Rowling ‘Agrees’ to Write New Film Series for Warner Brothers

You can read the original facebook announcement on Ms Rowling’s page or the write-ups of same at HollywoodLife, FOX News, or MuggleNet.

Or just read it here if you haven’t already:

It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ into a film. I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.

As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.

Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.

I particularly want to thank Kevin Tsujihara of Warner Bros. for his support in this project, which would not have happened without him. I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.

Three quick thought for your comment and correction:

(1) Warmer Bothers seemed to have put the squeeze on her to participate in the project (or something like the one she pitched) or they would be obliged as a corporation beholden to their stockholders to ‘make good’ on the remarkable copyrighted material they were privileged to own and obliged to exploit. In fear of being left behind by the bus she designed and built, Ms Rowling jumped on board.

See discussion along these lines here earlier this past week. I have written Heidi Tandy to congratulate her on her near direct hit prediction of this film series’ subject as well as to ask her about the copyright squeeze possibility. Stay tuned.

(2) Seventy years before the Harry Potter gets underway? Let’s assume she means the death of Lily and James Potter. Fandom timelines agree that was Halloween, 1981, so we’re talking about an Englishman in New York City in 1911, a wizard in search of Fantastic Beasts or on his way to adventures that make him an expert in same. Forgive me for assuming that Ms Rowling’s story is going to be about the horrible nightmare of life in the Big City for racial minorities, for religious and ethnic outliers, and the indigent poor all of whom live in tenement ghettos.

At least Dickens had the courage and comic genius in Martin Chuzzlewit to belittle America about slavery as it was in his own times, at the risk of insulting (and losing) his audience, albeit one that didn’t pay him any money and he thought very little of in consequence. The equivalent for Ms Rowling would be to tell a tale of abortion madness or sexual slavery today, but you know she’s not going to ‘go there.’ Even if she wanted to, and she doesn’t, the Warner Brothers group won’t let her. We’ll get a picture of the US, though, as a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, religiously intolerant, and capitalist juggernaut grinding down the unfortunate, set in a different time so we don’t need to think it’s really about us. Wink, wink.

(3) And why Fantastic Beasts? Think CGI. Every one of the films in the series will feature another nightmare creature or coven of crawly, tentacled, furry, or amphibious oddities that will be wonderfully horrific in 3D. Just as the three Narnia films turned to be proof texts for C. S. Lewis’ assertion that the only emotion beyond sentiment that movies can inspire is fear (so every celluloid experience has to include one, preferably three or four chase scenes, however farcical each may be within the actual story being told…), so Harry Potter‘s ‘Wizarding World’ and its beauty and utility as an alchemical alembic for the baptism of reader’s imaginations is now officially the Shadow Caster’s chosen vehicle to deliver booster shots of political correctness and mind-dissipating diversion for the 15-25 year old set.

Alas and alack. For those of you who, like my children, think this announcement means another Hogwarts Saga in the making, I fear you are in for a great disappointment. Of course, that would be true if even most serious readers, as I noted two days ago, had not been hijacked into film-fandom over the course of the ten year release of the Potter movie apocalypse. But they have been hijacked so I fear there is very little disappointment in the making in the Potterverse today.

Your comments and corrections are coveted, especially the obligatory notes about how much fun I’m missing.  “More Soma, please!”

Grateful hat tips to James, David, and Arlene for the news links above.


  1. Thanks, John, for the hattip, but I must pass it along to my secretary, Amanda, who sent this story on to me. I understand your pessimism about this endeavor but I do have faith enough in Ms. Rowling to protect her creations. I’m excited about a new project from her from books that were written as sidenotes for charity but really showed her sense of humor that, I think, she somewhat held back from the HP series. I, of course, defer to the real experts on this site to tell me “I told you so” if this goes badly. It is wonderful to be a part of this discussion. Thanks to all of you.

  2. Actually, if you read page ix of the book, you’ll find that Newt Scamander worked on the book between 1918 and 1927 and traveled “across five continents” while doing his research. This would be almost precisely 70 years before the main story in the Harry Potter books, which takes place between 1991 and 1998. So it stands to reason that the new films will be a globe-trotting series (a la James Bond or Indiana Jones) set in the decade immediately *following* World War I.

    And since, according to page vi, Newt Scamander was born in 1897, he would presumably be between 21 and 30 when these movies take place. It will be interesting to see if Rowling or the filmmakers feel obliged to add preteen or teenaged characters to make the stories more “consistent” with the existing Harry Potter films.

  3. Thank you, Peter, for your correction of my premises in point #2!

    You’re assuming, I think correctly on reflection, that the films will be about Newt’s writing of Fantastic Beasts, and the timeline beginning Rowling refers to Harry’s coming of age and to Hogwarts rather than his parents’ death. I hope very much that your prediction that this will be a set of adventure movies on the model of a naturalist Indiana Jones set in the post war Wizarding World is on target!

    This from The Daily Mail today…

  4. I think your point in #1, John, is very perceptive. I wonder if/when the same pressures will come into play with Lionsgate/Summit and the Twilight franchise? (Perhaps they have already, hence Meyer’s recent “I hate Twilight” comments.)

    I suspect all such franchises will end up following the George Lucas model, as with Star Wars. Honestly, I can’t really see anything else possible.

    As for 2 and 3, cheer up, John! Maybe they’ll be awesome!

  5. It’s good to know others are skeptical about news like this.

    I think there is a point where, when the author writes the end, it literally means the end and should stay that way, especially if a legitimate case can be made for the text status as a classic.

    It’s an old cliché, but it’s also true that continuing a story when there’s no need for it really does cheapen all that’s gone before, both in terms of characters, and their struggles or achievements. That might sound like an odd way of putting it, but I’ll swear it’s true.

    Sadly, it seems that Rowling isn’t an isolated incident at the moment. Star Wars was mentioned, and even now J.J. Abrams is doing the unnecessary to what is essentially a complete story at the behest of the studios (I can’t say I like what he’s done to Trek), while Stephen King has actually gone a ruined a good book with his Shining sequel.

    I’m actually less worried about imagination, than of what this kind of phenomenon says of the modern audiences ability to think clearly and in depth about what they see on the screen or read in the pages of a book, as a lot of the film criticism I’ve read seems content with just a surface gloss on stories, some of them ones that really matter.


  6. It is hard to get excited about yet another action and adventure fantasy movie – at best these are a pleasant way to spend a few hours, but really – who cares?

    The only time that such movies rise about the level of ‘entertaining’ is in the occasional successful depiction of intense human relationships and emotion – thus, the only point at which the eight movies of the Harry Potter series rose above the level of merely entertaining was towards the end in relation to the love and self sacrifice of Dobby, Snape and Harry.

    I stick to my conviction that there will be no more good work from JKR unless and until she repents of her apostasy and repudiates (for example) the strategic wickedness of The Casual Vacancy. Otherwise she will merely be using her skills to subvert and destroy good.

  7. Louise Freeman says

    We know Rowling loves the out-of-doors and has said the Forbidden Forest would be her favorite place on the Hogwarts campus. I am expecting Doctor Doolittle (the original Hugh Lofting character, not Eddie Murphy) with a wand and a broomstick. If there is a political message, my guess is it will be a pro-evironmental one, with perhaps a bit of skewering of the scientific establishment in the way Rita Skeeter skewers the press and Dolores Umbridge skewers the education system.

    All of which Rowling is capable of doing brilliantly. Beyond that, I will reserve judgement until I see more of the product.

  8. I like the idea, myself, especially if it takes the form of a sort of wizarding world travelog/nature tour, as you and Peter suggest in the comment thread. Good point Louise about the skewers — here’s hoping.

    John, I’m not quite as cynical as you about the film industry (or at least, I’m willing to give it a bit of freedom of expression). I think film is such a different art form from literature that to expect a film to be exactly the same as the book is like saying that in Giotto’s Madonna Enthroned he ignored the fact that Jesus and Mary were poor and angels are generally invisible!

