The Good Samaritan & Grand Canyon


“Who’s my neighbor?”  “What does it mean to live in harmony with others?”  Who’s a friend or enemy?” Here’s a clip and lesson outline that causes students to ask these and other questions.  Taught in the space of 45 minutes to an hour, retell the parable of the Good Samaritan in a contemporary setting drawing on the depictions of the clip from the movie Grand Canyon.  Click on the pictures to open the suggested lesson plan.

Seminary student Mark Moss, writes this Faith Review about the movie Grand Canyon.  Click on the icon to read it.


This is the lesson plan written by Pamela Mitchell-Legg.  Click on the icon to open a printable copy.



The Good Samaritan & Grand Canyon
Using Film Clips for Conversation

Topic for conversation: The parable of the Good Samaritan and what it might mean to be a “Good Samaritan” today.

Film: Grand Canyon (1991, directed by Lawrence Kasdan, available on DVD) Scene: View chapter 1-Chapter 6, stopping at 22:19 as a motorcycle pulls into the parking lot while the two main characters sit on the curb talking.

Description of scene: This is the opening scene of the movie, in which Kevin Kline’s character has car trouble in a scary time and place, in Los Angeles. He receives help from a seemingly unlikely source, an African American tow truck driver. Because it is the opening scene of the film, viewers do not need additional introductory information about the film.

How to set up the clip viewing:  Give the viewers a little historical background on the racial distrust in Los Angeles in the 1990s, following the “Rodney King” events. For helpful brief summaries see: or  http//

Have the viewers look for the following things in the opening scene of the movie:
1) Who is in trouble?
2) Where is he, when he gets in this trouble?
3) What kind of trouble is he in?
4) Who helps him?
5) What’s surprising or unusual about this person helping him?

View the clip

Theological conversation after viewing:  Write the five viewing questions as the headings of five columns on chalkboard, white board, or sheets of newsprint posted on the wall.  Have the viewers answer the five questions. Take notes on their answers, on the chalkboard, white board or newsprint.  Then, have the viewers turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 25-37.  Have someone read the passage aloud.  Have the group answer the same five questions, about the Biblical story (Who is in trouble? Where is he, when he gets in this trouble? What kind of trouble is he in? Who helps him? What’s surprising about this person who helps him?). Take notes on the chalkboard, white board or newsprint. Discuss together to compare the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan and the film “parable” in Grand Canyon:  In what ways is the film scene a contemporary retelling of the Good Samaritan? Why do you think the Samaritan stopped to help a stranger on the Jerusalem road? Why do you think the tow truck driver stopped to help a stranger in Los Angeles?

Concluding discussion: In our life and world today, what might be a contemporary version of the Good Samaritan? (in which an unlikely person, who might be considered an “enemy” or at least “the other” stops to help an endangered, needy, abused or beaten person)?  What do you think could motivate someone to take such personally dangerous action – to stop in a dangerous place to help someone who is not “like you?” ###

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Rev. Tom LaBonte, Rev. Mason Todd, Rev. John Elam, Elizabeth Sigmon, Star Crawford, Rev. Jeff Smith, Rev. Noe Juarez, Erin Mills, Katie Todd, Kelly Hames, Russ Pearson, Kathy Sharp, Lisa Lewis-Jenkins, Newton Cowan, Andy Blackwelder, Kim Lee, Inger Manchester, Dr. Pamela Mitchell-Legg, Jonathan Davis, Holly Frisk, Rev. Bob Tuttle, Donna Fair, Jana Creighton, Marty Simmons, Frank Cunningham, Tommy Holderness, Katherine Lamb, Megan Argabrite, Ken Fuquay, Mark Moss, Mary Anne Welch