Rants & Reflections

Prisoner of Azkaban: book vs. movie

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.

snape eyebrow raise

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!


8 thoughts on “Prisoner of Azkaban: book vs. movie”

  1. I actually agree with everything you said! That’s so unusual, I normally never agree with anyone when it comes to Harry Potter. 😀 I love the third book and movie, and I don’t much like David Yates’ adaptations except for the seventh. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh I love the idea for this series. And I happen to agree with you- personally I thought the 3rd one was the best adaptation, because it made it grittier and darker. Also in my opinion films are a different medium and so shouldn’t just be the same as the book. And I do agree with you about the Marauders being the best characters- I wish they were given more attention in all of the films to be honest (I’m still hoping for a separate book about their time at hogwarts/voldemort’s first rise to power- it’d be epic) I agree with you about films 5-8 not being as good- although that might also be down to the fact that I wasn’t a fan of book 5 and I hated that they split the last book- it was so unnecessary and I hate when they do that just to make more money! Basically I just agree with you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah, thank you! Yeah, I was not happy about the splitting of the last movies, either. Completely unnecessary, and started a very unfortunate trend. You raise an excellent point that films are a different medium; I try to keep that in mind as much as possible when watching adaptations.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series this summer too. After PoA, I wrote “This is probably my favorite movie from the series because of Hermione’s cool time change device, which ends up saving Buckbeak and Sirius in the end, but in the book, this part of the story is very short and not quite as impressive.” I felt a little let down by the book! Oh well, still love Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling forever!

    Liked by 1 person

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