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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Main image of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)
Super 35mm, colour, 152 mins
DirectorChris Columbus
Production CompaniesHeyday Films, 1492 Productions
ProducerDavid Heyman
ScreenplaySteve Kloves
Original novelJK Rowling
PhotographyJohn Seale
MusicJohn Williams

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon), Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore), Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell), John Hurt (Mr Ollivander), Alan Rickman (Professor Snape), Fiona Shaw (Aunt Petunia Dursley), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall)

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Introducing 11 year-old Harry Potter and the adventures that befall him and his friends during his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was possibly one of the most eagerly awaited films of all time. Released in December 2001, the film broke just about every film record on its opening weekend, taking £16m at the box office and smashing the record previously held by Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace (US, d. George Lucas, 1999).

Directed by Chris Columbus, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone was adapted from the much loved book by J.K. Rowling. Although the action is packed into just two and a half hours, attention to detail and superb sets, such as the banqueting hall and the moving staircases, recreate the magic of the book. The film also makes use of the effects company Industrial Light and Magic - also used in the Star Wars films - to create impressive visual effects, including the realistic facial expressions of the goblins in Gringotts Bank. Since this is the first in the Potter series, there is a great deal of 'scene-setting', particularly in the introduction to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The growth of the Potter phenomenon happened through word of mouth, through the popularity of the books amongst children and not as the result of any great marketing plan. As such, the film fed on the popularity of the books and would not have required a huge marketing budget. But there was money to be made from merchandising - the sale of associated products, such as clothes, posters and mugs - which meant the film was marketed on a big scale.

Despite the fact that this is largely an American movie (with the $150 million budget to prove it), Rowling insisted the film be thoroughly British. Eleven-year-old British actor Daniel Radcliffe beat off thousands of hopefuls in auditions to win the part of Harry Potter and Alan Rickman plays a mean Professor Snape.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also captured critical acclaim, with Guardian film reviewer Peter Bradshaw calling it "the quickest, zappiest two and a half hours you'll spend in the cinema."

Jan Murray

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Video Clips
1. Diagon Alley (2:50)
2. Facing Voldemort (2:34)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Cleese, John (1939-)
Coltrane, Robbie (1950-)
Griffiths, Richard (1947-2013)
Harris, Richard (1933-2002)
Hart, Ian (1964-)
Hurt, John (1940-)
Phillips, Leslie (1924-)
Rickman, Alan (1946-)
Smith, Maggie (1934-)
Walters, Julie (1950-)
Wanamaker, Zoë (1949-)
Children on Film