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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

I must start with acknowledging the uneasy relationship I have with the Harry Potter series now. JK Rowling has proven to be anything but an ally, let alone a champion of the very people who need the real magic of Harry Potter the most and I don't want her to have any more money. But these books and movies deeply affected me and many many other people and I'm not just yet ready to throw them out with the trash that is Rowling's world view, but I cannot, in good conscience, hold them as high as I did previously. The first six Potter films are on my list so they'll all be covered. I have additional feelings about the handling of Deathly Hallows but that's neither here nor there.

This movie is sooooo much loooooonger than I remember. I know I whined about the few bits of the book they left out when I first saw it but this screenplay would have been kindly served by more judicious editing. I am as bored by Quidditch as I am by real sports and even more incensed that we'd let kids endanger themselves like that so spoiler: the art isn't Quidditch related.

I feel like I'm getting off to a bad start. I enjoy this movie. I really do. I'm not a big fan of Chris Columbus as a director but, script/pacing issues aside, I think he does a marvelous job of setting up the world for us. Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone has such a rough time of it because it needs to introduce us to so much. And luckily, those sorts of introductions are always eased by a main character also being introduced but it's still an uphill climb. Columbus does a remarkable job of giving us the full sensory overload Harry must be experiencing. Even down to the angle he films characters like Hagrid from. The film is bursting at the seams with motion and whimsy and stuff to look at. I will never ever understand why the wizarding world is...Dickensian London? But I can almost excuse it, even after it shifts SO HARD in Azkaban, because it feels like a child's memory of that moment in his life. I can barely accurately remember 90s fashion and that's my area of study and also I lived through it. Memories are faulty. If Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone was framed as a memory play, I would buy the setting/costumes wholesale.

Dumbledore is a character I deeply love and one I struggle with. I was disappointed when Richard Harris was cast (I wanted John Cleese in that role) and more so when Gambon was brought in. Albus is a wildly inadequate headmaster ("Men have wasted away, even gone insane in front of this mirror! But I thought an unlocked room in a boarding school was an excellent place for it." - Check out for my absolute favorite Harry Potter comics, specifically on the issue of how awful Dumbledore is.) I don't know why they costumed him to be boulder shaped. I don't know why they couldn't translate his immense (and again, I have to point out inappropriate) whimsy. His beginning of term speeches! Using candy as passwords! Lost.

It's hard watching early Hermione because she is so much who I was at that age. Insufferable. But thankfully I'm growing up, I hope, to be McGonagall, so it's all okay.

I go back and forth on the score. Some of my favorite late-Williams motifs but the balance is all off. Very very strong in moments when it needn't be. But still lovely and world building. I think he hits his stride in Chamber of Secrets. (I'm getting ahead of myself but "Fawkes the Phoenix" is one of my favorite bits of movie scoring ever. It makes me tear up every time.)

So much fabric and fosshape and and pheasant feathers and frustration.

(Overexposed image so you can see the plaid band that is invisible in every other picture.)

(I'm so so tired of this hat.)

Takeaways: -Usually I have Alexis Rose pre-boop face when I post a blog - all self satisfied. This project has been one long extended Alexis making that frustrated scream noise I cannot find a gif of.

-This fabric was hateful. Shame on me for thinking I could make stretch crushed velvet work because I didn't want to pay for velvet but here we are. McGonagall's later movies hat is smaller and made with wool and I totally understand why. -The plaid fabric doesn't match the movie (non-canonical! non-canonical!) but I like this better. I also added the button because I thought it needed a little something to disguise the feather stitching.

-My boss/mentor in costuming says that hats should look like they were kissed together by angels. This hat is not that thing.

-It was soooo big on my head the whole time I was working on it and I finally just accepted it. When I assembled all the pieces suddenly it was so tiny and painful on my head.

-I'm pleased with the crown shape if not the crown ratios.

-I've always wanted to get into making hats AND I STILL WANT TO but after this I may need a moment or three. Hats are hard, y'all. See you next week for Little Shop of Horrors!

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