Carlin Brothers: Jacob Kowalski – Squib!

Hat-tip to Lana for sharing this find!

Fantastic Beasts Thesis Presentation Today!

It is always a joy to encourage scholars in their journey! Today, at 2 pm EST, Kelly Orazi will be featured in the Signum University Thesis Theater, talking about her thesis  Fantastic Beasts and Why to Find Them: Animals and Thesis TheaterNature in Harry Potter.  It’s been my great delight to serve as Kelly’s thesis director, and I’m excited to help her share this fascinating project. If you are unfamiliar with Signum, it is a wonderful online university with opportunities for anyone interested in a deeper study of Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, and much more. Signum is also in the middle of its annual fund campaign. Check out signumuniversity.org/fund/ for more info about the campaign and other events.

I hope you’ll join us today to “meet” Kelly and hear about her project. You will also be able to watch the theater on the Signum Youtube page if you miss it live. I’ve had a great time working with her, and I know you’ll enjoy her amazing insights!

 

A J. K. Rowling ‘Beasts’ Revenge Theory

On the thread discussing ‘J. K. Rowling Still writing Fantastic Beasts 3 Screenplay,’ David Llewellyn Dodds, wrote, “What about the possibility of an analogue of ‘director’s cut’ in the form of ‘Rowling novels following movies’?” I started to write a reply but it soon became post length. In brief, I think this is a wonderful possibility and at least as unlikely as it would be both delightful and characteristic of Rowling the Subversive.

I trust David to correct me if I misunderstand what he is suggesting, which in my version goes something like this:

Novelists have their popular stories ‘adapted,’ which is to say ‘transformed, changed, and diminished,’ by movie makers. The original creators usually have little say in these medium metamorphases which are done by a screenwriter or a team of such, and, much more often than not, the new story is what most people remember of the work rather than the original creation and point which was the book. Nabokov was asked to write the screenplay for the first Lolita adaptation, he complied, they ignored his work (!), and he eventually published his ‘adaptation.’ Only Nabokov scholars, of course, have read it or are even aware of it.

So what do novelists get? They get a huge payday both in the form of payment for movie rights and from royalties (a successful film even if a bad or distortive adaptation, and, again, due to the opposing nature of the media, imaginative vs straight sense perception, all adaptations are inherently distortive and diminishing – will revive interest in a book indefinitely).

What they lose is larger public understanding of their work. Readers who come to the original work after seeing the film inevitably ‘see’ the film imaginatively in light of the screened images they have already consumed which supplants their capacity to envisage what the author has written. Hence the resistance of some novelists and their estates — think J. D. Salinger and Catcher in the Rye and the Tolkien estate — to Hollywood perversion of their creative visions.

Is there a way out of this bind except refusing the Tinsel Town galleons? Not really, especially if the author is beholden to charity commitments as Rowling is, or if the film rights to a work have been sold long ago as with Fantastic Beasts (with little thought perhaps given to its adaptation), or if an Estate faces family members who crave film gold and royalty revival (I think, forgive me, of the C. S. Lewis group, alas).

David’s suggestion, though, is that Rowling has a way of exacting creative revenge. Her reverse play, if I understand David, would be to take part in the screenwriting collaborative process and submit to all the changes and cuts the director and various Executive Producers insist are necessary. Something approximating her original vision makes it to the screen and she (her brand as well as her Volant and Lumos charities) gets a huge payout.

Then — and this is the defamiliarizing twist on the usual formula — Rowling publishes the novel versions of these stories. This publication-post-film-making has the following effects:

(1) A Dickensian ‘New Edition’ Payday: Dickens famously sold his novels in three chapter bundles as he wrote them, then repackaged and sold the complete book, and then came out with various ‘Collector’s Editions,’ all of which issues of the same book gave him a new income stream. Rowling, by publishing her truly original novels after the film screenplay collaborations, gets paid twice for her work. And, forgive me, these novels would sell the way the Harry Potter books did because they are Wizarding World stories from the hand of the One and Only.

(2) Exposure of the Screenwriting ‘Sausage Making’ Process: By giving us the true story, readers who have seen the movies (which, frankly, is ‘all readers’) will inevitably be saying as they read, “Oh, wow! That was isn’t the film! Why did they cut that out? That’s really important….” Rowling will exact revenge for all novelists who cannot believe what was cut from their stories in the film making and what made up in conformity with film-making formula (“A chase scene or two! In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe!”) but who cannot complain because they took Babylon’s money in exchange for rights to their work. Writing or just publishing the true stories, ‘true’ in the sense of fidelity to the original vision of the author of course,after the films shows just how little of that vision survives the inane demands and story-butchery of film making. Which is genius, frankly, and a characteristically Rowling-esque subversive twist on the power holders. Think Hermione and The Quibbler.

