Posted by: lederniermot7 | December 4, 2018

Review : Crimes of Grindelwald

Outside of the noise surrounding the newest addition to the Potter family, Crimes of Grindelwald, regarding harried plot, frazzled character development, disjunction from the wizarding world as we know it amongst other criticisms, I would like to take a moment to consider the intrigue a film like Crimes holds – not only to die-hard Harry Potter fans but to all those muggle movie-goers alike.

(I would also like to refrain from any spoilers, so please, rest easy. I’ll resist the urge to talk about that thing that happened with Newt and — kidding.)

So what is the appeal here? We’ve got some magic and we’ve got some wonderful and sure as Merlin fantastic beasties running around 1927 Paris while bad things happen in the rest of the wizarding community and the goodies try their darnedest to stop it. Pretty cut and dry as far as plotting goes. Pretty predictable even. Save the details, we can probably guess how it’s going to turn out and who’ll do what. That all being said, not much seems to be rooting for Crimes success – and we are left with the world itself. Because the world of Harry Potter is a big one; it started with a castle and a cupboard under a staircase, some pointy hats and flying broomsticks. Then it grew, and it grew some more. Now it has left us outside the gates of Hogwarts we know and love to fend for ourselves with our wide array of magic knowledge and trivia and learn a new story that predates anything we’ve seen thus far.

That’s where I think the real magic lies: not in the big adventure plots aimed at drawing in the masses, but in the realization that something came before the world we already know. There is more for us to see and more ways to see it than the nearsighted gaze of a teenaged Harry Potter, and a companion series as the Fantastic Beasts franchise has become is a skillful way of expanding that view.

It also matters to us, however, where we can see these things happen, and even when we were at banquet in Hogwarts’ great hall, we were also in the Scottish highlands; boarding the Express, in the very real King’s Cross; and visiting the Ministry’s pedestrian entrance on the corner by Scotland Yard. The films’ (and the original texts) positioning of the magical in the real, in the visitable is an aspect which intrigues us all the more. We are thrilled when the new and different appears in the mundane, making the transformation of a simple brick wall out back of a dingy pub still more wondrous.

It’s funny, then, to talk about illusions in Harry Potter, and most specifically, in Crimes. It is, of course, a world totally reliant on illusion and secrecy, on having two sides and keeping entire existences out of sight from others. The films in turn are forced to make do with this, to show and not tell, to reinvent ways of seeing so as to really convey that element of hidden acknowledgement the stories demand. And so we have enchanted statues which reveal passages only to those who know they’re there; government establishments hidden amidst old office buildings; briefcases to house hordes of wild beasts and whose appearance can be altered based on its audience.

This fixation on multiplicity and alteration of image is something we are inevitably drawn to, especially when those changes are made so easily, are maintained decisively, and act as the means to some end in their deception. It is something we find meaning in and seek to understand ourselves. We want to see all the sides of every picture painted, and only when we realize there is always more to know can we acknowledge truly how many sides there are.


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