Chris O’Mahoney


Professor Byrne

Adaptation Paper

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

            Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is written by British author J.K. Rowling.  The third installment of the seven part series, Azkaban revolves around the mysterious Sirius Black.  Little is known about how Black escaped from Azkaban, however once he is on the run the wizarding world is left aghast and terrified at where he may appear next.  It is believed that Black is after Harry Potter because it is rumored he is a servant of Lord Voldemort, and he wishes to fulfill his evil master’s plan.  It is soon figured out by Harry, Ron, and Hermione that Black is actually Harry’s godfather and he is actually after Peter Pettigrew, a friend of Harry’s father at Hogwarts who leaked his whereabouts to Lord Voldemort.

In the entire Harry Potter series there are a number of reoccurring themes Rowling plays with and one such theme is the top heavy and unjust nature of the wizarding world.  In Azkaban one such example of this is the unjust handling of Buckbeak the hippogriff.  In the book Hagrid has been appointed the new professor for Care of Magical Creatures and in his first ever class he decides to introduce the class to hippogriffs.  During this class Draco Malfoy is scratched by Buckbeaks’ talons and he is rushed to Madam Pomfrey.  Normally this would not be a big deal but due to the Malfoy’s standing in the wizarding world, Hagrid fears he may have already lost his job.  He tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione,



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“`Spect it’s a record,” he (Hagrid) said thickly, when he recognized them. “Don’ reckon they’ve ever had a teacher who lasted on’y a day before…”But’s only a matter o’ time, i’n’t it, after Malfoy…”(Rowling 120)


Hagrid is fearful for his job, not because of what Buckbeak actually did, but who he did it to.  One theme that is present in every single Harry Potter novel is the idea of social classes, and the superiority of pure blood wizards over everyone else.  The Malfoys are a proud pureblooded family, meaning that all of their ancestors have been wizards and they have no muggle blood in their veins.  For families like the Malfoys, they use this as a way to abuse those below them in the social ladder.  This is why Hagrid is so distraught after Draco is hurt, he knows what kind of power a family like the Malfoys will have in determining Buckbeak’s future.

Just as in the real world, the wizarding world has many social prejudices that seem to dictate individuals place, or standing, in society.  Being a half giant, Hagrid is already harshly judged and discriminated against and he is already on a short leash or as Ward puts it,

“Muggle, squib, werewolf, and so on. In the wizarding world, as in our own, these identity

position categories exist within a hierarchical system established and perpetuated by an elite

minority who have access to positions of power (people such as Dolores Umbridge), or who,

because of their wealth, have influence over those with power (people such as the Malfoys).” (Ward 2)


Since the Malfoys have access to the power structure within the wizarding world, they are able to pull strings and unfairly decide a lot of people’s fate.  These problems exist within the wizarding world and they are something that Harry deals with in almost every single novel, especially Azkaban.

Another important theme in Azkaban, as well as every other Harry Potter novel, is loyalty and friendship.  There is no denying that friendships play a major role in every movie,

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and Lennard even argues that the Harry Potter books can be used in religion classes to teach the values of friendship and loyalty (Lennard 54).  In Azkaban, Harry uses his friendships with Ron and Hermione to get to the bottom of the Sirius Black case.  They are willing to follow him to the end of the world and back, often without even questioning him.  These two are Harry’s best friends and they stay loyal to him throughout the series.

Harry also develops friendships with many of the professors at Hogwarts and these friendships help Harry to figure out his past and his future.  In Azkaban, Harry is introduced to Professor Remus Lupin on the Hogwarts Express after a dementor attacks Harry.  Not only does Lupin save Harry from the dementor, but he also forms a close bond with Harry as he teaches him the Patronus charm.  Through this friendship Harry gains a lot of knowledge about his parents for the first time.  Lupin was one of James and Lily Potter’s closest friends at Hogwarts and he is able to tell Harry some stories about the two of them.  One of the things Lupin always seems to emphasize in the novel to Harry is how loyal his father was to him and he always stuck up for his friends.  Lupin tells Harry that after he told James and Sirius he was a werewolf, instead of abandoning him or chastising him, his father and Sirius figured out how to illegally become Animagi so they could protect Lupin from himself when he turned into a werewolf.  It’s these types of selfless acts of friendship that repeat themselves over and over again in Harry Potter, and through these acts of friendship they are able to overcome every obstacle that comes in their way.


