Monday, December 22, 2008

Totally Unusable Video Clips


It happens with frustrating frequency.  You find an excellent video clip.  One that makes the point of a sermon in an incredible manner.  It is striking, memorable and doesn’t rely on 15 minutes of set-up before you can show it. The “ideal” video clip.

And you can’t use it.

Why not?

Because something surrounding the point is totally objectionable and offensive. 

Case in point.  I am working my way through the movie version of the graphic novel “300”. (It is too violent for me to watch in one sitting, frankly. While the dialogue in the movie is pretty witty and the casting & costuming is superb, the graphic violence makes me tired.) It is the story of the battle between King Leonidas of Sparta and his 300 men of the elite king’s guard battling the million+ man army of King Xerxes of Persia. 

There are two scenes where Xerxes appears that seem ripe to use. The parallels to Satanic temptation are so rich and colorful, I was dying to use them someday.

In the first, Xerxes confronts Leonidas personally and throws down all sorts of temptations if Leonidas will bow before him. (In the picture below, Rodrigo Santoro plays Xerxes brilliantly. He is speaking to Leonidas, whose back we see at the edge and in the poster above.)

Xerxes: But I am a generous god. I can make you rich beyond all measure. I will make you warlord of all Greece. You will carry my battle standard to the heart of Europa. Your Athenian rivals will kneel at your feet if you will but kneel at mine.
King Leonidas: You are generous as you are divine, O king of kings. Such an offer only a madman would refuse. But the, uh, the idea of kneeling, it's- You see, slaughtering all those men of yours has, uh, well it's left a nasty cramp in my leg, so kneeling will be hard for me.

The response is classic:

Xerxes: There will be no glory in your sacrifice. I will erase even the memory of Sparta from the histories! Every piece of Greek parchment shall be burned. Every Greek historian, and every scribe shall have their eyes pulled out, and their tongues cut from their mouths. Why, uttering the very name of Sparta, or Leonidas, will be punishable by death! The world will never know you existed at all!
King Leonidas: The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a god-king can bleed.image

The better clip, really, is Xerxes temptation of the traitor Ephialtes, a crippled shepherd whose pride has been injured by Leonidas.  He comes with knowledge of the secret goat path around to the flank of Leonidas’ army (which ultimately proves to be the Spartans undoing). 

But the scene where Xerxes tempts Ephialtes is classic.  Xerxes is pure Satan.  He is charming.  He speaks of how “kind” he is.  He wants nothing but Ephialtes best, as opposed to Leonidas, who only wants his ill.  He promises Efialtes money and women.  Ultimately what Ephialtes wants is to be able to be dressed in an soldier’s uniform.  And he succumbs.

But the scene is totally ruined by the sensuality surrounding Xerxes court.  There is nudity, lesbianism and just totally inappropriate surroundings to enable this to be used as a clip in a sermon or Bible lesson.  If you could block out the surrounding circumstances, it would be very, very usable.  As it is, it is a no-go.

Are there video clips that you have wanted to use, but which have been rendered totally useless by the surroundings in the movie or TV show? 

Share them with us.

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