The Harry Potter Films Are the Best Adaptations of All Time

harry potter adaptation

As Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the 10th installment in the popular Harry Potter film franchise, and serves as a reminder of how expansive and entertaining the wizarding world created by author J.K. Rowling has been ever since the debut of the first Harry Potter novel in 1997.

Following the classic battle between good and evil within the coming-of-age story of Harry Potter and his friends, the fantasy novel series quickly became a bonafide global phenomenon and one of the best-selling, most beloved franchises of all time.

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Inevitably, the novels were adapted for a big screen series which, compared to many of its counterparts, maintained a relatively strong fidelity to the original source material and generally improved across each entry. Ultimately, the films even expanded upon and enriched the novels from which they were adapted. That was something that was present and built upon ever since the very first adaptation in 2001, with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Rowling had been reluctant to sell the cinematic license to her novel series, but ultimately sold the rights to Warner Bros. in 1999. The author then worked closely with director Chris Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves to ensure that the translation from prose to live-action would not only be faithful, but also not contradict events in the upcoming novels at the time.

The casting of the series' main characters with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint was further elevated with a supporting ensemble of veteran British actors including Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, and Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid.

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While faithfully bringing its setting and characters to life, the first two installments of the film series are arguably the weakest. Though serviceable and serving as a cinematic introduction to the wider world of Harry Potter, The Sorcerer's Stone and its 2002 sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets focus more on the visual spectacle than the emotional core of its characters and stories; the mystery at the heart of each narrative is more obligatory than deliberate.

There is a workmanlike attitude to the films, as if Columbus was going through a checklist of elements to include in both films rather than lean more heavily into the characters themselves.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This was rectified by 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban under new director Alfonso Cuarón. By now, the lead actors were growing into their roles as they grew up, themselves. This is perhaps one of the biggest added benefits of the novels being adapted for the screen: seeing the cast age and mature visually, which is simply assumed in print.

There is a marked contrast from Radcliffe and his co-stars' performances and appearances by the third film from their first and even second outings, and the long-game casting is beginning to pay off as early as The Prisoner of Azkaban.

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This trend continued into 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which saw an end to the innocence of its main characters when Voldemort made his full resurrection at the cost of one of Harry's classmates.

The fourth film also marked the beginning of British filmmakers helming each of the entries moving forward for the franchise, with Mike Newell bringing the British sensibilities and sense of humor omnipresent in the novels in his adaptation -- an element that would be retained by his successor.

Next Page: The Order of the Phoenix ... And Beyond

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