A new generational replacement has arrived, and there is no better example of this than the announcement of the adaptation of the Harry Potter books into a new series on Max, the Waner Bros. Discovery platform that will replace HBO Max. With a complete reboot of actors, but maintaining the elements that made the films popular, the platform will integrate all of J.K. Rowling’s books across at least seven seasons.
This has been announced by Warner, along with other news such as the development of a new series of Game of Thrones or a spin-off of The Big Bang Theory. But what this news makes clear is that all of us who grew up with the publication of the Harry Potter films and books have been left behind, and now it is time to pass the baton to a new generation.
To celebrate this moment, with a mixture of hope for what is yet to come and melancholy for what we left behind, we dedicate this space to understand the origin of everything: the arrival of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in theaters and the extrapolation of an already unique literary phenomenon to the entire globe.
Why has an entire generation been waiting for the Hogwarts letter for years? Why has an idea written on a napkin become the raison d’être of so many people? It all has to do with the conception of Harry Potter and its arrival in theaters.
From the book to the big screen
When the Harry Potter film adaptation was announced, fans of the literary saga were on edge that the essence and magic of the books would be lost on screen. Harry Potter had become a phenomenon like no other. Not for nothing are the books the second most translated books in the world – 65 languages – second only to the Bible. And, with nearly $10 billion grossed, it is also the second highest-grossing film franchise in history, behind only the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
At that time everything was on a smaller scale, but not insignificant for the time. So they had to find a director who was up to the task; someone who knew how to convey the magic to the big screen and who knew how to work with kids to bring out their charisma. Chris Columbus, without a doubt, was the perfect director for Warner.
Columbus had become popular a decade earlier for directing Home Alone, the film that perhaps had the most to do with the Harry Potter universe despite having nothing to do with it. He also wrote the screenplays for The Goonies and The Secret of the Pyramid, two films that also held the keys to what was to become Harry Potter.
The choice was obvious and the result was unbeatable, but it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the magical cast that crowned the film. A young Daniel Radcliffe was chosen to play Harry Potter, and as soon as the photos of the leading man came out, it became clear to people that he was the perfect face for the character. Radcliffe managed to capture the essence of Potter and demonstrated a great ability to convey emotions and connect with the audience despite his young age.
Radcliffe was joined by Emma Watson as Hermione Granger and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley. The three young actors demonstrated great on-screen chemistry and managed to perfectly embody the main characters of the saga. In addition, adult actors such as Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore and Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid, completed a dream cast that brought to the screen some of the most beloved characters in literature.
Bringing magic to every home
Another key element of the adaptation was fidelity to the book. Columbus worked closely with Rowling to ensure that the film faithfully reflected the original story. Most of the major plot events were included, and while there were some minor changes, these did not significantly alter the original story. The film took its time to develop the characters and plot, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the magical world of Harry Potter.
In fact, this is one of the points why some of the later films didn’t work so well. The Philosopher’s Stone was a short book and was perfectly adaptable to a movie, but others like The Order of the Phoenix were less so, and the result was worse.
But what really drew us into the magic of Harry Potter was John Williams’ score, a key element of the adaptation. Music is a fundamental aspect of any film, but in the case of Harry Potter, the soundtrack helped set the magical tone of this fantasy world that was so clear with its musical notes. Between the childlike and the sinister, the mystery that enveloped the entire soundtrack meant that it is now remembered as one of the best in the history of cinema.
The production design and art direction were also of exceptional quality. The sets and costumes created an authentic and detailed environment that transported viewers to the magical world of Hogwarts. The art direction was also key to creating the sense of magic and mystery surrounding Philosopher’s Stone.
So much so that the aesthetics of The Philosopher’s Stone have been chosen directly for the future series of Max, and has given rise, for example, to a museum of the entire saga in which you can revisit the scenarios of Harry Potter and understand how everything was on a more realistic scale.
Undoubtedly, Philosopher’s Stone was the first big step towards a franchise that soon became something much bigger. Harry Potter has remained in our minds ever since, and even if everything changes in the series, J.K. Rowling’s story will prevail.
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