3 Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Part One – Film vs Book

~ “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” ~

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

PoA Book Cover

I have to hold my hands up. I allowed the film adaptation to colour my perception of the book. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a flawless piece of work despite the worrying plot hole that is Fred and George Weasley’s lack of concern, being the owners of the Marauder’s Map, regarding their younger brother sleeping in the same bed as a boy/man named Peter Pettigrew – either Fred and George Weasley are pro-LGBTQIA/did not check the map at night (doubtful)/believed Ron was afraid which is why he shared his bed with a possible Gryffindorian named Peter to alleviate his fears/J. K. Rowling made an oopsie (most likely). Regardless, I give this book five glorious stars.

I have a couple of thoughts on aspects of the book (and film) that I felt stood out most and I’m going to be tackling them in three separate posts, and the first of my thoughts center around the differences between the book and film and how it changed the narrative of the series.

Why the Film Pales in Comparison to the Book

I’m not particularly a huge fan of time-travel and the second-half of the film primarily focuses on this element. The book, on the other hand, has one small chapter dedicated to the time-travel storyline towards its end thereby allowing us to immerse ourselves in the wizarding universe for the majority of the book instead. Where the film does perform better is the lesson on hippogriffs where we see Harry fly on Buckbeak which is something that I’ve always envied Harry for.

The film, also, took away Ron’s best moments and one of these moments is given to Hermione instead. Those who have both read the books and the film will have taken note of many of Ron’s best moments being given to Hermione and we see a few of Ron’s moments are completely removed from the films.  This can be attributed to Steve Kloves taking on a different narrative to the book series, however, it is clear that Rowling approved of this. An excerpt from the article ‘When Steve Met Jo’ supports this:

Firstly, Steve turned to me while food was being ordered and said quietly, “You know who my favorite character is?” I looked at him, red hair included, and I thought: You’re going to say Ron. Please, please don’t say Ron—Ron’s so easy to love. And he said: “Hermione.” At which point, under my standoffish, mistrusting exterior, I just melted, because if he got Hermione, he got the books. He also, to a large extent, got me.

This struck me as rather bizarre as it appears that J. K. Rowling believes that in order to fully appreciate the series that it is imperative to like her self-insert – Hermione Granger. Ergo, you are not a Harry Potter fan if you are not a fan of J. K. Rowling which is rather imposing, overbearing and, sadly, entitled and an unrealistic demand given her latest bout of tweets regarding wizards taking dumps that nobody asked for or her decision to cast Johnny Depp in her film, an action that silenced domestic violence victims in favour of the star power of Johnny Depp and the added financial benefits he would potentially bring. Why care about domestic violence victims when there is money to be made, right, Joanne? My mother was one of those victims, so thank you for telling us that she and countless other victims do not matter compared to someone who has star power. How does that decision make you any different to the Supreme Court Justices who confirmed Kavanaugh? A for effort, Joanne, but I can tell the wrong sort for myself, thanks.

George R. R. Martin, in contrast, does not demand readers and viewers to like any of his characters; Martin doesn’t attempt to tell the readers what is wrong or right, who is good or bad, or tell us that we aren’t true fans if we do not like Tyrion Lannister or Daenerys Targaryen. George R. R. Martin lets the readers and viewers decide for themselves. Bearing this in mind, it makes it very clear as to why Kloves changed the narrative and characters – to suit his own agenda and interpretation of the series rather than simply faithfully adapt the series.

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Credit: Hypable

In the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron receives detention for defending Hermione when Snape calls her a ‘know-it-all,’ whereas, in the film, this is changed to Ron agreeing with Snape.

“That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger,” said Snape coolly. “Five more points from Gryffindor for being an insufferable know-it-all.”

Hermione went very red, put down her hand and stared at the floor with her eyes full of tears. It was a mark of how much the class loathed Snape that they were all glaring at him, because every one of them had called Hermione a know-it-all at least once or twice a week, and Ron, who told Hermione she was a know-it-all at least twice a week, said loudly, “You asked us a question and she knows the answer. Why ask if you don’t want to be told?” – p. 181, PoA

Ron instantly comes to Hermione’s defence against a teacher. An act that is admirable and is completely brushed away in the film. It also whitewashes the impact of the severity of Snape’s remark on Hermione. Some parts of the fandom take issue with Ron and other classmates for calling Hermione a ‘know-it-all’ and even, strangely, paint it as emotional abuse despite an absence of malicious intent on the part of Ron and other classmates. If we take a real-life example, my sister calls me annoying once or twice a week, but it’s never intended with malice and I wouldn’t regard it as emotional abuse. It more so points toward an exceedingly delicate constitution to take something like this comment very seriously. Moreover, Ron, between Harry and him, is the only one to take both note and concern in Hermione’s workload and her clashing timetable. Ron isn’t perfect, he can be insensitive, but anyone with adequate reading comprehension skills would be able to realise how very much he cares about the wellbeing of his friends – unless, of course, the friend he cares for demonstrates a lack of care towards him, but we’ll get to that in another post.

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One of the moments stolen from Ron and transferred to Hermione – a trend that would continue with the the rest of the film series – is when Ron risks damaging his sprained leg to, very literally, stand up for Harry:

“If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us, too!” he said fiercely, though the effort of standing up had drained him of still more colour, and he swayed slightly as he spoke. – p. 361, PoA

It was understandable that Hermione was given the Devil’s Snare moment in The Philosopher’s Stone as the riddle was removed from the film, but it was rather unnecessary to give this moment to Hermione in the film adaptation of The Prisoner of Azkaban as Hermione has some great moments anyway such as figuring out why Professor Lupin was missing classes – though Snape did everything he could to push that realisation onto Lupin’s students, I count this as a great moment for Hermione as I couldn’t figure it out at all.

This moment from Prisoner of Azkaban is when the film began seriously relegating Ron into a comic relief role. In the film adaptation of The Chamber of Secrets, we see Ron transformed into a blithering mess when he and Harry follow the spiders, whereas, in the book, Ron steels himself to overcome his fear of spiders when he realises that it will help Hermione who is petrified.  

This decision to relegate Ron into a comic relief figure was a wasted opportunity to tackle gender stereotypes. Hermione exhibits a strong masculine energy, whereas Ron has more stereotypical feminine qualities, and it makes one question whether Steve Kloves subconsciously fosters internalised toxic masculinity. Ron is sensitive – in both positive and negative ways -, and he repeatedly provides emotional support to his friends e.g. defending Hermione in this book, breaking the ice with Hermione. Often, he displays typical insensitivity like any ordinary teenage boy, but for the most part his feminine qualities stand out. Hermione contrasts Ron with her capacity for logical deduction and is very much fact-focused. The book series challenges gender norms and constructs and Steve Kloves whittled away this narrative in order to make a Mary Sue out of Hermione Granger. While I’m not always the biggest fan of Hermione, Book Hermione is infinitely more interesting than flawless Film Hermione thereby restricting the character from being human and that in itself is a worrying message to impart to viewers: that women and young girls must be perfect to be accepted instead of simply being a human being with both flaws and virtues.


What are your thoughts on changes made to the film adaptations and the characters? What are your thoughts on J. K. Rowling’s comments about ‘getting’ the series? Do you agree with Steve Kloves decision to alter both Ron and Hermione’s characters in the films? What do you think is the reason why Fred and George did not mention Peter Pettigrew to Ron? Let me know in the comments!

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36 Comments

  1. Sorry for my rudeness but I really wanted to comment on something for this post even though I don’t read the book, but I think I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies. I really enjoy this post, what I want to ask is actually not related to the post. Why do people like Harry Potter? I usually went with the crowd, but not with Harry Potter, hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You weren’t being rude at all 🙂 as in Harry Potter the films or the character? The films aren’t all that, so I don’t blame you! Harry himself is pretty nice, you could try to kill him, but he would still try and save you, unless you’re a woman that Hermione *cough J. K. Rowling’s internalised misogyny* disapproves of.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. How many times I’ve been waiting for the moment Harry Potter dies and then he comes back to life and I’m there like,
        ‘So JK you kill Fred forever but you bring Harry who isn’t important back to life… How could you?”
        The beauty of the main character, they always live (except a few other books in which they don’t)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. LOOOOOOOOOOL 😂 “how many times I’ve been waiting…” *gets watch out, taps it repeatedly* I feel so sorry for George… I know this sounds harsh, but it would have been fairer if both were killed because imagine the pain afterwards. And Allegiant, right? More realistic.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I know! I said the same thing about Fred and George. If you’re going to kill one at least kill the other so they aren’t left alone in this world, if you get what I mean…

