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.


  1. Sabine wrote on another thread this morning:

    Like I suspected, FB2 turns out to be one of those movies where the judgements of the professional reviewers and the movie going audience are wildly divergent.
    “Rotten Tomatoes” has generated a 44% approval rate from professional reviewers, which warrants the label “Rotten”. However, 76% of the audience liked the movie! I really believe that knowledgeable fans of the Potter-verse see the movie with very different eyes. But it’s of course a problem if a movie can only be fully appreciated when you have prior knowledge. I think that JK and David Yates have to work on this. FB2 – despite all it’s visually splendor and dark elegance – does indeed not work well as a stand-alone movie. And I wonder now, if it was really a good idea to spread out the story arc over 5 movies and eight years! Many viewers won’t be that patient and will also forget the content of the earlier movies. Also, such a long hiatus between each movie leads to a prolongued “internet gestation” period. Fans will endlessly speculate, and their theories will be criticized and dissected endlessly. JK will answer via Twitter, and will be criticized no matter what. This isn’t a healthy atmosphere for developing a long term story line in the Potter-verse 🙁

  2. Kelly Loomis says

    I went to both the fan event Tuesday night and opening night last night. At the fan event, many people wore house garments like scarves or tshirts. Several kids had on Hogwarts robes. I wore a black tshirt with a silver deathly hallows symbol on the front. There was a sense of anticipation and buzz as we walked around. However, I can remember attenting a midnight showing at the same theater for Goblet of Fire where every theater (10 total) was sold out ahead of time and with no reserved seating at the time, started lining up at dawn to get good seats. Such a difference!!

    I’m working on my thoughts and checking out the screenplay and then I will post a review.

  3. I think reviewers who criticize the structure should read your work, John. The tried and true Ring is loud and clear.

    I loved this movie. It’s a farce all around. There’s far more to the story than we can see, but Harry Potter provides a clue.

    A certain character, I won’t name for spoilers, is obviously this series’ Severus Snape. This character has strong mind abilities and ‘appears’ to be on the wrong side. I’m calling the bluff, and I humbly await the reveal in Movie 4.

  4. Beatrice Groves says

    Nice idea Brett! I hope you’re right. Because that flip to the wrong side was not convincing…

    Anyone else feeling deflated by the lack of Deathly Hallows symbology after the endless promises of its relevance in the marketing?

  5. I said already that I was confused and disappointed in the movie after viewing it the first time, despite the gorgeous visuals and strong acting. There were too many characters to keep track of and too many subplots which so far went nowhere. Some story lines were seriously undedeveloped. Leta Lestrange, you are a lovely Woman, but we hardly knew you! And there was no discerneable story like in the first movie which could’ve stood on it’s own legs. The movie is very clearly just one chapter of a larger story arc. Those who gave the movie an overall bad review, clearly have a point.
    However, when I saw the movie a second time, I enjoyed it much more because I was less confused. Interestingly I wasn’t bored for one minute, despite having just seen the film and I was able to appreciate it’s dark elegance and it’s rythm and flow. And I could see how characters and subplots which seemed to have no pay-off, could become very important in the following movies. Overall, I can highly recommend the movie to everyone who is interested in the story JKR is telling us in the FB series. However, if you have no invested interest in the characters and how the story will eventually unfold and if you haven’t seen the first movie, the film ist probably not for you. Unlike FB1 it doesn’t work well as a stand-alone movie.

    OK, I’m going into spoiler territory now. So please skip my comment if you don’t want to know more.



    While the film answers some questions which have been discussed in advance, many more still need an answer, and we were left with a whopper of a cliffhanger. And some questions which seemed to be important after watching and dissecting the trailers, turned out to be not very important after all. But I have to give this site two thumps-up for predicting a lot of stuff correctly☺

    I won’t go into the territory of answered questions and cut straight to the burning unanswered questions and how they could become important:


    The Nagini conundrum is hardly touched, and it turns out to be a fairly negligible subplot – at least for this movie. We don’t learn much more about her than we already knew through the trailers and what Claudia Kim and JKR herself had said in advance. Like Credence to whom she’s very close for unexplained but understandable reasons, she’s an unhappy and exploited member of the magic circus and she breaks out with Credence’s assistence in order to accompany him on his quest to find out the identity of his real parents. We don’t get any hints whatsoever why she might become so important in the future that her being part of the movies is justified. But it is very intriguing that at the end of the movie she has resisted the lure of Grindelwald and didn’t join him although Credence did. Surprisingly she is amongst those who go to Hogwarts in order report to Dumbledore and presumably discuss the next moves. There’s not even the smallest hint that she might be attracted by evil and the dark side. But I have a hunch that she will become very important later on. Maybe, having a maledictus at your side could be an asset. It’s interesting, btw, that Dumbledore must’ve known much more about Voldemort’s Nagini and her origins than he ever admitted in the HP books…

