It has not been my intent to write movie reviews (unless there is a Sacramento connection), but I was inspired to write about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when I learned that Dictionary.com had chosen “xenophobia” as the 2016 Word of the Year.
My daughter and I went to the IMAX Theater on K Street in Downtown Sacramento the day after Thanksgiving to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Both my daughter and I are long-time Harry Potter (book and film) fans and we had been looking forward to this prequel spinoff of the Harry Potter series.
The weekend after Thanksgiving is always a busy one at the movies, so I went on-line that morning and reserved seats for later that afternoon. I was glad I did because many of the best seats had already been reserved.
There is a $2 per ticket fee to reserve tickets in advance – but the advantage is that you can walk into the theater with your confirmation in hand just prior to the movie starting. You do not have to arrive early to stand in line outside hoping that there are good seats left.
Some movies are best seen on the BIG screen – and this one of them.
British author J.K. Rowling’s wrote the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2001 – although the cover of the book credits Newt Scamander, a magizoologist (one who studies magical creatures). Diehard Harry Potter fans will recall that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was one of Harry Potter’s required textbooks his first year in school at Hogwarts.
Rowling’s is also the screenwriter of the movie which stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt, a British wizard. Playing supporting roles are Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman and Colin Farrell.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in New York City in 1926. Newt arrives by boat in New York City with a suitcase containing a variety of magical creatures while on his way to Arizona. I don’t want to give the plot away – but creatures escape and are pursued, and we are introduced to the secret world and strict rules of wizards in the U.S. (no magical creatures allowed/no interaction with “No-Maj” i.e. non-magical persons aka “muggles” in the U.K.).
Newt is a shy wizard who is more comfortable with his creatures than people. In New York he makes friends with Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj aspiring baker played by Dan Fogler. Newt strongly believes that all creatures, no matter how different and strange, should be treated with understanding and respect. His belief is, of course, the opposite of the 2016 Word of the Year.
Dictionary.com defines xenophobia as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.” It can also refer to fear or dislike of customs, dress, and cultures of people with backgrounds different from our own.
I have not yet read the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but I have added it to my “buy” list. If you have a Harry Potter fan on your holiday gift list you may want to consider doing the same. The sale of the book benefits the U.K. charity Comic Relief – with over 80% of the cover price going directly to poor children around the world.
Having enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I am looking forward to the other announced four films in the five movie series. The second film in the series is expected to be out in November 2017.
Question(s): Did you see the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Have you read the book? Comments on both film and book are welcome. What do you think of the choice of xenophobia as the 2016 Word of the Year?
(UPDATED 12/19/2016) Merriam-Webster’s has recently announced that their 2016 Word of the Year is “surreal” meaning “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream” or “unbelievable, fantastic”.
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