Crimes of Grindelwald: Best Questions

The owls from around the world are coming in to ask what the HogwartsProfessor team thinks of the new Wizarding World franchise film, The Crimes of Grindelwald. My son has seen it and charted the scenes at his lonely viewing on Tuesday (only fifteen fans showed up for the Fandungo early release showing in OKC — Dumbledore’s scene with Leta is the storypivot, his chart says). I hope to see the movie and buy the screenplay tomorrow — or buy and read the screenplay before seeing the film. That would be different, no?

What I hope will happen in this post’s comment thread is that serious film viewers and readers will share their thoughts down below about Crimes of Grindelwald, ask questions you hope we will try to answer here in the coming weeks, and begin discussion yourself of the actors and actresses, director’s cut, the music, the scenery, the costuming, i.e., the movie’s successes, failures, and what your best guess is about films three, four, and five. Let the criticism,interpretation, and speculation begin…

If your review runs to more than several hundred words, send it to me via the contact page here and I’ll see if it is appropriate for a Guest Post. The more the merrier! Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts, your questions, your answers, your complaints, and your praise for Crimes of Grindelwald below. See you there.

Beatrice Groves: Shakespeare, Kipling, and Rowling’s Crimes of Grindelwald

Beatrice Groves is a Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, where she teaches classes on early modern literature and drama, Shakespeare in particular. She is also a Potter Pundit of the first rank; her Literary Allusion in Harry Potter is the most exciting, edifying, and enlightening contribution to Potter studies that I’ve read in many, many years. Prof Groves speaks to Harry Potter fandom in addition to this book through a variety of fan sites, large and small; see her discussion of magical plants on TheLeakyCauldron, her Bathilda’s Notebook page on MuggleNet (my favorite there? Literary Allusion in Cormoran Strike), and the three ‘Harrowing of Hell’ Guests Posts here at HogwartsProfessor. She is a frequent guest on Kathryn McDaniel’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcasts and is as charming ‘in person’ on that medium as her remarkably accessible and profound writing suggests she would be.

Prof Groves has just finished another landmark series at her MuggleNet platform, ‘Bathilda’s Notebook,’ this one a three part discussion of Rowling’s debts and embedded allusions in Harry Potter and Crimes of Grindelwald to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, Stalky & Co., and ‘The Man Who Would Be King.’ All are chock full of her discoveries — who knew, just for example, that the Headless Hunt, Regulus Black, and the Deathly Hallows symbol are hat-tips to Kipling? If Literary Allusion in Harry Potter has a failing, it is that Dr Groves does not mention literary alchemy in her brilliant chapters on Shakespeare in that book; she more than compensates in these three weblog posts by sharing her thoughts on literary alchemy in Shakespeare, Kipling, and the Crimes of Grindelwald film released this week.

Here are links to these posts I know you will enjoy, either as appetizers for your experience of the new movie or as after dinner treats post viewing!

“It’s Just Like Waking Up, Right?”: “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Kipling, and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Dreaming

“The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Kipling, and the Origins of the Deathly Hallows Symbol

The Alchemical Symbolism of the Deathly Hallows in “The Crimes of Grindelwald”


Fantastic Beasts: The Presence Speaks

If you want to read the first published reviews of Crimes of Grindelwald, there are twelve thumbs up-thumbs down reviews posted at or go to this one-stop collection at Variety online. I hope to see the film on the 13th but may not be able to; whether I am or not, though, we won’t be discussing the film here until the 16th when everybody gets to watch and when the authorized screenplay is published. Much of the fun of a new book or movie is experiencing it for oneself, so I will refrain from commentary until a week from today.

That being said, I am excited about this short film clip below from the screenplay writer in which she discusses what she is after in the second Fantastic Beasts franchise chapter and in which she makes no ‘reveals’ or ‘spoilers’ with respect to plot points. She even shares her thoughts, believe it or not, on the “structure” of the film.

I do really enjoy a challenge. It was finding the structure to make sense of all these different strands, so that people understood when they hit our climactic scene, what was at stake, and why characters were reacting as they were reacting to Grindelwald. 

A transcript of these comments can be found here. “Finding the structure” — let’s make that our first task in figuring out how Crimes of Grindelwald does or doesn’t work. Enjoy! Accio 16 November!

New Beasts in Crimes of Grindelwald; Rowling ‘Beast Within’ Theme Comment

The first fan screenings of Crimes of Grindelwald have happened and, remarkably, the audiences there have not yet tweeted out all the secrets of the latest Fantastic Beasts film. [Stand by for the inevitable wave of spoilers!] For those of us who have to wait until the 13th or 16th, enjoy the snippet above with some of the new Beasts in Crimes, and, for the readers more interested in what Rowling is after thematically in this series, check out these interview comments she made about the film, especially those about the Obscurus and Maledictus.

On Credence:

Rowling: “You could justifiably have believed Credence had been killed, but, in fact, you can’t kill an Obscurial when they’re in Obscurus form. He survived, but the big question for him now is, ‘Who am I?’ His quest for his true identity is what propels him and becomes one of the major story strands in this movie. Who is Credence?”

“He developed an Obscurus, which is both a coping mechanism and something that will ultimately kill you. Except it hasn’t killed him, so we know he must be very powerful to have survived this condition for so long.”

On Nagini, the Maledictus:

Rowling: “A Maledictus is someone who carries a blood curse that, over time, turns them into a beast. They can’t stop it, they can’t turn back. They will lose themselves…they will become the beast with everything that implies.”

“These movies have given me the chance to tell a story about Nagini’s origin. There were always hints because the Naga are mythological snake beings, so her name was an allusion to the fact that she may have had human antecedents, or she may once have been human herself. Through the years I have been asked about it, but I never wanted to give away this dollop of her backstory. But now I get to reveal it, which is very satisfying and fits perfectly into the theme of this movie.”

Have you wondered about the Christian content of Fantastic Beasts compared with the Hogwarts Saga? All signs — not to mention this post on the literary allusion implicit in the Maledictus by Beatrice Groves — point to this “beast within” theme as the heart of it and the path of fallen creatures to redemption after temptation and, well, sin. This may very well be the heart of the Dumbledore story, “how Dumbledore becomes Dumbledore,” and the crux of the Credence/Corvus ‘power vs love’ story-line. Accio, November 13th!’

Fantastic Beasts Cast Visits Alabama?

I posted a video last week of the Fantastic Beasts principal players in the red carpet appearance they made in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China. This was not a surprise; though Chinese Box Office for Hollywood productions is way down, blockbuster films like the Marvel and Wizarding World franchises make hundreds of millions of dollars there. Perhaps it is because earnings there are way down that a large part of the ensemble cast was dispatched to the totalitarian capital of the world to stir up fan interest there.

More videos of the event after the jump —

Yesterday the same crew, actually even more of the Crimes of Grindelwald cast, showed up at Parkside Junior High School in Baileyton, Alabama, population 610. I kid you not. Here are some pics from various twitter feeds to show it really happened.

Why did they travel en masse to this backwater town in Alabama to visit the Junior High School there? Because Parkside Junior High was re-made this past summer into a veritable Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Read the whole story of the school’s transformation here.

I am skeptical, no, true confession, I am cynical when it comes to the motives of global corporations and any do-gooder activities they support. But this was a really neat thing they did seemingly in appreciation and to applaud the efforts of a group of teachers to re-enchant the lives of their students.

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