Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999/2004)

 

Book

Written by J.K. Rowling

The wonder of this book for me has always been the absence of the true threat of Voldemort. True, the idea behind the evil in the book is that one of Voldemort’s closest associates has escaped and is on the prowl in search of Harry, in search of reuniting with Voldemort, but it just never seemed as dark or threatening as any of the other books in the series. But with that being said, there are certainly stakes involved. Sirius Black was considered dangerous and at large, and a true threat to Harry, but this book is also structured completely different.

This book is much more involved in the school year. I love that about the book. True, we have learned much about what goes on in school from the first two, but this year was different, the classes were different and I just felt like we learned so much more about the Wizarding World from this installment. In addition to this, I love the new teachers we are introduced to. Professor Lupin is one of my favorite characters in the whole series and his introduction here and friendship with Harry is awesome to read about. In addition the craziness of Trelawney and her Divination class. I mean Hermione walks out of class! How great is that!

In terms of the writing, I love the way that Rowling is able to imagine the story and bring it to life. And by that I mean the book is so well thought out. She gives you all the information at all the right times, but you don’t that at the time. She mentions all the little things that turn out to be huge clues that are near impossible to piece together but once you get the whole story you get it. Again he writing is simple. She doesn’t use too many big words, or complicated words. But I feel as though she builds more on the world here than she did in Chamber of Secrets. This is probably my second favorite book of the series, and the best of the series so far.

Movie

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Written by Steve Kloves

A new year, a new director. After Columbus was able to get the series up and running I do feel it was about time get a fresh new look on the series and right from the first scene you can tell there is a different feel to everything, a different look. There is something in Cuaron’s direction that I just love so much more than Columbus’. I think the best way to describe it is the whimsy of it all. I love whimsy and Cuaron seems to get it. The light humor and look of the film. The sound of the film. The fact that Lupin uses a light jazzy piece in the scene with the Boggart. Even John Williams is in on it and creates a score that is quite different from the first two. This may be his best work in the series. He is able to compliment the mood and feel of Cuaron that is so great.

The acting is also something I noticed this go round. Radcliffe, for one, has shown vast improvement and I would even say he is good here. Thewlis as Lupin is also spectacular. But my favorite new cast member has to be Emma Thompson as Trelwaney. Honestly, the casting team for these films has to be the best in the world. They do such an amazing job getting the perfect people for each and every part. Even Gambon steps in and does an amazing job as Dumbledore. Oldman, on the other hand, I feel didn’t have enough to truly judge at this point, but I generally like the man anyway.

The special effects and camera work I feel are what separate this from the first two in the series. True, they all have good effects, and maybe it was just the stuff in the story that made this one more magical, but the dementors, the lake, the train, the hippogriff, they all seemed like I was in the world, totally immersed in wizarding culture. I was watching with a friend and I can’t tell you how many times we complained to each other, “why isn’t this real?” Truly a remarkable story, a remarkable movie, and an even better experience.

Adaptation

So I have spoke highly of both the book and the movie, so I must speak highly of the adaptation, yes? Well, the book and movie seem to be entirely different. As much as I liked the structure of the book, the movie is completely different. But as different as they are, they seem to be perfect in their own way. True, as is almost always the case, I would argue the book is much richer in detail and setting than the movie, but the way that Kloves and Cuaron deal with the story is marvelous and they vcery much make it their own and use their artistic minds and abilities to make it great film. The film itself is actually shorter than the other two films while the book is longer. That being said I think the adaptation, as different as it may be, was a stroke of genius. Who said they have to be faithful to the book. Oh, and Firebolt!

One comment

  • Great write-ups of both book and movie, CD! I think this is still my favorite movie of the series, and I love your attention to Thewlis and Thompson here – both are fantastic. I need to revisit the movie still, but can't wait to do so. I'd forgotten about the jazzy music and the boggart. 🙂 Cuaron is so good and he does get it, as you say. I wish he'd directed more of the films. Cheers, oad

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