No book-to-film adaptation is perfect, but for a long time, Harry Potter fans have felt that The Philosopher’s Stone was the closest to perfect that fandom got. The film honored the integrity of the book and even lifted dialogue directly from the source material. It also did a good job of launching the movie fandom — without the success of The Philosopher’s Stone, the rest of the movies might never have been made.
But the movie does make some changes from the book. Some are huge, some are less important, but diehard Potterheads — and especially the Ravenclaws out there — have noticed all of them.
10 Harry’s Eyes
Technically, we could mention this difference for every movie, but we’ll only count it for Philosopher’s Stone. Throughout the books, author J.K. Rowling made a big deal of Harry’s green eyes that were just like his mother’s. In fact, Harry’s eyes become a downright plot point in the seventh film, when Snape’s true motivations are revealed.
You might have noticed, however, that Daniel Radcliffe has blue eyes. Is this the end of the world? No, of course not. Especially because Geraldine Somerville, the actress that played Harry’s mother, also has blue eyes. So the logic still follows: Harry’s eyes are just like Lily’s, which weighs heavily on Severus Snape.
9 Hagrid Takes Harry to King’s Cross
In the film, when Hagrid bursts into Harry’s life on his 11th birthday and changes it forever, it’s July 31. After they shop in Diagon Alley the next day and get Harry everything he needs, the next thing we see is Hagrid dropping Harry off at King’s Cross for the train.
But the train leaves from Platform 9¾ on September 1. Did Harry spend the full month of August with Hagrid? In the book, Harry is returned to the Dursleys’ house to eagerly count down the days until he can leave for Hogwarts. They take him to King’s Cross on September 1 dropping him off without making sure he safely finds his train, as the Dursleys are wont to do.
8 When Harry Met Draco
Speaking of that trip to Diagon Alley... film-Harry doesn’t meet Draco at Madame Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions. In the book, Draco Malfoy is a snide boy who is getting his robes hemmed at the same time Harry walks in. They don’t exchange names, but Malfoy does say some mean things about Hagrid, causing Harry to dislike him immediately. They meet again on the Hogwarts Express, where Draco tells Harry not to make friends with “the wrong sort.”
In the movie, Harry and Draco don’t meet until they’re already in the castle. Draco still says his line about the Weasleys, and Harry still gets to snap back at him with one of his signature witty retorts.
7 McGonagall’s Sass
In the books, especially Philosopher’s Stone, McGonagall is a wonderful professor and watches out for Harry, but she’s also a bit of a worrier. The first chapter opens with her questioning Dumbledore’s decision to leave Harry with the Dursleys. (She had a point.) In the movie, she’s less openly worrisome and is a bit sassier. Who could forget the classic exchange she had with Ron Weasley when he and Harry were late for class? She mused about transfiguring them into pocket watches so they might be on time.
It’s too bad this amazing exchange never happened in the books because it makes us all love McGonagall just a little bit more.
6 Underplaying Hermione’s Role
In the fight against Professor Quirrell in the book, there is one more challenge after the giant chess set: Harry and Hermione have to use logic to outsmart Snape’s protective barrier to the Stone. It’s a riddle of seven potions, one that moves the drinker forward, one that sends them back, one that kills them, and four others that are fairly innocuous but also useless to them in the journey. In the book, Hermione figures it out while Harry stands by helplessly.
No such challenge exists in the movie. After the chess game, Harry immediately confronts Quirrell, eliminating the moment when we all realized how brilliant and useful and utterly necessary Hermione was going to be for Harry’s journey. Maybe they made the change to alleviate the cruel moment in the books when Harry and Hermione left Ron behind after he was injured. Or maybe they just thought it would be boring to watch. Nevertheless, it’s a crucial moment of character development that was disappointing to lose.
5 That Heartbreaking Birthday Cake
After Vernon Dursley loses his mind and takes the family to an abandoned cabin on a rock in the ocean, Harry counts down to his birthday alone. In the book, he simply watches the minutes tick by on Dudley’s watch, wondering if the Dursleys will remember his eleventh birthday at all. But Hagrid arrives at the stroke of midnight, pushing that thought right out of Harry’s mind.
In the movie, the moment is a yank-at-your-heart-strings sob fest. In the dirt on the disgusting floor, Harry draws himself a cake and writes “Happy Birthday” in it. He blows out the “candles” he created alone. If you didn’t cry when you saw this...how?
4 Ron’s Best Seven Words
In many ways, Ron Weasley is the character that loses most of his strengths in the book-to-movie adaptations. For people who’ve only watched the movies and never read the books, Ron seems like a moody and useless git. Not true in the books.
However, The Philosopher’s Stone does give Ron one amazing moment that he actually didn’t get in the book. In both versions, Hermione gets mad at the boys after their midnight adventure, saying, “I’m going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed. Or worse, expelled.” But it’s only in the movie that Ron replies, “She needs to sort out her priorities.” Iconic.
3 What Happened to Peeves?
Peeves the Poltergeist doesn’t make an appearance in The Philosopher’s Stone, which is a tragedy, because he was one of the best sources of comic relief in the books. Peeves' pranks and songs always struck the perfect blend of malicious-but-humorous. So why was he cut out?
Late British comedian Rik Mayall was actually cast to play Peeves in the movie but was cut after three weeks of filming. Apparently he kept making the extras giggle when they weren’t supposed to. Who knows if that’s actually why his part was cut, but he did later go on to say that “the film was s**t,” so maybe it was for the best after all.
2 The Welcome Feast
In the book, the first years are sorted into their new houses during the Welcome Feast. First, the Sorting Hat sings a song, then the first years are sorted alphabetically (putting Potter toward the end, which makes him nervous), then the Headmaster gives a speech. Dumbledore’s speech was particularly memorable if a bit strange: “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” Finally, the school song is sung — and this only happens once in the books.
In the movie, however, a lot of that changed. The first years were sorted completely out of alphabetical order, then Dumbledore didn’t give his strange-but-amusing speech. Most importantly, The Sorting Hat didn't sing its song, which is too bad because we learned a lot about the difference Hogwarts houses through it. Obviously it all would have taken a lot of time, but losing it all takes a little of the silliness out of Hogwarts.
1 The Name of the Forest
At the welcome feast every year, Dumbledore gives a general speech. It often welcomes new students and reminds people of school rules, usually with a bit of a look at the Weasley twins to make sure they’re listening. In The Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore says, “First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils.” Later, readers learn that it’s called the Forbidden Forest.
In the movie, "Forbidden" became "Dark" for no clear reason. Except… perhaps calling it the Dark Forest makes more sense, because saying it’s forbidden, then sending students in there for detention — at midnight, no less — doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But then again, there are a lot of things about the wizarding world that seem strange to us Muggles.