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SYFY WIRE Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

7 magical moments from 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,' 20 years later

The Harry Potter movie that kicked off a multi-billion dollar franchise on the big screen turns 20 years old this month. Step with us into the Pensive as we revisit a handful of our favorite moments from the film.

By Josh Weiss
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Before the billions of box office dollars, before the theme parks, and before Fantastic Beasts, there was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The 2001 film based on the novel of the same name kicked off a global cinematic franchise that still endures to this day. Of course, no one — except maybe Sybill Trelawney — could have predicted just how massive this series would become at the time. But everything from director Chris Columbus' childlike sense of wonder, to the casting of British acting legends, to John Williams' insanely beautiful score helped turn The Boy Who Lived into a silver screen icon.

In honor of the movie's 20th anniversary this today (can you believe it's already been that long?!), SYFY will be celebrating the big birthday and Wizarding World Week with a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone marathon from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. And, SYFY WIRE has decided to dive headfirst into the Pensieve for a look back at seven of the most magical moments from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. After all, seven is the most powerfully magical number, is it not? Just don't tell Professor Slughorn we said so...

Hagrid breaks down the door

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This is the moment that solidified Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as a bona fide classic. How many of us have waited for the Hogwarts gamekeeper to bust down our doors, hand us a slightly-squashed birthday cake, and tell us we were secretly destined for magical greatness? Don't lie — every kid has wished for that very scenario at one point or another. We're not Muggles, our acceptance letter just got lost in the mail!

"Yer a wizard, Harry" is up there with some of the most quotable movie lines ever uttered and perfect for meme-ing.

Visting Ollivander's shop

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The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. Casting the late John Hurt as the eccentric wand-maker Ollivader was a stroke of absolute genius. Where Hagrid is warm and fatherly, Ollivander is eerie and mysterious. He's really our gateway into some of the more arcane principals behind spell-casting that become more important later in the series. In addition, his little speech about Harry's wand sharing a core with Voldemort's is haunting. The entire scene, which begins with a number of comedic accidents as Harry tries out different wands, is a masterclass in balancing whimsy and peril.

Our first glimpse of Hogwarts

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Diagon Alley was only the warm-up act. Our first look at Hogwarts castle as the first-year students sail across the Black Lake with Hagrid is one of many iconic shots from the film. The mountainside structure of turrets and spires captures immediately your imagination and John Williams seals the deal with a cue that drives home the grandeur and astonishment.

Harry's first Quidditch match

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A fictional sport played on broomsticks high up in the air may sound like it only works on paper, but Columbus was lucky (no Felix Felicis necessary). He had a generous $125 million budget and about a decade of CGI advancements at his disposal. The end result is a thrillingly novel sequence that perfectly translates Quidditch from the page onto the screen.

We have Steven Spielberg to thank for pushing the computer-generated envelope with 1993's Jurassic Park (fun fact: Spielberg was even considered to direct Sorcerer's Stone at one point). Indeed, most (if not all) of Sorcerer's Stone special effects — whether it's the Quidditch match, the Mountain Troll, Norbert, the Norwegian Ridgeback, Fluffy the three-headed dog, or Lord Voldemort's nasty face — still hold up all these years later!

The Mirror of Erised

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While known for being a lot lighter than the installments that would follow, Sorcerer's Stone isn't without its profound emotional beats. Harry's discovery of the Mirror of Erised, which shows him the parents he never knew, is among some of the most heartbreaking elements of Potter lore. The boy wizard's fascination with the mirror also leads to his first significant interaction with Professor Dumbledore, who teaches him an important lesson about the dangers of obsession (a nice counterpoint to Voldemort, whose fanatical desire to become immortal led to his own downfall).

Voldemort unmasked

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If you saw this movie as a young kid, there's no way the image of Voldemort sticking out of the back of Quirrell's head didn't haunt your dreams for weeks afterward. There's just something so... wrong about it, but that's also the entire point. Voldemort's homicidal quest for power and immortality has reduced him to a grotesque and parasitic entity. The fact that Columbus was able to include such a scarring visual and still get a PG-rating from the MPAA is magical in and of itself.

Leaving aboard the Hogwarts Express

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John Williams knows just how to tug at our heartstrings and his "Leaving Hogwarts" cue is no exception. This tender and poignant track encapsulates everything magical about the Wizarding World. Sure, Harry is going back to live with the Dursleys, but his life will never be the same. No matter how miserable life gets over the summer holiday, his true home of Hogwarts will always be there waiting for him.

There's a very good reason why Deathly Hallows Part 2 uses this theme — and not a new piece of music written by Part 2's main composer, Alexandre Desplat — during its final scene in which Harry sends his son, Albus, off to Hogwarts for the first time. It brings the story full circle in the loveliest way possible, symbolizing the return of that bright and carefree attitude of the earlier films.