Finding the Fantastic Beasts Text, 5.5 — Lumos and the Barebones Orphanage

5.5: The Original Story was Much More About the Barebones Orphanage

Lumos is a charity founded by J. K. Rowling, who pays all the foundation’s costs so that every donation goes directly to help children in institutional care join or re-join a family.

logo7Lumos (

Founded in 2005, Lumos provides help to institutionalized and disadvantaged children and works towards putting an end to the outdated social care systems, helping to move children from institutions to family-based care.

Its stated goal is to eliminate institutional orphanages by 2050. Rowling has said as recently as the fund raiser she did with Eddy Redmayne at the Fantastic Beasts premiere that the work and accomplishments she is most proud of are her efforts for and the achievements of Lumos.

jkr3Not the Hogwarts Saga or her Strike novels. Not the movies and theme park Golgotha Goliath Money-making Machine. Not her financial and evangelical political contributions or the significant charitable outreach she has made to cure MS and to help single parents. The efforts and achievements of Lumos are what J. K. Rowling is most proud of. This work to take-down institutional child care and serve families is what she hopes is her legacy, how we will remember her.

I think it fair to say that she is sincere in this. I wrote in 2010 and have said often since that Rowling would one day return to to the Wizarding World, despite her insistence that she would never write another Harry Potter novel. I qualified this prediction by saying she would only when her charity efforts required or she felt they would grow exponentially with a significant infusion of money only Harry Potter type projects could make her. It is not prophecy or guess work to think that her 2016 double-barreled return to Potter-dom was to advance the work of Lumos.

logo5She’s made some serious money in 2016, right? First, via Cursed Child promotion sans writing — the published text of the play written by two London wordsmiths was the best selling book of the year, a significant amount of which profits The Presence must have pocketed for having her name positioned predominantly over the actual authors. More, though, via Fantastic Beasts, from which Rowling profits as screenwriter, the fees Warner Brothers pays her, and whatever percentage she receives from book tie-ins, toys, and re-vitalized theme park attendance.

I think this return, prompted as it was by the 800 pound gorilla in Hollywood threatening to make a documentary out of textbook Fantastic Beasts (or so the narrative goes), was to help Lumos reach its Herculean goals. The most obvious pointer to that is how much Rowling did at the Film Premiere to raise money for and awareness of Lumos’ efforts.

fb42The film shows us this, too, albeit in decidedly, curiously muted fashion. There is an orphanage of sorts in the film, one run by the New Salem Philanthropic Society’s leader Mary Lou Barebone. She has three orphans she has adopted and seems to have a Fagin-esque soup kitchen and boarding arrangement for waif children that distribute NSPS literature.

An important premise of the film is that these adopted children are abused; Mary Lou does not beat Credence on screen with his belt, but he hands it to her and they march off-stage to what will clearly be his corporal punishment. It is his imminent beating that leads to the Obscurus attack that kills Mary Lou and Chastity late in the movie.

logo9The NSPS, though, and life in its service at the unfeeling orphanage are given much less screen time than, say, Newt and company chasing Niffler, Erumpent, and Demiguise babysitting Occamy. Rowling’s commitment to Lumos and Voldemort’s birth as a psychopath being in an orphange would make even the casual reader assume we’d get more of this workhouse-in-Oliver theme. Was it perhaps the subject of the “too dark” down-in-the-sewers first script that Rowling said made her wonder what was going on in her life when she wrote it? There are clues and story-holes that suggest it might have been. Read about them — after the jump!

First there is the ‘History of Magic in North America’ posted at PotterMore. We get important information there about Mary Lou Barebone unavailable anywhere else, not in interviews, “original screenplay,” tie-in books, merchandising, or in the film. A large part of the ‘History’ concerns vigilante wizards in colonial times called ‘Scourers.’

scourer1[T]the most dangerous problem encountered by wizards newly arrived in North America were the Scourers. As the wizarding community in America was small, scattered and secretive, it had as yet no law enforcement mechanism of its own. This left a vacuum that was filled by an unscrupulous band of wizarding mercenaries of many foreign nationalities, who formed a much-feared and brutal taskforce committed to hunting down not only known criminals, but anyone who might be worth some gold.

