Fantastic Beasts Found Here
by Samiha Mazumder, '19
After a 5 year wait, the Harry Potter universe returns to cinemas across the country. JK Rowling, author of the 7 books in the Harry Potter series, made her screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Before continuing, let it be known that this article will contain spoilers.
Titled after the book first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on Harry’s supply list for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the film focuses on the author of Fantastic Beasts, Newt Scamander [Eddie Redmayne], and his hijinks 100 years ago in New York with his suitcase full of beasts.
Newt’s case in question is what gets him into so much trouble. Although it has an Extension Charm, allowing it to be bigger on the inside, one of it’s latches refuse to stay put, putting hundreds of creatures, and millions of New Yorkers, at risk.
As we are introduced to the quirky character that is Newt Scamander, we can’t help but give the vibes of the character Luna Lovegood His passion for magical creatures and eccentric style of dress can’t help but compare to Luna when we first saw her in the Half Blood Prince, donning Spectrespecs in order to be able to see the Wrackspurts, invisible creatures that fly into a person’s ear to unfocus them. No wonder she married his grandson.
Newt stops in New York on his way to release his Thunderbird, a massive bird that causes storms, named Frank, into his natural habitat ⎯ Arizona. He finds himself in Manhattan, his attention piqued by one Mary Lou Barebone [Samantha Morton]; A No-Maj (American for Muggle) member of the New Salem Philanthropic Society [NSPS], or simply the Second Salemers, whose intent was to expose and eradicate every magical being to protect the human race. She adopted children who displayed signs of magic and raised them to despise the craft. What she didn’t know was she was creating an evil force every time she silenced a child’s power.
Distracted by her speech at the front of Steen National Bank, Newt almost misses his Niffler, a little platypus looking thing attracted to anything and everything shiny, who managed to escape the faulty suitcase and proceed inside the bank. The bank chase scene was so hectic, I loved it. The exasperation on Newt’s face was so hilarious, you felt a little bad for him. He just wants to go to Arizona, and here he is, chasing a Niffler through a bank. Former Auror, those trained to catch Dark wizards, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein [Katherine Waterston] watched all this happen after following him into the bank when she saw a wand in his boot, and his otherwise unfamiliar creature. As the United States isn’t as lenient with magical folk as the United Kingdom, all wizards and witches are required to register before arriving in the country and are prohibited from bringing in magical creatures. In hopes of getting her position back at the Magical Congress of the United States (MACUSA), she arrests him. Funnily enough, she ends up marrying him in the future.
Newt while in pursuit of his rogue Niffler, quite literally, runs into Jacob Kowalski [Dan Fogler]; A factory worker who just wanted a loan to open up a bakery. Newt unknowingly leaves Jacob with an egg, and switches suitcases with him; Unfortunately, Newt doesn’t realise the latter until after Tina brings him to the MACUSA headquarters. Director of Magical Security Percival Graves [Colin Farrell] dismisses them and they go to locate Jacob and the suitcase.
Now this I can say I did not see coming; Mary Lou Barebone’s middle adoptive son, Credence [Ezra Miller], was abused by her. Graves approaches him, seeking help to get hold of an Obscurial. An Obscurial is a young witch or wizard who developed a parasitical force of Dark magic within them called an Obscurus due to magical suppression by psychological and/or physical abuse.
I thought that the Obscurus was within Credence’s younger adoptive sister, Modesty. She was shown with the eeriness that resembled a character you would find in a horror film, chanting “My momma, your momma, flying on a switch/My momma, your momma, witches never cry/ My momma, your momma, witches gonna die!” for the majority of her appearances. After the Obscurus wreaks havoc in the Barebone household, killing Mary Lou and Modesty, it became clear who the host was.
We return to a small tenement, the home of Jacob Kowalski. The poor man never saw it coming. Newt’s suitcase unlatches, and since the Muggle Proof switch wasn’t on, out came a Murtlap, a rat like beast with growths on its back, and attacked Jacob, leaving him unconscious for Newt and Tina to find.
Tina decides the best place to hide a male No-Maj, a male wizard, and a suitcase partially filled with beasts is her all girls halfway house where she and her sister Queenie reside. Much like Voldemort, Queenie is a Legilimens as well, however she appears to harness much more power, reading Jacob’s mind upon first meeting him.
Queenie and Jacob’s subplot completely broke my heart; The mutual attraction was there, and to me it seemed Queenie loved that Jacob appreciated her abilities, rather than get annoyed by them. But of course, this is a Potterverse film, and in the Potterverse, no one gets to be happy.
After taking Jacob inside his suitcase, Newt sets out to find his beasts. The inside of the suitcase was incredibly breathtaking. All the new creatures had everyone fixated on the screen. My favourite had to be the Bowtruckle. They're cute little twigs that have two sharp fingers on each hand, and Newt carried one around in his pocket. I feel like Hagrid took inspiration from him; You know what's a good idea? Assuming every creature is harmless, even if the government classifies them otherwise.