EFC Classics: Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Hi, and welcome back to EFC’s A Harry Halloween. In the last post I pointed out the absurdity of how terrible Harry’s Defense Against the Dark Arts professors are each year. And, I raised the question of whether J.K. Rowling intended to use their ineptness as a springboard to comment on some shortcoming of western public education.

In between the bad, Harry had one truly great DATDA professor, however. His name was Remus (R.J.) Lupin, and he was there to guide Harry through one of his darkest years at Hogwarts: Year 3.

๐ŸŽถย Double, double, toil and trouble.

Something wicked this way comes! ๐ŸŽถย Ribbit ๐Ÿธ

Double Double Trouble 1

Prisoner of Azkaban (Year 3) is my favorite HP film, and my older sister’s. Heck, it’s my little sister’s favorite movie, period! She is obsessed with the dementors, and says I should be one for Halloween… Annd I’m considering it.

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Prisoner marks a tonal shift in the series, away from the jubilation of Chris Columbus’ first two films, and into the darkness. Newcomer, Alfonso Cuaron (Yeah, the guy who’d go on to direct Gravity, which reeled in 7 Academy Awards in 2014) and the other filmmakers accomplish this transformation masterfully by letting the story’s central theme, Fear, seep into the fabric of every set, costume, and character.ย The color palette is muted, and the characters sport vampire pale faces. The air is cold and the sky is grey. Basically, the whole production just envelopes you in one big strange autumn blanket.

Snape Hide Behind 1Pumpkin Patch 1

But what truly makes Prisoner the perfect choice for your Halloween movie night is the creepiness factor.Werewolf_WB_F3_WerewolfInForestIllustration_Illust_100615_Land

There are witches, and werewolves under a full moon, and a little talking voodoo doll head that berates a delirious bus driver as he weaves frantically in and out of traffic in the wee hours of the night. There are toads, and cawing crows, and a masked executioner with an axe to grind. And a scary black dog that stalks Harry from the woods of Little Whinging.

Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, there’s a murderous raging lunatic on the loose who wants to kill Harry! His name is Sirius Black, and he has escaped from Azkaban prison.

Sirius in Prison 1
Gary Oldman portrays The Prisoner, Sirius Black

Then there are the dementors – gliding black banshees which are not only frightening in appearance, but induce dread and paranoia in whomever crosses their path. They are literally, and metaphorically soul-sucking.


Harry’s friend, Ron Weasley describes the experience of encountering one onboard the Hogwarts express, “I felt weird though, like I’d never be cheerful again.”Ron Felt Weird 1

Most of us have felt this way at some point, or even often, as though nothing in the world could bring you joy. It’s a scary feeling, is it not? But the wisest wizard of them all, Albus Dumbledore, has something to say about the emptiness:

Dumbledore 2

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

What is the light for you? Think of a happy memory, and hold on to it tight.

Now, dementors also force us to relive our worst memories. When Harry first encounters a dementor, he hears a woman screaming in his head. And guys, at this point in the story it becomes abundantly clear, this isn’t Chris Columbus’ joyous rendition of Harry Potter anymore, this is dark stuff. The woman screaming is Harry’s mother, as she is being murdered by Voldemort when Harry is a baby.

The first time Harry hears it, and many times after, he is paralyzed with fear. Fortunately, professor Lupin is there to save him. Remus Lupin, Harry’s new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, is a wizard of great compassion. He recognizes Harry’s depression, and offers Harry private lessons to teach him how to conjure a patronus charm – a difficult spell that shields a person from the dreadful soul suckers.

Remus and Harry Bridge 1
David Thewlis as Professor Lupin

The reason the incantation is so difficult is because the conjurer must simultaneously visualize a memory of true happiness. More importantly, he or she must feel it, head to toe. Not easy when the dementors make you feel as though you were falling into an infinitely deep black hole of despair.ย 

Watch Professor Lupin teach Harry the Patronus Charm below:

What memory or feeling would allow you to conjure a patronus? What is the light for you? Is there some memory, movie, person or pastime that invariably brings you joy? I realize that question is nearly as personal as the question of what is the dark. So you need not respond here on this blog if you don’t feel comfortable. But think about it.