As time went on, the Scourers became increasingly corrupt. Far away from the jurisdiction of their native magical governments, many indulged a love of authority and cruelty unjustified by their mission. Such Scourers enjoyed bloodshed and torture, and even went so far as trafficking their fellow wizards. The numbers of Scourers multiplied across America in the late seventeenth century and there is evidence that they were not above passing off innocent No-Majs as wizards, to collect rewards from gullible non-magic members of the community….

scourer3MACUSA’s first task [after its formation in 1693] was to put on trial the Scourers who had betrayed their own kind. Those convicted of murder, of wizard-trafficking, torture and all other manners of cruelty were executed for their crimes.

Several of the most notorious Scourers eluded justice. With international warrants out for their arrest, they vanished permanently into the No-Maj community. Some of them married No-Majs and founded families where magical children appear to have been winnowed out in favour of non-magical offspring, to maintain the Scourer’s cover. The vengeful Scourers, cast out from their people, passed on to their descendants an absolute conviction that magic was real, and the belief that witches and wizards ought to be exterminated wherever they were found.

American magical historian Theophilus Abbot has identified several such families, each with a deep belief in magic and a great hatred of it. It may be partly due to the anti-magic beliefs and activities of the descendants of Scourer families that North American No-Majs often seem harder to fool and hoodwink on the subject of magic than many other populations. This has had far-reaching repercussions on the way the American wizarding community is governed.

The person responsible for Magic/No-Maj apartheid in America came from just such a Scour family, one named ‘Barebone.’

ajacksonOne day, at a local picnic, Dorcus Twelvetrees became greatly enamoured of a handsome No-Maj called Bartholomew Barebone. Unbeknownst to Dorcus, Bartholomew was a Scourer descendant. Nobody in his family was magic, but his belief in magic was profound and unshakeable, as was his conviction that all witches and wizards were evil.

Rowling has faced a great deal of criticism (deserved rebukes) for the carelessness and insensitivity of ‘History of Magic in North America.’ A question that comes up because of the controversy was “Why did she feel the need to publish the backstory?” I thought it was to anticipate the flood of questions a Fantastic Beasts film audience would have about Ilvermorny and the differences between the magical communities in New York, 1926, and what we’re used to in the UK during the 1990’s.

familyPerhaps the backstory in ‘History of Magic’ was written and posted, though, not just for detail lovers in fandom, but because the Barebone ‘family’ in 1926 New York would be incomprehensible without it. Because most viewers of the film have not read ‘History of Magic,’ however, the questions persist. “How did Mary Lou Barebone and the New Salemers find out about witches and wizards? Why does she hate want the magical community wiped out?”

Rowling has answered those questions in ‘History’ but they are resolved only to be replaced by others. For example, “What danger do these No-Majes represent to magical people who can Apparate at will, wipe memories in a flash, and kill with spells at a distance?” You can add to that list the query made about Bartholomew Barebone’s fate in ‘History:’ “Why wasn’t the No-Maj and every member of Scourer descended families Obliviated? Why does this threat persist across generations?”

mary-lou8The wizarding community isn’t adverse to the blind and broad use of the spell as we learned at the end of Fantastic Beasts and here a little memory adjustment would have gone a long way. Mary Lou Barebone and everyone present at Tina Goldstein’s intervention for Credence, too, was Obliviated (p 193). How and why did her knowledge and hatred of witches and wizards survive that magical hippocampus scouring (ahem)?

And is anyone else struggling with the Scourers’ hatred for wizard-kind when they descend from that tribe and presumably have a disproportionate number of witches and wizard among their genetic offspring? The best answer I can come up with is that Rowling’s implicit real-world historical referent for wizardkind are the esoteric Christians of the Radical Reformation (see Harry Potter Smart Talkchapter 10, ‘Why She Chose 1692’ for this). Scorer hatred for wizards though they descend from the object of their hatred seems to parallel Protestant Christian persecution of magic in fiction.

Count me among those almost relieved this adaption and expansion of Fantastic Beasts wasn’t done as a novel if this is the case. The sloppiness of the Scourer/Barebone history backstory in a reach for allegorical correspondences with and explanation for the disproportionate number of American Harry Haters in our time all but precludes suspension of disbelief.

barebone1If the historical parallel really is kind of funny. Note that the most famous English Barebone, Praise-God Barebone, is a Cromwell Puritan, the representative from London in the Parliament that takes his name before Cromwell becomes Lord Protector. The Praise-God part of his name is a Puritan ‘slogan name’ and he gave his famous son one much more remarkable. ‘Bare bone’ is a euphemism, of course, for the most extreme of economic cuts and budget deprivation (“down to the bare bone,” “stripped of everything but the necessary fundamentals“) as well as for an erection. As a tag for the Puritans in Beasts, I suppose the double entendre of the name was irresistible to Rowling, i.e., fundamentalist believers consumed by sexual morality.

We entered this rabbit-hole in search of pointers to the possibility that the depiction of the New Salemers and the orphanage specifically is as brief and odd as it is because it was abridged from a previous and longer treatment. The backstory in ‘History of Magic in North America’ is one such pointer.

img_5802-1There is the “toy wand,” as well, that Credence finds in Charity’s room (not a toy in the LEGO Dimensions video game, but a wand Charity says “Betty Burgess lent to me”). The MinaLima wand made from a description in an earlier script has the initials TSM on it. That’s a clue there was back-story cut from the original conception that didn’t make it to the shooting script.

In terms of ‘story-holes’ there is the missing eugenics argument that Ezra Miller has said the film’s depiction of NSPS is meant to represent and refute. He and Heyman offer this idea in interviews as if that depiction is fairly obvious. The brief screen time allotted the orphanage, however, beyond the idea that there’s a lot of the background story here that we’re not told, means that the eugenics representation and story take-down is still-born. All we get is what looks like a wingnut church lady do-gooder, a shrewish Hermione’s S.P.E.W. on negative steroids, without strong connections to either the Progressive Era eugenicists or to 21st Century institutional orphanages.

jkr6Listening to Rowling talk about Lumos and looking at the Fantastic Beasts story we have, it seems there are important ideas in the explanations she gives for parents putting their children into institutions that were meant to be shown in the film’s Barebone adoptees. Those ideas in turn might clear up some of the mystery of Modesty Barebone’s making her way to the Bronx at story’s end.

Rowling has said that children are given to state institutions and charitable orphanages for three reasons: poverty, natural disaster, and the child’s handicap or disability, a physical or mental condition that the family is not equal to. The leaders of the orphanages, she explains, need children to get state funding and charitable donations from the US so they seek out and prey on vulnerable families. As often as not, they shame the parents into giving them their children so that the young ones might have “a better life.” Go to the Lumos website to learn just how badly children in institutionalized care suffer compared to those who grow up in families of any kind. It is a heartbreaking read.

modesty1Knowing this and re-reading the published “original screenplay” in light of what we have learned in the first four parts of this ‘Finding the Text’ series, I think we can see that there was a Modesty Barebones story not told and probably a Credence one as well. These stories we don’t have because they didn’t make it to the shooting script — lost in the sewers? — probably made explicit both the eugenics point and delivered the anti-orphanages message.

How many magical people are there at New Salem Church? The film suggests Credence is the only wizard but his sisters may be as well. What would make a family give their child to the Barebone mad woman? Using Rowling’s criteria, we can eliminate poverty and natural disaster. In a world where the witches and wizards have no contact with No-Majes and there seems to be no outreach to the American equivalent of Muggle-born magical folk, what happens to families that have a child that has supernatural powers? Who has an answer to what this condition is and what to do about it?

[An aside here. Rowling writes in ‘History of Magic’ that

scourer2Pure-blood families [in Europe], who were well-informed through wizarding newspapers about the activities of both Puritans and Scourers, rarely left for America. This meant a far higher percentage of No-Maj-born witches and wizards in the New World than elsewhere. While these witches and wizards often went on to marry and found their own all-magical families, the pure-blood ideology that has dogged much of Europe’s magical history has gained far less traction in America.

Most of the wizards and witches come from No-Maj families in North America and immigrant Muggle-borns from Europe. And the witches and wizards here are consumed by preventing any kind of fraternization between the magical and No-Maj communities, that they do everything possible to maintain a political and social apartheid from their birth families. An allegorical depiction of American racial agonies and freedom from fascist takeovers? Maybe. As far as credible world creation goes, however, it’s nonsensical and a fail. End aside.]

mary-lou1Who can help No-Maj families with a magical child they cannot help? The New Salem Philanthropic Society can. Witches and wizards exist — and they’re evil. Mary Lou Barebone, Scourer descendant, hunts them down. Is it that hard to imagine a Muggle-born witch who grew up tortured by an ability she could not control or refine? One who was never sent to Ilvermorny because MACUSA, despite the LEGO video game dialogue that “we register every birth, every wand,” has big blind spots in its relations with No-Majes and their off-spring? And if she married and had a child who inherited her curse? 

