Despite their critics, I’ve been a big fan of the Fantastic Beasts films from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I found the last film in particular to be very good. So I’m very excited for the third entry in the series, especially with the last film’s killer cliffhanger ending! The latest trailer fo has been released and I think it looks pretty damn cool. Mega-powerful wizards like Dumbledore, Grindelwald, or Creedence, going toe-to-toe, in an all out, epic magical duel, isn’t something we have seen much of in this franchise. If this trailer is to be, believed it looks like we’ll be getting a few of those and then some! Take a look for yourself right here….
Follow us on Twitter @PJWrightWBM, Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017, and our Facebook Page, Worlds Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!
We’re some big old Potterheads here at World’s Best Media (Don’t worry, it’s not just you. I also wanted to punch myself in the face after using the term “Potterheads”). With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald arriving in theatres this week, November is The Wizarding World of Harry Pottermonth at World’s Best Media. Mike Cole and I co-wrote an article where we debate who played the best Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, Richard Harris? or Michael Gambon? You can find that in our Featured section and it’s pretty goddamn good if I do say so myself!
Also keep a look out for the next episode of The World’s Best Podcast, where we do a deep dive, spoiler filled review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crime of Casting Johnny Depp as Grindelwald! (All kidding aside, I hear he’s actually great in the movie and I’m really looking forward to seeing it). We’ll be posting other Harry Potter themed articles and podcasts throughout the rest of the month.
In keeping with our theme for the month, 2 of my favorite YouTube channels, Mr. Sunday Movies and The Nerdwriter, posted 2 great Harry Potter themed video editorials that I wanted to share. You can watch both below and I highly recommend that any Harry Potter fan gives them a watch. Make sure you check back here for more great Harry Potter themed content! Maybe even follow us, by clicking the Follow icon on the bottom right corner of the home page and put in your email address. No spam or any other crap, just a notification email when we have a new article, video, or podcast posted. It helps quite a bit if you’d like to show support for World’s Best Media. Anyway thanks for reading and enjoy the videos below!
We’re about to get the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, and with it, we’re getting Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, and frankly, he looks amazing. There is a chance he could be the best Dumbledore, but for the time being, let’s discuss the two Dumbledores that we’ve had real experience with; the old Dumbledores.
First there was Richard Harris, who started off the Harry Potter films as Dumbledore in the first two installments. At the time, Richard Harris was seen as perfect. Then, he passed away, and they cast Michael Gambon who played the character until the final film in that series. Since the final film, I hear people often refer to him as the superior Dumbledore, in fact Paul and I had a discussion about this a few months ago when the first trailers came out for FB2, and we both landed on opposite sides of the Harris/Gambon coin, so my hope is that Paul will write an argument defending his side, and you can decide for yourselves (although I’m right).
Richard Harris is the better Dumbledore. The complaints that I hear most often about Harris’ Dumbledore is that he’s too stuffy, and too serious. I disagree.
You see, Albus Dumbledore, is supposed to be the wisest, most proficient wizard the world has ever seen. He’s the Stephen Hawking of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When you reach that level, there are responsibilities that come with the job, and part of those responsibilities, is playing the part in order to be taken seriously. Dumbledore has a public face, and a private face. We get the Dumbledore who sounds like a drone addressing the entirety of Hogwarts, and we get the private moments, with someone like Harry, someone who also is thrust into the ‘fame’ of the wizarding world, in which he’s playful.
People think of Richard Harris’ Dumbledore as the guy who woodenly says “well done Slytherin, well done Slytherin” in the great hall when announcing the final house points at the end of the first film, but another moment just before that is the reality of Richard Harris’ Dumbledore. When he’s addressing Harry alone, in the medical ward, and he has the conversation about “it’s a complete secret, so naturally the entire school knows,” and picks a ‘toffee’ Bernie Botts Every Flavor Bean, only to discover “alas earwax” with a playful sigh.
He has the twinkle in his eye, of a man who understands this is all a bit goofy, but I have to keep up appearances in order to accomplish my goals, but with someone like Harry, I get to let that guard down, because he too is going to be a pivotal piece in the oncoming war.
The reason I don’t think Gambon is as good, is because Gambon’s Dumbledore is always what the ‘private’ version of Dumbledore should be. He doesn’t have a wise public face. Is that something I admire in a person in real life? Yes. Is it Dumbledore? I don’t think so. Gambon’s obviously not a bad Dumbledore, in fact, if he were the only Dumbledore, he’d probably score higher with me personally, but to me, Harris is the Dumbledore of the books manifested into reality, and Gambon is a ‘take’ on Dumbledore.
