Franchises of All Time
The Harry Potter Films
Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter Films
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) | Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010) | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Film Plot Summary
During the summer between his second and third year at Hogwarts, witchcraft and magic student Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) was again living with the Dursleys: Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) and Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw). He secretly practiced magic spells. During a visit when Uncle Vernon's offensive sister Marge (Pam Ferris) insulted Harry's deceased parents and his own upbringing ("If there's something wrong with the bitch, then there's something wrong with the pup"), he retaliated by inflating her into a floating balloon that sailed away. Harry fled the Dursley household ("Anywhere is better than here"), fearing that he would be punished for being underaged and practicing magic away from school. Running away, he took his suitcase and boarded the blue Knight Bus ("emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard") which took him to the Leaky Cauldron pub in London.
There, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) told him that he wouldn't be expelled - the Accidental Magic Reversal Department had been dispatched to save Marge ("No harm done"). But Harry was cautioned that there was a "killer on the loose." He met up with his schoolmates, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) with his pet rat Scabbers, and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) with her pet cat Crookshanks. It was also confirmed by Ron's father Mr. Weasley that Harry was "in grave danger." An enemy of his parents, convicted murderer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) - a suspected "faithful servant" and supporter of Lord Voldemort ("You-Know-Who"), had just escaped from twelve years of imprisonment at Azkaban and was targeting Harry for death ("...in his mind, you are the only thing that stands in the way of You-Know-Who returning to power"). [Black had escaped by turning himself into a dog.]
The trio of schoolmates traveled to Hogwarts on the Express train. In their compartment, they were first introduced to their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus J. Lupin (David Thewlis). When the train unexpectedly stopped, it was boarded by a black ghostly Dementor, a guard of the prison at Azkaban, who was searching for escaped prisoner Sirius Black. With his wand, Remus Lupin repelled the creature with a spell to protect Harry, who claimed he heard a woman screaming [Harry's memory of his mother on the night she was murdered] and had passed out at the sight - as his soul was partially sucked away by the creature.
At school, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) told the students about new staff members: the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor R. J. Lupin, and gameskeeper Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) who was also announced as the new teacher for the class Care of Magical Creatures. And at the request of the Ministry of Magic, Dementors - unforgiving guards that were "vicious creatures," were posted around the school at its many entrances to protect against the return of fugitive Black.
In Divination class, Professor Sybill Trelawney (Emma Thompson) told the students they would discover whether or not they possessed the Sight, and she instructed on the art of reading tea leaves. After being startled by Harry's cup, she warned him: "You have the Grim" - one of the darkest omens in the world - "It's an omen of Death." During Hagrid's first class about Care of Magical Creatures, Harry was given a soaring ride on the back of Hagrid's Hippogriff named Buckbeak (half-giant eagle, half-horse). However, arrogant blonde student Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) teased Buckbeak and called it a "great ugly brute," causing the creature to attack, and later - Buckbeak was unfortunately and unfairly sentenced for execution by Draco's evil father Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs).
In their Defence of the Dark Arts class, Professor Lupin instructed the students about charms or incantations to repel shape-shifting Boggarts (they took the form or shape of something that most frightened its victims). He taught that one must approach a boggart in groups of two or more, so that the boggart would have difficulty in choosing which one to frighten. A common wizard's defence charm that repelled a Boggart was "Riddikulus" spoken while thinking of something very funny: "You need to force it to assume a shape you find truly amusing." Ron conjured up a spider on roller skates and Neville dressed Snape in his grandmother's clothes.
Later, Harry was not allowed to take a field trip to visit Hogsmeade village, because he didn't have a signed parental permission form. Harry spoke to his instructor Remus Lupin about the power of memories: "Dementors force us to relive our very worst memories. Our pain becomes their power," and he found out that the professor had known his parents. Soon after, there were fears that Sirius Black had entered Hogswart Castle, and the building was more fully secured just in case, but there were no further signs of his presence.
Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) was forced to substitute for missing Professor Lupin, and he offered a lesson on the difference between an Animagus and a werewolf. Hermione answered: "An Animagus is a wizard who elects to turn into an animal. A werewolf has no choice. With each full moon when he transforms, he no longer remembers who he is. He'd kill his best friend if he crossed his path. Furthermore, the werewolf only responds to the call of its own kind." In addition, there were several ways of becoming a werewolf -- including being given the power of shape-shifting, or being bitten by a werewolf.
