Wizard of Oscar – 1962

Current Events
President: John F. Kennedy
Height of Cold War: Soviet missiles detected in Cuba
U.S. established presence in Vietnam
John Glenn first American to orbit the Earth
Winner: Lawrence of Arabia
 – The Longest Day
 – The Music Man
 – Mutiny on the Bounty
 – To Kill a Mockingbird

Lawrence of Arabia ***1/2 out of ****
Director: David Lean
Starring: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Wins (7): Picture, Director, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction (Color), Cinematography (Color), Film Editing
Nominations  (10): Actor (O’Toole), S. Actor (Sharif), Adapted SP
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
I’m not on the Lawrence of Arabia bandwagon.   It is quite unnecessarily 3 hours and 36 minutes long.  The film would benefit if only just a half-hour shorter in length, which could easily be attained if the lengthy segue shots of the desert were cut.  These shots, both frequent and long in nature, exist purely to emphasize just how big the desert is.  We get it.  The endless running time is a true homage to that.  However, the length is really the only negative thing I can say.  Technically, Lawrence of Arabia is a great film and I suppose I can begin to understand how it was voted Best Picture in 1962.  It fits the Best Picture criteria.  It was based on an actual person.  It starts off with the death of the main character and goes back to tell how this individual came to prominence.  It recounts history.  It involves war.  These types of films are what we call “Oscar Bait”.  At the end of the day, there are some over-indulgences that prevent me from appreciating it.
Favorite Scenes/Shots:
Lawrence arrives back at the military base after a long journey through the dessert with his non-British friend.  They are extremely dirty and worn.  Lawrence orders himself and his friend lemonade as the other soldiers look on completely stunned.
Final Verdict: Should have been nominated.
The Longest Day **** out of ****
Director: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald, Darryl F. Zanuck, John Wayne
Starring: Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Kenneth Moore, Richard Todd, Red Buttons, John Wayne, Irina Demick
Wins (2):  Cinematography (B&W), Visual Effects
Nominations (5): Picture, Art Direction (B&W), Film Editing
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
The Longest Day is a fantastic and realistic war film.  I got the impression that the film exists more to education than to entertain, yet it does both.  The Longest Day does things in story-telling that I’m sure paved the way for later films.  For instance, the film will introduce a character via subtitles on the screen as the scene (and dialogue) progresses.  It’s all so nonchalant and subtle.  The film may not reference the title of this character again.  The Longest Day focuses on the events leading up to and occurring on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and is based on the novel by the same name written by Cornelius Ryan.  It gives an overview of those events and from what I understand is fairly accurate.  The film cuts back and forth through several storylines that unfold in several different countries throughout the film.  These storylines cohesively merge, although in separate locations, into one huge inter-related sequence of events that is still being remembered today.  I appreciated the fact that those scenes occurring in foreign countries used the native language of those countries with English subtitles; giving it a level of authenticity.  This too had to be something not too often done prior to this film.  The Longest Day employed up to 6 different directors.  It’s got an all star cast, but not once was I distracted by the cameos.  Rather, I was absolutely convinced of these characters.   The Longest Day is one of the best war films out there and provides a great history lesson.
Favorite Scenes/Shots: Parachute scenes.
Final Verdict: Should have been nominated

The Music Man *** out of ****
Director: Morton DaCosta
Starring: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hacket, Ron Howard
 Wins (1): Adapt Score
 Nominations (6): Picture, Sound Recording, Art Direction (C), Costume Design (C), Film Editing
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
The Music Man embraces its play-like atmosphere by keeping that “stagey” appearance in every scene.  The set design is crafted incredibly and the cinematography gives us the feeling that these sets never end.  It definitely earned its technical nominations that year.  The song and dance numbers are pretty campy, but they are so well executed that one can look past that to see the true accomplishment and appreciate it.  This film too is pretty long clocking in at 2 ½ hours.  There are no real stand outs as far as great songs go, but all in all it’s a decent film.  However, it doesn’t belong in the Best Picture discussion.
Favorite Scenes/Shots:
The opening scene on the train where the salesmen sing along with the sounds of the train is a great scene.  It’s got a fantastic set that looks in at the side of the train from the outside as if the outer wall was removed.
Final Verdict:  Should not have been nominated
Mutiny on the Bounty  *** out of ****
Director: Lewis Milestone
Starring: Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, Richard Harris
Wins (0):
Nominations (7): Picture, Original Score, Original Song, Art Direction (C), Cinematography (C), Film Editing, Visual Effects
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Mutiny on the Bounty is another attempt at adapting the classic novel written by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall in 1932 and which is based on an actual mutiny that occurred in 1789.  The story is of Captain William Bligh who treats his men horribly.  Bligh is played by Trevor Howard and the protagonist, Fletcher Christian, is played by Marlon Brando.  Brando took a good bit of criticism due to his poor British accent, but I didn’t think he was that bad.  The ship ventures off to a Pacific island where endless amounts of grass-skirted women dance to drums and stand side-by-side in the crystal clear water.  Lots of time in the film is spent on these types of shots and I couldn’t help but think it was to show off its cinematography, which used the Ultra Panavision 70 Widescreen process (first film credited to use this) and provides an incredibly wide aspect ratio.    Mutiny on the Bounty is just under three hours, but could have easily been edited into two hours.  It’s not necessarily a bad movie, but the fact that it is so long really takes away from the rest of the film.  Too much time is spent on the mundane.  One positive thing about the film is the beautiful and bright cinematography.  Films involving ships and oceans have opportunities to let the cinematography shine and Mutiny on the Bounty does so.  It’s problem is that it doesn’t know when to stop.
Favorite Scenes/Shots: Nothing really stands out.
Final Verdict: Should not have been nominated
To Kill a Mockingbird  **** out of ****
Director: Robert Mulligan
Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, Robert Duvall
Wins (3): Actor (Peck), Adapted SP, Art Direction (B&W)
Nominations (8): Picture, Director, S. Actress (Badham), Original Score, Cinematography (B&W)
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the greatest movies ever made.  Based on the book by Harper Lee, the film already has a great story to go on.  It helps that the casting is perfect and Robert Mulligan’s direction could not have been better.  This is Gregory Peck’s greatest performance (he won the Oscar) and the authenticity of the southern dialect in the film keeps it real.  In fact, this film gives a strikingly accurate depiction of life in the South during that time period.  This is quite often performed as a play and you get that sense in some scenes, but the film doesn’t hold itself to that.  It goes bigger when it needs to, but effectively uses that stage feel when it benefits the film.  One of best things about To Kill A Mockingbird are the children, Dil, Scout, played by Mary Badham and nominated for Supporting Actress, and Jem, played by Phillip Alford.  The idea of innocent kids running around, playing hard and getting into shenanigans strikes a chord with me.
Favorite Scenes/Shots: All scenes with the kids being kids.  The infamous courtroom scene. 
Final Verdict: Should have been nominated.
Other Films Not Nominated

