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Harry Potter’s World of Magic Will Keep You Enchanted!

FIRST it was The Lord of the Rings. Now it is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Hollywood is back to fairy tale world with wizards and witchcraft and that anything-is-possible mould. In the case of Harry Potter, however, it is a cute beginning with poor little Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), a modern-day David Copperfield always at the receiving end of the stick from his foster family: his bullying uncle, callous aunt and spoiled sick and greedy cousin. So when he finds a way out of his misery the audience is all with little Harry.

In fact when his obnoxious uncle tells Harry that “there is no such thing as magic,” it is a hint of the shape of things to come. Not for nothing does Harry have an owl delivering him an invitation for his eleventh birthday. But when his foster family keeps the invites from Harry, Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), an enormous giant, takes it upon himself to meet Harry personally and give his guardians (hardly the right term) a dose of their own medicine.

Thus begins Harry’s entry into the magic world of Hogwarts, with shades of the Middle Earth of The Lord of the Rings. But J.K. Rowling’s popular children’s novel, on which the film is based, is so enmeshed in never-ending action that the message of love is quite lost in the bushels of chaff.

There are some clever touches like Harry choosing the wands, magic wands that is. The wand selects the wizard they say and not the other way around and that not all wizards are good, some go bad. As for the entry to Hogwarts, it is graphically achieved and when Harry meets wizards-in-training Hermoine (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), it opens new vistas in this quaint new world which bewitches the mind and ensnares the senses.There’s Prof Dumbledore (Richard Harris) of the flowing white beard, Prof McGonagall (Maggie Smith) of the Jane Broody school of thought and Nearly Headless Nick (John Cleese) and many others to provide variety even if they have sweet nothing to do. So far so good.

But despite the innovative screenplay by Steve Kloves and the creation of the right ambiance by Chris Columbus it is the inordinate length of the story that tends to undo the initial euphoria. Like The Lord of the Rings it goes on and on endlessly, testing the attention span of both the child and his parent. That brevity is the soul of wit is unwittingly forgotten or simply ignored. That the young trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have the potential to take them places is an understatement but their seniors, Maggie Smith apart, are essentially academic. Perhaps the best part of the film is the ambiance created by some enchanting visuals. But these are drowned in so much of super action. If only they could have used the Bunuellian formula, what a world of a difference it would have made.


Original article found here: The Sunday Tribune | April 28th, 2002

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