BBC1 ‘Strike’ Trailer and Clips

First thoughts: Grainger is a great match for Robin in appearance, inflection, and seriousness.

Burke as Strike? No doubt he is an excellent actor who is going to give this his all, but thespian skills and earnestness cannot make short, handsome, and svelte seem huge, ugly, and fat. For book readers, that’s always going to grate.

But he commands attention, that’s for sure. I listened ten times to the trailer’s closing exchange with Robin as he leaves the office and I never understood what he said. “I’m a boozer”? Must be the biscuit (cookie) he’s eating.

Guy Some seemingly tall, conventional, even straight, and definitely in a business suit? At least he’s black.

John Bristow in these snips doesn’t appear pathetic or buck-toothed but the actors playing Cyprian May, Lady Bristow, Ciarra Porter, Eric Wordle, and Rochelle Onifade look promising.

Your thoughts?

Seven Questions for ‘Strike’ TV Talent

I was asked by my friends at MuggleNet for questions to ask “the talent” of the BBC teevee show Strike which premieres tomorrow. Here are the seven questions I sent in after polling the HogwartsProfessor talent. What would you have asked?

(1) Cormoran Strike is an imposing physical presence who is not handsome; he’s described as a hulk (not hunk!) who has “pube hair” and looks like a heavyweight boxer resembling Beethoven. Why in the world did you choose Tom Burke, a beautiful man who is relatively short and decidedly svelte, to play this part? You’ve cast a brilliant actor and leopard to play the part of a rhino, no?

(2) The Strike fandom, small as it is relative to the Kingdom of Potter, reads these mysteries as wonderfully satisfying mysteries in themselves and as Rowling commentaries on the parallel Potter books and her experiences as a writer and celebrity. Have you in your study of these books to prepare for the making of these series discussed the latter amongst yourselves?

(3) Rowling is definitely writing the series as she did Harry Potter with respect to writing books that also serve as chapters in the larger, over-arching mystery. Instead of the back story about the Dark Lord, of course, here we are learning book by book, more about the death of Strike’s mother Leda, the involvement of his father Jonny Rokeby the rock star, Robin’s past and her relationship with Matt, Cormoran’s history with Mad Charlotte, and information about the explosion in Afghanistan that took his leg. Rowling famously shared Snape’s back story with Alan Rickman so he knew where his character was headed and what his motivations were; has she tipped her hand to any of you?

(4) Why teevee? No knock on the quality of small screen production values, which now are as good or better than cinema, but there’s so much more of an audience globally for films and it’s not as if Rowling’s works have not been successfully adapted into blockbusters. Any idea why the Rowling team elected to go small when going blockbuster large would have meant exciting millions more potential readers about the series? [Read more…]

Rune Magic in Fantastic Beasts? I Wish

A long time reader and frequent correspondent sent me a note this morning encouraging me to watch a YouTube video about the likelihood of Runic Magic becoming a major plot element in J. K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts movie series. It’s called Runes, Nordic mythology and Durmstrang in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movies The video is a relatively short view at twelve minutes but I think, alas, it was about ten minutes too long in terms of reward-per-viewing-minute.

Color me ‘skeptical,’ even shades of ‘dismissive’ on this speculative leap about runes, which, truth be told, I wish were true and think would be consistent with the base-line idea of Rowling’s Wizarding World and it’s “magical parameters.”

Here’s the thing.

With the exception of the Pentagram Room and background visual-noise created by MinaLima, what evidence is there of any runic magic in Beasts or for the speculations in this video? And the MinaLima artistry, engaging as it is, seems to have been created independently of script mentions or direction. Which is to say, not from any instruction we have in the published ‘Original Screenplay.’ Not that I’m embracing that version of the screenplay as authoritative, original, or final!

I love ‘out there’ speculation, as you know, about where, figuratively speaking, the series writing of J. K. Rowling – Potter, Strike, or Beastie — may be headed. I’d be much more comfortable, however, even enthusiastic with this leap into the abyss about Runes and Durmstrang if it was based on something, anything more textual and Rowling-related than two Icelandic actors and MinaLima magically resonant wallpaper flourishes. [Read more…]

Cormoran’s Army is Back!

Leda Welcoming Back the Swan-God

Check out this still-in-progress revival of the Cormoran’s Army [‘CA’] weblog of old.

The first post features a round-up of what we’ve written here at Hogwarts Professor since GoDaddy deep-sixed the original CA late last year. The post has quite a bit of Lethal White summary speculation, too.

[For those not up to speed on Rowling’s mythological underpinning in her Strike stories, Leda (pictured at right greeting the Swan) plays a big part in it, as do her twin sons with Zeus, Cormoran and Shanker, I mean, Castor and Pollux.]

A new day for the CA! Doom Bar Detectives, Unite!

The Three Fates Meet The Weird Sisters: Cormoran Strike, Harry Potter, and the Question of Fate, Free Will, and Choice

On 7 July, I thought to check J. K. Rowling’s twitter feed to see if she had posted anything about the anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist bombings that hit London in 2005. Though the 52 deaths and 784 injuries caused by four suicide bombers on 7/7 is recalled in the UK something like 9/11 is by Americans, she did not tweet or re-tweet any of the many articles and messages about the event online.

I was struck while at her page, however, by the header, that is, the picture she has placed across the top of her Twitter page. I do not keep up with these things but the header picture had changed from the last time I dropped in. The current Rowling Twitter Header is a marble relief sculpture by Johann Gottfried Schaddow on the tomb of Prince Alexander von Mark in Berlin called ‘The Three Morai’ or just ‘The Three Fates’ (picture above). 

The only reason Rowling readers should care about such things — why I write this blog post — is something she shared in January 2017 about a previous header: “It’s hard to find a header that sums up everything I’m working on at the moment, but this painting comes close! It’s by Harmen Steenwyck.”

The faculty here at HogwartsProfessor spent some time back then discussing that painting, ‘Allegory of the Vanities,’ amongst ourselves about what it might mean in terms of Lethal White, the Cormoran Strike mystery we’re waiting on and the work we assumed The Presence was working on then. We came up with little more than ‘remember death.’ Which given the first word of the Lethal White title and it being a murder mystery, did not seem to warrant a post. I’ll return to that in a moment after noting that Rowling was then working on two novels, one a Strike mystery as Robert Galbraith, the other of unknown subject matter as J. K. Rowling.

The reason to take a moment to reflect on Rowling’s choice of Twitter Headers is if what was true of ‘Allegory of the Vanities’ continues to be true, i.e., that she is showing us a picture of what her current work is about. That conditional clause does not seem a great leap to me.

What makes her choice of the ‘Three Fates’ mortuary relief that much more interesting in this regard is that Rowling has had a Twitter Header with the Three Fates as her Twitter Header at least once before, probably twice. The certain one is a 16th century Flemish tapestry called ‘The Triumph of Death’ or ‘The Three Fates.’

It hangs in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. We’re told at the page dedicated to the tapestry on the museum’s website that:  [Read more…]