NOTE: CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUT LETA LESTRANGE AND FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION!
Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m hugely devoted to everything Harry Potter. I’ve even been to the WB Harry Potter Studio in London (which was awesome FYI), read the series of novels over seven times, and have been sorted into my house on Pottermore. The mythology in these stories is just so immersive that we feel a part of J.K. Rowling’s imaginative world and it’s exciting. Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic, and Diagon Alley all feel real; like these places really are just beyond our grasp, concealed by magic in the shadows.
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Because of my huge interest in J.K. Rowling’s brilliant fantasy world, I went to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opening weekend. And I know I wasn’t alone. Thankfully, the film didn’t disappoint (despite some “possible” continuity errors – I say let’s wait till the final film to make that judgment).
While I know not everyone loves the Harry Potter prequel films as much as the original novels, I personally appreciate the adult stories being told. There’s just so much to explore around the hidden world of wizardry. There are more characters to love than just Harry Potter and his friends. More villains to explore than just Voldemort. There’s also more romance to swoon over.
SNAPE AND LILY VS NEWT AND LETA
My personal favorite love story in all of the Harry Potter Series belongs to the unrequited love Severus Snape had for Lily ‘Evans’ Potter. Why? Because of Snape’s Byronic focus and continual love for Lily. That didn’t mean he wasn’t dark or never did bad things (though when he does, his layers make him even more fascinating as a character). But within his darkness, his love for Lily was endless. He never stopped loving the girl he met as a boy even after her death. For him, his love would “always” be a part of him. And that was beautiful. It was his sacrifice to save Lily’s son that would prove Lily and Snape to be an exquisite, albeit completely unrequited love story.
Similarly, J.K. Rowling nails her subtle romances out of the park with another unrequited love story in the latest film. Sure, I could talk about Queenie and Jacob (though I didn’t like how he called her crazy in film two), Newt and Tina (they are adorable), or even the subtextual love story between Dumbledore and the villainous Grindelwald. However, today, I want to talk about one of the most interesting characters in The Crimes of Grindelwald: Leta Lestrange.
On the surface, Leta Lestrange loves Newt’s older brother Theseus, her fiance. I personally believe otherwise. While she loves Theseus, I theorize her actions prove that she had unrequited love for Newt Scamander instead. And it’s this unrequited love that gives us our tragic Romantic Moment of the Month.
LETA LESTRANGE BACKGROUND
Leta Lestrange had a terrible childhood. In fact, a good majority of the film focused on Leta’s mysterious story from birth to her unfortunate death. She had an inner darkness that she feared would surface, that she feared Newt would discover. In many ways, Leta Lestrange compares to Snape, including her Hogwarts house Slytherin. Not to mention, the audience always questioning what side the two would land on. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Throughout the film, we don’t see Leta’s growing feelings for Theseus in flashback. Rather, the film reveals flashbacks about her close relationship with Newt Scamander and the truth behind her twisted and tragic past. Indeed, the camera zooms in on the mystery behind Leta as she longingly looks and touches at carvings of her and Newt’s initials at Hogwarts: L & N. These memories are special for Leta because Newt cared for her when no one else did.
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At Hogwarts, everyone treated the pureblood Leta Lestrange like a monster except for Newt. Her family name Lestrange was a burden because everyone expected the Lestranges to be evil. This, of course, leads Leta to hex students who are bullying her. Ultimately, her defensive behavior escalates and she causes harm to another student. Newt, as a good friend and person, selflessly takes the blame for the incident so Leta can stay in school. As a result, he gets expelled from Hogwarts instead of her. Moments like these will obviously be important to Leta, a damaged and complicated person who felt unloved her entire life.
“You never met a monster you couldn’t love.” – Leta
Indeed, her childhood slowly unfolds, revealing the sadness behind her story. Her mother, Laurena, was put under the Imperius Curse by Corvus Lestrange and forced to leave her good marriage with Mustafa Kama. Together, they had a child: Leta. Sadly, she died soon after. Corvus then remarried and had a son, showing no affection for his daughter. He loved no one but his son.
Then, after his second wife dies, Leta and her half-brother Corvus, get sent to America for adoption. While on the ship to America, Leta can no longer handle her half-brother’s crying. He, who had all the love. So, as a foolish young child, she wants a break from the crying and trades him with another baby on board the ship. It was only meant to be temporary but then the ship goes down. She escapes with the switched brother while her real brother drowns in the sea. The real Corvus was actually dead (but that’s a story for another day).
“I was wicked.” – Leta
This one silly childish mistake haunts Leta her entire life. She didn’t mean for her brother to die but it becomes her worst nightmare, first hinted at when she faces the boggart. The sight of her baby brother drowning in the sea is terrible and horrifying but illuminating when she tells Newt the truth, and then says rather revealingly: “You never met a monster you couldn’t love.”