Also, a full-bodied patronus charm assumes the form of an animal. For example, Harry’s is famously a Stag; Hermione’s an otter, and Luna’s a hare. Which animal would your patronus resemble?

Patronus 1

This concludes EFC’s production of A Harry Halloween. Catch up on the other episodes below if you’re interested:

  1. EFC Presents: A Harry Halloween: The Story of J.K. Rowling
  2. Year 1: Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone: Chris Columbus’ joyous definition of magic.
  3. Defense Against The Dark Arts Professors; C’mon man

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

Release Date: June 4th, 2004 (USA)
Rated: PG

Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien)
Writers: Steve Kloves (Harry Potter Film Series), J.K. Rowling (Novel).

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rubert Grint, Tom Felton, David Thewlis, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Bonnie Wright, Mark Williams, Oliver Phelps, James Phelps, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambdon, and Gary Oldman

The Inside Out: Fear (30), Sadness (21), Joy (18), Disgust (16), Anger (5)



9 thoughts on “EFC Classics: Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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  1. This is the last Harry Potter movie that I have seen myself, and I even saw it in the theatres. I always enjoy seeing Gary Oldman. He is such a terrific actor, no matter what role he takes on. Even though it’s been years since I saw this one, I do remember that I enjoyed it quite a lot. These posts are making it tempting to give Harry Potter another go at some point though. Just have to find some time for it ๐Ÿ˜€ As usual another terrific and wonderful post! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woohoo! I’m glad you were familiar with this one.

      Oldman is so incredibly versatile. He can play a mean villain like in The Professional or Air Force One, or a genuine good guy like inspector Gordon in Batman. Here he gets to do a little of both!

      Thanks so much. I am so glad you enjoyed A Harry Halloween! It’s been great having you along for the journey. ๐Ÿ˜€๐ŸŽƒ

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, no not this year. I’m hosting a back to the 80’s party mid november for my folks where I will be playing so e classic 80’s movies (Rambo, the Goonies, Karate Kid) along with the second season of Stranger Things. Yes I am going to see it for a second time lol ๐Ÿ˜Š Next year I will probably do another Halloween party ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€


  2. Hello Experience Film, another great deconstruction and review of the Harry Potter series. It is great that a film primarily meant for mild scary entertainment can have such deep emotional/psychological elements and themes. I think one of my happiest moments is when I design a hilt for somebody and they love it. It is such a great feeling that I may have cheered someone up for that moment. In fact I could paraphrase Dumbledore : โ€œHappiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light (SABER)!.โ€

    And for any Harry Potter fans if they are interested I have a HP inspired hilt called “Abietes Conum” which can be found here:

    Thanks again EF and have a Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Master Tyeth! I could not have said it better myself about the emotion and psychology of this film. Impressive for a mild horror/children’s movie. And I think that’s why this film really appeals to me.

      What a great answer to the question. And I can tell you make a lot of people happy with your saber designs, especially when you make a custom design for somebody, or even a design for a show, movie, or character that people really enjoy.

      You have carved out a real niche. There are so many possibilities for saber designs. And I love how, as a consequence of your craft, you see other areas of life all through a lens of Star Wars. Because Star Wars is freaking awesome!

      Your modification of Dumbledore’s line made my day. LOL! A+ ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ‘

      Happy Halloween!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your saber designs are really cool, I remember drawing saber designs as a kid though not nearly as detailed as yours haha! I designed one that was 2 colours in one – the blade was a spiral shape kind of like DNA.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello Dec, Thank you for the compliments. I use an online application to build a silver or black hilt then save pictures of them. Later I edit the pictures to add the extra colour schemes to replicate powder coating. I like the idea of spiral blade colours on your designs. So as not to hog Experience Film’s blog here, feel free to leave comments on my pages….You will be most welcome! (And Thanks EF!)

    Liked by 2 people

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