An epic journey, faithfully adapted to modern-day. Christian faces distractions, challenges, and perils at every turn of the way. But ends victorious, with helpful guides, as he stays on the narrow path to the distant Celestial City.
The epic tale of a pilgrim and his burden, based on John Bunyan's Masterpiece. Christian begins a journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City as the ultimate enemy tries everything in his power to distract him from his destination. One of the most popular books of all time is brought to life for the first time to theaters as a feature length, CGI animated movie.
C. S. Lewis once said "The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is - what it is intended to do and how it is meant to be used." This animation is a project lovingly created on a shoestring budget to portray a book lovingly written by an ancient Christian who was imprisoned for his love of God. A Kickstarter campaign raised $60,000 to help complete this project; the vision is to translate this animation to 26 languages to be donated to mission organizations around the world. You may not know this before, but now you know, and this is the kind of movie where the purpose matters. Don't be silly, I am not trying to guilt you stranger into watching this movie or giving it 10 stars before watching it. I gain nothing from that other than maybe some warm fuzzy feeling that the love of someone I don't know was recognized (hmm, strangely I actually dig that). What I am saying is that the purpose of this animation is to express love and the background to its creation helps us understand its purpose. And love it did express, very much.
As an average movie-goer who'd watch the latest action movie, I'd say while the CGI is much better than I expected for that budget, it certainly is not top-notch by Hollywood standard. Yet this is a movie that is larger than its CGI and larger than Hollywood. I find the technical quality to be decent enough that its limitations faded in the grandeur of its message. As a long-term Christian a little jaded here and there, this faithful portrayal of the ancient, epic journey of Christian tugged at all the right strings. There is nothing new that I did not already know as a Christian, but it reminded me of everything that mattered in faith, and ultimately that is what mattered.
There is a reason why this story may seem cliched just like Shakespeare's plays may seem dramatically familiar. The Pilgrim's Progress is the very first novel written in English and the source from which many Christian allegorical clichés were derived. Slough of Despond, Valley of Shadow, Vanity fair... this is a book that talks about the real deal - what is the purpose of faith, and why Christianity mattered.
I would extend Lewis' statement to say that this animation embodies one of those things in life where the value lies in the intention of the viewer. Why did you watch the movie? What are you looking for? If you are looking for jaw-dropping CGI, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for novelty, you may be bored. If you are seeking a faith-building message, however, you shall be rewarded. This animation and the background of its creation left me encouraged and refreshed in continuing my own faith journey; ten stars from this viewer for serving its exact purpose.
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