Now, in the trailers for FB2, we’ve yet to see Dumbledore interacting with anyone but Newt (that I can think of) and so it’s unclear to me if he’ll be what I want, or slightly different, but I’m very enthusiastic to find out.
Which do you think is the better Dumbledore, tell me in the comments below!
Paul’s Response: WHY MICHAEL GAMBON IS THE BETTER DUMBLEDORE…
I was very excited when Mike suggested that I propose a counter argument to his conclusion about which actor is the best on screen Dumbledore: Harris or Gambon? (We’re leaving Jude Law out for the time being). To be clear, I’m going to be talking about both the novels and the films in this article. So let’s get to it!
Well, Mike is correct, I do think that Gambon is the superior Dumbledore. However, before I make my case for why I think Gambon is the better Dumbledore, I think it’s important to express how I view Dumbledore as a character. After all, I think we need to define who Dumbledore is before we can decide who better played the character.
If there’s one thing we know about the magical community depicted in Harry Potter, it’s that they LOVE their heroes and villains. Whether it’s Dumbledore, Harry, Snape, Voldemort, Grindelwald, Sirius Black, or countless others, people in this world love to cast individuals as the champion of all that’s good or the ultimate evil. Yet in all the examples, I’ve listed above, it’s never been that simple. Dumbledore embodies the idea that people we love, respect, and look up to, people who we think have all the answers, are all too human. Understanding that our mentor figures aren’t perfect is part of growing up.
Mike argues that we get a stiff and wooden Dumbledore from Richard Harris because the character is playing the part of the stoic, responsible, all knowing leader of the wizarding community. But that’s just not who Dumbledore is, I think that’s just Harris’ performance. In the novels, from the start, in public and in private he was a playful character. He was always way more Gandalf The Grey than Gandalf The White. It’s ironic that I think my perfect casting for the Dumbledore of the books would be Ian McKellan. Because Gandalf really is the archetypal wizard. However, I do agree that Dumbledore the character uses his persona and reputation, but not out of a sense of responsibility. He uses that persona to get what he wants and manipulate people.
Mike makes the point that Dumbledore is supposed to be “the wisest and most proficient wizard the world has ever seen”. Well, is Dumbledore one of, if not, THE greatest wizard of all time? Probably. But, wisest? I’m not so sure… and I don’t think Dumbledore is either. Mike’s right, there’s definitely a duality to Dumbledore, but I don’t see it the same way he does.
Another beloved pop culture character that’s a great parallel to Dumbledore is Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men. On the surface, they both appear to be saintly, wise, saviors, father figures who always know what to do. However, for both men, the truth is much darker. They’re manipulative, they have dark secrets, and most importantly they exploit their reputation to get people to follow and trust them even when they have no fucking idea what they’re doing. They’re even willing to sacrifice the lives of people who put their faith in them in the name of a greater good. In Dumbledore’s case, you could argue that his entire relationship with Harry is about fattening a pig for slaughter. I’ll admit, I was playing a little bit of devil’s advocate there, but I do think there’s some truth to the idea that Harry was a pawn in Dumbledore’s war with Voldemort.
Both in the films and the books, Dumbledore isn’t afraid to be playful and mischievous even under serious circumstances. Like his many confrontations wth The Ministry of Magic, for example. He often feels like a comedian playing to an audience of one (himself). Like his iconic escape from being arrested by The Ministry, vanishing in a burst of flame with Fawkes, his Phoenix,. in Order of The Phoenix. It’s spoken by Kingsley Shaklebolt in the film, but in the book, one of the portraits in Dumbledore’s office delivers the immortal line to The Minister of Magic: “You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts… but you cannot deny he’s got style…”.
Richard Harris was 72 when he passed away, but as Dumbledore he looked, sounded, and moved like he was 100. There are a lot of older actors who can pull off action, but I just don’t see Richard Harris’ Dumbledore pulling off that insane duel with Voldemort in The Ministry of Magic.
Dumbledore should never feel feeble, despite his age and I think with Gambon he never did. Dumbledore needed to be a somewhat physical character. Harris looks like he’s in a wheel chair. A lot of this is moot because Harris only had 2 movies to develop this character and the vast majority of important Dumbledore moments are later in the series, when Gambon has taken the reins.
