This is my second review of a The Pilgrim’s Progress movie, and I’m glad to share this movie with the Things Above Us readers. When my friend posted on YouTube that he and his family watched this adaptation of John Bunyan’s classic allegory, I was at first a bit skeptical. But I’m glad I sat down to watch this rendition, and I happily recommend it to you. You can watch the movie below, or at the link above on YouTube.
What I Liked
As I said in my previous review of the animated movie, “It wasn’t the book tho,” holds true. Movies generally do not do the book justice and—when we are talking about the second best-selling book of all time—I can say with confidence that you will be disappointed if you are hoping for a movie that can do all that the book does for you.
But what they did, they did well. I found the acting to be believable (considering all the actors were volunteers, let’s be gracious), and I was genuinely engrossed in the story. They had to cut a lot of things, and they did a fine job keeping (most of) the important points in the story. The message of salvation was clear and there was no hiding truth, even some of the hard ones.
The producers avoid violating the second commandment which includes that they do not show any images of God nor the incarnate Christ.
The movie is truly a musical, and the music is enjoyable and fits well in the film.
What can I say? I cried throughout because the truth of the scriptures presented pierced my heart. Even with a $2,500 budget, volunteer actors, and a whole lot of cutting from the original, this story cuts to your heart and renews your love for Jesus. I watched it with a 4 and 7-year-old, and it kept their attention while not presenting anything that I wish they hadn’t seen. The ladies were modestly dressed, no pictures of Jesus, and what violence or battles or sin was depicted was done in a way that was tasteful and appropriate.
A Little Criticism
There are a few things about the movie that weren’t 5-stars. Of course, since you can watch it for free on YouTube, you are only investing your time (which is valuable), but these criticisms don’t drag this film below being worth 75 minutes of your life.
Firstly, the changes they made to the story to adapt it involved more than just cutting for time. They changed aspects of the story that caused me to have to question if I remembered the story correctly. Faithful’s martyrdom isn’t depicted at all, and you never meet Hopeful. I found this to be an unnecessary departure from the original and could cause confusion for children whose first exposure to this great tale is through this medium.
Secondly, the entire movie is a poem. That is, everything the narrator says and the characters say rhymes. This began to be a little off-putting and, frankly, annoying. I realized quickly they weren’t using Bunyan’s words, and I was afraid they’d depart from the story more than they did. I soon got used to this odd style and came to enjoy it midway through the beginning of the film. Honestly, I ended up impressed with the rewriting in its true-to-the-original in thought while employing catching rhymes.
Finally, and this is minor, but when the music would play, often I had trouble hearing the dialogue or even the singing. This was a minor annoyance since I mostly knew the story, but something that if Rogue Valley Fellowship were to read this review they might want to improve upon.
I thoroughly enjoyed this video and will watch it again. I half expected my boys to cry out to Christ to save them at the end due to the serious call to the gospel that this movie offered. I don’t know anything about Rogue Valley Fellowship, so I can’t speak generally about their ministry, but this production was a solid four-stars which, to be fair, likely exceeds what can be expected for such a low-budget production. I trust it was a labor of love for those who made it, and God will not forget our labors of love for His sake (Hebrews 6:10).