His Last Great Adventure: Thoughts on Flamel

by Dime Mitrevski

Turning away from the debates concerning canon discrepancies and poor screenwriting in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, I would like to share some thoughts on Nicolas Flamel. This piece is exploratory in nature, so please don’t expect a unifying theory explaining everything about anything. I’d like this to be a distraction from the negativity surrounding the film and a nudge toward theorizing and speculating.

Among the many things in Crimes of Grindelwald that disappointed fans was Nicolas Flamel’s on-screen portrayal. And why wouldn’t they be disappointed when their expectations for this character have been running high since Book 1? This is a wizard who had cheated death for six centuries and created the Philosopher’s Stone. I bet most people expected to see some sort of a wizarding Superman on the screen, but they ended up with a fragile, absurd figure. Yet I was not at all surprised by this rendering of Flamel in the film, and as much as I thought his appearance was rather pointless to the immediate plot, and his character reduced to a sketch, in fact, that is exactly how I would portray him.

Remember Dumbledore’s words about the Stone: “The Stone was really not such a wonderful thing” (PS 17). Since Dumbledore was Flamel’s research partner in alchemy, he probably knows exactly how the Stone works. This quote might very well imply the condition we see Flamel in. While the Elixer of Life prevents one from dying, it does not stop the aging process itself. Moreover, it might be that natural death is the only thing the Elixer prevents. In other words, If you don’t have a Horcrux and sustain a deadly wound, then you would die even if you drink the Elixir since it would not protect you from death in this instance. The only problem with this theory is the fact that Voldemort was after the Elixir to get himself back to human form in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. How this works has still not been addressed in depth, but it may well mean that the Elixir can do more than just keep one from dying a natural death, breathing flesh and life into a fragmented soul, and reinstating its human form.

In Crimes of Grindelwald, Flamel says that he has not “seen action in two hundred years.” Given the sloppiness of the film, this line may well have been intended only as comic relief, and it did have that effect in the movie theater. Yet if we suspend our disappointment with JKR for just a moment, we may be able to indulge in a bit of wondering and theorizing. The year is 1927, so Flamel has been out of action since roughly 1727. Now, this would mean the period after the introduction of the International Statute of Secrecy and before the goblin rebellion of 1752. The only other information that we have about this period is that in the 1720s and 1730s, two British Ministers of Magic attempted to pass anti-Muggle legislation banning marriage between Muggles and wizards, and both their careers were ended because of this. Also, the period preceding this year had seen the declaration of three Dark curses as Unforgivable (1717) and the founding of Azkaban (1718). Although I think it is safe to assume that Flamel lived in Paris during this period, and most of these events took place and are related to the wizarding community in Britain, I highly doubt that they played out in isolation from the rest of the wizarding world. By that time, Flamel would have been around 400 years old – what kind of event or situation could prompt a man of his age to act magically for the last time before we see him in Crimes of Grindelwald?

Ultimately, as much as I was disappointed by the poor storytelling and character representation in Crimes of Grindelwald, I did find Flamel to be believable and intriguing enough. What did you think of him?