Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will chart the beginnings of Gellert Grindelwald’s reign of terror throughout the wizarding world. However, many fans aren’t aware that this dark wizard has been included in the Harry Potter movies since the very beginning.
Fantastic Beasts is a prequel series, which takes place fifty years before the events of the Harry Potter saga. Future Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and the sinister revolutionary Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) have been set upon a fateful collision course. But since Dumbledore cannot yet bring himself to face his old friend in battle, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein (Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol) are soon to be caught in the deadly crossfire.
The tangled history that Dumbledore and Grindelwald share is a fascinating one. The Hogwarts headmaster was always kind and helpful, yet he remained largely unreadable and enigmatic. This changed in The Deathly Hallows novel and movies, where readers and moviegoers uncovered more about his tragic life. The love affair that he shared with Grindelwald – and their combined search for the Elder Wand – proved to be a vital subplot in the final chapter of the Harry Potter series. Yet this tale has been part of the series since well before The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and 2. Unfortunately, the reference to Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s rivalry never featured in any theatrical release. Nevertheless, it can still be found in a deleted scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
The sequence takes place within the second half of the film. Judging by the subject of the conversation, the omitted clip would have featured shortly after Harry runs the risk of falling under the Mirror of Erised’s spell. In the deleted scene, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Hermione (Emma Watson) can be seen revising for their end of year exams in the Great Hall. Ron (Rupert Grint) is present, but he’s forgoing his school work to play with his Chocolate Frog cards. In case you need a reminder, this is a fictional trading card game, which centers upon distinguished figures in the wizarding world. Players collect the cards by purchasing the enchanted candy.
The peace between the friends is short-lived, as Hermione soon berates Ron for his laissez-faire approach to studying. Their argument is soon interrupted by a cursed Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). During the commotion, Harry notices a crucial detail on Albus Dumbledore’s Chocolate Frog biography. The three friends are excited by Dumbledore’s connection to Nicholas Flamel, yet Ron also reads aloud another important fact about the headmaster’s past:
“…Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945…”
Ultimately, the golden trio are more concerned about the Nicholas Flamel reveal, and they soon rush off to research the alchemist. It’s worth noting that Flamel is also set to appear in the next Fantastic Beasts film. Yet with Gellert Grindelwald’s backstory expanding in every new film, fans will now find the casual mention of his name to be the most meaningful moment in the exchange.
Despite this early mention, Grindelwald didn't make his first on-screen appearance until a decade later. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 saw Jamie Campbell Bower and Michael Byrne portray Dumbeldore’s nemesis, in both his youth and old age. This in turn mimics the way the books handled him. Aside from this conversation in The Sorcerer’s Stone (which is replicated almost perfectly in the film) mentions of Grindelwald are scattered sparingly across Rowling’s novels prior to The Deathly Hallows.
Did J.K. Rowling and the filmmakers include Grindelwald’s name here, and intend to revisit his tragic tryst with Dumbledore later? This is somewhat debatable. Rowling seems to be retconning several aspects of the series as time goes on – including Professor McGonagall's life story – to fit the Fantastic Beasts movies into existing Harry Potter canon. This suggests that not every part of the series has been planned out since the start.
Indeed, this mention of Grindelwald back in The Sorcerer’s Stone demonstrates just how layered and interwoven J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World is. With the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and its sequels, it’s about to become even broader, and the history that Harry and his friends learned about at Hogwarts will soon be very familiar to Potter fans.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018