Tuesday 26th Apr 2016
The Pottermore Correspondent talks to production designer Stuart Craig about the Salem memorial inside MACUSA.
The building that houses the Magical Congress of the United States of America is about as imposing as Gringotts bank. It’s vast and grand. Covered in gold, emerald, maroon and black. Swarming with witches, wizards and Aurors on magical business. It’s the American equivalent of the Ministry of Magic, so expect similar levels of ominous grandeur.
To give your imagination a head start, we asked production designer Stuart Craig to describe exactly what you see when you walk inside. Stuart (Norman Stuart Craig OBE, if we’re going to be formal about it) worked on all eight Harry Potter films, bringing J.K. Rowling’s locations to life with Legilimens-like accuracy.
‘When you enter the MACUSA building, you come up a flight of stairs to the main lobby...’ he says, with an endearing croak to his voice.
‘Above you, in this 750-foot-high building, there are no floors. There’s just a giant cathedral-like space with hundreds and hundreds of windows. The first things you’ll see, probably, are the phoenixes. They’re forty-foot high! Big gilded phoenix sculptures, covered in gold leaf. They’re rather splendid, actually. They’re the work of our principle sculptor, Bryn Court. We are extremely fortunate to have someone so skilled on our team.’
Bryn, like Stuart, is a revered Harry Potter creative. He was responsible for making the Whomping Willow, the Riddle headstone and the gates of Hogwarts, among other things. And his architectural work on Fantastic Beasts is equally breathtaking, as Stuart can attest.
‘In the middle of this vast space, there’s a huge memorial to the witches of Salem. J.K. Rowling wrote it into the script. The witches in the memorial are bronze sculptures, slightly larger than life. They stand in amongst the crowd, if you can imagine, so people can walk through the memorial and right by the witches.’
Every statue represents someone who lost their life during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Having this memorial inside MACUSA proves how profoundly that event affected the magical community in the world of Fantastic Beasts.