Lolita **** out of ****
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon, Peter Sellers
Wins (0):
Nominations (1): Adapted SP
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Lolita is a very entertaining film considering it’s about a man, Humbert, so infatuated with a young girl, Lolita, played by Sue Lyon, that he marries her mother so that he can be near her.  The mother, played by Shelley Winters, is deprived of affection and attention and turns to Humbert, played by  James Mason, to fill the void. There’s also the mysterious purpose and presence of Clare Quilty, who is played by Peter Sellers.  It’s a fascinating and enjoyable film, even if the subject matter is disturbing.  However, it is very impressive how Kubrick keeps the film at a slightly comedic level and doesn’t veer too far over into seriousness.  I’m sure that was a complicated task to undertake, but it’s executed brilliantly.  Lolita is early Stanley Kubrick and doesn’t contain much of the signature style that one finds in his later films.  It’s great to see a legendary director’s early work for perspective on how he’s developed over time.  Lolita isn’t without style, though.  It is a great film and one that belonged in the Best Picture race.
Favorite Scenes/Shots: The very first scene, Humbert tours the house, but is unsure of whether he wants to rent a room until he spots Lolita sunbathing in the backyard.  His intentions are immediately clear.  Peter Sellers pops up now and again in this film and creates a sense of paranoia in Humbert and humor in the audience.
Final Verdict: Should have been nominated instead of The Music Man.
The Miracle Worker **** out of ****
Director: Arthur Penn
Starring: Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke
Wins (2): Actress (Bancroft), S. Actress (Duke)
Nominations (5): Director, Adapted SP, Costume Design (B&W)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
The Miracle Worker is a truly wonderful film with exceptional acting and direction.  From the first scene to the last, every performance, whether over-dramatic or subtle, is perfectly done.  The darker lighting creates an ominous mood for the audience as we embark on a very trying period of time in which the teacher, Annie Sullivan, played by Anne Bancroft, struggles with the deaf, blind and dumb, Helen Keller, played by Patty Duke.  Bancroft and Duke both won Oscars for Lead and Supporting Actress, respectively.  This film, like so many others from this year, has that play feel and it works just as well as the best of them.  
Favorite Scenes/Shots:
The opening scene where Helen’s parents see how she has become unresponsive is both an intense and stylistically melodramatic scene.  The scene where Anne Sullivan attempts to make Helen eat from the table like a normal person is exhausting with the slightest hint of slapstick.   One can see just how physically demanding the parts for these to women were in this scene.
Final Verdict:  Should have been nominated instead of Mutiny on the Bounty
Should Have Won:    To Kill A Mockinbird

Should Have Been Nominated:
 – The Longest Day
 – Lolita
 – The Miracle Worker
 – Lawrence of Arabia
For me, this is no contest.  To Kill a Mockingbird is both one of the greatest books ever written and films ever made.  It does and will continue to stand the test of time.  It seems to exist in several different genres.  It’s a courtroom drama, it deals with race, it’s a depiction of life in the South and it’s based on a play.  It is a perfect film.  At the time I can only assume that Lawrence of Arabia was just larger than life.  Come to think of it, if these films were to come out today, I bet Lawrence of Arabia would still win.  It’s Oscar Bait through and through.  But for me, To Kill a Mockingbird leaves the other films in the dust.
1962 was a pretty good year for film.  There were no real duds.  This is reiterated by the fact that 2 of the 5 Best Director nominees did not receive a Best Picture nomination, which rarely happens, but just goes to show the high level of filmmaking from this year.  There are several other films from 1962 worth mentioning.  Gypsy, directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Natalie Wood is a Broadway musical adaptation that is slightly below average, but somewhat enjoyable.  David & Lisa is an entertaining film, though not meant to be, directed by Frank Perry, who was nominated for director.  It’s a very small, independent film based on a novel about a young man and woman in a mental hospital.  Divorce, Italian Style is a great Italian comedy starring Marcello Mastroianni and directed by Pietro Germi, who was also nominated for director.  A man is in love with his cousin and concocts a plan in which.  This is an engaging film and I can’t help but be reminded of Woody Allen.   If there were 6 nominees, Divorce, Italian Style would be on there.