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            The film on the other hand, while I believe it is a faithful adaptation, leaves a lot of parts from the book out.  Jake Sproul believes that the new director and screenwriter for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban did a good job of taking out unnecessary parts of the novel,


“This meant that the faithful adaptations crammed with every single piece of dialogue and every minute subplot that audiences had become accustomed to had to go. Screenwriter Steven Kloves does a good job excising the unnecessary fat, while keeping the meat of the story.” (Sproul)


I believe that this is what makes Azkaban such a good adaptation of the novel because the director Alfonso Cuaron, who is well renowned director in Hollywood, was able to tell the story of without boring the audience to death with every single detail that Rowling has in her novel.  This is done for a number of reasons whether it is budget constraints, the overall importance of a scene to the movie, or simply whether or not the director believes it needs to be in the movie or not.  One example of this is the Marauder’s Map.  In the book Lupin and Sirius explain to Harry, in great length, about how Lupin came to be Moony, Sirius to be Padfoot, James to be Prongs, and Pettigrew Wormtail.  While having this in the book may be important for both explaining the friendship between Sirius, Lupin, and James Potter while also laying the groundwork for storylines in future books, it is not a necessary caveat to have in this film.  It does not really advance the plot of the film or add anything more to the film.  While die-hard Harry Potter fans may have wanted it in the film, Cuaron knew that he did not really need it for the purposes of his film.

Another example of something that was left out of the film was when Sirius bought Harry a brand new Firebolt broom after his Nimbus 2000 was destroyed by the Weeping

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Willow.  Quidditch is always as much bigger deal in the novels than in the films.  Rowling always seems to have two or three Quidditch matches per book, which works fine because they offer an exciting chapter or two that has the reader frantically turning the pages in anticipation.  The matches always have suspense, drama, intrigue, and the chase for the Snitch is always a fun; however having multiple Quidditch scenes in the films would prove to be too tall of a task.  In the film Harry plays one Quidditch match, which is always one of the highlights of the film for me, and he is injured when he faints.  When he comes to, Ron tells him that his broom was smashed and that’s more or less the end of that.  In the novel however, a mysterious person who we learn to be Sirius sends Harry a brand new, top of the line Firebolt broom.  However teachers confiscate the broom because they believe someone who wished to injure Harry sent it.  They all perform dozens of tests and curses on the broom before they ever let Harry fly it.  Again, while parts like this may make for an interesting read in the novel, they do not add a whole lot to the overall plot of the film.  This is why the Alfonso Cuaron decided to “trim the unnecessary fat” found in the novel and the result was a very concise, streamlined film.

All in all I loved this movie and I thought it was as good of an adaptation of the novel Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that could have been done.  Cuaron did an excellent job of taking out parts from the novel that were not 100% necessary for the plot of his movie, which made the film fun and exciting to watch.  I think the film was a box office success because Cuaron knew which parts were necessary to include and which parts were not.  And in this day and age, if the film does well in the box office than it can be viewed as a success.



Lennard, Anthony. “Harry Potter and the Quest for Values: How the Boy Wizard Can Assist Young People in Making Choices.” Feb. 2007. Web. <>.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Arthur A. Levine, 1999. Print.

Sproul, Jake. “Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Angelfire: Welcome to Angelfire. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <;.