During a competitive Quidditch match between the various school houses (Gryffindor, Slytherin, etc.) during a fierce rain storm, Harry lost control and fell over 100 feet off his broomstick when several Dementors threatened him in the sky. The momentum of his fall was cushioned when saved by Dumbledore, although his broomstick was destroyed. After recovering, Harry spoke to Professor Lupin about the power of the Dementors upon him, and was told: "They feed on every good feeling, every happy memory until a person is left with absolutely nothing but his worst experiences. You are not weak, Harry. The Dementors affect you most of all because there are true horrors in your past, horrors your classmates can scarcely imagine." Harry wished to learn how to fight them and protect himself.
As other students again prepared to visit Hogsmeade village, Fred and George Weasley decided to help Harry by offering up their Marauder's Map, a magical document showing every person's location within Hogwarts ("Everyone, where they are, what they're doing, every minute of every day") and the location of seven secret passageways in and out of the castle - they recommended the One-Eyed Witch passageway that led to Honeyduke's cellar. Harry took their advice and proceeded from Hogwarts to the cellar to join the other students at Hogsmeade - he evaded being seen with his Invisibility Cloak. He helped defend his friends Ron and Hermione from taunting by Draco Malfoy.
In the local Hogsmeade pub, a cloaked Harry overheard deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge tell worried pub owner Madame Rosmerta (Julie Christie) that when Harry's parents went into hiding, knowing that they were targeted for death, Sirius Black - Harry's own godfather and his parents' best friend, betrayed their secret location to "You-Know-Who" (Lord Voldemort) before they were murdered ("Sirius Black may not have put his hands to the Potters, but he's the reason they're dead"). Allegedly, Black had also murdered (or "destroyed") their mutual friend Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall), who had tried to warn the Potters. Angered and shocked by Black's betrayal, Harry vowed to kill Black ("I hope he finds me, because when he does, I'm gonna be ready. When he does, I'm gonna kill him!").
Harry consulted with Professor Lupin to teach him a defensive Patronus Charm ("Expecto Patronum") to conjure up a protector and shield himself from the Dementors: "A Patronus is a kind of positive force - for the wizard who can conjure one, it works something like a shield, with the Dementor feeding on it rather than him. But in order for it to work, you need to think of a memory. Not just any memory, a very happy memory, a very powerful memory." On his first try to expel a Boggart Dementor with his wand, Harry fainted. He revealed his 'happy memory' - the first time he rode a broom, but that was inadequate and not strong enough. On his second try with a better memory thought, Harry succeeded, and then described how he had seen his parents' faces talking to him.
Ron complained about how his pet rat Scabbers was missing, and blamed Hermione's cat. Simultaneously, Harry was very astonished to see Peter Pettigrew's name and location on his Marauder's Map - Pettigrew was supposed to be dead! Harry went looking into the darkened corridor to try to find Pettigrew. Professor Lupin saved Harry from questioning from Professor Snape and from having his map confiscated, although Harry was reprimanded for not turning it in: "This, in the hands of Sirius Black, is a map to you." He was also scolded for wandering around the castle unprotected with a "killer on the loose." And then in the Divination classroom, Harry saw an image of Sirius Black in a crystal ball calling out to him, and entranced Professor Trelawney foretold: "He will return tonight...Tonight, he who betrayed his friends, whose heart rots with murder, shall break free. Innocent blood shall be spilt and servant and master shall be reunited once more."
The trio visited Hagrid's hut near the castle, to have tea and speak with him before Buckbeak's impending execution. Hagrid gave Ron his missing rat Scabbers, and then the three surreptitiously watched as Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, Dumbledore, and an executioner arrived at Hagrid's for condemned Buckbeak's killing at sundown, ordered by the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. After the execution, viewed from afar, Scabbers suddenly bit Ron on the finger and ran off. As the trio chased after Ron, a large vicious dog named the Grim appeared, and it dragged Ron (and Scabbers) by the leg into a hole at the base of the Whomping Willow tree. Harry and Hermione followed the underground tunnel, eventually emerging inside the Shrieking Shack, the most haunted building in Britain.
Ron was found upstairs, claiming that the dog was an Animagus transformation (animal to human): "It's a trap. He's a dog. He's an Animagus." [This was the first of three amazing transformations to be revealed in the course of the action.]
