Obviously the film taking the world by storm at the moment is JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and it’s been out for what, nine days now? Either way, I went to see it on Friday – so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the film and on what the Wizarding World means to me. (In a spoiler-free manner, don’t worry.)
First off: the film. I was so impatient to see Fantastic Beasts. Growing up, four of the eight original Harry Potter films came out just before, after, or on – in the case of Deathly Hallows – my birthday. So, of course, as an extension of the Wizarding World, I felt like I had to uphold a sort of tradition when it came to Fantastic Beasts and watch it as soon as possible as it came out the Friday following my birthday. The week it took me to actually find the time to go to the cinema was near-torturous…
I thought the film itself was wonderful. I didn’t go in thinking it would be the same as the Potter films, because I knew it wasn’t meant to be. What it was, though, was an incredible film in the same magical world, with an enthralling storyline. Eddie Redmayne was the perfect man to play Newt Scamander, which I don’t think anyone who’s seen it could dispute – he had just the right slightly-awkward gait and mannerisms, just the right level of shyness when he spoke. And that mating dance… what a scene that was!
Without giving the exact details, the film did just what Rowling’s books do and led you to pity the misunderstood, rather than fear it, to respect the downtrodden, and to love those who view themselves as outsiders. There were many references the true Harry Potter fans will pick up, even just names in passing. It was extremely well-executed, the script so definitively JK Rowling’s in every way, that it felt like the exact same Wizarding World we all grew up knowing and loving, just this time with a different story to tell.
In terms of what the whole Wizarding World means to me, it’s truly just a part of who I am nowadays – Philosopher’s Stone was published just a few months before I was born and obviously became a global phenomenon in very little time. I was raised a bookworm, and my parents would read the books with me until I was old enough to read them on my own. I was unhappy in school and the books were always (and still are) a place of solace, welcome, and home. The magic within them and the characters who relay some of the utmost human expressions and emotions have always been irresistible to me and to others.
I’ve always been fascinated by people, and the original series was so full of diverse and interesting characters, the world itself so intricately designed that it was a goldmine to be able to explore it and learn about these people who felt so utterly real to me as a child, and continue to do so. The expansion of the world through the Cursed Child (which I desperately want to see in the theatre but haven’t got tickets for – save me!) and this new film series is evermore fascinating. The sheer expanse of Rowling’s imagination is beyond belief, and something the rest of us creatives can surely only ever aspire to have. She captures the worst parts of human nature and the best, the scariest thoughts and the warmest.
It’s been said time and again how special the books are to such a wide range of people, but to none more than those who were only children when the series began, and for whom the books were a source of comfort which matured and grew with them for so many years. And it’s true, they did. And that’s a precious rarity in itself.
So to me, the Wizarding World symbolises a lot. It symbolises the place of escape, intrigue, and magic that I adored so wholeheartedly throughout my childhood. It symbolises the depth of creativity, understanding and mastery of characters and people that I aspire to have and develop. It symbolises the best and the worst of life. It’s just real enough to seem so believable, yet it’s something just out of our reach. And this new Fantastic Beasts era looks promising indeed.