In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Albus Dumbledore tells the eponymous hero that, “It is our choices that define us, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” It’s a quote that came to mind earlier this month when J.K Rowling – the writer of the Harry Potter series – announced that the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film scheduled to be released later this year will be the beginning of a 5 film franchise. It’s a decision that’s been met with delight by some, and concern by others.
I should say at this point that I am a fan of J.K Rowling, and her work. Like so many people of my generation, her work was the defining tale of my childhood. There is certainly no doubting her ability as a writer, but at best this choice risks undermining the legacy of the most popular fantasy story of the 21st century. At worst, it can be viewed as a cynical cash-grab; exploiting the legions of devoted fans who will flood to see these films irrespective of their quality. While we cannot know the true motivations behind this decision betrays, at the very least, a willingness to exploit her fans; a willingness already demonstrated consistently since the final Harry Potter film was released – most damningly by the ludicrously expensive platform 9 ¾ recreation at Kings Cross Station that bears no resemblance to the one portrayed in the film.
Further, from a creative point of view there has to be concerns about the quality of these forthcoming films – particularly given the response to this year’s The Cursed Child. Rowling herself is penning all of the scripts despite having no previous professional script writing experience. Further, while the world Rowling created is a fantastic one, the true magic of the series was derived from the growth of the characters rather than the magical world. It’s a world – unlike Tolkein’s Middle Earth for example – which lacks intricacy and internal consistency which are vital ingredients when attempting to expand these kind of stories; especially when expanded at such a rate as they will be within the Fantastic Beast films.
Finally, the record for major Hollywood spin-offs and prequels is undeniably poor. The Hobbit trilogy, and the Star Wars prequels are perhaps the strongest examples that come to mind but cinema’s history is littered with poorly conceived attempts to cash in on an already successful series. My own personal theory surrounding kinds of expansions is that very often the power of the initial story depends upon the idea that the struggle is one of life or death; the destruction of the ultimate evil from which none are save. Once you attempt to replicate these kind of stakes it’s impossible for them both to retain the same level of power.
This academic year promises to be another exciting for Lancaster University’s Film societies. Later this term LU Film Production will begin work on 8 original short films to be released in June 2017. These films are:
Katya Burns, a genius pharmacologist, watches helplessly as the Ha-P pill takes hold of those around her. With the Earth’s winds becoming sandstorms, everything natural starts to die out in the dawn of a chilling new world…
After a football accident, university student Ben discovers he only remembers his life for 5 minutes at a time. One moment he’ll be stood in the queue at the supermarket, and the next thing he knows he’s in the shower 10 hours later. While his best friend Jake attempts to help him get his life back together, Ben tries to build a relationship with Sarah, a girl on his course.
Jigsaw (Psychological Drama)
Sean wakes up in his trashed apartment, covered in blood and with no memory of the night before. With the help of his therapist Ella, his girlfriend Olivia, and his best friend Nathan he attempts to reconstruct that happened on that night. As his relationships begin to fall apart, Sean begins to suspect that he’s not being told the whole truth.
The Pointless Fraud (Comedy)
Idealistic Director of Photography Collin is forced to take a job on a new hit reality TV show envisioned by pretentious director Pier. The two men soon clash over their vision for the show, and the importance of natural beauty – all the while dealing with a painfully incompetent crew.
Shot Down (Action)
In the near future a U.S fighter pilot, James Douglas is forced to fight for his survival after being shot down over North-East Russia. Abandoned by his unit, and hunted by Russian soldiers James turns to drastic measures to make it out of the forest alive.
Two people attempt to come to terms with their imminent death after being sentenced to be executed the following morning. As they wait, they consider their regrets and act out the conversations they each wanted to have before they died.
Indian Society Collaboration
This film marks LUFP’s first collaboration with an international society. The script is yet to be completed but the film is expected to focus on international students experience coming to the UK.
Living History Collaboration
The as yet untitled project will depict a historically accurate medieval battle, with a narrative constructed around an epic battle for survival.
Film Society Screenings
In Week 1 the Lancaster University Film Society held their first events of the year, with a very successful and well attended screening of Deadpool and The Cornetto Trilogy. LUFS will be holding weekly screenings on Tuesday evenings for all interested, as well as several other events across the year including a Halloween Horror Marathon. Make sure you like their Facebook page to keep up to date with everything that’s happening. If that’s not enough campus film for you, Take 2 Cinema will be holding several screenings a week in Bowland College.