While Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” has been in continuous publication since 1678, it also has crossed more than the arts and entertainment worlds since well before the birth of Hollywood. Classic stories that stand the test of time have the unique power to break down barriers of age, race, nationality, and language. Robert McCrum lists “The Pilgrim’s Progress” as the number one best novel of all time in an article in The Guardian.
Its influence is almost hidden in the shadows of our culture today. “Vanity Fair” is known as a magazine now or even as a book, but the roots go back to this classic which has a strong scene in the movie. J. Karl Franson wrote an article claiming The Wizard of Oz has so many similarities to “The Pilgrim’s Progress” that it was “simply a recasting of Bunyan’s [work].”
The classic themes of moving to a better place and persistently facing internal and external struggles run through the work which carried people by faith across the sea from England as it contributed to the American Dream and its work ethic. In the book, Christian, the main character travels from the City of Destruction through various trials and obstacles like Vanity Fair to reach the Celestial City.
Two presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, considered the book as their second favorite book. Mark Twain references the book in his “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” as Huck shares, “I read considerable in it now and then. The statements was interesting (sic), but tough.” Liam Neeson (Les Miserables, Taken) played “The Evangelist,” a character in the book, to launch his movie career.
So, for over 340 years “The Pilgrim’s Progress” has been a seed to the freedoms, development, and growth of many around the world even though Bunyan started the book behind bars. The book has been translated into 200 languages. Revelation Media has already targeted the first 20 languages for the CGI version which will be recut with voices of native speakers. Already a Farsi version is completed with work continuing for Spanish and Mandarin.
“It is an honor to be producing the first version of this classic masterpiece in CGI animation, and to share its truths in theater in the USA and around the world,” said Steve Cleary, the executive producer. Cleary remains clear on his mission to share this with as many people as possible. Cat in the Mill Studios and Revelation Media, which worked together to create the film, even offer a free e-book version for those who leave their email at https://www.revelationmedia.com/pilgrims/pmovie/.
This CGI version started with funding from the crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter where over 1500 individuals shared to help produce individual scenes to draw larger funding sources. The scenes completed were the Swamp of Despondency scene, a preliminary trailer, and others.
The beginning of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” book starts with the words of Christian who finds a “den” (what we call a jail now), “As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain where was a den; and I laid me down in the place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.”
THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS is an allegory, meaning there are two stories going on with one on the surface dealing with the characters and the plot, and the second having a deeper meaning. Some say it is an allegory of state repression. Historian EP Thompson describes the book as one of the “foundation texts of the English working-class movement.”
The beginning of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” book starts with the words of Christian who finds a “den” (what we call a prison now), “As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain where was a den; and I laid me down in the place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.”
Regardless of each reader’s or viewer’s final determination of the deeper meaning or how it affects their dreams, the opportunity to view the first-ever CGI release of a classic over 340 years old isn’t something which happens daily.
And to think, it started with a few committed individuals willing to share the dream on a crowdfunding platform by giving this version of THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS a strong step toward its future which can now be seen in theaters on April 18 at 7:00 p.m. and April 20 at 12:55 p.m.