Continuing on my mission to re-read and re-watch all the Harry Potter books and movies, approximately 15 years later since I first started when Book 4 came out, I have to admit that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was always my favorite book prior to Books 6 and 7.
It’s not a popular opinion, and I totally understand why most prefer Book Three over Book Two. The plotting in Book Three is denser, and has more world-building elements.
The second book in my opinion just so cinematic. Reading it the first time, I could definitely picture an Indiana Jones type movie in my mind’s eye. The Basilisk made for a fantastic villain, versus the whodunit aspect of the third book, which had more difficult elements to translate to film. I’m a movie director at heart so I always read books in the same way, picturing them as movies.
Again, I was re-reading to keep an eye out for any mentions of Ravenclaw and by extension Hufflepuff students. Ravenclaw, because that is the house I was sorted into by Pottermore, and Hufflepuff because that is the house my best friend was sorted into.
Below are my thoughts on both the second book and the second film.
The same as last time, spoilers are abound.
The same as last time, spoilers are abound.
Professor Sprout, while not specified as the Head of House Hufflepuff in the second book, comes to the forefront for a bit as she is responsible for caring after the Mandrakes, which are crucial component of the restorative draught for the Basilisk victims.
In the second book, we are introduced to Dobby the house-elf and Draco’s father Lucius Malfoy. I mention this because it seems that while Lucius is just as evil as Malfoy, there is evidence that Draco speaks with his father constantly and they are actually quite close and even love and care for one another. This will later factor into how Voldemort torments and breaks apart the family of his closest supporters.
Again, Harry, Hermione and Ron frequently break the rules, not because they aim to cause trouble but because they take it upon themselves to fix any situation harming themselves or the school and again the adult teachers, whom by the way, ALL KNOW MAGIC, refuse to investigate or take any type of proactive efforts to shield to the students and the school from any possible dangers.
We also meet a young pre-Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle. What was interesting to me is just how by the book and rule abiding Tom seems to be. Aside from framing Hagrid, Tom is not only a prefect but Head Boy in his year, this is very different from the constantly rule-breaking Harry Potter. I can’t help but wonder, is Dumbledore sort of grooming Harry to eventually defeat Lord Voldemort? Knowing that only truly Harry can be the one to defeat him. Dumbledore doesn’t rush to defeat every little threat and seems to provide Harry with enough leniency to grow and figure out how defeat whatever is threatening the school. It seems he is trying a different approach, whereas Tom Riddle was an uber-achiever and followed the rules, Dumbledore allows Harry the freedom to find his strengths on his own. Does this put the other student’s safety at risk? Hell yes but whateves…its’ Dumbledore.
Also poor Ginny. Not one of the adult teachers attempts to locate her within the Chamber. Lockhart is pushed into doing it as a fools’ errand but McGonagall pulls the emergency brake rather quickly and is like, “oh shit, the monster about which we have been getting repeated warnings and frequent attacks ALL YEAR LONG, is loose. Somebody get Dumbledore and lock up the school!” Like WTF lady, you use magic, could not one of you at least go check on little Ginny? Not even Snape mans up, and remember Ginny is a red-head much like his once true love, Lilly Potter nee Evans. He is obsessed with Harry for much of the book series for having the same eyes as Lily, and he can’t even give Ginny, who probably resembles Lily more than Harry, a second thought?
All minor quibbles, though. The book is still phenomenal.
The film holds up just as well. There are some minor changes, nothing too overtly different. Kenneth Branaugh seems older than I imagined Lockhart being, but works well against Alan Rickman's Snape.
Director Chris Columbus wisely add additional tension and drama into the film’s three action set-pieces, making the movie a little scarier than you’d expect. When Ron and Harry drive the flying car, the Ford Anglia, to Hogwarts, there is an added part in the film when Harry slips out the passenger door and is dangling straight over the Hogwarts Express train. Ron struggles to pull him back inside.
During the Forbidden Forest scene in which Harry and Ron go to ask the giant spider, Aragog, questions about Hagrid’s involvement with the Chamber of Secrets a chase scene quickly ensues as both are driving the flying car again to escape the giant spiders, running towards them to feast on them both. They outrun the spiders to pause in clearing in the woods, when suddenly a giant spider arm wraps around Ron’s neck through the open driver’s side window. This added part made me jump out off the couch, me, in a woman in my 30’s.
The movie set of the actual Chamber of Secrets is so beautifully constructed, with the row of giant stone snakeheads flicking out their tongues in various positions. I’m reminded again, why Book Two will always be one of my favorites.
Onto Book Three!