Ward, Renee. “Shape-shifting, Identity and Change in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of

Azkaban.” Web. <;.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
1. One of the major themes of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is betrayal. The film begins with the escape of the supposedly dangerous Sirius Black, who allegedly betrayed Harry’s parents by letting Lord Voldemort know where they were hiding. Armed with this information, Harry promises to kill Sirius to avenge his parents. However after learning that it was actually Peter Pettigrew, Harry quickly realizes that Sirius is one of the few people who was close with his parents and he was actually named Harry’s godfather. Another interesting “betrayal” that occurs is at the end of the film when they are set to bring Peter Pettigrew to the dementors, but Lupin turns into a werewolf which allows Pettigrew to escape. It is as if Lupin’s werewolf side “betrayed” his human side because the transformation allowed Pettigrew to escape and caused Black to go into hiding.
2. The novel has a lot of interesting themes many of which are seen throughout the seven part series, and one such theme is loyalty to your friends. We see countless examples of this in Azkaban, from Ron and Hermione staying in touch with Harry over the summer, sticking by him after his Quidditch accident, Harry going after Ron when Sirius dragged him into the Weeping Willow, and there are numerous other examples as well. At the end of the day, Rowling emphasizes the overall importance of friendship in getting through everything that life throws your way. I do not see how this would be a problematic theme to portray in a film, especially considering that each novel/film is about the adventures of these three friends.
3.  Interesting movie review, because the author starts off by describing how the movie strays slightly from the novel but it’s still a great adaptation of the book. –> Really cool review of the book, compares reading the first chapter of a Harry Potter book to boarding the Hogwarts Express and the author also sees parallels between Harry Potter’s story and Jesus Christ.
I found this blog to be helpful for understanding the film better because it outlines a few motifs that are present in almost all of the Harry Potter films. Previous to taking this course, I had seen every Harry Potter movie a few times and read the books a countless number of times, however I did not always pick up on the themes/motifs that were present. Having someone lay the themes out for you, and explain them to you makes watching the movie a much more rewarding experience because you have a deeper understanding of the novel and film.

4. The way to defeat a boggart is to turn it into a figure of fun, using the spell “Riddikulus!” In a similar way, how does the film use comedy to keep our darkest fears at bay? Does this make the film escapist entertainment?
I do not believe that the film is “escapist entertainment,” rather the film shows people of all ages that if you persevere and always believe in yourself, you can confront and overcome even your biggest fears. In the film Harry admits to Professor Lupin that his biggest fear is not Lord Voldemort but rather fear itself. The maturity of this answer shocks Professor Lupin, and he vows to help Harry overcome his fear. After hours of practicing the Patronus charm, Harry is able to conquer his fear of dementors and he never has a problem with them again throughout the rest of the series.

A Scanner Darkly Blog Assignment


1. One of the major themes of A Scanner Darkly is the Orwellian idea of “Big Brother.”  In the film, we see how Keanu Reevess character is constantly being watched and is always under the surveillance of a camera.  He cannot do anything without being recorded or watched, to ensure he is fulfilling his duties as an undercover police officer.  Another theme is of identity, especially in the case of Robert Arctor/Officer Fred.  Throughout the entirety of the movie, Keanu Reeves goes back and forth, living and behaving as both characters.  He is constantly switching identities and by the end of the movie, he goes insane.


2. After reading the excerpts on blackboard, the obvious theme that jumps up at you is drugs.  The first chapter is primarily about Charles Freck frantically tracking down substance D.  His pursuit consumes him and he seemingly cannot get anything else done until he has secured a new stash of the drug. There was no noticeable problem with getting this theme into the film, seeing as it played an important part in the lives of the movie characters as well.


3. à Talks about how the film uses interpolated rotoscaping to bring the characters to life in the film. àtalks about the some themes of the book, such as what makes us human, identity, and perception.,42528/


In my opinion, this source is helpful for understanding the film in a variety of ways.  The website is a book club’s monthly discussion board and they go back and forth on ideas they see in the novel, which is helpful because a lot of these themes are played out in the movie.  They talk about themes like splintered identity, paranoia, , fear of war, and madness that all appear in a lot of Philip Dick’s works, which is interesting to note because apparently Philip Dick was a drug addict who went through many of the same experiences that the characters in the movie did.


