This weeks WATCH IT! Wednesday is super special to me. I’ve loved Harry Potter since I was little. My dad started reading the novels to me when I was five or six, and by the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out I was reading the books by myself and a teenager. Harry Potter has always been a huge part of my life, so when they announced that they were going to expand the HP movie universe, all of my dreams came true.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was first released as a book for the charity Comic Relief in June of 2001. The book, written from the perspective of a man named Newt Scamander, was a Hogwarts textbook. Inside, a guide on identifying magical creatures. Notes from Harry, Ron and Hermione fill the margins, and a hilarious foreword from Albus Dumbledore also feature. The synopsis is as follows:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander’s classic compendium of magical creatures, has delighted generations of wizarding readers. With this beautiful, large-scale new edition illustrated in full color, Muggles too will have the chance to discover where the Runespoor lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why shiny objects should always be kept away from the Niffler.
The movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released by Warner Brothers in November 2016. The movie stared Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein), Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein), Colin Farrell (Graves) and Ezra Miller (Creedence Barebone).
The studio describes the movie as: “The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.”
I was unsure how this book would translate onto the screen. When you read it, it’s more of a guidebook on magical creatures than a story about any one man. However, J.K. Rowling (in her screenwriting debut) has managed to weave a story about a very strange and charismatic young man, who you can’t help but love.
We meet Newt Scamander as he arrives off of a boat into New York City in 1926. Immediately, he finds himself in trouble, chasing one of his creatures through a muggle bank and getting caught by a MACUSA agent (Tina). What follows is a wild adventure through New York City, chasing his creatures, fighting the (then) greatest dark wizard of his age, and making friends along the way.
The movie beautifully ties into the rest of Potter canon. Newt and his family fighting Grindewald, and his shock at the utter segregation of wizardry from the muggle world in America, are the beginnings of a new story that will impact how we view the original series. With the announcement that Newt’s story will span 20-some-odd years, and follow the rise of Grindelwald (eventually leading up to the dual between the dark wizard and Dumbledore) was very exciting. Who is Newt in this adventure? Did he have a large role in bringing down Gillert Grindelwald? I have several theories.
I’m interested to see whether the series will follow Newt exclusively, or if it will follow other characters for the majority of the time. Will it follow Jude Law’s younger Dumbledore? If it does follow Newt, I’m excited to see how that plays out. A quiet, not-so-confident young man fighting off a wizard who wants to destroy and oppress non-magical people, is a very interesting train of narrative.
This book, while short, is worth the read for discovering further context into the original Harry Potter series. If anything, it also really makes you appreciate Hagrid. I’m so excited to see the story about the wizarding world versus Grindelwald. If you need more Harry Potter, or if you just want a movie that’s magical and beautiful, you need to go WATCH IT!