Video Clips

BLOG March 07


In class I've been doing religious themes in TV drama. I started with a brainstorm from the students on what TV dramas they've seen that featured religious themes, and among the programmes that featured in the feedback were Father Ted, The Simpsons, Lost and Ballykissangel. I then showed some relevant clips, which were spread over two double classes. These are clips I have built up over the years and keep adding to, though not as diligently as before. Hard to find the time. I don't like using too many old clips, so I was glad to be able to show a clip from an episode of Lost which been on a few days previously - this was a scene where the Hurley character had prayed for enlightenment and got it. I also used a few earlier Lost clips - including the scene where Claire and her baby are baptised by Mr Eko. Some of my Lost clips are actually lost, so I had better trawl through my videos and catalogue everything. I used some clips from the X-Files as well, though as time goes on students are less familiar with this series. My article on the religious themes in the X-Files is on the articles section of the website. In one scene one of the main characters, Scully, is saying the rosary (you don't see that too often in TV drama), while her partner Mulder is blowing the lid on yet another government conspiracy. I also used a clip of Scully going to confession, where she talks about being afraid that God is speaking but that no one is listening.
I used a short Father Ted clip just to illustrate a point about stereotyping of nuns and priests and to raises issues relating to the respectful treatment of religion. However I don't particularly like the underlying attitudes in the show and was somewhat reluctant. The attitude of the boys was that it was only a bit of fun. Joan of Arcadia got a look in as well - the US show where God appears to a young girl in various guises. A clip from 7th Heaven was necessary to be comprehensive, though I got the feeling some of the lads didn't like it. I used a nice clip from a popular (but rough and sometimes adult in nature) series Band of Brothers, which is about the aftermath of D-Day. In an early episode a captain reflects and prays on the day's events, and promises God that if he survives the war he'll live a peaceful life. My Ballykissangel clips tape has gone missing, but I showed clips from Paradise Island, the American version, a short-lived series which was quite enjoyable. Next week I hope to do a class on relevant animated series, especially The Simpsons and God, The Devil and Bob. More of that anon. I plan to turn these clips into digital files so I can play them from the laptop, perhaps as Powerpoint presentations.

Have seen an excellent film recently that might be useful in religion class. I saw The Execution of Private Slovik many years ago and it made a lasting impact. It's the true story of Eddie Slovik (played superbly by Martin Sheen) the only American soldier to be executed since the Civil War - he was shot for desertion in World War Two. It's hard to get and I finally found the video on Ebay recently - the only version available seems to be this American NTSC video which means it won't play correctly over here unless you have an NTSC compatible video machine. I got one of those recently so I could finally catch up on some American tapes (including some Peter, Paul and Mary concerts which include gospel material). I hoped I wouldn't find it dated (it was originally broadcast on US TV in 1974), but thankfully I didn't. It was simple basic and hard hitting, and as moving as ever. Two scenes in particular are useful for class - around the middle of the film the chaplain talks to the firing squad about the morality of it all, and towards the end there is Slovik's final experience of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He prays on the way to execution, but this scene is tough going and may not be suitable for younger classes at least. And without the context of the full film the emotional impact wouldn't be the same.