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Star Ledger Harry Potter Special!

'Harry Potter,' the movie, is by the book


Potterphiles will not be disappointed by the movie version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which opens everywhere on Friday. In fact, if you've read the book even once -- is there anybody who's read it only once? -- then there won't be many surprises.

As in the book, Hagrid arrives on his flying motorcycle and delivers baby Harry to the Dursley's doorsteps. When he's about to turn 11, Harry gets his acceptance letter -- thousands of them, actually -- to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And when Harry finally arrives, via the Hogwarts Express, he meets the kindly headmaster, Prof. Dumbledore as well as the bullying fellow first year, Draco Malfoy.

There are hazards that are overcome, including a rampaging mountain troll and a smelly, three-headed dog; professors that are outsmarted and spells that are thwarted. There are dinner plates that clean themselves, candles that hang in mid-air, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. (Watch out for the vomit-flavored ones!)

And of course, there's the Socerer's stone, which, thanks to Harry, Ron and Hermione, is saved at the very last minute from Lord Voldemort's grasp.

Just a few details are different. The Forbidden Forest is called the Dark Forest in the movie, and only one centaur, Firenze, makes an appearance. Also, Peeves, the ghost who's always playing nasty tricks on the students, is absent.

More importantly, Norbert, Hagrid's baby dragon, gets his send-off off-screen, which means that Harry, Ron and Hermione don't get caught sneaking Norbert's crate up one of the castle's towers, which means Harry doesn't cause Gryffindor House to lose even more points. In the book, Harry briefly becomes an outcast among the other students after that incident, but that's not the case in the movie.

If you're a huge Quidditch fan, you'll be a little disappointed that there's only one match in the movie. The second one, the Quidditch match that Prof. Snape referees, doesn't take place.

But pretty much, it's all there -- the Dursleys, Platform 9-and three-quarters, the people in the portraits who never stay still; Nearly-Headless Nick and the Bloody Baron, Hedwig, Fang and Fluffy; Professors Flitwick, McGonagall and Quirrelll; Madame Hooch and Mrs. Norris.

Best of all, Hagrid is as huge and as hairy -- and as sweet and as sentimental -- as you expect. Only thing is, you never do see him knitting on the train, or shaking his head at that ludicrous invention we Muggles call a parking meter.

Oh well, maybe next time.

-Amy Ellis Nutt


2001 by Star Ledger