We see very little of the nuances I’ve described here from Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore. To be fair, I think that had the full series been published, when the cast started crafting these characters on screen, they may have made different performance choices. For example, though I love Snape and the late great Alan Rickman, perhaps he would have chewed a little bit less scenery had he known where the character’s story was going. Maybe Richard Harris would have put some more nuance into his performance as Dumbledore. Gambon got the juiciest Dumbledore material. The series doesn’t really hit it’s stride and become the classic that it is until the 3rd book. Unfortunately, because of his death we never got to see how he would have handled some of the biggest Dumbledore moments in the series. With all due respect to Mike, Harris is probably the most miscast character in the series. One of the reasons I’m so excited for “Fantastic Beasts Have You Seen Them, Oh Johnny Depp’s Committing Some Crimes Now, He’s In The Case Too, They’re All In There 2” (Thank you, Mr. Sunday Movies) is because we may finally get a Dumbledore as rich and interesting as he is in the novels. Because let’s be honest in the context of all 7 book, Richard Harris simply does not work as the legendary Albus Dumbledore.
Anyway, thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed the debate!
I haven’t spoken much about it on any of our podcasts or written about it in any of my articles, but I’m a huge, huge fan of the Harry Potter books. I really believe they’ll go down in history, remembered as some of the best fantasy literature of our time. For the most part, I’m also a big fan of the films as well. There were some things that were fundamentally flawed to them, but to get such a beloved series done that well, over eight films is a huge accomplishment. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two were probably the best of the films.
But my favorite moments in the books were always quiet, character driven moments. Like an emotional and distraught Harry venting to Dumbledore in his office after the death of Sirius Black. Or seeing the real reason Snape hated Harry so much, when Harry gets a glimpse in a pensive that shows him Snape’s worst memory. Which included being humiliated by Harry’s father when they were both students at Hogwarts. Harry had to come to terms with the idea that his Dad wasn’t the perfect, ideal image in his head, but a real, flawed person. For the most part I felt some of the most powerful moments in the Books were passed too quickly, if they were even touched on it all.
Now we have this new series of films that take place in the Harry Potter Universe set in the late 1920’s: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”or as Mr. Sunday Movies calls them “Fantastic Creatures, Have You Seen Them, Where Are They, Are They In The Case? I Bet They’re In The Case. They were In The Case”. EW.com had a bunch of great character photos from the upcoming movie, which I have posted throughout the article. I enjoyed the first film well enough, but what that really hurt the film for me was the reveal that Collin Farrell‘s character was actually Gellert Grindelwald, infamous dark wizard in disguise, played in ridiculous make up by Johnny Depp. Shortly after the first Fantastic Beasts film came out it was announced that the over arcing plot of the series would be the growing threat of Grindelwald and the magical war that takes place in this universe roughly around the time of our WW2 in the muggle world.
I really like this concept from a storytelling standpoint because in the Harry Potter books and films Dumbledore is such a world renowned, respected wizard because he cut his teeth being the man who took down Grindelwald, who was at that time the darkest and most dangerous wizard the world had ever seen (at least until He Who Must Not Be Named came along). Dumbledore has always been one of the more fascinating characters in the Harry Potter universe, so getting to see more of this character in a very different part of his life is really intriguing to me. Another interesting wrinkle in this backstory is the fact that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were romantically involved. They were kind of like Charles Xavier and Magneto, they were two men who were gifted magicians and had a lot of the same ideas, but Grindelwald felt that Muggles should bow down and be subservient to the wizards of the world. Grindenwald felt that magic users were inherently superior to non-magical humans. That’s where he and Dumbledore parted ways and their friendship became increasingly antagonistic until Grindelwald gathered followers and was basically in open war with the rest of the world. You’ll see in the photos that they cast Jude Law as young(ish) Dumbledore, which I think is excellent casting.
Still, I can’t help think it was such a missed opportunity that they swapped out Colin Farrell for Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp hasn’t put in a compelling performance in years. He relies on absurd visual gimmicks, just like you see in these photos. Colin Farrell was genuinely menacing in Fantastic Beasts. He’s a great actor and would’ve made an excellent Grindelwald. I still hope they keep him around and use him in the series in someway (I forget his character’s name). Because the only way a wizard can turn into another person is by creating a potion called pollyjuice but that requires the person they are impersonating to still be alive. So the real Colin Farrell has to be out there somewhere. Anyway I thought these were some interesting photos that I thought you’d find interesting. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in theaters 11/16/2018.