Pilgrim’s Progress: Epic Classic to Hit the Big Screen Easter

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Evangelist meets Christian Pilgrim's Progress

Evangelist (John Rhys-Davies) meets Christian to show him the way

Our children are bombarded by every form of secular media. From social media to video games, to TV on demand and the internet, every possible distraction is delivered up except for what they really need and long for — engaging and culturally relevant Christian media.

The unreached people groups of the world are mostly made up of those who cannot read or comprehend the printed page. They are starved for visual content that reveals God’s truth. The most effective way to reach them is proven — engaging and culturally relevant Christian media.

From our families to the field, RevelationMedia is at the forefront of delivering engaging and culturally relevant animated films. Films that promote Biblical literacy, discipleship and world evangelism.

Films that are ALWAYS free to the missionary and to those who support our work.

AFA Journal

In his epic allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan wrote of Christian, his main character:

One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Once required reading in schools, the 1678 classic is said to be the second most read book in the world, surpassed only by the Bible. But today, fewer and fewer people are familiar with the story.

Official Trailer:

Steve Cleary, founder and CEO of RevelationMedia, is on a quest to reverse that trend. He wants to see the beloved classic once again embraced by Christians worldwide. That’s why Cleary, in partnership with AFA, has produced an animated version of The Pilgrim’s Progress that he hopes will be used in mission work across the globe.

Cleary has a broad range of experience in Christian media. He recently spoke with AFA Journal about his new version of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

AFA Journal: Besides The Pilgrim’s Progress, what have you worked on?
Steve Cleary: I am one of the founders of Cat in the Mill Studio in Costa Rica. We are partners on the Torchlighters series for Vision Video and Christian History Institute. I also played a role in the creation of AFA’s feature film Summer Snow and the Ryan Defrates cartoon series. Recently, I completed a docudrama titled Tortured for Christ for the Voice of the Martyrs.

Pilgrim’s Progress Vanity Fair Clip

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AFAJ: What inspired you to focus on Christian media?
SC: Thirty-eight years ago, Campus Crusade (now Cru) created the Jesus Film Project. Millions of people worldwide have watched that film, and many are still watching it. But kids and teenagers see it as something their parents and grandparents watched. I believe it is time for something new.

What’s interesting about that aspect is that Americans can see a new Christian movie every two weeks, but most of them do not make their way to the mission field or are not appropriate for the front lines of mission work. We get plenty of new movies here in the U.S., but missionaries get the crumbs.

Giant Despair Scene

AFAJ: What do you mean by “not appropriate?”
SC: I don’t mean these movies are bad, I mean some are culturally inappropriate. For example, Mom’s Night Out is a good movie, but no one is going to show that in a Syrian refugee camp, because moms there don’t get nights off. They live in tents and are just trying to keep their kids alive.

On the other hand, The Pilgrim’s Progress is a story for every Christian in all places and all times. It exists in a world of its own while revealing profound biblical truths. That’s why its appeal has been universal.

I might add that although the story is animated, it is for adults and children. It is a common misconception that animation is automatically for kids. The Pilgrim’s Progress is aimed at families and, in general, is recommended for ages eight and over.

We chose to animate our version because the story translates more effectively to that format than to other kinds of media.

AFAJ: There are many great stories you could have animated. Why did you choose The Pilgrim’s Progress?
SC: The Pilgrim’s Progress was written 370 years ago by a pastor in prison who was experiencing persecution for his faith. Christians across the globe can relate to it regardless of the level of trials or persecution they are enduring.

In times past, it was read by nearly everyone, but we have an upcoming generation for whom the story is completely unfamiliar. They’ve never heard of the character named Christian. They don’t know about Apollyon the dragon, or about Faithful and his sacrifice.

AFAJ: How close are you sticking to Bunyan’s original story and language?
SC: If we tried to do the full story scene for scene, it would be over 20 hours long. We are condensing it to a normal, feature-length film.

However, we’ve tried to stay as close to the original story as possible. Some of the language has been updated for modern viewers. We have maintained the characters’ names as well as the various locations in 
the plot.

AFAJ: How will you make it free to missionaries?
SC: Anyone doing the work of missions can contact RevelationMedia. We will send them the movie with permission to show it as many times as they like for free.

Consider this: Homeless shelters can’t show movies because they can’t afford the licensing fees, but they will be able to show The Pilgrim’s Progress. The same goes for ministries working in inner cities or refugee camps.

We are not waiting until we sell 100,000 DVDs before we make the movie available for free to these ministries. It will be available to them the same day it is available to anyone for purchase.

Our goals for the film include translating it for mission work across the world. Right now we have the support to translate it into 20 languages. Our ultimate goal is 100 languages. That will reach over 90% of the world’s population.

AFAJ: Tell me about the StoryBox.
SC: For ministries that have no means to show the movie, RevelationMedia is currently developing a portable projection system called the StoryBox. It can turn any room or village church into a theater. Everything needed comes in a weatherproof box that contains an iPad with a projection system, a full sound system, and a wrinkle-free screen. Everything is powered by rechargeable batteries that can run for 20 hours on a single charge.

So whether the mission front line is inside a homeless shelter or a refugee camp, missionaries can show The Pilgrim’s Progress or any other digital media we put on the iPad. It is an incredible tool.

AFAJ: When will The Pilgrim’s Progress and the StoryBox be in the hands of missionaries?
SC: The Pilgrim’s Progress will be released in some 700 selected theaters on April 18 and 20. The film will also immediately be available to the mission field.

The StoryBox is still in development, but we have five working prototypes. Our plans are to begin distribution of the StoryBox later this year.  

Classic story coming for Easter
The Pilgrim’s Progress will debut during Holy Week in theaters across the U.S. for two nights only, April 18 and April 20. It will simultaneously be offered to the global missions community, and It will be available at afastore.net or 877-927-4917.

Producer Steve Clearly has partnered with the AFA online store on other video projects such as the Ryan Defrates series and the feature movie Summer Snow. Learn more at revelationmedia.com.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Virginia Christian Alliance
The mission of the VIRGINIA CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE is to promote moral, social and scientific issues we face today from a Biblical point of view. In addition we will refute and oppose, not with hate, but with facts and humor, the secular cultural abuses that have overridden laws and standards of conduct of the past. We will encourage Christians to participate in these efforts through conferences, development of position papers, booklets and tracts, radio/TV spots, newspaper ads and articles and letters-to-the editor, web sites, newsletters and providing speakers for church and civic meetings.