Metal My Movie: Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

When the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special aired this January, I thought it was a great time to revisit the series as a whole. The first and second film (directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed the first two Home Alone films) saw the series as a fantasy adventure film for the family while staying true to the source material. However, the third instalment of the series shifted to a much darker tone with some of the new characters and the world aesthetics. Director Alfonso Cuarón took the reins from Chris Columbus. In my opinion, his vision created the best gothic lore the film series has to offer and one of the best instalments in the film series overall. For this instalment of Metal My Movie we will explore director Alfonso Cuarón’s influence in the series and the characters of the film. 
Cuarón would soon be considered no stranger to the fantasy, gothic, and somewhat dystopian atmospheric films that followed this 2004 instalment of Harry Potter. He was involved as a producer for one of the best fantasy gothic films of the 21st century - Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 fantasy-drama Pan’s Labyrinth. That same year he put out the dystopian cult and critical hit Children of Men, a film that I have been meaning to see. We can see early influences of these two films in the style of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. The first choice that Cuarón makes with this instalment to separate it is the use of more handheld camera shots around the opening when Harry is still living with the Dursley family; using the same technique throughout the film. In contrast to the first two films, where the arrival at Hogwarts are a play of light meets dark, Cuarón decided that the trip to Hogwarts on the train would be during a thunderstorm, which continues upon the arrival at the school. 
Characters in this instalment created the darker tones for the series. Most of all, the ultimate villain, He Who Must Not Be Named. The film starts off with the biggest threat to Harry in this instalment. Alleged murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the heavily guarded prison of Azkaban, guarded by Dementors which are now guarding Hogwarts from Sirius Black. These are the biggest villains in this instalment for Harry, who fears them. The Dementors suck the joy and happiness out of your life, as if the characters were the literal definitions of a character that can suck out a person’s soul. Without revealing any spoilers, there is another gothic mythical creature explored in this film; cementing Prisoner of Azkaban as more of a gothic horror take on Harry Potter than any other film in the series.
Cuarón is a director that took his passion for creating gothic atmospheric films and brought it to the series of Harry Potter for this third instalment, which would influence his works later on after the series. Although he did not direct any other films in the series, Cuarón arrived at the perfect moment to establish a darker edge for the rest of the franchise, unlike the safer nature of fantasy adventure films explored by Chris Columbus’ direction. As for the legacy of all of these films, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban is by far the best film of the series in terms of tapping into the source material and establishing it to the screen. 
Next week, Metal My Movie takes a look at The Velvet Underground, the new documentary from director Todd Haynes
Got a movie you feel should get the Metal My Movie treatment? E-mail us @ to let us know. Remi hosts At The Movies alongside regular co-host Danny every Tuesday morning from 8-9 AM only on CJLO 1690AM.