Harry Potter and the fidelity debate

Deborah Cartmell, Imelda Whelehan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This chapter takes as example the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), and its film adaptation, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), to show how a commitment to fidelity (in response to the perceived demands of readers/ viewers) compromises the processes of adaptation. The intention to include ‘everything’ in the film adaptation of the book is analysed to show how this ultimately throws what is left ‘out’ into even sharper relief. Extraordinarily, what is left out is the cinematic dimensions of the novel—most essentially, the novel’s appropriation of Star Wars, which has been argued to be the defining text of contemporary popular cinema. The impossibility of translating the narrative and literary traditions behind the Harry Potter novels onto screen is the focus of this chapter. Concentrating mainly on the most filmic episodes in the first Harry Potter novel, this chapter looks at Chris Columbus’s missed opportunities, resulting in the virtually unanimous ‘not as good as the book’ reviews.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBooks in Motion
Subtitle of host publicationAdaptation, Intertextuality, Authorship
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherEditions Rodopi b.v.
ISBN (Print)9042019573
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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