The Curious Case of The Case of Beasts: Hidden Secrets Revealed! (Book Review)

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Jan 19, 2017

Posted by: Patrick Byrne

Actor Interviews, Book Reviews, Books, Companion Books, Crew Interviews, Fantastic Beasts, Fantastic Beasts Movie, Film Images, Filmmaker Interviews, Films, Interviews, MinaLima, Movie Art, Movies, News, Props-Sets, Warner Bros.

School may have been out for the Christmas holiday recently, but one thing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them taught us is that school was out permanently for Newt Scamander. Or so we thought.

Recently, one of the team at Leaky finally managed to get their hands on a copy of the Fantastic Beasts tie-in novel titled The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which has proven to be more resourceful than first anticipated.

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The book, priced at £15.00 in the U.K. and $28.08 in the U.S., is an officially licensed product written by Mark Salisbury. The tie-in explores the filmmaking process behind Fantastic Beasts, including close analysis of the main characters, as well as an examination of the props used and an exploration of the inspirations behind creating some of the creatures from the film. The book also comes with a series of prop replicas from the movie, including a blank MACUSA wand permit and a copy of Tina Goldstein’s MACUSA records. All of the items (as well as the book’s style, which is modelled on Newt Scamander’s case) were designed by the artsy graphic designer duo MinaLima, who design all of the artwork and paper-themed props for the movies with such fine detail.

The pair’s keen eye for detail is in fact what fuels the first, and possibly biggest, reveal. On one of The Case of Beasts‘ pages, we see a theme connoting the interrogation of Newt Scamander. First, take a look at this scene below:

During the scene, Percival Graves iconically remarks that Newt was expelled from Hogwarts at some point during his education, a fact that fans have known for months. At first sight, this seems like old news. However, did you spot the forms that Graves was reading from?

The papers in question are a collective copy of Newt Scamander’s criminal record, which detail everything about a previous offence that saw an expulsion thrown his way. These papers however are no blank sheets, as one would expect of any normal prop. On the aforementioned page in The Case of Beasts, MinaLima show off the records in all their glory, them having been filled in by hand. Although certain props such as these aren’t actually shown to an explicit level in the film, the extensive attention to detail is a proverbial signature of the two graphic designers, who like to make the props feel as authentic as possible and have done so throughout all of the Potter films!

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What is the significance of this? Well Potterheads…on the records, MinaLima have cited the exact circumstances behind Newt’s offence at Hogwarts (using exclusive information given to them by J.K.Rowling herself), as well as the grounds for his expulsion!

Looking closely at the paperwork, one can legibly read Newt’s profile, age, offence, as well as other features. The document states:

 


 

NAME: Newton Fido Artemis Scamander
AGE: 29
RESIDENCE: England, United Kingdom
APPEARANCE: Hair: dark; Eyes: green/blue; Built: Tall and slim.

OFFENSE: Illegal possession of a magical beast causing endangerment of human life and violation of Animal Welfare Laws 101/304.

DATE: 1913

LOCATION: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, United Kingdom

LEVEL: 3

WITNESSES: Multiple

NOTES: Proposed expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry due to the illegal possession of a magical beast causing endangerment of human life and violation of animal welfare laws 101/304.

Magical Beast: Jarvey, Level 3

Punishment: Expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
– The expulsion was never enforced – Hogwarts Professor Albus Dumbledore defended Newton resulting in his name being cleared.
* The Ministry of Magic Animal Welfare Department were also informed of the violation and were required to rehouse the magical creature.


 

The first thing to pick out of this heap of information is Newt’s age at the time of the incident. According to wizarding world lore, Newt was born in 1897. By the time the Magizoologst sets foot in New York, he is 29 years old, which is in-keeping with the document. As the incident seems to have taken place in 1913, this would make Newt approximately 16 years old, which places him at either the end of his fifth year or the start of his sixth year at Hogwarts.

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In terms of Newt’s supposed offence, we now know that the “dangerous” creature was a simple Jarvey. A Jarvey is, in essence, just an overgrown ferret that is capable of (rather rude) speech. However, the interesting thing to note here is that the beast is only a XXX class creature, meaning it is in no way a known wizard killer. If that be the case, then wouldn’t it seem a little excessive to try to expel a young Scamander, especially if it was on the grounds of the Jarvey ‘endangering human life’? Could this be yet another case of the Ministry of Magic being a little over the top?

 

However that is not the most important aspect of the record’s content. As we read in the ‘Notes’ section at the bottom of the sheet, it transpires that…

Newt’s expulsion was never actually carried out!

