Monday, July 23, 2018

Analysis & Symbols: Fantastic Beasts 2, Trailer #2

In all, there will be 5 Fantastic Beasts films, primarily focusing on the conflict between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindlewald; if you don't know anything about their relationship and history, I can highly recommend MovieFlame's Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald Origin/Relationship Explained on YouTube. Morgan Ross does an excellent job of providing the backstory and details of the interaction between these two wizards and why Dumbledore feels he can't move against Grindlewald, wanting Newt Scamander to do so in his place.
Now, let's at least briefly discuss an important point regarding Dumbledore: he's gay. A gay character who does not act upon his or her homosexual temptations is in accord with Church teaching, specifically, that if a person is gay, they are--just like single people, such as myself--called to be chaste and celibate. It appears that Dumbledore has actually done this. At this point in Dumbledore's history, the only "love interest" Dumbledore has had is that for Gellert Grindlewald when they were young, and it was not reciprocated by Grindlewald, so they didn't become lovers, and there was no one after Grindlewald in Dumbledore's life. So, as this stands at the current time (and a recent interview with Jude Law confirmed that Dumbledore's sexuality is not going to be explored anytime soon, but that is still fairly open-ended about the future) this is an acceptable presentation of someone who has been given this Cross to bear and his bearing it in accord with Church teaching. In this interview with author JK Rowling, she revealed that she is a practicing Christian and Christianity guided the story. I am, therefore, taking the time to read the books (it was the detail someone mentioned regarding Harry placing a cross at the grave of Professor Moody's eye that caught me unaware) and re-assessing the books. The truth is, there are some things in life which act as a greater temptation than others, and sadly, beyond Rowling's control, those who have encompassed themselves in witchcraft and WICCA have abused their own free will and, if not with magic, then with something else. That doesn't mean we, as Christians, should abandon ourselves but, as in all things, use discretion, test the spirit and always put God's will before our own.
I would like to be perfectly clear about this from the start: I am not going to be clear about anything throughout the rest of this post. We have a couple of minutes of a 2-hour long film, and there are too many factors of which I cannot possibly have access to in order to make a clear and definite statement; in other words, regardless of what I say, I am likely to have to walk it back after viewing the entirety of the film. To refresh our memories, let's take a look at the first trailer.
When this trailer came out, and before I had seen Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (which was definitely a pro-socialist film) I was confident that Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) would be a Trump figure cast in the most horrific light in the sequel; this is still possible, especially considering how the cast behaved in the panel discussion during the San Diego Comic-Con (the cast was saying, "Impeach Trump!" and trying to make links to the film) but there is a problem with that, and we see it in this second trailer:
In Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, I have to identify with the character of Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), the missionary who has launched the New Salem Society to expose witches and wizards (talking about socialism/communism makes me a witch-hunter, too, and I am a Christian), so I am not a member of the elite wizard class, I am a muggle. Further, Jon Voight's role as Henry Shaw Sr, and his son, suggests that these characters are an accurate view of how Republicans and Conservatives are viewed by the Left, while the Left sees itself as the elite wizards and witches who have been forced to hide (the Left fits this description because--like the wizarding world--they have had to hide being socialists, or gay, or wanting to change their sexual identities. or being drug addicts).
SO, metaphorically speaking, who does that make Grindelwald? 
