I was trying a new approach, ripping the clips using some free software called Handbrake and then burning them onto a DVD using Cyberlink Power Director and then just flicking through them as if I was using a conventional DVD. Unfortunately, there was no sound facilities in the room (as I'd thought there would be) and using the projector's speakers, which had been the back up plan, produced a feeble sound. This meant I ended up playing the DVD on my laptop, using VLC. It's a great piece of software normally, but it wasn't to happy with skipping tracks, DVD menus etc. and so it lead to a lot of those awkward wait an see moments. There were a couple of faults on the disk anyway (no subtitles for the Pasolini clip for example), so it was a bit of a struggle, and meant I didn't fully relax so I could really enjoy the session.
Other than that I think it went OK. I had a good group, nearly all of whom chipped in something, and every film had a reasonable amount of discussion with some interesting perspectives coming through. It's always nice to hear a new perspective or observation and there were a few of these - the use of wedding bells used at the end of Last Temptation.
I also noticed how the ending of Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo links the response to the resurrection to the Great Commission. The joy that erupts as the door flies off the tomb (pictured above) carries through to the end of the film. When we see the disciples running with the same sense of joy, our first impression is that this is in response to the resurrection. Yet it turns out that this is actually the precursor to the ascension. Having watched this again last night, I think this ambiguity is a deliberate way of linking the two scenes. It's significant that this sequence has the same song throughout even though the text implies that there is a reasonably significant gap here.
From a Christian perspective (which was not the director's own) it's a useful reminder that it's the good news about Jesus defeating death which should be the motivating factor in us going out to tell people about him. Quite what Pasolini intended this sequence to convey I'm not entirely sure.
One of the things that was interesting in running this session was just how much of a new area this was for the majority that were there. A large proportion of Open Heaven are students, and of the 20 or so that came along, only 2 were older than me, 1 was a couple of years younger than me and the rest were in the 18-23 age bracket. So many of them were born after the release of Last Temptation of Christ in 1988, and most of them were under 18 when The Passion of the Christ was released five and a half years ago (has it really been so long). There was also relatively low awareness about last year's BBC mini-series The Passion. I was aware that Last Temptation would probably be largely unknown, but I was surprised about those other two. I suppose I'm not only showing my age, but forgetting that most people don't have anything like the level of interest in this subject that I do. (That said, there was at least one other Jesus Christ, Superstar fan in attendance).
On the other hand, it was encouraging to see how switched on many of the group were to the way the variety of methods these films use to communicate. This, I imagine, is also due in part to the age of the majority of participants most of whom have grown up in a world saturated with visual media.
So whilst I wish I'd brought a set of powered speakers so that I could run the session from the DVD player rather than the laptop, I did, ultimately, enjoy it and hopefully those that came all got something from it. I think some did at least.