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Dominik Vetrák
November 16, 2021, 2:28pm
Reading time: 6:32

20 Years of Harry Potter: Top 10 Facts You Might Not Know

Director Chris Columbus reminisces over the magical making of the magnificent fantasy film.

Dominik Vetrák
November 16, 2021, 2:28pm
Reading time: 6:32
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20 Years of Harry Potter: Top 10 Facts You Might Not Know
Zdroj: Warner Bros.
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (also called Sorcerer’s Stone in the USA as the only country where it's not Philosopher's Stone). The film had its official world premiere in theaters on November 16th, 2001. Directed by Chris Columbus, who immediately moved on to the second part.

 

He spent more than a year on making the first two films, after which he felt completely drained, so he "only" produced the third part. Thanks to that, Alfonso Cuarón, as another director, got to shoot the best part of the series. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary, we'd like to reminisce about the picture a bit. We'll try to focus on lesser known facts that you might not be aware of.

1. Harry doesn't use a single wand spell in the entire movie

In the book, Harry uses the wand several times, but there were no extremely important spells. You won't find a single scene in the film in which he'd pick up a wand and utter a spell. He performs magic in the aquarium or even directly in Hogwarts, but never with a wand.

 

This is a fact that surprises almost everyone. Harry is the main character, one of the greatest wizards in modern history (though not notoriously known for his wizard skills), but he doesn't cast a single spell in the whole movie? Who knows if it was the director's intention from the beginning or if it was just a coincidence.

 

 

Source: Warner Bros.

2. The first part was originally directed by Steven Spielberg

After a few months of preparations, the legendary director decided to withdraw from the project. And the reason? A 2001 post on Hollywood.com quotes him as follows:

 

"I just felt that I wasn't ready to make an all-kids movie and my kids thought I was crazy. And the books were by that time popular, so when I dropped out, I knew it was going to be a phenomenon. But, you know, I don't make movies because they're gonna to be phenomenons. I make movies because they have to touch me in a way that really commits me to a year, two years, three years of work. "

 

Source: Rich Fury / Getty Images

 

 3. What did Neville forget?

Neville received a so-called forget-me-not as a gift from his family. A magic ball that would alert him that he had forgotten something. However, as he aptly remarks, he has no idea what exactly he forgot. Given what the scene looks like, the director seems to have decided to answer that question. Neville is the only one at the table not wearing his cloak.

 

Harry Potter a kameň mudrcov oslavuje 20 rokov. Vedel si, že Harry v celom filme prútikom nečaroval ani jediný raz?
Zdroj: Warner Bros.

 

4. Why did Harry's scar hurt every now and then in the first movie?

This would happen especially in the scenes when Professor Quirell was nearby or present in the room. But the key was to have his back turned to Harry. It was then that Harry looked directly at the soul of Lord Voldemort, who lived a menacing life on the top of Quirell's head. There are several tiny details in the film, according to which Quirell, can be expected to be a villain, instead of Snape.

 

Source: Warner Bros.

 

Another one of those moments is the broomball match in which Hermione was convinced that Snape had cursed Harry's broom. Quirell was actually responsible for that, he just wasn't mouthing any spells, while Snape articulated with his mouth. So while Snape was putting out the fire Hermione had caused, he pushed the man above him and the man above him pushed Quirell, so the spell broke.

 

Director Chris Columbus obviously liked the so-called foreshadowing (minor hints of scenes that will occur later in the film). Remember, for example, the chess game between

Harry and Ron that ended in the same way at the end of the film.

 

 

5. Robin Williams wanted to play Hagrid

Unfortunately, director and book author J. K. Rowling both insisted that the cast would be exclusively British. Director Chris Columbus admitted that he had several roles on his mind that he would have loved to play himself, but this particular rule prevented him from doing so. But we ain't mad. Robbie Coltran eventually landed the role, and he did a brilliant job. 

 

 

Harry Potter a kameň mudrcov oslavuje 20 rokov. Vedel si, že Harry v celom filme prútikom nečaroval ani jediný raz?
Zdroj: Warner Bros.

 

6. There actually was real food on the tables in the Great Hall

Surely you remember the spectacular scenes in the Great Hall, where big meetings, breakfasts and the like took place. The tables were mostly full of food, and none of it was fake. In an interview with The Mirror, actor Warwick Davis, who played goblin Griphook and Professor Flitwick, revealed this fun fact. And even though all the food looked good, sometimes it smelled a lot. The scenes in the Great Hall were filmed for several days, so after a few days of being out like that it really stank. Some of it was even rotten.