The way Dumbledore is presented in both these trailers is quite interesting: how many times do we see Dumbledore's back? When we first see Dumbledore, it's the back of his head (same shot, both trailers); when he sits down on the desk in the classroom, we see him from behind; when he's meeting Newt atop the building, he has his back to Newt; at 1:16 (first trailer) we see Dumbledore looking at the proverbial "writing on the wall" and again when Dumbledore stands before the Mirror of Erised (pictured above, bottom image). Granted, we see the backs of other characters as well, however, at least the way he's being presented in the trailers, we see his back; why? The back symbolizes our shadow, the part of ourselves we can't see and so the part of ourselves that are likely to be vulnerable. The back is a complicated symbol, however, because there are also the shoulders--which symbolize the burdens we are willing to take upon ourselves or not take up--as well as the back of our heads; since the head symbolizes our thoughts, the back of the head usually symbolizes our history or past, sometimes those things we have buried, or at least tried to bury. Now, if you will notice in the top of the two images above, Dumbledore has his hands in his pockets; he also has his hands in his coat pockets when he meets Newt on top of the building; our hands symbolize our honor, so there is something regarding his honor which Dumbledore is hiding, e.g., that Dumbledore himself should be hunting down Grindlewald but sends Newt to do it instead (Dumbledore will be begged over the course of five years to battle Grindlewald, but he manages to put it off). In the bottom image, when Dumbledore looks into the mirror of Erised--the mirror that shows you what you most long to see--please note Dumbledore's arms: he has one sleeve rolled up and one sleeve down. Why? Arms symbolize strength, so it's possible that Dumbledore is exposing a strength he has (the "naked" arm, he's exposing his skin) while at the same moment hiding another strength he has (the sleeve rolled down covering his arm). Just because Dumbledore is seeing Grindlewald in the mirror in this moment doesn't mean that Grindlewald is to Dumbledore what his parents are to Harry Potter when he looks into the mirror (remember, towards the end of The Philosopher's Stone, when Harry sees himself, and not his parents, and he had the Stone in his pocket; that's not what he wanted to be seeing). At this moment, however, Dumbledore most wants to talk to Grindlewald and discuss something with him. Mirrors, after all, are glass, and we know that glass symbolizes inner-meditation, our ability to "reflect" upon our own selves, and it's likely that's what Dumbledore's doing in this scene: reflecting on exactly what it is he wants and doesn't want.
We know Grindlewald hates muggles, he believes that only pure-blood wizards should rule everyone else and wizards should dominate the world for the benefit of everyone, for the greater good. How can you possible get Donald Trump out of that? I know some Liberals will claim that Trump's policy on building a wall to keep out immigrants sounds like Grindlewald, that somehow Americans wanting to keep themselves safe and have people enter the country only legally and not illegally is about protecting our blood purity,..... what?!?!? No, that just doesn't make any sense. But that's not what Grindlewald is arguing anyway and that's not what Trump is doing: Grindlewald is arguing that they should come out of hiding (Republicans and conservatives haven't been in hiding) and they should use their greater power to enslave the lesser muggles (Republicans don't want anyone enslaves, Republicans want a strong, healthy middle class so the free market will flourish and the greatest number of people possible can become as wealthy as possible). So, what is it about Grindlewald that the Left can possibly pin as to pertaining to Trump or Trump supporters?
Nothing.
Which makes Grindlewald,....
This scene is an obvious reference back to Professor Remus Lupin, the Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) teacher who turned into a werewolf and was a good friend and mentor to Harry in The Prisoner of Azkaban. As in that story, when Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) escaped, so Grindlewald escapes in Fantastic Beasts 2, but I think that--just as Professor Lupin was hiding that he was a werewolf, Dumbledore, too, is hiding something, and it's possibly that it's his homosexuality (I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to make the case that homosexuals are treated like werewolves) but it might be that Dumbledore is actually hiding at Hogwarts rather than facing his fears of taking the role of leadership he's meant to take, and this could be because Dumbledore knows how easily he was hooked into searching for the Deathly Hallows with Grindlewald and planning with him the subjugation of muggles "for the greater good."
In the top image, I have pointed out what might prove to be some of Newt's classmates: Leta LeStrange is likely standing behind him, and oddly emotionless to everything that is going on; the red-head girl might be part of the Weasley clan and the boy standing behind her might be one of the Longbottoms,.... but these are just my guesses.
