Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: An Analysis

You’ll note the title does NOT say REVIEW. I’ll begin with something along those lines, but then I’ll be breaking out the spoilers, though hopefully I’ll have gotten to the big bold letters that say “spoiler warning” before then.

First, the film was good. Very good. It adds many fascinating elements into the world of Harry Potter, and also manages to be very much its own. Perhaps it helps that it’s set in America.

It also helps that it stays out of the prequel/remake trap of trying to force in any and every reference it can to the original work. Only one or two of those exist here, one a very, very brief mention of Dumbledore (which is done without making too big a deal about it), the other, of course, Grindelwald. But Grindelwald was great, particularly since he was such a minor character in the last Harry Potter book and last two HP films.

I came in expecting the film to attempt to incurr a sense of wonder around all the magical creatures featured, and I was not disappointed on this. The film really sells a sense of joy and a sense of wonder and a general love of life.

Finally, if you like Doctor Who, you’ll love this. Newt Scamander is basically Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor as a wizard. They even have the same hair. Like, seriously, was Rowling just watching a lot of Doctor Who when she wrote the script? This is basically a Doctor Who story, but with wizards instead of aliens and time travel.

***SPOILER WARNING***

An now on to the analysis.

Grindelwald

Omigosh I loved Grindelwald in this. I only have two complaints about this, in that I wasn’t sure how I felt about Johnny Depp playing his true self, but also there wasn’t enough of Grindelwald being Grindelwald.

Depp certainly got the creepy factor down, but, I don’t know, on the one hand he seemed a little too round faced (though that might have been due to other factors) for my taste; in retrospect I think I also liked the sort of fascist charisma of Colin Farrell, in that it seemed more true to the character.

That being said, I loved all the fighting that Grindelwald was involved in, particularly at the end when he engaged like twenty aurors at once and was winning. I was hoping for a moment when Grindelwald either lost his wand or encountered a threat that he wasn’t entirely prepared for, only for him to pull out the Elder Wand and then commence the curbstomb, but alas. It probably would have had to have gotten really really bad for him to pull out a wand that would identify him so quickly — after all, not only is this the Elder Wand we’re talking about here, but wands work effectively as driver’s liscences or passports or ID for wizards — so using his own wand would have been an easy way to blow his cover.

As a last note on Grindelwald, I kept waiting and waiting for his accent to drop and him to revert to a more Slavic/Germanic accent — say, in a moment of frustration — but that didn’t even seem to happen even when he was captured that much. (At least he didn’t say enough to really show any kind of accent.)

America

First thing I’d like to note is that I loved the aesthetic in this film, at least of the wizards in trenchcoats and fedoras. Like, that would be my outfit as a wizard.

The way the wizarding community was far more integrated with other species was also an interesting contrast with Britain (even a Britain fifty plus years in the future relative to this film). Here we have goblins and elves and… giants I think? living more or less in harmony with each other. Perhaps that’s an effect of the strict segregation of wizard and muggle in America, so that those few cling more tightly together? Or perhaps it’s because America?

Regardless, I did enjoy seeing, if nothing else, a black female president of the American wizarding community.

But also the execution room and the pool of memories. When I first saw it I thought it was a giant pensieve, although I’m still not sure that’s what it’s supposed to be. But that’s my headcanon now, because a pensieve of all the wizards of America would be so cool.

The Obscurus/Obscurial

This is probably the most interesting new piece to fit into the canon. My immediate thoughts went to other characters that have suffered trauma in regards to their magical abilities: namely, Harry Potter and Ariana Dumbledore. So why does the Obscurus manifest for Credence, but not for either of these?

I think the main issue is that the negative emotions and the trauma must be self-inflicted; that is, that the wizard must come to hate and despise themselves and their own magic. This, I think, is the major difference between Harry and Credence: Harry, despite everything he puts up with from the Dursleys, never comes to really hate himself, nor, for that matter, despite their threats to try to “stamp the magic out of him,” do they ever go nearly as far as Mary Lou Barebone, the leader of the Second Salemers, and inflict any corporal punishment; furthermore, all while Harry is sort of punished for whenever he accidentally did magic, this was more or less inconsistent and about the equivalent of being grounded.