Split 7 Ways – The Half-blood Prince

Summary of Half-blood Prince

Narcissa Malfoy, and Bellatrix Lestrange visit Snape’s house. Voldemort has given Draco a mission and they fear for his life.  Snape makes an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa promising to help and protect Draco on this mission.
Dumbledore escorts Harry from the Dursley’s.  Grimmauld Place and Kreacher, have been left to Harry in Sirius’ will.  They convince Horace Slughorn, a former Hogwarts teacher, to return to the school.  Dumbledore will be giving Harry private lessons this term.
The Trio find Draco in Diagon Alley suspiciously walking into a dark arts shop.  He threatens the store owner & shows him something on his forearm.  Harry thinks Draco is a Death Eater, but no one agrees.
Harry goes back to Hogwarts.  Slughorn is the Potions teacher and Snape teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts.  Harry finds a used Potions book with notes scribbled in it, which had belonged to the “Half-Blood Prince”.  Harry follows the advice of the notes and excels in potions class.
Harry and Dumbledore’s private lessons involve them going into the pensieve and studying old memories of those who knew Tom Riddle before he became Lord Voldemort.  The first memory is at the Gaunt house where Marvolo, Morfin and Merope Gaunt live.  Marvolo, Voldemort’s grandfather, has a ring and a necklace that are Slytherin heirlooms.  Merope, Voldemort’s mother, tricked the muggle, Tom Riddle Sr., into marrying her.
While visiting Hogsmeade, Harry catches Mundungus Fletcher, a member of the Order of the Phoenix, selling Black family heirlooms which now belong to Harry.  On the way back, a student almost dies when she touches a cursed necklace.  Harry thinks that Malfoy is behind it, but no one agrees. 
Harry and Dumbledore visit Dumbledore’s own memory of meeting the 11-year old Tom Riddle in an orphanage.  Tom Riddle is disturbed even at such a young age.  The also visit Slughorn’s memory where they find a 6th year Tom Riddle, wearing Marvolo’s ring, and several future Death Eaters in Slughorn’s office.  Slughorn is trying to hide something because the memory has been tampered with.
Harry tries to get the real memory from Slughorn, but to no avail.  Ron gets poisoned accidentally when he drinks meade from Slughorn’s office.  Harry suspects Malfoy.
Harry and Dumbledore visit a memory taking place inside the house of Hepzibah Smith who is showing Tom Riddle, now out of Hogwarts and working at the same dark arts shop visited by Draco, a tea cup that belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, founder of Hufflepuff house.  They also visit Dumbledore’s own memory of Tom Riddle asking him for a teaching job at Hogwarts.  Riddle already goes by the name of Lord Voldemort and is showing signs of magical transformation.  Dumbledore denies him the job and verbally frowns open Voldemort’s decisions.
Harry convinces Slughorn to give him the real memory.  In it, Tom Riddle asks Slughorn about Horcruxes, which are objects that contain a piece of someone’s soul; keeping them alive when they die.  Riddle asks about splitting your soul 7 times, to which Slughorn becomes highly bothered, but says it’s possible.  In order to make a horcrux, one has to commit murder.  Dumbledore believes Voldemort has made 6 of them. 
Harry is forced to hide his potions book in the Room of Requirement near an old tiara when Snape demands that he see the book.  Harry learns from a drunken Professor Trelawney that Snape was the one that told Voldemort of the prophecy, causing Voldemort to kill his parents.  This increases Harry’s hatred for Snape.  Dumbledore, however, reiterates his trust of Snape.
Dumbledore finds a horcrux and takes Harry with him to destroy it.  They go to a cave and find the Slytherin locket under dangerous magical protection.  They retrieve it and barely escape.  Upon returning to Hogwarts, the Dark Mark has been cast over the castle.  They fly to the astronomy tower where Dumbledore freezes Harry and is disarmed by Draco.  Several Death Eaters arrive with Snape, who kills Dumbledore a la Avada Kedavra.  Harry chases Snape through a battle inside the castle involving the Death Eaters, teachers and members of the DA.   Snape stuns Harry, tells him that he is the Half-blood Prince and escapes. 
Harry looks inside the locket to find a note:
To the Dark Lord, I know I will be dead long before you read this, but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret.  I have stolen the real horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more. – R.A.B. 
What You Need To Know
Voldemort has made horcruxes.  Dumbledore suspects he has split his soul into 7 pieces, a perfect number.  He believes the horcruxes are as follows:
1)   Riddle’s Diary – destroyed by Harry in Chamber of Secrets
2)      Marvolo’s Ring – destroyed by Dumbledore the previous summer
3)      Slytherin’s Locket – location unknown
4)      Hufflepuff’s cup – location unknown
5)      Nagini – Voldemort’s snake
6)      Something from Gryffindor or Ravenclaw
            7)      Voldemort himself 
What The Movie Doesn’t Tell You
In the film, Harry mopes around hidden at the top of the Astronomy Tower while Dumbledore gets AK’d by Snape.  In the book, Dumbledore freezes Harry while under the Invisibility Cloak because he knew Harry would try to intervene.

Harry and Dumbledore’s conversations are not referenced in the film:

Harry has the power of love.  Lilly’s sacrifice for Harry gave him a protection that caused Lord Voldemort’s downfall.

