Thoughts on the new ‘Fantastic Beasts’ trailer.

Dumbledore is gay, Grindelwald is messianic, Leta is a Lestrange trapped by her own lineage and the Niffler is back with all his usual gold-seeking badassery. Squeee! Let’s dive right in

The Mirror of Erised.

Erised

If one considers that in Deathly Hallows, it is suggested that what Dumbledore sees in the mirror is his family, happy and whole, then Dumbledore seeing Grindelwald in the Mirror of Erised is an incredibly powerful expression of the feelings he has for the man and the depth of the bond they used to, and evidently still do, share. What makes this scene all the more heartbreaking is that it is not young Grindelwald that Dumbledore sees in the mirror, but Grindelwald as he currently is. Ergo, Dumbledore continues to love him despite his evil. This plays very nicely into the trailer’s theme of loving monsters. It is even possible that their tendency to love monsters is part of the bond that Dumbledore and Newt share.

I recently read an interesting article in Forbes about Dumbledore’s sexuality , in which it is suggested that Umbridge being carted off by centaurs implies that a sexual assault is about to take place.  Writer Dani Di Placido then makes the following assertion :

“The moral of that terrifying story is, don’t underestimate J.K. Rowling. She might not be able to outright say it, but I’m sure she’ll come up with a cunning solution to acknowledge Dumbledore’s sexuality, even if we have to read between the lines”.

If Dumbledore seeing Grindelwald in the Mirror of Erised is that cunning solution, then I’m so happy I could dance.

I’d still like to see a kiss, though.

Johnny Depp looks absolutely terrifying as Grindelwald.

Grindelwald

The past few years have seen Johnny Depp do a great deal of farting around in idiotic franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean (what number are they on now?) that do absolutely nothing to showcase the dazzling talent he displayed in films like Sweeney Todd or Finding Neverland. Could Fantastic Beasts be a return to greatness? Depp positively simmers with suppressed violence and sinister evil, and somehow manages to command Grindelwald’s German accent without making him seem like a comic book villain.

The trailer also provides us with more insight into who Grindelwald actually is. The more we see of him, the more of a Hitlerian figure he becomes. We’ve always known about his philosophy of ‘the greater good’ and his plans to make wizards the master race. What I found altogether more disturbing is that in this trailer, he is described as having had ‘a vision that he would rise to dominance over the wizarding world’. This brings a dimension to Grindelwald’s thinking that is reminiscent of the evils of religion, suggesting that Grindelwald does not just see himself as the leader of a cause, but as a Messiah. We should also consider the meaning of that huge black cloth that is shown to be shrouding Paris, and which is reminiscent of the black-out during the Blitz.

Then there’s the matter of Grindelwald’s perception of Dumbledore. In this trailer, we see a lot more of how Dumbledore views Grindelwald than the other way round. Right at the end, however, Grindelwald’s question, ‘Mr Scamander, do you think Dumbledore will mourn for you?’ is spat out in such a contemptuous way that we can’t help feeling it’s more about him than about Newt. This shows a vitally important difference in how Dumbledore and Grindelwald see the end of their association. Dumbledore responds with longing, remorse and wit; Grindelwald with violent emotion.

I’m worried about Jacob and Queenie.

Queenie

We never see them together in this trailer, but the screenshot above of Queenie looking profoundly traumatised, as well as Dumbledore’s voice-over that ‘Muggles are not lesser; not disposable’, has left me very worried. Is Grindelwald somehow going to find out about Jacob and Queenie’s feelings for each other and turn them into some kind of example of what happens to people who oppose his ‘wizards are the master race’ theory?

Leta Lestrange is already breaking my heart.

Leta

All we really know about Leta and Newt’s relationship is that she allowed him to be kicked out of Hogwarts for some dodgy shit that she did. ‘She was a taker’, Queenie says in the first film, ‘you need a giver’. Why, then, is Leta saying stuff like ‘you’re too good, Newt. You never met a monster you couldn’t love.’? The tone of her voice and her devastated facial expression suggest that she’s not talking about Newt’s creatures, but about herself. Is Leta going to be a Lestrange with a conscience, in the same mould as Sirius Black? Or is she a woman so helplessly trapped by her own lineage that she feels evil is a part of her DNA and she can’t change her fate?

I love Dumbledore and Newt’s relationship.

In the course of my own teaching career, I have had a number of Newts in my life. It was therefore very sweet, and very encouraging, to see how realistically this kind of relationship is portrayed. The interaction between them (when Dumbledore dumps the task of finding Grindelwald on Newt’s shoulders, his subsequent disappearing causing Newt to laughingly retort ‘Oh, come on!’) is characteristic of the charming, sometimes entirely unconscious impertinence that kids like Newt keep up, even after they’ve left school.

The Niffler.

NifflerLet us praise the return of the pilfering pet! May his necklaces be shiny and his den bejeweled and gold!

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. DL Turnbull says:

    I feel like the fantastic beasts series would have been wonderful on TV; the first film for me felt like an overlong pilot desperately in need of an edit. Because of the sheer level of her success and how much investment there is in her brand I think it’s unfortunate that she doesn’t seem to have a collaborator who could mentor her as a first time screenwriter to curb some of the more ludicrous dramaturgical decisions.
    I’m a little disappointed that Dumbledore is being portrayed so conservatively; I was kind of looking forward to long, luscious auburn hair and magenta suits but thank goodness Jude Law is so charming and he can compensate for the direction they’re taking the character in. It was weird; there were moments in the trailer that reminded me of his portrayal of Bosie in Wilde, he’s at once warm, vulnerable, sexy but there’s an unsettling slyness and hardness there that I believe is integral to Dumbledore’s character.

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