes witty dialogue, which engages as
from the books, not the movies. powerfully as any writer I've read,
And honestly, why would any- yet doesn't translate perfectly to
one want to re-watch "Harry the screen.
Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone?" Of course, an adaptation not
There are millions of reasons to living up to its source material
delve back into the books. The doesn't necessarily mean it isn't
Potter universe is idyllic (though good - I'm sure most people
admittedly less so as it ages), but would agree that the "Harry Pot-
formulaic as well. It's, quite lit- ter" movies are less memorable
erally, like going back to school. than the books, and that doesn't
You meet old friends (and foes), mean anything when determin-
talk to your favorite teachers and ing the quality of the films. My
go through a series of similar essential point is that without the
events. The books were success- books, the movies are nothing.
ful because they put intimately "Harry Potter and the Sorcer-
likeable (and oftentimes relat- er's Stone" and all the following
able) characters through the films survived because they were
hoops of normal high school "events," not because they offered
- sports, studies, relationship anything substantial. It was safe,
problems, gossip and in more charming and corporate. Chris
fantastical cases, trolls. We like Columbus ("The Goonies") direct-
things that are familiar, and the ed like he didn't want to piss any-
books not only reflect our own one off. The story and actors hit

their points competently, and the
audience appreciated the things
they've seen before.
After finishing the first film,
I realized that I never needed
to watch any of them again. It
was nice to live through the
wildness and the fever of the
movies hitting theaters, but it
isn't something worth showing
anyone ever again. I like mov-
ies that result in deeper debates
than "I wonder why they left out
Eleven. years? Has it really
been almost 11 years? It seems
that only yesterday, my ten-year-
old self donned her favorite hot
pink Harry Potter hoodie from
the now-extinct Warner Bros.
store at Somerset Mall and
skipped off to the theater to see
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone." Nothing will ever com-
pare to experiencing "Harry Pot-
ter" for the first time, but every
time I watch the film, I am trans-
ported back to that very first
viewing and the palpable excite-
ment in the air.
It's that immersive nostalgia
that makes "Sorcerer's Stone"
such a joy to watch years later.
Seeing Daniel Radcliffe, Emma
Watson and Rupert Grint as ador-
able children will never fail to
tug at my heartstrings, since I've
grown up with them as the films
released and their careers evolved.
I almost never fail to comment on
how young they are, only to stop
short when I realize that I was
once just as impossibly small.
The performances aren't
exactly Oscar-worthy (especially
in a year that was eclipsed to the




"Harry, we're a bit too old for this."
Academy by a certain Fellowship),
but this cast shines as a group
from the very beginning. For me,
they clicked the moment I saw
Neville (Matthew Lewis). Lewis,
with a pudgy face that would grow
into something of a work of art,
is so pitch-perfect a visual of the
"round-faced and forgetful" Nev-
ille that viewers instantly plunge
headfirst into the story.
From the moment he knocks
down a door, it's clear why Rowl-
ing herself felt Robbie Coltrane
would be the perfect Rubeus
Hagrid. Richard Harris portrays
Albus Dumbledore with quiet
humor and wisdom, the perfect
mentor for Radcliffe and Harry,
boys suddenlythrown into a world
of wizardry and fame. And I'd be
remiss not to applaud Alan Rick-
man' Snape, who truly makes an
entrance that to this day makes me
fear landing in detention.

There's also the fact that
"Sorcerer's Stone" itself is a film
intended to introduce the entire
world of "Harry Potter." Director
Chris Columbus directed every
moment with full awareness of
the importance of that task. The
eclectic shops of Diagon Alley to
the floating candles in the Hog-
warts Great Hall to the vibrant
colors and sound of Quidditch.
These moments are crafted to
take the viewer's breath away
with the magic of filmmaking
and of J.K. Rowling's elaborate
As for the role "Sorcerer's
Stone" plays in setting up the
narrative of "Harry Potter,"
Columbus once again succeeded
in conveying the importance of
these characters and what hap-
pens to them. After years of grip-
ing as a fan over which scenes
were altered or characters omit-

ted (you were there in my heart,
Peeves), I finally look back on
"Sorcerer's Stone" with the per-
spective of knowing the full Pot-
ter story. There, Columbus hits
all the right notes.
I will always smile at the first
shot of Harry in his cupboard;
always giggle at Ron and Herm-
ione's first awkward encounter
on the train. Visual effects may
have come a long way in 11 years,
but I'm still mesmerized by
Quidditch, terrified of Fluffy the
three-headed dog and unable to
look away when Voldemort sur-
rounds Harry with flames down
in the depths of the school. And I
will always, always feel my heart
swell as Harry boards the Hog-
warts Express saying, "I'm not
going home. Not really," because
I know we're not; we can always
come back to where it all began.

E-mail kaylau@umich.edu for an application.



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