The Harry Potter Prequel: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is to be released on November 18th in the US, and is one of a trilogy of novels written by J.K Rowling under the fictional pseudonym, Newt Scamander. ‘Fantastic Beasts’, published in 2001, is a mock textbook originally published to raise money for Comic Relief.

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When first hearing about the new Harry Potter ‘spin-off’, as it has being labelled, I was sceptical. Can they really incorporate the cherished British character of the Harry Potter franchise into a British-American ‘spin-off’?

Directed by David Yates, director of the final four movies in the Potter franchise and screen-written by Rowling herself, it is safe to say that the film has been placed in good hands.

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What’s it about?

The film, set 70 years prior to Harry Potter, is set in 1926 New York City, incorporating both magic and the sophistication of 1920s fashion. Newt Scamander, played by the gorgeous if not deceptively old, Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) , is a Magizoologist, arriving in New York City for a meeting with the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). On his person, he clutches a slightly tattered briefcase which we later discover, houses dangerous creatures from the Potter world. This later leads the American Wizarding Authorities after Scamander, threatening the relationship between magical and non-magical (known as non-maj in this era, no muggles here!) which is already under strain due to the New Salem Philanthropic Society. The plotline itself concerns itself more with the impact Scamander’s mishap has on both communities in New York and how this causes an atmosphere of distrust, fear and tension between these communities.

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Although originally a children’s book, like the last four Harry Potter movies, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ seems to involve itself more deeply in the politics and social context of the Potter world. And of course there are the rumours… Will we see the face of our old friend Albus Dumbledore? Quite possibly. If we think back to The Chamber of Secrets, there is actually a portrait of Scamander hanging in Dumbledore’s office. Rowling’s intricacy and attention to detail throughout her storylines makes this a possible connection, especially if we consider the film’s timeline.

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The Signature Blue Coat

One of the main successes of this movie, and further proven within the trailer, lies within the work of the Oscar Award Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland). Tasked with the challenge of creating and designing the soon to be signature, Scamander blue coat. Having made every costume uniquely for each main actor and ransacking most of the planet’s vintage clothes in the process, Colleen finally found the perfect material,

‘I made Eddie’s coat from some fabric I’d had around for years, from a play I did,’ later adding, ‘I’d been hoarding it for years…’

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The Trailer

After watching the film’s trailer for the first time, catching a small glimpse of Colin Farrell (Total Recall) and Katherine Watson (Robot and Frank) in their 1920s costume, anticipation has begun to build. The mention of the ‘Lumos Maxima’ incantation with a bright light shining on a pitch black backdrop immediately sets the heart racing. This, followed by the sound effect of, what we can only describe to be, a dragon, throws us back to the Goblet of Fire days with Harry precariously balancing on a broom whilst trying to fight off the deadly, Hungarian Horntail.

We really are being invited back to the wizarding world. What did you think of the trailer?


 

Text: Millie Bull

Photographs: Metro, Collider, The Telegraph

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