Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Weekend Harry Potter Movie Marathon (Part 1)

When the final Harry Potter film was released last year, we took advantage of the chance to get all of the Harry Potter films on blu-ray. We’d only got one on DVD (funnily enough, Chamber of Secrets which is probably my least favourite of both the books and the films) so for the sake of £60-something it made sense to get them all as a boxset. And if you’re going to get a boxset you might as well go for the super duper special edition one.

It looks very pretty. With both the blu-ray and DVD versions of the films and it also comes with Harry Potter’s photo album (unfortunately the pictures don’t actually move) and each one is numbered (ours is 13,486 of 25,000). We got it last December as a sort of Christmas present to ourselves but haven’t really had a chance to watch it until now. That’s the problem with these series of films, if you’re going to watch one, you kind of need to watch them all.

I’d decided a long time ago that we were going to watch them all in one weekend, but the problem there is finding one weekend where you can actually sit down and watch them without too much disruption (or putting off of important things that actually need to be done). So when a four-day weekend came up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Technically we’re still watching them all on a weekend… it just happens to be slightly longer than average. And it also meant we only really had to watch two films a day so we wouldn’t have to worry about neglecting everything else that needed doing.

Day 1 (Friday): Philosopher’s Stone & Chamber of Secrets
I have very fond memories of seeing Philosopher’s Stone at the cinema. I can remember the exact spot I was sitting and that bubbly, excited feeling in my stomach as it started. I’d only discovered the books themselves that year so it felt kind of magical that the film was coming out so soon afterwards.

Looking back now I feel really old, I can’t believe how young those kids were. They’re just babies. Though you do kind of get a sense of how new to them this all is. It’s a bit unfair, but there are a few moments where they seem a little bit wooden. It is wonderful how they brought the book to life though and I’m so glad it was such a success, otherwise maybe we would never have gotten to see the other seven films.

The thing that always stands out to me in both Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets is how close they stick to the books, sometimes it kind of holds them back a little. With the later films they tend to divert slightly in little ways which makes it easier to separate the two; you’ve got the Harry Potter books and the Harry Potter films. The first two are much, much closer.

By Chamber of Secrets the kids kind of hit their stride. I was slightly surprised to find that I enjoyed it so much more this time around than I have on previous viewings. It was good to watch the one straight after the other like that.

Day 2 (Saturday): Prisoner of Azkaban & Goblet of Fire & Order of the Phoenix
I know there’s a lot of people who hate Prisoner of Azkaban because it diverts from the book quite heavily, but honestly it’s got to be one of my very favourites. I love the way it is filmed with the shots of Hogwarts and the Whomping Willow to cut between the action. I wish I could just frame some of the images.

With Prisoner of Azkaban I find myself watching the background as much as I’m watching the foreground. The first two films are populated with extras who do a good job of filling up the background, but in the third film there’s so much action happening in the background as well. Each time I watch it, I notice something new. Plus it easily has one of the best end credit sequences in any film ever, I quite happily sit and watch them all the way through each time I watch it.

The problem with films based on books, the main thing that makes me feel wary whenever I see those little words ‘based on a book by…’ is that I’m going to be missing out on vast chunks of the story if I’ve not read the book already. Obviously, with the Harry Potter books, this is never going to be an issue for me, and I always feel like the first three films work well enough on their own that if someone’s watching them without being familiar with the books, they’ll be able to follow the story just fine. Of course, if you’ve not read the books you really should! otherwise you’re missing out on all sorts of important bits of backstory (and side-story) as well as little amusing jokes and things.

With Goblet of Fire I always feel that for someone seeing it without having read the book, bits are going to be confused. Of all the books needing to be split this one definitely would have been top of my list. They made changes and then made leaps through the story in a totally different way to Prisoner of Azkaban; take the Quidditch World cup, before the action can start properly it cuts to the end, there’s a bit more action and then they’re on the way to Hogwarts. As much as I enjoy it, I find myself thinking about all the action happening between the cuts, it feels like a flipbook of all the best bits of the book.

Compared to Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix feels like a far more complete film. Again, there are some little changes which I’m always a little disappointed by. The biggest change is that you don’t get to see inside St. Mungo’s. It’s always been my favourite bit of the book. I love the idea of a wizarding hospital, in fact, I always kind of picture it the way I the dental hospital on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow looks. When this film came out I was really looking forward to that bit so it not being there is always a bit of a shame.

Other than that though, I like this one. I always kind of overlook this one when I’m running through the films in my mind, or rather, I remember the events at the end, but kind of forget the rest of the film. It’s good to see a bit more of Snape, during the Legilimency lessons and the little flashbacks. I do think James Potter needed a good slap as a teenager.

This film is also where things start getting much darker, as well as the kids getting older. For that reason it feels a bit more like a grown up film. There’s a little bit less humour than in the previous films. This one feels like a bridge between the Goblet of Fire and what’s to come in the next three films. I don’t think I’d seen it as many times as the earlier ones either, while we were watching it, I kept on realising that there were bits that I’d kind of forgotten.

Tonight we’re just planning on the one film, Half-Blood Prince so that we can then go on and watch both parts of Deathly Hallows on Monday. To be honest, I didn’t really think we’d manage to watch them all, but so far, so good!


  1. I want a Harry Potter Marathon now too... I probably won't get around to the books this year, but the films might be doable.

    I remember when the first film came out we booked the tickets online then turned up on the wrong day! Doh!

    1. It was really good watching them so close together like that. Quite funny watching them age like crazy in the space of just a few days.

      Did you show up a day early or a day late? A day late would definitely be worse!


Let me know what you think. :-)