The North Tower #25: “The Prisoner of Azkaban” Movie

Hi! I just went to see the new Harry Potter movie and felt like analyzing it a bit. This is thus going to be a movie-in-relation-to-the-book article and probably more of a personal judgment on my part than any kind of solid literary analysis. But what the heck, I can take a little break sometimes too. 🙂 Okay, so for you who haven’t seen the movie, beware of SPOILERS (though if you’ve read the book you already know how it will end so it might not be that bad).

Also, I want to add that any comments I’ll make about the actors are my personal opinions, which won’t change just because you don’t agree with me. So please, no e-mails of the kind “what do you mean the actor who plays Ron totally sucks?! I love him, he’s the best actor in the world and he’s totally perfect for the part.” You’re entitled to your opinion and I’m to mine; therefore, I find the debate pointless (sort of like debating whether strawberries are yummier than peaches or who is hotter in LotR). I won’t answer e-mails like that, just so you know.

Apparently, JKR said in an interview that the PoA movie actually foreshadows Books 6 and 7 a bit. I haven’t read this myself, so I don’t know exactly how she worded it; but if it’s true, then looking closely at the movie would be a good thing to do.

I’ve cut it down to three main things

1) The representation of the Dementor’s Kiss.

When on the brink of the lake, Harry and Sirius are attacked by the Dementors (Hermione and Ron have been removed from that scene), who suck energy out of them (very nicely done, in my opinion). Then suddenly, a small shining bead of light rises from Sirius’s mouth and rises towards the Dementors. This is most probably the representation of his soul. This (in accordance with the Changeling Hypothesis) could foreshadow an extraction of the Tom Riddle soul from Harry at the end of the series.

2) All that chemistry

I was greatly relieved to see that the spoilers I’d read concerning Ron and Hermione (dating, kissing, holding hands a lot) didn’t actually make the final cut. Instead, they squabble a lot and sure, there are some moments where you can really feel the tension between them. In the first part of the movie, there’s definitely some Ron-Hermione relationship promotion. In the other half on the other hand (part with the time-turner) it’s a whole different story. Suddenly, Harry and Hermione are running around in the Forbidden Forest, and what a romantic place that suddenly is…. There is handholding (hiding from the werewolf), there is closeness and especially there is a moment when the werewolf attacks and Harry takes Hermione in his arms to shield her with his body (typical hero-Harry thing to do) and then she conveniently stays there for another minute or so (while Buckbeak charges the werewolf and just after when all is safe and she really has no reason to). Cosy cosy….

In general, I think that Ron-Hermione promoters will have a problem with this movie, because the way they picture Ron, it’s impossible to understand why Hermione would ever be attracted to him. Ron basically does what he did in the second movie, i.e. either his “what was what? I don’t understand”-look or his “Oh my God, I’m so scared”-look. Personally, I find him pathetic (and can’t they PLEASE axe the kid who’s playing him, you’d think that three bad performances in a row would be enough!). Harry and Hermione on the other hand are heroes (not only in the second part but in the first part of the movie too) and complement each other very well. For them to be together makes sense. For Ron and Hermione to be together doesn’t. (According to the film, of course; the books are a completely different story). I just can’t understand why they’d choose to play Ron as such a wimp. I mean, it’s just so contradictory to the books….

Anyway, so all this Harry-Hermione-Ron love triangle stuff could be either foreshadowing Books 6 and 7 or it could just be Hollywood trying to make the movie a bit more exciting. (since they’ve axed a lot of the exciting stuff that’s actually in the book, they needed to add some more).

3) The little chat about Harry’s parents

In the movie, there’s a scene when Lupin has a little chat with Harry about his parents, saying that Lily was incredible and always saw the beauty in people even when they couldn’t see it themselves, whereas James, well, he had a knack for getting himself into trouble, that Harry probably doesn’t realize how much he’s like his parents but that he’ll understand it sometime in the future (something like that).

This was probably meant to foreshadow the scene at the lake where Harry sees himself and thinks it’s his father, but what if it inadvertently foreshadows something else? With all the mentions of Harry-Lily’s eyes (which they’ve picked up in this movie) pretty much everyone’s deducted that there’ll be something important tied to this. Maybe Harry will find out that he’s actually just like his mother (and that this means he has some extra power), but that he has his father’s appearance. Or I don’t know.

I also got the distinct feeling that Lupin didn’t really like James in this scene. On the other hand, he seems to really have liked Lily. This could maybe be tied to the werewolf caper, which we still know so little about (it would have made sense for Lupin to be very angry with his friends after that). It could also be Hollywood’s way of suggesting a former love story between Lupin and Lily (or at least a crush on Lupin’s part). Again, I don’t know. It’s always dangerous to go by the film to try and see patterns in the book because the filmmakers most certainly don’t know more than we do about what’s going to happen next in the series and on top of that, they have certain Hollywood guidelines to follow (e.g. there has to be some romance in every film. If there isn’t in the book, then you invent some).

