Fantastic Beasts of the Circus Arcanus

In all the Crimes of Grindelwald theories I’ve written about, it seems like I’ve barely mentioned Newt Scamander. His role in the first movie was obvious, since it was focused so much on his magical creatures, but even now, with the focus shifting to the war against Grindelwald, he’s clearly still central to the story.

In Fantastic Beasts, Newt was on good terms with Dumbledore and willing to work against Grindelwald, but his main concern was his magical creatures. In Crimes of Grindelwald, he’s now on a mission for Dumbledore, who is seen recruiting him to help in the fight against Grindelwald in the latest trailer. However, he still has his suitcase full of magical creatures, and presumably they will continue to play a role in the story.

I previously wrote [link] that I thought the Circus Arcanus was following Grindelwald. It’s in New York when he’s in New York and in Paris when he’s in Paris. That seems like too much of a coincidence. A circus can travel anywhere at any time without attracting notice, so it would be a good cover story, and – as I mentioned in my other post – people who have “freakish” talents or enjoy using their magic in flashy ways might very well be drawn to a leader who wants to bring wizards out of hiding.

Newt Scamander has devoted his life to magical creatures. The Circus Arcanus seems to include magical creatures in its performances – they have a kappa advertised on one of their posters, and there’s definitely something in that cage in the trailer – and real-life circuses have not always treated their animals very well. If Newt suspected that the Circus Arcanus was mistreating its magical creatures, he might decide to investigate, especially if he was already in Paris on a mission from Dumbledore. Maybe Dumbledore even suspects the circus is linked to Grindelwald and points him in their direction.

Thoughts on the Circus Arcanus

The Circus Arcanus is – at least according to the Harry Potter Wiki – a circus run by wizards, not by muggles. I’m not 100% sure how we know that, but the new poster that mentions a Kappa certainly seems to reinforce the idea. While Kappas are a part of Japanese folklore, they actually exist in the world of Harry Potter and are one of the creatures mentioned in Fantastic Beasts (the book). According to Newt Scamander, Kappas are dangerous creatures (rated XXXX), so it’s hard to believe that muggles would have been able to capture one.

If the Circus Arcanus is run by wizards, who are its primary visitors – muggles or wizards? If muggles, then the magic displayed there is probably normal by wizard standards. A witch dancing with a snake coiled around her might be perfectly safe, the kappa is of course a magical creature, and the hypnotist? Well, there’s always the Imperius Curse. The only problem with that idea is that they’d be breaking the law – not just if the hypnotist is using an unforgivable curse, but also by violating the Statute of Secrecy. So it’s more likely that the Circus Arcanus performs for wizard audiences and that the magic used there is strange even by their standards, or that the creatures are rare ones they are unlikely to have encountered before.

Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, if most of it was all smoke and mirrors? I mean, what’s more likely: a humanoid amphibian that devours its own tail or an illusion created to make it look like that’s what’s happening? Another creature, the Abarimon (mentioned in the new flyer), is a real group of people from mythology, and along with having their feet on backwards, they were physically unable to live anywhere but their own native homeland. Of all the possible creatures to include, why the one that couldn’t possibly be part of the circus without completely getting rid of one of its defining features? Unless, of course, that’s a clue that there’s no Abarimon at all, just a witch or wizard using human transfiguration to appear as one.

I know the predominant theory is that “enchanting snake girl” = the Maledictus = Nagini, but what if her trick is more than just turning into a snake? Animagi are rare, but not freak-show-worthy, and a cursed transformation into a snake would likely look no different. Parseltongue, on the other hand, is almost unheard-of except in Slytherin’s descendants. Not only is it something the circus-goers would never have seen before, it’s something a little scary and disturbing, a talent usually viewed with suspicion as opposed to the respect shown to animagi. And, of course, she could be both, if the reason she can talk to snakes is because she’s transforming into one.

One final thought about the Circus Arcanus: doesn’t it seem strange that it’s following Newt Scamander around? First it was in New York, now in Paris, at exactly the same time as him. Of course, there’s no real reason a circus would be following him, unless it wanted to get its hands on some of his creatures. That’s a possibility worth considering, but n the other hand, it might have nothing to do with Newt at all. It might be that the circus is in fact following Grindelwald.

Think about it. A circus can travel anywhere and not attract suspicion, because traveling is what they do. If they’re on Dumbledore’s side, maybe they’re keeping tabs on Grindelwald and reporting back. However, I think it’s more likely they’re working for Grindelwald. The circus has a creepy vibe, and for a group of “freaks” who have a hard time concealing their magic or illusionists who enjoy using their talents in bizarre and eye-catching ways, it’s easy to see why his ideas might seem appealing. Get rid of the statute of secrecy, put the muggles in their place, and never hide again. In that case, maybe they’re subtly helping him gain supporters in the places they visit. Since it seems Credence has joined the circus – but clearly wasn’t thrilled with Grindelwald the last time they met – that could set up for a very interesting conflict.

Cirque Arcanus Flyer Translation

In the promotional pictures for a new Crimes of Grindlewald tie-in product (link), there’s a flyer for the Circus Arcanus written entirely in French. Here’s the original image and my translation:

circus arcanus

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with sous-êtres. Its literal meaning would be “sub-beings” or “below-beings”, but neither of those sound natural in English, and if it’s an idiom, I wasn’t able to find it. The other place where I’m uncertain is the small text above the heading – small size and bold lettering make it hard to read, but I think that’s what it says.

I have so many new thoughts about the Circus Arcanus, so I’ll probably post another update later today or tomorrow.