Prisoner of Azkaban – Apples to Oranges
For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, November is all about family, whether we like it or not.
The same theme is true for Harry Potter and the third book in the series, the Prisoner of Azkaban, as the author explored the idea that family can come in all shapes and sizes and go beyond blood relations. This story starts with Dursleys and the introduction of another family member. Of course it was too much to dream for that someone in the Dursleys family would treat Harry like a human being but instead Aunt Marge showed that Harry was living with the kindest members within that horrible bloodline. Hope for Harry’s future came from the most unlikely places, Azkaban Prison because Harry’s life was thrown into a tailspin when the man he thought caused his family the most harm was actually their best friend and protector. Sirius Black survived a terrible fate for over a decade but never swayed in his loyalty and love for the Potter family. When it dawned on Harry that there was a possibility of not going home to the Dursleys for the summer, I might have been more ecstatic than Harry and Sirius combined at the thought that Harry would never need to see Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, or Dudley ever again.
By the end of this story, both ends of the spectrum, Aunt Marge and Sirius Black, went up in the sky and out of Harry’s life, leaving this reader in awe of the author’s talent for storyline symmetry. Both the 1999 novel by JR Rowling and the 2004 Warner Brothers movie have endeared themselves to millions of fans.
Which version did I like best? Drum roll please… the Book!
Even though I thought the movie did a wonderful job and casting Gary Oldman as Sirius Black was brilliant, it was the aspects that they weren’t able to include in the movie that were the most important to me. In a major attempt to layer in the future importance of groups like SPEW (the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare), JR found ways to make the lives of non-wizards important to readers in three major ways:
1) The treatment of werewolves through the character of Professor Remus Lupin. Could you imagine how prepared the students would have been for the Deadly Hallows epic battle if the students had been educated by their best Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor? Instead ignorance and prejudices about werewolves lead Professor Lupin to an early resignation even though he was the best person for the job.
2) The justice for animals who can’t verbally defend themselves. The hippogriff named Buckbeak is a magical creature who had a bad encounter with a bad wizard but was labeled as the villain since he didn’t have the ability to tell his side of the story and was left at the mercy of the others brave enough to save him. The wizarding system failed Buckbeak and this showed readers that wizards could have a weak and corrupt governing body this is not fair or just. In a great twist, after Buckbeak was rescued, he was able to save the life of another being accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
3) The influence of your family pet. The movie omitted much of the cat and mouse….I mean rat storyline between Scabbers (Ron’s rat) and Crookshanks (Hermione’s cat). The fact that Crookshanks hated Scabbers and helped the black dog foreshadowed clues to readers that more could be going on, even though Hermione and Ron were oblivious to what their animals were really showing them. Removing these moments from the movie also weakened the importance of the first true argument between Ron and Hermione as their friendship was tested by their loyalties to their beloved pets.
Selecting the book as the winner was a tough decision. I don’t envy Warner Brothers’ role to determine what parts of the story to include and what parts to leave on the cutting room floor. Last month’s Night Owl pollsters loved both versions of this tale with 42% while 41% agreed with me that the book the better.
Next month I want to spotlight a story that incorporates the holidays and as luck would have it, Harry Potter: the Goblet of Fire happens over the winter season and gives readers a view inside their celebrations.
Which version did you enjoy the best?
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen