I confess–I’ve never read a word by J.K. Rowling, but I adore Harry Potter movies. I’m a late starter, I admit, but a trip last year to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” sent me scuttling for the first two. And I posted here on my wish, if I’d had children, to send them to the Hogwarts School, where learning is taken seriously, political correctness is not in evidence, and the students are required to wear not only jackets and ties, but academic gowns.

So naturally I was practically first in line for “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which may be my very favorite Harry Potter of all. There’s the archetypal story line: good (Harry and friends) versus evil (Voldemort and minions). Our sophisticated betters pooh-pooh the “simplistic” black-and-white scenarios of fantasies like “”Harry” and “The Lord of the Rings” because they’re not “realistic” pictures of a world that the sophistos insist comes in shades of gray (there’s usually a political substrate to this assertion, for most of the cultural elite refuses to entertain the thought that we Americans might be on the side of good in Iraq).

And sure, I agree, that few in the real world are without their flaws, but that doesn’t mean that battles between good and evil don’t take place, for they do. The battleground is each of us. Each day, we have to make hard choices between what is right and difficult and what is easy and tempting, but also selfish, greedy,and lazy. That cosmic battleground is the most important one in our lives, and it’s why we respond powerfully when we see it replicated powerfully on a screen. Furthermore, each of us can do some good in this world despite our flaws. Good is real–and evil is real–and that’s something that our cultural elites refuse to believe (except, of course, when they’re talking about George W. Bush–he’s pure evil).

“Goblet of Fire” is also an archetypal story of friendship. A friend lays down his life for his friend, the most powerful story of all. The former Latin teacher in me relishes the fact that all the spells are in Latin–and excellent Latin at that. But most of all, “Goblet” and the rest of the Potter movies have real class. Harry and his friends are now adolescents undergoing the hormonal travails and opposite-sex longings of puberty, but there’s no foul language, no off-color jokes, no age-inappropriate clothes on the girls. Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) has grown from a beautiful child to a beautiful teen-ager, but she always acts like a lady.

“How but in custom and in ceremony/ Are innocence and beauty born?,” asked Yeats. The Harry Potter movies celebrate all four of those wonderful things.