Harry Potter Year 2 revisited: ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’

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2002 saw the much-anticipated return of the wizarding world to the big screen when Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets arrived in cinemas.

The second instalment in Rowling’s Potter series is stuffed full of foreshadowing, and sets up many apparently inconsequential things which prove to be very important later on. We meet Dobby the House Elf for the first time and witness his burgeoning friendship with Harry. We discover Hogwart’s darkest secret and delve deeper into Voldemort’s past.

Crucially, we learn of the existence of the diary kept by Voldemort’s teenage self; an item through which he can keep some part of himself alive – and an item which can be destroyed by the venom of the very creature young Tom Riddle used to terrorise the school. Needless to say, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets contains a lot of information which will come in very useful to Harry and to us later in the series.

Buy the complete Harry Potter 1-8 box set on Amazon here.

It’s not all doom and gloom – yes, there may be a terrifying monster lurking in Hogwarts this year and preying upon innocent Muggleborns, but there’s also the joys of Gilderoy Lockhart, a flying car, and Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint trapped within the delights of puberty, complete with gruff, awkward voices in the process of breaking. (Emma Watson, naturally, escapes largely unscathed.)


The basics

Harry Potter finds his return to Hogwarts made significantly more complicated than expected when an errant House Elf decides to put as many obstacles in his path as possible. Dobby believes that if Harry returns to school this year, then he will be in grave danger, though he won’t say why. Hogwarts is Harry’s home, and of course he does not heed Dobby’s warnings; but as his second year unfolds, it becomes apparent that something is certainly wrong.

Cats, ghosts and students are found petrified, frozen stiff in terror having glimpsed the unknown monster preying upon the school. The heir of Slytherin has returned to Hogwarts and is continuing his ancestor’s aim of ridding the school of Muggleborns. When Ginny Weasley is taken and a sinister message is found daubed on a wall in blood, Harry knows the time has come for him to tackle whatever lies within the Chamber of Secrets.

New names in this Potter film include Mark Williams as Arthur Weasley, Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart, Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle and Christian Coulson as the teenage Tom Riddle, with Toby Jones voicing Dobby.


Best moments

Frankly, anything featuring Kenneth Branagh as the narcissistic fraudster Lockhart is a joy to watch. Lockhart enlisting Harry to help him sign fanmail as a detention task? Beautiful.

Harry’s first introduction to the Weasley home is a lovely touch – it reminds us of Harry’s continued delight at the world which still seems fairly new to him. There’s plenty of good stuff regarding the golden trio in this film, too; their adventures in polyjuice potion, along with Harry and Ron’s obvious pain at Hermione’s petrification, help to build on the solid relationship created in The Philosopher’s Stone and really cement them as a strong, caring team.

Other top moments include Harry’s journey into the past via the diary – always a thrill to see glimpses into the past of the wizarding world – and Dobby finding his newfound freedom. That scene will forever remain one of the sweetest and most touching moments in the series.

Personally, my favourite moment of all is right at the end, when Hagrid returns to Hogwarts from Azkaban, and is met with cheering and applause. I cry every. Single. Time.


Top quotes

“Tell me, what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?” You’ve got to love Mr Weasley.

“Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be follow the butterflies?” I feel your pain, Ron.

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” Richard Harris really was a very special Dumbledore.

“Dobby is… free.” All together: awwww.

“There’s no Hogwarts without you, Hagrid.” TEARS.


Did you know?

Fourteen Ford Anglias were required in order to film the scene in which Harry and Ron crash the car into the Whomping Willow.

Although based on the shortest book of the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the longest film.

Hugh Grant was originally cast as Gilderoy Lockhart

Like his character Ron, Rupert Grint really is terrified of spiders.

Tom Felton improvised “I didn’t know you could read” in the Polyjuice scene, because he had forgotten what his actual line was.

Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle), who was 37 at the time of filming, is the oldest actor to play a Hogwarts student.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is Daniel Radcliffe’s favourite Potter book.

Richard E. Grant and Bill Nighy were both considered for the role of Lockhart; Nighy was later cast as Rufus Scrimgeour.


The report: A-

Whilst the first film provided a mostly fun, touching introduction to the wizarding world, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has a darker edge. There are some properly sinister moments – the voices in the pipes, the petrified victims, the blood on the wall – and the eventual climax scene in the Chamber of Secrets itself has no doubt caused a fair few nightmares.

The film still maintains the lighter aspects that we know and love, however, for example the beauty and majesty of Hogwarts and Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione. Overall, it’s a very strong instalment in the Potter franchise, and a worthy set-up for later films.


Buy the complete Harry Potter 1-8 box set on Amazon here.

What’s your favourite moment in the movie? Let us know below…

Read more from Amy Archer-Williams on her blog here.