Sirius Black – ESCAPES Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter Series #3) by J. K.  Rowling, Mary GrandPré, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban written by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban [2004] [DVD] : Movies  & TV
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film directed by Alfonso Cuarón

While I was growing up, I was immersed in the World of Harry Potter. I read the books and watched the films multiples times. When the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ came out at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, I went every year. So, I would consider myself a Harry Potter connoisseur. However, after recently going back and reading the book and watching the film, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban I was able to catch a few things that were different about each. The film Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban directed by Alfonso Cuarón in 2004 was adapted from the book, written by J.K. Rowling in 2001. This is the third book and film in the Harry Potter series. 

            The book Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban is the story of a story, that gradually unfolds throughout the book, finally leading to its climactic reveal and the ensuing repercussions. The book covering Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is not about Harry’s third year at all, but about the events leading up to his parents’ deaths twelve years before. Harry Potter’s 13th birthday takes place early in the book, and this is significant because he has survived attacks of the feared “Dark Lord” on more than one occasion. Once he is back at Hogwarts, he hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch, but these hopes are tossed away when a crazy mass-murderer, Sirius Black, escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. Hogwarts is supposed to be the safest place for Harry to be. Yet, Harry can feel eyes watching him in the dark and his professor, Professor Trelawney, is making strange predictions that make him feel even more uneasy. 

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Newspaper clipping that is showed in the film of Sirius Black when he escapes from Azkaban

            The film adaptation Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban centers around the escape of the sinister Sirius Black from the Prison of Azkaban; Sirius Black convicted in Voldemort’s plot to murder Harry’s parents, and now people suspect that he must finish the job by killing Harry Potter. When Harry returns for his third year at Hogwarts, grim wraiths named Dementors are stationed at every entrance of the school to ward off Sirius, but the Dementors are hardly reassuring, with their trick of sucking away the soul essence of their victims. While capturing the storyline of the book, the director also wanted to include his own twist to the film. The film is more concerned about confronting the character’s innermost fears, that have come out in the book. It follows the journey of a character seeking his or her own identity and accepting who they are. This adaptation is certainly a quality film in its own right. The cinematographer used wide-angle and tracking shots to heighten the sense of drama in scenes that are full of suspense. The special effects were well done, especially to capture the Dementors which are quite scary. The viewer can see the soul being sucked out of the Dementor’s victims; it looks like black smoke coming out. The special effects that showcase the magical aspect of being a wizard was also excellently executed. For example, when the students practice spells (with their wands) the audience sees the magic come out of the wand, normally in a color like red, green, or white towards the object they are pointing their wand at. 

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A Dementor attacking Harry Potter and sucking his soul out of him

            While the film adaptation follows the characters a bit differently than the book does, it is still a straight interpretation of the book. The film follows the storyline of the book very tightly though, it is done in a different way. Since the adaptation is a straight interpretation, someone could watch the film without reading the book and understand it. That being said, there are some important pieces of Harry’s backstory missing from the film. The most important piece of information that is introduced in this story is the betrayal of Harry’s parents that led to their deaths. In the book we learn that Voldemort could not just go and attack the Potters and, that they would have been safe had they not trusted the wrong person, because of the preparations they had taken before going into hiding. Another aspect that is different between the two, is the word “Secret-Keeper” in the book it is crucial because it refers to one person. However, it is never mentioned in the film implying that more than one person knew where the Potters were hiding and therefore, be able to betray them. The film also leaves out key information about Harry Potters’ fathers past, James Potter, was an Animagus. This information lays out exactly what his father was. 

The director, Alfonso Cuarón, kept most the book’s formal elements. Important themes such as memory, the past, fear, and family are all captured throughout the film in similar ways as in the book. The actors did a fantastic job of expressing times of fear and suspense, very similar to the way J.K. Rowling describes them in the book. The basic plot of the book matches that of the film, although the film focuses more on overall character development rather than that of just Harry Potter. Personally, I found more enjoyment from this because I like watching and cheering on the other characters as well. 

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