and the Chamber of Secrets

NOTE: A great spoiler sent in by Nancy Jay

Rows and rows of suburban houses, each much the same, with the view panning in closer and closer to Privet Drive, strangely no longer a cul-de-sac. In an upstairs bedroom, Harry [Daniel Radcliffe] sits, looking through a photo album. First he looks at the photo of himself as a baby with his mum and dad, and when he turns the page, there he is from the previous year with Ron and Hermione. Suddenly he hears a voice shout his name.

He comes downstairs to find his uncle, aunt and cousin all dressed in their best clothes, Petunia [Fiona Shaw] putting the final touches on an elaborately decorated dessert while Dudley tries to take off one of the cherries. Uncle Vernon [Richard Griffiths], meanwhile, is outlining his plans for the evening. Apparently some would-be clients are coming to dinner, and he wants to impress them, and the best way to do that is for Harry to neither be seen nor heard. Uncle Vernon is upset because Hedwig keeps making noise, and he doesn't want Harry to let her out, because she might carry messages to his weird friends from that school. He also takes great delight in pointing out that none of Harry's friends from Hogwarts have sent any letters or messages all summer.

Harry returns to his room, but is amazed by the grey emaciated character with pointy ears waiting for him on his bed.

The character introduces himself as Dobby, a house elf. Harry asks the elf to sit down, which sends Dobby into a bout of hysterical tears; he's never been treated like an equal by a wizard before. "You must not have met many nice wizards then," Harry declares, but when Dobby agrees with the statement, he begins beating his head against the chest of drawers. Downstairs, the Dursleys and their guests hear every bang, and Vernon says it's the cat. Meanwhile, Harry gets Dobby to try to explain why he's come, and the house elf claims that Harry mustn't return to Hogwarts when school begins. It turns out that Dobby stopped Harry from getting his letters, in hopes that the boy wouldn't feel wanted. Eventually Dobby gets downstairs, and uses his magic to lift the elaborate dessert over the head of one of the guests. When Harry won't promise to stay away from Hogwarts, Dobby plops the dessert down on the woman.

Uncle Vernon, furious with Harry for not only the mess but more for apparently using magic, puts bars over the bedroom window and several locks on the door to keep Harry in. Harry is miserable, but then later, he wakes up when he hears something. A flying car has appeared outside his window, and Ron [Rupert Grint] is in it, with the twins Fred and George. The bars are hauled off, waking the Dursleys, but Harry quickly tosses his trunk with his things in the back, hands Hedwig in her cage across, then moves to get in himself. By then, Vernon grabs Harry by the leg and tries to heave him back to his prison, while the Weasley boys pull the other way, and Vernon falls to the shrubs below. Ron then says, "Happy birthday," to his friend.

The car brings Harry and the others back to the Weasley home in the country, where a brush scrubs a pan by itself and needles knit a multi-colored garment in a corner. The boys congratulate themselves on the rescue, when Mrs. Weasley [Julie Walters] comes down, in a fury with her sons for leaving no note or explanation for their absence during the night. She isn't angry with Harry, though, and soon breakfast is served. Ginny, the youngest of the family, rushes downstairs, but runs back up when she sees Harry at the table. Mr. Weasley then comes in from a hard night's work at the Ministry of Magic, wonders who Harry is, then asks how the car handled during the rescue.

Errol, the Weasley family owl, crashes into the kitchen window in his attempt to bring in the morning mail, which has the Hogwarts letters, including Harry's. Mrs. Weasley glances over the required textbooks, and says they'll need to go to Diagon Alley. The family will travel by Floo Powder, up the chimney, but the trick is to say where you want to go very clearly. Ron goes first, saying, "Diagon Alley." Harry goes next, but his words sound like, "Diagonally," and he ends up in a strange, cobweb covered shop with many skulls and things in bell jars. He leaves the shop, and finds many sinister witches and sorcerors clustering around him. Then Hagrid calls out, and pulls Harry out of Knockturn Alley, bringing him to Hermione [Emma Watson], who leads him to the bookshop.

In Flourish and Blotts, an author is signing his latest book-- it's Gilderoy Lockhart [Kenneth Branagh]. Lots of witches in their best robes are cooing, and a photographer from the Daily Prophet is on hand. Then Lockhart spots Harry, and pulls him in for another picture, sure it will get him on the front page. He also presents Harry all his books before shoving the boy wizard out of the limelight. Draco Malfoy [Tom Felton] sneers at Harry for stealing the attention, when his father, Lucius [Jason Isaacs], introduces himself. Lucius makes some comments about wizarding families and muggles, and drops a book back into Ginny's cauldron before leaving with Draco.