This isn’t to say Harry didn’t have a rough childhood; but it seems that an obscurus only manifests in the most extreme circumstances. Also, very likely, the magical community had gotten better at preventing obscuri manifestations between Scamander’s adventures and Harry’s.

The question of if Ariana Dumbledore ever manifested an obscurus is a much more interesting question to me, though. If how Scamander and the others try to deal with Credence is any sign, it seems perhaps the process has some hope of being reversed or controlled. Which I guess is to say that, I’m willing to bet that Ariana did indeed manifest an obscurus. And when Aberforth mentions her having “episodes” and the time Ariana killed their mother, it was because of the obscurus. Ariana may indeed have had intense self-hatred issues regarding her magic, which she could blame for all the bullying she received, her father being imprisoned, and her brother being held back from his dreams (not that she really was to blame, but perhaps that’s what her mind thought).

Which brings up an interesting question: Grindelwald is interested in finding the obscurus in New York in order to force wizards to reveal themselves: perhaps he was interested in the Dumbledores for similar reasons?

Newt Scamander

Am I the only one who read Scamander as having Asbergers? Because between the poor social skills, movement quirks, and seeming obsession with magical creatures, he definitely seemed to fit the bill.

Which is, granted, fantastic (if I might use the word here). I couldn’t help but think of The Imitation Game in conjunction with this — though Cumberbatch’s character in that was I think more obviously Asbergers — and I have to say I think I like the representation of at least implicit neurodivergeant protagonists.

Also, again, I think Matt Smith was secretly impersonating Eddie Redmayne through the entire production, because Matt Smith was all I could think of in his performance: the hair, the bow tie, the clothes, the quirky tics, the love of life but wariness of human selfishness, the bigger-on-the-inside object, and especially the way he’d hold conversations with each and every one of his…pets? fantastic creatures? particularly the bowtruckle.

Advertisements

Fabrication: The Supportive Systems

Intro

Metamorpher, Pt 2

Origins, Pt 2

The Fabrication Supersystem

Color Assignment

Well, I can always assign colors later. What are more important are the functions of each individual system.

As I established previously, the Fabrication system has eleven subsystems, split into three categories: the Transformative systems I’ve already worked out; the Supportive systems I’d like to delve into now. As a reminder, those are the Muscle/Skeleton, the Integument, the Lymph, and the Vestibulary.

I’ve divided these up further based on sub-functions into two pairs: the muscle/skeleton, which provide internal shape, versus the Vestibulary, which senses the shapes of those exterior (as a side note, not a combination unlike Pewter and Tin in Sanderson’s Feruchemy system) and Integument, which acts as the passive defense of the body, and the Lymph, the active defense.

Musculo-skeletal System

The broad associations of this system are form and movement. I’m not sure how to combine these two, and it may work better to split them – especially since twelve’s such a nicer number than eleven. However, regardless, I envision this as the sort of backbone of Fabrication, or at least one of the most important systems (along with Digestion and Nerve), but we’ll see how that plays out.

I imagine this as a sort of jack-of-all-trades system that merely enhances and perfects rather than doing anything much on its own. A body implanted with this system would run faster, lift more, walk longer, than a body without. Perhaps.

An alternative application would be transference of kinetic force. Machines and creatures using his system would be able to move things around: linings on the inside of Fabrication trees would move the stone scales using this system.

But perhaps I can do both?

The Vestibulary System

This is, of course, the senses. Machines that use this would be able to sense things, from movement to light to heat to sound, and all sorts of things in between. I’m not sure if this would be the system to use for getting better vision, of if you’d want Musculo-skeletal for that.

The Integumentary System

As I mentioned above, this is the passive defense. Which makes figuring out what this would do more tricky, although all of the Supportive systems have been hard to figure out, since they’re all largely passive, unlike the Transformative systems, which are highly active. Perhaps this would be effective at creating particularly impenetrable surfaces, but that’s hardly a magic, or at least way too boring for my taste. An impenetrable shield is cool, but only if a couple people can use one – not if everyone can.

