In the desolate City of Destruction, the descendants of the devilish creature Lux rule over the city’s inhabitants, ensuring no-one ever ventures into the outer regions. One inhabitant, Christian Pilgrim (voiced by David Thorpe), finds a book left by an escapee called the Faithful Pathfinder. Disobeying orders to destroy the book, Christian discovers the book depicts the Celestial City and has messages of hope and love, unlike anything he has ever known. The book speaks to Christian’s heart and, unable to convince his wife to join him, he leaves his family behind to journey to the Celestial City alone.
The journey is long and dangerous and far more difficult than Christian ever imagined. Despite clear instructions to stay on the straight path and follow the light, Christian finds that he’s easily misled or deceived by false friends who want to lead him astray or who are Lux in disguise. But along the way Christian finds friends and meets fellow followers of the light, including Evangelist (voiced by John Rhys-Davies) who gives him direction, Hopeful (voiced by Justin Butcher) who gives him courage to follow the journey to the end, and Faithful who demonstrates the value of life and sacrifice.
As Christian faces frightening demons and fears, he learns to have faith, trust in the teachings of the book, and be grateful for the journey that is leading him home.
Faith; good vs evil; a father leaving his family; impending war; burdens, insecurities and fear; struggle through hardships and sacrifice
The Pilgrim’s Progress has some violence. For example:
- A fire bomb drops from the sky and explodes a house when it lands.
- Lux shoots a fireball at a supervisor, who’s blasted backwards. His skin is singed, his hair is wild, and his clothes are burned. He eventually limps away. This type of thing happens several times.
- A gatekeeper uses a large stick to hit giant mutant-like bats. They lay scattered, crumbled and moaning on the ground.
- Lux transforms into a ferocious dragon with glowing eyes. He rises up with flames and lava, causing the ground Christian is standing on to crack and crumble. Lux lashes Christian with his tail, throws him through the air and shoots fire at him. Christian fights back, repeatedly stabbing and slashing Lux with a sword. Eventually Lux flies away bleeding.
- Lux threatens Christian, telling a supervisor that ‘he will be lying in a pool of his own blood by the time I am finished with him’.
- A mob of townspeople attack Christian and Faithful. The townspeople throw rocks and kick and punch the men, even when they’re lying on the ground. The men are bleeding, bruised and limping after the attack.
- Faithful is executed for his faith by being burned alive. Only the flames are shown, but Christian is horrified as he briefly watches through his cell window, crying out his companion’s name. Christian is told that he’ll be next.
- Two giant trolls capture and imprison Hopeful and Christian in a castle of despair. The trolls put the men in a room filled with skeletons and encourage them to kill themselves.
- After Christian goes through a waterfall, he struggles in the water as Lux fulfils his promise that he’ll be there when the icy hand of death closes around Christian’s heart. The water around Christian fills with blood, and Lux falls back into the depths as Christian rises to the surface.
The Pilgrim’s Progress has no sexual references.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Pilgrim’s Progress shows some use of substances. For example:
- A man drinks from what looks like a liquor bottle.
- A tray of drinks is offered to Christian and Hopeful, and there’s a carnival stall offering spirits for sale.
Nudity and sexual activity
The Pilgrim’s Progress has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, at the carnival in Vanity Fair, two women look suggestively at Hopeful and Christian. During a game, women expose bare thighs as they kick their legs while doing a dance move.
There’s no product placement in The Pilgrim’s Progress.
The Pilgrim’s Progress has some occasional name-calling and insults. Examples include ‘you blithering fool’, ‘good-for-nothing oaf’ and ‘stupid’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Pilgrim’s Progress is an animated adventure based on the 1678 book by Paul Bunyan. Although it’s an animation, this isn’t a movie for young children. The movie’s positive messages as well as its less appealing concepts will probably give older children and adult audiences a lot to talk about.
The main messages from this movie are to follow the straight path, be faithful to the teachings of the book, and be vigilant against the forces of evil that block your path.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include faithfulness, devotion, courage, hope, forgiveness and trust.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- people and influences that might lead you astray
- the dangers of greed, pride and fear
- depression, hopelessness and suicide.
The movie also suggests that the only way to reach the Celestial City (heaven) is to die. For example, Faithful is killed for his beliefs, and both Hopeful and Christian must end their own lives if they’re to continue their journey and enter the Celestial City. Although Christian had hoped to lead others to the Celestial City, he comes to understand that once he passes through the waterfall and goes to the City, he can’t come back. Christian’s family receives a sign that he’s still alive, even though this isn’t true in the physical sense. If taken the wrong way, this could be a dangerous and misleading idea and might be confusing to some viewers.