Rowling 2016: The Beasts Political Theme is Anti-Populist, Pro Status Quo

I believe this video was made at the 2016 premiere of the Fantastic Beasts film franchise which was on 10 November 2016, the week after President’s Trump’s stunning victory over Hilary Clinton and four and a half months after Brexit was approved in a UK-wide referendum. Rowling was keen then to say, though she planned the film three and half years prior to its release, she had intentionally been writing about populist politicians working to upend the status quo. The actors who play Newt Scamander and Jacob Kowalski echo her comments and insist that the first movie and series are all about the politics of the present time. Dan Fogler said he thought viewers had a lot to learn from Rowling’s “wisdom” in this regard.

I think the first film’s anti-populist message is fairly muted but that it picks up significantly in Crimes and is front and center in Secrets. See my post last week about the embedded depiction of the 2020 US Presidential election in the third Beasts film. That allegory within the story has too many one-to-one correspondences for me to accept without proofs beyond this 2016 testimony that she plotted Secrets as it was filmed way back in 2011. Of course, just as there is a lot of J. K. Rowling in the Trelawney prophetess character, maybe there is a little prophetess in The Presence.

The mistake that can be made in reading political allegory — one that usually is made — is in neglecting every other dimension of a story for its topical content once that content is identified and explained. Those, for example, who enjoy explicating the Lord of the Rings as a transparency for WWI, WWII, and about the atomic bomb, in my experience, rarely ‘get’ the significant spiritual artistry and meaning of Tolkien’s masterpiece that transcends historical tit for tat allegory (“Sauron is Hitler!”).

So with the Beasts films political content, I think. The topical, current events fare is certainly there, as I’ve written and Rowling testifies above. But is it the “wisdom” of the stories? I think the psychomachia of Credence Barebones, the dragon and phoenix story of Grindelwald and Dumbledore that Lana Whited surfaced so cogently, the Qilin fantastic beast as soul-exteriorizing device, and the four element alchemical quality of the principal players pursuit of marriage with the ‘Gold-stone’ sisters are the greater part of that. The politics is a relative side-show to those main attractions.

Let me know what you think.

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