That mother, whose situation was created by the eugenicist apartheid of MACUSA, is easy prey to Mary Lou Barebones. Rename him ‘Credence.’ He is adopted from his magical but frightened family by Mary Lou to serve her society and suffer her sadistic punishments. He inherits his own mother’s confusion and shame about magic and suffers Mary Lou’s punishment willingly.

mary-lou7Modesty Barebones, though, has a “toy wand” according to the film and published text. Credence tells Grindelgraves that Modesty’s family of twelve lived in a Bronx tenement, that she still talks about her brothers and sisters, that she misses them (p 225). This family, unlike Credence’s, has some understanding of magic. They gave their daughter a toy wand, right? What kind of family, before the production of Potter memorabilia more than a century later, gives their children a toy wand? That it has someone’s initials, not Modesty’s suggests it has been handed down from one of her many older siblings.

How she gets to NSPS requires some story-telling. I am not a fan fiction writer but I can at least recognize a missing story. Modesty I have to think is at least as magical as Credence. The scene where the Obscurus kills Mary Lou is not clear about whether it is Credence or Modesty that is the Obscurial. All through the film, we are led to believe that it is Modesty that is the repressed time bomb. Only when Credence reveals his explosive power to Grindelgraves in the Bronx tenement do we learn that he is the “miraculous,” older than ten years Obscurial.

mary-lou3Credence listens to Newt in the subway station, when the Magizoologist explains he has met a young girl in the Sudan like Credence. The “original screenplay” tells us something not evident in the film. It reads, “Credence is listening — he never dreamed there was another” (page 244). That seems to preclude that Modesty is responsible for the Obscurus attack on either Shaw or Mary Lou Barebones; Credence would have to have known, right?

What it doesn’t mean, though, is that Modesty isn’t a witch. She may be a witch, unlike Credence, whose powers are not uncontrollable or repressed, just untrained. That she isn’t an Obscurial doesn’t detract from her evident desire to destroy Mary Lou; the young girl may have been equal to moving the belt in her anger about the whipping she knows Credence is about to get for being caught with her wand.

And, if she isn’t magical, her surviving Credence’s magical outburst, a blow that kills Mary Lou and older sister Chastity is another mystery or just a miracle. She’s right between Credence and Modesty when the guy blows, right?

nyc-mapThe New Yorkers out there, too, were left scratching their heads when Credence reveals himself as the Obscurus in the Bronx tenement. According to the Harry Potter Wiki, a NSPS wall poster from MinaLima says the New Salem Chapel is on Pike Street in Manhattan (now Allen Street). That is a long way from Modesty’s family home in a Bronx tenement.

By subway today, it is a little over an hour. If I’m reading that history of the NYC Subways correctly, it wasn’t possible to make this trip until 1932 just from one end of Manhattan to the other. On foot the trip to the Bronx is four hours. No way Modesty gets there by the time Credence contacts Grindelgraves via the Hallows pendant, a walk the child would have to make on her own while in shock from seeing NSPS, Mary Lou, and Charity blown up. Credence doesn’t know enough magic to Apparate with her and his Obscurus form isn’t passenger friendly.

It seems a real possibility that she involuntarily Apparated to her home of choice in the crisis of Credence’s going all Obscurus right behind her, the way Harry escaped bullies at school before he knew he was a wizard.

Am I the only one asking this question? I doubt it. I suspect Rowling doesn’t answer it because it is either an embarrassing Flint (count me dubious) or it will be answered in a sequel. One in which she gets to tell the back story that makes the anti-orphanage, anti-eugenics message she is eager to tell us in story form. I think that darkness was scrapped by the filmmakers who didn’t want audience response to the series’ opening number to be taken over by debates and feelings about same sex relationships (see post 5.4 above) or to be muted by a heavy socio-political communique in story about the harm being done to institutionalized children.

fb60Credence survives, I think, so Rowling can deliver the message of what happens to adults who grew up in institutional care. As she wrote at Lumos, “As adults, they are many times more likely to use drugs, to engage in prostitution and to commit suicide, than those raised in families.” The wrestling match we’ll see in the next adventures between Dumbledore and Grindelgraves over Credence will be an illustration of this tragic institutional care reality, as Voldemort’s life was a representation of a sociopath created by impersonal orphanage staff he grew up with.

