Crimes of Grindelwald: First Thoughts

(1) Only Rowling – A: Only J. K. Rowling could get away with making such a disastrous stand-alone movie. Film goers not well versed in the characters, relationships, and plot points of the first film, heck, the entire Wizarding World mythology, are going to be lost from start to finish in Crimes of Grindelwald. This is to skip over the large ensemble cast, the hurried-to-the-point-of-blurring character development, and the series of go-nowhere references and unfinished bridges in the story-line signaling “On To the Next Film!” Only Rowling and her team of film makers would have been given a pass from Warner Brothers to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to make and market this blockbuster production that will leave non-Potter-philes wondering, “What the hell was that about?” And delight the fandom base…

(2) Only Rowling – B: Really, the depths and tricks and McGuffins and literary magic in this movie! I hope to be writing four longish posts in the coming month on the ring structure of Crimes, the alchemical points, the narrative slow release and misdirection, and the requisite ‘Hidden Text’ that the characters are trying to interpret as we try to interpret the story they’re in. This is Rowling at the top of her game and unleashed in another medium, free to break the rules to create the episodic story only she can pull off.

(3) The Gamesmanship: I am so glad I stayed out of the “Figure Out Every Clue from the Trailers!” blogging and YouTube interpretative frenzy before the film’s release. I can think of several pictures and sequences that weren’t even in the movie — and the direct hits the frenetic seekers after secrets before we had the text came up with (and there were a bunch, of course, most remarkably the blood oath token) did little to dull the effect of the many surprises and story shifts of the final product. The Warner Brothers marketing team that kept that part of fandom who followed all their clues in a feeding frenzy without giving away the fun deserve some kind of Honorary Oscar for Deceit In Pre-Release Hype. They are the masters.

I am out the door to buy my copy of the book, the Surely-not-Original Screenplay, and to watch the film a second time. Because, again, this is an ‘Only Rowling’ experience in movie making; as with her novels, you will not, cannot get it until you begin the re-reading — a re-reading with the knowledge of the tricks she has in her kit and her preferred tools to transform our vision. Please share your first thoughts below!


  1. So, she has said it herself of Grindelwald: “he is a seer and he lies.” She of the pregnant-to-the-point-of-bursting seemingly off-handed comment or sleight of hand.
    Here, as in Cuckoo’s Calling and Fantastic Beasts, the ring composition is made explicit through the literal mention of actual rings – Queenie’s in FB2’s first act (and Jacob’s in FB1) and Grindelwald’s in the final act. FB3 will be the latch and the hero and villains will both come into their own (this is Dumbledore’s epic, and Newt has been the stand-in thus far, as Quirrell, a Basilisk and book and Pettigrew were until HPs latch in 4).
    “Do we die just a little?”
    “Will he mourn your death?”
    Grindelwald is a liar and manipulator and he is on abour Ariana, the real Obscurus is his eye. Mark my words. He knows how to break Albus’ heart and he will use anyone and anything to do so.
    Also, John—is Fawkes Dumbledore’s horcrux? Now that would be the bombshell I’ve waited for…

  2. Kelly Loomis says

    I do agree about the trailers. It was a point I made as I was trying to start a review. They were out of sequence, put in places to make you believe something was happening that didn’t or not even included!

    I will try to get some initial thoughts into one of these comment sections.

  3. @John, thanks for speaking the unvarnished truth about the movie. I truly hope, the makers will really get away with it, and it doesn’t have a negative influence in the upcoming movies…
    I truly wonder why the movie wasn’t better, though. A lot of things could’ve been fixed, me thinks.

    @Bob, Fawkes isn’t Dumbledore’s horcrux. JKR has been adamant that Dumbledore never had any horcruxes. She was actually shocked that some people even entertain this idea. While she can be cryptic and misleading at times, I believe her. And while she is prone to change her mind – in this case I think we can trust her☺

    It’s true, that many of us chased the clues in the trailers – and most of the material which was leaked in advance proved to be misleading or irrelevant. But there have been a few predictions here which were correct and important: like Queenie’s switch of allegiance for personal reasons.