4. Is A Scanned Darkly an anti-drug parable, an anti-government parable, or both? What is the relationship between drug use and politics in the film?


A Scanner Darkly is both an anti-government parable and also an anti-drug parable that shows the negative consequences when the 2 become intertwined.  As we see in the movie, substance D eventually ruins the lives of everyone who takes the drug. No one can resist its power, and it ruins the addict’s lives.  However, at the end of the movie when we learn that New Path, which in the beginning of the film was being heralded, was behind the whole substance D movement this seems to make the government the enemy.  The way they manipulate the masses and create this vicious cycle of addiction and rehabilitation paints a negative picture of the government.

1. One of the major themes of No Country for Old Men is the battle of good versus evil on the wide-open country of Texas and how the terrain affects the characters. The entire film more or less revolves around the epic cat and mouse game between the protagonist Llewelyn and the antagonist Anton. And both men use the state of Texas as one big battleground, as they carry on their fighting through the country, into cities, hotels, etc. all for the right to have the 2 million dollars.

2. One of the main themes of the novel is the Sheriff’s idea that the world is no longer a country for old men; by which I mean people from his day and age with his beliefs have no place in this world where ruthless, twisted killers like Anton roam. In the first few pages of the excerpt the Sheriff is looking upon the world with his principles and morals, and he just does not understand why people do things. He relates the story about the man he sent to the electric chair and he talks about how narcotics are the root of so much violence, and he is simply stunned that the world has come to this. I do not think there was too much of a problem relating this to film because the Coen brothers did a nice job of giving Tommy Lee Jones’ character his moments where he could make these observations.

3. → This blog was interesting because the writer used to live in West Texas in the 1980s during the upswing in crime there. →This discussion board provided a lot of different opinions and critical analysis of the movie.

I found this source to be the most useful for understanding the film because it talked a lot about the themes and opinions of the author of the novel, Cormac McCarthy. The author of this website talks about the different novels McCarthy has written and some of the themes that appear all across his writing. This is interesting and helpful when it comes to understanding the film because it gives you an insight into the mind of the author of the source text, which makes it easier to spot some of the themes in the movie.

4. What is the title No Country for Old Men supposed to signify? Is the “country” the land of the American Southwest, the United States as a whole, or both? And why do the “old men” no longer belong there?

In No Country for Old Men, the country is both the land of the American Southwest and the United States as a whole. Old men no longer belong there because they are living in a time and place where the principles and morals they grew up with no longer hold true. In the movie Anton’s use of a air pump nail gun to kill his victims and to break into their rooms represents a futuristic or modern approach to killing, and it has the sheriff baffled. Also, at different times in the movie we are privy to the sheriff’s musings about current events going on in the United States. Each time he seems stunned, confused, or simply unsure of why people are killing each other for seemingly no reason. The sheriff is realizing that law enforcement is turning into a young man’s game, and he can no longer keep up.

1. Adaptation is another movie that presents itself as a film within a film, much like Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story does. These two movies also share similar themes, chief among them being the idea of attempting to film the “unfilmable.” As we see throughout the movie, Charlie Kaufman goes back and forth on how to best portray Susan Orlean’s novel, The Orchid Thief, onto the big screen without straying too far from the source text. It is an interesting theme to look at, especially in this day and age, because so many movie screenwriters/directors/producers wrestle with this problem all too frequently, and it was interesting to see this conflict acted out.

2. The Orchid Thief focuses on the story of John Laroche and how his burning passion for these orchids controls his life. As the movie portrayed, Laroche has an almost intoxicating personality that is fueled by his longing to possess the orchid flowers. Another theme in the novel is how Orlean does not follow the traditional “arc” of storytelling; that is to say that there is no definitive moment that the book is building up to. This makes it difficult to turn the book into a film because without having some sort of progression, the movie runs the risk of never climaxing and boring its audience to death.

