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20 Years Of ‘Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone’

The turn of the millennium had brought a double ration of disbelief and the practical disappearance of teenagers from juvenile cinema. The golden years of Amblin , the Goonies troop , Elliott, ET and their flying bikes had been blown off the screens. The cinema told us that the students were like the ones in Crueles Intentions (1999), with a chocolate bar and stunning breasts, but the students knew that they were not. And they wanted to see themselves on screen.

Jessica and Alice
Sometimes you just have that, magic. It was what happened to Jessica’s mother . With a sentimental personal life shattered, a horse depression, unemployed and after flirting with suicide, he dedicated himself to writing in Edinburgh bars while Jessica slept. The result was the adventures of a wizard boy named Harry Potter. Between 1995 and 1997, rejection letters piled up at JK Rowling’s apartment like Hogwarts invitations at the Dudleys’. Until the modest publisher Bloomsbury decided to risk publishing it. All because Alice, the eight-year-old daughter of its director, Nigel Newton , had been hooked on the story.

Dahlia and Daniel
The manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone began to run through the production companies. Also on Heyday , owned by David Heyman , a Briton returned from trying the Hollywood dream. Bored with indie cinema, he was looking for stories that his brothers, Dahlia (14) and Daniel (10) might like. Every weekend the team read a novel. Harry’s galleys rested on his table for weeks.

“Every Friday we decided what we would read over the weekend,” Heyman recalls. His assistant Nisha Parti came back excited one Monday. Harry Potter was going to become a movie and, put to dream, a franchise capable of enchanting the entire planet. That was in 1997. In the four years that passed between the debut in the bookstores and the release of the film, Mr. Potter became the icon of a country, a James Bond for the new generations. That book for which Bloomsbury had paid $ 4,000 received an advance of 100,000 for its American edition. Heyman would have to turn literary success into a true cinematographic philosopher’s stone.

Still from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ‘Still from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ‘Cinemania
When the project got underway, there were already three potters on the shelves. Young and old devoured the adventures of the magician glasses. There was a waiting list to head the project. Eleanor urged her father to sign up. His father was named Chris Columbus and he had experience in adventures starring homeless children in boarding schools.

He had directed Alone at home and scripted The Goonies and, above all, The Secret of the Pyramid, about the detective beginnings of Sherlock Holmes. So even though he was an American, he knew what the British expected of him . He was presented to Heyman with various stills and ideas drawn from two Dickensian adaptations of David Lean , Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. But Columbus himself admits that a producer told him: “Forget about introductions. The real reason we hired you is because you are good at kids. You’re going to get us a good cast . “

Emma, ​​Rupert and Daniel
And to that he began, to look for the three of Gryffindors . The first two were straightforward. Rupert dazzled them with an audition in which he even scored a rap to become Ron Weasley ; Blondie Hermione would be played by Emma Watson , whose only flaw – according to the producers – was being too pretty, so her hair was teased. The problem was choosing Harry, the “boy who survived.”

Still from the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.Still from the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.20 MINUTES
Columbus was clear that he wanted Daniel Radcliffe , the only one with professional experience, but there was a problem: Mom and Dad Radcliffe, both industrial workers, were stubborn Muggles. They did not want their son to be enchanted by the magic of the cinema under any circumstances. And that was essential, because Columbus, after his experience in Home Alone with the Culkins, was clear that for a franchise: “ We had to choose both the boys and their parents. We had to make sure that these boys had family support, and that the fame that was going to befall them did not affect them ”. Skipping protocol, Heyman tackled Daddy Radcliffe at a play in Soho. Columbus had his Potter.

The trio would be taught lessons by the Hogwarts cloister. In front of all of them, Ella’s grandfather. Former representative of the producer’s father, Richard Harris had been a worthy dipsomaniac, who drank ethyl potions from cauldrons. He had a reputation for being a savage and was not interested in the role … but even the fiercest beast has his little heart. In the encyclopedic Harry Potter: From Page to Screen , he gives the reasons for his change of mind: “My granddaughter Ella phoned me and said, ‘Abu, if you don’t play Dumbledore , I won’t speak to you again!’ So I didn’t have much of a choice. “

Along with Harris were the best of English tables, a constellation brighter than forty Snitchs put together: Maggie Smith, John Hurt, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman or John Cleese . All more British than the carpet in the bathroom. Nationality was the Expecto Patronum capable of warding off American dementors like Robin Williams, who did their best to sneak into the Hogwarts cloister. The only exception was Eleanor, the urgent daughter of Columbus, who played Susan Bones , yes, without a line of text, punished for guiri.

Still from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’Still from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’Cinemania
Stuart iii
The world imagined by the former unemployed had to be built, especially so that newcomers had something to hold on to. Triple Oscar winner ( Ghandi, Dangerous Friendships and The English Patient ), Stuart Craig was one of the most renowned production directors in the world. Such a resume is not done in a day. Like Harris, Craig was not old enough to be a dad, but he was a grandfather. “I was decorating my future grandson’s bedroom when I got a call to meet David and Chris. I read the novel on the plane. My first reaction was panic: how the hell were we going to do that? ”He confessed to The Guardian.

They built the Great Hall, in the image and likeness of Oxford , in the dilapidated studio at Leavesden , London, and built the thousand-year-old College of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the valley of Glencoe, in the Scottish Highlands. A place as beautiful as it was humid, where it rained heavily, repeatedly destroying Hagrid’s cabin and Columbus’s patience.

Being minors, Radcliffe and the others could only work a certain number of hours. The contracts had to be redone to extend them another four-month period. On the other hand, only Rowling knew how the story ended. If anything, Alan Rickman , to whom the author confidently confessed the fate of her character, Severus Snape , could sense the ending. Radcliffe, just in case, he would already be crying: as Harry must have had green eyes and they did not want to disappoint the fans, they plugged him in contact lenses of that color, and the poor thing was all day with sore eyes.

Still from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’Still from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’Cinemania
The reception lived up to expectations. The impossible seemed feasible. The protagonists, the children and the grandchildren who had pushed the adults to make this adaptation were captivated by an authentic filmic Expelliarmus, an enchanting spell that grossed 974 million dollars, being the second highest grossing film in history at the time .

20 years have passed . We have all changed. Radcliffe is no longer the boy who survived, he is a hairy man who has overcome his addiction to alcohol. Worse has aged the centaur Firenze, the loudest of all computer-created beings. Along the way, many of his legendary teachers and advisers have remained, such as the first Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Snape (Alan Rickman), or Mr. Ollivander ( John Hurt ), but his great teaching remains: life, without magic. of a book or a screen, it is not worth living.

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