Voldemort, being such a powerful wizard, takes no interest in things he doesn’t understand, like love.  He does not love and has no compassion.  Voldemort feels that these attributes are signs of weakness. 
They discuss the prophecy, which is only significant because Voldemort believed it to be true.  Setting great store to the prophecy, Voldemort marked Harry as his equal by transferring powers and causing Lilly to sacrifice her life for Harry.

Split 7 Ways – The Order of the Phoenix

Summary of Order of the Phoenix

Harry is stuck at the Dursley’s and there is no news of Voldemort’s return.  Harry and his cousin Dudley are attacked by Dementors and Harry casts his stag Patronus to repel them.  The Ministry sends Harry a disciplinary letter notifying him of his court date for using magic outside of school. 
Harry is escorted from Privett Drive by several members of the Order of the Phoenix, the secret group that fought against Voldemort and his Death Eaters the first time.  The Order includes Kingsley Shacklebolt, Remus Lupin, Tonks and Mad-Eye Moody, among others.  They take him to Number 12 Grimmauld Place, the Order’s headquarters and the home of Sirius Black’s family who were purebloods and sympathetic to the Voldemort movement..  Kreacher is the old house elf that lives there.  Sirius had a brother, named Regulus, who was a Death Eater, but was killed when he tried to back out.  The Order has frequent, secret meetings that the Trio and the other Weasley children, Fred, George and Ginny, are not allowed to be a part of.  Harry has a repeating dream where he is walking down a corridor to a door that he cannot open.
Arthur Weasley takes Harry to his hearing.  On the way, they walk down the very corridor that Harry dreams about.  The Ministry refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned and think that Harry is lying about the Dementor attack.  Dumbledore vouches for Harry at the hearing, where he is acquitted.  Dumbledore does not make eye contact with or directly talk to Harry. 
Harry goes to Hogwarts where he finds that the Ministry has sent a representative to be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge.  She is horrible, unfair and only teaches theory so the students get no practice.  Many people do not believe Harry or Dumbledore, but side with the Ministry so Harry and Dumbledore are the victims of ridicule.  Harry has no problem proclaiming Voldemort’s return and in doing so gets several detentions with Umbridge.
The Trio form a secret organization, called Dumbledore’s Army, where Harry teaches a group of students Defensive magic that Umbridge will not teach.  They meet in the Room of Requirement, a secret room that provides whatever the seeker needs.
In one of Harry’s corridor dreams, he sees Arthur Weasley attacked by a snake.  Harry sees this from the snake’s point of view.  He quickly alerts Dumbledore, who verifies that this has actually happened and sends the Trio and the other Weasley’s to Grimmauld place.  However, just as Harry touches the portkey, Harry and Dumbledore make eye contact for the first time all year and Harry gets the urge to attack Dumbledore.  Arthur Weasley is found and taken to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.  When they go to visit Arthur, they see Neville Longbottom and his grandmother visiting Neville’s parents, Frank and Alice Longbottom, who were tortured to madness by Barty Crouch Jr. and Bellatrix Lestrange, who is still in Azkaban. 
They all go back to Hogwarts and learn that there has been a mass breakout from Azkaban, including 12 Death Eaters.  The Ministry still will not admit that Voldemort is back and they have also instituted many decrees at Hogwarts which gives Umbridge more and more power at the school.  Dumbledore’s Army is caught by Umbridge during one of their secret meetings and are taken to Dumbledore’s office where they find Cornelius Fudge and the Aurors: Dawlish and Kingsley Shacklebolt.  Cornelius thinks that Dumbledore is building an army against the ministry.  Dumbledore takes the blame and then proceeds to make an awesome escape.
Harry dreams that Sirius has been captured by Voldemort who is torturing him in a room with lots of glass orbs beyond the very door Harry has been dreaming about.  The Trio, Neville, Ginny and Luna Lovegood all to the Ministry of Magic.  They go down to the Department of Mysteries and take the pathway that Harry knows from his dreams.  Sirius is not there.  Harry finds an orb with his name on it and picks it up.  Death Eaters appear, including Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange and demand that Harry hand the prophecy over.  A great battle ensues where the prophecy breaks.  No one can heart the prophecy speak among the tumult.  They go into a room with a big veiled archway.  The Order shows up to fight.  Bellatrix Lestrange casts a spell that hits Sirius and causes him to fly through the veiled archway, killing him.  Dumbledore appears and single-handedly captures all of the Death Eaters.  Harry chases Bellatrix to the atrium of the Ministry where Voldemort appears.
Dumbledore and Voldemort partake in an epic duel in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic.  It has been said throughout the series that Dumbledore is the only one that Lord Voldemort has ever feared and one can see why as he has mad dueling skills.  Voldemort possesses Harry, but only for a little while because he cannot dwell in such a pure place as Harry’s mind.  Cornelius Fudge shows up and witnesses Voldemort’s presence first hand before he escapes.  The Ministry now admits that Voldemort is back.
Harry and Dumbledore have another of their enlightening conversations where Dumbledore explains to Harry that Voldemort knew of the connection between himself and Harry and used it to plant a false image of Sirius’ torture in Harry’s head, knowing Harry would come rescue him.
Dumbledore tells Harry of the prophecy that was made to him by Professor Trelawney many years before.  Here’s what the prophecy says:
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. … Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. … The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…
Dumbledore tells Harry that someone overheard half of the prophecy and told Voldemort, which prompted Voldemort to go after Harry and kill his parents.  However, Voldemort does not know anything after “the seventh month dies”.
What You Need To Know
Harry and Voldemort are connected by their minds.  However, Voldemort learned how painful it was to possess Harry, so he won’t be doing that again.  Harry and Voldemort also have the same blood and the same wand core.  This is now a 3-fold connection.
It was this connection that Dumbledore feared Voldemort would try to use to get to him, hence the hatred Harry felt when making eye contact with Dumbledore and the reason Dumbledore avoided Harry for much of the year.
Based on the part of the prophecy that Voldemort heard, he had an idea of when and to whom the baby would be born.  However, Voldemort does not know about the part that says Harry will have powers that Voldemort doesn’t know about.
Neville Longbottom was born as the seventh month dies and to parents who thrice defied Voldemort.  However, Voldemort, for some reason, chose to go after the Potters, marking Harry as his equal and giving the child powers to destroy him.
Neither can live while the other survives.
What the Movie Doesn’t Tell You
This was David Yates’ first feature film and it’s great to see a director perfect his craft as the films proceed.  Each film gets better and better and much of that has to do with Yates’ improvement as a director and familiarity with the material, cast and crew.
This is the longest book and the shortest movie.
Sirius did not die by the Avada Kedavra curse.  When that curse hits you, you die immediately.  The movie shows Sirius hit with the AK and then moves into the veil.  In the book, Sirius was stunned into the veil.

