The first installment in the Harry Potter movie series, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” is now turning 20.
The movie, based on J.K. Rowling’s notorious novel, was the kickstart of a saga that helped shape the childhood of many late millennials and early Generation Z. According to Forbes, the movie grossed around $974 million worldwide which at the time placed it in the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time.
Unlike some of the other movies in the Harry Potter franchise, “The Sorcerer’s Stone” was well received by the critics as well. It has an average of 81 percent in the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, being “certified fresh.”
The movie also notched three nominations to the Academy Awards, and, while it did not win any at the main event, Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) won Best Actress in the Young Artist Awards dubbed as the “Young Oscars.”
“In a way, the movie is like [‘Gone with the Wind’]; the script is faithful, the actors are just right, the sets, costumes, makeup and effects match and sometimes exceed anything one could imagine,” Jonathan Foreman, the main movie critic from the New York Post, wrote in his 2001 review.
Interestingly, while the movie was a key element of culture in many countries, it does not have the same name, or same name translation, everywhere. While American fans might regard the movie as “The Sorcerer’s Stone,” most fans around the world, including in the United Kingdom, (its home country) call the movie “The Philosopher’s Stone.”
The change was made when the book was first published in the United States. After its success in the United Kingdom, the American publisher “Scholastic” decided to publish the book in the United States as well but changed the word in the title from “philosopher” to “sorcerer” because the company felt as though American kids would not want to read something with “philosopher” in the title.
Changes like that are quite common when American media is exported to the United Kingdom and when British media is exported to the United States. One classic example is the popular American cartoon “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” In the United Kingdom, the show was renamed “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles” because British parents felt that “ninjas” had a violent connotation and did not want their children watching the cartoon.
“I understand why they make such changes,” Sydney Greitz (sophomore, psychology), a “diehard Harry Potter” fan, said. “Even though it might be the same language, there are some culture changes [between the United States and the United Kingdom] that lead to the same word being interpreted differently.”
This applies to the Harry Potter series. While the American public might tie the title “The Philosopher’s Stone” to something academical as predicted by Scholastic, the British public associate it with the folk legend of the philosopher’s stone that inspired J.K. Rowling.
Similar to the one in Harry Potter, the stone in the legend (that dates as far back as ancient Greece) can also turn metals into gold or silver and produce the “Elixir of Life,” which expands the lifespan of those who drink it.
This legend has inspired many other pieces of media globally, such as the Japanese anime “Fullmetal Alchemist” and the German fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin.”
While the series is turning 20 this year, its popularity still remains strong, even resulting in a bitter battle between CBS’s Peacock and Warner Bros’ HBO Max over which platform would have the rights to the film. This has shocked even some actors.
"Also, we're all sort of a bit flabbergasted that it's [even] more popular [now]," Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) told “People Magazine.” "We're all a bit surprised by that. We're certainly excited and feel old when we realize that it was 20 years ago that we made the first film."
While it is still early to say that for sure, the Harry Potter franchise is constantly proving that, in the future, it will be seen as a cinematographic classic like Star Wars series (1977) and “The Godfather” (1972).