Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Setting

Setting

Hogwarts

If you've read the books, you know how expansive the Wizarding World can get. Yet most of it still takes place at Hogwarts, and in The Sorcerer's Stone, there's really nowhere else it needs to go. Save for the first few scenes or so, the movie starts and ends at Hogwarts.

The early scenes actually help set up the nature of this world in ways that pay off both later in this film and in the small army of films that follow. The Wizarding World supposedly exists in our own world, hidden away from sight so we don't do anything stupid and Muggle-ish, like build condos right on top of it.

By setting the Wizarding World up as a kind of parallel universe, the movie gives us sense of sharing a secret with the characters. Hogwarts is somewhere wonderful, somewhere most people can't access. But, as the audience, we're privy to it just like Harry is—and this makes it, if possible, an even more wonderful place.

This secrecy also suggests vulnerability. Hogwarts is hidden because it needs to be hidden, which means it could be endangered if the movers and shakers in the Wizarding World don't mind their p's and q's. That makes Harry's role all the more important: he's the protector of this extraordinary hidden society that he (and we) has only just discovered.

With the stakes in place, we can then move to Hogwarts, which is pretty much an enchanted medieval castle…despite the fact that it ostensibly occupies a place in the modern world. Think about it: all of its amenities are magical, which plunges us into an older universe completely. Besides the microphone used to call the Quidditch match, the setting never ventures past the traditional era we associate with wizards and witches (i.e., a very, very old one).

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