Have you ever been to see a movie twice at a cinema? Perhaps you just loved it so much that you just had to leap back into the theatre and watch the whole thing all over again? Or that you’re a secret, hardcore fan and you had to see the film when it premiered and see it again with your friends? Or perhaps it’s a repeat of a film that you watched years ago- a replay of the Lord of the Rings movies? I’d never been to see a movie twice- until tonight.
See, I was with with my girlfriend in Aberystwyth when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (FBWFT. This isn’t the official acronym but boy, that entire title is a tiring thing to write) came out. She’s a huge Potterhead, and I’m a moderate Potterhead, and so we trooped off to see it along with what felt like the rest of Aber. On returning back home for the Christmas holidays, my mum and my sister wanted to go see it as well, and I decided to tag along.
Watching a movie for the second time is actually quite refreshing. As you know the plot from the first screening, you can keep your eyes out for all the little nuances that a director throws in as they go along. You can experience all the complex inter-relations between characters that you didn’t pick up the first time round and some of the jokes make a lot more sense. It made the film rise in my ratings: the first time round, FBWFT (let’s be honest with ourselves here, this acronym needs an acronym itself. Let’s go for FB. Sounds too much like Facebook, but it’ll have to work) got a three star review, but I’d give it a strong four stars now.
Here’s a strong warning: spoilers from this point on. You have been warned.
FB has a lot of moving elements and tries to use the plot as a vehicle for talking about topics that wouldn’t necessarily slot into the world of Newt Scamander. On the second viewing, the most obvious narrative were discussions about terrorism and its roots. It gives those who are fuelled by destructive, uncontrollable anger a sympathetic arena in which to have their story understood. That kind of arena has been missing within our dialogue on terror for a long time: we often reach for basic understandings of black and white in the face of immeasurable pain and hate, and the shades of grey either fade away into the background or stand out as bold colour.
That kind of reaction is understandable, but FB offers a fresher way to tackle the problem of terror: through careful, gentle dialogue which Newt uses. From finding a middle ground and a point of shared identity, anger can subside and fresher perspectives can be found to pilot new courses through difficult conversations.
Yet FB also shows how difficult that kind of conversation can be to have and how that type of understanding can be hard to fish about for within ourselves. Far easier for us to continue with blame. FB asks us to step out from behind that comfort and into the harsh reality of co-existence.
Also the CGI is bloody fantastic and the niffler is the cutest thing. And Eddie Redmayne is an absolutely fab actor and should be knighted/ awarded the Nobel Peace Prize/ be awarded another high accolade faster than you can say bowtruckle.