Exploring the origins of Voldemort
This story was originally published on THE VERGE.
When J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she came up with an immersive world and history, which is now playing out in the form of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and its upcoming sequels. However, a group of fans are filming an origin story of their own: Voldemort: Origins of the Heir. After watching the teaser trailer for this fan film, we have a question: can we just get this one instead?
The story follows a witch named Grisha Mac Laggen (heir to Gryffindor and original character to this film), who suspects trouble when Hepzibah Smith, a descendant of the Hufflepuff family, was found murdered. The case goes cold, but Laggen suspects that there’s some sort of dark magic at play, and she believes that former Hogwarts student and future dark wizard Tom Marvolo Riddle is involved somehow. Visually, the teaser looks stunning, with visual effects and production design that feel like they fit alongside that of the official Harry Potter films.
The story sounds intriguing as well, pulling references from the novels to tell the story of the rise of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Book fans might recognize the name Hepzibah Smith: she owned Helga Hufflepuff’s cup and Salazar Slytherin’s locket, which Voldemort later used to create two of his Horcruxes, and he killed her in the process. The film looks as though it’s closely tied to the Harry Potter novels, while the official Fantastic Beasts prequel feels a bit disconnected, burying some of the lore under tons of CGI creatures, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Voldemort: Origins of the Heir has been in the works since early 2016, when its filmmakers were inspired after re-reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, leading them to wonder about what drove Riddle to become Voldemort, according to the film’s website. They launched a Kickstarter to fund the film, only to have Warner Bros. issue a takedown notice last summer. With the release of the teaser, the film appears to be continuing forward — the filmmakers note on their Facebook page, that they reached an agreement with Warner Bros. This has some echoes of the Star Trek fan film Axanar, which brought considerable legal trouble from Paramount Pictures over its movie-quality production, along with some strict guidelines for creators. Fortunately, Warner Bros. seems content to let the project proceed, and according to the film’s creators, the film will be released on YouTube in fall 2017.