  4. Robert Powell says

    As I read the CoG screenplay, I noticed that there is a repeatedly used full page graphic first appearing on page 15 and occuring a total of 25 times, differing only in the symbol appearing at the center. This image appears irregularly, but effectively groups a varying number of scenes into 26 sections. I began to wonder whether this could be the equivalence of the chapters in the HP books. I checked back and the same type of division was used in the first screenplay. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

  5. I have only seen the film once and spent today jotting down quick numbered sentences so I wouldn’t forget some small bits that needed attention. There were many. Too many.

    First I would like to quickly address the Minerva problem. I know JKR likes to play loose with time, but putting McGonagall there raised my hackles. It’s impossible under any stretch of the reality we’ve been given. Most sources put her birth date in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Somewhere in my head I had it that she was in school at the same time as Tom Riddle,jr. Which would give her birth year as 1926, coincidentally the year of the first film. Probs not a coincidence. So I conclude she has used a time travel device. She was very familiar with time turners we recall from PoA. It is a quick seemingly ignorable moment, so I think it will come up again. I don’t think she would put in such a thing unless it has a purpose.

    Nagini had such a tiny part to play for such a big wow reveal. Plus it wasn’t made clear that she went with Credence was it? Again such an important character must have a future importance other than with Voldemort.

    I confess I was a bit put off at first with the characterization of Flamel. I know he’s very old, but I didn’t expect him to be so frail. I got used to it though. I assume he is part of a group of other alchemists as he sought advice from the Jessica Williams character. He seemed reluctant to act, but showed up. Better late than never. I suspect he’s been watching the rise of GG and has been told more by Albus. Perhaps he knows all the things we wish we knew right now. Like what really happened in Godrics Hollow when Ariana died. I like the theory that the smarty pants boys were exploring some unsavory ideas along the lines of creating alchemical homunculus. They were referred to as golden children. As in Aurelius. It’s awfully hard to ignore a name like that. Plus GG refers to Credence proudly as a glorious creation. It’s possible the order of Flamel and friends feel they should deal with this issue and restore balance to nature. David Yates said this film was about love, a series of love stories and even the idea of being corrupted by love. That’s interesting, that is. When Dumbles says, ‘more than brothers,’ maybe that was a hint towards whatever he and GG were or became and or whatever they created.

    QUeenie was altogether weird as she was very different than when we last saw her. Immediately she was jittery and nervous clearly hoping to hide the fact that she had cast a spell on Jacob. And after Newt chided her she kinda freaks out and splits. The whole scene seemed false. One minute she wants to marry Jacob desperately and the next she’s off to find Tina. And I didn’t understand her meltdown either. She just loses it and suddenly Rosier is there to take her to GG. She steadfastly refuses the tea but she must have had some. I’m guessing it was to suppress her Legillimency before GG entered to talk with her. There s so much we have to guess at especially with her story. The film is moving so fast and we have to instantly fill in the blanks as we go along.

    Leta of course is the main vehicle in this film. She is sorrowful from the first minute. I guess she loved Newt but he was expelled and therefore disgraced and as a pure blood girl would not be allowed to pursue that relationship. Maybe her marriage to Theseus was arranged as would have been the norm for pure bloods in those days. She and Theseus did seem fond of each other though. Her confession is confirmed by the unusual family tree showing that baby Corvis is blacked out but I’m not convinced as the box containing the tree was brought to the cemetary by Abernathy and Rosier. Maybe it was duplicated or tampered with by GG. Plus GG had the nanny killed before she could reveal more. If he was planning on telling Credence the truth of his origins, there would be no reason to prevent her from talking. So I’m still thinking he could be Corvis Lestrange. I previously thought it impossible he was the homunculus because he was too young to be either the Corvis baby or a creation of Albus and GG. But apparently his date of birth has been changed to around 1900 and now he could be either. Hm…I really hate time problems. There is that entire November missing in the newspaper at end of last film.

    So lots of issues. It felt very rushed, lacked smooth pacing and forget about nuance. This was a film intended to be structural in nature. It is almost prologue apart from being too scattered.It gives the pillars on which the plot will stand and shuffles around the cast of characters so that by the end everyone is in place. The stage is set.

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