Since being orphaned as a baby, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has lived with his aunt and uncle, who’ve made him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. But Harry is actually a wizard. He was placed in the home by Professor Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), veteran wizards who run Hogwarts, a boarding school for sorcerers. By placing him with his aunt and uncle, Dumbledore and McGonagall hoped to keep Harry safe from the evil wizard Voldemort, who killed his parents.
Harry’s aunt and uncle have attempted to conceal his wizard background. In spite of their efforts, Harry is retrieved by Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) on the eve of his 11th birthday and is soon bound for Hogwarts School. While on the train to the wizard school, Harry quickly makes friends with two other first-year students, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson).
As they begin their training at the school, the three friends become suspicious about some strange things occurring there. They learn about the Philosopher’s Stone, a rock with magical powers that can turn any metal into gold and create an elixir that ensures immortality. They soon become involved in many frightening adventures, which bring them up against the evil Voldemort.
Death of parents; the supernatural; cruelty to children
This movie includes some violence. For example:
- As a baby, Harry has a slightly bloody cut shaped like a lightning bolt on his forehead.
- Harry’s cousin, Dudley, deliberately pushes Harry into a cupboard and then kicks the door closed while laughing. Later Uncle Vernon grabs Harry by his hair, shoves him into a cupboard and bolts the door.
- While looking at a snake exhibit at the zoo, Harry is shoved out of the way by Dudley and falls to the ground. The glass on the snake enclosure disappears, and Dudley falls through into the snake’s enclosure. A very large anaconda slithers across him while people scream.
- Uncle Vernon points a shotgun threateningly at Hagrid, who grabs hold of the end of the shotgun and effortlessly bends the gun’s barrel upwards. The gun goes off and blasts a hole in the ceiling.
- A giant troll walks down a hall at Hogwarts and enters the girl’s toilets to find Hermione. Hermione screams and then hides in a toilet cubicle. The troll uses his giant club to smash the toilet cubicle and toilet bowl, narrowly missing Hermione. Harry and Ron arrive and throw debris at the troll, hitting him in the head. Harry jumps on to the troll’s head. The troll grabs him and holds him upside down while trying to hit Harry with his club. Ron levitates the troll’s club into the air and it falls on to the troll’s head, knocking him unconscious.
- During a quidditch match (a cross between basketball and rugby on flying broomsticks), students deliberately run into each other and knock other students off their broomsticks. They violently kick, elbow and throw balls at other riders.
- Hermione points her wand at a fellow student and chants a spell, and we see the boy stiffen and fall backwards.
- During a game of giant wizards’ chess, the giant chess pieces use swords and axes to smash and destroy each other. Ron is thrown off a horse, unconscious.
- Professor Quirrell uses magic to compel Harry to walk towards him, shouting and threatening him. Quirrell clicks his fingers and a wall of flames erupts in front of Harry, preventing him from escaping.
- Voldemort, in the form of a face on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head, orders Quirrell to kill Harry. While Quirrell attacks and strangles him, Harry grabs hold of Quirrell. Quirrell takes on a burnt, mummified appearance before turning to ash and disintegrating. A swirling, grey, ghost-like image rises up out of Quirrell’s ashes and flies through Harry’s body. Harry falls back unconscious with his face and hands covered in bloody cuts and scratches.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- The shadowy/silhouetted image of a cat transforms into a woman.
- Aunt Petunia and Dudley hold each other and scream hysterically as their house shakes and a storm of magical letters bursts out of the fireplace and swirls around them.
- Harry, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley are in a small cabin. Someone bangs on the wooden door very loudly, then smashes it in. A very large, hairy, wild-looking man (Hagrid) comes through the door.
- The movie features scary characters including goblins, a three-headed dog, a green scaly troll and a centaur.
- There is a flashback image of Voldemort murdering Harry’s parents.
- Transparent images of ghosts float through the air and through walls at Hogwarts. One ghost almost pulls his own head off. The head stays attached by a thread of skin, with some blood and gore on the neck wound.
- Harry opens a magical book and a creepy face tries to push its way out while screaming.
- While doing detention in the forbidden forest, Harry and another boy come across a dead unicorn with a cloaked figure sucking its blood. We see a quick image of silver blood dripping from the sides of the mouth beneath the hood.
- Professor Quirrell unwraps his turban to reveal Voldemort’s scary face pushing out of the back of his head.
Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes and images mentioned above.
Most children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example, Hagrid talks about visiting pubs. He walks into one pub and the bartender asks him if he would like ‘the usual’.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
None of concern
This movie contains some low-level coarse language, name-calling and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a fantasy movie targeting a young adolescent audience, based on the book of the same name. It follows the book faithfully and is also likely to entertain adult audiences. You are strongly cautioned that the movie is sometimes intense. It contains violence, dark moments and visual images capable of scaring or disturbing younger children, particularly those who haven’t read the book. At 151 minutes, the movie is also too long for younger children.
The main messages from this movie are about the importance of getting on with your life rather than dwelling on dreams. It also highlights friendship and good triumphing over evil.
Values in this movie you might like to reinforce with your children include bravery and selflessness. You could also talk about the real-life consequences of knowingly placing yourself in a dangerous situation. These consequences might be far more serious than shown in the movie.