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Book Review: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original ScreenplayFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up the screenplay last Friday for my wife who is definitely a bit of a Potterhead. Having grown up without the same enthusiasm as her, and having come to enjoy the books and films as an adult, I meant to pass this onto her. But I had a thirty minute walk from the shop and nothing else to do, so I started reading. And reading some more.

Before I realised, I had read 100 pages of the screenplay, and then was halfway through. I was enthralled with the description of the opening pages: the vision of J.K. Rowling to explore her world in more depth, and the fact that there was a show of more magic and might than featured in the original Harry Potter novels. In fact, I might add, that when I read the novels it was the magical world which drew me in so much as well as the overall charm of the ideas.

Then I read through to the end and uncovered all the twists of the screenplay. As someone who has attempted to write plays I was amused that the screenplay seemed to do so many things I had been told not to in terms of stage directions. But I did not care. Because it was an excellent and evocative script that showed me so much of the story through a clever mix of dialogue and description of events. Having seen the film today it was fascinating how much matched up almost identically to the script (and the few things I missed as well from just reading).

I won't spoil the plot, which was convoluted and ultimately felt like a teaser for Fantastic Beasts 3, 4 and 5. However, I will say that there were plenty of moments which stunned me from the power of the writing. These were moments where I could envision the awe and chilling nature of Grindelwald as a villain in the opening sequence and later near the end. I will say that I appreciated the fact that as a villain, his power was not through just using raw magic (although with the elder wand he clearly possessed this) but through his ability to persuade and manipulate his followers into doing what he wished.

The film will sell itself to fans of fantasy or all-things-Harry Potter. What becomes important then is, should you read the script? I would argue that you should, because it was well-written and I think will give fans a better sense of the narrative than merely watching the film. That said the film and script are near identical (as can be expected), so there is little chance of getting a truly different experience from each text (aside from the slight subtleties and nuances of tone, drama and acting/action sequences).

So, do I recommend reading the script for The Crimes of Grindelwald before the film? Not necessarily as I think it will ruin some of the plot twists. Do I recommend reading it for greater clarity on the film or for anyone who is a Potterhead? Absolutely. From a writing perspective it's well-done and it certainly is a quick read. So if you are into the Wizarding World, this is a must-have. Although, I doubt I have to tell any fan this twice (or even once for that matter).

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