The film barely glazes over Harry and Dumbledore’s very important, enlightening, yet equally mysterious conversation.  

Split 7 Ways – The Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire Summary
The book opens with an account of the mysterious death of the Riddle Family (Mother, Father & son, Tom Riddle) at the Riddle House in the town of Little Hangleton decades earlier.  The caretaker, Frank Bryce was suspected, but had been cleared of the charges.  In the present day, Harry dreams Lord Voldemort is back in some fetus-type form and is assisted by Peter Pettigrew.  They are hiding out in the old Riddle House.  His scar burns as he sees Voldemort kill Frank Bryce in his dreams.  Harry goes to the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasley’s and Hermione.  Some of Voldemort’s old supporters, called Death Eaters, wreak havoc after the match.  An unknown person casts the Dark Mark, the mark that was used by Voldemort and his Death Eaters after an attack into the sky, causing utter chaos and fear all around.  The Dark Mark is a skull with a snake through the mouth.  The last time the Dark Mark was seen was when Voldemort was in power 13 years ago.  Barty Crouch, a ministry official, thinks it’s Harry at first. 
Harry returns to Hogwarts.  The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is Mad-Eye Moody, a former Auror, which is a dark wizard catcher.  He teaches them the three Unforgiveable Curses; the Cruciatus (Torture), Imperius (Control Over Someone) and Avada Kedavra (Killing Curse), which causes immediate death.  Harry’s parents were killed by Voldemort who used Avada Kedavra and Harry is the only known survivor of this curse.
This year the Triwizard Tournament takes place at Hogwarts.  Two other schools, Beauxbatons & Durmstrang come to stay at Hogwarts and participate.  Madame Maxime and Igor Karkaroff are headmasters of Beauxbaton and Durmstrang.  A champion from each school is chosen out of the Goblet of Fire to take part in three dangerous tasks throughout the year.  From Beauxbatons, Fleur Delacour is chosen.  From Durmstrang, Victor Krum is chosen.  From Hogwarts, Cedric Diggory is chosen and Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire as the 4th champion.  This is a shock because Harry didn’t submit his name.
In Dumbledore’s office, Harry sneaks a peak at his Pensieve, a basin that holds memories.  Harry goes into the memories and finds Karkaroff, who used to be a Death Eater, giving the Ministry of Magic names of other Death Eaters, including Professor Snape.  However, Dumbledore vouches for Snape.  Also, Harry sees a trial involving 4 captured Death Eaters, including Barty Crouch Jr. (Barty Crouch’s son) and Bellatrix Lestrange for torturing Neville Longbottom’s parents.
The Trio and Sirius, who is in hiding, suspect that someone entered Harry’s name into the Goblet of Fire in order to get him killed.  Harry gets through the first two tasks with great scores.  Harry overhears Karkaroff telling Snape that something is becoming stronger and more apparent.
The third task is a giant maze with the Tri-Wizard cup at the center.  Harry and Cedric get there at the same time and the trophy turns out to be a portkey that takes them to a graveyard in sight of the old Riddle house.  Peter Pettigrew immediately kills Cedric Diggory, cuts off his own hand and, using Harry’s blood, creates a potion that returns Lord Voldemort to his old body.  Voldemort touches the Dark Mark tattooed on Petigrew’s forearm, which summons the Death Eaters to him.  They all have this mark.  Voldemort gives Pettigrew a silver hand.  Most of the Death Eater’s return and we learn who most of them are, like Lucius Malfoy and other parents of students at Hogwarts.  The others are either in Azkaban or are afraid to return.
Voldemort uses Harry’s blood to come back to life and in doing so has made it possible for him to touch Harry since he is now under the same protection that Lilly gave to Harry by dying for him.  Voldemort thinks he will now be able to kill Harry, which he hasn’t been able to do up to that point.  Voldemort attempts to kill Harry with the Avada Kedavra curse, but Harry uses Expelliarmus at the same time.  The brother wands connect which causes Voldemort’s wand to regurgitate shadows of its last victims, including Harry’s parents.  These shadows speak to Harry, encourage him and allow Harry to escape.  Returning to the portkey, Harry is taken back to Hogwarts.
Amidst the chaos, Mad-Eye Moody takes Harry to his office and tries to kill him.  Before he can do so, Dumbledore, McGonnagal and Snape bust into the office and stun him.  Moody reveals that he is really Barty Crouch Jr. who has escaped Azkaban and returned to Voldemort.  He captured the real Mad-Eye Moody and, using Polyjuice Potion, pretended to be him all year.  Before they can arrest him, Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, has a Dementor perform the Dementor’s Kiss on Barty Crouch Jr., rendering him soulless and useless for testimony of Voldemort’s return.