Now, let's discuss briefly what type of hero Newt Scamander is. The name "Newt" serves two purposes: first, it's short for Newton, the name of the famous scientist, so it suggests an atheist, but secondly, a man who has lost his genitals (please think of Monty Python's The Holy Grail during the witch trial, when John Cleese's character yells out, "She turned me into a newt!" and then everyone looks at him and he mumbles, "I got better.") A "genital-less male" is the only acceptable white, heterosexual male hero in today's world for the Left (note Newt was sorted into gentle Hufflepuff, not bold and brave Gryffindor). His last name "Scamander" references an ancient river which was supposed to bestow beauty upon women, so that, too, is a feminine reference So, this is a reason why, as a general characteristic, I don't particularly like Newt.
On a different note, however, why does Newt not want to work an office job? There are lots of people good at office jobs, however, Newt knows that he has other talents--singular talents unique to himself--which will go to waste if he files into a bureaucratic position in the Ministry of Magic rather than pursuing his dream and passion. Does this sound familiar? It should, because this is basically the reason why capitalism exists, and bureaucracies exist because of socialism and the government needing to create jobs for people to fill. This might be the wrong vein to pursue with this scene, however, there are mirrors on the bureau in which the boggart is kept, and the boggart itself is a kind of mirror, mirroring for you that which is your greatest fear, so there is meditation taking place in this scene. No doubt, when Newt says, "Riddikulus!" some fantastic beast will appear in place of the desk and scare everyone else. 
A Liberal.
Grindlewald is one of the Left, a figure of the New World Order. If Gindlewald is going to be seen as a "Trump figure" for the Left (that is, the Left views Trump as the incarnation of ultimate evil in the real world), then that really muddies the water of what the Left is going to have to concede (again, I could be wrong about details in the film, but this is a generalization): namely, if Trump is a Grindlewald metaphor, and Grindlewald is the most powerful wizard in the wizarding world, Trump is the most powerful, accomplished person in the world and Trump's "trying to help the wizarding world" (i.e., the Liberals) by bringing them out of the closet, so to speak and helping them to enslave unworthy muggles,.... like myself.
We haven't seen this top image in the trailers as of yet, but it's been released as part of the film's stills, and when I saw it, for some reason, I immediately thought of James Bond's file which appeared in Spectre (bottom image, I couldn't find a better picture of it, sorry). Even I recognize this is a bit of a stretch, but there is also the moment in the first trailer at 1:15-6 when we see a man in a cellar or underground tunnel (just his back) and he's looking at white, glowing writing on the wall (the image of this moment is below in the next set of stills), and this "writing on the wall" might also be a reference to Spectre, since that was an important scene in the movie and the title of the theme song. There is also the scene when Dumbledore meets Newt atop the building, much as Bond did with Moneypenny at the end of Skyfall; so, I will be the first to admit that these might be stretches, but there are at least three things in which we can connect Skyfall and Spectre to FB2; why bother? Because in both films, but especially Spectre, Bond was fighting against the New World Order, quite openly, and if Grindlewald is meant to be a anti-NWO metaphor, these links will substantiate that as proof.
On a slightly different note, it's important that the film is taking place in France; why? While not officially socialist, the French economy and social structure has long suffered from socialist programs making for inefficiency and sectors with too many workers and the government unable to do anything about it. Prime Minister Macron has begun the implementation of reforms to ease the problems which plague all socialist systems and create unnecessary stress on the national economy; only time will tell if he is successful, but the protests have been widespread even as the country has begged for such reforms. So, the setting of the French capitol will be an interesting backdrop to the political undertones of the film.
There is at least one more reason why Trump can't be seen as a Grindlewald metaphor: Grindlewald wants to end "the old ways" (probably a reference to the accord signed several hundreds of years ago to keep the wizarding world secret and separate from the muggle world) whereas Trump was elected by his followers and on the platform that he would protect and defend the old ways, namely, make America great again, return it to a role of leadership in society and defend traditional values (Christian values). Knowing how the phrase, "Make America Great Again" is acid to the fragile hearts of those on the Left, we might deduce that this very leadership is of itself the reason why the Left will view Grindlewald as a Trump figure, but let's examine that a bit closer.
