A vibrant new animation of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress has been released in cinemas.
The beloved allegory of the Christian life has been carefully transposed to bring its truths to a new generation.
Christian is the pilgrim who experiences the redeeming grace of God, freeing him from his burden and setting him on the long road to the Celestial City, fraught with temptation and danger.
Settings like Vanity Fair and characters Pliable and Giant Despair that readers will be familiar with are brought to life with visual invention and charisma.
Hymn writer Kristyn Getty stands out as the voice of The Interpreter, as does Hollywood star John Rhys-Davies as Evangelist.
Director Robert Fernandez’s film, which is on limited release, is ideal for younger viewers. The PG rating is earned by the depiction of the book’s more harrowing passages, such as Christian facing the evil Apollyon.
A mother wrote to the producers to say that her 11-year-old son was moved to tears. “It was the truth about Jesus’s sacrifice and death on the cross for his sins that touched his heart. The movie made this truth even more clear to him”.
Fernandez described the story as “a curriculum on discipleship”, and wants the film to be used by families and on the mission field to lead people to Christ, not just entertain.
Producer Steve Cleary admits that the quality of animation isn’t to the highest standard. “If you want to compare us to Pixar, there’s plenty of criticism to be had”.
The production was partly crowdfunded – given the limited budget the visuals are still impressive.
Bunyan’s celebrated prose has been adapted for contemporary viewers, but the message is unsullied. “So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the Cross, his burden loosed from his shoulders, and fell off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.”