3. –> Talks about the ideas of objects, and character’s reliance on these objects, in the film and the novel. → This source is a list of questions that one can browse over, either before watching the film or reading the novel, that will steer the reader towards the main themes and concepts.

I found this source to be particularly helpful for understanding both the novel and the film because the author of this blog does an excellent job of interweaving the ideas found in the book to ideas seen in the movie. This source is also especially helpful because not everything seen in the film comes from the novel, and the blog not only points out these inconsistencies but it also highlights overlapping themes. It also talks about the challenges the real Charles Kaufman faced, in terms of bringing this book to the big screen, and how he chose to overcome them.

4. How does the film reflect the perils and pleasures of writing? How does the writing process differ, for instance, between Susan and Charlie? How about between Donald and Charlie?

In Adaptation the perils and pleasures of professional writing are highlighted by the different experiences between Susan and Charlie, as well as between Donald and Charlie. For Susan Orlean, writing was something she had to experience. She spent countless hours with Laroche so she could get inside his head and his thoughts, so that she could better portray him in her novel. This method of writing was an enjoyable experience for Susan and she never seemed to stress or worry about her writing. Charlie on the other hand seemed to believe writing had to something that was created in solitary, which ended up making him miserable. While Charlie did bring in magazines about orchids and Florida, he was extremely hesitant to ask Susan Orlean questions or to attend McKee’s seminar. It appeared as if Charlie was too intimidated to ask anyone else for help out of fear that he would seem incapable of doing the job. He chose to drive himself crazy instead, worrying that his work would not be good enough. Donald on the other hand seemed eager to ask anyone and everyone for help. Not only does he ask Charlie for help, attend McKee’s seminar, and interview Orlean for Charlie, but he even runs ideas by his mother. Donald was never too ashamed or shy to ask someone else for help, and for him writing was a rather rewarding experience.

1. The film The Hours is a morbid film that follows the lives of three women across three different time periods.  The major themes of the movie are mortality and sexuality.  All three women are forced to deal with suicide and death in their lives, and all three women seem to be unsure of their own sexual identity.  The film revolves around the way these themes affect the lives of these three women, and how each woman deals with them.  However, when watching the film, you do not get the sense the film is all about mortality or sexuality; rather it is how these three women deal with both of these heavy moral concepts.


2. An obvious theme from the book excerpt on Amazon was Clarissa’s undying love for Richard.  The first 5 pages are littered with Clarissa’s thoughts about Richard, how she once loved Richard and how she still loves him, and about how she still takes care of him.  A problem you could run into when adapting this to film is how to show Clarissa’s strong, undying love for Richard on the screen.  In the film, I got the feeling she still loved him but you never hear her admit it until about halfway through the movie.  It seems to be an important theme in the book, but it is not mentioned for some time in the film, which may slightly confuse some viewers; or at least cause some viewers to misinterpret their relationship.



Points out a lot of interesting quotes from the film that brings to light some of the main themes of the movie.


This was website talked about the directing, more specifically how the director allowed his three actresses to portray their characters with such raw emotion and feeling.


This source is instrumental in understanding the complex, multilayered nature of The Hours.  The author of this blog points out how so much of what the three women do is synchronized, which is part of what makes this film truly unique.  The way the women wake up to their version of an alarm clock, the way they put their hair up, and their relationships with their significant others all highlight the parallels between these three women.  Another interesting point made here is how Nicole Kidman acts as the author of the novel, Julianne Moore acts as the reader, and Meryl Streep acts out the novel which is another cool thing the director of this movie does that you may not necessarily pick up on.



4. What does the title of the film, The Hours, refer to? What is its significance and what theme or themes does it suggest?


