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Birches DVD and Discussion Guide

Birches DVD and Discussion Guide

Authentic Media have released a study guide to go alongside the DVD Birches, based on bestselling author Adrian Plass’ novel Silver Birches .

Claire Musters took a look at both the DVD and study guide and spoke to those who worked on them.

Birches deals with huge life issues; it is a story of loss, as protagonist David loses his wife Jessica early on in the film. We travel through his subsequent story with him as he tries to come to terms with what has happened with the support of old friends. Though they haven’t seen each other for many years, and each one is wrestling with their own difficulties and disappointments, Jessica’s final wish was that they would reunite. The countryside weekend retreat they embark on gives them the space to be honest with one another (at times brutally so).

The accompanying discussion guide has been written by Adrian and his wife Bridget, for use in a small group after watching the film together. Each chapter includes a Bible passage, comments on characters and situations that occur in the film, questions to provoke discussion and sometimes quotes and poems that are relevant.

The journey from book to film has been a long one, with previous adaptations not reflecting the true essence of the story. So why was Adrian happy with this film to go ahead? ‘Larry is an old, much-loved friend of mine, and I knew that he would be anxious for the film to reflect the book as faithfully as possible.’

Larry Theissen, production manager for Birches, had worked with Adrian and Bridget on several projects previously. He had optioned the book for possible film production years previously, and was delighted when a team from around the world was drawn together to ensure the project would go ahead.

He explains why he wanted to create the film: ‘When I read Silver Birches, I was immediately struck by how real the characters were and, in typical Plass style, how honest the writing was. I thought right away that this book would be a great film.

There are many lessons taught in this story and it would seem everyone would be able to identify with at least one of the characters who all have struggles in various dimensions. Adrian doesn’t tie up all the loose ends; he leaves questions still to be answered, but not without hope.

This had to be a film that was realistic and honest, raising questions that we all have around grief, unhappiness, loneliness, failure – and how hope can emerge through our shared brokenness.’

The film producers asked Adrian and Bridget to put together the discussion guide, and by the time Authentic Media were contacted, both resources had already been started. Rachael Franklin, Authentic’s Product and Marketing Manager, explains why they were keen to be involved:

‘We had a meeting with the producers of the film and heard their passion for the project. They then showed us the guide material and this was the lightbulb moment when we realised that this was not just a good-quality Christian film; using the film and the discussion guide together could be a really powerful resource for churches, enabling people to grapple with the big questions of faith in a meaningful way. We subsequently had a meeting with Adrian, and he confirmed our thinking as he shared his heart for this project and how the discussion material had been used with real impact in his own ministry setting.

Our passion is to produce resources that build up the body of Christ, promoting spiritual growth, wisdom, mission and creativity, and we believe that Birches fulfils this. Too often we hide our true feelings and our doubts and questions from both each other and God, so our prayer and hope for these combined resources is to enable people to open up in a safe space and be able to get real with God and each other, growing closer to God and becoming stronger in their faith.’

Adrian has a similar hope for both resources: ‘Of course, I would like people to enjoy the film, but, equally importantly, the book, the film, the notes and the discussion topics invite honesty and vulnerability in the way we talk about the many-layered business of trying to live as followers of Jesus. The characters in the film discover a safe place to say dangerous things. If only there were more of those places.’

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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Birches Discussion Guide (Paperback)
Adrian Plass
Retail price: £7.99
Your price: £7.99

Birches DVD (DVD)
Adrian Plass
Retail price: £12.99
Your price: £12.99