And I loved the chorale rendition of "Double, double, toil and trouble." It fascinated me, it stuck in my head, and I decided I wanted to see the movie just so I could hear more of it. So before the movie came out, I read the first three books. And I discovered the second book was better than the first, and the third book was really quite good. When I got to the last few chapters, I fell irrevocably in love with a character and was completely hooked on the series. I went to see this in the theater, and saw each subsequent movie in the theater too.
So anyway, Cowboy and I are still on our quest to watch all of the Harry Potter movies together, and so we got this from the library. I was curious to see how it held up now that I've seen all of them, as I don't think I've watched it since it was in theaters. And I have to say, I do think it's probably in my top 3 for this series. For one thing, the wacky "this is for kids" tone of the first two movies is gone. For another, the three leads have all matured and learned some real acting, which means their performances have some actual depth.
Spoilage from here on out.
I know I've talked a lot on my blogs about how much I love characters who have been wrongly imprisoned. And how much I love prison-escape stories. So you probably have figured out why Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite Harry Potter book: Sirius Black.
In fact, Sirius is my favorite character in the whole Potterverse. And while Gary Oldman doesn't physically match my mental image of Sirius from the books, he's such a strong actor that I don't mind. He infuses Sirius with dignity and strength, with kindness and playfulness, with desperation and triumph. In later movies, we'll also get to see his selfishness and cruelty, but here we don't get to those here yet.
One of my favorite moments from both movie and book is when Sirius hesitantly explains that because he's Harry's godfather, he's his legal guardian, and asks if Harry would like to come live with him. Sirius is ragged and filthy. He's still a wanted criminal. He realizes he has nothing to offer right now that a thirteen-year-old boy might find comfortable or attractive. And when Harry excitedly accepts, Gary Oldman's Sirius makes me cry with the joy in his eyes.
And then there's this scene, with Sirius telling Harry how much he's like his parents. Right in the feels, folks. But this screencap brings me to something else I love about this movie: the cinematography. This movie is beautiful. I rather wish that Alfonso Cuaron had directed the rest of these movies, because this one is stunning. Here are a few gorgeous moments:
And I love how interesting Cuaron makes so many shots. There are a few of your standard over-over-two shots, but there are also scenes like this one between Lupin and Harry, their physical distance emphasizing their differences and the fact that pretty soon, Harry's going to think he's being betrayed by Lupin.
Or how about this first look at the Shrieking shack? That aged barbed wire is an amazing touch -- it almost has a prison camp feel to it. Is it to keep people out? Or something in?
And look at the great framing of this shot, the camera siding us with Harry and making Lupin and Sirius look all conspiratorial. I love the depth.
Kind of random note, but I love the moving staircases inside Hogwarts, and they have never looked lovelier or more fun than in this movie. They're not seen much in later movies, which always makes me sad.
Back to the main trio. (I may have gone a little nuts with my screencapping. You don't mind, right?) I love how often Cuaron gets them into a shot together. This shot from Divination Class cracks me up, because they're all so exactly Harry, Hermione, and Ron in it. Harry is curious, Hermione is skeptical, Ron is confused.
Look! Happy moment!
Ron has learned to roll his sleeves up just to the elbows, making himself suddenly quite attractive.
And we've got just a hint of romance to come. Hermione grabs Ron's hand when they're watching Harry interact with Buckbeak. It's sweet and tentative and very early-teens feeling.
Just a few more words about casting. I've liked Michael Gambon in any number of things, from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to Amazing Grace to what little I've seen of the 2009 Emma. But he's not an ideal Dumbledore. Even if you don't compare him to Richard Harris, he's still too stern, not kind enough to suit me.
Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney makes me laugh a LOT. Mostly because usually Thompson plays sensible, proper characters, and here she's all vague and wafty and... the hair! She's obviously filled with glee at getting to do this wacky role.
David Thewlis is okay as Lupin, but I don't love him. He's a little too wispy or something. But he doesn't bug me much. Maybe I'm just used to him.
And then there are the Dementors. They are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO creepy in this movie! Their look changes in later movies, which annoys me, because they were freaky and horrible in this. Why mess with them?
Okay, probably time for me to shut up now. Basically, I like this movie and I think it's a splendid adaptation.