||I waited until the movies were all
done with before reading the first book in this series for the first
time. It is truly a great novel, even considering how short it is. While
the movie touched on most of the events in the book, as usual, they only
scratched the surface, paying tribute to each event, in a way. The book
had wonderful descriptions of what and why the characters are doing. The
most important element in the first half of the book is the wry humor
from the narrator - I couldn't believe how funny it was.
In the interests of getting the most
out of these novels, knowing that the author injected some elements into
the movie that would benefit the later story, I decided not to read the
book until I had seen all of the
movies, so I could try to take in as
many of the subtleties as possible, as if it was the second time I was
reading the books.
So it was fun to see names like Sirius
Black appear in the first chapter, and understand why the Philosopher's
Stone was so important -the wizard was still using it! Even though it's
mentioned briefly in the movie, I somehow hadn't made the full
connection. Things are more clear here.
Pretty much half the book takes place
before Harry gets to Hogswarts, and it is in this half that the author's
wry humor shines. It's hilarious to note Harry's amusement reflected
through everything that happens in his uncle's house, and even events
where Harry wasn't present, like when his uncle goes to work and tries
very hard to pretend that things are normal. The movie didn't need to
capture all of this, though it was quite fun to see Vernon and his
family squirm with all the magic going on around them.
The second half of the book, while not
exactly serious from the narrator's point of view, does contain fewer
snide offhand notes, most likely because the characters are not as
stupid or funny as Harry's adopted family. His friendship is instant
with Ron, of course, and Hermione is such a motor-mouth that it's a
wonder anybody can have an actual conversation. She is less of a friend,
until the end, than she is in the movie.
I don't remember the tower scene in the
movie, where Harry and Hermione (where was Ron?) take the baby dragon to
the roof so that Ron's brother's friends can pick it up on their way to
Romania. This, of course, gets them and Malfoy in trouble, so they have
to go into the Dark Forest, where Harry even got to ride on the back of
a centaur. I don't recall how they got in trouble in the movie.
Most scenes in the book are present in
the movie in some form, but they were each expanded a little to give a
lot more information, allowing me to understand some of the scenes
better. The movie is just as good as the book, I think, especially in
the way that it turns some of the more difficult concepts into a bunch
of beautiful visuals. The truest form of this is the way Quidditch is
shown, much easier to understand than the description in the book, as
simple as that was.
The climax, as a series of tests put
before anyone who wanted to find the stone, makes as much sense as it
does in the movie, except here there are more of them. To safeguard the
stone, why take the chance that somebody could get through, as both
Quirrell and Harry get through easily enough. It appears that Quirrell
needed coercion from the other teachers, while Harry and his friends
were collectively smarter!
The book was so enjoyable that I think
I'll read the second one in the very near future.