    Meanwhile, as one suffering from arachnophobia (entering her most hated season of the year), I really could not read the part of your post next to the giant spider. If there are giant spiders I won’t see it until it comes out in DVD so Ron Weasley and I can skip that part.

    Then again, I hated the final Harry/Voldemort scene in HP8 so very, very much that I really don’t trust Rowling to ‘manage’ her interactions with Hollywood as well as she seems to think she can.

    One can but hope….

  9. Sometimes you can’t go back. My personal thoughts are that whatever personal mental space Rowling was in when she wrote Potter were quite unique . Certainly there are more than a few borrowings from other writers. However, it was a delightful and provoking series. She was certainly granted a glimpse behind the curtain

    She has moved on , as she would say. I expect more stuff for trading on ebay shortly, lots of cute figures and so on.
    I do not expect any more insights..
    Tolkien, to his everlasting credit spent his whole life thinking, and dreaming about Middle-earth.

  10. I have to disagree with Hana when she says “film is such a different art form from literature”. I don’t think many realize just how similar films and books are. Both printed page and movie screen are, to my thinking, little more than means to the ends of telling a story, and the same rules of “Poetics” apply to both mediums.

    Also, while both mediums deal in “images”, the idea of image and it’s relation to story, while real, is such a tricky concept. While I believe the idea of Sacred Symbols, the question of their visualization is often at the mercy of style over over substance.

    I have seen reviews of old classics like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and even more recent hits like The Terminator, where they are criticized merely for what a post-modern reviewer takes as too slow a pace, or obsessing over the “realism” of the special effects.

    What these reviews pay attention to is only the surface of stories while failing to engage them on a deeper level because they so caught up in, almost obsessed with, appearances; “tyranny of images” is how I’ve come to think of it.

  11. Just one final thought.

    After giving a bit more thought, my essential take on “imagery” and Symbolism in both book and film goes like this:

    It has to do with the Platonic concepts of Original and copy. Granted that Sacred Symbolism exists, and that they crop up in both films and books on a regular basis, that they are, in fact, the very backbone of any and all possible stories; I’d like to suggest that what we get whenever these Symbols crop up is an imperfect glimpse of a far truer visualization of a story; something seen in that old, fabled, faded “Glass Darkly”.

    In such cases I’d argue that what matters isn’t so much the visuals or images, but rather to the clearer pictures and ideas they are hints and pointers to, or at least what little we can see of what’s actually there.

    Under this way of thinking, or seeing, a low budget b-movie, if done right, can be as mythopoeic (sometimes more so) than a million dollar popcorn flick.

  12. Some of the best movies don’t *have* stories to begin with: think Fantasia or the Koyaanisqatsi trilogy. (One of the reasons Fantasia 2000 is inferior to the original film is because it tries to give every single sequence a narrative, and many of the narratives follow a depressingly similar separation-and-reunion template.)

    And even those films that *do* have stories are often best remembered for something better than that: whether it’s Star Wars taking us into space or Lawrence of Arabia taking us into the desert, what many people cherish first and foremost about these films is the *experiences* they give us.

    One of the key problems with the first two Harry Potter films, in fact, is that the filmmakers treated the medium as little more than a delivery system for the narrative of Rowling’s books. It was only with the third film that we really began to see some genuine cinematic artistry that went beyond the books.

    By the way, changing topics completely here, but with regard to any possible political resonance in the new films: One of the most interesting things about the original book was its discussion of the distinction between “beings” and “beasts”, and the politics involved when certain creatures learned that they might be grouped with certain other creatures. Presumably the new films could get into *that* on some level, with whatever resonance or subtext it might have.

