If you look closely at the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, you’ll notice something truly magical. Nestled in the fan of wands on the title page is the “one that binds them all” — the Elder Wand. The object is one of the most important things tying J.K Rowling’s first Harry Potter series to Fantastic Beasts. It also points toward the franchise’s all-important year: 1945.
Many events occur before and after this date, but fans with a keen eye will notice its recurrence in the themes that span the two series storylines.
The Fall of Grindelwald
In the original Harry Potter franchise, fans were briefly introduced to Gellert Grindelwald. Late in the series, he was established as the one the most insidious and powerful dark wizards ever known. Grindelwald plays a rather small part in Harry Potter, but you may remember him as the former owner of the infamous Elder Wand, which plays a much larger role.
The Elder Wand is the instrument Harry uses to defeat Voldemort in the final showdown at the Battle of Hogwarts, It is also rumoured to be the most powerful magical object in existence. Not by coincidence, it comes into Harry’s possession when he disarms an old adversary. This blink-and-you’d-miss-it moment mirrors events yet to be told in the Fantastic Beasts story. The year 1945 sees the culmination of these events and lays the scene for an epic battle.
In the showdown, Albus Dumbledore overpowers Grindelwald and gains possession of the Elder Wand. Dumbledore’s defeat of the dark wizard mirrors Harry’s own, minor defeat of Draco Malfoy. It also alludes to the much larger battle against Lord Voldemort, from which Harry ultimately emerges victorious.
The original books and movies depict the events leading up to the second great Wizarding War. This story begins with the events of 1945 — with Dumbledore, the Elder Wand, and the fall of Grindelwald. The battle serves as ground zero, uniting the history that precedes it to the future it ignites.
The Changing Face of Evil
Fans have long theorised that, at the moment of Grindelwald’s defeat, Tom Riddle was sitting the last of his N.E.W.T exams at Hogwarts. Though J.K Rowling has never confirmed this outright, one thing is certain. Even as one dark lord fell, another was on the rise.
The boy who would become Lord Voldemort doesn’t begin his true ascent to power until 1970, but 1945 is the main starting point for Riddle’s journey. He graduates from Hogwarts in the summer of this year and already has a small legion of loyal followers –and four murders — behind him. In the books, Riddle immediately attempts to position himself as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. This role is later sought by every Death Eater that infiltrates Hogwarts faculty in the original Harry Potter series.
After he is turned down for the position, Voldemort departs Hogwarts and remains relatively quiet for the next five years. He is later drawn back to his alma mater due to Harry Potter’s arrival. However, Voldemort’s first departure from Hogwarts is crucial to the entire Harry Potter series.
Of the seven pieces he splits his soul into, four are placed in objects of great importance to Hogwarts’ past. Voldemort’s Horcruxes are perhaps quite a literal representation of the soul he left behind at Hogwarts in 1945. The young Riddle is unlikely to feature much in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movies, but it is entirely possible that Rowling may choose to give a nod to this critical turning point in wizarding history.
Horcruxes, Hallows, and History
From Horcruxes to hallows, the magical objects that bind the two main series of the Potter franchise together remain constant. We are first introduced to both objects towards the end of the Harry Potter series. But, if you look, you can find each of their origins somewhere in Fantastic Beasts storyline.
With the storyline set to draw to a close in 1945, the battle between Dumbledore and Grindelwald should be a major feature. It is in this showdown that Dumbledore comes into possession of the Elder Wand. And the magical item will later be one of the three Deathly Hallows used by Harry defeat Voldemort.
Additionally, the 1940s saw the start of Tom Riddle’s obsession with soul splitting. By the time he graduated from Hogwarts in 1945, four of the eventual seven Horcruxes had already been created. In this all-important year, Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem joined the collection. Much later in the timeline, the diadem became the last Horcrux destroyed by Harry Potter.
With Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling created a story that was far-reaching, not only in its audience but in its history. While it seems we have much to look forward to from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald as the stories of Newt, Dumbledore, and Grindelwald unfold, it is worth paying attention to the all-important year that starts and ends everything.