    As many have predicted correctly, she joined Grindelwald for personal reasons. That doesn’t make her a bad person per se, but you could accuse her of a lack of foresight and intelligence, and apparently she cannot read Grindelwald’s mind at all – or he might be a better occlumens than Snape. I didn’t care for her character development a lot. She came across as dumbed down, a bit silly, unintelligent and downright petty – a far cry from the brave young woman with a big heart we learned to know in FB1. Brett has suggested above that this isn’t real, and that she might be the Severus Snape of the FB franchise. This ist a good question: has she crossed over into Grindelwald’s camp deliberately in order to spy on him? I haven’t thought of this, but it’s of course very possible. But I couldn’t detect any hints into this direction. It would be a clever plot development. Personally I think that JKR wanted to show us that sometimes good people make bad choices. And she needed a plot mechanism which keeps Jacob relevant and gives a muggle the possibility to shine. It’s a big question how her story will unfold. Brett hinted into a direction I hadn’t thought of: she might use her image of being a silly blonde as a clever disguise.

    The blood pact:
    So, now we know, why Dumbledore said that he can’t fight Grindelwald: when he was young and in love, he made a blood pact with Gellert, with the consequence that they cannot fight each other. They mingled their blood and each of them carried a small ornated vessel which contains droplets of their mingled blood. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the niffler Newt got hold of Grindelwald’s vessel and hands it to Dumbledore. It would be a hoot if a lowly niffler contributed to the villain’s eventual downfall 🙂

    Questions: How exactly does this blood pact work? Does ist work like an unbreakable wow or does it simply provide a shield against curses from those who entered the pact? Did it contribute to Ariana’s death during the famous fight between Albus, Aberforth and Gellert, when she was accidentally hit by a curse and died??And will Dumbledore be able to undo the blood pact since he has both vessels now? The answer to the last question seems to be “yes”, since Dumbledore does fight against Grindelwald eventually. But I have a hunch that it will be difficult to undo the pact, and it will come at a steep price. And undoing the pact means of course that Grindelwald will then be able to fight Dumbledore!

    And now not the last but the most burning question:
    Who ist Aurelius Dumbledore???
    Is Grindelwald telling the truth when he tells Credence that he is Dumbledore’s long lost and never mentioned before brother? Or is he telling a big fat lie?
    This final revelation came totally unexpected. The search for Credence’s biological parents was complicated enough, and I have to say that I didn’t overly care for that convoluted part of the plot, and except for the phoenix clue nothing hinted into that specific direction. We haven’t the foggiest idea how Grindelwald suddenly got hold of the information that Credence is Aurelius Dumbledore. Did he make it up, did he find out new information – or did he know all along?
    This needs to be thoroughly analyzed. But my first reaction was “What the heck! NO WAY!” The timeline of the Dumbledore family members is well established by JKR, and there doesn’t seem to be the slightest possibility for another close family member. Dumbledore’s parents and even Ariana died quite a few years before Credence was born. So, is Grindelwald lying? It’s a distinct possibility and I developed a whole theory around Grindelwald’s words: “your brother seeks to destroy you” and how it can be interpreted. It takes into account the potential nature of Credence’s obscurus.
    But wouldn’t it be a very cheap cliffhanger if Credence is not Albus’ brother? I fear that JKR has written herself into a very uncomfortable corner. If Credence is not Albus’brother, she will be accused of having pulled a cheap stunt in order to throw us a whopping curveball of a cliffhanger. But if Grindelwald spoke the truth she needs to do some major re-writing of the Dumbledore family history. And many fans might resent this even more than a cheap cliffhanger.
    But let’s assume for the moment that Grindelwald spoke the truth. How could this possibly work without the use of time turners? The death of Dumbledore’s mum is well documented and happened at Godric’s Holloway quite a few years before Credence was born. She cannot be his mother. That leaves Dumbledore’s father, who allegedly died at Askaban long before Credence was born. But I see a slight possibility here. Maybe, he didn’t die in a prison cell but escaped (or was secretly let out by well meaning and well connected friends). This could’ve been hushed up, and Dumbledore’s father went far away in order to start a new life unser an assumed name. He might’ve even re-married eventually after his first wife Kendra had died. In this case there could be a second set of Dumbledore half siblings in some corner of the world.
    So, do we have the tiniest hint that this could’ve happened? Yes, maybe, we have – if we consider JKR’s habit to choose very suggestive names. It’s possible that we know exactly what Dumbledore’s father looked like and in which position he was at the time of FB1. And am I the only one who is thoroughly disappointed that we never learned what the heck happened to the real Percival Graves….?
    Maybe, this idea is too far fetched and wishful thinking because I really appreciate Colin Farrell as an actor, lol! But I repeat: If Credence is really Dumbledore’s brother, IMO it could only work if Percival Dumbledore did not die in Askaban.

