“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Directed by Chris Columbus and based on the second book in J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series of novels, Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets sees the return of young wizards Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) for their second year at Hogwarts with a new Defense against the Dark Arts, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh). But it’s not long before the trio find themselves in trouble again, as a mysterious presence begins stalking the corridors of a school of magic and leaving its victims paralyzed. It seems that someone has opened the mysterious Chamber of Secrets, letting loose the monster and all its calamitous powers.
The following post is a review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book. You can read my review of the book on its own here.
Whilst still a family-friendly film, this instalment is much darker than its predecessor and I will always remember how scared I was when watching the scenes in the chamber for the first time.
As an adaptation, it mostly stays faithful to the book. It follows the same formula as the first film, but it also moves the story on quite progressively, building up the tension of Voldemort’s return, unravelling some of Hogwart’s darkest myths, and developing a connection between Harry and the dark arts.
As a second instalment, Chamber of Secrets keeps the magic alive and brilliantly expands on the fictional universe with new classes, teachers, creatures, spells, more history about the school and a whole lot more mystery for Harry Potter to unravel. It’s action-packed and full of high school drama with a lot of humour, alongside the bigger things that Harry and his friends have to deal with even more rivalries, sinister secrets, and dark magic.
The leading trio has really grown into their characters already and their performances noticeably improve, with Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh making excellent additions to the cast, as well. The special effects are great, too, with the scary monsters and critters of the chamber and the haunted woods creating a real sense of fear, and Dobby the elf quickly becoming one of our favourite characters.
Sadly, this was also the last that we got to see of Richard Harris as Dumbledore before he passed away, but he will always be a huge member of the Harry Potter family that we will miss.
Differences From The Book:
Although the film does stay faithful to the book, for the most part, there are still plenty of changes that can be picked out. Here’s what I found, in chronological order:
- At the beginning of the book, there’s more story round-up and we see more of Uncle Vernon being mean to Harry and of Harry winding Dudley up with pretend magic. Harry is also banned from saying the word ‘magic’.
- In the book, Harry sees Dobby in the hedges outside of his house. He does not, in the film.
- At the beginning of the film, Harry is looking at a photo album. He doesn’t have one in the book, but it’s a good visual representation of his thoughts about how lonely he is feeling.
- In the film, Dobby drops the cake on Mrs Mason’s head. In the book, he drops it on the floor.
- In the book, she leaves because of her fear of birds when an owl carries. In the film, they leave because of the cake incident.
- In the book, the owl drops a letter on Mrs Mason’s head containing a warning for using magic as an underage wizard, stating that it is a serious offence. Now the Dursleys know that Harry isn’t allowed to do magic outside of school. There isn’t such a letter in the film.
- In the book, Ron knows about the warning that Harry has received because his dad works at the ministry. Again, there is no letter in the film; they were just worried about him.
- In the book, all of Harry’s belongings are locked in the cupboard under the stairs and the twins have to go inside and pick the lock to get them. He then forgets Hedwig. The twins do no go inside the house in the film, and he doesn’t forget anything.
- In the book, Mr Dursley is woken up by Hedwig. In the film, he is woken up by the bars being pulled off the window.
- In the book, Harry tells them about Dobby in the car. They think he has something to do with Draco. This isn’t included in the film.
- In the book, the Weasley brothers comment on Percy acting weird. It is only revealed why at the end of the book. We don’t get to know Percy this well in the film and there is no such surprise being built up to.
- In the book, the boys have to de-gnome the garden. To do so, they have to swing them in circles to make them dizzy and then throw them over the hedge. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Harry goes into Ron’s bedroom. It’s covered in Quidditch decorations. There’s also a ghoul in the attic and a talking mirror. We don’t see any of the this in the film.
- In the book, Harry and Ron receive a letter from Hermione. They don’t in the film.
- In the book, they practise Quidditch. They don’t in the film.
- In the book, Harry hides in a cabinet at Borgin and Burkes and sees Malfoy shopping for a broom. He hears Malfoy’s father tell Borgin about needing to sell some illegal items. Mr Weasley likes finding out about this as he wants to get Lucius in trouble. This isn’t in the film. Instead, Harry first sees the Malfoy’s in the book shop.