Harry is all set to take the Hogwarts Express with Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny, but when everyone (including Mr. and Mrs. Weasley) have gone through the barrier and it's Harry and Ron's turn, the barrier is suddenly closed. They can't get through. Harry wonders if they should wait with the car for Ron's parents, but Ron decides they should fly. After a few muggles see the car rising into the clouds, Ron activates the invisibility screen, but the screen conks out later when they're over countryside. They fly lower to look for the train, but it's behind them, and when they fly up to escape, Harry falls out of the door. Despite Ron's sweaty hands, Harry is pulled back in, and they continue flying to Hogwarts. At the school, though, the car starts to crash down, and falls into a tree. The tree, however, begins to smash the car, shattering glass and scratching what it doesn't crush. Somehow the boys escape, at which point the car spits them and their belongings out. Unfortuntely, Ron's wand got broken while he was trying to make the car go up rather than down, and worse still, Argus Filch is waiting for them as they enter the castle.

Snape [Alan Rickman] is also waiting, with a copy of the Daily Prophet in hand. Seven muggles saw the car flying over London, and if the boys were Slytherins, Snape would cheerfully expell them. But Dumbledore [Richard Harris] and McGonagall [Maggie Smith] enter, and while the boys fully expect to be expelled, McGonagall says, "Not today." She chooses to give them detention, and to send letters to their families. This leads to Ron receiving a particularly loud Howler from his mother about his thoughtless and irresponsible joyride.

After a noisy class with Professor Sprout [Miriam Margoyles] teaching how to re-pot mandrakes, the students learn that their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is... Gilderoy Lockhart.

Hermione and other girls smile appreciatively, while the boys puzzle about this revelation, until the whole class is suddenly rounding up Cornish pixies. Lockhart has left the class before the pixies. Then the scene moves to the Gryffindor quidditch team heading out to practice, only to find the Slytherin team trooping out to do the same. The Slytherins have a note from Snape, giving them priority due to their new Seeker who needs training... Draco. Draco makes nasty comments, and calls Hermione a "mudblood," which Harry doesn't understand but can see is a slur. Ron, angry for the insult to Hermione, tries to cast a curse so that Draco will have his mouth full of slugs, but the broken wand misfires, and the spell hits Ron instead. Harry and Hermione rush Ron to Hagrid, who gives Ron a large bucket and says it's just a matter of time. He also explains to Harry that "mudblood" means dirty blood, and isn't something civilized people say. It's a term about people from muggle families, and Hagrid points out that very few wizarding families have "pure blood", although the Malfoys do.

Harry has to serve his detention with Lockhart, helping the egomaniac answer fan mail. While there, Harry hears a voice, but Lockhart doesn't hear it. He thinks Harry's drowsy, and sends him off. But as Harry is heading down the corridors, he hears the voice again, hissing about time to kill. Harry then finds Ron and Hermione, and he hears the voice again, but his friends don't hear the voice either. Harry follows the voice, worried about the threatened killing, and the trio find a message in blood on the wall: "The chamber of secrets is open... Enemies of the heir, beware," and Filch's cat, hanging from a hook in the wall. Several students all fill the corridor and stare at Harry, and Filch arrives. He promises to kill Harry for harming the cat, when Dumbledore and some professors come through the crowd of students. Curiously, Snape defends Harry, saying the boy may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but then insisting how suspicious it all is and the teachers should keep a close watch on the trio. Harry wonders if he should have told Dumbledore about hearing the voice, but even Hermione says he shouldn't-- even in the wizarding world, something's wrong with people who hear voices no one else can hear. The cat isn't dead, only petrified, by the by, and the mandrakes can cure it, once they're fully grown.

Gryffindor versus Slytherin in the quidditch field, and it's 90 points for Slytherin to Gryffindor's 30. One of the bludgers goes crazy and starts following only Harry, trying again and again to kill him, when Harry spots the Golden Snitch over Draco's shoulder. Soon both boys are flying madly to catch the Snitch, with the bludger after Harry still. Draco takes a spectacular fall from his broom, and the bludger breaks Harry's arm as he's trying to get the Snitch. He finally grabs it with his other hand, and zooms into the field, too. The bludger is still locked on him, though, and Harry is dodging all over the field while the bludger tries to crush him in all the places James Bond never wanted to be damaged. But Hermione, Ron and Hagrid have hurried down once Harry caught the Snitch, and the witch casts a spell to obliterate the wild bludger. Lockhart then comes up, and casts a spell to heal Harry's broken arm. The pain does go away-- so do the bones.