This causes an outrage and creates a chasm between the Ministry and Dumbledore.  Cornelius Fudge refuses to believe Harry’s story that Voldemort has returned.  Dumbledore reveals the identify of Sirius Black to the Weasley’s and sends Snape on a secret mission. 
What You Need To Know
Voldemort uses Harry’s blood to come back to life, which would give him the same protection that Harry has from his mother.  Voldemort thinks he will be able to kill Harry at this point.  However, the core wands prohibit that.
The wands of Voldemort and Harry each have a feather from the same phoenix.  This phoenix happens to be Fawkes, Dumbledore’s pet.  Their wands are the only two wands with feathers from Fawkes.  Their wands are referred to as brother wands and perform very strangely when pitted against each other.
Harry and Voldemort now share the same wand core and blood.
Dumbledore trusts Severus Snape.
What the Movie Doesn’t Tell You
Mike Newell spends more time emphasizing the school-house style of things.  The film tends to dwell on the mundane and unimportant.  Now knowing how the series ends, it seems that the film could have more efficiently used it’s time.  For instance, the film could’ve spent less time on the tasks and more on Voldemort’s rebirth.  Also, there are quite a few cheesey and overly dramatic moments in the film.  Furthermore, I don’t think the actors are at their best in this film, either.  Goblet of Fire is the weakest film in the series.

Anything about house elves.  Dobby, not having a master, works at Hogwarts.  This doesn’t matter to the story.

Fudge goes from ousting Dumbledore in Chamber of Secrets, to protecting Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban and now refusing to believe Dumbledore and Harry by the end of Goblet of Fire.
The book leaves us with the notion that there is a chasm between the Ministry of Magic, who refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned, and Dumbledore and Harry, who know he’s back.

Split 7 Ways – The Prisoner of Azkaban

Prisoner of Azkaban Summary

An escaped convict, named Sirius Black, is being reported about on the Muggle News.  Harry gets kicked out of the Dursley’s when he accidently inflates his mean Aunt Marge.
Harry sees a black dog in an alleyway as he hitches a ride on the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron.  Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, is waiting on Harry, being oddly concerned for his safety.  Ron and Hermione meet Harry there to get their school supplies.  Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers is looking sick and Hermione buys a cat, named Crookshanks.
Harry overhears that Sirius Black is a wizard who escaped from the wizarding prison, Azkaban and is after him.  Because of this the Dementors, Azkaban guards, are guarding Hogwarts.  Harry faints and hears his mother screaming at her death when he gets close to one.  Dementors can suck out your soul by performing a kiss on their victim.  Remus Lupin is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and teaches Harry how to produce a Patronus charm, which wards away Dementors.
3rd year students and up get to visit the neighboring village of Hogsmeade, but Harry isn’t allowed to go since the Dursley’s wouldn’t sign his permission form.  Harry uses the Marauder’s Map, which shows the school, its inhabitants & its secret passageways to get out of Hogwarts and into Hogsmeade secretly.  Under his invisibility cloak, Harry again overhears the Minister of Magic say that Sirius Black is Harry’s godfather and was James and Lilly’s secret keeper.  Sirius Black betrayed the Potter’s whereabouts to Lord Voldemort and then killed another friend of their friends, Peter Pettigrew.
Harry continues to see visions of a black dog throughout the year.  Harry overhears Professor Trelawney make a prophecy that the Dark Lord’s servant will return to join him.  The Trio goes to Hagrid’s before the Ministry puts his pet hippogriff, Buckbeak to death.  A black dog grabs Ron and pulls him into a hole at the Whomping Willow.  Harry and Hermione follow them through a passageway that leads to the Shrieking Shack outside Hogsmeade.  They see Sirius Black, who is an Animagus (a wizard that can turn into an animal) and discover that Scabbers is also an Animagus and is really Peter Pettigrew.  Sirius tells the Trio that it was Peter Pettigrew who betrayed James and Lilly Potter and Sirius was only framed for it.  Lupin shows up to back up Sirius’ story.  Snape shows up to turn them in.  Harry stuns Snape and they all return to the castle.  On the way back, Lupin turns into a werewolf and runs away.  The Dementors attack Sirius and Harry when a white stag Patronus chases the Dementors away.  Harry thinks it’s his father.
Harry and Hermione wake up in the hospital wing.  Sirius is captured.  Dumbledore tells them that in order to save Sirius they’ll need to use Hermione’s time-turner that she’s been using all year to take more classes.  They go back in time and save Buckbeak and then Harry casts his Patronus (the white stag) to save his other self and Sirius.  Sirius escapes on Buckbeak.
What You Need To Know
Professor Trelawney is the Divination Professor, but isn’t too good at predicting the future.  However, Harry overheard her make a real prophecy about the servant returning to the Dark Lord, but it was Peter Pettigrew, not Sirius Black.
Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, takes great pains to ensure Harry’s safety, like wait for his arrival at the Leaky Cauldron and to have the Dementors guard Hogwarts.
Cornelius Fudge does not bother to believe the Trio’s story about Sirius Black’s innocence.
What the Movie Doesn’t Tell You

Alfonso Cuaron left out quite a bit of information from the book that is needed to understand the whole series.  Mainly the backstory regarding the Maurader’s is what gets left out.  So much of the entire series directly involves or is related to these four individuals.  Just a bit of attention from Cuaron would’ve done the trick.