    Apropos GrindelFarrell vs. GrindelDepp:
    Johnny Depp wasn’t horrible at all as Grindelwald. But I hated his looks and the way he was directed. He was so obviously evil and repulsive that I cannot understand how anyone could be deceived by him. And why didn’t he assume a nicer appearance anyway? He seems to be quite the shapeshifter and adept polyjuicer after all. I don’t like the direction of his character arc so far. It’s hard to believe that he has any redeemable traits at all. How could this repulsive character ever have shown remorse later in life in his solitary cell in Nurmengard before he was killed by Voldemort?
    Oh well, let’s wait – for a few more years – and see…

  6. I apologize for all spelling mistakes. Some of them are my very own fault. But others have been introduced by my autocorrect function, which tries to turn all English words into German approximations. I haven’t found a way so far to change the settings. Autocorrection can be hilarious and creative, when it turns the name Salome into Salami.. But its also very annoying, when Godric’s Hollow ist turned into Godric’s Holloway. I try to weed the mistakes out, but I overlook some of them in lengthy comments like the latter one.
    Maybe, I should just try to be shorter☺

  7. As far as Credence’s parentage ist concerned: maybe I have neglected the possibility that Percival Dumbledore could’ve lived much longer in Askaban than we all have so far assumed. JKR doesn’t tell us exactly when he died after all. In 1927 Credence is 18 or 19 years old. So, Dumbledore sen. needed to stay alive until about 1908 in order to be his father. The timeline is a bit murky since even Credence’s exact age is debated.
    Anyway, if Percival Dumbledore was still alive at the critical time, could he have had a prison romance or a fling with a female prisoner or even a visitor?? From what we know about Askaban and the dementors I have considered this highly unlikely and have therefore favored a hushed-up break-out/secret release scenario and the start of a new life in the new world. But it’s JKR’s story, and if she really wanted to give Dumbledore a much younger half brother, she had to invent a halfway plausible scenario. And a prison romance and negligent dementors may be more plausible than a break-out/secret release scenario.
    I have to say here I would personally prefer that Grindelwald was lying, and that what he said to Credence could be interpreted in a completely different way. I think that the trope of the long lost brother or secret parentage is too worn out and soap opera style. Does Dumbledore really need another sibling? Couldn’t Credence be important without belonging to a well known wizard family? On the other hand, this is an often used plot device of many 19th century novelists. Especially Charles Dickens was very fond of constructing convoluted family trees and genealogical secrets. Oliver Twist is a very good example and JKR borrowed already liberally from that novel when she tells us about young Tom Riddle’s birth, the death of his mother and his time in the orphanage. The orphan Credence who ran away from the location of his loveless upbringing after years of abuse, could be another Oliver Twist who has yet to decide if he will join the good or the bad side. Right now he clearly ended up in Fagin’s den who will exploit Credence for his own dark goals. But like Oliver Twist Credence may not know, yet, who are the good and who are the bad guys…

  8. Kelly Loomis says

    If Credence isaDumbledore, and that’s a big if, I suspect it had something to do with Obscurials and Ariana somehow and an event that occurred in the summer Grindy visited Godric’s Hallow. I read a recent interview with Jude Law that said he and Grindy parted ways for a reason he can’t disclose. The assumption it was the fight where Ariana was killed as Dumbledore claimed has been around forever. So…a reason he can’t disclose seems to indicate there is more to this story that he didn’t disclose. He is very known to leave important information out and speak in half truths. Aberforth claims Albus learned secrets at knee of the master – Kendra.

