It's Harry's third year at Hogwarts; not only does he have a new "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher, but there is also trouble brewing. Convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped the Wizards' Prison and is coming after Harry.
Harry Potter is having a tough time with his relatives (yet again). He runs away after using magic to inflate Uncle Vernon's sister Marge who was being offensive towards Harry's parents. Initially scared for using magic outside the school, he is pleasantly surprised that he won't be penalized after all. However, he soon learns that a dangerous criminal and Voldemort's trusted aide Sirius Black has escaped from the Azkaban prison and wants to kill Harry to avenge the Dark Lord. To worsen the conditions for Harry, vile creatures called Dementors are appointed to guard the school gates and inexplicably happen to have the most horrible effect on him. Little does Harry know that by the end of this year, many holes in his past (whatever he knows of it) will be filled up and he will have a clearer vision of what the future has in store...Written by
(at around 16 mins) Alex Crockford appears as the second oldest Weasley son, Charlie, in the newspaper photo Ron shows to Harry in the Leaky Cauldron. See more »
(at around 1h 15 mins) When Harry is interrogated by Professor Snape about the Marauder's Map in the darkly-lit hallway, the drawstrings on Harry's sweatshirt change position. In one shot, they fall parallel, but in the next shot, they criss-cross. Also, when Lupin is talking to Harry in his classroom minutes later, the drawstrings switch from being cris-crossed to falling parallel between shots. See more »
The credits appear as a version of the Marauder's Map, moving all over the surface, accompanied by little footprints which react and change appropriately. See more »
DVD includes the following deleted scenes:
A scene cut from the Knight Bus sequence in which the bus turns around several times on the spot in the middle of the street.
An extended version of the scene where the bird flies through the courtyard, across the bridge, and in the direction of Hagrid's hut. We see Hagrid attempt to catch the bird, but instead it ends up being crushed by the Whomping Willow.
A scene in the Great Hall, where Ron and Hermione tell Harry about their visit to Hogsmeade.
A scene where the Gryffindors meet Sir Cadogan.
A scene in the Gryffindor Common Room, where all the students are gathered as Ron tells Professor McGonagall that Sirius Black had gotten into the dormitory. Professor McGonagall then asks Sir Cadogan if he let anyone into the common room. Ron then tells Hermione that Crookshanks ate Scabbers. Upset, Hermione sits down on the couch next to Harry, who says that he could have killed Sirius Black.
Director Alfonso Cuarón has taken the images conjured by J.K. Rowling's magical words and created from her book, 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,' a film rife with visual symbolism and alive with inventive images beyond those established by the first two films in the series. Cuarón, a native of Mexico City and the acclaimed director of the completely compelling, frequently hilarious and sexually explicit coming-of-age film, 'Y tu mamá también,' was seen by many as an odd choice to follow heartland American Chris Columbus into the Harry Potter director's chair. The selection has resulted in a film darker and more mature than its predecessors, just as was the book, but it is also as approachable for young people as Cuarón's other internationally heralded work, 'A Little Princess.'
It is late in the summer. Harry (a decidedly more assertive Daniel Radcliffe, making his third appearance in the leading role) is at the Dursleys in Privet Drive, preparing for his third year at Hogwart's, when an obnoxious relative demeans his father's memory, causing Harry to lose his temper. As a result, Harry violates the rules of student witches and wizards, causing the offending aunt to inflate as a dirigible and float away into the night sky on an stream of invectives. It is a delightful opening to a film with far more serious issues to explore and frightening obstacles to overcome. Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), imprisoned at Azkaban for complicity in the murder of Harry's parents, has escaped, and is looking for Harry. The soul-stealing prison guards called 'Dementors' (Latin for mind-removers) are searching for Black everywhere, but when he and Harry meet, there are revelations which change everything.
The symbolism in the film is fascinating. Rowling is responsible for a lot of it, but Cuarón has used symbolism as a visual tool to alert the audience to impending danger and to keep tensions high. Traditionally, black-feathered birds such as ravens, crows, and vultures all have negative images associated with them; they are usually used to represent carnage, bloodshed and battle; they are thought of in terms of scavengers, messengers of the dead, and evil. Crows abound in this film, but Cuarón has extended their traditional roles, turning them into symbols of the Dementors, which fly around menacingly in black garments with feather-like hems. Even when the Dementors are out of sight (they are not allowed on the grounds of Hogwart's School) you can feel their presence in the crows.
Rowling's most obvious use of symbolism is in the name she gives the escaped prisoner Sirius Black. Sirius is a star in the constellation Canis Majoris (in mythology, Canis Majoris is one of Orion's hunting dogs; the Greater Dog), the brightest star in the sky. So, Sirius is also called the Dog Star, and everyone knows that the dog is distinguished above all other inferior animals for intelligence, docility, and attachment to man. Would she give such a name, with all its implications, to a villainous character? Not likely. But she would give it to a wizard who could change into a dog.
Among the new visual images are animal ghosts which wander the halls of Hogwart's Castle and the film's realization of Buckbeak the Hippogriff, like Sirius, falsely accused and condemned. Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and all of the established characters return. Led by Harry, all the students have matured considerably, as you would expect of 13-year-olds; they are more independent and self assured, more emotionally developed and far less childlike in their reactions and bearing. Michael Gambon is new and effective as Aldus Dumbledore, following the death of Richard Harris. Emma Thompson is wonderfully wacky as Divination Professor Sybil Treelawney; who leaps from the pages of the book and onto the screen as if Rowling had written the character specifically for Thompson. Also new is Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Remus Lupin (David Thewles), who comes to Harry's aid in ways that might befit his Latin name. Remus was the brother of the founder of Rome. In mythology, he was nursed by a she-wolf; Lupin means wolf-like (wolf is Canis Lupis).
The unheralded thread of creative continuity in this marvelous series, as it moves from Chris Columbus to Alfonso Cuarón to incoming director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, now in production) is Screenwriter Steve Kloves. He and the producers have been true to Rowling's works and to Harry's fans, in ways that have always enhanced, not diminished, the author's incredible achievement.
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