  13. Well, I guess I have to say thanks for pointing out one final thing I suppose I should have also mentioned above.

    Namely that as the best stories often contain that same Sacred Symbols as talked about above, so also those symbols are really the determiners of the events that unfold in the fiction itself; i.e. that the Symbol is itself the story, only it’s visualization will always be imperfect in one degree or another, or at least as long as our vision is somewhat faulty.

  14. There is always a “frenemy” relationship between books and their film adaptations. But since she’ll be thinking in terms of a movie, the story itself could be more suitably contained and portrayed in film(?) than the HP movies.

  15. I confess I was quite excited by this news. I always imagined her boxes of extended character backstories and how she might be drawn to revisit them from time to time. She has said as much in many interviews. What a waste to NOT use them. I know I would if it was my world. And dear JRR Tolkien remained inspired by his own world and created many more stories of Middle Earth after his opus was completed.

    Jo has asserted definitively that she is done with Harry’s story, but why not develop another story within a world that is already so complete? With a fan base that would welcome it no less. Other tales told from this same world will not and cannot tarnish Harry’s epic story.

    To the point of whether or not this new series can be more than entertainment….I think it is meant to be entertainment and not necessarily anything else. She has already given us her Great Work (not the films, they were entertainment too) and it’s likely there will never be another like it, so why judge her for wanting to write about a new character in an old familiar setting. Maybe it makes her happy to work there. I will gladly pay my money to sit in the Wizarding World for two hours and see what Newt gets up to.

  16. In terms of revisiting old characters and sequels, my own take is that fictional characters can be divided into two classes, the limited run and the serial character.

    Limited run characters are those who’s stories have definitive beginning, middle and end, and when the curtain goes down or the last line is written, that characters story has officially ended and there’s no real revisiting because that character, or archetype has said all it can or ever will say.

    A good example of a limited run story is John Ford’s The Man who shot Liberty Valence. Once that story ends, the viewer knows there’s really nothing else to tell.

    The serial character, on the other hand, has at least the possibility of a great number of stories to tell based on it’s inherent character type. The best example of a serial character is Sherlock Holmes (although I think the recent film franchise is a travesty), or Pixar’s The Incredibles.

    That said, I don’t think it’s possible for any and all stories to be dragged out indefinitely, and that to do such a thing, especially to characters from classic literature. I mean it makes no sense to say “Hamlet will return in… THUNDERBALL”, as there’s more than just a logical contradiction in the statement. I think it is possible to cheapen a good character by resorting to such means, which is why I don’t believe there should be a sequel to, say, the Shining for instance.

    Another objection comes in terms of iconology. Suppose a character at the end of a story has achieved the desired state of “wholeness” like the characters in Rowling’s books? If such is the case, then to throw another obstacle at them when they have achieved the transcendent goals for which their story was told, then it would be the worst type of literary overkill, just a product of sequel thinking that is the result of Hollywood tendency to regard stories and storytelling as nothing but a packaged commodity to be used and reused either for money or as a respite from thinking.

    It does very little good to talk about experience in theaters or between the pages if thought isn’t included, I think.

  17. One other thought, something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

    Granted the idea of Sacred Symbolism in stories, at least those that could be called “inspired”, and their function of initiation, purgation and transcendence; it occurred to me that it might be that what draws an audience to a sequel, whether necessary or not, is the possible promise of the same emotional “experience” that a reader or viewer received from any story or characters of a literary alchemic nature.

    The problem I have with it is the almost blind rush to try and re-experience the same “emotional highs” based solely on the criteria that “it made me feel good.” What I worry about with that is that it’s not based on a stories ability to “expand our consciousness,” and more on story as mindless narcotic.

  18. ChrisC: Your distinction between serial characters and limited-run characters got me wondering about characters who might belong to *both* of those categories.

    For example, the first few books in the Lemony Snicket series were fairly serial in nature, but then the author began to introduce an arc which brought the entire series to a dramatic and thematic conclusion.

