Review: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay”
Millions of Harry Potter fans around the globe and others curious about J.K. Rowling’s latest venture into the wizarding world will no doubt have seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which has been met with praise and criticism alike. I myself was quick to secure a ticket to an early screening at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre, built in 1924 and thus providing the perfect setting to watch our newest adventure in the Roaring Twenties.
Coinciding with the film’s release is the publication of the screenplay from Little, Brown and Scholastic. But is this companion a necessary addition to our bookshelves? And will we be clamoring to get copies of the potential screenplays for the rest of the series?
The subtitle “The Original Screenplay” is a bit misleading – this book essentially describes the final cut of the film without deleted scenes rather than the original script that J.K. Rowling wrote. There is also no supplementary material or behind-the-scenes commentary from her and the filmmaking team, though these will most likely be found in the updated textbook and DVD extras released next year.
That being said, it was nice to experience the story again in written form. For those like me who prefer to explore the wizarding world in printed format (I’m still crossing my fingers for a physical Harry Potter encyclopedia), the screenplay offers a way to follow the plot in greater depth. Personally, I had a difficult time understanding what the characters were saying in several parts of the film, so to be able to read the dialogue was hugely beneficial. Furthermore, the descriptions flesh out the characters and provide details that may otherwise be missed, such as how “one of [Frank’s] legs is rubbed raw and bloody – he has obviously previously been chained” and “[Queenie] reads [Jacob’s] mind and her expression changes to one of wonderment and tenderness as she sees what he went through in the war.”
Another major aspect of this book is the design by MinaLima, who produced the graphic art in the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films. The cover and internals are gorgeous and very much reminiscent of an Art Deco style with their ornate geometric shapes and flourishes. Hand-drawn illustrations of creatures also make frequent appearances throughout the book. All of these add to the magical charm of the story.
This is probably the closest thing we’ll have to a novelization of Newt’s adventures, and fans will revel in reading J.K. Rowling’s beloved words once more. However, a movie wouldn’t be complete without its visuals – and for this reason, I would highly recommend watching the film and experiencing the story in its intended form before reading the screenplay.
We are unclear as to whether there are differences between the content provided in the Little, Brown and Scholastic editions. If you have any insights on this, please do share them with us in the comments below.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.