    And i’m Wondering about the advertising “Who will change the future”? I don’t think that was really answered was it?

  9. @Kelly, I agree that a bit IF is attached to the assumption that Credence is Dumbledore’s brother. My first thoughts also went into the direction that it could’ve something to do with what happened at Godric’s Hollow during Grindelwald’s visit and Ariana’s obscurus.
    Also, Grindelwald is a perfect manipulator. The sequence with the phoenix didn’t really convince me either.
    I’m really torn on this: If Credence is not Dumbledore’s brother, then JKR will be accused of having introduced a cheap cliffhanger. But if he is Dumbledore’s brother, then the Dumbledore family timeline needs some serious twisting. No matter what, it sounds contrived.
    However, there’s apparently new info out there: It is very interesting that the movie script makes Credence quite a bit older than we were led to believe in 2016, when Ezra Miller said that his character ist ca. 18 years old. The ship wreck and baby swap happened according to the script in 1901. That means Credence is born between 1900 and 1901 ( maybe a bit earlier if he was a very small toddler at the time of Letas’ swap) and therefore ca. 26-28. It doesn’t fix the timeline as far as Dumbledore’s parents are concerned. Dumbledore’s mother Kendra died 1899. She still cannot be Credence’s mother. And Daddy Dumbledore would still have to break out of Askaban or have a prison romance. BUT maybe Ariana could be Credence’s mother after all (so far I have excluded this possibility because Credence was apparently too young for being Ariana’s son)!
    Ariana was fourteen when she died. It would be biologically possible for her to have a baby. That would make Credence Dumbledore’s nephew. And Ariana’s obscurus could’ve passed into baby Credence. Of course all that would open up a whole new can of worms, since we would need to discuss who the father is – and we would end up in Darth-Vader territory, since suddenly young Gellert himself could be Credence’s father!
    IMO, this would be a very compelling story line with old grievances and future conflicts. And it would give Grindelwald someone he might genuinely care for – Credence would not be just a tool any longer. But it would of course borrow heavily from Star Wars…which is exactly what Dan Fogler said in an interview.

  10. @Kelly, since you mentioned Kendra and her secrets in your last comment:
    I just realized that the revised age of Credence opens up the possibility that Credence is Kendra’s son after all. Maybe, she didn’t die because of an accident but in child birth and it was hushed up, and the baby was shipped to America. Young Grindelwald could’ve seduced Kendra. Or she seduced young Gellert a la Mrs. Robinson. I don’t know much about Grindelwald’s whereabouts before he befriended Albus. In this case Credence could be Grindelwald’s son AND Dumbledore’s brother!
    Maybe, that’s psychologically more plausible than the seduction/rape of a 14 year old handicapped girl. It would also be more plausible that Dumbledore doesn’t know about this since he wasn’t there when his mother died. But whatever happened, Aberforth might know…
    I have to check out the various timelines a bit more..
    I wish that we would not have to deal with all those corrections of existing info. It takes the fun out of speculating 😮

  11. Kelly Loomis says

    @Sabine. Going off some of your thinking… This is an out there thought: Grindelwald seduces lonely Kendra for the purpose of getting close to Arianna. Maybe the reason he got expelled from Durmstrang (didn’t he accidentally kill a fellow student?) was experimenting with trying to remove an obscurus. And, if he was expelled from Durnstrang, he might have arrived in Godric’s Hallow before either Dumbledore would have been finished with school.

    Since neither Dumbledore brother was home when Kendra was “killed” maybe Grindelwald helped doctor the story to mislead and then befriend Albus for the sane reason – get close to Arianna. He might have been using Albus. Oh wouldn’t That be tragic? Using someone’s “weakness” to further his own aims. Aberforth seemed like he “saw through” Grindelwald and knew he was Doing things for his own selfish reasons. And it was this that helped contribute to the fight.

    There will be endless speculations in the next two years!!

  12. Kelly Loomis says

    @Sabine – Kendra could have had a Child before the boys get home from school and Arianna goes off and freaks and accidentally kills her mother. Then they find someone, like Irma, who labeled herself an aunt during the ship voyage to America.

  13. Kelly Loomis says

    I’ve been thinking and delving into people’s blogs and posts. And the ideas we’ve been talking about are far fetched even for Rowling. I don’t have any answers but lots of possibilities.

