What makes charismatic people so powerful?

What does Donald Trump have to do with the dark wizard at the centre of this fantasy film?

There’s definitely something to be said for charisma when it comes to world leaders.

After all, it was charisma – and a lust for blood – that drove Genghis Khan and his armies to wrestle control over Asia. It was the driving force behind Fidel Castro’s popularity that saw him rule for almost five decades. And charisma was almost certainly in part responsible for Donald Trump’s succession to presidency.

The combination of a magnetic personality, charm and a winning smile, charisma is simultaneously attractive and dangerous – and it’s when the power is in the wrong hands that it can spell disaster.

It’s something that wizard Gellert Grindelwald, the eponymous subject of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, definitely has in spades.

Set to apparate (that means appear in Harry Potter lingo, by the way) in cinemas on 15th November, the second instalment of the popular JK Rowling franchise will follow creature-loving Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his magical menagerie once more. As dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) begins a quest to reclaim power and form an army of pureblood sorcerers, Newt joins forces with future Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore as they battle to restore the delicate divide between wizards and muggles.

As the film premiered across the globe, fans of the franchise were quick to pick up on how the film’s dark leader seemed to parallel a very real one currently in power in the United States.

For actor Callum Turner, who plays Newt’s brother Theseus, the comparison was all too obvious – but in reality, it’s just a reflection of how it’s the message, not the person, that draws people in.

“It’s shining a light, isn’t it, on things that have happened before as well,” he said at a press conference. “And how seductive and easy things can take a turn for the worse. And not just be specific to any one moment.

“That’s the question,” he added. “Why are we — people being seduced in that way? What is it in the moment, in the zeitgeist, what is that? And that’s what is interesting about that — that’s the similarity. Not the person. The message.”

Actor Ezra Miller, who plays mysterious character Credence Barebone, agreed with his co-star’s sentiments, pointing out that in both history and fiction, patterns have a tendency of repeating themselves.

“I think it’s approaching universal themes that sure, can you look at all of the autocrats in all of history and be like, ‘Yup, they are all kind of that guy, sure’,” he said. “There’s a period where they just convince everyone that they are on their team and they’re going to get them good jobs and it’s going to be awesome.

“And that’s like how tyranny works. Like at first they convince you that they have the right to rule you. And then they arm up and get it on. It’s a universal story.”

Also starring: Jude Law and Zoë Kravitz
Directed by: David Yates
Rating: PG13
Running time: 135 mins

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WORDS Camille Hogg

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