    And then there is the aforementioned Indiana Jones, where every movie in the series follows an arc of sorts — Indy is always a skeptic at the beginning and a believer at the end — and yet the very fact that Indy gets re-set to skeptic at the beginning of every movie arguably undermines whatever growth he experienced in the first movie. Matters are complicated even further by the fact that Indy’s relationships with women (and children, in the case of Short Round, or parents, in the case of Henry Jones Sr.) were a little deeper than, say, James Bond’s relationships with his own supporting characters, and so the fourth Indiana Jones movie brings back an ex-girlfriend of his, reveals that they now have a son, and turns the implicit symbolic family structure of, say, Temple of Doom into an actual explicit family complete with a wedding in a church. The serial nature of Indy’s relationships has been given a conclusion worthy of a limited run.

    There are probably other examples that one could point to, too, but those were the first two that came to mind.

  19. Mr. Chattaway,

    You bring up a “very” good point.

    In fact, I can think of two other examples; namely, Huck Finn and Lewis Carroll’s Alice.

    While they do seem to walk a line between serial and limited run, I’m ultimately compelled to lump them in with the limited run as their basic story archs seem to support a more closed, complete and self contained circle, and I believe Rowling’s stories are of the same basic type (don’t forget Tolkien originally broke Rings into a seven book cycle (thanks for the info Mr. Granger!).

    For instance, both stories concern children and their encounters with an often hostile adult world, and both conclude when the characters have reached the level of maturity.

    It is possible, I think, for a story to be multi-book (or film) and yet still be a limited run deal. To take the best example is Dante breaking his poem into three sections.

  20. wayne stauffer says

    maybe a different perspective here…

    when i read the book, i create the scenery in my mind and that becomes “my” version of the story. when i see it on film, i observe another’s visualization of the story. if i see the film before i read the book, the other’s visualization affects my personalization of the story. if i read the book before i see the film, the film never measures up to my version of the story.

    as an adult, i can be confident enough in my version to dislike the film version and still prefer mine. but i wonder how confident most children are in their own visualization when faced with the high production quality of the film industry. don’t they subconsciously reject their own imaginations in favor of the film’s presentation as “oh, THAT’s what it’s supposed to look like”? my concern is with this stultifying effect on children’s imaginations AND their level of comfort with their own abilities to make meaning. we don’t need another generation who will wait to be told what to think…

    john, i’m there with you in your perceptions on the commodification of the literature. she’s been pretty shrewd so far in her career that i’m hoping we just haven’t had this part revealed to us yet.

  21. Neurological studies of how the human brain functions while watching movies vs. reading are in their infancy, but it is already clear that reading is a different experience than movie viewing; reading can evoke vast arrays of sensory responses that mimic the actual experience of living. Here’s an extended quote from an excellent article in the NY Times (link below):

    “When subjects looked at the Spanish words for “perfume” and “coffee,” their primary olfactory cortex lit up; when they saw the words that mean “chair” and “key,” this region remained dark. The way the brain handles metaphors has also received extensive study; some scientists have contended that figures of speech like “a rough day” are so familiar that they are treated simply as words and no more. Last month, however, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that when subjects in their laboratory read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice” and “He had leathery hands” roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like “The singer had a pleasing voice” and “He had strong hands,” did not. Researchers have discovered that words describing motion also stimulate regions of the brain distinct from language-processing areas.scans revealed activity in the motor cortex, which coordinates the body’s movements….What’s more, this activity was concentrated in one part of the motor cortex when the movement described was arm-related and in another part when the movement concerned the leg. ”

    When the brain processes a movie, it does so by responding to an array of visual and auditory cues (NOT word cues). The response can be just as complex, but it clearly different. Below is a link to a very interesting, but highly technical summary of fMRI studies on brain activity induced by a variety of movies. Particularly fascinating to me were the differences in responses to silent film, vs. films with sound tracks. Even more provocative were indications that genuine masters of the art, such as Alfred Hitchcock, are able to evoke audience responses that are more focused, intense and uniform: when Hitchcock wants you to look at a knife you do just what he wants!

    The message of a book or a film might be the same, but the medium determines the way our minds uncover the message.