Suddenly, Professor Snape entered the room, eager to apprehend Black and turn him over to the Dementors. Harry interrupted with his wand and the command "Expelliarmus," and knocked Snape out. Harry and his friends were then told the full story about Pettigrew, who had transformed himself into a rat twelve years earlier, after he "sold James and Lily to Voldemort." He had acted as the Dark Lord Voldemort's servant, and was able to escape after falsely accusing and framing Sirius Black for the crime of murdering Harry's parents, and having him sent to prison for 12 years at Azkaban. Now, Black had escaped and sought revenge against Pettigrew (not Harry), along with his friend Lupin. Knowing his father's wishes, that he would have spared Pettigrew's life and shown mercy, Harry prevented them from killing Pettigrew. Instead, Pettigrew would be taken and handed over to the Dementors for punishment (Harry later stated: "I just didn't think my dad would have wanted his two best friends to become killers").
As the entire group returned to Hogwarts, a rising full moon transformed Professor Lupin into a grotesque, fearful werewolf. As a consequence, Pettigrew was let go - he transformed himself back into a rat to quickly scurry off. To save the others from Lupin (as a werewolf), Sirius transformed himself into his dog form and fought against it, until the howls of another werewolf called Lupin away. Harry followed the wounded dog/Sirius into the forest to the edge of a lake, where the two were assaulted by a large group of circling, deadly Dementors. As the creatures sucked away Black's soul and also threatened Harry's life, Harry called upon his Patronus spell for a protective shield: "Expecto Patronum!" but they were too overpowering. And then at the other side of the lake, Harry saw a bright light - a stag-shaped Patronus figure that dispersed the Dementors and saved Sirius' life.
When Harry awakened in the school infirmary, he told Hermione and Ron that the stag figure was his father: "I saw my Dad...He sent the Dementors away. I saw him across the lake." She told him how Sirius had been captured (and was held in the topmost cell of the Dark Tower) and the Dementors were preparing to "suck out his soul." After they implored for Dumbledore to halt the death of an innocent man, he suggested that Hermione use her Time-Turning necklace device (with three turns) to spare "more than one innocent life" - she and Harry would retrace their steps by going back three hours in time to repeat the events of the night and positively alter them. [She admitted to Harry that the device was given to her by Professor McGonagall to allow her to attend multiple classes simultaneously.]
They first rushed to Hagrid's place to prevent the execution of Buckbeak by releasing the creature, and then at the Whomping Willow, it was shown that Hermione had howled like a werewolf to attract Lupin's attention and save Sirius' life. When the werewolf pursued them in the woods, Buckbeak was with them and scared off the werewolf's attack. And then at the lake, Harry rushed forward to save both himself and Sirius from the Dementors by conjuring up the Patronus: "Expecto Patronum" - he was the stag-like Patronus figure (later, he recalled: "I saw myself conjuring the Patronus before"). Riding on Buckbeak's back, they returned to the prison cell of the Dark Tower holding Sirius and freed him - he flew away on Buckbeak. They returned to the school's infirmary just at the end of the three hours.
In the film's conclusion, Remus Lupin resigned his teaching position at the school (due to his condition as a werewolf), and as he left he returned the Marauder's Map to Harry. Pettigrew (returning to rat form as Scabbers) was spared and had escaped, although Harry had "uncovered the truth" - he had saved an innocent man (Sirius) from a terrible fate. Shortly after, Harry was mailed a replacement broomstick, the Firebolt ("the fastest broom in the world") as a gift, accompanied with a green feather - undoubtedly from Sirius.
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
Nominated for two Academy Awards (with no wins): Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects.
With a production budget of $130 million, and gross revenue of $250 million (domestic) and almost $796 million (worldwide).
Key Scene: After new Defence Against the Arts instructor Remus Lupin taught how to fight Boggarts with a Riddikulus charm (by transforming the frightening object into something humorous), Ron conjured up a spider on roller skates and Neville dressed Snape in his grandmother's clothes. On his first try to expel a Boggart Dementor with his wand, Harry fainted, because his charm-thought wasn't strong enough.
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office
- The Best Harry Potter Movie IsWeigh in on which movie you think is the best in the franchise.
- TrailerCatch a sneak peek of the latest installment in the franchise.
- Harry Potter Ultimate Fan QuizChallenge yourself with an online quiz of Hogwarts trivia.
- Spellbinding Photo QuizTest your knowledge of who's casting spells on who in the Potter movies.
- Harry Potter: On Screen or on Paper?Weigh in on the eternal debate: Which is better? The book or the movie?
- Interview With Tom FeltonGet the inside scoop on the actor who plays Draco Malfoy.
- Franchise OverviewRead film historian Tim Dirks' detailed take on the series.
- The REAL Invisibility CloakLearn how Harry Potter's disguising apparatus is almost a reality.
- Supernatural Teens TournamentDecide if Potter has the power to overcome Buffy and Donnie Darko.