(3) Revelation to Film Devotees of Media Reality: The follow-up novels, more importantly if much less obviously, might also expose to the more thoughtful reader the inherently diminishing and distortive effects of film adaptations. Movie lovers are — without exception in my limited experience — blissfully unaware of the iconoclastic quality of the medium they prefer, a story-telling medium that serves and reflects the materialist and inherently secular ideas defining the historical period in which we live. By reducing by transforming imaginative immersion to sense perception, all that films can communicate in the end is fear or emotional sentiment, hence the importance of physical beauty and the inevitable chase. Rowling’s reverse-play, by giving the reader of the true story a much greater experience than the film version, would be revealing the paucity of the movie medium.

Unfortunately, this last falls victim to the same trap that the usual sequence of novel-to-film gives readers. Rowling’s feast for the reader imagination and the much broader spectrum of interior experience and transformation in Newt Scamander stories will inevitably all be restricted in reader minds to their mental pictures from the films of what Newt, Jacob, Queenie, Tina, Gellert, Albus, and Company look like and behave.

There’s really no winning here, in other words, on that score; the Salinger Option is the only way to retain control and its ascetic quality is all but anathema in this time period.

But what a delight if Rowling would publish her Scamander-Grindelwald stories as novels ex post facto the film versions! We readers would get the real thing and Warner Brothers would be exposed as the corporate story prostitution factory that it is. I have to doubt very much Rowling will do this as characteristic a rwist as it certainly would be, but I can imagine few more exciting possibilities. Thank you, David, for the idea — and forgive me if this idea is not what you meant!

 

Rowling Still Working on Beasts3 Script

Eddie Redmayne told a reporter at the Toronto Film Festival last week that “the script is still being worked on.”

ET Online: Do you have a Fantastic Beasts 3 update for us?
Eddie Redmayne: We’re meant to start shooting in the beginning of next year. The script is still being worked on. There’s nothing – I’m literally giving you nothing!

I’m trying to do that thing of talking about it and saying nothing, because of the fear of getting told off. But no, it’s happening, and it’s really exciting.

The man sounds positively petrified of saying something he shouldn’t (or is that just his response to a reporter asking him about a film other than the one he is supposed to be talking about?). Regardless of Redmayne, we now have to add that answer to the pile of possible answers to the question, “What is The Presence doing if she’s not tweeting every day?” The speech for the Robert Kennedy Do-Gooder Award ceremony in December can’t be a full time job, can it?

For those of you following the Beasts film franchise, the good news is that Redmayne’s comments do not suggest any delays in the filming or release dates for Beasts3. That last is a year after the elections here in the US… (did you know that Moaning Myrtle’s real name is ‘Elizabeth Warren’?)

In more exciting news. here is the trailer for the film Fast Eddie was in Toronto to promote, The Aeronauts, an historical fiction due in theaters or via Amazon Prime this December.

The Mysterious Rowling Twitter Anagram

I searched the internet recently for connections between Agatha Christie and J. K. Rowling lest I find at the end of a long road that someone has already traveled it and written the travelogue. I found this note at the bottom of a 2014 NPR page whose feature was about a lost Christie longbox:

A Possible Potter Puzzle: J.K. Rowling dipped a toe in Twitter on Monday, apparently just to stir things up. When anything Harry Potter is remotely involved, that’s not hard to do. After mentioning Sunday that she was working on a novel and editing a screenplay, she responded to fans’ excited guesses at the novel’s topic, tweeting, “See, now I’m tempted to post a riddle or an anagram.” Hours afterward came this little riddle:

Answers to the riddle have as yet proved inconclusive.

Rowling was outed as the writer behind ‘Robert Galbraith’ in July 2013. In September 2013 Warner Brothers had announced that Rowling was writing a screenplay for Fantastic Beasts. Why in October 2014 were the guesses about this supposed anagram on her Twitter feed not about Cormoran Strike and Newt Scamander?

More to the point, can anyone find Newt’s and Cormoran’s full names in this tweet along with a message?

If you pull out the letters for ‘Cormoran Strike mystery,’ you’re left with a-a-a-a-d-e-e-e-f-f-h-l-n-n-n-n-n-o-o-o-t-t-u-w-w-w-w-y. Spelling ‘Newt Scamander story’ leaves a-a-a-e-e-e-f-f-h-i-k-l-m-n-n-n-n-o-o-o-o-r-r-s-t-u-w-w-y-y.

There is only one ‘c’ so ‘Cormoran’ and ‘Career of Evil’ together is not possible. There aren’t any ‘b’s so ‘Robin,’ Fantastic Beasts, and Albus Dumbeldore are out. The solo ‘c’ also precludes ‘Scamander’ and ‘Jacob.’ The solo ‘k’ means ‘Kowalski’ is a non-starter. ‘Tina’ works but the absence of a ‘g’ or a ‘q’ means ‘Queenie’ and ‘Goldstein’ won’t work, not to mention ‘Gellert’ or ‘Grindelwald.’

It’s supposed to be about the novel’s topic, though, right? So forget Warner Brothers; we’re talking Career of Evil.

Working with the remainders from ‘Cormoran Strike mystery, ‘Leda’ works as does ‘death’ but not both. Jonny Rokeby is impossible (and he no-shows Career). Shanker, Whittaker, Laing, Brockbank, Digger Malley – all fail.

Love to hear your ideas!