Like pretty much every Potter fan out there, I eagerly went to see “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” I was prepared to be disappointed. I’d read a number of reviews which decried the muddled storylines, the gratuitous easter eggs for fans, and the messed up timelines.
So I saw the film. And I loved it.
Seriously, I loved it.
I’m not saying the reviewers were wrong exactly. I see their point. It’s just that I’m not a neutral reviewer. I’m a massive fan of the Wizarding World. And this movie just handed me another wonderful treasure trove of new and cool Wizarding World stuff.
I do get it that some of the stuff doesn’t quite fit with the world that has been created over the past twenty years, but then again, neither did Chamber of Secrets or Goblet of Fire or, whoa, Order of the Phoenix. I remember after Sorcerer’s Stone hearing that book two had a flying car in it, and I was pretty darned sure that a flying car didn’t fit with the world Rowling had created in book one. Turns out, the world I thought I’d discovered in book one was only a small taste of the whole thing.
And it’s the same way with the “Fantastic Beasts” films. You can tell me that magic shouldn’t affect entire cities that way — come on, Dumbledore can just inflict fog on the entire city of London with a single spell? Aurors can reconstruct skyscrapers in New York City with a Reparo spell?That’s not the way the Wizarding World works. But apparently, yes it does. We just hadn’t seen that kind of power before because we’ve been pretty much stuck in high school. I mean, remember the vast power displayed when Dumbledore and Voldemort battled at the end of book five? Magic is pretty darned powerful.
Here’s another thing. I was forty years old when Philosopher’s Stone was published. I didn’t grow up with Harry like so many of my fellow fans, so I have always looked at the books and films from an adult perspective. I love the internal consistency of Rowling’s world building, but I’m also the first person to have noticed and wrote about the missing 24 hours in the first chapter of Philosopher’s Stone. I’ve never called Rowling my queen. I never saw her writing as flawless and perfect. My whole philosophy of life wasn’t really influenced by Rowling. I’d spend decades forming all that for myself without her help. To me the Potter series was always just another cool thing to get ridiculously interested in, after Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons and theatre and so many other things.
So I am not likely to feel betrayed when a film script or a play doesn’t rise to the level of heavenly revelation from the queen. I’m much more likely to excuse the flaws and inconsistencies and just revel in the new canon.
But wait, you say, how can you take that attitude when you write the Lexicon, the ultimate guide to Rowling’s created world? Quite easily, actually. See, I just document the inconsistencies and move on. Those inconsistencies are part of that created world. I’m not trying to force fit every detail into some hard and fast version of that world called CANON as if it actually happened and every detail has to fit. That’s actually Rowling’s job, and sometimes she messes up. Whether it’s consistent or not, it’s all her creation and therefore it’s all canon. When it’s tricky to make things fit, I try to understand what Rowling was going for, what was her intention, and use that to understand the story. And I always keep in mind that there are a lot of people who affect what we see on screen, not just Rowling.
So I watched Crimes of Grindelwald and loved it. I and the other editors of the Lexicon started adding canon details into the website. I updated the timeline to include the events of the new film and the tantalizing flashbacks. I debated with fans the “how and when” of what must have happened with Ariana and her family, how Credence might fit into that, and so on. I struggled with McGonagall appearing in the story in what certainly seemed like the wrong era.
And then I set that aside, figured Rowling wasn’t done telling her story, and just enjoyed the film. Can’t wait to see it again.
In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.
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Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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