The Tribune - Spectrum

, April 28, 2002

Harry Potterís world of magic will keep you enchanted!
Ervell E. Menezes

The best part of Harry Potter and the Sorcererís Stone is its ambience
The best part of Harry Potter and the Sorcererís Stone is its ambience

FIRST it was The Lord of the Rings. Now it is Harry Potter and the Sorcererís Stone.Hollywood is back to fairy tale world with wizards and witchcraft and that anything-is-possible mould. In the case of Harry Potter, however, it is a cute beginning with poor little Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), a modern-day David Copperfield always at the receiving end of the stick from his foster family: his bullying uncle, callous aunt and spoiled sick and greedy cousin. So when he finds a way out of his misery the audience is all with little Harry.

In fact when his obnoxious uncle tells Harry that "there is no such thing as magic," it is a hint of the shape of things to come. Not for nothing does Harry have an owl delivering him an invitation for his eleventh birthday. But when his foster family keeps the invites from Harry, Reubens Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), an enormous giant, takes it upon himself to meet Harry personally and give his guardians (hardly the right term) a dose of their own medicine.

Thus begins Harryís entry into the magic world of Hogwarts, with shades of the Middle Earth of The Lord of the Rings. But J.K. Rowlingís popular childrenís novel, on which the film is based, is so enmeshed in never-ending action that the message of love is quite lost in the bushels of chaff.


There are some clever touches like Harry choosing the wands, magic wands that is. The wand selects the wizard they say and not the other way around and that not all wizards are good, some go bad. As for the entry to Hogwarts, it is graphically achieved and when Harry meets wizards-in-training Hermoine (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), it opens new vistas in this quaint new world which bewitches the mind and ensnares the senses.

Black Hawk Down tries to salvage USAís sagging image in wars abroad
Black Hawk Down tries to salvage USAís sagging image in wars abroad

Thereís Prof Dumeldore (Richard Harris) of the flowing white beard, Prof McGonagall (Maggie Smith) of the Jane Broody school of thought and Nearly Headless Nick (John Cleese) and many others to provide variety even if they have sweet nothing to do. So far so good.

But despite the innovative screenplay by Steve Kloves and the creation of the right ambience by Chris Columbus it is the inordinate length of the story that tends to undo the initial euphoria. Like The Lord of the Rings it goes on and on endlessly, testing the attention span of both the child and his parent. That brevity is the soul of wit is unwittingly forgotten or simply ignored. That the young trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have the potential to take them places is an understatement but their seniors, Maggie Smith apart, are essentially academic. Perhaps the best part of the film is the ambience created by some enchanting visuals. But these are drowned in so much of super action. If only they could have used the Bunuellian formula, what a world of a difference it would have made.

Black Hawk Down is a docu-drama about how a band of United States Rangers try to quell an internal revolt in Mogadishu, Somalia. They try and invade the place after being air-dropped by the helicopters which are known as Black Hawks. Their mission is to bring to book Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aided in a similar manner in which they went for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

"This is our war, not yours," they are told by the Somalians but these raw youths who donít know the difference between patriotism and meddling, learn their lesson the hard way. It is a no-win situation with their Commander (Sam Shepard) passing the buck when in a tight spot by saying "do what you have to do". They are like lambs ready for the slaughter.

Director Ridley Scott sticks to the book and brings out some gory truths, shades of Robert Altmanís M.A.S.H which showed how a bunch of dedicated but irreverent doctors patched up the wounded in Korea.

However authentic this UNpeace-keeping mission may have been one doubts the timing of this US propaganda. And isnít it possible that the United States is keen to salvage its sagging image in wars abroad after September 11? What about their role in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait and more recently Afghanistan? Can it be wiped out?

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