Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: My Favorite Film and Book

Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.'
The third film is where the darker tones really start to sink in within the books.  Sure the second film had Ginny under a spell of the diary and writing on the walls in blood for Voldemort, but the third book. is where  JK Rowling sets it it all in motion.  In the third book we are introduced to the Dementors who are normally prison guards at Azkaban, but have been tasked with protecting Hogwarts from another new character, Siruius Black.  The Dementors "kiss" makes a person feel as though there is no happiness in the world, everything goes cold, and they suck out your soul.   Remus Lupin the the new defense against the arts teacher (and secretly a werewolf) helps Harry battle his fear of the Dementors and teaches him the patronus charm.  Harry's patronus was a stag the the same as his father's.  Sirius Black was another new character who was trapped in Azkaban broke out and was on the look for Harry to "kill" him for Voldemort. Sirius Black was a good friend to James and Lilly Potter, and the godfather to Harry; he was said to be the person who told Voldemort where they were the night they were killed.  The truth was that the real person that lead Voldemort was another new character Peter Pettigrew who hid in his animagus form; he was a Weasley pet, and Ron's pet rat while at Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The third book went into a deeper explanation of the Marauder's Map, the map was created by Remus Lupin (Mooney) Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail), Sirius Black (Padfoot), and Jame Potter (Prongs).  The four of them named this map after their names of their animagus.  My one problem with all the films, is that directors and screenwriters never did a good job of explaining the back story of Harry's parents and their friends.  In the third film Lupin sees him using the map, and confiscates it from him.  There is never any explanation in the film to the viewer that about how the map was created or by whom.  This is only one example and this continues to happen throughout the rest of the films.  Paying attention to history is important, it helps the film viewer to have a better grasp of why things happen.

With that said, this is still both my favorite book and my favorite film.  I love this film because the director Alfonso Cuaron unlike Chris Columbus understands the material so well, and does a good job creating the story of Sirius Black.  I know many people are divided on this film because Cuaron took this film in a very different direction.  Some will say that it doesn't handle the material well, but there are flaws in all the films with regard to misuse of the material.  I think Cuaron knows the subject matter well, and creates a well acted, visually stunning film.  There are great moments of levity and darkness, and the film balances them very well.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanThe one piece of this film that I did not love was the re-cast of Dumbledore.  Richard Harris was the perfect Dumbledore; he was stoic but clever and witty, he never raised his voice and felt just the way Dumbledore was imagined by JK Rowling.  Harris past away, and the role was taken over by Michael Gambon.  Gmabon is a great actor, but was too animated in the first few films, he yelled, and just did not capture the spirit of Dumbledore.  Unfortunately I thought he finally got it right in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

As friday comes closer I am getting more and more excited about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  I think David Yates (the current director has begun to understand the material well, and will create a great concluding chapter.

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