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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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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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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Art’s Desire: Responding to Film and Literature (part six)

This is the last in a series of six posts, which was first published as an article in Anvil journal, Volume 28 No 3 (November 2012), and is published here by kind permission of the editor. Two more aspects of responding to film and literature 4. Morality Image from iStockPhoto.com We have considered the moral […]

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Art’s Desire: Responding to Film and Literature (part five)

This is the fifth in a series of six posts, which was first published as an article in Anvil journal, Volume 28 No 3 (November 2012), and is published here by kind permission of the editor. Celebrate the good1 Image from iStockPhoto.com If the ideas actually make sense, we need to acknowledge that fact, even […]

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Art’s Desire: Responding to Film and Literature (part four)

This is the fourth in a series of six posts, which was first published as an article in Anvil journal, Volume 28 No 3 (November 2012), and is published here by kind permission of the editor. Image from iStockPhoto.com Worldviews in film and literature While not wishing to over-emphasise this aspect of responding to art […]

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Art's Desire: Responding to Film and Literature (part two)

This is the second in a series of six posts, which was first published as an article in Anvil journal, Volume 28 No 3 (November 2012), and is published here by kind permission of the editor. Two-faced human beings Adam and Eve were tempted by the freedom to make their own moral choices; they wanted […]

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Art's Desire: Responding to Film and Literature

This is the first in a series of six posts, which was first published as an article in Anvil journal, Volume 28 No 3 (November 2012), and is published here by kind permission of the editor. Reflecting or shaping? Marvin doesn't like living in a media-dominated world. He doesn't watch television, avoids the cinema, shuns […]

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Why We Love Men in Capes

My friend Mark Meynell is a great film fan, an enthusiast for superheroes and an excellent communicator. So I'm excited to see his new venture - an audio documentary about the significance of superheroes. It's 30 minutes long and is at the bargain price of £1.29 on iTunes (see below). I've not yet had time […]

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The truth will set you free - Catfish

A conversation this morning made me realise I'd never posted this article here, which is why it's appearing some time after the film. This article was first published on Culturewatch. Beware: spoilers ahoy! One of the many changes which the Internet has brought into our lives is that it is remarkably easy to masquerade as […]

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Are Fairy Tales Finished?

An interesting piece by Mike Cosper on The Gospel Coalition Blog about Walt Disney's announcement that it will not make any more princess fairy tales, at least for the foreseeable future. I was particularly struck by this observation:   I can’t help but wonder, though, if the cognitive disconnect between today’s families and the world […]

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Seeing through other eyes - C.S. Lewis

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis's An Experiment in Criticism (1961), which is easily applicable to film as well as literature: This, so far as I can see, is the specific value or good of literature as Logos; it admits us to experiences other than our own. They are not, any more than our […]

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Running a film discussion evening

popcorn from Crestock Stock Photos I often lead film discussions, but there's enormous value in organising leading them yourself rather than depending on some 'expert' from outside (though sometimes that can be a good thing - I'm still open to invitations!). Here are some brief guidelines. I'll add to this and expand on some of […]

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Good films to discuss

Here are some suggestions for good films to discuss in a group context. This list nowhere near exhaustive; merely a few films that I’ve either enjoyed using myself or that I’m confident would be great. The list is very roughly in order of how suitable I think a film is for discussing: things near the […]

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Twenty Questions to Consider When Watching a Film

Movie Time from Crestock Photos These question are based on those in my book, Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema. They are intended to help you organise your thinking as you watch a film. As well as helping you in your own thinking about movies, these questions also provide a useful framework for group discussions […]

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Norman Wisdom, 1905–2010

Norman Wisdom was one of the funniest people in the history of British film. His talent for physical comedy was matchless - no wonder Charlie Chaplin called Wisdom his favourite clown. But he could also switch to become sensitive and serious, as when he first sang 'Don't Laugh at Me' in Trouble in Store (1953). […]

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Jeffrey Overstreet on the how of storytelling

Encounter 10: Jeffrey Overstreet on the how of storytelling from International Arts Movement on Vimeo. Jeffrey is a great, insightful Christian film critic whose perspectives I value highly. This lecture was given at the International Arts Movement Encounter 10. These posts may be related: Art’s Desire: Responding to Film and Literature (part six) This is […]

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Alice in Wonderland

This article was first published in Idea magazine (March/April 2010) and on Culturewatch.org. © Tony Watkins, 2010. Yet another film foray into Wonderland demonstrates the abiding charm of Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories. But Tim Burton’s surreal fantasy isn’t just a retread of the much-loved children’s story, however; it picks up Alice’s story several years on. […]

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The Lovely Bones

Dir. Peter Jackson (Paramount Pictures, 2010) This article was first published on Culturewatch, © Tony Watkins. Warning: this article contains plot spoilers When Susie was small, she was worried for the penguin trapped inside a snow globe. ‘Don’t worry, kiddo,’ her father Jack (Mark Wahlberg) reassured her. ‘He has a nice life; he’s trapped in […]

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A statue in Oviedo

In Woody Allen's film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Juan Antonia (Javier Bardem) invites Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) to accompany him to Oviedo to view a particular sculpture which he finds inspiring. Cristina jumps at the opportunity, but Vicky goes reluctantly. The statue we later see is of a crucifix, which allows Woody Allen […]

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The Ten Most Redeeming Films of 2009

Every year, the film critics at Christianity Today compile a list of the ten films that they consider to be the most redeeming of the year. What do they mean by that? We mean movies that include stories of redemption—sometimes blatantly, sometimes less so. Several of our films have characters who are redeemers themselves; all […]

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Invictus

This article was first published on Culturewatch.org. © Tony Watkins, 2010 The 1995 Rugby World Cup final was an unexpectedly significant world event. It had a resonance far beyond the excitement of rugby fans because of its particular historical context. Rarely, if ever, has a sporting event been such a powerful cohesive force within a […]

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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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