Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the latest installment in the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter, had a very successful opening in theaters this past week. I was one of many in line for the midnight premier on Thursday, poised to return to my favorite magical world hours in advance. I have always been a huge Potterhead, and I can honestly say this film does not disappoint! Watching this film felt like coming home and I’m so excited it’s only the first of five. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop what you’re doing and go. Right now. It’s imperative. I’ll wait.
The film, directed by David Yates, is set in the year 1926. Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, arrives in New York. He expects it to be a quick stopover on his way to Arizona, but of course nothing is ever that simple in the wizarding world. Newt’s fantastic beasts escape after his brief case is switched with a “no-maj’s” and chaos ensues. As Newt works to recapture his creatures, his quest grows to a level of importance where it’s up to him to save New York.
Despite the fact this film takes place before the legendary Harry Potter was born, this movie allows us to explore the same world. Some of our favorite characters are coming back in this series, such as Dumbledore. The future films are rumored to explore Dumbledore’s relationship with the evil Grindelwald, who will be played by Johnny Depp. The role of young Dumbledore has not been cast as of now. Even Newt himself is a character from Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts. Newt wrote the text book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, that the students at Hogwarts use to learn about magical creatures. Further, because J.K. Rowling published the text book for her muggle readers to enjoy, we already know more about Newt than Newt does. For example, Newt’s biography is in the book and tells readers which character in the new movie ends up as Newt’s wife. It’s fun to watch their relationship blossom, knowing that they will have a happy ending before they do.
I also loved that this film took place in America. We get to learn about the cultural differences in the magic communities, along with Newt, who has never been to America before this trip. For example, muggles in the United States are called No-Maj’s. They have their own version of a Ministry of Magic, and of course they have their own threats from dark magic.
Maybe most significant to all the American Harry Potter Fans who are waiting for their Hogwarts letter is that America has it’s own magical school. It is called Ilivermorny and modeled after Hogwarts, complete with its own four houses. It’s considered to be the most inclusive of all wizarding schools in the world. Though it’s founding is not thoroughly explained in the movie, J.K. Rowling has written a very detailed story that has been published on the Pottermore website. It’s worth reading.
Next, I loved that J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for this film. This is her world. She created it. The fact that she is personally continuing to explore it makes the story much more genuine than if someone else were to have written it. J.K. Rowling never fails to impress.
Finally, can we please note that Newt Scamander is a proud Hufflepuff! Hufflepuffs are one of the most underrated houses, but have some of the best people. I am a Hufflepuff as well, and am happy to see some representation in the films. As you’ll see in the attached PSA, Eddie Redmayne is also quite proud to be a Hufflepuff, which makes me love him even more!
The film is about 2 hours long, but it feels like 2 minutes. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. If you have seen it, go see it again! It’s truly a MAGICAL experience.