“I never thought you bad.” – Newt
“Everybody else did. And they were right.” – Leta
And Newt did love her at one point. He kept her picture after all. That being said, he met and fell for Tina likely because Leta’s inner turmoil and guilt created a distance between the two close friends. A coldness. So, the two went in two different directions. How and why Leta chose to marry Theseus remains unknown. Perhaps she wanted to be close to Newt in this strange way? Nevertheless, I do believe she loved Theseus. Still, all these years later, I also believe, Leta, a woman of mystery, was still in love with Newt (her true love), the boy who could love monsters and, of course, fantastic beasts.
THE ROMANTIC MOMENT OF THE MONTH: LETA AND NEWT
Leta and Newt’s past all leads us to the romantic moment. After Leta’s Corvus confession, they all end up at Grindelwald’s Rally underneath the Lestrange family Mausoleum in Paris. Here, Grindelwald gives a charismatic and persuasive speech to his potential followers.
He even creates a spelled circle of blue flame that creates a divide between those who would follow him and those who do not. It’s here that J.K. Rowling once again wants us to question which side Leta, the girl who everyone saw as wicked, would choose. Would she choose Grindelwald, a man who embraced her pureblood darkness, or would she choose her friends?
“She was a taker.” – Queenie
Queenie gave her impression of Leta by reading Newt’s mind in the first Fantastic Beasts film. She thought Newt needed a giver. But was her reading true? Perhaps Leta’s first mind impression was only surface deep. Yes, Leta’s pain was probably emotionally draining. And yes, Newt did lose his place at Hogwarts because of her.
However, Leta Lestrange is more than one thing and too harshly judged. (A fact that poor Queenie would soon understand in regards to herself.) She’s a powerful force of nature but inside she isn’t her family. Her guilt doesn’t define her rather her actions do. And her actions tell us everything. Not only that she’s good but that she loves Newt selflessly. In the end, she’s the opposite of a taker. If she had confessed the truth sooner, perhaps Newt’s love story would have had a different ending. Leta Lestrange could have been happy. She could have healed the hate she felt for herself. Instead, Leta seeks redemption in the purest kind of love: sacrifice.
In one of the final scenes of the film, Leta walks toward Grindelwald as if to join him while Newt and Theseus look on in horror.
She pretends as if to swear allegiance to the dark wizard when she stops to reveal her true purpose.
“I love you.” – Leta
“I love you,” Leta says decisively, looking at both Newt and Theseus. But who is her final proclamation of love directed at? Newt, her best friend from Hogwarts, or Theseus, her fiancé?
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Like Severus Snape before her (or after if we’re being literal), Leta Lestrange sacrifices everything for love. And if we are to compare Snape and Lily to Leta, the only answer of who she truly loves can be Newt. Newt, the boy who cared for a monster. Newt, the boy who selflessly took the fall for one of her darker mistakes. And, Newt, the man, who now loves someone else.
Leta Lestrange has one final act of sacrifice to save the man who had once saved her. She strikes against Grindelwald with purpose, knowing she has no chance of survival but she can save Newt, Theseus, Tina, Yusuf, and Jacob. She can give her life to let them escape and tells both Newt and Theseus to go. Her attack against Grindelwald is short lived. She dies in front of both Newt and Theseus, but her heroic sacrifice lets them escape. It gives the movement against Grindelwald a chance to succeed.
Is her tragic death romantic? I would say yes because what is more romantic than dying for the man you love? It’s why stories like A Tale of Two Cities and Snape and Lily are so powerful and memorable. In a way, Leta Lestrange yearned for redemption and achieved the goodness she so longed for by proving she was more than her family name. She was Leta Lestrange, a woman whose unrequited love would save the wizarding world in the war to come because she was willing to die for the man she loved. In the end, love is more powerful than hate, something both Voldemort and Grindelwald always fail to understand.
It’s also possible that her sacrifice will play an even bigger role in the films to come. Perhaps Leta’s sacrifice is comparable to Lily Potter? That similarly a sacrificial protection will be given to either Newt or Theseus against Grindelwald much like Harry had against Voldemort. If Newt has protection against Grindelwald, Dumbledore would certainly know firsthand the power behind sacrificial protection granted on the beneficiaries. We would also know just who Leta Lestrange actually loved.
November was full of romance with numerous memorable moments. So, we’ve picked a few of the best to vote on!
- Arrow: Oliver and Felicity’s sweet reunion.
- Chicago Med: April rescues Ethan; Connor and Ava kiss.
- Doctor Who: Yasmin discovers her Grandmother’s secret romantic history when they travel back in time.
- The Durrells in Corfu: Louisa and Spiros reveal their love for each other even though they can’t act on it.
- Hallmark Christmas Movies (IE: Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe)
- Lifetime Christmas Movies (IE: My Christmas Inn, The Christmas Contract)
- Netflix Christmas Movies (IE: The Princess Switch, The Holiday Calendar, etc.)
- Poldark: Too many to list!
- This is Us: Zoe and Kevin grow closer as she opens up. Jack and Rebecca go on a road trip together which leads to him crying as she sings to him.
- The Woman in White finale: Laura and Walter have a happy ending. Plus, Marian has the perfect “Romantic” ending by traveling the world alone and single!
What are your thoughts on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald? Do you agree that Leta Lestrange was in love with Newt Scamander? What was your favorite romantic moment this month? Sound off below…
Photos: Warner Brothers