Harry Potter POA Set Report: The Shrieking

Dec 02, 2007

Posted by: Doris | Comments


Set Report: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Part I: The Kids : | Part II: The Clocktower, the Hospital Wing, the Details |
Part III: Shrieking | Part IV: Flights and French Men |
Part V: Candy | Part VI: Great Things

Part III: Shrieking

By Melissa Anelli
The Leaky Cauldron Staff

A pile of wood is not in itself exciting, especially with the prospect of the Great Hall in the balance. So, walking past things like “Grips Grotto,” Ron’s chess piece from Sorcerer’s Stone and the crushed-velvet cushions that crew members were de-stressing for use in the Divination classroom, I almost missed it.

It took the spotting the long-ways scratch down the wooden panel to realize that this wasn’t simply plywood. A closer look revealed the words “Shrieking Shack” on each piece. The wooden flats, no longer needed for filming, laid in a heap, bronze knobs blackened, shutters twisted and broken, all of it scratched up as if something with claws had used it for a pillow.

The other unfortunate thing about a pile of wood is that it’s really hard to explain why you’ve stopped in your tracks to stare at it. Even shouting “It’s the Shrieking Shack!” doesn’t quite get the job done, nor does pointing and saying things like “it’s the – with the wolf – that’s where Sirius – and the – oh, forget it.”

The Shrieking Shack may have been disjointed but the next piece of set in our paths was not. Standing free in the middle of the room was the most important passage in Prisoner of Azkaban: the tunnel. No Whomping Willow on one end or Shrieking Shack on the other, but the tunnel all the same, instantly recognizable by its narrow, jagged, spooky depths.

Feel free, we’re told, to walk through it.

“I’ll do that!” I squeak.
“I thought you would,” someone jokes.

Well. It’s easier said than done. The tunnel uses forced perspective, so instead of just seeming smaller at the far side, it is smaller at the far side. Three or four of us climbed in and immediately started “ooh”ing at the realistic-looking walls. About 30-40 feet long, the tunnel gets tighter and tighter as you go; by the end we were single file along a dark corridor that slopes so sharply upward there’s barely any footing.

And it really doesn’t help when rocks fall from nowhere.

The tunnel does eventually spill onto a small platform, but there’s no way down, so it’s down to us to turn around and go back out, an operation that was as difficult as it sounds. My audio recorder captured our (mostly my) squeals:

“Oh my god, it’s kind of unstable…and it’s exactly right, actually.”
“It’s very kind of rocky…Perfect…This is literally it.”
“I could so make out in here.” (Not me; the person who uttered this shall remain nameless)
“It is kinda creepy. Oh god this is steep.”
“Guys be careful! Be careful!”
“It’s like a person wide up here.”
“Why am I the leader here?”
“Wow. [Then whispering] Wow. Okay. This is more like a staircase.”
“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” (Careful Leaky readers know who this was.)
“Oh shoot, we have to go back down? That might not have been smart.”
“How many people can this hold?”
“I’m going to sit down and slide back down.”
“Okay, yeah, that was a rock. Rock fall! You need a sign, a hazard sign!”
[Someone outside the tunnel] “Is it still exciting?”
[Me] “YES!”
[Various screaming as we get to the bottom.]
“All right, we’re okay now.”
“Be careful on the way down. Really.”

Finding Hogwarts

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.