Alfonso Cuaron Explains Why Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Was So Cloudy

Chris Columbus gave up his directorial duties following "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" because he wanted to spend more time with his children. So, Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón was brought in to helm "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," the third film in the franchise.

Often regarded as one of the best "Harry Potter" films, the tone in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is a lot darker and brooding than the previous entries. In the first two films, students at Hogwarts played Quidditch on green grounds and underneath vibrant blue skies, but in part three, the lively castle grounds had been swapped out for endless gray landscapes. The blue skies were gone, and all that remained were gray skies filled with clouds ... and sometimes with soul-sucking Dementors. If you've ever wondered the reason behind the sudden shift of colors, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has opened up about it.

It Captured Harry Becoming A Teenager

Cuarón is one of the many returning faces in the franchise's 20th anniversary special, HBO Max's "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts." The Academy Award-winning filmmaker explained why his film was cloudy, revealing that the darker tone was meant to illustrate Harry turning into a teenager:

"For Azkaban, it's a coming of age. They are passing the threshold between childhood and their teenage years. In the first two, Harry is still a child there is a greater optimism around the tone itself. Nevertheless, when the kid turns 13, there is a big cloud that overshadows everything around Harry, and we needed to convey that also stylistically."

Every film in the franchise gets darker and darker, representing Lord Voldemort making the Wizarding World a more dangerous place. But in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Lord Voldemort is absent throughout — we do, however, meet his minion Peter Pettigrew, an animagus who had lived with the Weasley family for 12 years.

Instead of Voldemort's quest for world domination, the film's focus is on the search to catch Sirius Black (the convict who has escaped from Azkaban prison) and sees Harry dealing with his past and coming to terms with the role Black played in his parents' death. There are also the Dementors, the foul creatures that absorb happiness and cheer. The film needed to reflect the constant danger lurking around Harry and his friends now that an escaped murderer was trying to find him while the Dementor hovered around Hogwarts grounds. 

Cuarón successfully captured the mood, balancing the darker tone with the comedic elements of the story, which is probably why "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is one of the best movies in the franchise. And one of the cloudiest.