Though fans of Harry Potter knew well that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be the last book in the series, they couldn’t help but crave more of that magical world that J.K. Rowling provided for young and adult readers alike.
Writing a sequel would have been cliché; inventing a new extraordinary world a definite faux pas; so Rowling did the only sensible thing to do. She invented a prequel that not only would provide more information for existing fans to further plump up the world of the wizards they held dear, but also give her an opportunity to dish out not one, but five more instalments to the story, as has been confirmed by the author herself.
A novel usually takes a few years to write but a film script, despite its complexity, needs a lower word count and less elaborate paragraphs to make it work, being instead concerned with scenery, dialogue, facial expressions and action in a way that a book would not. The script idea also meant that fans of both the books and the films were able to get their hands on their preferred medium at the same time, since the script was published on the same date as the cinema release. A story would have had to be rewritten as a film, but a script worked well for the reader too.
The story follows Newt Scamander, British magical zoologist in the 1920s, who is on a trip to New York. Hidden in his magical globetrotting case is a menagerie of creatures that the film’s name refers to as Fantastic Beasts. When some of Newt’s precious creatures find their way out of the case, he must together with his new-found friends ensure to get them all back safe and sound.
Meanwhile, in the city, there is much going on as whilst the No-Majs (non-magical people in American English) actively oppose witchcraft of any sort, some type of monster appears to be causing havoc and must be restrained. Only, in order to do that, the magical community must find out what it is.
When I picked out the book for this review, I was sceptical about whether a script could ever live up to the expectations of those who had already enjoyed seven books’ worth of Rowling’s vivid photographic descriptions. Reading through it, however, showed me that she can make even stage directions an improbable joy to read.
It was a pain at first to have to contend with instructions such as “AERIAL SHOT of New York.” and “They have arrived outside the Woolworth Building.” as well as the continual mention of each character as the dialogue goes back and forth between them. The same applies to the number of times the reader is advised that the wizards Apparate and Disapparate here and there all over the scenes nearing the end of the story.
However, these minor nuisances did not deflate the sense of urgency and the idea that the plot unfolds in real time before the reader’s eyes. Truly, I found myself not merely holding a book but rather being transported into the setting, living out characters Newt and Tina, Jacob and Queenie’s immediate present.
I read the script after watching the film and found it of immeasurable help in getting a clearer picture of what went on in the story. On screen, the tale was condensed into a little over two hours whilst containing so much information that it was clearly rushed at that time limit. Although the book seems to contain the exact same details as the film, it did still help me put all the pieces of the puzzle together in an easier and better way, maybe because it is so easy to miss details in an action-packed film.
Author: J.K. Rowling
Rowling’s ‘show don’t tell’ attitude in this script also plays a part in accurately portraying that which, even in a film with a massive budget and talented actors, is difficult to translate from the written word. I thought that it would be a challenge to get as engrossed in a script as I would a novel, yet the author turned script-writer has shown us once again that she is the queen of the art.
The book for this review was kindly provided by Agenda Bookshop.