Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, advice from Guillermo del Toro and themes from Daniel, Emma and Rupert

Third film in the Harry Potter saga, The Prisoner of Azkaban marks the entry of a new director, Alfonso Cuarón, who imposed a darker atmosphere… and accepted on the advice of a friend.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) is a seminal film in the Harry Potter saga: he is the first to change director, the first to present the protagonists as teenagers and not children, he is the first with a new actor for Dumbledore and above all introduces the legendary Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman. Based on JK Rowling’s third novelwas born as a darker first reading of the Wizarding World. Here are some curiosities about the film, which grossed 797 million dollars worldwide upon release, making it the least seen of the cycle. Relatively: you certainly can’t talk about a flop with a number like that!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Alfonso Cuarón spurred on by Guillermo del Toro

When Chris Columbusauthor of the first two films of the Harry Potter saga, understood that he didn’t want to tie himself to the franchise forever and be closer to his children, he left the series reserving the role of producer. He looked for substitutes, but with eligible candidates M. Night Shyamalan And Kenneth Branagh (who had also played Lockhart in the previous film) it didn’t go through, until he laid eyes on Alfonso Cuaron, when he was not yet considered one of the most capable contemporary directors. Alfonso actually did not have never read a book in the seriesbut he accepted because his friend Guillermo del Toromoreover another candidate (Hellboy preferred), urged him to get rid of doubts: “Don’t be an idiot, read them now“. Cuarón later recounted that Guillermo suggested him to don’t go overboard with his antics of editing and unleashed camera movements, seeking a compromise with the style that a major would expect.

Alfonso Cuarón’s contribution to Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban it was the first and only film in the saga directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who as soon as he arrived asked a Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson three little themes about their characters, written in the first person. Radcliffe handed over a measly little page, Grint handed over nothing, while Emma… turned up with a sixteen-page mini-essay!!! There was no telling they hadn’t stepped into the shoes of Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Cuarón, however visionary, sought a internal realism: he was the first director to ask that the Hogwarts floor plan was organized in a coherent logic, as a credible construction and not as a sequence of disjoint sets. Things went well, albeit with hers Mexican accent Alfonso made some trouble. For example, he wanted that upon the arrival of the Dementors the rain turned into ice, but the storyboard artists presented him with the rain turned into… eyes! Difficult for a Hispanic-speaking person to distinguish the pronunciation of “ice” from “eyes“!
Great was the harmony between Alfonso and Gary Oldmanchosen to interpret Sirius Black: The actor was taking a break from acting but took the role to please his children. Radcliffe was initially one terrifiedthinking that on the set he would not be the sweet man he later turned out to be, but a psychopath like his famous characters in Dracula And Leon! Oldman, who saw Sirius as John Lennoncreated his own hair by copying that of Cuarón, who designed Black’s tattoos of his own.
Although he had a clause in the contract that forbade him to be rude in front of the boys, Alfonso Cuarón was goliardic enough to suggest to Radcliffe, who in one scene was unable to appear amazed: “Imagine seeing Cameron Diaz in a thong“.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban costumes

There is something different about look of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, beyond Cuarón’s wide angles, desaturated colors and long shots? THE costumes. Alfonso told all the boys to wear their school uniforms as they pleasewhile increasing the scenes where Harry, Ron and Hermione would wear common clothes, with the aim of better conveying its personality. Oscar-winning costume designer Jany Temime he redesigned the entire wardrobe, uniforms included, and for the three protagonists he reasoned as follows: natural colors like gray, black and white for Harry (he’s not comfortable, he doesn’t get noticed), warm colors like orange, red and brown for Ron, and blue, pink and beige for Hermione, to balance the colors of the other two with femininity.

Albus Dumbledore from Richard Harris to Michael Gambon

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the role of Albus Dumbledore passes by the disappeared Richard Harris to Michael Gambonbut not without some effort. Harris’s family would have liked Richard’s friend to be chosen, Peter O’Toolehowever the studio was a little skeptical about selecting another very elderly actor, who could not commit to the entire cycle. Richard Attenborough he also stepped forward: despite having retired from acting, Jurassic Park’s John Hammond would have been liked and recognizable by the public, but the production had other ideas. Christopher Lee he was consulted, but found the haste to consider him a lightning replacement for an actor he esteemed like Harris in bad taste. Ian McKellen he declined, as he already had the burden of a myth like Gandalf and didn’t feel like backing another much-loved fantasy saga (nor did he much like Harris, who apparently once called him “a terrible actor”).
In the end, Dumbledore inherited Michael Gambon, born in 1940, who has never even read a Harry Potter book in his life: he has always considered it useless, because “I’m always called upon to play characters who are similar to myself”.
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, advice from Guillermo del Toro and themes from Daniel, Emma and Rupert