Revisit coverage of NPR: NPR


A young Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, which premiered in 2001.

Peter Mountain / WireImage


hide caption

toggle legend

Peter Mountain / WireImage


A young Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, which premiered in 2001.

Peter Mountain / WireImage

The film that brought the wizarding world to life – from Hogwarts to Hedwig to The Unnamed – is now 20 years old.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” premiered on November 16, 2001, four years after the release of the first book in the series.

Seven books, eight films, several theme parks, millions of book sales, a Broadway show and several spinoffs later, the beloved franchise has left its mark on millions of Muggles. He has influenced everything from popular culture to children’s literature to school curricula.

To celebrate, we dust off our Pensieve to revisit NPR’s coverage of the very first film.

NPR reviewer called it a “copier” of the book

Los Angeles Times Film critic Kenneth Turan offered a mixed but overall positive review, focusing on the film’s extreme fidelity to the book.

“As huge NFL offensive linemen have signed on to protect a valuable quarterback, every Harry Potter hire has been made ensuring that hordes of fanatic fans aren’t disappointed,” he said. he declared on the air.

Turan described this as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, he said, “woe to those who would like to play with this story.” On the other hand, even an impressive line doesn’t leave much room for risk-taking, objection or celebration.

Still, he applauded the filmmakers for building a visually magical world and shrinking the long book without resorting to clichés or awkward dialogue. And he praised the lead trio of child actors as “excellent” (although he mistakenly named Ron Fred, and also kept his biggest compliments for Hagrid from Robbie Coltrane).

“Despite his mimic nature, what ultimately saves ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ is what created it in the first place: [Author J.K.] Rowling’s exceptional imagination, ”concluded Turan. “At those moments when the film allows us to share Harry’s wonder, it allows us to rediscover our own.

He also resonated with children and parents

Of course, glowing reviews don’t do everything. What did the young Potterheads think of the film?


People lined up outside the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square in London’s West End for the public premiere of the Harry Potter film on November 12, 2001.

AFP / AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle legend

AFP / AFP via Getty Images


People lined up outside the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square in London’s West End for the public premiere of the Harry Potter film on November 12, 2001.

AFP / AFP via Getty Images

The late NPR correspondent, Margot Adler, spoke to a group of children and their parents as they left a Manhattan movie theater. She found that most loved the movie, but liked the book more.

“I love the book,” said a young viewer. “That explained more.”

“I thought the book was very detailed and the movie was very good, but that kind of sped it up a bit too much,” said another.

Not everyone agreed.

“I like the film better,” suggested one viewer. “It was pretty cool to see all the things you imagined.”

And many interviewees were impressed by the visuals: the wizarding chess set, the vivid images on the walls of Hogwarts, and the actors bringing the characters to life. A relative said Dumbledore looked exactly as expected, while a youngster said they imagined Snape to be totally different.

Some viewers weren’t impressed with the music, however, and Adler noted that it made sense: most people didn’t have music in their heads while reading the book.

As for the parents in the audience, Adler said, the most common reaction was a sense of relief “that whatever Harry Potter is about in the movie, he manages to portray this or he fails to portray this, he was not going to do this thing that so many parents feared. “

“It wouldn’t destroy the tender plant that the Potter phenomenon had helped cultivate,” she explained. “Their children suddenly sat on the couch reading for hours on end, the family coming together, reading aloud.”

If you’re in the mood to take a trip even deeper into the past, listen to another track from Adler: the first NPR story to ever air on Harry Potter, on All things Considered in 1998.

Among other gems, it includes a quote from a bookstore manager marveling at having sold “hundreds” of copies, and Adler’s (precise) prophecy that the word “muggle” would take flight. .

This story originally appeared on the Morning edition live blog.


Comments are closed.