Why That Very, Very Old Man in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Seems So Familiar
When it comes to the Fantastic Beasts franchise, some of the most exciting moments come from the connections to the Harry Potter books. Luckily for us diehard fans, The Crimes of Grindelwald delivers a hefty dose of nostalgia. This movie has everything: we've got Voldemort's dear Nagini, a young professor McGonagall, and even a vaguely gay Dumbledore. But, that's not all! There's another character in the film that hearkens all the way back to the very first book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It's Nicolas Flamel.
If you don't quite recall the significance of the character, it's because Nicolas Flamel is only mentioned in passing during the book. During one scene, Hermione points out a book passage for Harry and Ron to read:
"The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The Stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal.
There have been many reports of the Philosopher's Stone over the centuries, but the only Stone currently in existence belongs to Mr. Nicolas Flamel, the noted alchemist and opera-lover. Mr, Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight)."
As you might remember, Hogwarts is keeping the Stone safe in the first book, tucked away under lock and key behind a series of puzzles. With the help of Professor Quirrell, Voldemort attempts to get his hands on the Stone. Obviously he's hoping to attain life everlasting. As we all know by now, Harry and co. nip that plan right in the bud. Though Flamel is alive in the year the book is set, we never see him in the flesh. That's where Fantastic Beasts comes in.
At the very beginning of the film, Dumbledore tells Newt of a safe house in Paris. It turns out the be the actual house of Flamel! We discover this when Jacob has a hilarious run-in with the alchemist, who reveals he's pretty old and frail. Nicolas is pretty instrumental, even in his small role. He helps Jacob figure out where to find Queenie, and even participates in that epic final spell that defeats Grindelwald's fire dragons. We even catch a glimpse of the Stone itself, tucked away safely in Flamel's safe. Talk about a fun cameo.
As I mentioned, Flamel continues to live his very long life until the end of the first book. With the Stone completely destroyed, he and his wife will finally be laid to rest. "They have enough Elixir stored to set their affairs in order and then, yes, they will die," Dumbledore tells Harry. "To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day." He then says, "You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all – the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things which are worst for them." Ugh, his mind!
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano