“Daddy, can we watch the Pilgrim movie again tonight? I looooved it.”
— Hannah, 5 years old.
“The best version of the story I have seen.”
— Tommy, 15.
A Great Take on a Classic Story
I have the privilege of reviewing the new Christian movie, The Pilgrim’s Progress. It is an updated version of a classic John Bunyan allegory that is releasing in theaters for two nights Easter Weekend 2019 – April 18 and 20th. For Ticket and Theater information, click here.
I was blessed with an advance copy of the film and watched with my family. As you can tell by the sampling of quotes above, we were all very impressed. It is a story of hope, faith, trials and redemption that every believer in Jesus can relate to. My whole family sure did and we greatly enjoyed it.
My five year old has seen it three times and just asked to watch it again. I watched it twice and plan to see it on the big screen.
It is a movie so simple that a young child can understand it.
It also contains profound truths on life that even the most mature Christian can learn from it. I recommend seeing it.
A Journey from the City of Destruction
The Pilgrim’s Progress is an amazing work of Christian literature. It has been a best seller among Christians since the 1600s. It was translated into 200 languages and has never been out of print. The author, John Bunyan, was a former soldier and tinker who became born again believer in Jesus. He then became a pastor. Bunyan wrote the story while still languishing in prison for his faith. He was not a trained writer and did not have much of an education. In this way, he reminds me of the great evangelist D.L. Moody. God doesn’t need fancy men to do great things. He just needs people willing to serve Him. For more reading on God using the willing like DL Moody read this. Bunyan is such a man and he uses his own personal experiences while doing so to write a story that is simply timeless.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is, at heart, the tale of every man’s journey out of the world and into a life boldly following Jesus. It is told simply and directly. Bunyan also includes all the tricks of the enemy, the trials that come at us, and the traps we fall into along the way. It is straight forward but the eternal truths expressed in make it also tremendously deep. It is like the old saying about the Bible:
Shallow enough that a little child can come and get a drink without fear of drowning, yet so deep scholars can swim in it and never touch bottom
Revelation Media does a wonderful job of capturing these aspects of the original story in The Pilgrim’s Progress film. The movie is in cartoon form and the general framework of the story is easily understood. A man, Christian Pilgrim, sets out from the City of Destruction in search of the City of the King – the Celestial City.
My 5-year-old watched the movie and loved it. The animation is very good and there is lots of adventure to keep kids interested. The animation did not take away from the story for me. In places like Vanity Fair and Mt. Sinai, it actually added to the points made.
Despite being accessible to our youngest, the movie has so much more to it. It is simple and profound. Each of the older kids and adults enjoyed as a result.
A Man Burdened
The movie begins with an every man, Christian Pilgrim, living a dreary life in the City of Destruction. The City is in an uproar because another citizen, Faithful, decides to leave the city and set out on his own. The citizens as a whole are shocked anyone would choose such a path. A bit of investigation at Faithful’s home reveals the cause of his departure – the book – a Bible.
Christian reads the book and is aware for the first time of the destruction coming. He also begins to feel a great burden on his back. Christian will do anything to avoid the coming calamity and be freed from the burden. This is the beginning of his journey. This reflects the truth that a person must realize their need for a Savior from their sins before calling on Jesus makes sense. For more, read How to Know God?
The film tells more of the original story than others I have seen. Christian calls on his family to join him as he grapples with his burden and calls to flee. The fate of his family has always been a question for me. It also clearly depicts the enemy that attacks Christian along the way. It is the prince of the city and his minions – Satan and his demons. They try to keep everyone in the City of Destruction and under their control. Though they appear as men to the residents of the City, they are actually foul beasts. They are demons working to keep us from God. For more on demons, read Are Demons Real? and their motives Sin Wants to Destroy You.
If you are familiar with the story, the movie is faithful to the general plot. Christian sets out with the help of a new friend, Evangelist along the Way set down by the Master. He is on the way to the Celestial City to see the King. He picks up friends along the path. Their names are just as illustrative as his. Pliable joins him for a time until life convinces him to change his mind and head back to destruction. Obstinate tries to talk him out of continuing and refuses to come along. Faithful and Hopeful are more determined companions and remain faithful in the face of adversity and hopeful through trials. For more on the simplicity of an abundant Christian life read A Slave by Choice.
Christian gets simple directions each step along the journey. “Follow the path” and “Get to the gate”, for example. Such easy instructions to follow. Yet, the schemes of the enemy divert Christian. His own desires are equally guilty in leading him off the Lord’s path. He goes off the path until God sends a way of escape. Help, another character, tells Christian that help is always available. He must remember to ask. What should be a simple trip turns out to be filled with battles and trials. Yet, God keeps leading back to the proper path.31 Anxiety Crushing Bible Verses on Fear and Idolatry is not Permanent – God Helps Us Escape
Highlights of the film.
Christian’s interaction with Mr. Worldly Wiseman, the picture of prosperity and secular wisdom is wonderful. He diverts Christian in his arrogance and finery from the simple path set by the Master to the hill of legality. This is a wonderful picture of the effect of intellectual pride and legalism on our faith walk. Jesus says we should have faith like a child and rely on His work. We say step back Lord and watch all the good I can do to make myself acceptable to you. At the hill of legality, Christian is almost crushed by stone tablets thrown from the top of Mt. Sinai by a character meant to evoke Moses. These contain contradictory and silly commandments. They represent the rules we create when we seek to justify ourselves by works. Christian asks the character atop the metaphorical Mt. Sinai to remove his burden of sin on his back. The response is telling from the mouth of legality – “Why would I want to remove a burden?” Legalism wants to weigh is down. It wants to destroy Christians, not set them free.
Vanity Fair was also wonderfully depicted and thought-provoking. It is an elaborate and never-ending fair. Its inhabitants are always busy amusing themselves and seeking entertainment. This town diverts many pilgrims from continuing along the Way to Jesus the story tells us. The cares and the pleasures of the world ensnare many Christians and prevent us from following Jesus in joy as we should. For More on why people get off the path, please read Why am I NOT Growing in Christ? A Hard-Hitting Answer and Idolatry is not Permanent – God Helps Us Escape
Christian and Faithful are markedly different than those at the fair. The townspeople react with suspicion and then violence when Christian and Faithful refuse to join in the frivolity. Wicked Judge and Cruelty show up as fascinating characters in Vanity Fair. They must protect the Fair at all costs.
I think every Christian saved by Jesus will enjoy the moment Christian Pilgrim’s burden is removed at the foot of the Cross. It is a wonderful scene.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is a very good Christian movie. It is has a clear message that is Biblically sound and encouraging. It is presented in an enjoyable package the whole family will enjoy. I hope your family enjoys it and learns from it as much as mine did! And yes, Hannah did get to watch it again. I am planning on seeing it again in the theater on its release dates.
As a note, there are intense scenes involving the Satan character and his demons. My 5-year-old was definitely taken aback by them and would have been scared by herself. If your young child is sensitive, check out the preview to see if it is appropriate.
For more great Christian Movie Recommendations, read 5 Must See Christian Movies and 5 Underrated Christian Movies – The Dramas