© rpb1001, used under a Creative Commons licence.

Running film discussions for outreach

Why and how should we use film discussions in evangelism? Using films within our communication is very helpful because film is an extremely popular medium. Long-form television is arguably more popular, but film remains immensely important. Second, film is powerful because it is ‘multimodal’ – it doesn’t communicate in a single mode (images, spoken words,…

© Helloquence, used under a Creative Commons licence, via Unspl

The CAST model of digital communication – Part 1: Concept

As I wrote in the previous article, the very simple model of communication is inadequate. It assumes that the conversation partners hear everything clearly and understood each other perfectly. This is far from the truth, as is clear within a social semiotic theory of communication.

This article introduces my CAST model of communication, and considers the first aspect of it: Concept.

Media in a post-truth world – part 2

Why do people click so frequently on false stories? How do these lies spread so rapidly? It is certainly true that facts and non-facts circulate at a speed that would have been inconceivable before the Internet and social media. Most people do not have the means, or perhaps inclination, to fact check the things that…

Image by .brioso. CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Seven stories we keep telling

Over the course of around twenty years of analysing films, books and other media, I have often been struck at the ways in which storytellers keep telling the same kinds of tales over and over again. That’s not to say that the narratives they construct are inevitably wearied or hackneyed; far from it. There is extraordinary diversity in the way that the themes have been explored. Yet, it remains the case that, under the surface, most if not all stories are versions of a limited number of key themes.

He who has ears to hear – The Lives of Others

Tony Watkins’s article on Florian Henckel von Donnersmark’s Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others) on the transforming effect of art and love on an East German Stasi officer.

A Fresh Start – Noah

Darren Aronofsky is a visionary and ambitious film-maker who constantly grapples with big themes in his work. Noah continues in this line as it explores significant – and very relevant – tensions within humanity: between benevolent care for the environment and greedy exploitation, between duty and self-interest, and of course, between good and evil. Aronofsky, along with co-writer Ari Handel, explores these issues and others in spectacular, epic style in the context of one of humanity’s oldest stories.
This post was first published in Film & Bible Blog. © Tony Watkins 2013.

Pulled in Different Directions – Gravity (part two)

In the previous post, I explained the allusive nature of film, and the fact that films can be open to more than one way of reading them. The first way of reading Gravity is to see it as an impressive, but straightforward action movie with no deeper meanings – that is, reading it denotatively. The…

Fixing the world: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts Of The Southern Wild Day four of the Keswick Unconventional Film Club found us watching Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin’s extraordinary magic realist film, which is unlike any other I can think of. During or after our discussion yesterday evening, one person compared aspects of it to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of…

EU referendum © florriebassingbourn Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0) licence

Media in a post-truth world – part 1

 This post was first published on Engaging Media, the website of the Lausanne Media Engagement Network. Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘post-truth’ as its Word of the Year for 2016. Editor Casper Grathwohl said, Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as…

Ioan Gruffudd in Amazing Grace

Freedom Fighter: Amazing Grace

This is an old article of mine that was published on Culturewatch (which later became the Film & Bible Blog from Damaris) in 2007. I am gradually republishing many of my Culturewatch articles here, especially since the demise of Damaris Trust and its websites. What’s prompted me to republish this article on Amazing Grace today is that…


This post was first published in Film & Bible Blog. © Tony Watkins 2013. For discussion material on this film, see Sophie Lister’s Damaris Film Blog discussion guide and the supplementary questions in the published version of this article in the Film & Bible Blog Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) has lived with a secret for…

Pulled in Different Directions – Gravity (part one)

This post has been delayed as I’ve been away and without internet access for the last week. Part two will be published in a little while.   The final day of the Keswick Unconventional Film Club was, for me at least, the most fun of the week. Having found myself in a little Twitter debate…

Sons and Fathers – Son of Rambow

Day three of the Keswick Unconventional Film Club had smaller numbers as Son of Rambow is nowhere near as well known as Blue Jasmine and Philomena. Written and directed by Garth Jennings (his directorial debut) and released in 2008, this eccentric gem of a movie is one of the best films about growing up. I’m…