You may have noticed I’ve got a Book to Movies giveaway going on. So I thought I’d do a few more Book v Movie reviews, or at least discussions. Today is the turn of my favourite Harry Potter book – and movie, and I don’t think they are necessarily the same. I mean, you could enjoy one of the movies better than one of the books, and I do enjoy the movie of Chamber of Secrets better than I like the book, mainly due to the length of time it takes to get back to Hogwarts in the book, I think.
But… the Prisoner of Azkaban. This is the one where Harry starts to discover the deeper secrets about himself, his parents and that awful night when Voldemort killed them. The Dementors arrive – and clearly JK Rowling had the same nightmares of a shadowy black-clad being poking its head around the corner of the landing and looking at her as she lay in bed that I did. Or that’s the way I always thought of them. The film versions were just as scary, with that horrible mouth ready to suck your soul away. It’s interesting that I know absolutely that this was a childhood fear, yet I would hesitate to put something so scary into a Middle Grade book. Maybe I ought to reassess my benchmarks.
We get visits to Hogsmeade – a delight for the film – and a bit of Quidditch, but the Dementors interrupt the match and Harry loses his broom. The Dementors are there, of course, to protect Harry from the ever-present threat of the escaped convict, Sirius Black, who seems to be out to get him.
It’s hard to look back on this book as I was when I first read it. It was published in 1999 and I probably read it in 2001. Although I’ve read it a lot of times – and used it to practice my French, German, Spanish and try to make a go of it in Galician, thanks to a present from my brother (it’s amazing what languages you can understand when it’s been faithfully translated and you know the book in your mother tongue!). The originality of the secrets revealed in this book, and the wondrous mechanisms for delivering them; the more I skip through it the more wondrous I find them – Dementors, Lupin, the Patronus, Buckbeak, Hermione’s time-turner, Trelawney’s prediction, the Marauder’s Map – and the more I feel this really is the best book. I think it wins over later books especially because it was a tight story. One of my friends commented after books 6 and 7 that they could do with a good edit. I disagreed at the time, because I felt every little detail needed to be included. Now I wonder whether that’s the case. Azkaban is tight, and loses nothing through allowing us to interpret the additional detail.
The trouble is, memory is overlaid by the film, since the visuals of all these details that I love just spring into view as they are in the film. Now I’ can’t remember how I first imagined them. There are some books where you still remember how you first saw them (the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, although Strider and Viggo Mortensen are indivisible) and can maybe recapture your own version when you reread them. The film of Azkaban is not only faithful to the book (with the possible exception of the relationship of Hagrid’s hut to the rest of Hogwarts) but also faithful to my visual memory of the book. I suspect it’s my memory that is wrong – since I read Azkaban before the first film came out – although I was always happy with Hogwarts being at the end of Loch Rannoch, since that was where I’d put it in the first place! I know I chose different actors for Lupin and Sirius, but David Thewlis and Gary Oldman were both perfect in their roles, then and later, and I am delighted to have been introduced to two such talented actors (and for the help it gave their careers, although arguably they were doing fine beforehand). Oldman as George Smiley is superb.
The key thing about Azkaban is the twist, the overturning of preconceptions, and the realisation that things are not necessarily how they seem. Harry takes huge steps forward as a person in this book, and at just the right time for a third year student (in UK schooling). Harry’s choice at the end is important, for us as readers and viewers who do not want him to turn to the dark side, and for Harry himself when it comes to the final showdown in book 7.
I love this book, and I love this film. Maybe I should read the book again, just to savour it. If you haven’t read it yet, I wish you joy!
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10 thoughts on “Book v Movie | Harry Potter – Prisoner of Azkaban”
That was probably the last of the books I really loved. Though as far as I’m concerned, the first is the best for many reasons. The movies, as far as I watched them, were good. But they got too intense as they went on–I can’t watch that sort because they cause massive headaches.
I know what you mean, I think. The main thing is to watch them in a dark room with the tv set lighting set to vivid. Then at least you can see them!
This is my favourite of the books too – because of the notions of time that it throws up. I’ve just been revisiting all the books as audiobooks and somehow the length of the later ones doesn’t drag so much. I think she was right back on form for the Deathly Hallows anyway. Thanks for sharing this at the #KLBH.
You’re welcome, Marjorie 🙂
This was the one book in the series where I didn’t like the movie as much as the book. I thought there was so much they had to cut for the movie. That bit with the talking heads on the bus ride I wished they hadn’t spent so much time on so they could have added other things from the book. The actors who played Sirius and Lupin were brilliant though. That was perfect casting.
You may be right there, Lynne. I seem to remember being fed up they’d left a lot out. I got used to it for the later ones. But it works for me now.
I found that because most of the books were so much longer and the movies thereby cutting large portions that I never totally understood what was happening in the movies until I’d read the books. I was able to enjoy the movies much better after that.
Interesting insight. I know that helps me, because I have trouble keeping characters straight. So knowing who’s there and what they do before I start helps.
I read the entire series after being introduced to it by my daughter in 2002 or so. I even beat her out reading the last two books. Loved all of them, and was delighted when the movies mirrored my imagination (like Lord of the Rings). I’ve often been disappointed when a good book becomes a mediocre movie. I think I would have to go back a reread, to decide which book I felt was the best. Definitely not the last one, but finales are so hard to write anyway.
I agree that with this book, the movie and the book were both awesome! I fall on the side of the series as a whole (although particularly with the last two books) that major editing would have helped make it a tighter story. I find the movies in general to be better than the books for that reason. The movies pick out the important stuff in the books. Who am I to criticize J.K. Rowling, but she does tend to ramble on a bit. That being said, her world-building is incredible. Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop, Jemima.
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