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Author Topic: Spoiler Warning for Beast Film: Puzzling Parts of Plot?  (Read 1874 times)

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December 12, 2016, 07:43:45 AM
Reply #20

atschpe

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I just saw an interesting discussion I wanted to bring here, about the mentioned witch burnings:

From what I understand, "witches" were not burned in Salem (this happened in Europe and other places), but hung and similar. However, there are various references to the Salem witch burnings. It seems unlikely that Rowling would not have researched this, but could this be a nod towards how misinformation creates fear? After all, we hear the the rhyme about the witches again and again, said/sung very mechanically …
"Of course it is all in your head, but why on Earth should that mean it isn't real?" ~Dumbledore (DH)
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December 12, 2016, 03:44:27 PM
Reply #21

HealerOne

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Oy! I have always been under the impression the Salem 'Witches' were burned at the stake as occurred in Europe, but you are correct most were hanged, other than those that died in prison. A common misconception that Rowling seems to have also. Although in the movie the little rhyme is the only thing that alludes to this. It could be that rhyme goes back in history to the European tradition?
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December 12, 2016, 11:11:03 PM
Reply #22

wordsaremagic

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The story of what happened in Salem has been distorted and manipulated by writers, politicians, and historians ever since it happened. It is hard to find a reasonable account that puts things in the proper context. Usually the first two things people think of are The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter. I like both of those, but I honestly think that neither gives an accurate portrayal of Puritans. Both were written using images of Puritans to deal with issues of the authors' age.
Hawthorne was writing in the 1850s, an age known among American literary scholars as Romanticism. He is generally categorized as a "Dark Romantic" as opposed to the Transcendentalists like Emerson and Whitman. Hawthorne shares the Dark label with Poe and Melville. The Dark Romantics, while focusing on the power and role of emotions (as do all literary Romantics), did not necessarily have faith in the innate goodness of Humans. In Melville's case, the pessimism sometimes goes beyond human nature to a belief that there may well be something universal that is evil: not quite the Original Sin belief of the Puritans, but close. Hawthorne too felt that there is something wrong in the human soul. In The Scarlet Letter, every character is flawed, and the Puritan community IS a character. The three main figures, Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, and Hester represent three main movements in the intellectual history of America up to that time: Puritanism, the Enlightenment, and Romanticism. Each is flawed, each is incomplete (as all " ... isms" tend to be). Each of them operates by an entirely different system of truth. Dimmesdale is a man of religion. Chillingworth is a rationalist/scientist. Hester is a Romantic; the feelings of the heart justify all things. The Puritans are there to provide the movement of the story. At the beginning, they are incredibly harsh, but by the end they accept Hester because of her good works (and the A begins to stand for Angel rather than Adultery). Witches are mentioned in the story. They are always associated with the forest (where most scholars think the act of adultery of Hester and Dimmesdale took place). They are not anything like HP witches and wizards. Their "powers" are not an issue of genetics as they are in HP. They choose the role and align themselves with Satan in exchange for power. In the HP world, people are born witches and wizards. The hostility of the Puritans in Hawthorne's vision is based on the fact that witches and wizards are destructive to human society. They are not born as witches and wizards. They choose to act in an anti-social manner in exchange for power (rather like Voldemort). But that is also true for Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. They too are destructive to human society at its most basic level, the family.
In The Crucible, the Puritan community is used by the author, Arthur Miller, to make a statement about the "Red Scare" during the Cold War in the 1950's. The story is not about real Puritans at all, but about the American public more than two and a half centuries after the Salem Witch Trials.
After a great deal of study, I have decided that the Puritans have gotten some bad PR. When compared to most of the other people at the time, they actually seem far more liberal than most modern people think. The Massachusetts General Court put an end to the Witch Trials by outlawing the use of "spectral evidence" in the trials. Within a few months, witch trials started disappearing.
That was NOT the case in European nations.
My judgment about the New Salem bunch in Fantastic Beasts is that, like Hawthorne and Miller, Rowing is using the history of the Salem Witch Trials for a contemporary purpose. She is saying something about people TODAY, rather than about the historical Puritans of the 1600s.
Now, a great many people want to focus on the influence of Puritanism on American culture, and that really is a huge intellectual influence, but the influence of Puritans on the history of England is even greater. Remember that Puritans in England overthrew and executed one king and drove another into exile. Even when the monarchy was restored, the English Bill of Rights under which William and Mary took the throne, had a very large number of concessions to Puritan values. Interestingly, one of those was the right of English Protestants to maintain arms (since James had tried to disarm Protestants). This became the basis of the right to bear arms in the Virginia Bill of Rights and later in the Second Amendment.
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December 13, 2016, 05:08:24 PM
Reply #23

HealerOne

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Thank you wordsaremagic, for such an informative and thoughtful post. I like your analysis that JKR is using the Salem Witch background to say something about society today. That's a powerful statement and as we saw in the HP books as well as many of her other writings, this is very true of how she writes. Sometimes what is underneath is so well hidden in her books that it does take many readings and study to uncover these themes. 

