Beasts, Beasts, and More Beasts

by John Downey '23 on May 6, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Beasts, Beasts, and More Beasts

Film Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

By Abigail Levasseur ’24

It’s no secret that Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore has been ranked number one internationally for three consecutive weekends. The film is the third installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald being the first and second films in the series, respectively.

The Fantastic Beasts trilogy is a spin-off of the Harry Potter franchise written by J.K. Rowling herself, so The Secrets of Dumbledore is sure to delight Potter fans. In fact, a handful of Harry Potter characters, such as Albus Dumbledore, Aberforth Dumbledore, Ariana Dumbledore, and Minerva McGonagall, all make appearances in the new movie. The film also includes shots of Hogwarts and The Great Hall, two important locations in the Potter franchise.

However, The Secrets of Dumbledore has been in the news for reasons other than its ties to the beloved tale of the boy wizard with a lightning scar: actor Johnny Depp, who has previously portrayed the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, did not return for this installment. 

Depp has come under scrutiny as of late for his court case Depp vs. News Group Newspapers, so Warner Bros. asked him to resign from the production. He apparently filmed one scene in London before being pressured to leave the film, and was reportedly paid $10-16 million for these unused scenes. Mads Mikkelson stepped in as Depp’s replacement. The actor reportedly decided not to emulate Depp’s previous performance, believing that doing so would be “creative suicide.” 

The plot of Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore centers around one fantastic beast in particular: the Qilin. Qilins are bambi-like deers with the special ability to detect pure hearts and honorability. The film’s opening scene sees two of these creatures meet very different fates: one is rescued by awkward protagonist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), lover of magical creatures, and the other falls into Grindelwald’s hands. 

The main conflict point in the film is the 1932 election for the head of the International Confederation of Wizards. The candidates include Vicencia Santos, Liu Tao, and, most importantly, Grindelwald. Grindelwald aims to use the Qilin to show he has a pure heart so as to prove his political worth. However, since Grindelwald’s heart is corrupted, the Quilin will only bow to him in a resurrected form, so Grindelwald slaughters the creature and then revives it. Scamander, Dumbledore (Jude Law), and their friends work to discredit Grindelwald by revealing the living Qilin rescued by Newt, hoping to demonstrate that it will refuse to bow to the dark wizard.

Those keen on fantastic beasts more ferocious than the wholesome Qilin will enjoy another new creature that the movie introduces: the Giant Crab Manticore. In one memorable scene, Scamander and his brother must escape the Manticore’s snapping tentacles, acting like crabs to do so in one of the film’s most comical moments. Such comic relief is a welcome break from the movie’s intense plot. 

For those interested in watching Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, it is worth researching the film on Wikipedia before doing so, especially for those unfamiliar with the franchise or the wider Wizarding World.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

by John Downey '23 on January 29, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

Harry Potter Cast and Crew Reunite for Reunion Special

Madison Palmieri ’22

Although the last Harry Potter book was released 15 years ago, and the last Harry Potter movie 10 years ago, fans’ passion for the beloved series has not diminished in the slightest. While the past decade has brought more Potter content in the form of the spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Broadway play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, among other additions, passionate fans remain nostalgic for the stories that first introduced them to the magic of the Wizarding World.

To celebrate this passion and nostalgia, members of the cast and crew from the eight Harry Potter films recently reunited in an all-new HBO Max special, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. 

First announced on Nov. 16, 2021 in commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on Nov. 14, 2001, the reunion special began streaming on HBO Max on New Year’s Day. 

To fans’ delight, many beloved actors returned for the occasion. The “golden trio” of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) were certainly the most notable appearances. However, “Potterheads” were also excited to see fan-favorites Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Oliver and James Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), Helena Bonham-Carter (Bellatrix LeStrange), and Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) return to the screen.

The special consists of a series of solo and group interviews in which the cast and crew take viewers through each Potter film, reminiscing about their fond memories and sharing fun facts about their time making the movies. Notably, many of the interviews take place on sets from the films, such as the Gryffindor and Slytherin Common Rooms. The special also features never-before-seen footage from auditions, takes, and other on-set moments.

One memorable scene in the reunion comes when crew members from Chamber of Secrets reveal that Richard Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore, thought that the animatronic used to portray Fawkes the phoenix was real, and they never told him otherwise in order to preserve the magic.

Another interesting revelation was Emma Watson and Tom Felton’s discussion of their relationship. Watson explained how she “fell in love” with Felton in their early days on set, recalling how she’d always look for his number—7—on the call sheet every morning, and if she saw it, she knew “it was going to be an extra exciting day.” Although Felton only saw her as a friend during their time on set, they both expressed that they share a unique bond in the reunion special.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part of Return to Hogwarts was the “in memoriam” segment, in which the assembled cast and crew paid tribute to members of the franchise who have passed away in recent years, such as Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) and Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy). Furthermore, in a poignant reflection on his own mortality, Coltrane mused that even though he won’t be around to see how the legacy of Harry Potter lives on in future generations, “Hagrid will.”

This is precisely the magic of Harry Potter, and precisely the message captured in the reunion special: no matter how much time has passed, the Wizarding World’s characters and stories will always be there to welcome fans home.

It is quite fitting, then, that Return to Hogwarts closes with one of the franchise’s most famous quotes: “After all this time?” “Always.”