That said, other themes I could work with, possibly, are repair or decoration. Maybe this’ll be the art system.

The Lymphatic System

The active defense. In the same thought as my mind conjured impenetrable surfaces for Integument, it also conjured unstoppable points for Lymph, which would be particularly silly, seeing as the two systems would basically just cancel each other out, rather than have anything productive on their own.

On the other hand, the lymphatic system seems to be a sort of janitorial team for the body, but I’m not sure how to implement that as a magic. This one’s probably the most difficult of the bunch.

Well, those are my thoughts on these. Any of your own? Please don’t hesitate to comment, like, or follow!

Fabrication: Subsystem Names

Intro

Metamorpher, Pt 1, Pt 2

Origins, Pt 1, Pt 2

Biocrystal

Corporal Functions

I’ve been trying to come up with names more manageable than “corporofabricaion” and “animofabrication.” Obviously the subsystems need far more simpler names than these. One particular option stood out to me, as, since I had desired to associate each subsystem with a particular color and to grant the biocrystal assigned to the subsystem that color, it would seem fitting to name each subsystem after its associated color.

But what colors to use, and which ones to assign to which functions? Certainly I could assign each function a color associated with that function – for example, Circulation with red and Urination with yellow – but eventually you run into functions whose colors overlap: indeed, the great majority of parts of the body are either red, orange, gray, or white. The method I’ve preferred is to line of a hierarchy of the corporal functions along the light spectrum.

However, this yields its own problems. I’ve already discussed using light as problematic, due to the inclusion of tetrachromatic beings, so I ought to design the colors with that in mind, with some, perhaps, reaching into the ultraviolet or infrared zones.

On the other hand, color isn’t light, so perhaps assigning a spot on the light spectrum is a bad idea.

Alternatively, and a little more complexly, I could assign each function, and thus each type of biocrystal, a particular mineral or element; it appears that generally crystals gain their color from the minerals in them, so it would make sense to expand that to the biocrystal.

In working this out, I imagine I’m going to have to create a table or something of all the associations of each subsystem; but I imagine as well that those who lived in such a world where Fabrication existed would do the same, perhaps even assigning particular systems virtues or personality characteristics (I’m of course also thinking of Stormlight Archive, which also has crystal-based systems, though here certainly the characteristics associated with each subsystem would be far more subjective than in Sanderson’s epic fantasy).

Thoughts on which sort of approach you prefer? Please comment or message me. I’ll of course be thinking about these things over the next week, but I do put these up on the internet so that I can get some thoughts outside my own head.

Fabrication: Corporal Functions

Intro

The Metamorpher, Part 2

Origins, Part 2

Biocrystal

Ultimately, I decided to go with the Corporal Functions supersystem. (Surely no one, especially anyone who read the title, saw that coming.) On the one hand, eleven subsystems are far more manageable than the twenty or more that the Sensation supersystem would have required; on the other hand, I feel it’s far more universal than the Light supersystem would have allowed – particularly in a universe where I intend on having tetrochromatic creatures running around.

I based my list of corporal functions off of this list, which has eleven total functions:

  1. The Nervous System
  2. The Digestive System
  3. The Circulatory System
  4. The Respiratory System
  5. The Muscular/Skeletal System
  6. The Integumentary System
  7. The Urinary System
  8. The Reproductive System
  9. The Endocrine System
  10. The Immune System
  11. The Vestibulary System

This is a wordy list, so I’ll be referring to these by their function, rather than by the name of the system as a whole. Alternatively, I could refer to them by the name of the magic subsystem, but I have yet to design individual systems for each function, and I probably need to find less syllable-intensive names than “corporofabrication,” “aurofabrication,” and “aquafabrication.” But I digress.

I have split these eleven functions into three classes, based on general similarities between them.

Transformation:
1. Digestion
2. Respiration
3. Urination
4. Reproduction

Support:
1. Muscle/Skeleton
2. Integument
3. Immunity
4. Vestibule

Connection:
1. Nerves
2. Circulation
3. Endocrines

I have yet to determine how these classes correspond to functions of the magic. So far I’ve only really thought out the Transformation class. Here each individual system corresponds to a type of matter and a quality of a substance.