The actress who plays Mary Lou Barebone, Samantha Morton, gives very few interviews about Fantastic Beasts, unlike her fellow actors and the film principals. I didn’t find one in the exhaustive survey (meaning only it left me burned out) I made for this five part series. Curious about her absence, I discovered she was sexually abused while in foster care as a young teen. She talked about her nightmare experiences because of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal brought back all the memories of how police and institutional care workers ignored her reports and cries for help.

Samantha Morton knows what this film is about. I wonder if she is unhappy about how much of it was lost in the final cuts. It couldn’t have been easy to play the part she did.

Let’s draw the speculative conclusions!

jkr8From what we’ve learned in the first four parts of this series, there are pointers to holes in the Barebone orphanage back story and clues about and artifacts from an earlier screenplay story which filled those holes. Rowling has said she is most proud of the work and achievements of her principal charity, Lumos, an organization striving to free children worldwide from institutional homes.

I think Rowling is telling the Lumos story inside Fantastic Beasts. Credence, Charity, and Modesty are magical children whose No-Maj parents were not equal to the challenges of their children’s “handicaps.” The Statute of Secrecy meant that MACUSA was not reaching out to them with help or with placement in magical homes.

orphanageThe Barebone adopted family are a picture of children taken from their homes by organizations that shame their families into releasing them into care where they are simultaneously exploited and neglected. Rowling’s bad guys in her Lumos narrative are the orphanages and institutions that live off charity donations from First World countries. They need children, she says, and compel the families in difficult circumstances to give them their children.It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to see Mary Lou Barebones as an allegorical figure for these family-breaking institution heads. That so many of theSave the Childrencharities in the US are church related (e.g. Samaritan’s Purse) and evangelical — think Harry Hating “fundamentalists” in Rowling’s view? — and the allegory of the New Salemers writes itself. Rowling kills two ‘real world’ buzzard enemies with one stone-hearted character.

queenieThe contrasting orphans in the story, Tina and Queenie Goldstein, who had a happy childhood in a family with loving mother and father (see Tina’s Death Pool memories, p 167) before their deaths. Rowling joins Tina’s family memory with the former Auror’s righteous rage at Mary Lou Barebone’s abuse of Credence and her intervening with magic to protect him at the cost of her MACUSA career. These two memories were to be her last, her visible legacy of what was good in her life, before her descent into the Death Pool.

It is no great leap onto a Swooping Evil to see Rowling’s desired legacy, the protection and liberation of children in institutions, in Tina’s last memories. Look for much more of this as Credence’s life post New Salemers takes shape in the series to come and for more information about why his family, his wicked mother especially, gave him up to mad Mary Lou.

Thank you again to Kelly Loomis for her help with this post. Posts coming right up on Dougal the Demiguise’s missing scenes (and why it matters) and on the Beasts inside us all. Stay Tuned!

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. John,
    I would not have considered any problem of the time continuity you mentioned above since I have never paid attention to the geography of NYC. There is one continuity/timing issue that struck me about the movie that hasn’t been mentioned here. Then again, maybe it only bothers me. It is the timing of the events of the evening where Newt and Jakob have dinner with the Goldstein sisters and then go out in the streets of NYC to retrieve creatures. That’s the same night as the fundraiser.

    It is the timing of the fundraiser that bothers me. At what time of the night is this fundraiser supposed to be taking place where the keynote speaker is then introduced. Frankly, I can’t see the speaking as happening much past 9 pm, but in the context of the film it seems more like it is at 11 pm.

    That’s because you don’t want to schedule fundraisers at a time so late that donors wouldn’t want to attend.

    That’s a problem for me.

    And, maybe only me.

    The distance for the child to get from the orphanage to her family’s tenement may be the same fuzzy timing logic.

    Plus, my final nitpick is about the suitcases. The mix up of the identical suitcases in the beginning of the movie reminded me of the three suitcases/shell game in the movie “What’s Up Doc?” So I paid close attention to where the cases were. My quest is: how did Jakob’s suitcase with pastries get back to him? That wasn’t shown in the movie. Sure, I suppose someone from the Ministry just magicked it back to him, but I knew that Jakob’s case did not get returned when Newt went looking for his own suitcase.

  2. Just discovered this series of articles and binged it; just wanted to say that your research is incredible. It also captures much of the frustration I’ve been feeling about the film, in that it’s fine but unspectacular, and I’m very much in the minority. Looking forward to the next parts!

