The Crimes of Grindelwald: Much Anticipated Treat or Train Wreck?

With The Crimes Of Grindelwald releasing later this week in India, here's expecting more for Queenie and Tina besides just being love interests. Also, will Rowling live up to her promise of Dumbledore being gay?

With The Crimes Of Grindelwald releasing later this week in India, here’s expecting more for Queenie and Tina besides just being love interests. Also, will Rowling live up to her promise of Dumbledore being gay?

It’s that time again, when Harry Potter fans around the world put on their Potter merch and gather to perform the signature Potter cult sacrifices…

No, they put on their merch and go to watch a new movie released in the Potter universe. The Crimes of Grindelwald is coming to cinemas! The first show in India will be this week, and you can be sure the auditoriums will be packed with fans. What can we expect?

First, a quick recap of the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (some spoilers here, if you haven’t seen it yet).

The plot of Fantastic Beasts revolves around Newt Scamander, who once studied at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and now works with magical creatures, many of which are dangerous or even illegal to breed. He comes to New York on a stopover to his next destination, but ends up staying there longer than he had intended when some of his magical creatures escape.

Tina Goldstein is a career-driven witch who has recently been demoted from her position as an Auror at MACUSA (the American counterpart of the Ministry of Magic) and is determined to regain this position by turning Newt in to the authorities. Jacob Kowalski is a muggle (called a no-maj by Americans) who accidentally gets involved in the mess caused by Newt’s creatures.  All he really wants is to open a bakery, which he is initially unable to do due to a lack of funding. Queenie is Tina’s sister. She can read minds, which leads to several interesting incidents.

Tina has taken to following around an extremist no-maj group whose goal is to eradicate witchcraft in America. Here, she comes across Credence Barebone, a teenager who was adopted by the leader of the group and who is frequently abused by his adopted mother. Percival Graves is a MACUSA official who promises to help Credence escape his mother and so join the wizarding world if Credence will help him to find the child who he knows hosts the destructive force (called an Obscurus) that has been wreaking havoc across New York.

Here’s where things stand at the end of the first movie:

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Newt has found all his creatures and has got them safely inside his suitcase. He has left America and intends to write a book on magical creatures. A later romance between him and Tina is hinted at. Newt tells Tina that he will return to New York to give her the book in person after it is published. Before leaving, Newt gives Jacob a suitcase full of silver Occumy eggshells to fund his bakery. Jacob has started this bakery, and has subconsciously shaped many of his products like the magical creatures he saw before he was obliviated. Queenie, who had kissed Jacob as his memory of the magical world was being wiped, visits him in the shop, and there is a possibility that he has suddenly remembered her. Graves turns out to be Gellert Grindelwald in disguise and has been arrested by MACUSA. Credence Barebone himself turns out to be the host of the Obscurus. He may or may not be dead: all that we know is that Ezra Miller will reprise their role as Credence in The Crimes of Grindelwald.

So what can we expect from The Crimes Of Grindelwald?

Here are some things I want to see.

Some development of the relationships between Newt and Tina, and Jacob and Queenie would be great. So far, Newt and Tina have had an entirely platonic relationship and if it is to develop into a romantic relationship (although I would have preferred this not to happen), it must be done well. Queenie and Jacob have had romantic encounters already, but these have been somewhat one-dimensional. Queenie’s main fascination with Jacob is that he is a no-maj. Jacob is attracted to Queenie for her conventionally attractive looks. So far, this is all their relationship is. Perhaps now that Jacob has been obliviated (that is, his memory has been wiped), they might go about their relationship differently.

In Fantastic Beasts, Queenie saves the lives of Newt, Tina, and Jacob by using her attractiveness to get rid of a MACUSA official who suspects that the suitcase she is carrying is actually Newt’s suitcase (which it is — and it contains the other three leading characters). She also once uses her powers of Legilimency (mind-reading) to blackmail another MACUSA official. However, she never once uses any other magical ability in battle as other characters do. This reduces her to something of a background character who doesn’t do much for the plot beyond being eye candy. It would be good to see her display some of her other magical abilities in the coming movie. These abilities are likely to be considerable, since Legilimency is a complex skill that very few magical folk have mastered.

I also want to see an explanation of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship, and I hope it gets the screen time it deserves. This point has caused some amount of controversy among fans. More than a decade ago, Rowling revealed that she always saw Dumbledore as gay, and said that he had once fallen in love with Grindelwald, who he knew as a young man. However, this has never come across in canon. Many fans hoped that since The Crimes of Grindelwald covers the time period in which Dumbledore encounters Grindelwald again in an attempt to defeat the latter, the movie would show some canonical evidence of the relationship between the two wizards. Unfortunately, rumours seem to show that this will not be the case. Fans have accused Rowling of attempting to gain fake ally points without actually giving LGBT+ fans any real representation. I only hope the rumours are wrong, and that this movie will not be another addition to the long list of stories that reek of queer-baiting.

Controversies before the release…

The release of this movie is riddled with controversy. Many are outraged at Rowling’s decision to have Johnny Depp, who has been accused of domestic violence, cast as Grindelwald. There is also the controversy of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship, as explained above. And then there is some more.

The trailer of the coming movie revealed that Nagini, the snake that followed Voldemort wherever he went and in which he had put a piece of his soul, is actually a human woman cursed to be a snake. The trailer showed Nagini, played by Claudia Kim, transforming into a snake, and this JK Rowling received many questions about this. She then explained in a tweet that Nagini is what is called a Maledictus, which is different from being a werewolf in that it is a curse passed from mother to daughter. Nagini does not want to be trapped in snake form and this movie follows her attempts to remain human.

Part of the controversy came from the fact that Nagini is shown as an Asian woman who is later owned as an object by a white man, Voldemort. Voldemort and his Death Eaters are modelled on the Nazis, which makes this choice very problematic. When confronted about this on Twitter, Rowling said that she has based this concept around Indonesian mythological figures called Nagas. This also received considerable backlash, since Nagas are originally from India, not Indonesia, an either way, this does not explain the casting of a Korean actress for this role, or the fact that Nagini is owned by Voldemort. While it might be interesting to see this character developed on screen, the controversial aspects have become something of a train wreck and reflect poorly on Rowling, who is generally known for her liberal and feminist point of view.

Despite its problems, it would be too much to ask of many fans to boycott the movie, although some are doing this. I hope it will have redeeming features that make it a valuable addition to the Harry Potter canon.


About the Author

Arya L

Arya. Teenager. Madcap book lover. Writer and poet. Feminist. Dog lover. Professional procrastinator. read more...

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