A Tale of Beasts and How to Find Them

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

It’s been a while since I read and reviewed a thing, but as I’ve been in recovery from an unexpected surgery, I’ve had plenty of time to tackle that very thing! It just so happened that the day before I went into the emergency room, I saw the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in theatres with a friend, and quite enjoyed it, though I had questions remaining. So, naturally, once I was out of the hospital I sought the answers by purchasing the screenplay available on Pottermore.

First off, the art accompanying the novel is lovely. It adorns the cover and accents the inner pages of the novel. It adds to the magical feel of the thing quite nicely. The novel itself, though in screenplay format, is just as enjoyable as previous works by J. K. Rowling (though I sadly have yet to finish the Harry Potter novels!), if not moreso for me. The movie had a differing angle to it, a more “adult” experience in the magical world, as did the screenplay. This didn’t take away from the fantastic and magical world it captures in the least. Instead, it added rather useful depth to the already-deep wizarding world.

Now, as I mentioned before, I saw the movie first, so I went into reading the novel with a curious mission: to find how the movie differed from the novelization, as well as answer one particular question I had leftover after the viewing. Interestingly enough, the movie does not stray very much at all. In fact, I could only find two points that differed: the visual description of one of the magical beasts (specifically, the Thunderbird), and the demeanor of the young girl named Modesty. In the movie, she had a harsh, critical stare in practically every shot. In the novels, I felt a greater range of emotion from her, humanizing her more to me. I do not know if this is a common issue or just one I myself had when watching the movie.

Both versions handled the revelations of Modesty and Credence beautifully, potentially leading its audience along an erroneous path (or, if you were keen enough, along the eventually clearly correct one). The children of Mary Lou (at least, these two) are pitiable creatures, long-suffering their adoptive mother’s sins. There is the presence of a third, Chastity, but in the movie I hadn’t realized her to be another of the children, and in the novel her presence was barely felt. Perhaps she was too grown, too perfectly molded to her mother’s task to earn her wrath. Or perhaps it’s a clever show to allow us to see how a favored child of Mary Lou’s gets preferential treatment.

Oddly, I left the overall experience of this tale feeling that Jacob was my very favorite facet of it. He is our innocent, naive window into the wizarding world for this foray. He is a good, kind-hearted man, with a natural curiosity and interest in the the magical events unfolding around him. He forges friendships and a romantic interest with Queenie, which is not suffocating throughout the movie or novel (I’m not that interested in romances most days), but a light, enjoyable accent. I spent a good portion of the movie wondering what would befall them, due to the magical laws in America. Frankly, had that last scene involving them not occurred, I would have been quite angry! It’s been a long time since I was prepared to be angry at a movie or book. I’m glad the story concluded in the way it did.

What was it that I needed answered by the screenplay? What Grindelwald says to Newt before they part. I oftentimes have difficulty “translating” verbal English in my head, and this was one of them. Still, seeing the words written down did not alleviate the mystery behind them. What do they mean? Did I miss a deeper meaning somewhere, or is it a portent of the future? I cannot say. So the end of this tale left me with an unanswered question, something to look forward to, however small. A smart move for a novel or movie, indeed. Whatever happens next, I’ll be ready to experience it and enjoy it immensely.

Finally, on a note that is not directly associated with the novel or movie, I wish to say that I am glad that J. K. Rowling chose to make a story where there is a champion of the wild, trying to make others better understand and lessen the “danger” of misunderstood creatures. This is something that is often overlooked in our own, very real world, and we are losing many of our fantastic beasts to it. So, thank you to those who take it upon themselves to walk this line, this life, and let us see that honestly, humans are truly the most dangerous beasts of all.

Interested in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? It can be purchased here.