Magazine article The Spectator

Hogwarts Report

Magazine article The Spectator

Hogwarts Report

Article excerpt

I don't usually make a habit of reading other people's diaries. But I have been asked to review Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at very short notice and, luckily, my daughter has already penned her own review in an exercise book with the title 'Secret Diary, Private! No Boys! Do not Open Or Else!' and which is filled with pictures of a pubertal Daniel Radcliffe, who is, of course, the echt Harry Potter until the next Harry Potter comes along.

As she has read all the books (not including those published in China under J.K.'s name but which are written by a Chinaman and apparently rather good), I feel she is much better qualified than me to pass judgment. So may I start my critique with my daughter's own write? I know it's irritating to read but I insist that I reproduce her words and spellings as she, the author, has them in her entry of 16 November 2002:

There's this baskalisk and it petrifes Hermione, Headless Nick, Colin and Mrs Norris. Harry cant speak Parsletounge and so he goes in the chamber of secrets and he finds Voldemort and he kills the Baskalisk. Harry nearly dies but Fawkes is a Phionix so he heals Harry.

With me so far? To recap: Hogwarts, the wizardry school attended by Harry, Hermione and Ron, will have to close unless some nameless beastie (the basilisk or should I say 'baskalisk') that turns all in its path to stone is killed.

Argus Filch - whose cat, Mrs Norris, is among the petrified - thinks that Harry is doing it. Hagrid tips off Ron and Harry to 'follow the spiders', which leads the pair into an underground cavern inhabited by a giant arachnid called Aragog that offers up the human flesh of the boys to all the other spiders in the cave, which tees up one of the only laughs in the film (Ron, played by Rupert Grint, contorts his face and moans, 'Can we panic now?').

Thanks to the enchanted flying car, Ron and Harry escape. After a long time Harry works out where the chamber of secrets is, has a fight-to-the-death with the basilisk, catches the snitch, rescues the girl, and Gryffindor wins the House Cup again (or is that in the Philosopher's Stone?).

Anyway, if you liked the first Harry Potter film you will love this one. Hogwarts is always magnificent, although my daughter and I were concerned about the dining-hall scenes: the pupils seem to live on a low-class diet of doughnuts, crisps and buns instead of banqueting on platters of roast meats. …

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