Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, like most mainstream American Films, follows the Three Act Hollywood Structure. In this structure, films are divided into three parts; the introduction, complication, and resolution (beginning, middle, and end). The climax is shifted toward the end, and plot points serve as mini climaxes within each act. The Three Act Hollywood Structure serves well for quest stories, which well describes the Harry Potter series.
The first act begins by introducing Harry Potter as a baby as he is left on his Aunt and Uncles’ doorstep. The audience is introduced to a number of key characters, including Dumbledore, Hagrid and Professor McGonagall. This opening scene foreshadows the complications to come, as hushed whispers are exchanged about the circumstances surrounding Harry’s parents’ deaths and the rumored demise of the Dark Lord. The scene fast-forwards ten years, and the audience is introduced to a humble and amicable Harry Potter. The major plot point during the first act occurs when Hagrid hunts down Harry and the Dursleys in order to inform Harry that he is a wizard, and has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The second act is composed of the majority of Harry’s first year at Hogwarts. Harry meets Ron and Hermione, who will become his best friends during his time at Hogwarts. The story takes the audience through the trio’s day-to-day lives, highlighting events such as Quidditch matches and the Halloween ‘troll scare’. Soon after Christmas break, they learn of the Sorcerer’s Stone, which has the power to grant the user eternal life and has the ability to turn objects to gold. The second major plot point occurs when Harry comes into close proximity with Voldemort, whom Harry concludes is plotting to steal the stone.
The final act is Harry, Ron and Hermione’s journey into the depths of Hogwarts in order to prevent Voldemort from obtaining the Stone. They must overcome the obstacles that the teachers of Hogwarts have erected in order to protect the stone. Tension continues to mount until it peaks at the final plot point, when Harry comes face to face with Voldemort and discovers that it was Quirrel, not Snape, who was aiding Voldemort. Harry defeats Quirrel and the Dark Lord, and saves the Stone from the hands of evil.