So now to go from that premise - what is she conveying about society in the era she writes (1926) and then beyond to present day? Our need to thrust guilt on an entire part of society (witches, Germans, Jews, immigrants, Muslims) for all our woes? Targeting of the animals as being wicked or lethal when Newt sees them as only doing what is natural to them, also adds to this notion of blaming the "whole for the one bad apple." The Obscurus might represent the pent-up frustration and rage that can burst forth from all this finger-pointing - a very dangerous force indeed. Any other ideas as to what she is conveying here?
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December 14, 2016, 12:01:14 AM
Reply #24

wordsaremagic

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...   
So now to go from that premise - what is she conveying about society in the era she writes (1926) and then beyond to present day? Our need to thrust guilt on an entire part of society (witches, Germans, Jews, immigrants, Muslims) for all our woes? Targeting of the animals as being wicked or lethal when Newt sees them as only doing what is natural to them, also adds to this notion of blaming the "whole for the one bad apple." The Obscurus might represent the pent-up frustration and rage that can burst forth from all this finger-pointing - a very dangerous force indeed. Any other ideas as to what she is conveying here?

Thrusting our own guilt on to others is one of the most common human actions -- which doesn't necessarily absolve the target from all guilt either. We are all kind of guilty.
I like your idea of the Obscurus as a projection of pent up anger. It reminds me of the ancient Greek myth of the "Furies." In the ancient tradition of personal justice, a person was required to carry out justice in the form of revenge. If you kill my father, I am required to kill you. If my father has no sons to carry out the vengeance, the Furies will pursue the killer and execute hideous vengeance. If I do not carry out my duty of revenge, the Furies will come after me. Justice must be done. The human desire for justice runs deep.
It struck me that the myth reflects a huge truth about human nature: we become infuriated when there is a perception of unpunished evil. It erupts in rage that takes the forms of riots and assassinations of innocent people. That is why I get greatly disturbed by the media's overblowing perceptions of injustice for the purpose of increased ratings.
An Obscurus seems like a personal Fury.
The interesting part of the Greek myth is that when (in the Oresteia by Aeschylus) the Ancient Athenians exchanged Social Justice (in the form of trial by Jury) for personal justice (in the form of blind vengeance) and dedicated a temple to the Furies, the Furies were transformed into the Eumenides, the "Blessings." They became a blessing to the community's peace and prosperity.
The injustice Creedence suffered built into a personal Fury, mindless and deadly and ultimately self-destructive, as all rage ultimately becomes.
It is a simple idea; never leave people feeling completely hopeless. That does not mean you must give people everything they want, just that you must not close every path to their own efforts.
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December 14, 2016, 06:00:57 PM
Reply #25

atschpe

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Such wise words, wordsaremagic. In a way Credence as an obscurus also reflects on the magical society being suppressed, blamed, hidden in the American wizarding world. How long can they hide, stay fully separate until the magic tears up the seems leaking so far into No-Maj society that accidents or worse happen. If Newt would not be caring for the animals and helping them, how soon before the animals might casue major harm? This film is really about suppression and the results of it.

I like your parallel to the Greek Fury. Makes me wonder if there is a magical equivalent of the Blessings. Either in overcoming the suppression of magic or in some other way.

Reading your words I started to wonder if the obscurus might be a natural development from how magical kids start manifesting magic – the little outbursts of uncontrolled magic. Most go off to a school to learn and embrace their magical potential, but those who don't train it and even suppress it seem to find the little outburst not only increasing but getting so far out of control it can be fatal.

My judgment about the New Salem bunch in Fantastic Beasts is that, like Hawthorne and Miller, Rowing is using the history of the Salem Witch Trials for a contemporary purpose. She is saying something about people TODAY, rather than about the historical Puritans of the 1600s.
Now, a great many people want to focus on the influence of Puritanism on American culture, and that really is a huge intellectual influence, but the influence of Puritans on the history of England is even greater. Remember that Puritans in England overthrew and executed one king and drove another into exile. Even when the monarchy was restored, the English Bill of Rights under which William and Mary took the throne, had a very large number of concessions to Puritan values. Interestingly, one of those was the right of English Protestants to maintain arms (since James had tried to disarm Protestants). This became the basis of the right to bear arms in the Virginia Bill of Rights and later in the Second Amendment.

Thanks for the detailed overview. This makes me wonder if Rowling might be drawing some parallels even. Might Grindelwald have gone to the US, to "start a new" with his beliefs? Could Rowling be seeing the No-Maj or at least those who are vehemently trying to expose the magical community similar to the Puritans on some levle?

Oy! I have always been under the impression the Salem 'Witches' were burned at the stake as occurred in Europe, but you are correct most were hanged, other than those that died in prison. A common misconception that Rowling seems to have also. Although in the movie the little rhyme is the only thing that alludes to this. It could be that rhyme goes back in history to the European tradition?

