Innocence and Experience: The influence of William Blake on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials

This article is an extract from my book, Dark Matter: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Philip Pullman. I have edited it lightly to remove the worst plot spoilers, but inevitably I must mention some events towards the end of the trilogy. As far as possible, I have edited these so that the details of what […]

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Philip Pullman and the Devil's Party

This article is an extract from my book, Dark Matter: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Philip Pullman. See more articles relating to Pullman and His Dark Materials. Philip Pullman was sixteen, studying for A-Levels, when he first read John Milton's Paradise Lost, first published in 1667.[1]He immediately fell in love with it: ‘I found it intensely […]

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Mortal Combat: The clash of values in Mortal Engines

A thousand years in the future, the high-tech world of the 21st-century is ancient history. It is of interest only to archaeologists who look for old tech – fragments left after from the 60-minute war which wiped away civilisation around the globe. Facing dwindling resources, the towns and cities have become mobile, travelling around the plains on vast caterpillar tracks in pursuit of smaller, slower towns which are sources of valuable resources as well as potential competition. This is “Municipal Darwinism” – survival of the fastest. The largest of the predator cities is London – a vast multi-deck machine with enormous metal jaws into which can be drawn prey such as the small mining town which attempts to escape at the start of this story.

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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, […]

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The CAST model of digital communication – Part 2

In the previous article, I began to introduce my CAST model of communication, and explained the first aspect of it: Concept. In this article, I introduce the other three aspects of the model: Audience, Shaping, and Transmission.

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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.

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A social semiotic theory of multimodal communication

Gunther Kress's social semiotic theory of communication emphasises the roles of the initiator (providing prompts for a recipient) and recipient of communication (interpreting the prompt), and of the use of multiple modes.

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What is communication?

An important question is, what is communication? It is more complex than we imagine, only happening in response to a prompt and when a recipient's attention is sufficiently engaged to interpret the prompt.

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Introducing Modes

Gunther Kress defines a ‘mode’ as 'a socially shaped and culturally given semiotic resource for making meaning'. This article explains what this means.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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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 […]

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Discovering the brokenness of the world

I've just come across this fascinating and insightful quote by film critic Michael Chabon, in the introduction to Matt Soller Seitz's The Wes Anderson Collection, about the brokenness of the world: The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice […]

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Aningaaq: Jonas Cuarón's Gravity spin-off

A brief introduction to Jonas Cuaron's short film spin-off from Gravity, showing Aningaaq's side of the conversation with Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock).

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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.

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Steve Coogan's desire for an authentic story

Having republished my Film & Bible Blog article on Philomena a couple of days ago, I've just come across this quote from Steve Coogan in my notebook. . . .

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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.

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Philomena

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Shaming the wise

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena. © Pathé, 2013. Used by permission Day two of the Keswick Unconventional Film Club was absolutely packed for watching and discussing Philomena. Directed by Stephen Frears from a screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, it’s a film which is loved by audiences and critics alike. It won […]

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© Tony Watkins, 2020
The Tony and Jane Watkins Trust oversees and supports the ministries of Tony and Jane Watkins in Christian training, education, and communication. It is a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 1062254.
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