Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light (Kloves). Albus Dumbledore says this to his students at the beginning of the term, and I feel that this is the line that defines the movie I will be reviewing, which is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Alfonso Cuarirected this movie, and the cast and characters includes Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy). This movie was released in 2004, and had a production budget of $130 million.
As much as all of those facts are useful, they donít tell you how good a movie is, no matter how talented the director or actors are. However, I can guarantee that this movie is fantastic. It helps that this movie was based on one of the best books written. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and what makes this movie stand out to me is the beauty with how it was filmed. It opens with the elegant composition of John Williams, and Harry (illegally) casting a Lumos spell in his bedroom as he attempts to complete homework in the middle of the night. The dark tones intermixed with the pure white glow of the wand light is perfection. The first two Potter films are fun, but this one takes it away from other good book to film adaptations, and makes it something beyond that. One can sense when a movie leaves the realm of business, and becomes art for arts sake. The transitions throughout the movie are also beautiful as well as comical; using the whomping willow to show the changing seasons was tastefully done, as well as lightening the mood of the film. For as we know, this film is no light-hearted matter.
The young actors grow a bit more from the previous film; you find them creating their own style, and developing their characters a bit more. The actors are also given more freedom on how to dress. We get to see them in muggle clothes, as well as wearing their school uniforms in the way they desire. We can also feel a connection between Harry, Remus and Sirius develop, which was important in the book, for they are Harrys only connection to his parents. We can feel Daniel grow as an actor, and even though he is not at an Oscar level performance in this film, it is still leaps and bounds compared to the previous films. I feel this specifically in the scene where Harry is trying to learn the Patronus charm with Lupin. Daniel creates the melancholy happiness that defines this scene. He shows that Harry feels alone, but in truth the people that he loves are around him, in his friends, and in his heart. Also, the glorious Alan Rickman surpasses himself as always, and stretches his words and enchants us all once again with his imagination. Snape remains an intriguing character, and unforgettable.
The beauty of this story does not reside within the other characters, but in the creatures that J.K. Rowling created: the Dementors. These terrible beings take the joy and happiness out of the world, for they represent depression. We can feel this especially with Harry. Dementors affect him so much because he has such a sad past, and a sad life; his parents died when he was one year old, and Lord Voldemort killed them and wants to kill him. He feels alone, and Dementors attack him for his easily depressed mind. Chocolate can help Harry feel better for a little while, but it is not a long-term resolution. And when the Dementors converge around him and Sirius, threatening his soul and his newly met godfather, he thought that his father saved him. He thought that others can save him from his past, and his sadness, but that is not true. As he later discovers, it was himself after some time travel madness. He was the only one that could save himself from depression, and his pain. These ideas were translated so very well into the movie; Alfonso did a marvelous job in allowing us to see Harrys pain and sadness, as well as his strength.
This story is very thought provoking, and deeply moving, which is something that I feel every time I watched it. This movie was given a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has often been praised as the best of the Harry Potter films. This film will forever be cherished in the hearts of children and adults alike, for it is a story of being strong, and not allowing fear and sadness to win, but allowing your love and the people that love you to guide you to the light. Mischief Managed. (Rowling)