Alfonso Cuaron gained immense fame and critical acclaim for films such as Roma, Gravity. But way before his appearance at the Oscars Cuaron made his presence felt, even before he won several Oscars for Gravity.
When you look at his early works such as Harry Potter and The Prisoners of Azkaban, The Little Princess, you can tell a lot about his vision. At a time, when the life of orphaned boy Harry Potter was cinematically shown in a light manner, Cuaron was able to bring out the darkness.
Cuaron and his treatment with Harry Potter
The Cuaron's creation of Harry Potter was extremely different from Chris Columbus's direction of Harry Potter, and more in line with the text which was written by author JK Rowling. If Columbus discovered the iconic clast, it was Cuaron who brought the characters to life.
Harry, Ron and Hermione were no longer well-compensated characters, but actual 13-year-old teenagers with real problems such as Harry living with a family who hates his existence and thereby never felt the love of a mother.
Ron having to live with an old rat as a pet, (who later turned out to be Peter Pettigrew) because he couldn't get rid of it. His father barely earned enough to feed so many brothers and a sister. Hermione, despite being brilliant had to endure insults from Malfoy. Without Hermione's guidance, Harry would be nowhere. The film had effectively captured the spirit of the novel.
In the third franchise, we returned to a Hogwarts which was slightly more grey, the train that took us there was stopped by dementors. Quidditch happened but in the middle of a storm. Trees were not friendly alliances, and there were dementors roaming around in the corridors of Hogwarts waiting to suck the happiness out of everyone. This was probably the only franchise where there wasn't even a Voldemort, however, the film had never felt darker.
The film centres on the escape of the sinister Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) from Azkaban Prison; Sirius was convicted in Voldemort's plot to murder Harry's parents, and now it's suspected he must finish the job by killing Harry. As Harry returns for his third year at Hogwarts, grim wraiths named Dementors are stationed at every entrance to the school to ward off Sirius, but the Dementors are hardly reassuring, with their trick of sucking away the soul essence of their victims. Everyone had developed an edge. Harry blew up his aunt when his parents were insulted, Hermione was two steps away from punching Ron but took her anger out on Malfoy who had been worse.
Cuaron has his treatment with A Little Princess
A similar aspect of an orphaned child faces the dark realities was the New York City, was seen in A Little Princess, which was based on Sarah, the daughter of a Major, a wealthy British aristocrat. She spent her childhood in India, thereby she was enchanted with the stories of Ramayan and Mahabharat. Soon war arrives and her father has to drop her at a boarding school in New York, where she initially receives special treatment for being the daughter of an aristocrat. She soon learns about the darker realities of her own peers when a member from the military falsely informs the headmistress of the school that her father lost his life in a battle.
While exploring the sadness, the film immediately shifts from a pastel green shade to a dark light mode thereby implicating that Sarah will no longer be treated like the princess she was thought to be. She basically became Cinderella, except instead of two sisters she had to face an entire bunch of school children, some of whom, were kind enough to not misbehave with her. There was a fairy godmother indeed but in the form of a male servant dressed in Indian attires.
Sarah swept the chimney, went to the market and bought groceries and basically did everything she never knew while living like a daughter of an aristocrat. Yet, instead of complaining about it, she learnt to adapt it, and remained kind, even to the mean girls' gang, that excluded her during the good and bad days. The film may not have been a box office success, however, it received two Oscar nominations.