Harry has to spend a night in the hospital wing while the Skele-gro mends his arm, and he hears the voice again. Then Dumbledore, McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey [Gemma Jones] bring in the boy who took a photo of Ron coughing up slugs. He's been petrified, like Filch's cat, and the teachers are worried that the school is dangerous for everyone. Harry thinks that Draco is the heir of Slytherin, after McGonagall tells her transfiguration class the legend of the Chamber of Secrets, which supposedly will open only for the heir of Salazar Slytherin, one of Hogwarts founders who believed that only pure blood students should receive education in magical arts. Salazar built the Chamber, and it houses a monster that will kill mudbloods.

Hermione finds a potion that will allow them to disguise themselves as other people, and Ron and Harry plan to become Crabbe and Goyle, so that Draco will tell them everything. One trouble-- it'll take a month to make the potion. In light of Colin Creevy being petrified, Dumbledore has agreed for a Duelling Club to be re-started, so that students can learn active self-defense measures. Lockhart and Snape demonstrate, which sends Lockhart reeling. Lockhart then urges Harry and Ron to come up next, but Snape points out that with a broken wand, Ron is a liability that could send Harry back to hospital, so he invites Draco to come up against Harry. Draco strikes before the count of three, sending Harry backwards.

Harry lashes back, knocking Draco down, and the Slytherin boy tosses a spell which sends a huge snake swishing towards Potter. Lockhart tries to block the snake (sending it flying and landing angrier than before) and Snape condescends to remove it, when Harry begins talking to the snake. But it's all hissing and sibilants, and the snake seems to be about to strike another boy. Harry continues to hiss, and the snake backs off, and then Snape dissipates the reptile. But Harry realizes that the other students are looking at him as if he were in the wrong, and he later appreciates that nobody else could understand what he was saying. When Justin, the boy who seemed to be attacked by the snake earlier, is found petrified, everyone thinks Harry did it. Very few people can talk to serpents, speak Parseltongue as it's called, and Voldemort was one.

McGonagall sends Harry to see Dumbledore. On entering Dumbledore's room, he sees a red plumed bird that suddenly alights into a fire and burns completely into ashes. Dumbledore explains the bird is a phoenix, who is reborn from his ashes, and who can carry things much heavier than himself. A phoenix's tears are also magically healing. Hagrid bursts in, saying Harry didn't petrify the boy, which Dumbledore says he knows. He then asks Harry whether the boy has anything else to say. Harry doesn't.

At the Christmas feast, Hermione reveals that the potion is ready, and gives the boys two cakes that will put Crabbe and Goyle to sleep. They can then take some hairs off the Slytherin boys and take their places for an hour, no more. They had made the potion in one of the girls' toilets-- the one habited by Moaning Myrtle [Shirley Henderson], who is so sensitive that nobody likes to go there. The Polyjuice Potion tastes terrible; both Ron and Hermione run to the toilets to get sick after drinking theirs. Harry grabs hold of a sinkas he transforms, although his voice still sounds like his own, and he hasn't removed his glasses. Ron comes out of the cubicle looking like Crabbe, but Hermione won't come out. The boys eventually find Draco, but it seems Draco doesn't know who the heir might be. The potion starts to wear off, though. Harry's scar reappears, and Ron's hair starts to go red again, so they bolt out of the Slytherin common room, rushing back to the toilets. But Moaning Myrtle is laughing at Hermione, whose Polyjuice Potion didn't have Mildred Bulstrode's hairs in it... the hairs were from Mildred's cat, and Hermione now looks like a cat. She has to go to hospital.

Later, Myrtle is really upset and flooding the bathroom. Seems someone threw a book at her while she was in a toiler. Harry takes the book, dries it out, and reads the name on its back, Tom Marvolo Riddle [Christian Coulson]. But the pages are all blank inside. Harry puts a quill in ink, and moves it over one of the pages. A drop of ink falls off the quill, but vanishes after settling on the page. Harry then writes a sentence introducing himself. The diary responds, and when Harry asks what it knows about the Chamber of Secrets, the diary pulls Harry into itself.