Contrary to what we have been lead to believe in the past, the records confirm that Newt’s expulsion WAS in fact dismissed thanks to Albus Dumbledore’s influence. This contrasts with past insinuations, which stated that Albus had no grounds to save Newt, as he was ‘presumably’ a new teacher at the time. When one analyses Percival Graves’ monologue from the original trailer (which is also the same speech he makes in the film’s interrogation scene, albeit with one or two minor differences of tone), one sees that Graves himself makes it seem as though the expulsion was carried out, as he says that Newt was ‘kicked out of Hogwarts’. However, it seems that Graves made a grave mistake in his facts, with a possible reason for this being that he hadn’t read the notes properly. As to why he would make this error, there seems to be a hidden explanation.

As fans may have gathered, Graves wasn’t entirely interested in neither Newt, nor his reasons for being in America, other than the fact that he made an excellent scapegoat to pin the Obscurus trouble on, while Graves (aka Grindelwald), would be free to continue his search for the child. The fact that Graves fails to read the notes correctly, coupled with his sudden action of sentencing Newt to death when the Magizoologist catches him off guard, reflects that Graves is just looking to wrap the case up as quickly as possible, leaving Newt to take the consequences. It seems very likely that the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement has glanced briefly over the notes to try and make the interview seem legitimate, yet he has failed to read the full context, as he just doesn’t care as long as Scamander is found guilty. These cracks in Graves’ reading skills, as well as the fact he defines the Obscurus as ‘useless’ as opposed to ‘harmless’, discredit his identity, showing fans, as well as Newt, that he is hiding something. A very clever Easter egg from Jo indeed.

The only reason that Graves (aka Grindelwald) mentions Albus Dumbledore, seems to be due to the long history that the pair share. His eye may well have caught the name on the page, yet again he has failed to read the full context prior to Dumbledore’s name. Although the Professor wasn’t Headmaster at the time, he was still a respected educator and powerful wizard. It seems that somehow Albus managed to clear Newt’s name of the offence, possibly via giving him an alibi.

The quashing of Newt’s expulsion finally answers one question that has been on fans’ lips for many months:

If Newt was expelled, why was he still allowed to use a wand, have a job at the Ministry and practice magic in general? 

The simple answer is that if Newt’s expulsion never actually occurred, then he would of course still be able to have use of his wand, as well as the freedom to practice magic and the ability to access the Ministry of Magic for a career. It also explains why the original editions of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them state that Newt Scamander graduated from Hogwarts.

Just when you think it’s all over however, it isn’t, not by a long shot. When scrolling to page 9 of The Case of Beasts, one finds the following passage:


“In addition to name checking Albus Dumbledore, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them also includes a good number of elements from the Harry Potter series, including a brief glimpse of Grindylows, the Deathly Hallows symbol, Gellert Grindelwald (one of the most powerful Dark wizards who ever lived) and a certain Leta Lestrange who, it is revealed, was the real reason Newt was forced to leave Hogwarts.”

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Not exactly strange, coming from a Lestrange. At first glance, this seems to contradict the fact that Newt wasn’t expelled, but there are two possible explanations that restore the status quo. The first explanation revolves around the phrase’s exact words of Leta being ‘the real reason Newt was FORCED to leave Hogwarts.’ This could simply correlate to the pressure that Newt faced from the Ministry of Magic, as they were effectively ‘forcing’ an expulsion on him. That doesn’t mean to say that he actually got kicked out, of course. It all depends on how you read the words themselves.

The second explanation, albeit not clear, is that Newt did actually leave Hogwarts before his education had finished, but he did so of his own accord. If that is the case, then Newt Scamander’s bio in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them novel would be a simple error on Rowling’s behalf, which you can guarantee she will correct with the new Fantastic Beasts editions arriving in March. What we do know from J.K. Rowling is that Newt took the blame for someone’s misdeeds, a fact which we see explained in the video below from SnitchSeeker:

Given what we know about the sequels by this point, we can imply that the someone he covers for is Leta. Considering that there is obvious love lost between Scamander and Lestrange, it is possible that Newt may not have been able to face continuing his education at Hogwarts while Leta was still there, acting innocent while Newt was considered dangerous and essentially public enemy number one.

But wait, there’s more!