Digestion corresponds to transformation of solid matter and temperature. This is the corporofabrication system, more or less.

Urination corresponds to transformation of liquid matter and friction (perhaps – we’ll see about the friction aspect). I’ve taken to calling this system aquafabrication, but, again, I’ll be needing simpler names.

Respiration corresponds to transformation of gaseous matter and pressure. I think I might either have this govern all matter that’s more energized than liquid (that is, gas, plasma, states of matter above that), but the alternative is that matter that hot just can’t be acted on using magic, which, upon reflection, I’m okay with. I’ve been calling this aurofabrication.

Reproduction is the odd one out of the bunch. I’ve had it correspond to the transformation of the soul. Given the highly unscientific nature of that sort of thing, I’m not sure how that would actually work out. But, on the other hand, I intend this to be the hardest, most complex, difficult system out of all eleven (baring maybe nerves, maybe), so I’m okay with not being sure just yet how it would work. Furthermore, this system would allow the manipulation of life: giving life, giving intelligence, creating life, etc. I’ve had the idea of some kind of sapient biocrystal supercomputer, and this would be the system that would allow its creation.

But enough about reproduction, or animofabrication. Next week I’d like to go into the other seven systems I haven’t covered here.

Thanks for reading! Don’t hesitate to like, comment, subscribe, or whatever else it is people do with these things.

Fabrication: Supersystem

Intro

Metamorpher, and Part 2

Origins, and Part 2

Biocrystal

So I’ve already discussed two overall applications of corporofabrication (or corporofabrication and aurofabrication (which is pressure manipulation)), now I’d like to brainstorm three different supersystems that would include these two and others. As mentioned last week, each individual function would have a particular color assigned to it, but now I’d like to consider the total number of subsystems within a series of potential systems.

These supersystems are based on symbolic models that I think corresponds well to the themes of the system as a whole and the themes of the world for which this system is being created.

Model 1: Corporal Functions

The first potential supersystem is based on corporal functions, or systems of the body. Individual systems would be based on bodily functions. Based on research, there are about eleven different systems of the body, so that would mean a total of about eleven different submagics to Fabrication as a whole, which I feel is, while on the large size, a reasonable number to deal with.

This one has the advantage over the other two in that it feels the most universal to me. This feels like all of life boiled down to the most essential elements, the things which all forms of life must have, after a fashion.

Model 2: The Senses

While I kinda like this one, the list of senses that even humans have is enormous (at least compared to these other models), and that’s without counting the myriad of senses available to other forms of life. Essentially, here, an individual system would correspond to an individual sense. And while you might think that I’d only need to use the five classical senses, even then this system makes things problematic for any kind of being that lacks one of those five (say, for example, sight).

But I wouldn’t want to restrict this kind of supersystem to just the five classical senses: some of the other senses, such as balance/acceleration and self-proportion, would be fascinating to try designing a magic for.

Model 3: Additive Light

This one I like the most out of the three, but it falls under much the same problems as Model 2: namely that it’s very humanocentric. This wouldn’t be a problem if this magic were only available to humans, but as I’ve laid out in previous posts, that’s not the intention here. And since additive light is based on the unique way in which humans (and mammals and many other animals, granted) process light, I don’t feel I can use this.

Which is a pity, because, as I said, I really like the ideas of this system. Essentially, the supersystem would have three primary subsystems, three primary magics, and then combining any two would result in a secondary subsystem. A seventh, final magic would result from combining all three primary magics.

Ultimately, I’ve been feeling drawn to Model 1, though. I’d love to revisit these other systems, but they’ll have to be for other worlds rather than the one I’ve been working on.

I already hear some of you saying that creating a symbolic supersystem is arbitrary and unnecessary, but I should point out that such a supersystem functions to orient the systems in regards to the others – to connect all the functions I need to be present – and at least makes it easier for me to expand upon the supersystem as a whole.

Thought? More knowledge you’d like to impart upon me in regards to one of these models? Please comment, or like, subscribe, etc.