Book Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them:  The Original Screenplay, by J.K. Rowling

I find it hard to believe that this is the third review on the title Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find them that I have made [1].  J.K. Rowling’s immensely successful Harry Potter series is credited for having encouraged many young people of my generation to read, and this book is even better poised than the Cursed Child [2] to encourage readers to learn how to better read plays.  Those who are already familiar with the movie should find this particular book fairly easy to read, as they will be able to have images of the movie in their mind, and so it would make the book a good learning experience for those just picking up plays for the first time.  For those who are more familiar with reading plays [3], this book has a lot to offer in terms of learning some of the language of screenwriting, as Rowling uses a few techniques like jump and flash cuts, a bit of voice over (but not too much), and plenty of off-screen conversations and detailed action descriptions to keep the writing interesting.

For those who have not taken a look at this book already, it is worthwhile to examine the contents and structure of this particular screenplay.  Coming in at a bit under 300 pages, this is a full-sized screenplay that is full of artistic touches that raise it above the common text-based appeal of most dramatic literature.  There are 124 total scenes shown, and the scenes are not divided into any act, although most who are film theory students would likely divide the action into a typical three act structure anyway.  In contrast to many plays, there is a great deal of irony and sarcasm shown within the directions as well, and it is striking and remarkable that Rowling was able to put so much of her trademark wit in a form that is generally rather incomplete in terms of its portrayal of textual matters.  This screenplay definitely manages to find itself on the textual side of playwriting rather than on the image-based ones, and though this particular screenplay was not based on an existing novel, the fact that Rowling was able to keep her literary strengths in this particular art form suggests that she has a promising future as a screenwriter if she chooses to keep it up for the rest of the five films that she intends for this series.

What kind of people will like this particular book?  If you liked the movie and enjoyed it enough that you would want to see it in your head as you read the screenplay, if you liked the characters of Fantastic Beasts and would like to gain insight into how J.K. Rowling pictured their interactions, and if you enjoy reading plays and screenplays already, you are a likely candidate for enjoying this book immensely.  Despite its length it reads quickly and the scenes are short enough that it is not a difficulty breaking up one’s reading if one does not have the time to take the book in one fell swoop.  The dialogue is witty and sparkling, the directions are immensely helpful to understanding the action, and there is a considerable amount of wit in the writing that hints at the subtexts of the movie, including Graves’ lingering jealousy about Dumbledore and his haltingly flirtatious relationship with Credence.  Obviously, if you were not a fan of the movie or you are not fond of reading screenplays, you will probably not be interested in this book, but if you are on the fence about seeing the movie and enjoy this screenplay, you will likely find the movie to be of interest as well.  This particular screenplay will likely deepen the interest in the movie and add more than a few galleons to J.K. Rowling’s overflowing Gringotts vault, and most people will not mind that in the least.

[1] See, for example:


[3] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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