What’s Up With “Prisoner of Azkaban?”

I distinctly remember one of my English professors saying that Prisoner of Azkaban was her favourite Harry Potter film adaptation. I was surprised by this revelation, because I had always liked PoA least of all HP movies, and I usually agreed with this professor’s viewpoints.

So I’m doing my annual Christmastime HP movie marathon, and I get to PoA, and I decide to watch a bit more closely this time to see if I can spot why this one is distinctly good. Maybe I had missed something crucial, maybe there’s a theme from the book that was built upon in the film?

So right off the bat, we have a problem.

PoA1

Harry is trying to learn how to make his lumos “big”. Why is he allowed to do this spell? is “lumos” not traceable by the ministry? are there loopholes in the Reasonable Restrictions of Under-aged Wizardry laws that I don’t know about?

Here’s another wtf moment, though not a “this isn’t in the book” moment, but more of a general “why was this even a shot” moment.

PoA2

Here we have a wide shot of…you tell me.

Seriously, as awesomely weird as this is, (and I do appreciate the weirdness) why is this moment here? Aunt Marge is floating away, while Uncle Vernon screams why at the sky and Aunt Petunia slowly waves her handkerchief “goodbye”. the two TVs playing the same thing and Dudley watching one of them is the most normal thing happening here.

And I have to mention Tom’s (the owner of the Leaky Cauldron) strange transformation, and what a transformation it is. I understand the need to re-cast sometimes, but really? what’s the deal with the huge change from Philosopher’s Stone to Prisoner of Azkaban?

Philosopher’s Stone:

PoA4

Prisoner of Azkaban:

PoA3Alright, enough with this Tom business.

Here is something they included in the film (that wasn’t in the book) that I really like. Right after Dumbledore informs the school that there will be Dementors guarding the school this year, he says this little speech that isn’t in the books, and kinda seems random:

“But you know, happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, If one only remembers to turn on the light”.

PoA5

The first time I watched this, many years ago when I was young and my literary analysis was fairly poor, I thought initially, “Okay, they just did that so he could do this cool candle trick thing”.

Then, a while later, I thought, “Nahhh, they included it because they were forshadowing the patronus charm as a source of light that beats back the Dementors”

But what I now believe to be true is: The real reason they included this speech was not to JUST to foreshadow the patronus charm as a major spell in this film, but to allude to something that will come much later.

I am of course talking about Dumbledore’s illuminator, and Ron’s use of it when he was alone and feeling regret over leaving Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hallows. He found happiness in a dark time by remembering to turn on the light. I really think that is what that little speech is about.

Ahhh, Professor Trelawney’s predictions. She’s mostly a fraud, as JK herself states on Pottermore, but an argument could be made here for divination’s legitimacy. There’s the obvious sign of the grimm in Harry’s teacup which we know to be Sirius, not Death (but he does technically die, so there’s that). And the more ambigous, “trials and suffering” but with “the sun” so in Ron’s words, Harry’s “going to suffer, but he’s going to be happy about it”.

I think there is some truth to that statement. He does suffer. Tremendously. but in the end, he is happy about the sacrifice he made, because it led to the defeat of Voldemort. Way to go, Ron! You rock at Divination!


I was going to say something about how there should be a whole bunch of hippogryphs, not just Buckbeak, but you know, money.

The flying scene is pretty dope though. I mean, just look at those landscape shots.

PoA6Here’s another thing I noticed about this movie: All the water mirrors that Harry looks into. Why?

Water Mirror 1:

PoA8

This is when he looks out of the train window following the Dementor attack.

Water Mirror 2:

PoA7

It’s not very clear, but this is when he is flying on Buckbeak and looks into the water.

I do however, have a hunch about these symbolic reflection scenes- he looks very much like his father, and so he is constantly looking for his father throughout this story, and ends up finding himself (i.e., the patronus scene near the end).


Here’s another issue I have: why do they make it seem like Lupin was in love with Lily Potter? or at least that they were best friends, when really it was James that Lupin was friends with. It doesn’t really matter, but it seemed like such an arbitrary change that they needn’t have changed it at all.

I do like the whole “turn to page 394” thing they added; very clever.

keep-calm-and-turn-to-page-394-119

 The Marauders Map:

Why is it never stated in the movie who the marauders actually are? Maybe it’s obvious, but it’s never explicitly stated and Lupin just somehow knows it’s a map.

To be honest, I don’t find any big flaws with the rest of the movie.

I love how it seemed  to be a conscious choice for Gary Oldman to act like a murderous crazy (to be fair, Sirius was high on the bloodlust for Pettigrew, so that seems accurate) and when Harry finds out the truth, he becomes a lot calmer. I think that this change could be explained as a combination of two things: 1) the obvious: Sirius’s relief at having Pettigrew be caught and being finally free, and 2) Harry knows the truth now, so he actually views Sirius differently. Perception can really change how you think one is behaving.

The time travelling part is pretty sweet, I liked how that was done.

Although this doesn’t bother me a lot, I do find it strange that they just decided to add the firebolt in right at the end, because it just seems like an afterthought.The mystery in the book of “who sent the firebolt” and Harry’s frustration over not being able to use it, added a bit of extra mystery to everything, so it would have been nice to see it presented that way.

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