Report From the Set of Prisoner of Azkaban in Swedish Newspaper Aftonbladet

[Thanks to The Leaky Cauldron fan website reader Jennifer who translated this article from Leif Kasvi’s in Sweden’s Aftonbladet (“The Evening Post”)]

Aftonbladet on set in the giant studio as the third movie is being shot.

SHEPPERTON – Harry Potter and Hermione Granger stand by the roots of an enormous tree. Suddenly Harry dashes off towards the lake, holding up his wand.

“Expecto Patronum”, he shouts.

After nearly 40 takes, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron says, “Gracias”.

Aftonbladet, as the only Swedish newspaper, gets to supervise the production of the third movie on Harry Potter – “The Prisoner of Azkaban”.

We’re situated in the Shepperton Studios, a great building a few miles outside of London. Here, some of the scenes in the third Harry Potter movie are being filmed.

Inside the enormous studio woods are erected. The trees are massive, the trunks several metres thick and stretching far towards the fake sky. The woods are dark, of course, with a menacing air, and like a couple of tiny shadows Harry and Hermione are standing under a tree.

Harry jerks and rushes off, Hermione fumbles for him to hold him back. Harry takes out his wand and runs the 15-20 metres towards the frozen lake.

Journeys back in time

He holds it up, towards the camera that’s fastened on a crane – the camera glides towards his face, stops and retreats.

We’re talking a sequence of 30 seconds, maybe slightly more.

“Harry and Hermione has travelled back in time to save Sirius Black and this is a scene in which Harry saves himself from “the dementors”. It’s a bit complicated”, Daniel Radcliffe, acting the role of Harry Potter, tells us later during our talk.

The director Alfonso Cuaron wants a retake and gets it, over and over. In the end Harry”s been rushing down towards the lake nearly 40 time before the director thanks the entire filming crew with a “Gracias”.

Daniel isn’t bored with it.

“It’s not as tiring while you’re at it, it’s afterwards it gets to you. Because while you’re acting, the adrenaline’s pumping, you don’t notice.

It was Chris Colombus who directed the earlier two films about Harry, while Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, best known for his movie “Y Tu Mama Tambien”, produces the third.

Darker than before

“The difference between him and Chris Colombus is that Chris got an energetic way of working which suited the first films. Alfonso’s got a mild intensity that works better with this material”, Daniel tells us (somewhat precocious).

You’ve all said that the third book is the best movie material. How is that?

“What I like about this book is that it isn’t Voldemort who is the main source of terror”, says Emma Watson, who’s joined.

The movie is also somewhat darker and more menacing than the first two.

“Alfonso films it in a different way, too – he uses almost only wide-angles and he doesn’t like getting in too close,” says Daniel.

Gary Oldman, playing the part of Sirius Black “the Prisoner” is a new member of the team and agrees.

“That’s one of the reasons I accepted his offer, apart from needing the money. I like his style, he does his own stuff and it shows that the producers have courage.”

“He’s done a raw version of about twenty minutes of some of the filmed materials and it’s good, remarkably good. I think he’s used 32mm’s objects at the most. Which is very wide”, Oldman laughs.

In the role of Sirius Black he uses a low voice (Oldman’s expertise is voices) with a slight East End accent.

Tattooed all over

“And I’m tattooed, that’s Alfonso”s idea.”

He rises and shows the tattoos all over his body.

“In some scenes I need those on my arms as well but right now they weren’t needed.”

Another new take is that Alfonso’s modernised the movie a bit. There is still the archaic environment but Harry, Hermione, Ron and the other students are in modern clothes.

In this scene Harry wears beige trousers and a blue-grey tracksuit jacket with stripes. Emma’s got jeans and a pink, tight sweatshirt on. Both of them are wearing sneakers.

Also there are several new actors on the team besides Gary Oldman. When Richards Harris, playing the part of professor Dumbledore, passed away, Michael Gambon was picked for the role.

“I’m sure it wasn’t easy to succeed someone that competent. But he’s perfect and he doesn’t try to copy Richard. He’s doing some changes and the part becomes his own,” Emma Watson says.

And then, they’ve got some news to share.

“We’re in for the fourth movie as well.”

It’s been speculated that Daniel, Emma and Rupert were to be replaced for the fourth film, as they are going on fifteen and getting too old.

“But that won’t happen, not for this time.”

Are you in for the fifth movie?

“We’re not up to speculate on that – one movie at a time.”

“The Prisoner of Azkaban” goes up in Swedish theatres in august next year.

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David Haber
David Haber

D.S. Haber (known to his friends as Dave) is a professional muggle computer programmer and web designer and lives in Los Angeles. He is proud of the fact that he is a new-blood wizard with no (apparent) previous magical blood in his family. His favorite Quidditch team is the Falmouth Falcons, who's motto is "Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads." He is also a West Ham United (Hammers) fan.

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