Things I found very strange

There were two things I found really strange in this movie, because it really creates a problem in relation to the books.

1) Changing Trelawney’s prophecy

Trelawney’s prophecy has been changed to include “innocent blood will be spilt” (tonight, he who betrayed his friends will escape, innocent blood will be spilt and servant and master will be reunited, something like that). What the heck does that refer to? Since it’s among the things that will happen “tonight” it could hardly refer to Cedric’s death in Book 4 or Sirius’s in Book 5. My guess is that they’re referring to Buckbeak, which is illogical because Buckbeak wasn’t killed at all. Which leads us to…

2) The time-turner paradox

The movie representation emphasizes the interaction between the two timelines a lot more than the book (e.g. Hermione (2) breaks a vase in Hagrid’s hut, which makes Hermione (1) realize that they need to get out of there because the execution committee is coming.) I already analyzed the time-paradox in another article (NT 4, and a little bit in NT 5, too) and the people making the movie seem to have about the same interpretation of it as I do, namely that Harry and Hermione (2) must intervene with the original timeline (1) every time they already did. I’ll recap and draw a diagram.

Okay, so it’s not the prettiest diagram ever drawn, but still….

The black timeline going from 19.30 to 24.00 is the time without using the time-turner (real time) and the blue is the time when using the time-turner (double time). Notice that the two timelines are parallel: it’s not black AND THEN blue, it’s black and blue AT THE SAME TIME. Hermione and Harry are truly in two places at once and both couples are equally real and equally conscious of their actions. The only difference is that double-time Harry and -Hermione are conscious of both their own actions and those of the real-time people. They are thus able to understand how the things they couldn’t understand in real-time happened (e.g. the vase breaking) and make sure it does happen the way it did (i.e. Hermione throwing the stone). They know what to do because they already did it (as Harry explains after having conjured the Patronus). Double-time Harry and Hermione don’t change anything on the real-time timeline, they just explain how it could happen like that (e.g. “How did the vase break?” “How did Buckbeak escape?” “Who conjured the Patronus?” etc.).

I think a great way that this double and simultaneous timeline is shown in the movie is when Hermione (2) throws the stone in Harry (1)’s head and both Harrys go “Ow! that hurt!” Although, this is completely contradictory to the scene at the lake where Harry (2) doesn’t pass out from the Dementor attack when Harry (1) does. It could be that Harry (2) feels a sort of shadow of the pain that Harry (1) feels but is able to handle it. It’s all very confusing. (As I said before, we human beings aren’t really used to thinking in four dimensions)

My point with this was actually to show the weirdness of Trelawney’s statement “innocent blood will be spilt” because, if she’s referring to Buckbeak it didn’t come true (which would disqualify it as a true prophecy, and according to the book it is a true prophecy) and I don’t really see what else she could be referring to unless she’s foreshadowing Books 4-7.


And some personal last comments… I think the third movie was a lot better than the first and the second. Mainly because the guy who plays Harry is starting to get into the role and his acting is getting better. At least now he’s tolerable. The girl playing Hermione is actually getting good, but then she was the most talented from the start and probably has the easiest (and most fun) role to play. I still think that the guy playing Malfoy is the best actor amongst the young ones and it’s really a pity he doesn’t get more space. And yeah, the guy playing Ron sucks and should have been sacked two movies ago. (How he ever got the part and so on…)

I didn’t like the actor they chose for Lupin, partly because he played the Duke in Moulin Rouge! (or, if it wasn’t him, the similarity is uncanny Editor’s note: The actor in Moulin Rouge! is Richard Roxburgh, while Professor Lupin is portrayed by David Thewlis.) and now he gives me the creeps no matter what role he’s in, and partly because I always pictured Lupin like Robin William‘s Mr. Keating in Dead Poet’s Society. Trelawney, on the other hand, was really good, and so was Sirius (I’d pictured Tom Cruise but Gary Oldman did a really good job). Pettigrew I didn’t like mainly because the actor looks so much like the one they have playing Neville Longbottom. I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but it really struck me as stupid as enough people are getting confused when it comes to Neville-Pettigrew as it is.

And then there were the Dementors. Kind of a mix between the Ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings and the Sentinells in The Matrix. I found it weird that they could fly, since in the books they only glide along the ground. Also, I think that the LotR did the perfect Dementors already in form of the Ringwraiths (I just love them!) and these ones weren’t even half as scary (and way too small!). But they were okay, good work special effects unit! I also thought that the werewolf should have been hairier.

Okay, so this was my break; I’ll be back next time with something more literary and a bit more interesting. 🙂

Till then!