 

Source: Warner Bros.

 

7. Filming with children's actors was extremely difficult

Neither Emma Watson (Hermione) nor Rupert Grint (Ron) had any previous experience with acting in their Harry Potter roles. Daniel Radcliffe was in a similar situation as Harry, although his parents were active in similar industry and he's previously appeared on some television shows. Even so, nothing would prepare them for the huge production and level of professionalism that these films requested.

 

They were 10- to 11-year-old children who kept staring at the camera and forgetting about their actual job. They couldn't believe they were playing Harry Potter, and they were going crazy. This was revealed by the director of the first two films, Chris Columbus, who remembered the film for The Hollywood Reporter on its 20th anniversary. By the way, he hasn't seen the whole film since its premiere. He is sure he would be critical of his own film and decisions. However, he regularly sees snippets of it, as television stations rerun it every year.

 

Source: Warner Bros.

 

"In the first film, there was not a lot of professional experience between the three leads. That’s why that film was filled with so many cuts. I could only really shoot, for the first three months, a close up of one of the actors before they would lose concentration. The first couple of weeks, all the kids were so excited to be part of the “Harry Potter” film, they were basically just smiling into the cameras. I couldn’t get them to stop smiling, and it really became an exercise and acting class for me as a director. By the time we got to the second film, we were able to do tracking shots and the kids could shoot a master and have a conversation within those shots. They became very professional by the time they got to “Chamber of Secrets,” and then by the time we did “Prisoner of Azkaban,” you could basically shoot the entire film in 15 single takes if you wanted. "

 

They were really struggling with the first one and filmed the same scenes with three or four cameras. They didn't know how the children would react to each other, so they caught them from different angles and focused on different actors to be able to put something together from those shots.

 

Source: Warner Bros.

 

Columbus recalls that he lost 7 pounds during the shoot just because he was constantly on the set, helping children visualize and imagine what they should react to as characters. After all, they were children and they couldn't imagine any magical creatures or Voldemort on the top of their heads instead of the green screen.

 

He sometimes replaced the central trio of actors. For example, if Rupert Grint (Ron) had to be at school or somewhere else, he was portrayed off the camera by Columbus so that Emma Watson could imagine him better (Hermione).

8. Alan Rickman knew the truth about Snape before the first film was made

The director himself told Variety. J. K. Rowling was already finishing her fourth book at the time of preparing the film, and she also had an idea how the story of Severus Snape would end, along with the plot twist. Alan Rickman, who portrayed Snape, was one of the few people in the world, who knew about it years before the seventh book was even published. He received instructions from the book's author, thanks to which he knew the character much better than screenwriters and directors.

 

Whenever director Columbus found strange the way he played certain scenes, how he portrayed certain dialogues, or how he made gestures and facial expressions, Rickman just told him to trust him. He refused to reveal Snape's fate and the truth about his character, but he knew exactly how to play the scenes in the first films so that they would take on a new meaning with the seventh part.

 

Source: Warner Bros.

 

9. Owls trained letter delivery for 6 months 

The pre-production team had it extremely tough. Inventing a fantasy world with a lot of details from scratch is always a monstrous task, but they did an amazing job. The training of owls, which were supposed to be able to carry envelopes with leaves in their beaks, was also a bit of a riddle. As you can imagine, it wasn't easy. Apparently it took the coaches half a year and they still had a lot of problems with them during the filming.

 

Harry Potter a kameň mudrcov oslavuje 20 rokov. Vedel si, že Harry v celom filme prútikom nečaroval ani jediný raz?
Zdroj: Warner Bros.

10. Harry was supposed to have green eyes in the movies, and Hermione an overbite

You may remember that Harry had green eyes and Hermione a minor overbite in the book. In the movies, however, Harry has naturally blue eyes like Daniel Radcliffe. The actor received an allergic reaction to contact lenses that were meant to change the color of his eyes. And Emma Watson was incomprehensible with the overbite denture.

 

Director Columbus said himself that all three children were much more beautiful than the characters he had originally imagined (Hermione in particular should not have been as beautiful in other parts as Emma Watson).

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Thumbnail: Warner Bros.
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