Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone brings overwhelming joy to so many people, and for good reason. Released four years after the first volume of JK Rowling’s beloved book series was first published, the film would culminate the daydreams and imaginings of fans young and old. Outside of their mind’s eye, what would the character’s look like? How great and grand would Hogwarts be? We pinned our wildest hopes on The Philosopher’s Stone – and we were not disappointed.
The world was rich and bright, flourished with the ornate and the quaintly charming from Diagon Alley to the Burrow. Alongside Harry, viewers were slowly ushered into this beautiful world. Intimidating and wondrous from its first scene, the dark Hogwarts castle was illuminated by wand light and lanterns. Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone truly captures the pure, innocent magic of the whole Harry Potter series, and this cannot be more true than of its Christmas scene.
The sight of Hagrid towing in a felled, proportionally giant size Christmas tree against the snow is shortly followed by the rich, fire lit interiors of Hogwarts. On Christmas day, Harry wakes to snow outside the window contrasting against an empty Gryffindor tower’s red and gold banners overlaid with ornate festive decorations – everyone has gone home for the holidays. Everyone, that is, except for Ron. Ron, who has stayed away from his own family so that his new best friend won’t be staying at school alone.
Harry stands at the top of the stairs looking down on Gryffindor’s common room, and he and Ron wish each other a Happy Christmas. There is a moment of pure love there, and it resonates in the beat of silence that follows. But then there is the sound of feet on the stairs, and the bright music of Christmas bells.There is a warm fire’s crackle, and children eagerly opening their presents in their pyjamas. And there is Harry, who for everything that has changed in his life over the past few months, did not in the slightest expect even a single present.
This scene, to me, is Christmas – it is honest, and innocent, and heartfelt. This moment captures what other films do in their whole duration, and distills it down to a minute long. Sharing, and surrounding yourself with people you love. In a whole franchise about magic, I cannot help but feel the most magical of all is the sheer joy on the face of a little boy who, when surrounded by all that the wizarding world will have to offer him, at that moment wants nothing more than a ugly hand-knitted Christmas jumper, made only for him.