Hey folks, Harry here... Now there will be many cries of "Fake!" out there, but the Walkabouter has been sending in reports since 1999, not many... a few here and there... but he's always been dead on. This time he nails the biggest scoop he's ever nailed. Not so much as a single script review has leaked out... The film has never been tested... and when it comes right down to it, only someone involved in the film itself could have seen what the Walkabouter has claimed to see.... Lucky for us, that he is someone, somewhere in the maze like post-production world of HARRY POTTER. And it looks like Chris Columbus has nailed the film to perfection from the sound of it. ALSO... that if Williams nails the score and Warners doesn't force the film to be 90 minutes as opposed to its current two hour running time... we might have something extraordinary.... We'll see....
Hey Harry, "Walkabouter" here after a long absense...
Well, I'm checking in regarding what is probably the most, if not the SECOND most anticipated film to be released this year, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE (or PHILOSOPHER'S STONE for audiences outside the US of A).
Let's just say I am involved with a company participating to some extent with a part of the film's post-production, and I'll leave it at that. I'll also say that the cut I've seen is based on several "turnover" reels (about 15 minutes each or so) and is NOT the final cut. It runs long -- over two hours
-- but as is, it's not overlong.
So, as the book is so adored by readers young and old (myself included), the questions are these:
Can a film adaptation properly live up to the source material?
Can it do it faithfully and yet condense it down into 2 hours' time?
Can the director of such movies as HOME ALONE, MRS. DOUBTFIRE, and NINE MONTHS tread into darker waters, keeping the edge, moodiness, as well as the playfulness of the book?
And, most importantly, can the young cast -- namely little Daniel Radcliffe in the title role -- adequately personify the characters, and make them come to life onscreen?
It is with some astonishment and much happy surprise that the answer to all of these questions is, indeed, yes. When I heard of other proposed directors for the film -- Spielberg, Terry Gilliam, Brad Silberling were the top choices -- Columbus' ultimate selection took me by surprize. Don't get me wrong, he's done some wonderful stuff, and has a great talent for slapstick, physical comedy, and lightheartedness. I like Chris Columbus. So sue me...
But surely someone of Spielberg's calibre would have been better, right?
Or Terry Gilliam, who combined fantasy, comedy, and with a touch of sinister wit so wonderfully in TIME BANDITS?
Well, that's what I thought at the time. And now, I'll say in all honesty that Chris Columbus has done it.
He has blended everything that made the book so great -- the imaginative visual imagery, the design, the charm, the wit, and -- yes, true believers, it's true -- the dark, moody edge. I loved it.
Now, why should I go into plot details when people should just read the book? They have done some things to translate the text into a movie -- many scenes are condensed, but this is perhaps essential, unless they were to turn the book into a television miniseries, alotting more time for things to unfold. And, as unavoidable, the wonderful language Rowling used -- simple words, but poetic nonetheless -- will be absent from the screen.
The film is over two hours in its present form, but the bigwigs at Warner Bros. will probably want to tighten it down to a more family-friendly 90-110 minutes. I hope they don't. Someday the studio execs might learn that if a movie's good enough to hold a child's interest, it doesn't have to be abbreviated to MTV-style attentionspan. Nor does it need a shorter running time in order to ensure commercial successYes, true believers, kids can maintain focus on something, so long as it deserves such focus. And HARRY POTTER does it.
NOW: The look. Many of the special effects have yet to be completed, and were in a very crude form. But the production design of the sets (the Hogwarths' school and its infinitely high ceilings are a wow) are right on the mark. This is not the overlit, amusement-park style of, say, Spielberg's HOOK, but a darker, dirtier, lived in world reminiscent of beautiful movies like DRAGONSLYER and LADYHAWK. And John Seale's cinematography -- he's done brilliant work for Weir's WITNESS and DEAD POET'S SOCIETY, as well as CITY OF ANGELS and THE PERFECT STORM -- is right on the mark, with Ridley Scottian "shafts" of light, smoke, and atmosphere...
THE MUSIC. Sorry to say I can't comment on this, as most of the music used was temp stuff (I think some of it was from WITCHES OF EASTWICK). But with John Williams at the baton, it should be cool.
And now the most important part: THE CAST. Did Chris Columbus score a perfect ten with his child actors -- as Spielberg had done with the likes of Christian Bale and Haley Joel Osment -- or did he strike out, like Lucas did by casting a spoiled, "read-em-from-the-cuecards" Jake Lloyd?
And the answer to this question will pretty much determine whether or not HARRY POTTER will be more than just a certain commercial hit, but an all-out classic that people will not only see, but remember fondly.
From what I've seen, I feel confident in saying that little Daniel Radcliffe will become synonymous with Harry Potter, just like Chris Reeve was with Superman, Harrison Ford with Indiana Jones, or, more recently, Hugh Jackman was with Wolverine. To see any of the stills, Radcliffe certain LOOKS like Harry Potter come to life. But he also FEELS like Potter.
Harry's an interesting character. He's been through so much crap, lived through so much abuse, and the whole time he remains innocent, sweet, humble, and never bitter. He's filled with awe, wonder, and nervousness upon coming to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft, astonished by his fame and worried that he'll never live up to expectations. And as popular as he becomes, he never loses his humility or affections for his friends.
As Radcliffe is surely going to be thrown into the spotlight of stardom upon the film's release, the only doubts anyone might have about his future career is whether or not Radcliffe will, like Harry, be able to maintain his sense of humility in light of such overwhelming fame, and not fall into childstar snobbery and pompousness so common to Hollywood.
As for the supporting players, the dream cast is also right-on: Rupert Grint is wonderful as Ron, Emma Watson is funny as the uber-prissy but good hearted Hermoine. Maggie Smith is the perfect stuck-up professor of witchcraft (but in a charming way, as she always does in every English role she's ever played). Richard Harris is the eccentric but wise and kindly Albus Dumbledore. Alan Rickman is perfectly mean and nasty, sneering and spooky. And Robbie Coltraine steals his scenes with a lot of loud and humorous energy.
If Warner Bros. gives a little more flexibility in the editing process by not forcing the movie to be condensed to the Reader's Digest/Cliff's Notes version, the film could be good enough to give LORD OF THE RINGS a run for its money...
Letter from an unknown muggle,