Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Although the film has been showing for quite a while and it was some time ago since I last saw it I would like to write down some of my thoughts on this movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I really like this movie even though it is not the best I've ever seen. But the main trademark of this movie which makes it stick out is that is singularly well crafted. There are just so many details which are laid out in a very clever fashion and which fits together seamlessly. Before I start describing these I should warn any reader that there are a few spoilers in my text. I recommend you watch the movie before reading this.

First of all I think that Prisoner of Azkaban (PoA) is far better than the previous Harry Potter movies. The previous ones were released just before chrismas and they had a very christmasy feel about them. I think that was very intentional from the producers. Reasons for this christmasy feel goes partly to John Williams score. The main theme in the movies evokes wintery feelings. And a lot of the action happen during the windter period at Hogwarts. But all this they had to abandon now that PoA was released in the spring (so as to not collide with The Return of the King). First of all the winter part in the movie is pretty short. But they've also changed the score quite a lot. While the scores for the previous movies was heavily built upon the main theme they now had John Williams come up with a new theme which is more medieval in character. This theme is the basis for the score in PoA. A last point which I've noticed makes the movie not so christmasy is the clothes the characters wear. In previous movies they wear the school robes pretty much all the time while in PoA they wear their normal clothes most of the film. This also gives the film more credibility in my opinion.

One this that I really like about the Harry Potter movies and PoA in particular is the score. I've already mentioned it but I'd like to go in to a bit more detail. I should say that I'm sort of a film music nerd and I have a special taste for John Williams work so it's not surprising that I really like the scores. But I must say that I think the score to PoA is one of Williams greatest achievements. It really
shows the breadth of his skills and abilities. His music spans so many genres and he does it really well. There are the majestic themes for which he is so wellknown for, there is a humorous waltz, the frenzic and meandering music for the bus ride, the medieval themes for Hogwarts, the action-packed music which he does so well, the beautiful patronus theme etc. The list just goes on. I've heard people which dismisses John Williams as someone who just writes majestic themes. These people have missed a lot. Another thing one might have against Williams is that a lot of his music sounds pretty much the same. He loans from himself. If you're familiar with the Star Wars sound track for example you will here lots of things that sound familiar. But I don't hold that against him. Every professional composer who needs to write a lot of music on demand does this. Even Bach did it. Well, I leave my discussion about the score for now but I will have reason to come back to it later.

There is a red line thoughout the movie, a theme which is laid out which such delicacy that it is very easy to miss it. The theme is time. Time. Throughout the movie we get hints and clues about the last part where Harry and Hermione do their time travel. Hogwart is in this movie equipped with a large clock tower. On several occations in the movie does the camera zoom in through the clock and the mechanics behind it. The mechanics ticks on and shows us the inevitable progress of time. The clock also has a huge pedulum which swings back and forth in one of the hallways in Hogwarts. It forms the backdrop to a number of scenes. One another thing which hints at the time theme is Ron's quarrel with Hermione about her taking courses which have overlapping schedules. How does she do it, it seems impossible right? But the thing that really makes chills of pleasure go down my spine is when Harry and Hermione goes back in time. The whole last part of the movie is really well put together. And the thing which takes it to an even higher level is once again the score. It starts with a clock ticking. And the ticking comes back now and again while they're in the past. I don't know why I find this so exciting but it gives me

One thing that I also must mention is the end credits. This a piece of art in itself. As you probably know it is made as a mauraders map. Next to the text we can see footprints of people walking inside hogwarts. I think this is incredibly well done and I recommend watching all of it till the end. They've put in a couple of jokes in there as well.

I've talked a bit about the previous Harry Potter movies, what about the coming ones? I forsee some problems. While PoA is a good movie they've had to shoehorn J.K. Rowlings story into a two hour movie. The characters and not presented as usually in films, it is taken for granted that we are familiar with them. And it works in this case because people who see PoA have seen the other movies. But there are many details in the story which are explained properly and left as dangling ends, although none comes to my mind right now. So even though PoA works as a movie the story barely holds together. This makes me wonder about the future films. As you probably know the Harry Potter books grows in size with each new book. If they had trouble fitting the third book into a movie is seems like an impossible task to deal with the fourth and the fifth book. I honestly don't know how they're going to handle it. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

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