Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is Warner Bros.’ next play at keeping the Harry Potter franchise going, and it’s got a lot going for it. Not only will it be a magical film starring current British It Boy Eddie Redmayne, but it’ll also be a period film, set in the 1920s. Everyone loves a good period film, and I’m sure everyone loves a supernatural period film even more. But I’ve got some questions about this film. Perhaps you do too. Here are three of mine. Who are Gemma Chan and Carmen Ejogo going to play?
As of the typing of this post, we have just learned that Carmen Ejogo and Gemma Chan have just been cast in the film in roles that are still a mystery. Who will they play?
CinemaBlend thinks that Ejogo could play magical R&B/standards singer Celestina Warbeck (remember Molly Weasley playing Warbeck’s Christmas special on her radio?). They say that according to something Rowling wrote on Pottermore, Celestina’s father, a warlock, worked with Newt Scamander in the Ministry of Magic and that perhaps, Newt knew about Celestina, depending on how old she was at the time. Or, Ejogo could play Celestina’s mother, a muggle singer (jazz singer, maybe?). The site also has a theory about the Lethifold, a blobbish thing that takes the form of black cloak that eats people. In the Pottermore story, Celestina’s mother was saved from the Lethifold by Celestina’s father (the lethifold had disguised itself as a stage curtain).
That still doesn’t give a clue as to who Gemma Chan could be playing, but seeing how this story involving the globe-trekking Scamander takes place all around the world, does this mean that Scamander might travel to China? I only bring this up because there’s a big chance of China Doll happening, just as much as there’s a big chance of Stereotypical Black Jazz Singer happening. Let’s hope there’s sensitivity taken with both characters.
How good of a screenwriter is JK Rowling?
If there’s going to be sensitivity taken with characters, it’ll have to start with Rowling, since she’s written the screenplay. My question, though, is how good is her screenplay writing? I’ve read all the Harry Potter books and the satellite books, including Fantastic Beasts, and I can tell you that the quality of her writing diminished the closer she got to the end of the Harry Potter series. Was it that her editor simply didn’t catch her mistakes? Because there were some typos, plotholes, and other things that didn’t make the last two books, the last one in particular, very satisfying to read. Was it that she was rushed to meet the editorial deadline? Who knows. But she’d better have concentrated this time around, because now that I’m interested in providing her even more of my money, I’d like to know that the movie I’m going to see is worth my time.
I also have to ask will she hold a grudge on her own characters in this film, because she’s said that she didn’t have Pansy Parkinson marry Draco simply because she didn’t like her.”I don’t love Draco but I really dislike her. She’s every girl who ever teased me at school. She’s the Anti-Hermione. I loathe her.” ¿Qué? Is that responsible writing?
Her similar grudge against Draco also prevented him from getting some character growth as well. I think it even prevented him from getting the ending his arc deserved. He was built up as a character that went from being on the wrong side to realizing the hard way that he wasn’t about that life. What should have happened in the last book is what actually happened in the movies (which often seemed to rewrite JKR’s books to better fit character arcs): Draco was shown as being disillusioned enough to want to stay on the good side. He had to be pushed to go to his parents, who were still too scared to leave Voldemort’s side. The Draco we get in the movies is a Draco that realizes he needs to change if he’s going to survive in the world, and JKR seemed to get the message when she wrote about Draco’s life on Pottermore, saying that he was doing his best to raise his son differently than he was, even while he’s battling his own demons.
All I’m saying is that while I love the world JKR created, I hope she has matured in her handling of characters, because to me, even if you create a hateable character, you still find something intriguing in them that makes them human enough for you to write in their voice. If you can’t find what makes them human, then why write about them?
Will Native American actors feature in the film?
The Guardian (linked above) turned up some tweets that show that JKR’s magical America has magic based on Native American culture. In fact, according to JKR’s tweets, the school Scamander goes to is based on Native American principles. If that’s the case, will we meet any of those founders or headmasters? (I would assume there would be a Native American headmaster at some point, right?) In any event, this would be a great time to highlight Native American culture in a positive way and actually hire some Native American actors to portray some characters. Fantasy is still a very white world, and all of the diversity we can get in the genre is welcome.
Of course, to go back to the point made above, there needs to be sensitivity with characters. Native Americans are already stereotyped as being “stoic” and magical in some aspect; the last thing they need is to be stereotyped like that in a film such as this. There’s a way to write a magical Native American without making him a stereotypical Western version of a medicine man.
These are my concerns, but what do you think about the film? Give your opinions below!