IS THERE ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE HARRY POTTER FILMS?

Are the Gringotts banking goblins depicted as anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews?

Images from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Directed by Christopher Joseph "Chris" Columbus.

The following is an analysis of the images of the Gringotts bankers and their seemingly implied visual ties to Jews. 
 

The Gringott's Bank
Note: the "crooked" quality of this bank.
To fully appreciate the concepts presented below, please view  the clip from the film:
 
 

Still from Harry Potter Goblin Bank floor


Still from Harry Potter bank floor
(highlighted detail)

Is that a Star of David embedded in the floor?

In the following sequence, note how the director chooses to use the Jewish star as the center of all the action.  In other words, the goblins are pulling wagons filled with gold directly across the star and then they simultaneously cross paths within the star with Harry as he makes his way to the teller.

Note also, the close-up of the cobwebs hanging from the chandeliers which is shown within the same scene as the Jewish star.  Visually, this element reinforces the dirty, unclean environment in this particular bank and either consciously or subconsciously ties these three ideas together: Money, the Jewish star and unclean.
 


 

Note how this scene is then composed with Harry surrounded by the Jewish star while speaking to the bankers. 

This is significant as the action of walking through the hall to get to the teller has Potter walking over, through and then past the star, and then as Potter stops to speak to the teller he is suddenly, somehow centered in the star. 

His stance is such that he seems fearful as if to have his hands tied behind his back as if being interrogated like a prisoner of war.

Conclusion: What seems clear is that the director is focusing in on and reinforcing a blatant visual connection with the concepts of gold, money, banking, the Jewish star and fear.

 


 

In this scene, Hagrid holds up the key (much in the same way one would hold up a crucifix to a vampire) and says: "Hah, here's the little devil!"  At the moment Hagrid says the word "devil" the director flashes us a full close-up of the devil-like goblin-banker, grinning or sneering.

This creates a connection between the banker-goblin with the word "devil" and a subconscious cultural connection to vampires - or, according to the images and Judaic symbols presented above, an implied metaphorical and symbolic connection with Jews, vampires and the devil.

- Historically, in anti-Semitic texts, Jews have been continually compared or connected to the devil and even said to be children of the devil.  In his treatise, Martin Luther about Jews wrote that they are "full of the devil's feces ... which they wallow in like swine,"

- An example of biblical anti-Semitism used today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss3G-lTIqkc

- A book by Joshua Trachtenberg describing use of the devil on the medieval conception of the Jew as devil -- literally and figuratively: http://jps.org/product/9780827602274/the-devil-and-the-jews

Below:

Compare a 12th century English  anti-Semitic cartoon depiction of money changers (bankers) with a 21st century depiction of some bankers.   It seems this viewpoint hasn't really changed all that much in 800 years. 

And then compare 20th century Nazi anti-Semitic cartoons which happens to resemble some of the other bankers. 

Curious how there are two different physiques of the bankers which coincidentally resembles both anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews. 

- - This doesn't seem very accidental or coincidental.

12th century English  cartoons
depicting Jews
 



 

 

 

Nazi anti-Semitic cartoons

Harry Potter's Gringotts bankers


 


 

 

 


 


 

 
This one wouldn't be wearing a Yarmulke, would he?
Are these visual relationships to Jews merely coincidental and accidental? Or, do they even exist at all?  If they do, are they willful and deliberate?  Did the director, Chris Columbus intentionally draw relationships to Jews with known, historical anti-Semitic imagery?
 
Or, were these simply cultural norms or common symbols that casually worked their way into the societie's global subconsciousness, and over centuries became the metaphor for demons and greed?  - Where the film director, Chris Columbus and set designers were the unfortunate victims of this cultural phenomenon and thus - accidentally, unknowingly, innocently and completely unintentionally incorporated this symbolic implication of anti-Semitism into his film...  Hmmm.

Conclusion:

It appears through images and dialogue presented above that Mr. Columbus is attempting to draw and reinforce a connection between the devil and Jews with the use of anti-Semitic symbols, images and ideas with Judaic symbols.

 

2014 TREEFROGID