The Real Reason Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Was So Dark

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When “Prisoner of Azkaban” kicks off, Harry receives pretty unsettling news: Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a convicted murderer, has escaped from wizarding prison… and seems to be hunting Harry himself. This is already a pretty dark storyline — and Sirius’ story turns out to be something else entirely — but according to Cuarón, the darkness is also meant to represent Harry’s mental growth as he turns thirteen.

“‘Azkaban’ is a coming of age,” Cuarón explains in the special. “They’re passing the threshold between childhood and the teenage years. In the first two, Harry is still a child. There is a greater optimism around the tone itself. Nevertheless, when he turns thirteen, there is a big cloud that overshadows everything around Harry. And we needed to convey that stylistically.” This explains why so much of the film is shot against gray landscapes — a perfect setting for the dementors, who bring dark clouds with them and represent depression and sorrow and make their first series appearance in “Azkaban.”

The “Potter” films and the reunion special are both available to stream on HBO Max now.

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