„Grindelwald’s Crimes“: The innocent times from „Harry Potter“ are over.

In Fantastic Animal Beings: Grindelwald’s crime we get to know the magical Paris of the thirties. This has little in common with the innocent Harry Potter adventures of the past. A critique:

Oh, what was the excitement when in 2005 the almost finished Harry Potter pressed a slabbery wet kiss on the mouth of his schoolmate Cho Chang in the Room of Wishes. What an innocent love. What a sweet scene. The makers* of the latest adventure from the magical world can only smile tiredly about this: fantastic animal creatures: Grindelwald’s Crime, the second of five planned Harry Potter spin-offs, is incomparably darker, more evil and even a bit political.

Harry Potter writer Joanne K. Rowling once again contributed the script. David Yates, who already directed four Harry Potter films and also Fantastic Animal Beings and where they can be found, takes the viewers* back to the thirties of the magician world. The dark magician Gellert Grindelwald, who was arrested at the end of the previous film, manages to escape. He wants to lead pure-blooded sorcerers and witches to world domination and kill or subjugate the Muggles, all non-magical people. After all, one also needs „beasts of burden“. Little by little, the villain scrapes his followers* around in Paris. So far, so simple.

Who am I? Where am I? What am I?

But in addition to this main plot, David Yates shows us so many subplots, jumps in time and changes of location that viewers* have problems following the plot and memorizing all the new names and faces before a new character is immediately introduced. After almost 130 minutes, you feel as if you had just run an untrained half marathon in your head.

In a great hurry we learn that Credence Barebone, who at the end of the first film was actually considered dead by the viewing public*, works as a temp for a travelling circus, but is also in search of his mother. A love story is quickly told by protagonist Newt Scamander with Lita Lestrange – yes, exactly, a sister of the witch Bellatrix Lestrange. Then we become witnesses* to the relationship crisis between witch Queenie and Muggle Jacob – yes, Jacob had lost his memories of the existence of a magical world at the end of part one -, Voldemort’s snake Naghini appears in human form, Newt Scamander has stress with his brother. And then, here and there, the title-giving fantastic animal creatures jump through the picture and are either extremely cute – ui, a gold-greedy Niffler! – or destroy everything – oh, a burning cat lion with a colorful mane.

One of the biggest weaknesses of the film is its overflowing narrative: Joanne K. Rowling has overloaded her story with so many ideas and characters that there is hardly any time to breathe and enjoy. Because visually has fantastic animal creatures: Grindelwald Verbrechen has a lot to offer, you can tell that the film was shot for 3D cinema. Curses buzz from magic wands, huge animal creatures hiss across the Paris sky in bright colours or magicians and witches dissolve spectacularly into fog – there is seldom a really quiet moment that is not interrupted by a curse firework.

Action scene follows action scene and so Grindelwald’s crimes have little in common with the earlier Harry Potter movies. David Yates makes his movie much darker, darker and more cruel. Right in the first few minutes of the film so many people are killed, deceitfully killed, that it quickly becomes clear: We are no longer in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, no – this is the „real“ life here – and now die, you Muggle!

Grindelwald seems more threatening than Voldemort

However, the movie doesn’t owe much of this gloomy mood to the special effects, but to a platinum blonde Johnny Depp. While Eddie Redmayne takes a clear step into the background, Depp can now completely fill and shape the role of Gellert Grindelwald. Depp convinces as a cold-hearted, villain in leather trousers, who knows how to win other people over with the help of his power of speech and incite them against other people. In contrast to the Potter villain Lord Voldemort, Grindelwald is much more human – and therefore all the more threatening.


European Film Gateway meeting in Bologna, 28 June 2016

23 June 2016 – EFG partners and interested ACE members are invited to join the EFG meeting, which takes place in Bologna on 28 June. The meeting is organised by Deutsches Filminstitut and ACE, both partners in Europeana DSI representing EFG. Aim of the meeting is to give an overview of the activities carried out under Europeana DSI 1, what are the tasks for the next funding period (July 2016 – August 2017), and to update on Europeana’s latest developments and strategic planning.

ABCinema Plus workshop on rights issues for film education, Frankfurt, 13 April 2016

Providing  critical viewing skills is key for young generations to understand the visual culture around them. European film archives have a longstanding expertise in teaching what film is  – a language, an art form, an expression of human activity. They offer varied film literacy activities (workshops, screenings, seminars, guided tours etc.) for different user and age groups.  However, the legal framework under which film archives and cinema institutions carry out these film literacy activities is more often than not unclear.

In the frame of the ABCinema Plus project a one day workshop will be held at the Deutsches Filminstut in Frankfurt on 13 April 2016 to give insight in copyright exceptions and licensing models related to the use of film heritage in education.  The workshop is open to the professional public.