Welcome back to my series of Remembrall Readathon posts, in which I try to reread the series before July 31st (the release of the Cursed Child script) with the Harry Potter Alliance. Today, it’s the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I might have some more potentially controversial things to say.
PoA is largely a favorite of many Harry Potter readers. It used to be my favorite book as well. I say “used to” because each time around, my opinions shift a bit about each book in the series, it seems (I’ll talk more about ranking my favorites once I’m done with the readathon). This is the 3rd time I’ve read PoA, and this time I thought a lot about the book/movie differences…and how some of the changes made in the film are…dare I say it…better.
The third movie is very stylistic and distinctive, thanks to Alfonso Cuarón. It does a fantastic job of representing the motif of time throughout the film: for example, the seasons changing shown with the Whomping Willow, the famous clock shots, and the tick-tocking in the score during the Time Turner section. The book does a good job of this as well, especially with Divination classes, but there’s something about the visuals of the third film that take the time motif to a new level that the book couldn’t achieve. Additionally, the entire Time Turner segment, I think, is more effective in the film.
I didn’t realize until this time around that many of the time travel details that were in the movie were not even in the book! For example, the rock that Hermione throws in the window to hit Harry, warning them of Fudge’s approach to Hagrid’s…a brilliant little touch that wasn’t in the book, but added so much to the film! They also added Hermione howling like a wolf to distract were-wolf Lupin, and you realize later that it was her! That was never in the book, but has such a great effect in the film! Naturally, they also had to re-order and re-structure certain plot events to adapt the book, like Hermione punching Malfoy…seeing the punch repeated during the Time Turner segment was a really funny bit that never happened in the book because it was earlier in the plot, before the point they traveled back to. But it worked so well!
Of course, one major aspect the film fails to capture as well as the book is the depth and complexity of the relationships between the Marauders and Snape. I know it has been a fan grudge that the Mauraders never really made it into the movies, and I agree. The detail in the book is far greater and you get a much clearer explanation as to the events of the past: i.e. the trick Sirius played on Snape by almost luring him to werewolf-Lupin, saved by James at the last moment…you lose a lot when you take out those details, and the depth is just not captured with those characters in the films, which is unfortunate because they are
some of the best characters.
So ultimately I think there are some things the book does better than the movie and some things the movie does better than the book – which was a belief I never held until this moment (and a belief I only hold for book/movie #3). I hadn’t planned on talking about the films at all during my posts, but this ended up being the main topic I wanted to discuss with PoA after finishing it. I feel almost guilty saying that I think the Time Turner plot was done better in the film, cause when else can you say that the film did something better!? I myself am an fan of movies 1-4, but big not a fan of movies 5-8, which all have the same director (surprise, surprise). (I guess if I had to pick the best one of the David Yates films, it would be film 7…which is the only one that largely occurs away from Hogwarts…maybe there’s a reason in there…but I digress.) I thought it might be interesting to hear your thoughts on the movie adaptations in the comments!