Harry finds himself in a sepia toned sone, fifty years ago. Tom Riddle is speaking to Dumbledore, arguing that he has no place to go if Hogwarts is closed. Dumbledore explains that since a student has been found dead, they have little choice unless the culprit is found. Riddle then goes to a room, pauses, then enters. A young Hagrid pushes something into a trunk, and Riddle says Hagrid has to pay for the death that happened. Harry emerges from the diary, thinking that Hagrid somehow opened the Chamber and released the monster.

Later, as the Gryffindor quidditch team are going to a match with Hufflepuff, Prof. McGonagall stops them and tells them to return to their house. She takes Harry and Ron with her to the hospital wing, where Hermione is resting, petrified. Harry decides they have to face Hagrid, if only to learn where the Chamber is, but new rules restrict the students' movements. So Harry uses the Invisibility Cloak to get to Hagrid's hut. After they arrive, Dumbledore comes with Cornelius Fudge [Robert Hardy]. The boys hide under the cloak, while Fudge explains that, due to Hagrid's previous expulsion and association with the Chamber of Secrets, he has to take Hagrid to Azkaban, a high security prison for wizards and witches. Lucius Malfoy also arrives, with a letter to force Dumbledore to step down as headmaster of Hogwarts. Dumbledore explains, looking towards where Ron and Harry are cowering beneath the cloak, that any student who needs his help and is loyal to him shall have that help before acquiesing to Malfoy and leaving, and Hagrid says how anyone who wants to know the mystery should follow the spiders before he allows Fudge to take him away.

The boys follow a few spiders into the dark woods, and the spiders are gathering more and more, and getting bigger and bigger as they keep going. "Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies?" Ron mutters to himself, creeped out by the arachnids. Eventually, they find an enormous spider. It's Aragog, the monster Hagrid had stuffed into the trunk all those years ago. Aragog explains that Hagrid had nothing to do with the Chamber of Secrets nor any deaths. However, it's not often that fresh meat enters the lair so willingly... but luckily for Ron and Harry, the car comes in and opens its doors. After struggles to escape, the car finally takes to the air, and the boys get away, aware that Hagrid was innocent.

Harry and Ron go to visit Hermione, and Harry finds a piece of paper crumpled in her locked hand. The monster in the Chamber is a basilisk-- spiders fear basilisks, and since basilisks are a type of serpent, it explains what Harry has been hearing, the monster speaking in Parseltongue. Hermione even noted on the paper "pipes", to explain where the creature has been hiding. Harry also figures out why nobody has died yet-- none of the victims have actually looked the basilisk in the eyes. All they need now is to find the Chamber.

But now a student has been pulled into the Chamber, and a message left that her skeleton will rest there. Ron learns that the girl is Ginny, while the professors decide that, since Lockhart claims to know where the entrance is, he should go deal with the creature. Harry and Ron go to tell Lockhart what they know, and discover the wizard packing his trunks to make a getaway. Seems everything in his books were stories from other wizards and witches, who Lockhart blasted with memory charms so they would lose all their memories and not be able to show him up. And now he'll have to blast Harry and Ron.. except the boys draw their wands on Lockhart, and force him to come with them. They've figured out that Moaning Myrtle was the girl who died fifty years ago, and her toilet must be where the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is. Harry finds one sink whose tap doesn't work, and he says something in Parseltongue, which makes lots of porcelain slide away to reveal a gaping hole. The boys force Lockhart to leap down first, "Better you than us," then follow.

At the end of a long sliding tunnel, Harry finds an enormous snake's skin the basilisk must have shed. Lockhart seems to faint, but then grabs Ron's wand from the Weasley and tries to obliterate Harry's memory. The spell rebounds on Lockhart, though, due to the broken wand, and half the ceiling comes down, blocking Harry from Ron and Lockhart. Ron tries to shift the rocks while Harry goes looking for Ginny. He finds a round door with many snakes on it, which opens when he repeats the phrase he used in the toilets. He goes along a cavern, passing many snake heads carved from stone, but starts to run when he sees Ginny lying on the floor in front of a carved head with flowing hair and beard. Then Tom Riddle comes out, and Harry confronts him. Riddle, although mostly a memory stuck in the diary, used Ginny to open the Chamber. Ginny, while in a kind of trance, wrote the message about the heir, but tried to stop things by flushing the diary down the toilet. Then the diary came to Harry, who Riddle really wanted all along. He doesn't want to kill mudbloods so much these days... he wants to kill Harry. For when you take the letters of "Tom Marvolo Riddle", you can move them around and get "I am Lord Voldemort." Riddle left behind his muggle father's name, and as Ginny grows weaker, his Riddle body grows stronger. When she dies, he'll be real again.

