Review of Fantastic Beasts and How to Find Them: The Original Screenplay – J. K. Rowling

Posted: March 25, 2019 in fantasy, Review
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When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone . . .

Inspired by the original Hogwart’s textbook by Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original screenplay marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. A feat of imagination and featuring a cast of remarkable characters and magical creatures, this is epic adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition for any film lover or reader’s bookshelf.

Fantastic Beasts and How to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

J. K. Rowling

Little & Brown

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

This is not a novelisation of the movie, nor does it bear much relation to Rowling’s earlier work by that name (which was an in-universe work; essentially a bestiary for the wizarding world). No, it is what it says on the cover, the screenplay for the movie. Which made the eternal question of whether to read the book or view the movie first even more difficult. So, I came up with the bright idea of waiting for the DVD and them attempting to read the screenplay and watch the movie simultaneously. And no, that just does not work. But I did discover one thing – this screenplay really is the movie, line for line, direction by direction. It’s all here, except the special effects, and those really must be left to the imagination. Or memory, because I really would recommend watching the movie first in this case.

I found the book to be an interesting supplement to the movie. It added to it in unexpected ways – giving names to many characters that I missed in passing, and adding lots of small details. There is a helpful glossary of film terms at the back and I suspect that, given how rarely the screenplay of a popular movie is published in book form, film and media studies teachers will find the book quite useful. It’s quite a short read, and I have to admit that it did will take a while to get used to the format. It’s certainly a physically attractive book, with a nice 1920’s style about it, including clever drawings that hide creatures in scrollwork.  It’s not a novel… but if you enjoyed the movie, I think you will probably appreciate the screenplay, but if you didn’t like it, then this is not the book for you.

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