Photo ©Warner Bros.
Last week our Instagram poll asked what was the best Harry Potter book. This week we asked about movies. Our final two came down to The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Prisoner of Azkaban. While it was a close race, in the end The Prisoner of Azkaban (PoA) came out on top.
An interesting element to PoA is that it is the first movie in the series not directed by Chris Columbus, but was instead directed by a more visually artistic filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón would later go on to direct critically acclaimed movies such as “Gravity” and “Roma”. From a filmmaking standpoint, Cuarón added many elements that enhanced this movie and the rest of the series to come. This was anything from musical or visual motifs to framing and camera movements. Throughout the film, he continuously had Harry portrayed in a way where he was alone to emphasize the point that he is the chosen ONE and must complete his final task alone. Cuarón would often frame Harry away from his friends or have the camera move in on him alone for important lines or moments. Speaking of cameras moving, that is another visual element that the director used to propel the story. Often times, the camera is in motion which makes the story feel like it is moving forward but also that there is discomfort from the lack of rest.
The other large factor in this movie’s success is that this film feels like it can stand on its own against the others in the series. The somewhat mystery element that drives the plot allows the story to have a beginning, middle, and end. PoA is also the first, and only, film that is not focused on Voldemort or features him in some form and instead follows the kids as they spend the school year exploring other aspects of the magical world.
Being such a beloved series, there has always been great debate on which Harry Potter movie is the best. A common opinion to hear is that PoA is the movie that sticks closest to its source material and also is the start of the much needed tonal change in the series. Cuarón took a children’s series and created something to be loved by all ages from both a viewer and filmmaker standpoint.