  3. Brian Basore says

    I’m trying to get this straight: if witches and wizards in North America are muggle-born, in contrast to Europe and Britain, does this mean that assimilation and marginalization are applied to witches and wizards as equally as to other ‘others’? Ron Weasley’s passing remark, in Philosopher’s Stone, on his mother’s cousin who was an accountant comes to mind. In North America is the accountant normal, and then there’s the aunt, cousin, whoever, who’s maybe vaguely odd but so what? That might account for the general animosity to the NSPS. The people in 1926 New York didn’t want to know if witches and sorcerers were among them. The publisher and his son the senator most certainly did not consider it an idea worth entertaining.

  4. Brian Basore says

    “Normal”. *Doh*. Philosopher’s Stone opens with the definition of normal. Uncle Vernon, with his defiant denial of “that nonsense”, magic (“There is no such thing as magic!”), is defensive about it. He and Aunt Petunia are deathly afraid that someone will discover their secret that Harry is Magic, and that Petunia is a squib. Not that Vernon would’ve minded if Harry had passed for normal while “helping” to beat the competition in the drill press business. That might be like 1926 New York.

    I’m glad that Dumbledore found a way to keep the Dursleys from dumping Harry in an orphanage like the NSPS.

  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Under correction, as I don’t have access to the (cough) “OS” and have not viewed the film repeatedly – what, if any, evidence in the current final cut/text is there that:

    Modesty’s wand is not a toy, made by herself (or a family member before adoption)?;

    Credence has any known living family?;

    Mary Lou is not shown telling Credence for the first time that his late mother was a witch?;

    Mary Lou and the NSPS have any sense that ‘being a witch/wizard’ has any hereditary or otherwise organic element, rather than being purely a matter of choice and activity (within a social and/or kakodemonic context)?

    Has anyone tackled the details of New York adoption law c. 1900-1926?

    Contrary to being (like) an orphanage, it seems a case could be made for the adopted Barebones being precisely children adopted into a family (!).

    And, presumably, a Mr. Barebone, lawful wedded husband of Mary Lou, would have been necessary at the time of the adoption of the three children known to us.

    What is known of NSPS history?

    It would seem quite possible that it is the MACUSA who are most like progressive eugenicists, while the NSPS are more like orthodox Christians (Latin, Orthodox, or Protestant) who prudentially assume on a Scriptural basis that witchcraft is malefic – whatever may be justly concluded concerning the sequel they give this.

    What does – or might – the ominous “magical children appear to have been winnowed out in favour of non-magical offspring” mean? Direct killing? Somehow successfully ‘shopping’ to those trying witches, without coming under suspicion themselves?

    Has anyone discussed elements of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898, rev. ed. 1908) with reference to the current final cut/text, and/or earlier versions? Newt’s insufficiently successful attempt to help the African girl immediately made me think of the governess’s attempt to help Miles. But it now occurs to me that Mary Lou may also be an analogous figure, however different, attempting to help Credence (and perhaps Modesty, if aware of any family witch connection).

  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Might we be expected to compare and contrast Mary Lou and her adopted (one – or more? – Magical) children and her part (whatever exactly it may be) in the NSPS (and whatever exactly the place is where they live: soup kitchen and offices – cum orphanage?) with Isolt Sayre and the two Boot boys and Ilvermorny?

  7. D.L. Dodds,

    You might be on to something with contrast of Ilvermorny with the NSPS Orphanage.

    There is a sequence in the film where Ilvermorny is briefly discussed, and it is curious to note that all the Magic in North America pieces have trailers attached to them.

    Reading your comment, the idea occurred to me: are those trailers possibly cobbled from sequences left on the cutting room floor?

    What I mean is that Yates talks about a scene where Tina and Queenie perform the Ilvermorny school song. My question is what if, in an earlier draft of script, that song was meant to be the end of a much longer sequence in which Tina and/or Queenie tells the history of Ilvermorny and the Scourers as a way of filling in Newt and Jake about Mary Lou and Credence?

    It’s easy to imagine such a sequence would have been filmed in the same vein as “The Tale of Three Brothers” in the last segment of the “Deathly Hallows” film adaptation.

    It may make a kind of sense, but it is still all just conjecture (unless a PDF of those earlier scripts turn up online somewhere, of course).