- In the book, Mr Weasley repairs Harry’s glasses. In the film, Hermione repairs them.
- In the book, Mr Weasley is excited by Hermione’s parents but they aren’t in the film.
- In the book, they go to Gringotts. They do not, in the film.
- In the book, Lucius and Mr Weasley argue and fight in the bookshop. In the film, they only have tense words.
- In the book, Mr Weasley drives them to the train station. Despite all of the people in the car, it is very spacey. We don’t see them all inside the car in the film.
- In the film, Harry falls out of the car above the train. This isn’t in the book. Instead, they fly above the clouds and keep checking to make sure the train is still below them.
- In the book, they see the sorting ceremony begin from outside because they are so late. Snape catches them and they are sent to his office. In the film, Filch catches them and sends them to Snape’s office.
- In the book, Dumbeldore threatens to expel the boys. In the film, McGonagall says she is not expelling them today.
- In the book, Harry and Ron are cheered by classmates in their common room because of their entrance. We don’t see this in the film and nobody comments on their arrival.
- In the book, the Howler bursts into flames. In the film, it rips itself into shreds.
- In the book, Lockhart talks to Harry before Herbology and makes him late. He thinks Harry’s got an itch to be famous and gives him some advice about handing out autographs. In the film, he doesn’t do this and we don’t see Lockhart until his first lesson.
- In the book, Justin introduces himself. There are a few more incidents involving him in the book, whereas we don’t get to know him very well in the film.
- In the nook, Lockhart hides under his desk from the pixies and they throw his wand out of the window. In the film, he does not and they only steal his wand.
- In the book, Lockhart sees Colin taking a photo of Harry and wants in. Colin also takes a lot more photos of Harry throughout the book. Lockhart doesn’t do this in the film.
- In the book, Lockhart gives the class a quiz consisting of questions about him. Hermione gets full marks. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Hermione doesn’t know what mudblood is and Ron explains it to her. In the film, she does and explains what it is to Harry.
- In the book, Hagrid grows pumpkins. He doesn’t in the film.
- In the book, loads of staff and student have a cold, which seems to be because of a prank. They have to be given a potion by Madam Pomfrey. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Fred and George spy on the Slytherin team playing Quidditch. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Nearly-Headless Nick wants to join the Headless hunt but he keeps getting rejected because his head isn’t fully off. This isn’t mentioned in the film.
- In the book, Filch sends Harry to his office for getting mud on the floor and intents to punish him but Peeves interrupts him. It turns out that Nick caused the distraction to get Harry away. In the film, Filch doesn’t have an office and Peeves is not included.
- In the book, Harry sees a form on Filch’s desk for a course in beginners magic. It is later explained that Filch is a squib. In the film, there is no mention of Filch being a squib, or even of what a squib is.
- In the book, Neville also comments that he is “almost” a Squibb. This isn’t mentioned in the film, either.
- In the book, Nearly-Headless Nick invites Harry to his Deathday party, the five-hundredth anniversary of his death, on Halloween night. They serve mouldy food and Nick even attempts to make a speech, but his guests are busy playing Head Hockey. This is also where the trio first meets Moaning Myrtle. In the film, this party does not happen and they don’t meet Myrtle until they are making the potion.
- In the book, Ron serves his detention for the car incident in Filch’s office polishing silver, whilst Lockhart requests Harry for himself. In the film, we don’t see Ron in detention.
- In the book, Harry goes straight to bed after hearing the voices and tells Ron about it in bed. He finds the writing on the wall after the Deathday party. In the film, he tells Ron and Hermione about the voices outside of detention. They then follow the voice to find the message on the wall.
- In the book, Professor Dumbledore pulls Filch, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lockhart, Snape, and McGonagall into Lockhart’s office nearby. Filch blames Harry for hurting Mrs Norris because he knows about him being a squib. In the film, Filch accuses Harry in front of everybody.
- In the film, Hermione says the message is written in blood. In the book, it is only written in paint.
