Saturday 7th Nov 2015
Well, that was a bit of an exciting week.
So far we’ve had our first look at Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and the film’s rather special logo, and there are SO MANY things we now know about the film and North American wizards. Where to begin...
The US term for Muggle is ‘No-Maj’
Non-magical people in North America are called ‘No-Maj’ (pronounced no-madge).
The American Ministry of Magic is called MACUSA
This stands for the Magical Congress of the United States of America. It’s based in the Woolworth Building, Manhattan, and even has its own seal of office.
American witches and wizards live in secret
Thanks in no small part to events like the Salem witch trials, the North American wizarding community lives strictly off the No-Maj radar.
By Newt’s time, most No-Majs don’t believe in witches and wizards, save for a fanatical organisation called the Second Salemers. They are led by Mary Lou (Samantha Morton) and want to expose and destroy witchcraft in the US. Mary Lou’s son Credence (Ezra Miller) is a troubled figure.
The film is set in 1926
We knew the film was set in the 1920s but now we know the year. Well into the Roaring Twenties – what could it mean for the story?
Newt owns an enchanted suitcase
How does a Magizoologist work on the go? He takes his work with him, of course. Newt Scamander’s suitcase is enchanted so that it’s bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside. To avoid embarrassment at US Customs, Newt can flip a switch on his case to hide its contents from No-Maj eyes.
The beasts escape
Newt falls foul of the American wizarding authorities when the beasts in his enchanted suitcase get out, which puts him in the path of Graves…
You’re a wizard, Colin
Colin Farrell plays a powerful MACUSA Auror named Graves, right-hand man of the US wizarding community’s leader.
Tina Goldstein works at MACUSA
Porpentina Goldstein is a young witch who works for MACUSA. She’s been demoted below her abilities and ambitions because she stood up for the wrong person.
Queenie Goldstein is a Legilimens
Tina’s younger sister has the ability to extract feelings and memories from someone’s mind – a great skill to have.
The actors had a say in their wands
Eddie Redmayne felt strongly that Newt would have a simple, wooden wand, while Katherine Waterston wanted a heavier wand to give her spells more oomph. Colin Farrell even got a practice wand to train with.
The movie centres around four friends, and one is a No-Maj
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them isn’t just Newt’s story; it’s about Tina, Queenie and aspiring baker Jacob – the first non-wizarding main character. He starts the film post-breakup and gets swept up in Newt’s wizardly wake.
There is a scene in a Harlem speakeasy
A scene in Fantastic Beasts is set in a Harlem speakeasy. The film’s 1926 setting is slap-bang in the middle of Prohibition in America, when buying, selling and bootlegging alcohol was illegal. That didn’t stop there being literally thousands of speakeasy clubs in New York City alone. But is this establishment for witches and wizards, or No-Majs?
The film was almost a faux documentary
There are 75 species of magical creatures in the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but no plot. The filmmakers considered making a faux documentary but when J.K. Rowling heard, she offered up another idea and started writing. This is the first time she has ever written a screenplay, and she has mapped out the next two already.
Although we are left wondering how a David Attenborough-narrated ‘Mating cycle of the Hippogriff’ segment might have panned out.
Eddie Redmayne has read all the Harry Potter books
The lovely Eddie Redmayne has read the Harry Potter stories, watched the films and was courted for the role of Newt Scamander about five months before J.K. Rowling submitted her final screenplay. The British actor also worked with animal handlers and zookeepers to prepare for the role.
Here’s a reminder of how bloomin’ cool he looks in costume on the cover of Entertainment Weekly:
PSYCHED? You bet.