Fantastic Beasts Question: Is an Obscurus the Opposite of a Patronus?

obscurial-fantastic-beasts-3The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie introduced wizarding fans to the Obscurus (and its host, the Obscurial). The Obscurus is described as a “dark, parasitic” force that develops in children forced to repress their magic. While Potter fans had not seen this entity before, they had seen something that seems to be the polar opposite of the Obscurus: the light, protective force known as the Patronus. Many viewers have questions about Obscurus manifestation: most notably: was Ariana Dumbledore an Obscurial?  And why did Harry not become one, during those years the Dursleys tried to “squash all that nonsense out of him?” I’m going to look more closely at the Patronus-Obscurus parallels to see if we can discern any answers.

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-deleted-scene-description-answers-what-really-happened-to-credenceYoung witches and wizards develop an Obscurus when they are forced to suppress their magic.  Newt tells us that Obscurials  were more common when magic people were persecuted by Muggles, suggesting fear, isolation and abuse contribute to their formation.  Young Credence Barebones would seem to be a good example of this. In fact, his Obscurus seems to be most powerful and least controllable when he is most alone and frightened; he transforms into the Obscurus when Grindelgraves rejects him as a Squib, and returns to human form when Newt and Tina try connect with and calm him.

patronus_pm_silverstagpatronus_momentillustA Patronus, in contrast, is conjured with happy memories, and particularly depends on positive social connections.  Harry sometimes uses thoughts of escaping the abuse of the Durseleys and Umbridge to summon his Patronus; more often, he thinks of his friendship with Ron and Hermione. Patronuses often take the appearance of an animal of significance to a loved one (Tonk’s wolf, Snape’s doe). George loses his ability to cast his patronus after Fred’s death. [Read more…]

MNet Academia: Hogwarts Profs Talk Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Keith Hawk of MuggleNet Academia invited the faculty, all of us, to talk about Fantastic Beasts, the film and the screenplay. A lot of laughs, insights, and questions on top of speculation and good grief guesswork — join us for some great conversation!

Link to MNet Academia podcast on Fantastic Beasts featuring Louise Freeman, Emily Strand, and Elizabeth Baird-Hardy!

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them: A Round Up of HogwartsProfessor Posts

fb21Your HogwartsProfessor faculty has been writing up a storm in the weeks since the release of the first Fantastic Beasts film and the publication of J. K. Rowling’s ‘Original Screenplay.’ We’ve had such a flurry — blizzard? — of posts that you might have missed one or two as they were bumped down and off the front page by recent arrivals.

In the local tradition of rounding up posts on a specific title for the convenience of serious readers (see our Hunger Games round up page for a previous effort), here is the growing catalog of links to the work here so far. We recorded a podcast last night with Keith Hawk at MuggleNet that I know you will enjoy (because we had a lot of laughs and mind-blown moments ourselves while recording it).

Until Keith posts that show (he has!), browse and catch-up on the posts we reference throughout that wild and wide ranging discussion of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!

the-doom-bar-professorJohn Granger:

Unlocking Fantastic Beasts: Finding the Text Round Up

Part 5A: So What? The Found Text and Its Meaning

Part 5B: The Shooting Script — A Corrected Text for Serious Readers

Part 5C: Conclusions and Predictions


Elizabeth Baird-Hardy

Louise Freeman

Emily Strand

Christian Content in Newt’s Adventure? Third Thoughts about J. K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

fb17We’re working our way through the Seven Keys to J. K. Rowling’s artistry and meaning to work the locks on the novelist of renown’s first screenplay, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So far, we’ve covered the Ring Composition structure of the Newt Saga’s first installment and Narrative Slow Release, the over-arching questions that the author introduces in the opening episode of her various series. There is a fairly lively discussion still going on at both those threads and I hope you’ll join in to share your comments and corrections.

The key I want to take in hand today was once fairly controversial among serious readers of Harry Potter, not to mention the dedicated legion of Harry Haters, academic and church divisions. That key, of course, is the Christian content and traditional symbolism of the Hogwarts Saga. When I first wrote about this in 2002 at perhaps the height of the Potter Panic, Harry Potter had become something of touchstone or litmus strip for devotion or apostacy among certain Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox sects. Back then few professors were interested in Rowling’s work except as a cultural artifact and evidence of a world-wide return-to-the-intellectual-cradle.

fb28My demonstration in the book which eventually became How Harry Cast His Spell that the first four novels were nigh to overflowing with Christian symbols and artistry (and magic!) taken directly from the English literary tradition’s extensive vault and my argument that this was actually the reason for Harry’s global popularity were both well received among serious readers, less so with church ladies and academics. Now this radical idea is usually found in the “we’ve always known that” file of Rowling appreciation. Which is good news.

Today I want to open the discussion of the Christian content in Fantastic Beasts. I think, after seeing film once and having read the screenplay in the Scholastic 297 page edition, that Beasts promises to be at least as misunderstood as Harry’s adventures were and for much of the same reasons. The movies will have a traditional message and it will almost certainly be as obscured by cultural war concerns and virtue-signalling as was the Hogwart’s Saga’s artistry and meaning. For much more on that, join me after the jump. Spoilers everywhere below! [Read more…]

The Back Story We’re Not Told (Yet): Second Thoughts about J. K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

fb21Is Newt Scamander working as Dumbledore’s secret agent in Fantastic Beasts? I think so.

Last Sunday I posted my first thoughts about J. K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts screenplay-as-filmed and the response to that  post has been rewarding and exciting. If you haven’t read that long-playing post, please do. The short version is that Rowling, whose Harry Potter series and individual novels were written on the traditional story-telling turtle-back template of hyper-parallelism (tagged ‘Ring Composition’ by anthropologist Mary Douglas), has not departed from form but has written her first screenplay on the same model. The blowback in my inbox this week, from Potter Pundits who have seen the film but not read the screenplay text, and from two traditionalists who have read the screenplay but not seen the movie, has been uniformly positive.

In the week since I wrote that post, Fantastic Beasts has been blowing its competition out of the water in box office sales. Reviews have been positive for the most part but, really, do Potter-philes read reviews to make the go/no-go decision? We’re all but obliged to see the film and read the screenplay, if only to keep up in conversation with other Harry-heads about Newt’s adventures (and complain about while secretly looking forward to seven years of Harry Potter on teevee beginning in 2018).

fb30Today, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, I want to take the next big step in understanding Fantastic Beasts to fuel those conversations. In this marathon discusssion, I’ll be pointing out the probable parallels we should expect, not between scenes in this movie, but between Rowling’s series artistry here, just begun, and that of her Hogwarts Saga, complete, and her Cormoran Strike mysteries, of which unfolding work we have the first three books. I think there are significant pointers in the first Beasts installment about what the five film franchise will divulge just as there were in Harry’s Philosopher’s Stone and Cormoran’s Cuckoo’s Calling. Hint: it’s the back-story to-be-uncovered in each chapter.

The big reveal is that Scamander and Grindelwald are already well known to each other — and that Newt’s mission impossible from a certain Transfiguration professor is to find and subdue his nemesis.

If you haven’t seen the movie or read the published screenplay, you might want to stop here. If you’ve already enjoyed the story once or twice (or more) in the week since it opened, join me after the jump for a first sally in what very well may be an almost decade long adventure in story interpretation and speculation. [Read more…]