- In the book, Ron recognises Tom Riddle’s name from an award that Tom received for special services to the school, which Tom explains in his memory. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Severus tries to get Harry punished by getting him off the quidditch team. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Filch tries to clean the wall and keeps guard of the scene for the rest of the book. He doesn’t do this in the film.
- In the film, we see the trio in Transfiguration class when Ron turns a goblet into a rat. In the book, they go to Transfiguration class but it isn’t detailed.
- In the film, they ask McGonagall about the chamber of secrets. In the book, they ask Professor Binns, the History of magic teacher and the only ghost teacher at Hogwarts. Professor Binns isn’t in the film.
- In the book, it is often commented that Ginny looks disturbed and is not acting like herself. No comments are made in the film.
- In the book, the trio go back to the scene of the crime to see if they can find anything. This is when they notice a line of spiders trying to get out of the castle. They also see water on the floor and investigate Myrtle’s bathroom. Percy then catches them outside of the bathroom and punishes them. In the film, they first see the spiders when they see the writing on the wall, and they don’t meet Myrtle until they are making the potion.
- In the book, Hermione tries to investigate more about the chamber of secrets and everyone in the school is looking for information. Nobody else in the school seems as inquisitive in the film.
- In the book, only Fred and George notice the rogue bludger. They call a timeout but Harry tells Oliver to leave him to it. In the film, the bludger hits Wood’s broom. Hagrid also notices the rogue bludger, and it causes a lot more destruction.
- In the book, Draco does not notice the Snitch at all. In the film, they race each other to get it.
- In the book, they place the rogue bludger back in its case. In the film, Hermione destroys it.
- In the book, Harry faints. He doesn’t in the film.
- In the book, they think Malfoy fixed the bludger. They don’t in the film.
- In the book, Dobby says that the chamber has been opened before. In the film, he says that history is repeating itself.
- In the book, Lockhart makes Harry reenact stories from his books in class. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Hermione gets Lockhart to sign a permission form for them to get out a restricted book from the library. In the film, the book is in the regular section of the library so they don’t need to do this.
- In the book, Harry also has to distract Snape so that Hermione can steal some items for the potion. He sets off a firework that causes students to come out in swelling. This isn’t in the film, and Hermione doesn’t have to steal anything.
- In the film, it looks like the duelling class is a lesson. In the book, it is an after-school club.
- In the book, Lockhart puts everybody in pairs but soon has to separate everybody because Harry puts a tickling charm on Malfoy and Hermione’s partner has her in a headlock. Snape casts a spell to stop all magic. In the film, only Malfoy and Harry are made to give a demonstration.
- In the book, Harry wants to apologise to Justin but hears a group of people talking about him being the heir. They think that he has petrified people to punish them (Filch for punishing him, Colin for annoying him, Justin for the snake incident). There’s a lot more talk going around the school and more people are avoiding him. Harry doesn’t want to apologise in the film and we only see sly glances made at him.
- In the book, the petrified Nearly Headless Nick is floating horizontally and is black. In the film, he is floating vertically and remains white.
- In the book, Peeves loves the chaos of finding Justin and Nick petrified and makes a song up about Harry. Again, Peeves isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Hagrids finds out that someone has killed his roosters. It is later revealed that Ginny killed them because their crows are fatal to a basilisk. This isn’t mentioned in the film.
- In the book, Harry puts the sorting hat on his head. In the film, the hat talks to him off the shelf.
- In the book, it is Christmas Day. Hermione brings Christmas presents into the boys’ room. Harry has a toothpick off the Dursleys, as well as presents from Hagrid, Ron, Hermione, and Mrs Weasley. Dumbledore and Hagrid also sing Christmas carols. In the film, it is snowing but nothing more about Christmas is said.
- In the film, Harry and Ron’s voices don’t change when they become Crabbe and Goyle. This is probably to avoid some confusion on-screen.
- In the book, whilst Harry and Ron are Crabbe and Goyle, Malfoy shows them a newspaper article saying that Mr Weasley has been fined for having a magical muggle car. Lucius wants him to resign. He goes on to say that the ministry has recently raided the Malfoy mansion but that they have a secret room. Later, Ron writes to his dad saying to check under their floorboards. None of this is in the film.
