An animated movie with a Christian message at its heart, here’s our review of The Pilgrim’s Progress, based on John Bunyan’s novel.

Dragons, giants, dangerous swamps, dark forbidding castles, creepy characters and a deep, threatening river of death? Not Harry Potter, but rather John Bunyan’s 17th century novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Published in 1678, and written while Bunyan was in prison for “illegal preaching”, the classic book has now been brought vividly to life in a new animated version from Herald Entertain studios and Revelation Media.

The story remains straightforward. A man named Christian is living in the ‘City of Destruction’ and realises that he needs to get out before it’s too late. However, no one else will listen to him, including his own wife and children. Meeting a character named ‘Evangelist’ he sets off on a path which he is told will lead him to ‘The Celestial city’. The journey turns out to be more dangerous than Christian could imagine. His route takes him via the cross of Jesus, through Vanity Fair, down into the ‘Valley of Humiliation’ and eventually to that foreboding river of death.

The film has a lovely score by Michael Dooley, and this new telling is a colourful and spectacular take on the story, targeting a family audience. It’s really well done too. You can almost feel the clinging mud as Christian falls into the slough of despond, you can sense the hatred of the enemy to him, and you very quickly get drawn into this world of dark valleys, palaces and weird and wonderful characters. Each section of the story is drawn slightly differently to the last one, and you feel as if you really are entering different environments along with our heroes. Bunyan’s Christian message does come across clearly, but the film is well worth seeing regardless of your convictions.

It may take a bit of work to track down a big screen showing of it, but it’s very much worth the effort.

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