Tuesday 25th Oct 2016
Newt Scamander’s magical case is much, much bigger than it appears…
Newt’s case is practically a main character in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s slightly grubby and made of well-worn tan leather.
We know Newt brought this unique case with him to New York in 1926 and that it has a ‘Muggle Worthy’ setting to protect the beasts inside from prying No-Maj eyes.
One cold day last January, I got to walk around inside it.
You see, a bit like like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, the case holds much more than you expect from just looking at it. This is a doorway to a magically expanded environment. As J.K. Rowling herself said, ‘It's an amazing space.’
It was during the final days of filming that I got to snoop around inside. Most of the actors had wrapped, and the streets, buildings and shopfronts of the set were disappearing bit by bit. Eddie Redmayne still had to film some of the scenes inside the case, so it was the one set that had stayed exactly where it was – intact and in use.
Stepping inside was incredible; it quite literally took my breath away. It was like an enormous cross-stitch of different environments. One moment you could be standing on thick white snow; the next, wandering in a thicket of bright green bamboo shoots.
I saw an arid-looking corner of the room piled with golden sand, and imagined the wind whipping through it. There were little clues about where in the world each of these habitats came from: a bridge, a hill, a plant that clearly came from one continent or another.
I could imagine the beasts that roamed here. The creatures that lived both in their natural habitats, and inside an enchanted case. I had so many questions: where does the Niffler come from? Which climate does the Occamy prefer? What does the home of a Demiguise look like? How often does Newt pop down here and where does he work?
That’s when I saw it: the little wooden shed sitting in the middle of these converging habitats. Newt’s shed. A thin, modest little shack filled with things that clearly belong to a practising Magizoologist.
Boots, overalls, and jackets were scattered about, as though Newt Scamander had just stepped out of them. Outfits suitable for every environment you can imagine: cold and wet, hot and dry, snowy, swampy, sharp, dangerous and unknown. The shed itself was just big enough to fit him, his tools and his research. And, for a few minutes, me.
I cannot wait until the movie comes out, when we’ll all be invited inside Newt Scamander’s case. I expect, just like No-Maj Jacob, we’ll all want to be wizards then, more than ever.