The Marauder’s Map was made by Harry’s father, James & his friends Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew

While students at Hogwarts, the Marauders underwent a difficult magical transformation to became Animagi:
James Potter – Stag

Sirius Black – Dog
Peter Pettigrew – Rat
Remus Lupin – Werewolf (bitten as a child)
Harry’s Patronus takes the form of a Stag, which was James’ Animagus form.
There are several secret passageways out of Hogwarts:
The Whomping Willow covers the entrance to a secret passageway that leads to the Shrieking Shack just outside of Hogsmeade.  This secret passageway was made specifically for Remus Lupin to have a place to go at the full moon when he was a student at Hogwarts.
The hump on the One-eyed Witch Statue is the entrance to a secret passageway that leads to Honeyduke’s basement in Hogsmeade.
As students, James saved Snape’s life when Sirius told Snape to go down the Whomping Willow passageway, knowing that the werewolf Lupin would be in the Shrieking Shack at the other end.  James stopped Snape at the last minute.
When Harry prevents Lupin and Sirius from killing Pettigrew, he creates a bond of debt that Pettigrew must fulfill, much like Snape feeling the need to protect Harry because of James saving his life years ago.  

Split 7 Ways – The Chamber of Secrets

Chamber of Secrets Summary

Harry is back at the Dursley’s for the summer and is visited by Dobby, a house-elf.  House-elves are slaves for wizarding families and are only set free when they are given clothes.  The family for which Dobby works treats him badly.  Dobby tries to prevent Harry from going back to Hogwarts because bad things are going to happen there.  Ron picks Harry up with his Dad’s flying car and takes him back to his house, the Burrow.
At Hogwarts, Harry hears voices in the walls that no one else can hear.  In looking for the source of the voices Harry finds a message written in blood on a wall in the castle that says that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened.  The Chamber of Secrets had been secretly built by Salazar Slytherin, one of the four founders of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin).  A monster resides in this chamber.  The chamber had been opened many years ago and a muggle-born (mudblood) girl had been killed.  Only the heir of Slytherin can open the chamber and unleash the monster within.  The chamber has now been opened again and there are a series of attacks leaving the victims petrified
Harry is suspected of being the heir of Slytherin because he can talk to snakes (Parseltongue) and because he has been found at the scene just after ever attack.  Harry starts to believe this himself until a visit to Dumbledore’s office eases his worry and the Sorting Hat stands by his decision to put him in Gryffindor house.  Harry sees the sword of Gryffindor sitting in Dumbledore’s office along with his pet phoenix, Fawkes.
The Trio suspects Draco Malfoy of opening the chamber since he seems pleased that the attacks are happening and is in Slytherin house.  The Trio takes Polyjuice Potion to turn into Draco’s friends and question him in the Slytherin common room.  Draco says he is not the heir of Slytherin.
Harry finds a discarded, blank diary which turns out to be the diary of Tom Riddle, a young boy who was a student at Hogwarts when the chamber was first opened.  Tom brings Harry into his diary and shows him his memories of the last time it was opened.  Harry learns that Hagrid was blamed for opening the chamber the first time and expelled.  Throughout the duration of the school year, several students are petrified by the monster unleashed from the Chamber, including Hermione.
Lucius Malfoy, Draco’s father, threatens the school governors to remove Dumbledore from the school.  Dumbledore leaves the school.  Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, comes with Lucius to take Hagrid to Azkaban, the wizard prison since he was suspected of opening it the first time.
Ron’s sister, Ginny, is captured and taken down into the Chamber of Secrets.  It is discovered that Ginny had been possessed by Tom Riddle through the diary for most of the school year and had been opening the Chamber to unleash the monster.  Harry goes to save Ginny and is confronted with an almost real Tom Riddle emerging from the diary.  Tom Riddle reveals to Harry that he is actually the young Lord Voldemort and then tries to kill Harry.  Fawkes swoops in and leaves Harry the Sorting Hat, out of which Harry pulls Gryffindor’s sword.  The chamber monster is a Basilisk, a giant snake that can kill by making eye contact.  Harry kills the Basilisk by stabbing it with the sword, but he is bitten in the process.  Fawkes cries a tear on Harry’s Basilisk wound, which heals it.  Harry then stabs Riddle’s diary with a Basilisk fang.  The Basilisk venom destroys the diary which bleeds and the memory and spirit of Tom Riddle disappears.
Dumbledore returns to the school.  Lucius Malfoy shows up with Dobby in tow.  Harry learns that Dobby is the Malfoy’s house-elf and Lucius had given Riddle’s diary to Ginny without her knowing.  Harry gives Lucius back the diary, allowing Lucius to realize Harry knows what he’s done. Lucius throws the diary, which Harry previously put a sock in, to Dobby who sees the sock and is set free.

