TV & Movies

10 Things I Noticed Rewatching Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

What’s up with Quirrell’s nails?

Rewatching the first 'Harry Potter' film provides clues, foreshadowing, and fun Easter eggs. Photo v...
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No, it’s not a faulty Time-Turner — 20 years really have passed since the first Harry Potter film made its debut. Whether you’re still an active fan or have tucked your love for Potter away in the cupboard under the stairs, it’s hard to ignore the series’ impact. From college Quidditch teams to the persistently popular four-house personality system, the Boy Who Lived is inescapable. (Next to your Enneagram number, Myers-Briggs type, and astrological chart, it’s still among the most trusted pop-psychology metrics.)

Granted, the films’ legacy is complicated, too — especially in regards to J. K. Rowling’s transphobic comments, which have led many onetime Potterheads to disavow the books in protest of the author’s bigotry. But as Daniel Radcliffe wrote in a 2020 open letter for The Trevor Project, the series still belongs to its fans:

“If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred.”

With Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson set to reunite New Year’s Day in honor of the series’ birthday, there’s no better time to catch up on the film that started it all. Below, 11 things that stood out during a rewatch of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Count the trending TikTok sounds

It’s always fun to see a film or TV show and realize: That’s where that TikTok sound came from! The first Harry Potter film birthed a few trends that the chronically-on-TikTok might recognize, like the “how many are there!?” audio (which is from a scene where Dudley asks his parents about his birthday gifts), or Kimberly Pizzo’s hilarious reenactment of the climactic chess show-down.

Where have I heard that before?

Listen close, and you’ll realize: Certain moments in the Harry Potter score sound a lot like that of Home Alone. It seems obvious in hindsight — they share a composer in John Williams, and Chris Columbus directed both of them, too — but it’s still fun to compare. (Check it out on Spotify: “Hedwig’s Theme” and “Somewhere in my Memory” are especially similar.)

There’s an early nod to Professor Quirrell’s secret

When Hagrid and Harry first run into Quirrell at The Leaky Cauldron, Hagrid remarks that he didn’t see the professor at first. It seems innocent enough — a reference to how Quirrell blends in with the crowd. However, moments before the exchange, Quirrell can briefly be seen in the background with his head bowed way down (i.e., Voldemort side facing Harry), which seems way more sinister in hindsight.

Also, his mani changes during the movie

Inexplicably, Quirrell’s nails grow super long by the end of the film. This was probably meant to make him look more villainous — but now, all I can think is how good the almond-shaped talons would look with some polish.

Harry was destined for Quidditch success

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Even before Harry hears about Quidditch (or realizes his genetic knack for the sport), he admires some gear in a a Diagon Alley window display — and lingers on a group of children ogling at the Nimbus 2000. At first, it might look like Harry’s just getting swept up in the trappings of the Wizarding World. And he is! But his special attention to the sport equipment is the first clue that he’s especially attuned to this new, magical game.

Professor McGonagall played, too

Professor McGonagall’s initials can be seen alongside James Potter’s in the Gryffindor trophy case, suggesting she was an athlete, too. But her plaque reads 1971, and James’ says 1972, making them contemporaries — even though McGonagall’s meant to be much older. (There’s also the obvious possibility that M. G. McGonagall actually refers to someone else in the witch’s family, but if so, we never meet them.) Most likely, it’s just one of those early-franchise anachronisms that get hazy if you look at the timeline too hard.

Hermione has crimped hair

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Hermione’s hair in the books is described as “bushy,” but Watson’s real locks are pretty smooth. To get her hair a little more book-accurate, it looks like her hair was crimped for some scenes of The Sorcerer’s Stone — and adorably, every once in a while, the effect makes her look a little more like Lizzie McGuire than a precocious young witch.

Since the series ended, Watson hasn’t been shy vocalizing her distaste for the early look. “When I see the images again from the first Harry Potter, I immediately think how bad my hair was,” she told Vogue Italia in 2015. But hey, Hermione was in the equivalent of Muggle middle school! An awkward hairstyle is part of the deal.

Anne Boleyn went to Hogwarts, possibly

The path to the dorms is surrounded by portraits — many of them moving portraits — of notable witches and wizards. And apparently, Anne Boleyn is one of them? About an hour into the movie, the storied royal figure (who some claimed was a witch during her time) can be seen in the background. So can a painting of a wizard who looks a lot like William Shakespeare.

The wardrobe feels different for a key reason

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In The Sorcerer’s Stone, the students’ wardrobe feels more... wizardy? They’re pretty much always wearing robes around school, and it’s played as a big deal when Neville forgets his. While robes don’t disappear altogether in later films, more modern styles enter the mix, like preppy pullovers and cardigans in varying degrees of buttoned-ness. This could be due to creative changes, like Columbus departing the series after the first two films, but also reflects the way the characters went from bright-eyed Hogwarts newbies to seasoned students.

This movie is even more star-studded than it seems

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The first Harry Potter film made stars of its central trio, and also featured veteran actors in main roles (the Hogwarts staff alone, taken together, boasts several Oscars, Emmys, BAFTAs, Tonys, and Olivier wins). But in hindsight, even the supporting cast had some serious star power brewing. Two out of three Dursleys, for example, recently had memorable turns on prestige TV: Harry Melling (Dudley) as Beth’s pining chess bestie on The Queen Gambit, and Fiona Shaw (Petunia) as Fleabag’s no-nonsense therapist.