Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Warner Bros. directed by Chris Columbus
For some evangelicals, anticipating the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was like preparing for Halloween. We may have pleasant memories of trick-or-treating, but once we're adults, the holiday's focus on the ghoulish and macabre makes us queasy. Do we just hand out candy like most of our neighbors? Do we toss both candy and Halloween-themed tracts into the plastic jack-o-lanterns of the young monsters at our door? Or do we attend a church-sponsored "harvest festival" and risk the retribution of spurned trick-or-treaters?
The first Harry Potter film (does anyone doubt there will be many more?) takes these conflicted feelings to a keener level. Novelist J.K. Rowling brushes aside any concerns that her book series could lure young readers into dabbling in the occult. "I have met thousands of children now," she said in an Associated Press report, "and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, 'Ms. Rowling, I'm so glad I've read these books because now I want to be a witch.'"
Nevertheless, a film company spends millions of dollars on cross-marketing because it knows that millions of children want to project themselves into the roles they see onscreen. It was no coincidence to see many young Harry Potters at your door on Halloween night, and they'll probably grow in number by next October. Sheer joy may not have been the first response felt by evangelicals whose children insisted on a magic wand or a child-sized flying broomstick for Christmas.
A Dickensian Tale
Except for some necessary compression, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is almost slavishly faithful to the first book in Rowling's series. Rowling insisted on it, and ...1