Beasts2 — and Phantom of the Opera?

A thought from Randall:

Just re-watched the 2004 Warner Brothers film version of “The Phantom of the Opera” and was struck by (anti-)parallels to the 2018 Warner Brothers film, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”

In “Phantom,” Erik is a deformed boy imprisoned in a freak show in Paris. A young girl (the future Madame Giry) feels pity for him, so when he strangles his handler/jailer, she helps him escape into a crowd. Erik becomes the Phantom, living underground in the dark, and continues to kill.

In “Crimes,” Nagini is a blood-cursed girl imprisoned in the Circus Arcanus, in Paris. A young man (Aurelius Dumbledore) feels pity for her, so when she attacks her handler/jailer (Skender), he helps her escape into a crowd. Nagini eventually becomes permanently trapped in snake form, serving Lord Voldemort, living concealed in mostly dark places, and continues to kill.

Maybe we will see more (anti-)parallels, if and when J.K. Rowling publishes more of the “Fantastic Beasts” story. Maybe others have noticed these (anti-)parallels; I did a search but did not find any mentions of them.

This reminds me of the reader who wrote that the Gloria Conti “termination” of mobster Luca Ricci’s child was a simple re-telling of the Godfather, Part II, plot in which Katherine “Kay” Corleone (née Adams) aborts the child of her husband, Michael Corleone. Rowling-Galbraith’s character enjoys a much happier fate than Kay. I cannot find the email or post comment in which the reader shared this; apologies all around on that point.

I wonder if Potter Pundits and Serious Strikers, in our common denominator text-source focus are not overlooking the influence of much more popular culture, blockbuster movies, on Rowling’s imagination. I know it’s something I never choose to explore, largely because I know very little about movies (I have not seen either Phantom of the Opera or any of the Godfather films) and I am not a fan of the medium.

The thing is, Rowling drops repeated references to the Godfather movies and their influence on Gloria Conti in Troubled Blood, to include that character’s resistance to seeing Part II. If these had been book teases, I would have definitely been reading them because of the strong indicators that these references were bread crumbs dropped by the author as helpful clues.

A movie? It never occurred to me to watch the Godfather films or even read about them on Wikipedia.

Thank you, Randall, for throwing light in my most glaring media blind-spot!


  1. I have long thought there is a major borrowing from the blockbuster Speed in the plot of Azkaban! The villain fakes his own death and loses a thumb in the process…. 😉

  2. Natalia Alonso says

    Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azbakan book relesease in 1999 and the Speed movie in 2004. It’s the problem of the director of the movie not JK Rowling .

  3. Hi Natalia! Speed was released in 1994 – was a sequel released in 2004 maybe? I know it is this way round because I immediately thought of Speed when I read Azkaban 🙂

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    I’ve wondered variously, HP-wise, what television series JKR may have watched, when – or, again, known about in a pop-cultural way.

    I used to watch all the Phantom of the Opera movies I could (though not, I think, the 1999 one), and as a teenager read a translation of the Leroux novel – and now wonder how specific the similarities and differences between book, various films, and the 2004 and FB 2 might be?

    Having heard details of The Godfather, I did not want to read it, but I finally watched an edit of the whole movie series on British television (= ‘The Godfather: The Epic 1901-1959’ in 1990?) and would recommend that as worth watching.

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