I have decided to analyze the mise-en-scene for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, specifically the scene where the first year students enter the Great Hall for the first time. The new students are wearing robes, but not hats. The huge doors open magically, and Professor McGonagall, sporting velvet robes and a pointy hat, leads the students into the hall two by two. They enter by the middle row, so that there are two tables on each side of them, one for each “house.” All of the older students sit at the tables wearing their robes and hats. I think that the reason why the whole room is shown in a long shot (as shown in the image below) is not just done that way because it is a nice shot, but rather, because it shows that Harry finally belongs in the world, and that he has something in common with the other people in the scene, he is a wizard.
On the tables, there are empty plates and goblets. The lighting is high key, because you can’t really distinguish the shadows from the characters and whatnot. Torches hang by the walls, lit candle sticks hover in the air, and the ceiling is magicked to look like the night sky. At the head of the room, there is another long table, seating all of Hogwarts’ teaching staff. In between the students and teachers, there is a wide open space and a platform with a stool and on it, sits an old hat. This is the sorting hat, which sorts students into their “houses.” Professor McGonagall holds in her hand a scroll which is a list of the names of all the first year students. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and the other new witches and wizards gather around the stool to await their fates.