I love the film but I didn’t intend to read the screenplay… until I watched the sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald. I didn’t understand some of the plot, so I decided that reading the screenplay would help. Before reading the second one, I had to read the first.
The story is set in J K Rowling’s wizarding world, in 1920s New York. Newt Scamander, a wizard with a special affinity for magical creatures, is caught up in dark events happening in the city. With him are Tina Goldstein, a disgraced auror (part of magical law enforcement); her sister Queenie (a seductive witch who can also read minds); Jacob Kowalski (a No-Maj – non-magical person – who dreams of opening a bakery); and many fantastic beasts who live inside Newt’s suitcase (it’s bigger on the inside).
I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy reading a screenplay. However, I needn’t have worried. This was an addictive read and was just like watching the film! The scenes are short, the action is in the present tense and there is the right amount of description. This all makes the book easy to read. There’s even a glossary of film production terms at the end, if you were wondering what ‘V.O.’ or ‘Ext.’ means. When watching a film, I tend to miss some of the details, especially when the action is happening quickly. The screenplay filled in these details and allowed me to understand the plot and characters better.
This is one of the few times when you have to watch the film before reading the book! The beasts are of course inspired by the Hogwarts School textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (which Rowling originally published for charity, along with Quidditch Through the Ages – both of them very thin books). In the film, Newt has just finished writing the book and Tina gives him the idea for the title. I do think it would make a good novel as well… if you’re listening, J K Rowling.