  22. Hana,

    I’ve read the links you posted. Both are concerned with external stimulus and response. Both look to brain chemistry and visual aids for answers.

    There’s just one question I didn’t find any of them asking, what is the mind?

    I’d like to add a few more questions. Is the mind personality, and vice-versa? What does a person “think” of a film like the Good, the Bad and the Ugly? For me, the question I always get caught up in trying to solve while watching the film is how far greed and insanity will drive a person. Is there any significance to such thoughts?

    Also, what is a word? Does anyone have any idea what kind of thing it is, or is it just something in the mind?

    What is chemistry, we know it’s often something we can see, but what is it, and why do we sometimes need microscopes to see some types of chemicals while others are visible to the naked eye? Would we have thought of those chemicals if we’d never seen them? If not, why do ancients like Heraclitus theorize about unseen elements in his Physics?

    What is a star made of, and is it limited to what it’s made of?

    Just one more question, why do we call it seeing, and what does any of that mean?

    If this is confusing, erm, sorry about that, seriously. What I was trying to do was point out that seeing and believing are two different things.

    In terms of stories and imagery, I don’t believe there is a fundamental difference whether the images are formed in the mind or watched on screen, as both forms invite, almost demand some kind of thought on the part of the audience.

    I also don’t believe that the nature of thought in relation to storytelling can be neatly summed up by brain chemistry, an idea is something far more complex than that.

    At least that’s just my two cents, anyway.

    Hope I didn’t step on any toes, or anything.

  23. ChrisC,

    You seem to be rather panicked about Jo’s new endeavor. Hamlet now appearing in Thunderball?? She isn’t reprising Harry or any part of Harry’s story. Since it will take place in the past by 70 years, he likely won’t even get a mention. It’s not even a prequel since it will involve completely different characters and is unconnected to Harry’s storyline. She is simply using the world she created as a backdrop. Other well-worn examples might include the hundreds of tales written in Victorian London or 30’s noir NYC. Paris in the twenties. With all the clichés included. This is the Wizarding World in 1920. There will be broomsticks. She’s not writing another book, but a screenplay…yes, to entertain. For fun. For kids and kids at heart. Harry’s story will not be tainted. Look at all the fanfic. Honestly, not even Harry/Draco love stories can damage the Great Work she gave us. So how can a story, a film centering on a character 70 years prior and not involving any of the characters of Harry’s generation possibly be so harshly criticized? Now, if she decided to write the screenplay for ‘Harry Loves Ginny’, the romcom. Or ‘Harry Goes to Las Vegas,’ that would be worrisome. You seem to be jumping to conclusions that don’t exist. I do not equate Harry’s story to Indiana Jones in the least, but I can see Newt Scamander having a series of similar adventures that are fun and lighthearted. That’s what I anticipate, anyhow.

  24. wayne stauffer says

    marie winn wrote a book titled “the plug-in drug” back in the 1980s or early 90s that analyzes television and its effects on cognitive development. i use a chapter from it, “television vs. reading” as an example of a comparison essay with my composition classes and it is informative on how the brain processes the visual stimuli of both print and visual stimuli. neurological studies are more in their late adolescence than infancy, but agreed, they have a long way to go to “know” how that grey matter really works…

  25. Nana,

    Well, I have an answer to your question, or at least part of one anyway. The problem is it’s kind of intricate and also I’m only speaking as layman, not an expert.

    It centers around several words: Inspiration and invention, along with several other ideas.

    The difference between artistic inspiration and invention was something I found out about from Tolkien, believe it or not. In his biography of the Inklings, Humphrey Carpenter cites a quote (pg. 138) in which Tolkien connects inspiration with “truth” in fiction.

    His exact words are: “Although you may feel that your story is profoundly “true”, all the details may not have that “truth” about them. It’s seldom that the inspiration (if we are choosing to call it that) is so strong and lasting that it leavens all the lump, and doesn’t leave much that is mere uninspired “invention.”

    The page of Carpenter’s book and the one next to it is filled with a lot more than just this, and it’s great mine of creative ideas shared by Lewis and Tolkien on the nature of stories.

    For me, the idea of some parts of some stories being “true” in Tolkien’s sense, and others being either “uninspired invention” just struck me as somehow perfectly RIGHT. I think the reason for my reaction was because I’ve come across passages or scenes in books or film and thought “that’s a mistake” or “that’s not right”, or “man, what a letdown after such great buildup”.

    The greatest example I know of comes from the concluding chapters of Huck Finn, where a boy who’s won his independence from a corrupt, slave-owning society promptly acquiesces right back into it, and all for the sake of a bunch of slapstick corn pone that goes nowhere, and even serves to undermine the lesson of the story.

    It’s in those reactions to seeing or reading a good story spoiled in some way or form, whether of left field contrivance or characters acting out of character, that I found Tolkien’s distinction of “truth” in fiction so convincing.

    There’s more, but I’d rather here others take on Tolkien’s words.

  26. Typo correction.

    That last sentence should read: there’s more, but first I’d like to here others take on Tolkien’s idea, as I believe it’s one that bears thinking over, especially in relation to favorite books and films.

  27. wayne stauffer says

    screenplays are different from prose/poetry. a work written for the medium is different from a film adaptation of a prose work. since newt is only mentioned in passing in the harry saga and not well developed there, this will give jkr a range of latitude to be creative within the film medium. pacing and exposition are different in film, so we’ll get what we get there on newt with little previous opportunity to form our own ideas of him and his story.

  28. Well, in terms of screenplays and books being two different beats, I beg to differ again.

    Both book and script are ultimately dependent on the to tale they have to tell (though to tell the truth a lot of recent scripts, if the finished product is anything to go by, treat story as an expendable).

    Also, going back to what I said about Tolkien’s distinction between “truth” in a story, or inspiration and invention, it seems to me that he is anxious that the writer sets down not just the truth of any potential theme or message in a fiction (Tolkien disliked allegory anyway), but also the conviction that every story is made up of events of which it is the author’s job to write in as exact a detail as possible, in terms of events and “what happens next.”

    If that sounds odd to any readers unfamiliar with such a way of thinking about books and films, I won’t blame them, however I also can’t say I disbelieve it. Again, Tolkien’s thinking, to me at least, goes back to what I said yesterday about story as Symbol, and vice versa.

    For Tolkien, I would argue, what the writer of fiction has to deal with is one great symbol, or series of them, comprising both plot and character. Like a secretary (Tolkien’s word), the artist is merely to record down what he or she is given as it comes, like a series of messages being delivered by air tube.

    Looked at in this light, it’s maybe easier to see why not everybody can write good fiction.

    As to how this relates books and screenplays; I said before that I’m convinced Twain fouled the ending to Huck Finn. It wasn’t until I picked up a video copy of a 1985 PBS American Playhouse production that I found out some unsung scriptwriter had completed the book at last, had discovered and written the “truth”.

    I’d recommend this 1985 PBS version to whoever is interested, as it is the most faithful to Twain’s masterpiece, including all the grittier parts (though sadly no Sherburne speech, at least not on my copy). To top it all off, it even has Potter audiobook narrator Jim Dale himself as the Duke!

    As for the idea of Rowling’s deal for more stories with Warner, the problem for me is that it’s an invention with no real inspiration behind it. In the original, the character, even with the fictional textbooks thrown in, the character remains little more than a piece of narrative baggage that only indirectly effects things, and it’s clear Rowling’s original inspiration was taking her other places.

    I see no inspiration in this new deal.

  29. Perhaps her inspiration will be revealed when the work is completed. Or perhaps this work is intended to be light. Maybe she no longer needs to work down in the depths. She has a great sense of humor and an ability to flesh out a character in satisfying ways. What’s the problem?

  30. phoenixsong58 says

    I agree with you, Nana. I’m looking forward to it!

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