- In the book, Hermione is in hospital for weeks after turning into a cat, and Ron and Harry go to visit her. In the film, Harry and Ron only comment that she will be in there for a few days.
- In the book, Hermione gets a card from Lockhart which she keeps under her pillow. She also often defends him. In the film, she doesn’t crush over him like this.
- In the book, Lockhart makes a Valentine’s Day breakfast in the Great Hall, where an elf sings a song to Harry. This isn’t in the film.
- In the book, Malfoy tries to steal the diary. Ink is spilt all over Harry’s books, but the diary remains clean. This is why Harry writes in it. This is not in the film.
- In the book, Harry and Tom have a longer conversation in the diary than they do in the film.
- In the book, there is a different headmaster in Tom’s memory. It is Professor Dippet. In the film, it is assumed that it is still Dumbledore as he is the only professor we see.
- In the book, Tom talks about being in an orphanage and asks if he can stay at Hogwarts over summer. This makes a connection between Tom and Harry. He doesn’t say this in the film.
- In the book, Hagrid is 11 years old. In the film, he looks like a teacher.
- In the book, the students have to choose their subjects for third year. They do not, in the film.
- In the book, Penelope Clearwater, a prefect, is petrified as well as Hermione. This scares Percy who thought he was invincible. This is not in the film.
- In the book, Harry and Ron don’t see any spiders for a few days. In the film, they see them straight away in Hagrid’s hut.
- In the book, some of the other spiders talk, too. In the film, only Aragog talks.
- In the book, Ginny tries to tell Ron and Harry something. Percy interrupts her, saying that it was just that she had caught him doing something earlier. It is later revealed that he was kissing his girlfriend. None of this is in the film, and we don’t see Ginny ever looking so guilty about something.
- In the book, nobody is allowed to visit anybody in the hospital. This doesn’t happen in the film.
- In the book, Harry and Ron are caught going to see Moaning Myrtle by McGonagall, but they convince her that they were sneaking off to see Hermione. She lets them go and see her. In the film, they are allowed to visit her whenever.
- In the book, they plan to tell McGonagall about what they’ve found out. They hide in a cupboard in the staff room when they find out about Ginny. In the film, they don’t plan on telling any teachers, and they are only hiding around the corner.
- In the book, Harry tries to talk Parseltongue but says “Open up” in English first. He doesn’t get it wrong in the film.
- In the book, Harry puts on the Sorting Hat and shouts at it for help. The sword then comes out and hits him on the head. In the film, the sword suddenly materialises in the hat.
- In the film, the fight scene is much longer than it is in the book.
- In the book, Fawkes uses his tears to heal Harry while Riddle is still alive. In the film, Fawkes does this after Riddle’s destruction.
- In the book, Ginny is much more shook up by everything that’s gone on. In the film, she appears quite calm.
- In the book, Mr and Mrs Weasley are waiting in McGonagall’s office when everybody returns from the chamber. Ginny confesses everything to her parents, who then takes her to hospital. In the film, only Ron and Harry go to Dumbledore’s office.
- In the book, Lockhart talks to Dumbledore and admits that he doesn’t know who he is. Ron then takes him to the hospital. In the film, Lockhart has this conversation with Ron earlier on and we do not see what happens to Lockhart afterwards.
- In the book, Dumbledore tells Lucius that the ministers wrote to him and wanted him back at Hogwarts after Ginny was taken. Lucius is also sacked as a school governor. None of this is in the film.
- In the book, Dobby signals to Harry that Lucius gave the diary to Ginny. In the film, we do not know how Harry knew this.
- At the feast, Gryffindor wins the House cup again but this isn’t mentioned in the film.
- In the book, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George and Ginny share a compartment on the train home together. The book ends with Harry giving them his phone number as they walk out of the train station. The film doesn’t show the train journey home. Instead, it ends with everybody cheering Hagrid’s return.
The film is mostly a great adaptation and, although it is one of the weaker films and books, it’s still a very exciting and fearsome instalment.