This is another chapter that is represented pretty faithfully in the movie, with just some details that make the story richer removed.
Ron and Harry arrive in the Great Hall for breakfast. Hermoine still isn’t really talking to them, disapproving of how they arrived at Hogwarts. Neville Longbottom is waiting for the mail as his grandmother is sending along a few things he forgot.
Harry had only just started his porridge when, sure enough, there was a rushing sound overhead and a hundred or so owls streamed in, circling the hall and dropping letters and packages into the chattering crowd. A big, lumpy package bounced off Neville’s head and, a second later, something large and gray fell into Hermione’s jug, spraying them all with milk and feathers
That would be Errol, the owl we were introduced to at the Weasley’s. Ron can tell by the red envelope he’s carrying that he’s in for it.
Ron was pointing at the red envelope. It looked quite ordinary to Harry, but Ron and Neville were both looking at it as though they expected it to explode.
“What’s the matter?” said Harry.
“She’s — she’s sent me a Howler,” said Ron faintly.
Sometimes the worst punishment is being embarrassed in front of your peers.
Mrs. Weasley’s yells, a hundred times louder than usual, made the plates and spoons rattle on the table, and echoed deafeningly off the stone walls. People throughout the hall were swiveling around to see who had received the Howler, and Ron sank so low in his chair that only his crimson forehead could be seen.
The only part of this scene truly different is that there’s no aside to Ginny in the Howler. That was added, probably to build on how awkward and alone she feels at school. The arrival of the Howler mitigates Hermoine’s anger at them. Apparently, she felt that was punishment enough for what they did.
As they neared the greenhouses they saw the rest of the class standing outside, waiting for Professor Sprout. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had only just joined them when she came striding into view across the lawn, accompanied by Gilderoy Lockhart. Professor Sprout’s arms were full of bandages, and with another twinge of guilt, Harry spotted the Whomping Willow in the distance, several of its branches now in slings.
This bit with Professor Lockhart accompanying Professor Sprout isn’t in the film, but it’s just a piece setting up how much of a bore he is. He also counsels Harry about doing too much too soon, accusing Harry of arriving in the flying car as a publicity stunt. Harry is too stunned to protest, then enters the greenhouse with the rest of the students.
She pointed to a row of deep trays as she spoke, and everyone shuffled forward for a better look. A hundred or so tufty little plants, purplish green in color, were growing there in rows. They looked quite unremarkable to Harry, who didn’t have the slightest idea what Hermione meant by the “cry” of the Mandrake.
The students are going to re-pot the Mandrake plants. The scene is interpreted well in the film.
Instead of roots, a small, muddy, and extremely ugly baby popped out of the earth. The leaves were growing right out of his head. He had pale green, mottled skin, and was clearly bawling at the top of his lungs.
The depiction of the Mandrake plants was also well done.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were joined at their tray by a curly-haired Hufflepuff boy Harry knew by sight but had never spoken to.
“Justin Finch-Fletchley,” he said brightly, shaking Harry by the hand. “Know who you are, of course, the famous Harry Potter… And you’re Hermione Granger — always top in everything” (Hermione beamed as she had her hand shaken too) “— and Ron Weasley. Wasn’t that your flying car?”
We don’t meet this student in the film. It gives more of a sense of the true community that Hogwarts was despite the students being sorted into Houses. Neville doesn’t faint in the book, either.
Next, they are back in the castle to Transfigurations with Professor McGonagall.
Professor McGonagall’s classes were always hard work, but today was especially difficult. Everything Harry had learned last year seemed to have leaked out of his head during the summer. He was supposed to be turning a beetle into a button, but all he managed to do was give his beetle a lot of exercise as it scuttled over the desktop avoiding his wand.
Ron can’t do it at all, either, with his wand having been broken when they crashed the flying car into the Whomping Willow. He’s too scared to write home that he needs a new one. After that class, there’s a break for lunch.
“What’ve we got this afternoon?” said Harry, hastily changing the subject.
“Defense Against the Dark Arts,” said Hermione at once.
“Why,” demanded Ron, seizing her schedule, “have you outlined all Lockhart’s lessons in little hearts?”
Hermione snatched the schedule back, blushing furiously.
This is a nice way to set up what Lockhart is in the long run. He gets by on his looks, and people are drawn to him because of them as well.
While they are outside following lunch, Harry meets Colin Creevey, who is muggle-born. He’s thrilled to be at Hogwarts and taking it all in, sending pictures back to his muggle parents who are unfamiliar with the Wizarding World.
“So I can prove I’ve met you,” said Colin Creevey eagerly, edging further forward. “I know all about you. Everyone’s told me. About how you survived when You-Know-Who tried to kill you and how he disappeared and everything and how you’ve still got a lightning scar on your forehead” (his eyes raked Harry’s hairline) “and a boy in my dormitory said if I develop the film in the right potion, the pictures’ll move.” Colin drew a great shuddering breath of excitement and said, “It’s amazing here, isn’t it? I never knew all the odd stuff I could do was magic till I got the letter from Hogwarts. My dad’s a milkman, he couldn’t believe it either. So I’m taking loads of pictures to send home to him. And it’d be really good if I had one of you” — he looked imploringly at Harry — “maybe your friend could take it and I could stand next to you? And then, could you sign it?”
Where Lockhart revels in this kind of attention, Harry seems annoyed by it, but he also doesn’t want to hurt the boy’s feelings. At the same time, this makes it easy for Draco Malfoy, who overheard Colin, to needle Harry. Ron’s about to get into a fight with Draco when Professor Lockhart comes upon them.
“Come on then, Mr. Creevey,” said Lockhart, beaming at Colin. “A double portrait, can’t do better than that, and we’ll both sign it for you.”
Harry is miserable as that’s not what he wanted at all. Lockhart again counsels Harry that there will be a time he needs to keep some stacked photos around to sign like he does, but he’s not quite there yet.
In Lockhart’s classroom, Harry sits at the back of the class, not wanting to draw attention to himself.
The scene in the classroom is depicted in the film and it’s done well. Lockhart does give the students a test about him, which seems to have little to do with anything about the Dark Arts.
As the whole class held its breath, Lockhart whipped off the cover.
“Yes,” he said dramatically. “Freshly caught Cornish pixies.”
Seamus Finnigan couldn’t control himself. He let out a snort of laughter that even Lockhart couldn’t mistake for a scream of terror.
I think the students in the book laugh more at the pixies than they do in the film. Lockhart lets them out, and pandemonium ensues as in the film.
“Come on now — round them up, round them up, they’re only pixies,” Lockhart shouted.
But Lockhart can’t round them up, either.
The bell rang and there was a mad rush toward the exit. In the relative calm that followed, Lockhart straightened up, caught sight of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who were almost at the door, and said, “Well, I’ll ask you three to just nip the rest of them back into their cage.” He swept past them and shut the door quickly behind him.
It’s apparent early on that Lockhart is a fraud. Ron sees right through him, and I have to think the other Professors – and Dumbledore – are aware of this, which makes me wonder why he is at the school at all? It’s Hermoine who seems to be successful at getting the pixies back into their cage.
Overall, this was depicted well in the film with just some small details missing, but the film did capture enough to give the sense of the story so far.
Previous chapter (link): Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 5: The Whomping Willow
Next chapter (link): Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 7: Mudbloods and Murmurs