As the first director to bring Harry Potter to the big screen, Chris Columbus found the Quidditch scenes presented several unique challenges.
Original Harry Potter director Chris Columbus explains why the Quidditch scenes proved to be incredibly difficult for the first film. This month marks the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first movie in what would become one of the biggest film franchises of all time. Columbus, previously best known for helming movies like Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, was the first director to try his hand at bringing the Wizarding World to the big screen; he would then return for the second movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, before moving into a producer position for the third.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is often regarded as one of the best book-to-movie adaptations, notable for its ability to transform a children's book into something that audiences of all ages could enjoy. A then-unknown Daniel Radcliffe stepped into the leading role of boy wizard Harry Potter, while his best friends Ron and Hermione were played by Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, respectively. Harry Potter was further bolstered by an impressive cast of British talent comprised of those like Richard Harris, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman.
Adapting a beloved book into a movie comes with plenty of challenges, but certain elements proved to be even more difficult for Columbus. For example, bringing the wizarding sport of Quidditch to life befuddled Columbus at first because he only understood "about 75%" of the rules. Speaking to Insider in a new interview, the director explained he didn't want audiences to feel confused by the sport. "We had to basically sit down with Jo Rowling and go through the rules of Quidditch," he said. "And she walked us through the exact rules." From there, Columbus filled a notebook with the rules, point system, and how the pitch should be designed. He added:
"It was basically coming up with a new sport. Obviously, the visual effects in that particular film are challenging in that sequence because none of it exists in reality."
Quidditch plays a vital part in almost every Harry Potter movie. As the first director in the series, Columbus must've known his stylistic decisions would inform many of the following movies, so it was important that he get all the details right. In the Harry Potter books, there are countless rules and quirks to Quidditch spread throughout the story; there's even a companion textbook titled Quidditch Through the Ages that fans could purchase and read for themselves. With all that in mind, it's no surprise it would prove itself to be a tricky element.
Luckily, Columbus understood the importance of getting Quidditch right, and he put a lot of thought into how to best depict it onscreen. Instead of throwing audiences right into a match, there's a scene where Harry learns all the rules from Gryffindor captain Oliver Wood (Sean Biggerstaff). By the time the first Quidditch match pops up in Harry Potter, fans have a good idea about what to expect. It's one of the most exciting set pieces in the first movie, and Columbus' attention to detail certainly paid off. Now audiences everywhere know just how Quidditch works, which is no small feat.