Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Directed by Chris Columbus
Today, July 31st, is Harry Potter's birthday! On this day of celebrating one of the greatest fictional characters of the modern age, I thought I would share how the Harry Potter film franchise became the most formative film in my young life.
A few years ago, my family and I took a trip to London. Just a few miles outside of the city is Leavesden Studios, where they filmed all eight Harry Potter films. Subsequently, they built a studio tour where nerds like me can go and see the set pieces and costumes, etc. Well, when you first get there, they seat you in a little movie theater where you watch a video of Dan, Rupert, and Emma talks about what you’re about to see, and how this has been their home for ten year—the real sappy stuff to get you going. Once the video finishes, the screen flies up, and there, in front of you, are the doors to the Great Hall. The tour guide then comes in and says, “I’m going to say to you what was said to Harry when he first stood here… Welcome to Hogwarts.” Cue the uncontrollable sobbing. It wasn’t just one tear. No, it was like ugly Kim Kardashian crying.
I love films. I love the idea of telling a story not through words, but with imagery. A visual story. Subtle nuisances of color, a lingering scenic shot, the physical presence of emotions. The first film I ever saw in the cinemas was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. As a six-year-old, I sat in the movie theater for the first time and was completely overcome with the magic of this world. My favorite cinematic moment in the Potter films is when Harry first arrives at Hogwarts. John William’s beautiful score erupts with an epic panning shot over the water revealing the magic of Hogwarts Castle. It’s simply breathtaking.
It’s moments like these that stimulated my love for cinema, and it wasn’t until many years later that I actually realized the impact these films made on my creative life. These films, in many ways, are not your average “Hollywood Blockbuster.” It challenges the viewers both visually and mentally, it pushes the standards of traditional filmmaking and excels at all levels of storytelling. Because of this, I’m not an average movie goer. I seek out films that challenge me intellectually as well as creatively. I want to watch films that value art before box office. The Harry Potter films challenged me as an artist. They created a long deserving love for films that would have never transpired if not for the genuine brilliance of the franchise. And it has also made me slightly biased towards the British film industry.
Harry Potter has made more than just a creative impact on me, but the story has taught me a lot about life. As a kid, you enjoy the adventures Harry, Ron, and Hermione encounter. But as an adult, it’s the characters and morality that you begin to appreciate. Through his heroic journey, Harry gains confidence in himself, appreciates the value of true friendship, and, most importantly, learns that love truly conquers all. As I grew up with Harry, his life discoveries began to rub off on me. I grew up with the confidence that if the boy who lived under the stairs could accomplish great things then so could I. As I grew as a person, I also grew to appreciate the love and compassion found in those around you. Like Harry learned during his final bow, I learned it is the people your life that are worth fighting for. Life is not worth being alone.
Without a doubt, Harry Potter would be probably one of the most defining points of my life. Mostly all my greatest passions in life— like acting, my love for films and Britain—stems from this one film franchise. Not only that, but this series has taught me many important life lessons. Call me a nerd, but the Harry Potter series had one of the most significant impacts on my creative and personal life.