I have seen "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" twice. The first time, I was lucky enough to sit in Carnegie Hall with J.K. Rowling and the rest of the cast for an advanced screening--the second time, I sat with friends in a theater down the block from Penn Station after a long shift at work and 3D glasses that barely fit over my actual glasses. Both times were equally perfect.
I'm not unique in saying that I am a huge "Harry Potter" fan. I think we live in a time when it's much stranger to say that you don't love the Boy Who Lived and all his wonderful friends. J.K. Rowling's world has saved so many of us and we all have our own personal story and connection with the series. I personally believe that in a lot of ways, she has helped bring us closer together. That being said, I was a little nervous for "Fantastic Beasts" to come out. She was re-entering a world so near and dear to my heart. How would I love these new characters? How would it feel to be among wizards and witches again but not step foot into Hogwarts? Johnny Depp signed on? What? These were only some of my questions and concerns.
Well, let me tell you, it's beautiful. The moment that 'Warner Brothers' credits opener came on screen, I had chills. I'm not here to write a review. I'll leave it up to you to go see the movie and feel whatever you feel towards Newt and all the fantastic creatures that he introduces us to. I'm here to say that J.K. Rowling has once again done something that I did not believe possible. She gave hope to the hopeless... In this situation, I am the hopeless.
This year has been, to put it lightly, hell on Earth. I have been tested emotionally in ways that I was not prepared for. I have been beaten down and defeated and I've struggled through it with a vacant smile on my face. So when I sat down the first time for the film, I was honestly looking for a two and a half hour distraction. I'm a bit ashamed for saying that because the film is so much more. See, it's all too easy to see the good when the world is vibrant. But my world has been confusing and colorless... And rather than mend the broken bits, this film simply lifted a veil so I could see the light peeking through the cracks. I was so moved and in awe of it that I went back five days later to experience it all over again.
So this is a thank you to J.K. Rowling for, well, for everything... For making a young girl feel like she could do anything. For making the awkward teenage years less awkward. For leaving the doors to her world open for me to revisit whenever I needed. For inspiring me as an adult to keep putting words on the page. And now for this. For Newt Scamander, a man who loves deeper than people are used to and stands up for those without a voice. For "Fantastic Beasts," a world that left me with a heart that was somehow both lighter and fuller.
A feeling that I can only attribute to magic.