            Still, someone has to die in a book unfortunately 😭

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I know the fifth is the most heavy (I still believe it’s heavier than deathly hallows) so, good luck! Haha, I think the entire series pales in a way I’ve never seen films pale, the books are so much better. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The book is definitely fabulous! (lol I heard that plothole years ago- it’s still so funny!) And yeah it’s really disappointing how ron’s character gets shafted in the movie :/ And I so agree that it’s a wasted opportunity and that it makes Hermione a Mary Sue- when she’s really a very complex (and not always likeable) character! I think it’s important to be like Martin when it comes to other’s critiquing your work or having opinions on them- like you said, he isn’t critical of people for liking who they like. And also, one of the things I especially like about him is how he leaves a lot of theories open to interpretation- but that could just be me 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It shows a lot that they gave Ron’s best moments and took away all her flaws… Steve Kloves knew that he had to cover Hermione’s crimes (let’s call it what it is)! And yes yes yes!!! Martin GETS writing, J. K. Rowling treats her writing as an opinion piece and critique as fake news. *smh*

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  3. Okay I never thought about the problem of Peter appearing on the map before and now I can’t stop thinking about it! Plus wasn’t he inherited form Fred and George? I wonder if they ever looked at the map and thought hey, who’s Peter? Why does it say someone is standing right next to us that isn’t? Maybe he was one of the older brothers but excellent point!

    Interesting about Kloves as well. I think you can change a lot in an adaptation but if the character is drastically different that’s where I get the issues. It makes me wonder exactly how he found Hermione relatable? I want to go back and research whether he or Rowling has been asked about that or the changes to Ron because I think she was always pretty involved in the film. At best it’s a very typical “Hollywood” change turning him into the sarcastic, somewhat silly sidekick teenage boy.

    Lots of interesting things to think about in your post and I love the Thrones comparison! These are probably the two most culturally significant (at the very least in terms of popularity) adaptations and book series of the past 20 or so years. They probably have more in common than people would think! I look forward to reading further posts 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol yep, it’s the biggest plot hole in the entire series for me and I checked out Rowling’s interview where she was asked this about this & she went on a tangent about something else which means she was deflecting cos she didn’t know how to answer the question. Though, to be fair, she said that she doesn’t check for details sometimes. Scabbers was originally Percy’s! So, that confuses me even more because I know Fred & George would have checked Percy to a) prank him b) avoid him. George R. R. Martin would never.

      She was convinced by the decision for Kloves to take over when Kloves told her that Hermione is his favourite. It seems like a Hollywood change (re: Grover being changed from a sensitive, emotional and caring person to a playboy in the films – I mean that was doubly wrong racially and in terms of internalised toxic masculinity), but I don’t think so because Ron’s best moments were given to Hermione which means they loved Ron’s scenes but they had a Hermione agenda in place and the Rita Skeeter jar, The Birds scene, and the scarring of Marietta were removed. So, it looks like Kloves was scared what people’s perception of Hermione would be if we actually got to see those in film, and I have to bring in what Trevor Noah said that if we actually saw the harm caused with our own eyes, we would think differently. Having said that I’m glad Hermione’s slap changed to a punch and that Harry blew Marge up, now those two were intentionally evil.

      Yes, and it’s funny to think that George R. R. Martin REALLY doesn’t like JKR and I’m not surprised, their approaches are completely different. JKR follows Tolkien, but Martin created a whole new spin that we hadn’t seen before. GoT > HP any day. And thank you! 🙂

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  4. Interesting post. Having watched the films, I am now re-reading the books with my eldest son and it is noticeable just how much Ron’s character is reduced for the films.

