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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)


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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was—according to the in-universe lore—a Hogwarts textbook written by one Newton Scamander, a magizoolist, and published in 1927. Scamander was born in 1897 and was interested in magical beasts from an early age, and that his mother bred hippogriffs. Any flashbacks will likely include the humble horklump, a rather gross bristly mushroom-like creature, which Scamander apparently dissected as a youth. Rowling has also mentioned that the story starts in New York City; that and the date evoke the delicious possibility of some American-style Jazz-age wizardry.

We know that Scamander began work on Fantastic Beasts in 1918, so it took him nine years of work and travel to get the book together; that alone could furnish more than enough material for a movie. But even beyond that, Scamander’s life was a pretty eventful one. He married a woman named Porpentina, about whom we have little information, but surely the movie will give us more (we do know that their grandson Rolf will go on to marry Luna Lovegood). Scamander was the creator of the Werewolf Registry in 1947, presumably in response to some lycanthrope-related crisis, and the 1965 Ban on Experimental Breeding, which put an end to the creation of new magical species, though he would have been in his late 60s by then.

Scamander was also involved with the Dragon Research and Restraint Bureau, which must hold tempting possibilities for Rowling the screenwriter: there are 10 species of dragon in all, and some of which we’ve never seen on screen (I would pay good money to see an Antipodean Opaleye). Along with all the rest of it, Scamander put in some time as headmaster of Hogwarts. In fact he’s already made a few cameos in the movies—his portrait hangs in Dumbledore’s study—and in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, his name is glimpsed fleetingly on the Marauder’s Map. Though he’s supposed to have died in the early 1990’s, so that may just have been his ghost.

Fans of Crookshanks will be happy to know that Scamander had a fondness for the catlike kneazle—Crookshanks is half-kneazle, but Scamander was known to have kept three full-blooded kneazles as pets. Rowling has also mentioned a few of the beasts in interviews, which suggests she may have a special interest in  them. The Doxy, for example, which she described in a 2001 interview as “a kind of biting fairy.” She also brought up the Mackled Malaclaw, a weird sort of land-lobster with a bite that causes bad luck, and the adorable fluffy puff skeins. Only time will tell if she can summon the courage to put in an alethiafold—which is, she confessed, “the thing I would least like to be attacked by… It slides under doors at night and suffocates its prey. So personally that would be my worst one.”

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