    For anyone who is interested, I have found a version of the Lego Dimensions “FB” game that contains a more fuller edit of the game using Rowling’s unedited script. The only reason I have for including it here is because of the following elements that seemed worthy of comment.

    1. It took several re-viewings to catch onto this, however I notice that in the Lego game, Credence takes Graves back to the Orphanage to look for Modesty, rather than tracing here all the way back to her abandoned home.

    Is this a more accurate portrayal of Rowling’s script? One where the Orphanage and the Barebones are given a more prominent place?

    2. The portrayal of of Grindelwald interrogating Newt at MACUSA headquarters plays out with a bit a nuance that’s missing from the film. In the game, when Grindelwald asks if the Obscurus is “useless without the host?”, the animation has the character react to the fact that he “might” have given himself away by acknowledging his familiarity with the creature.

    This is notable for how it reshapes the dynamics of the scene. Colin Farrell played it low key and unassuming. This version, on the other hand, seems to lend a bit more plausibility to John Granger’s idea that Newt knows Graves is Grindelwald. Hence it lends their dialogue a more layered texture in the scene.

    3. There is a snippet of dialogue in this clip where Jacob shares info about his experience in WWI with Newt. The way the scene plays out makes me wonder if this was another bit of character development meant for Jacob that could be of importance later.

    4. The scenes hunting down Dougal in the dept. store feature a scene that I’m familiar with from the trailer, but that I don’t think was ever in the finished film. If so, it is another character moment for Jake, and it features a hint of the dropped scene in which Dougal sees multiple possible futures for Newt and Tina.

    These are the only reasons I bring this particular YouTube video up in the first place.

    The entire clip (clocking in at 51 minutes and 28 seconds) can be seen here:

    Thought everyone ought to know.

  8. David Llewellyn Dodds says


    Thanks! John Granger said, in attending to the Lego game video, that he knew of at least five variant versions! – and I did not fancy trying to hunt down and compare all of them, in the first place, so it’s very good to have a recommended long(er) one, to start with! (And some pointers about things to watch out for and ponder!)

    The idea of a conjectural history sequence, already written and maybe shot, but then cut, is an interesting one! I hope, in any case, there is one/are some such Ilvermorny history sequence(s) to come. And I can hardly imagine we are not going to get more NSPS – and specific Barebones – history (including flashbacks). I can’t help thinking there must be a Mr. Barebone to compare and contrast with James Steward. And might there be begotten children of Mary Lou and Mr. B. corresponding to Martha and Rionach?

    I may be getting fanciful, but it seemed to me that there was also a nice comparison and contrast between Isolt and the Pukwudgie and both Sycorax and Prospero and Caliban. Which would somehow tie in with my first thought of some kind of comparison between Graves and Obscurus/Credence and Dr. Morbius and the creature from the id in Forbidden Planet.

  9. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Another (fanciful?) bit of possible intertextuality has occurred to me – or, maybe at least, matter for comparative study: Charles Williams’s novel, The Place of the Lion, if we variously compare and contrast both Credence and Graves here with Berriger, there – and perhaps with Foster and Dora Wilmot, in their degrees – and with Anthony and Damaris coming to attempt collecting and ‘returning’ escaped ‘Fantastic Beasts’, there, being how like as well as unlike Newt and Porpentina, here – and Kowalski like and unlike Quentin?

  10. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    There is certainly an interesting contrast between Isolt Sayre becoming familiar with to her – and to the Boots, as English magical folk – unknown North American magical creatures, which are variously well-known to and named by magical folk already living there, and Newt bringing a variety of Old World (including African) ones to Ilvermorny grads who often seem to know little enough about them, first-hand – though both Newt and Isolt further seem to be more basically instrumental in widening familiarity with magical creatures among Old World magical folk, whether they stay on their side of the Atlantic or emigrate west.

  11. Brian Basore says

    If JKR wants to be the Charles Loring Brace (1826-1890) of the 21st Century, good.

  12. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Brian Basore,

    Thanks for pointing this comparison! Might JKR deliberately be imagining a dubious imitation by Mary Lou Barebone of CLB and the Children’s Aid Society’s “newsboys’ lodging-houses” in the NSPS’s provisions for pamphleteering children?

  13. I’m just getting to your work on Fantastic Beasts and am impressed at your thoroughness. I knew nothing about Samantha Morton before, but now I understand why she was the perfect choice to play Mary Lou Barebone. I will be sure to give you credit if I ever talk about this connection. Thank you so much for all of this work.

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