Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Potter Watch (18 of 77): The Director's Chair: Alfonso Cuaron

Two installments into the film series based on the beloved Harry Potter books, this really felt like we were going to be wasting the next ten years of our lives on these films, without being rewarded for our patience. Alfonso Cuaron being brought on to direct Prisoner of Azkaban is largely referred to as the turning point of the franchise, when the films took on a higher quality that made them more accessible to adult audiences, who were only familiar with the series through their kids involvement. Whenever people talk about how the films have been continuously getting darker, credit Cuaron with that accomplishment.

With the production on the first two films mostly rushed, Alfonso Cuaron took an 18 month cycle to get his film finished. While it required fans to hold on a little longer, it also allowed the films to get the advanced attention they needed. Though Guillermo Del Toro was initially approached to direct the films, he turned it down, feeling that the franchise was "too bright and happy and full of light." It deserves a bit of a chuckle given the direction Cuaron pointed the series in. Alfonso had not read the books before being offered the job, but after reading them, he found that he connected with them immediately.

Cuarons was the first film to deviate from certain plot points of the books, another decision that would play out in the following installments. Nobody ever imagined that the films could be different from the books. What a huge bound! It worked out in the end, as Alfonso brought an artists hand to the table, giving the film a visual life that's difficult to accomplish. I still can't quite figure out how he achieved some of those shots. It's kind of sad that Alfonso Cuaron didn't stay on to direct any more films, but I suppose that if he had, we would not have been graced with
Children of Men.

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