In the top image is Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) from Fantastic Beasts and beside him is Maledictus; now, The Super Carlin Brothers have theorized that Maledictus is Voldermort's pet snake Nagini. It's an interesting theory, so you might check it out. In short, "Maledictus" is a blood curse which can be passed down through generations, and it turns one into a beast from which they cannot turn back. It makes sense that Credence is an obscurial--one whose magic is suppressed--and Maledictus is becoming something she doesn't want to be either.
Now, if you will note the second image, the man (Dumbledore) looking at the writing on the wall, it's very important to know that this is a family tree; for whom? Corbus LeStrange, aka, Credence Barebone, who is actually Leta LeStrange's (Zoe Kravitz) half brother. I don't know how else this is going to play out, but we know how important family trees are to certain segments of the population in the Harry Potter universe, so this is going to be a very important realization in the film.
Lastly, if you note the bottom image, (you can click on it to enlarge) Credence is sending out his obscurial to wreck destruction; the large, black "curtain" like creatures we see in the trailer draping buildings and covering people are something like dementors, and Credence is sending them out. The point is, he's using his left hand; in occultism and witchcraft--in reality, not just the books and movies--the Left Hand Path is not only associated with witches, warlocks and demons, but also the really Dark Arts (just google it) and we've been seeing more and more examples of the left side of people and things being employed to suggest that something wicked this way comes.
First of all, if one wants to see Grindlewald's vision to make the wizarding world the leaders of the muggle world in line with Trump's Make America Great Again, America can't rule the world; on the contrary, the US wants all countries strong with strong, free markets because that boosts trade and trade boosts living standards (this is why Trump supports Brexit and other European Union members getting OUT of the European Union, it's a death-trap for the free market). Grindlewald wants to enslave muggles; who does Trump want to enslave? (I wouldn't be surprised to hear some outrageous claims from the Left, but those would be desperate and utterly preposterous). "Muggles are not lesser. Not disposable." I think this is Dumbledore saying this; the question is, who is it that thinks muggles are lesser, are disposable?
The Left.
Well, in a way, Jacob is seeing a ghost because he's a ghost from the very first Harry Potter film, The Sorcerer's Stone, in which Flimmel is responsible for having created the Sorcerer's Stone which prolongs his life. Now, I do have a bone to pick: when he meets Jacob, he says, "I'm an alchemist and therefore immortal," and there are two problems with this: first, there were lots of alchemists (okay, all of them) who never found/discovered the Sorcerer's Stone (the elixir of life) but tried, so just because he's an alchemist doesn't mean he is automatically immortal. Secondly, he's not immortal in the way God is immortal, because he has to keep taking the elixir (Dumbledore mentions this in the film that Flimmel, who would live to be 666 years old--yea, the mark of the Beast--had just enough left to put his affairs in order and then he was going to die) so he's not immortal. Now, alchemy has always, always been a huge sin: not only is one trying to defy God's plan for them by prolonging their life indefinitely, they are also searching for the means to turn base materials into gold, which Flimmel supposedly accomplishes. Perhaps this is the reason that, when Jacob shakes his hand, we hear Flimmel's bones cracking. Hands symbolize honor, and for the structure of the hand (the bones) to cave in to pressure suggests that Flimmel doesn't have much honor about him because he has gone against God's will for his life and chosen his own.
In the "Interrogation Scene" from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Mr. Graves (really Grindlewald himself disguised, the clip is at the bottom of this post to review) questions Newt about his purpose in bringing the beasts into New York, and Newt denies it was to cause chaos, mass slaughter and bring open war; now, who is it that is always rioting, causing death and destruction and trying to bring the country to open war? Not Trump and the Conservatives, that's the Left with the Ferguson riots, the Baltimore riots, the riots on the night Trump was elected and all the other "protests" they have violently staged on George Soros' paycheck. Either the Left has to concede that they are the superior wizarding world, and therefore muggles would be the despised "lessers" and "disposables" (and who hasn't talked to a Liberal who treats them that way?) OR the Left has to concede that Conservatives/Republicans are part of the wizarding world and of that world, Trump/Grindlewald is the greatest and actually trying to put the Left in power over the muggles.
Which is it going to be?
I don't quite understand this theory, but I will mention it to at least mention it. A rumor going around suggests that Queenie is going to be "propositioned" by Grindlewald to join her because he wants her mind-reading capabilities. The basis of the theory is that Grindlewald is going to use Jacob being a muggle against her and that she can't marry Jacob if Grindlewald doesn't come into power,.... which doesn't make sense because Grindlewald doesn't want anything to do with muggles, so this must be a one-time exception to the rule. However, what I can contribute to Queenie's vulnerability in the story is that, the first time we saw her, she was undressed--she wasn't naked, she was wearing her slip--but Tina told her to get dressed and so she put her dress on. When someone is "undressed," it foreshadows they are going to be "exposed," and this could be the meaning (or a part of it) in the trailer when we see Queenie holding her head in distress, not that she's going to be exposed to Grindlewald per se, but she will be exposed to something which will alter her character or our understanding of her.
At this point, it appears to me that Grindlewald is a figure of the New World Order, he who wants to dominate and be in charge over everyone, wizard and muggle alike. The key to this movement is the purity of bloodlines, and who is it arguing for that? The New World Order, the 13 families who value their own bloodlines (the Astors, DuPonts, Rockefellers, Collins, Freemans, Kennedys, etc.) and believe they have the right to rule over others because of their purity and view everyone else--like myself--as lesser and disposable because I am not a member of one of their families, just as I am not a member of the Malfoys, the Blacks, the LeStranges.
Before we analyze what Grindlewald looks like, let's start with his name. "Gellert" is a form of "Gerard," and it means something like "strong spear." In German, "wald" means "forest," and "grendel" usually translates to something like beam or gate. So we could come up with something like the strong spears of forest beams. This could be that there is a forest of beams (regular witches and wizards) that Grindlewald is going to transform into strong spears; then again, the "beams" might not be wooden beams, but beams of light, or magic, and those magical beams could become his strong spears (like what he was attempting to do with the obscurial in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them). Then again, it's hard to ignore the obvious reference to Beowulf and the monster Grendel.
Grindlewald is pale and so is his hair. The color white either symbolizes that someone is alive to the virtues of faith, hope, innocence, purity, or they are dead to those virtues (a corpse turns white when it dies). So, not only is his skin pale and white, but his hair (symbolizing his thoughts) his eyebrows (because they are part of his eyes, which we shall discuss in a moment, it symbolizes that he sees death and the death of virtue) and his mustache (the mustache is part of the mouth, which symbolizes the appetites, so he has an appetite for death). In the top image, his hair has "fallen," but in the bottom image, we can say, when he's in "peak condition," his hair stands straight up, with the back of his head shaved close. The hair standing straight up suggests his thoughts of mobility, that is, achieving (like finding all three of the Deathly Hallows) and the shaved hair suggests that he doesn't give thought to anything that doesn't help him gain his goals. In the top image, his "fallen hair" means that he's thinking his goals might be out of his reach since he's been captured, and it will be more difficult to escape then he lets on at the end of Fantastic Beasts. His clothing is mostly blue, suggesting he has had a difficult life and goes through depression, and that depression has "colored" how he sees himself and life in general. What is most interesting about his clothes, to me, is the tie around his neck. The neck symbolizes that which leads us in life, and this is a black tie (black always symbolizes death) but the tie is worn on the inside of the shirt, not on the outside the way it usually is, suggesting that what is guiding him in life is something he's going to use for that which it wasn't created (the Deathly Hallows to subjugate muggles to slavery, for example).
It is at least refreshing to know that someone on the Left isn't running head-first into the horrific nightmare that has become politically known as "the New World Order."
And then again, I could be completely wrong about all this.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--Here is the interrogation scene from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, elucidating the "chaos" element of Grindlewald's tactics and the "parasitic nature" of the obscurist he was attempting to locate and use for his own good, ignoring the "host," or human attached to it: