The Friendship of Albus Dumbldore and Gellert Grindelwald

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, Harry, Ron and Hermione meet Aberforth Dumbledore (played by Ciaran Hinds), the brother of Albus Dumbledore. He runs the Hog’s Head Inn, which ends up giving them a way back into Hogwarts undetected when they need it most. However, in their brief exchange with Aberforth, they learn there’s a considerable amount of bad blood between the brothers, so much that he cautions Harry and his friends from trusting Albus at all. The movie never explains why, but fans of the book know exactly why.

The book of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows provides much more detail on the life of Albus Dumbledore and the tumultuous relationship he had with his brother, and the source of their bitterness actually has ties to none other than Gellert Grindelwald.

After being expelled from Durmstrang Institute (the same school Viktor Krum attended in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) for some disturbing work in the dark arts, Gellert Grindelwald went to Godric’s Hollow to live with his aunt Bathilda Bagshot (who appears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and is mentioned as providing Rita Skeeter with information for her book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore). It’s there that he sparks a friendship with a young Albus Dumbledore.

The two became friends because they both were fascinated by the prospect of finding The Deathly Hallows (The Elder Wand, The Cloak of Invisibility and The Resurrection Stone), though each was interested in them for differing reasons, and also because they wanted to overturn the Statute of Secrecy that kept the wizarding world secret from Muggles, resulting in fear and persecution in some cases. Grindelwald wanted this so he could rule over them and control everything while Dumbledore’s hope was to avoid persecution of witches and wizards by Muggles when they happened to discover them.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Ariana Dumbledore

Ariana Dumbledore

Dumbledore’s motivation came from the fact that his sister Ariana (seen above in a portrait from the Hog’s Head Inn in Deathly Hallows: Part I) was attacked by three Muggle boys when they stumbled upon her practicing her magic as a young girl. They frightened her so much that she became scared of using her power ever again, and it changed her forever. An excerpt from the book features Aberforth explaining this to Harry, Ron and Hermione:

“It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless.”

It is believed that one of these outbursts is what caused Ariana to accidentally kill her mother. That sounds an awful lot like what happens to Credence Barebone in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Which means that Ariana Dumbldore was likely an Obscurial, and she could be the reason that Gellert Grindelwald is seeking out another one in New York City. Grindelwald used to lecture Aberforth about how his and Albus’ plans for changing the world would have meant that Ariana didn’t have to be kept secret any longer, and she would be free of this burden.

Of course, she ended up being free of that burden in a tragic way because Albus, Aberforth and Grindelwald ended up getting into a duel that resulted in Ariana being killed at 14 years old. However, it’s never revealed which of the three wizards cast the spell that accidentally killed her, and it’s something that has haunted Albus Dumbledore his whole life.

The Future of Fantastic Beasts

This all sets the stage for what Grindelwald is doing during the timeline of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise, and it also provides some context as to how this will tie into the larger Harry Potter film universe by filling in some gaps that weren’t explored by the movies.

With Dumbledore poised to play a big part in the Fantastic Beasts sequels, we’re bound to learn much more about the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, which might be why these details were left out of the Deathly Hallows film adaptations. After all, J.K. Rowling consulted on the film’s scripts, and now that she’s writing the Fantastic Beasts franchise, maybe she intentionally had writer Steve Kloves exclude those details so that she could explore them in her own screenplays. Plus, now that we know the movies are supposed to span 19 years, that takes us right up to 1945, which is when Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald according to his Chocolate Frog trading card.

ScreenCrush has a video that offers up a theory as to why Newt Scamander is caught up in this story when it doesn’t really seem like he’s all that important to the larger narrative at hand, and that includes an interesting detail in the faux textbook that was published all the way back in 2001:

So there you have it. J.K. Rowling has had all these ideas and story elements in her head that it sounds like we should just trust that she knows what she’s doing. While I’m still not sure how the story of Newt Scamander will be integral to this franchise, and this theory doesn’t really sell me on it either, I’m going to put my faith in Rowling and see where this takes us.

What do you think about all this?

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