Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

1. The novel Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban written by J.K. Rowling follows the continued adventures of Harry Potter, a young wizard who constantly finds himself in danger. Throughout the story, Harry Potter must escape the wrath of an evil wizard named Sirius Black; however, as the story progresses, Potter discovers that this man was wrongfully accused, and did not help murder his parents. Instead, he is actually the godfather of Potter. A major theme within this story is dealing with outsiderness; Potter is an outsider amongst his Muggle (non-magic people) family, but also amongst his peers who do not suffer the same constant threats as he does. Furthermore, Sirius Black is also an outcast, as he is seen by most as an evil wizard who must be feared rather than seen as a great friend to Potter’s family.

2. The film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban directed by Alfonso Cuarón follows the same narrative as the novel: Harry must escape the wrath of Sirius Black, whom he ultimately discovers is not a threat to him. In following this narrative, coping with “outsiderness” remains a common theme; however, this sense is expressed further through a dark visual tone (a tone that goes against the two films before it). Rather than develop a feel-good vibe, Cuarón develops a depressing feeling that goes along with the story’s initial sense of doom. This shift in visual tone goes along with the maturity shift in the stories, as Prisoner of Azkaban  follows Potter’s veering towards puberty.

3. Although the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban follows the general narrative of the novel fairly accurately, there are still some significant differences throughout. These differences are mainly within the level of detail achieved through the narrative. For example, in the beginning scene of the film, all of the focus is on how horrible Potter’s non-wizard family is towards him – this immediately creates sympathy within the audience as well as develops a comedic affect when Potter decides to punish one of his relatives. The same happens within the novel; however, there are much finer details before the entertaining chaos: what Harry reads, what he writes, how his family has prohibited him from practicing his wizardry, his family history – these details are missing within the film. An explanation for this absence of detail could be that Cuarón assumes that it being the third addition to a widely popular literature and film series, his audience already knows these beginning facts, and therefore, the focus can be placed elsewhere. But through eliminating these smaller details, the fantasy world loses some of its complexity. In this way, the film sacrifices the complexity of Potter’s world for story-telling purposes.


Harry Potter: A Film Analysis


Jeffery Tucker analyzes Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (and the other Harry Potter films) on its merits as a film without considering its faithfulness to the original text. In this process, he observes the artistic superiority of Cuarón’s direction over the previous two films, but also critiques the performances of some of the actors, as well as the cinematic execution of the humor. His analysis is valuable in understanding the film because he demonstrates how, even though the film was a big hit, there is still artistic value within.

Music within Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


This article offers a discussion on how the music of the series shifts with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as well as the affects the tracks have on the audience while viewing the film.

Rewatching the Potter Films: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Danny Bowes offers a reflection on the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: throughout, he compares the film to the novel, as well as examines the performances of the actors.

5. To many critics, Alfonso Cuarón did a good job in the film in steering the Harry Potter series in a darker direction. How is Prisoner of Azkaban “dark”? And how does this relate to the growing maturity of both the main characters and the actors?

Compared to the previous films, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban takes a particularly dark turn: this darkness is a reflection of the characters’ rise to maturity and the loss of innocence. The story of the film begins in darkness – an evil wizard has escaped an inescapable prison, and his sole mission is to kill Harry Potter. Of course, as the narrative plays out, things actually become much more complicated (and, ultimately, less severe), but in beginning with this immediate threat, the film eliminates the initial sense of wonder—established in the former films—and brings the audience to less sunny and much more clouded “reality.” Harry Potter can die, and he is afraid of this. Throughout, the reality of death is expressed through dementors, essentially grim reapers who destroy people with using their greatest fears. Likewise, as a result of these fears (an encounter with a demntor), Potter suffers his first defeat at Quidditch (a sport for broom-riding wizards). Normally shown in a bright and sunny arena, Cuarón details these events under murky rainfall. Not only must Harry Potter learn to face his fears of death, but he must also learn that he cannot always win, and the harshness of these facts of life are supported through Cuarón’s dark visual supplementation. In this way, the film takes the series into a much more mature realm through its darkness.

4 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  1. I agree that Cuaron shows how the themes of the Harry Potter books are becoming more intense by making the movie visually darker. Instead of showing the wizarding world as being bright in cheerful, Cuaron shows Harry’s growing understandings of the darkness of the magical world.

  2. I like that you brought up that this is the first film in which we truly see Harry begin to face the idea of mortality. The first and second films are indeed much more focused on the introduction and wonder to this new world. At last, Harry is older and dealing with creatures that all focus around death and begins to dig into the past of his parents own lives and deaths. This mortality that he is at last introduced to prepares us for the future films where life is a prominenttheme.

  3. I like how you point out that the movie was a hugely artistic film even though it was also hugely an entertainment film. The two concepts can mix together to make a good film of cinematic elements and also hold a good story. Rowling wrote a very creative novel that Cuaron adapted well into dark visuals that captivated viewers while maintaining art and story together.

  4. I just want you to know that I read your blog entries intently because I know I’ll always learn something I hadn’t known before, or get a fresh perspective. 10/10. JB.

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