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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Have you seen this wizard? Approach with extreme caution! Do not attempt to use magic against this man! 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón 
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint  
An image from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Despite surviving flying cars, giant spiders and a basilisk last year, Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts doesn’t look to be any less eventful.

During another miserable summer at the Dursleys, Harry gets into an argument with his Aunt Marge which results in her inflating into an enormous and grotesque balloon. Fearing the repercussions of his illegal actions, he flees from the Dursleys house. But after being found by the Minister of Magic himself, who dismisses his actions lightly, Harry begins to realise that something isn’t quite right. Learning that the dangerous criminal Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban and apparently is determined to kill him, Harry finds himself well and truly caught up in events from the past.

Darker than the first two, this film marks a turning point in the series, but it’s still full of hilarious quotes from Ron and Hermione punching Malfoy will never get old.

Jess Walker

Potter, yeah? It's for kids, innit? You know, wizards, witches and all that rubbish…

Well, kind of. But how about cloaked spectres that can suck out your soul with a single kiss? Or a brutal serial killer who slaughtered the hero's parents as their baby watched on? What about a shape shifting escaped convict who's evil is known the world over, and is reportedly gunning for blood? How does that sound?

Azkaban has all these things and more. Rather than the plodding over-veneration to the texts found in earlier Potter films, Alfonso Cuarón has crafted an altogether leaner beast, and one that eschews the elaborate set-pieces of the previous blockbusters in favour of a tone that is distinctly more thoughtful. Harry is growing up, and his sense of certainty in the world is being eroded as more of his sinister past comes to light, and, he discovers that his godfather, the man partly responsible for the death of his parents, has escaped from the Wizard Prison of Azkaban.

As well as the film's form, Cuarón has also successfully altered the style; from in- your-face crowd-pleasing to a more character based drama punctuated with moments of subtle terror. The arrival of the nefarious Dementors in the Hogwarts Express is worthy of Spielberg at his best, while the revelations as the film closes will startle anyone unfamiliar with the novels.

Azkaban, as with the other Potter films, is blessed with sterling performances from a to-die-for British cast. David Thewlis in particular shines as the mysterious Professor Lupin who plays a pivotal part in Harry's move towards revelation, while Gary Oldman gets to ham it up professionally as the threatening Sirius Black. And thankfully the young leads just about pull it off yet again. But it's the real, deep- rooted sense of the magic in familiar things that Azkaban is worth coming out of halls for on a dark winter's night. It's a film that hits surprisingly deep, hard and well.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)
2014/2015 Autumn Term (35mm)