I was never very attracted to the central idea of HARRY POTTER: a college for black magic. But in this great new sequel, unexpectedly get a Christian Harry Potter – with a human face!

This happens in the crucial moment of Harry’s death. Harry discovers he has been infected with a part of Valdemart’s black soul, so that to rid the world of Evil, Harry must die together with Valdemart.

So Harry dies, and his soul in the Heavens pontificates to the Old Wizard about his further options. Following the series’s Gothic line, and the influence of George Lucas, you’d expect something like the ending of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – in order to reincarnate, Harry must accept the Dark Side, and then we get another sequel in which he is drawn back to the Good Side, and so on, ad nauseam.

Instead, the Old Wizard tells the surprised Harry that he still has free will. If he wants to, he can choose to climb on the train back to earthly life. And this concept – that God is such pure love, you even have free will after death – is much closer in spirit to Eastern Orthodoxy, than any Gothic religion, with its guilt, predetermination, and eternal punishment.

Were this given against the backdrop of a classic fairy tale, it would of course be sentimental crap. But there is enough misery, bloodshed, and even creep-out horror (note the snake attacks) to counterbalance the sense of forgiveness, telling kids clearly that the world isn’t a pretty place, that suffering won’t be avoided, but that you still have a chance if you can embrace your own free will.

In addition, HARRY POTTER puts to shame the newest so-called ”arthouse” effort by Wim Wenders, whose PINA 3D disappoints by being visually conventional. POTTER’s brilliant art direction recalls Andrei Tarkovsky in the most pleasing way, without being either overly dramatic or stupidly hyper-realistic. I had to ask myself, why should this NOT be considered poetry? Only because it wears the ”commercial” label on its sleeve, while Wenders likes to call himself an ”artist” and an ”auteur”, but fails to deliver on the most basic photography level?

While in PINA 3D people talk endlessly about the human condition, desiring, loving, hating, and so on, until the babble becomes an ”art statement” (YAWN), POTTER has such delightful concepts as a magic spell that replicates objects endlessly, or Harry collecting tears out of his dying teacher’s eye, which will enable the wizard to see his own future reflected in the teacher’s tragic fate.