The film, The Hours, refers to a life the three women are living which is significant because they are all trapped living lives they want no part of.  Nicole Kidman, as Virginia Woolf, is stuck living in the countryside instead of London because of her mental illness.  Despite the best efforts of those around her she just cannot simply be complacent while living there; she yearns to live out her life in the real world, and to stop trying to protect her from herself.  She must pass the hours of each day cooped up in a house she does not want to live in.

Julianne Moore, who plays housewife Laura Brown, is trapped in suburbia purgatory.  She is resigned to live a life that never changes; she wakes up, cares for her child, and waits for her husband to return from work.  Driven insane by this societal imprisonment she contemplates suicide as her way out.  However she is unable to bring herself to do this to herself and is instead resigned to outlive both her husband and her son.

Finally Meryl Streep, who plays Clarissa Vaughn, seems to be stuck in a life where she struggles to find happiness.  The one person who she was truly in love with and at her happiest is slowly dying of AIDS.  Now she is stuck putting on a façade, living with a partner who she does not love.  To make matters worse, she must stand by helplessly and watch as the only person she loved slowly dies and eventually takes his own life.  Waking up and going through the motions everyday is a truly taxing experience for Clarissa.

1. Obviously the major theme of the film is the role of women in the Indian culture.  Lalita seems to be somewhat of a rebel in this regard because she is a strong, independent, intelligent woman who does not simply want to get married to anyone; she prefers to be swept off her feet and wooed by her Prince Charming. Turning Jane Austen’s novel into a musical, in my opinion, puts more of an emphasis on the four sisters as opposed to Darcy or Kholi, which gives the film more of a feministic feel or vibe.


2. A few major themes of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are the idea of true love and societal class in 19th century England.  The relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth shows the ebbs and tides of a love story; they both misjudge one another, they fall in love, they fall out of love, etc. before they finally realize that they are indeed meant for each other.  The idea of social class is also very important and a reoccurring theme in Austen’s novel.  In 19th century England, there were clear distinctions between societal classes and we see examples of how these lines are dealt with.  For example, while Darcy’s family is a part of the upper echelon they still socialize with lower class families such as Elizabeth’s.  In the end, the love that exists between Darcy and Elizabeth is able to clear this hurdle of classes and prejudices, which suggests Austen views these obstacles as completely meaningless.


3. à Talks about the novel and the interesting dynamics and character interactions we find in the novel, for example the relationship between Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas. àGave an interesting perspective about the way the Indians were portrayed in the film


I found this website, or blog, to be the most useful when it comes to interpreting the film because it gives so much background info on the both the novel and Austen.  There’s a section on the social customs of the era, a whole slew of sources about the history of the era in Britain.  Information like this is vital when it comes to trying to understand the film because it gives you some background information about the novel, which the movie is based on, as well as the author herself.  Arming yourself with this knowledge makes enjoying and appreciating the movie a little bit easier.


4. Once again in one of our films gender comes into play. Would you argue that Bride and Prejudice is feminist, or not? What about Pride and Prejudice?


The film Bride and Prejudice is a movie that is extremely feminist and the movie revolves around the strong willed Lalita, however Pride and Prejudice is not quite as feministic.  The film focuses primarily on the courtship of the four daughters, with the strong minded Lalita as the main focus of most of the film.  Her strong-minded, independent, and desire for a simple lifestyle set her apart from her sisters.  In a world where women are supposed to marry the first wealthy man who asks, Lalita’s insistence to go about marriage her own way, and to find live on her own terms, portrays her as a strong heroine in the movie.


In Pride and Prejudice, it seems that the women are much more subservient and submissive to the men, as well as the societal expectations of their time.  A woman’s reputation was important to upkeep and protect, and the book makes it clear that it is the best interest of a woman to be as submissive as possible.  Jane Austen could not even publish the novel in her name because women were not supposed to be writers, it was too masculine. And this idea of the subservient, invisible woman is present in the novel as well.