Riddle denounces Dumbledore, who kept such a close eye on him during his time at Hogwarts after Hagrid had been expelled that Riddle couldn't open the Chamber again. Harry makes a strong statement of belief in Dumbledore, and suddenly Fawkes the phoenix flies in, carrying something in his talons that he drops to Harry. The boy unfolds... the Sorting Hat. Then Riddle summons the basilisk to kill Harry. The boy drops the Hat, and runs. Fawkes returns, scratching out the basilisk's eyes. Now Harry can fight it; the basilisk can't kill him with its glance, although it has other means, and it can hear quite well. Harry runs through tunnels, eventually returning to Ginny, and he sees the hilt of a sword emerging from the Sorting Hat. He pulls out the sword and tries to fight the snake with it.

He ends up on top of the carved human head, and drives the blade through the roof of the monster's mouth, but one of its teeth pierces Harry's arm, driving poison into him.

Harry stumbles down to Ginny, the tooth having been stuck in his arm as the basilisk fell dead to the floor. Riddle gloats that both Ginny and Harry will soon be dead, but then Harry plunges the serpent's tooth into the diary. Harry stabs the diary again and again, and Riddle begins to glow with beams of light shooting out of him through holes as though his body is being pierced by something sharp and pointed, until Riddle vanishes in an explosion of light. Ginny sits up, well again, and apologizes for everything that's happened, but she then notices that Harry's hurt. Harry tells her to go to Ron, and Fawkes flies down again. Harry thanks Fawkes for the sword, but says he didn't do it soon enough. Fawkes tilts his head, and tears fall from its eye onto the wound in Harry's arm, healing it. Fawkes then carries Lockhart, "It's like magic!", Harry, Ginny and Ron out of the Chamber, and they find Dumbledore waiting for them.

Dumbledore says that the boys have broken several school rules and earned expulsion; he will thus give them what they deserve-- commendation as heroes for saving the school. He then sends Ron and Ginny to bed, after asking Ron to send an owl so Hagrid will be released from Azkaban, and congratulates Harry on his loyalty. He explains that while Voldemort must have unintentionally passed Harry some of his powers (such as being able to speak in Parseltongue) all those years ago when he tried to kill Harry as a baby, Harry has shown that he is not the same kind of person, that it is choices that make the wizard, not ability. Lucius Malfoy appears, with Dobby at his heels, and queries why Dumbledore is back at Hogwarts. Dumbledore explains that the people who signed the letter petitioning him to resign had rescinded their original petition, and had claimed that Lucius had promised to curse the families who would not sign the petition. Harry, realizing that Lucius planted Riddle's diary on Ginny to start the whole chain of events, listens and thinks hard. Lucius, deprived of his prey, kicks Dobby and starts to leave Hogwarts. Harry asks Dumbledore if he can have the diary, which he then gives to Lucius. Lucius, no longer needing the thing (it has no power now), hands it to Dobby, and Harry encourages the house elf to open the book. Dobby does, and finds one of Harry's socks inside. Apparently, a house elf can only be freed from its family and its slavery if its master gives it some kind of clothing. Lucius, furious at having his wretched slave removed from him by Harry's cleverness, pulls out his wand to try to attack Harry, but Dobby defends the boy with a spell that sends Lucius reeling across the corridor. Harry asks Dobby, as a favor, to never save his life again.

At the feast, with students greeting Nearly Headless NIck (also a victim of petrification){John Cleese], Hermione enters. Ron and Harry race down the hall to her, with Harry hugging her enthusiastically while Ron pulls back, blushing and awkward before settling on shaking hands with the girl. They sit down, and Dumbledore announces that, as a special treat, exams will be suspended. Hermione murmurs, "Oh no," while everyone else cheers. Hagrid then enters the hall, apologizing for being late, only some fool of an owl named Errol went all over the place while trying to deliver the message to free him from Azkaban. He then stops by Hermione, Harry, and Ron and congratulates them for freeing him and believing in him. Harry hugs Hagrid, and says Hogwarts isn't right without their gamekeeper. Dumbledore applauds gently, as does McGonagall, as does Harry, until gradually everyone in the hall is clapping, except for Draco, who pulls Goyle down when the minion nearly stands up to join the applause.

Credits roll... and then, after the last credit, the scene returns to Diagon Alley, and Flourish and Blotts, where a new book is shown in the front window. "Who Am I?" by Gilderoy Lockhart, featuring a wizard photo of the man in a straitjacket, smiling and looking about happily.


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