The wizarding world of Harry Potter is a magical place teeming with wondrous creatures, mystical spells and haunting secrets. Far away from the bleak realities of contemporary life, the tales of the young wizard and his education as a wizard thankfully omits any suggestions to the real-life terrors of politics, climate change and the like. This is reserved, however, for one time when the long-standing Russian president Vladimir Putin accused the franchise of including his likeness in the form of an ugly house elf.
Surprising the titular Harry Potter in the second film of the series, The Chamber of Secrets, Dobby, the character in question, is a strange squeaky-voiced side-character who resembles both a sun-deprived child and a deflated beige balloon. Joining Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), Dobby eventually helps the characters to defeat the strange dangers of the Chamber of Secrets after initially halting their efforts.
Adapted from the children’s book series written by J. K. Rowling, there is truly no piece of literature more influential to modern life than that of Harry Potter, inspiring young people and adults all across the world to explore the world of reading.
Originating from such innocent roots, it is strange then to consider that Vladamir Putin was so convinced that the character of Dobby was based on his likeness that he planned to sue Warner Bros back in 2003. As originally reported by The Guardian, it was stated that a group of Russian lawyers were planning a lawsuit against the Harry Potter producers as well as Warner Bros over the similarities between the president and Dobby.
In a strange act of self-imposed humiliation, Putin compared himself to the house-elf and pursued a lawsuit, with The Guardian reporting that a spokesperson for the Russian lawyers’ guild had stated: “Similar suits have taken place. But it’s very difficult for courts to rule on them; lots of experts have to be called in. It’s doubtful if it has a chance”. Quite why lawyers would want to draw a definitive likeness between Vladamir Putin and the Harry Potter house-elf is quite unclear.
Thankfully for the wizarding world and the Warner Brothers executives, the stiff arm of Putin’s rule didn’t go as far as to file the lawsuit and the character of Dobby remains the president’s greatest on-screen role to date.
Ten years after the final film in the main Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the wizarding world has failed to gain the momentum it had hoped for, falling flat with the ongoing Fantastic Beasts series that has been marred with setbacks and controversy. The final film in the new trilogy is titled Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and is set for release in 2022 starring the likes of Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Mads Mikkelsen and Johnny Depp.
Take a look at the classic trailer for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets below, featuring fan favourites, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid,
Putin Dobby and Snape, below.