Finding the Fantastic Beasts Text, 5.4 — The Grindelwald-Credence Relationship

fb575.4: The Grindelgraves-Credence Relationship was Much Different in the Shooting Text

As detailed in Part Four of this series (links to every part of ‘Finding the Text’ are listed at the end of each post), the “original screenplay” published version of Rowling’s story and the movie as released by Warner Brothers was a shadow of the movie as conceived and first filmed with respect to the relationship of Grindelwald’s Percival Graves and Credence Barebones.

Instead of meeting in an alleyway, for example, they meet in a diner. The diner conversation includes open flattery of the confused young man by the suave elder and allusions to their past meetings for meals. Grindelgraves even gives the boy a magical flower, a Periculid, supposedly dangerous, he makes from a limp carnation. What seems icky manipulative homoerotic grooming in the alleyway is essentially a lovers date at the diner in the first shooting script version.

[This scene, we should note, is not cut as much as it was re-conceived and re-shot. The difference is that the screenwriter was almost certainly party to the changes made before shooting was wrapped and the editing begun.]

obscurus1The shooting script’s version of the film’s finale, too, reflects a more important relationship between Graves and the boy Barebone. In the movie we see, Grindelgraves come into the subway after Newt has been talking sympathetically to Credence-Obscurus. Both the LEGO Dimensions video game and book tie-in, A Character Guide, have Grindelgraves begging Credence’s forgiveness and telling him, not that he is a “miracle,” but that he is “beautiful.”

I apologize! You are beautiful, can’t you see, Credence? There is no need to hide. No need for shame. We’ve both had to hide what we want and who we are.

More after the jump!

We didn’t see this version, I’m all but certain, because the LGBT subtext is all but explicit in it. Someone at Warner Brothers, perhaps just the producer, whose job it is to be sensitive to merchandising efforts, product placement, and the like, must have stepped in lest the movie become, as one wag had it, ‘Barebones Mountain.’ While this no doubt would have thrilled a great part of Rowling’s fandom, it would have derailed any other conversation in public media about the movie’s meaning. This meant risking a strong backlash from gift book buyers, movie goers, and theme park visitors who do not embrace the Gay Agenda.

fb50No way was Universal Studios or Warner Brothers going to sign off on that. But, judging from the shooting script, it seems to be on Rowling’s (and the film makers?) to-do list. This determination to portray a same sex relationship is a great mystery, though I don’t see anyway of dismissing it given the evidence of shifted and re-conceived scenes.

The mystery is, if Rowling really wanted to highlight this relationship as one between same sex lovers, what positive message about such relationships she hoped to share with her audience via Credence/Graves. This, after all, is a psychologically disturbed young man from a childhood of abuse and repression being used and discarded by the villain of the series. That picture reflects the diagnosis of pre 1973 editions of Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders (DSM II) more than Rowling’s rainbow messaging.

fb35Perhaps she and the film makers realized the mistake they were making for just this reason and made the re-writes and re-shooting before the studio hammer fell? We’ll probably never know. We can still ask ourselves, though, if the decision to cut out Credence’s departure scene to avoid what Heyman calls an “Aahh, here we go…” moment meant side-stepping audience dislike of Credence as a gay person and their disappointment that he wasn’t killed, effectively ending the LGBT part of the story.

“Aahh, here we go…,” Heyman seems to imagine the audience thinking, “the gay kid survives so the sequel to Fantastic Beast is going to be a the continuation of the part of the story that made me most uncomfortable — bleh.

In the world of movies costing hundreds of millions of dollars, money invested in hopes of billion dollar returns in the form of another Potter-esque franchise, do you doubt that calculations of message consequences cause story-changing decisions to be made? I don’t. Think of what RKO did to Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons just because the ending wasn’t sufficiently ‘happy.’ 

On to much less speculative and controversial ground: J. K. Rowling’s embedded messages about institutionalized child care inside Fantastic Beasts.

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



  1. waynestauffer says

    I interpret this as JKR’s commentary also on the gender identity issue and how many live for years repressing these urgings with the result of significant emotional issues. Maybe this is also JKR’s comment on American culture’s inhibited response as opposed to a more relaxed Continental approach…?

  2. John,

    I think the “Ahhh here we go” is the obvious sequel ending. I have said that at endings when it makes it seem like the filmmakers are deliberately wanting to leave it open for a sequel – even if there isn’t an audience for one. I don’t think it has anything to do with Credence being gay.

    That being said, I find the homoerotic subtext/ elements to this story powerful.

    Whether or not Jo and Warner Brothers are willing to go as far as to reveal that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were lovers, I have that as my dramatic expectations. Because it is the most powerful reading of the Dumbledore/Grindlewald storyline. Gellart held Albus in his sway and I agree with your prediction that Ariana was an Obscurial and that Gellart wanted to use her as a weapon. The feelings of being betrayed would be stronger if this was from a person you loved and had been intimate with, over someone who you had an unrequited relationship.

    I also think it gives the confrontation in 1945 between Dumbledore and Grindlewald more power if it is between two former lovers than with two former best friends.

    This is different for me than the Graves/Credence relationship. That shows a power imbalance of a sexual predator/prey. Whether or not it progressed to the physical abuse is not as relevant as the mental/psychological abuse (at least for the purposes of a movie). Graves was manipulating this child in an abusive manner – the depths of that abuse were not made clear and more revelations of what it entailed would probably have removed this from being a family friendly movie.

    So that’s my feedback. I believe the filmmakers were leaving certain aspects of the story vague to allow the audience members to read into the story as far as they felt comfortable.

    While I have no difficulty making my expectations of a physical relationship with a young Gellart and Albus, I choose to not wish to have as my “reading of the story” that an adult Grindlewald sexually abused an already emotionally abused Credence. I merely want to admit to emotional abuse that had preyed on the boy’s sexuality.

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    In how far may Graves be to Credence as Sir Giles Tumulty is to his assistant in Many Dimensions or Uncle Andrew is to Polly and Digory in The Magician’s Nephew – wanting to explore the exploitation of something dangerous with as little direct danger to himself as possible?

  4. I could imagine that by showing Grindelwald and Credence as lovers, JK might’ve intended to establish a behavioral pattern for Grindelwald – that he doesn’t shy away from establishing emotional and maybe even sexual relationships as means to an end. He may actually have done the same with young Dumbledore. So far, we have no idea if Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindelwald have been truly reciprocated. Grindelwald could’ve used young Dumbledore – maybe, because he wanted to gain access to Ariana and her destructive potential – just as he used Credence and maybe others we have yet to learn about. Do we know for a fact btw, that Grindelwald was truly gay, too?
    JK has also to be carefully how much gay subtext she inserts into the movies. These Grindelwald relationships aren’t examples of upbeat and positive gay relationships after all and therefore not really suitable vehicles for inclusive educational messages. This would be a good reason for toning down the gay subtext in connection with Grindelgraves and Credence. Showing just emotional exploitation is safer and doesn’t essentially change the overall plot.

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