The Darker Side of Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban

10 Jul

The Book

Harry goes into his third year at Hogwarts and learns that a mass murderer, Sirius Black, has escaped from Azkaban and is after him. Because of this, dementors guard the school. Unfortunately, because of Harry’s dark past, they affect him greatly. He asks the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, professor Lupin, to help him make a patronus charm. He is successful. Harry learns that Sirius Black was his parents’ best friend, and betrayed them, resulting in their deaths. Later on, Harry, Ron, and Hermione encounter Sirius in the Shrieking Shack. Harry learns that he is actually innocent and that Ron’s pet rat is actually Peter Pettigrew, and the one responsible for Harry’s parents dying. Harry also learns that Sirius is his godfather. As they take Pettigrew up to the castle to get him arrested, Lupin transforms into a werewolf. Pettigrew escapes. All of a sudden, hundreds of dementors close in on them. An unknown patronus from afar sends them away, and Harry mistakenly believes the caster to be his dead father. Sirius is captured and sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss. Dumbledore tells Harry and Hermione to go back in time to save Sirius using her time-turner. In the midst of their time travel, Harry realizes it was he who drove all those dementors away and conjures his most impressive patronus yet. After this, they release Sirius from his holding cell.

The Film

This was a brilliantly executed movie with wonderful effects. One of the most moving scenes of Patronus past and present featured excellent music and seamless, creative effects. This movie was much more weird and whimsical than the first two (in a good way).

The Adaptation

This novel translated well to the screen and the screenplay was faithful to the source text. Harry, Hermione and Ron are entirely convincing. Additionally the scenery is breathtaking – much like the novel.

The Critics

Hornaday liked the movie, but thought it lacked something, that it was a bit bland at times. She appreciated the spice that some of the older actors and Emma Watson brought to the movie but felt that Daniel Radcliffe’s acting fell flat.  Like Hornaday, Scott felt that Watson’s acting outshone Radcliffe’s. Travers’ review glows with praise for the “dazzler” of a movie and for Radcliffe’s acting.

The Critical Argument

The genius of Alfonso Cuaron is his ability to adapt the Potter films to both a changing audience and a maturing cast; he does this by making Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a darker, more complex film than the earlier ones in the series. Alfonso Cuarón, himself acknowledged that “[t]his film is concerned with confronting [the characters’] innermost fears” (Joffe, 2007). This is a far cry from earlier Potter movies which emphasized childhood worries. Some felt that this new take on Potter film is “increasingly baroque and complex and pregnant with its own self-important Tolkien-esque seriousness and ‘darkness’” (Bradshaw, 2004). Yet Cuaron stands by his choices to mature the series and brought

“dazzling and artistic sensibility to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban…Cuaron [is] the ideal candidate to move the previously solely youth-oriented series into the darker and more mature territory that was to come” (Johans, 2007).

Works Cited

Bradshaw, Peter. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The Guardian. 28 May 2004. Web 4 June, 2015.

Cuarón, Alfonso, Chris Columbus, David Heyman, Mark Radcliffe, Steven Kloves, Steven Weisberg, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Michael Seresin, John Williams, and J K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Burbank, Calif: Warner Home Video, 2004.

Joffe, Robyn. Harry Potter and the Adaptation from Novel to Film. Web 4 June, 2015.

Johans, Jen. Alfonso Cuaron’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Film Intuition. 2007. Web 4 June, 2015.

Hornaday, Ann. Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban Review. Washington Post. Web 5 June, 2015.

Movie Web Team. EXCLUSIVE: Director Alfonso Cuaron talks Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Movieweb. 1 June 2004. Web 4 June, 2015.

Rowling, J K, and Mary GrandPré. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999. Print.

Scott, A. O. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New YORK Times. June 3, 2004. Web 5 June, 2015.

Travers, Daniel. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Rolling Stone Magazine. May 27, 2004. Web 5 June,2015.

Zacharek, Stephanie. Prisoner of Azkaban. Salon. 3 June 2004. Web 4 June, 2015.


One Response to “The Darker Side of Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban”

  1. ezanasizana July 10, 2015 at 3:50 am #


    I agree with the critics that Alfonso Cuaron’s approach to the film is excellent. I think he really captures the maturation of the characters and their new harsh reality. However, I never understood the comparison to the first two films because those stories not intended to be overtly dark. Rowling takes us on this journey step by step, I mean each novel gets more complex and longer. So I don’t praise Cuaron for making the film dark but instead praise him for doing it well.

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