What You Need To Know

When Dumbledore was ousted from Hogwarts, he said that he will only have truly left Hogwarts when none there are loyal to him.  He also said that help will always be given at Hogwarts for those that ask for it.
Dumbledore tells Harry that only a true Gryffindor could pull the sword out of the sorting hat.  He also tells Harry that nothing but real loyalty could have called Fawkes to him when he was in danger.
This book highlights several similarities between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort.  In trying to kill the baby Harry, Voldemort transferred some of his own traits and powers to Harry, like the fact that he can speak Parseltongue.
Voldemort was the heir of Slytherin and was in Slytherin House.  Harry struggles with the fact that, because the Sorting hat saw both Gryffindor and Slytherin-like qualities in Harry, it almost sorted him to Slytherin.  However, because Harry requested “not Slytherin” the Sorting Hat put him in Gryffindor.

Although there are similarities between Harry and Voldemort, Dumbledore emphasizes the differences between them by telling Harry that it is our choices, not our abilities that show what we truly are.

What The Movie Doesn’t Tell You
Few people knew that Lord Voldemort was Tom Riddle.   After Hogwarts, Tom Riddle sank deep into the dark arts and underwent many magical transformations.  When he returned, no one recognized him.

The venom from the Basilisk fang destroyed Tom Riddle’s diary, which bled and, in a sense, died.
Tom Riddle was able to possess Ginny through the diary because she poured her heart and soul into it.  Tom Riddle almost became human through Ginny.

Split 7 Ways – The Sorcerer’s Stone

I Open At The Close…
In the remaining 15 days leading up to the final installment of the phenomenon that is the Harry Potter series, or as I refer to it, the end of time, I will post blog entries every few days dedicated to each of the films in the series.  Split 7 Ways, the last 15 Days of Harry Potter will focus on each film starting with the first, Sorcerer’s Stone and ending with the first half of the last, Deathly Hallows Part 1. I will give a brief summary of the story, highlight some of the things that are important to the final installment and also mention things that the movies may not have conveyed from the book that are pertinent to the series.  So, as Albus Dumbledore once said, “let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure”.
Sorcerer’s Stone Summary
The story begins when Lord Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard since Grindelwald, defeated by Dumbledore decades earlier, has fallen.  He killed James and Lilly Potter, and, for reasons unknown, attempted to kill their 1 year old son, Harry Potter.  However, the killing curse back-fired off of Harry and onto Voldemort.  Harry survived the curse, leaving a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, and Voldemort was defeated.  Harry is the only one ever to survive the killing curse.
The wizarding world is in celebration as Albus Dumbledore, the Hogwarts headmaster, has the 1-year-old Harry moved to the home of his relatives, the Dursley’s (Vernon, Petunia & Dudley).  The Durlsey’s are muggles (can’t do magic), don’t like magic and treat Harry very badly. 
10 years later, now 11 years old, Harry finds out he is actually a wizard and heads off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The Sorting Hat wants to put him in either Gryffindor or Slytherin house, but at Harry’s request, chooses Gryffindor.   Harry becomes best friends with Ronald Weasley, from a poor, pure-blood family & Hermione Granger, from a Muggle family.  Harry’s worst enemy at school is Draco Malfoy, from a rich, pure-blood family who used to be supporters of Voldemort.  Also, Harry becomes friends with a shy and accident-prone young boy named Neville Longbottom. 
Professor Quirrell is the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and Severus Snape teaches Potions.  Snape is quite mean and unfair to Harry.  While Snape and Quirrel have a conversation Snape and Harry make eye contact for the first time and Harry feels a burning pain in his scar.
Harry plays Seeker on the Gryffindor quidditch team and wins their first game by catching the snitch in his mouth.
The Trio (Harry, Ron & Hermione) find out that the Sorcerer’s Stone is being secretly kept at Hogwarts because someone is attempting to steal it.  The Sorcerer’s Stone can produce the elixir of life, which makes you immortal, and they suspect Snape of trying to steal it.
At Christmas time, one of Harry’s gifts is an invisibility cloak.  He doesn’t know who it is from but a note said it used to be his father’s.
The Trio investigate the whereabouts of the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry learns that Lord Voldemort has been possessing Professor Quirrel the whole time and it was he who was going after the Sorcerer’s Stone and not Snape.  Quirrell attacks Harry but finds that he cannot touch him.  Quirrell turns to ashes and Lord Voldemort flees in the form of a spirit.
What You Need To Know
Petunia, Harry’s aunt, was Lilly’s sister.  She resents and despises Harry and all wizards.  Petunia recalls how excited Lilly was when she got her Hogwarts letter at age 11. 
Harry buys his wand from Ollivander’s wand shop.  Harrry’s wand has a phoenix feather core.  Lord Voldemort’s wand is the only other wand whose core is a feather from the same phoenix as Harry’s. They are brother wands and have a very special connection. 
Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort tried to kill him when he was a baby.  Dumbledore says that he can’t answer that now, but will tell Harry when he’s older.
Voldemort killed Harry’s father, James and when his mother Lilly wouldn’t get out of the way he killed her as well.  Lilly’s love and sacrifice for Harry gave him a great protection.  Dumbledore tells Harry that Voldemort could not touch Harry because of the protection left behind by his mother, hence Quirrell turning to ash.
Dumbledore tells Harry that Lord Voldemort, not being truly alive, cannot be killed.
Dumbledore tells Harry that Snape has been protecting them the whole year.  Much of this has to do with the fact that Harry’s father had saved Snape’s life when they were young.
Dumbledore tells Harry that he must go back to live with the Dursley’s every summer.
Dumbledore gave Harry the invisibility cloak.  He had borrowed it from James just before he died.
What the Movie Doesn’t Tell You

Chris Columbus actually does a very good job of translating the book to film without leaving out any information that is pertinent to the overall story.