When delving deeper through the pages of The Case of Beasts, one discovers that there are one or two other minor details that we have never even heard of before. The first piece of extra insight comes thanks to the one and only Porpentina Goldstein, Newt’s future wife. We all saw in the film that Tina had been demoted from her position as an Auror to working at the Wand Permit Office, after an unfortunate incident that saw her attack Mary Lou Barebone, a No-Maj, in the weeks prior to Newt Scamander’s arrival. Tina’s impulsive behaviour may have been noble in the sense that she was helping young Credence Barebone, but it cost her dearly. In fact…it cost her her freedom. It would seem evident that Tina’s actions must have been monitored somehow by MACUSA on a daily basis, as she was forced to keep away from the Second Salemers. But did you know that Tina was tagged the whole time throughout the movie?

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Adorning Ms. Goldstein’s wrist  was an inconspicuous piece known as an admonitor bracelet. An admonitor bracelet acts much like a Muggle electronic ankle monitor, with it serving a purpose of tracking Tina wherever she goes, whether it be to work, to home or even to the bathroom. The usage of the admonitor bracelet could well lead to the idea that Tina may even be on a curfew, with her possibily having to return straight home after her shift at the Wand Permit Office so that she isn’t tempted to track the Second Salemers.

However, Tina Goldstein isn’t the only character we learn a little more about. Another turn of the page brings us to Jacob Kowalski, the loveable No-Maj baker and Erumpent eye candy. According to Case of Beasts, Queenie Goldstein, the adorable Legilimens who has made every male Potterhead swoon, may not have been the only woman in Jacob’s life.

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Hidden in a deleted scene from the movie is Mildred, a woman who was originally engaged to be married to Jacob. However, before you begin to think that the No-Maj is a player, it turns out he was the one being played. Portrayed by actress Sinead Matthews, Mildred waits for Jacob to return home from the Steen National Bank, from whom he is hoping to secure a loan for his business. Upon returning empty handed, Mildred gives Jacob his ring back and leaves his apartment, presumably fed up that he is chasing a dream that will never come true.

If the fact that Jacob was dumped by his fiancé wasn’t intriguing enough, then perhaps the appearances of Jacob’s former and current spouse will have your little grey cells doing overtime. When looking at both Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Mildred (Sinead Matthews), one sees that the two women share some visual similarities, such as their shoulder-length, blonde hair and their predominantly pink outfits. Although it may seem like a coincidence at first, when one weighs up the facts, one may be able to make sense of why this scene was deleted to begin with.

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One common theory that surrounds the topic of relationships is that more often than not, a person may be inclined to fall for someone who looks just like their ex-partner, as it provides them with comfort and a quick-fix remedy for a broken heart.

Taking this into account, let’s examine the metaphor behind Kowalski and Goldstein’s relationship. The pair symbolise everything that is wrong with MACUSA’s enforcement of Rappaport’s Law of Wizard/No-Maj segregation. In a way they are a classic Romeo and Juliet duo who cannot be together, not because of who they are but what they are. The pair’s attraction acts as the first brick to be knocked down in the proverbial wall that separates No-Majs and wizards, so much so they may in fact have become the pioneers of wizarding acceptance and integration that we now know of in modern America.

If the Production Team for Fantastic Beasts had added the Mildred scene into the film, it may have wrongly altered some fans’ perceptions of Jacob, in the sense that he only fell for Queenie because she looked like Mildred. This, in turn, could have then lead to doubts over the authenticity of their coupling, on Jacob’s end especially.

However taking all of that ex-fiancé mess out of the equation, introducing the character as single and ready to mingle, it gave us all a much stronger belief that Jacob and Queenie are the perfect couple brought together by love as opposed to heartbreak, thus strengthening the real loving bond that they both share.

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Moving on from characters, The Case of Beasts also spills the beans over some of the global locations that inspired the glorious and sometimes eerie sets created by Stuart Craig. Leaning on the side of creepy, the book takes the reader back to MACUSA’s inner bowels, including the underground detention area, the death chamber and Percival Graves’ interrogation room.

According to one particular section of the book, we find out that the darkness, dinginess and overall horrific vibe of these particular sets were no accident. It transpires that Fantastic Beasts Director David Yates had intended for the area under the Woolworth Building to carry reflections of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, with iron-clad corridors, windowless rooms and out-of-place clinicians in white coats all adding to the sense of horror and projecting a feeling of complete isolation from the rest of the world. More ‘Hostel’ than ‘Harry Potter’ one could say.

Other highlights of the tie-in book include pages taken from The New York Ghost, numerous Wanted posters and a close-up of Newt Scamander’s wand, all of which can be seen below:

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It really does seem that you can’t judge a book by its cover!





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The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.