I first also had to do a double take on this. It might well go back to European tradition, and/or be something that warped over the years. From another point of view, she might be repeating something she heard so much, that it got drilled into her – another aspect of the suppression happening. The old schooling system likes to use repetition to drive something into the subconscious mind. And she does "chant" it rather mechanically, as if not even considering the words, but just having a rhythm to walk to.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 06:29:11 PM by atschpe »
"Of course it is all in your head, but why on Earth should that mean it isn't real?" ~Dumbledore (DH)
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December 15, 2016, 12:12:04 AM
Reply #26

wordsaremagic

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... In a way Credence as an obscurus also reflects on the magical society being suppressed, blamed, hidden in the American wizarding world.
You bring up something that I wondered about. Certainly there must be Muggle-borns (or No-Maj-borns) in America. Given the complete separation of the magical and non-magical worlds in America, how are they identified? How are they incorporated into the Wizarding community? Does MCUSA track down all their friends, family, neighbors, teachers, etc., in order to modify their memories (since there are supposed to be no exceptions)?
With that kind of repression, I would expect far more Obscurials.
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December 15, 2016, 04:25:18 PM
Reply #27

atschpe

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... In a way Credence as an obscurus also reflects on the magical society being suppressed, blamed, hidden in the American wizarding world.
You bring up something that I wondered about. Certainly there must be Muggle-borns (or No-Maj-borns) in America. Given the complete separation of the magical and non-magical worlds in America, how are they identified? How are they incorporated into the Wizarding community? Does MCUSA track down all their friends, family, neighbors, teachers, etc., in order to modify their memories (since there are supposed to be no exceptions)?
With that kind of repression, I would expect far more Obscurials.
Obscurials, torn families, confusion … indeed this policy causes a lot of problems and hurt. It makes me wonder how they even reached this approach. They do not seem that pureblood-oriented, and yet this pretty much bars any "intermagical" marriages (muggle with wizard/witch) ontop of muggle-borns being required to leave their families. Thinking of this, it feels a bit like some religions that require their members to only interact with people of their faith.

Hmmm … I wonder, could Grave/Grindelwald have something to do with this. There is no indication (taht I recall) that this has always been like this. Could he have used his position to push his views into the American magical system? I.e. was it always like this, or has he quietly worked them to this point?
"Of course it is all in your head, but why on Earth should that mean it isn't real?" ~Dumbledore (DH)
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December 26, 2016, 12:11:33 AM
Reply #28

Evreka

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I have a lot of catching up on reading to do, but I just found out (through Jo's re-vamped website) that Grindelwald did not use Polyjuice to pass himself off as Graves:

Why did ‘revelio’ undo the effects of Polyjuice Potion?
It didn’t. Grindelwald’s Transfiguration surpasses that of most wizards, so he used a spell, not a potion, to take on the appearance of Percival Graves.

Source: http://www.jkrowling.com/welcome-to-my-new-website/ , scroll to the end, question 5.
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December 29, 2016, 07:11:11 PM
Reply #29

HealerOne

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I have a lot of catching up on reading to do, but I just found out (through Jo's re-vamped website) that Grindelwald did not use Polyjuice to pass himself off as Graves:

Why did ‘revelio’ undo the effects of Polyjuice Potion?
It didn’t. Grindelwald’s Transfiguration surpasses that of most wizards, so he used a spell, not a potion, to take on the appearance of Percival Graves.

Source: http://www.jkrowling.com/welcome-to-my-new-website/ , scroll to the end, question 5.
That certainly clears that up. It makes us understand that Grindelwald's abilities with magic is quite vast too.

I re-saw the movie again over Christmas. I noticed that the wand used by the executioner, called Bernadette, in the Death Cell had a skull on the end of it and looked remarkably like the Elder wand - Dumbledore's wand. However the wand is thrown into the bath where Tina's chair is sinking. The wand apparently makes the liquid turn into "a black bubbling Death Potion". The wand appears to disappear into the potion. So could this be the Death Stick? Could it have belonged to Grindelwald at that point? How would he have gotten it back?
I don't remember in the next scenes where Graves is fighting with his wand if it is the same wand. Anyone else remember seeing it?
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December 31, 2016, 03:20:26 AM
Reply #30

wordsaremagic

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I re-saw the movie again over Christmas. I noticed that the wand used by the executioner, called Bernadette, in the Death Cell had a skull on the end of it and looked remarkably like the Elder wand - Dumbledore's wand. However the wand is thrown into the bath where Tina's chair is sinking. The wand apparently makes the liquid turn into "a black bubbling Death Potion". The wand appears to disappear into the potion. So could this be the Death Stick? Could it have belonged to Grindelwald at that point? How would he have gotten it back?
I don't remember in the next scenes where Graves is fighting with his wand if it is the same wand. Anyone else remember seeing it?

I just received my copy of the screen play and have read less than a dozen pages, but so far there is no mention of wand descriptions. I will try to anticipate that as I go along.
Normally in a movie, a properties department, with the guidance of the director, will make such choices. But Yates and Rowling seemed to have worked together closely.
I think the film will be released for public sale next April. It will be fun to go over it together.
Has anyone else gotten the screen play yet?
It might make a good discussion thread.
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