  14. Kelly, I like and share your ideas. But I think we forget with all our early speculations that JKR is creating a story in a magical universe. Maybe,we are overlooking something. So, far our speculations have been along common tropes of 19th century novels and also modern soap operas. But maybe, there’s a possibility to explain Credence’s existence without having to re-write the Dumbledore family tree: He could have been artificially created by some kind of magical/alchemical experiment which tries to transform substance Info a living being. Grindelwald was expelled from Durmstrang because he performed some kind of unethical experiments which were unpalatable even for Durmstrang’s standards. He might’ve continued to experiment with Dumbledore during that summer in Godric’s Hollow. And there is something about Credence in his movements which strikes me as very strange – almost alien. Over the centuries magicians and alchemists have tried to create artificial humans in early versions of test tubes by mixing certain substances – very often semen and blood was used amongst other things. It has a long tradition. This reminds me of the graveyard scene from The Goblet Of Fire where Voldemort created a new and fully abled body for himself. So, JKR has already used a variation of a life generating magical procedure in her writing, although Voldemort created only a body which could be inhabited by his soul – or what was left of his soul. Maybe, Credence is a result of an experiment to create new life with body and soul. I remember that Grindelwald spoke of the wonder of his existence. And I still think that Grindelwald behaves towards Credence very much like a proud father. I don’t sense any gay subtext in his interactions with Credence.
    We also still have no idea what the nature of the blood pact between Albus and Gellert is. So far I have assumed that it is just a convenient device for explaining why Dumbledore and Grindelwald can’t fight each other and also how Ariana could’ve been hit accidentally by a curse when they ignored the pact and shot curses at each other which were then deflected. But there could be more to the blood pact. It sounds almost like a magical marriage.

    All this might sound very far out. But JKR has described VERY strange magical procedures in her HP books – especially in connection with Voldemort, whose fetus-like provisorial body (which reminded me of a homunculus) was nourished by Nagini’s venom, and then the disgusting ingredients which were used to create his new body. So, the idea that Grindelwald and maybe for a while Dumbledore tried to create new life, is not quite so far fetched. It would certainly be a more original idea than telling the far more conventional story of an illegitimate child. And I have a hunch that Grindelwald’s: “your brother seeks to destroy you” may not imply necessarily that Dumbledore is Credence’s brother in the conventional sense. Grindelwald never said explicitly that Dumbledore is Credence’s brother. We only assume this because the movie shows us Dumbledore in Hogwarts when Grindelwald says this sentence.

  15. Then there is Credence’s real name “Aurelius”. Alchemists tried to turn worthless material into gold. And there you have it: “Aurelius” literally is “The Golden One”. He might be the crowning achievement of an alchemical experiment. This would be in line with the overall idea that Grindelwald is the wizard version of a Hitler (I guess that Johnny Depp’s offputting look was inspired by that idea). And the Nazis performed all sorts of crooked medical experiments. Joseph Mengele is one infamous example. There are rumors that he continued to perform twisted experiments after his flight to Brazil in order to create more twins. Probably not true, but JKR could have been inspired by this material…
    Interestingly Susan Sipal’s thoughts went into exactly the same direction. The beauty of this theory is that the Dumbledore family timeline doesn’t need to be re-written. And the timeline would fit perfectly. Aberforth could’ve arranged the shipping of the “test tube” baby to America.

  16. According to Wikipedia the Philosopher’s Stone could be used for turning worthless metal into gold, but it could also be used for creating a homunculus. This could be another hint at the significance of the name And “Aurelius”. And another name for the Philospher’s Stone is allegedly “Phoenix” -if Wikipedia can be trusted.
    This is nothing more than a chain of associations right now. But I have a hunch that Nicholas Flamel, the famous alchemist wasn’t just in the movie for fighting Grindelwald’s awesome fiend fire.

  17. David James says

    “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. Proverbs 18:24

    Perhaps this is the stronger reality of the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald and their “blood pact” toward each other. At least until Dumbledore comes to realize the evil nature of Grindelwald’s intensions to rule the Wizarding World and make the Muggle World subject to Wizards.

    As to Credence being an illegitimate brother to Dumbledore…..we have yet to see if this is a ploy of Grindelwald (a lie) in order to set Credence as a weapon against Dumbledore or the as Grindelwald would say “is the Truthhh” !!

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