    Looking back now, it does feel as if the film-makers really couldn’t work out how to fit three major characters into the plot and reduced Ron to being a bit of a third wheel. And this creates more problems for them as plot elements that are carefully telegraphed in the books just leap out at you with no justification whatsoever when translated to film.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t believe that they didn’t know what to do with three big characters because they found a way to steal Ron’s best moments and give them to Hermione instead. Percy Jackson did the same with Grover, changed a sensitive black man and turned him into a stereotypical young black man. But I understand that Rowling played a greater part in the decisions of the films and she was more than happy to make her self-insert character all the more appealing. But even in Game of Thrones, Tyrion is significantly different to his show counterpart, but that might be more difficult to pull off… but in Harry Potter? They had the opportunity, they just didn’t like Ron. Rowling had a fall-out with the man she had based Ron on, so I do believe that that factored in.

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      1. It’s certainly true that JK Rowling had a great deal of creative control over the films — much more than an author usually have. I believe that this was because the films started going into production before all of the books had been written, so the filmmakers wanted to make sure they didn’t add or remove anything that would cause themselves problems later on.

        So it’s quite possible that she decided that Ron’s role should be reduced, and handed over to Hermione, for her own personal reasons.

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        1. It’s strange for Rowling to think to remove the trio to what essentially became a duo in the films could have served her original vision. Neither Hermione nor Ron are anything like their characters in the books, in such a case, they might as well have removed Ron’s character from the films, he’s a non-character in the films.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s been years since I watched the movie, which I watched many years after reading the book. If I did notice any glaring differences (doubtful) between the two at the time, I surely don’t remember them now. In general, though, movies tend, for several different and perfectly understandable reasons, to differ quite a bit from books. I can’t remember ever watching a movie, though, and thinking, “Huh. I liked it better than the book.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The film is often better than the book – I think that’s the rule now. But Rowling had decision-making powers and she chose to exercise it in a way that allowed her self-insert character to reap all the praise of a sensitive and more feminine male character and also removed Hermione’s more questionable actions from the film. She wanted people to praise Hermione because she is Hermione, it’s oddly narcissistic. She, also, had a fall-out with the character she based Ron on and fell in love with a man similar to Harry Potter which influenced the decisions she made with the film. Once a book is out, it belongs to the public, you do not change things according to your whims. It would be like if you were dealing with a case that was similar to your situation at home and once the situation at home changed, you dealt with the case differently by bringing your own prejudice to the case. It’s just unprofessional and immature.

      Hollywood during the millennium clearly had a problem with sensitive, insecure and caring men e.g. Grover in the Percy Jackson films went from a sensitive man to a stereotypical young black man.

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  6. Great post by the way!
    I agree with the part about Fred and George not seeing Peter on the map I mean how do you miss that? Also how did Fred and George (being owners of the map) not know what Harry, Hermione and Ron were up to in the past 4 years? It kinda confuses me, but overall the book is amazing and we all love it regardless, mostly because that one line,
    “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” sums up my entire life right now haha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think if Fred and George saw what the trio were up to, they definitely wouldn’t mind and would probably be cheering them on lol! And yesssss, easily one of the more underrated quotes from the series and the only one that I would consider buying merch for! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

            1. I did give my aunt a panic attack… that’s probably why lol. I have another prank to play on the neighbourhood, and then some, planned, but I’m waiting for some free time to do it! But whew, people are less accepting if you’re a female prankster than when it’s boys! 🤷🏻‍♀️

              Liked by 1 person

  7. Lmao good point about Peter Pettigrew and the map. How did the twins not notice?? Hm…

    I remember not liking this film. I didn’t realize how much was changed though!! Poor Ron always gets the short end of the stick smh

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Plot hole plot hole plot hole… George R. R. Martin would never. 💛

      The film was drab, the book was near flawless. They changed the characters because why show a young boy who has feelings and is sensitive? The internalised toxic masculinity was real with Kloves. HP does not age well.

      Liked by 1 person

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