With the final installment of the Harry Potter movie franchise coming out, we thought it would be fun to revisit the phenomenon with a special edition series of Harry Potter Book v Movie columns.
Name of Book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
By: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Copyright Date: US Edition June 1999
Number of Pages: 435
Reason for Reading: It’s Harry Potter, do we need a reason?
Director: Alphonso Cuaron
Release Date: June 4, 2004 (USA)
Running Time: 141 minutes
IMDB Linkage: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/
THE BOOK: The books are getting longer, which makes me very happy. They’re also getting darker, which makes me not happy, but glad that Rowling does such a fantastic job in taking the story through the dark places that it must, of necessity, go through.
We’re introduced to the sinister Sirius Black, near the beginning of the book. Black is an Azkaban escapee so notorious that even the Muggle news is warning viewers to watch out for him. And for some unknown reason, Harry learns that Black has escaped Azkaban to track him down and kill him. Harry is nonetheless glad to be back at school–he’d feared expulsion after inadvertently blowing up his aunt–and with mysterious Remus Lupin as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Quidditch continues to hold its allure for Harry, but even there he’s not entirely safe. And what of the black dog that he keeps seeing? Is it truly the Grim harbinger of death?
THE MOVIE: I fell in love with Cuaron when he directed A Little Princess based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. He uses saturated colours to visually reflect the theme of the film, and he succeeded as well, if not better, in Prisoner of Azkaban. The dementors are as frightening in film as they were in my imagination. I love how he had everything get ice cold when they were present, reflecting the passionless hunger they have as they suck all joy out of life for anyone unfortunate enough to be in their presence. This is the first film that strayed from the rigid canon followed by Chris Columbus, and the movie is far better for having done so.
The casting is amazing, as always. David Thewlis makes his introductory appearance as Remus Lupin, and Emma Thompson joins the cast as the delightfully batty Divinations professor, Sybil Trelawney. Gary Oldman rounds out the lot, beautifully cast as Sirius Black. The children are steadily improving their craft, and it shows.
THE WINNER: The book, naturally, but the movie still remains one of my favourites.