Reviews of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) and related work
- Adaptation: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
J. K. Rowling (writer).
Compare it to Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) (for which I have not read Norton’s 1943 original). The magic system is very similar; the main thing you need to work magic is a phrase for each spell. In the Potterverse you also need a wand, whereas in the Bedknobverse you need to believe: The Tinkerbell effect. Thankfully, Rowling replaced most of the other bullshit, including most of the anthropomorphism and the near-Wolfenstein level of violence (the movie has Angela Lansbury flying her broom through a hail of Leuchtspurmunition) with a semblance of fantasy worldbuilding. It’s strangely half-baked: Even in a world where mages are easily proven to be real and have some significant interplay with human society in general, ordinary people are disparaged as “muggles” and care nothing for magic. This is rather like the eyewitnesses in biblical stories who can’t be bothered to incorporate the miracles they see into their worldview, and it happens for the same reason: Narcissism. The kids reading Harry Potter want to believe that ordinary people are soulless fools, and so did the authors of The Bible (ca. 110 CE). I’m surprised that either book was such a hit. For a child-friendly high-magic fantasy about a talented kid going to a magical school where the mages need wands, prefer Sourcery (1988) instead; it’s funny. For a child-friendly fantasy about a kid with a little less supernatural talent who doesn’t have to do battle with evil, prefer Kiki’s Delivery Service (1985).
References here: Vänligheten (2021).
‣ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
The book is not much better, but it has less ADHD.
References here: Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017).
‣‣ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
‣‣ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
References here: Nerd argues about distinction between fantasy and science fiction.
‣‣ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
‣‣ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
By this point I’m struck by the impotence of magic in this setting. It’s still all pyrotechnics. For all the remote sensing, mind reading and literal prophecy available, nobody is availed. The organizations are blind and stupid, their conflicts crude and quaint.