Pilgrim's Progress: Journey to Heaven
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer
- There is only one path to Heaven, and it’s not always an easy journey. That’s the message in the new family film, Pilgrim’s Progress: Journey to Heaven, a modern retelling of John Bunyan’s beloved classic. The film is written and directed by Danny Carrales known for his other Christian films Escape from Hell, The Gathering, and Final Exit.
Set in modern-day, the film’s main character, Christian, (Daniel Kruse) fears for the safety of his family after reading in a book that the town they live in, “The City of Destruction,” will soon be destroyed by fire. Since he began reading “the book” a heavy burden appeared on his back. While his thoughts are consumed with the coming wrath described in the book, his family doesn’t believe that a real danger exists, and they beg him to stop reading the book.
After seeing a vision of fire consuming the city, Christian cries out to God for help. His prayer is answered in the form of “Evangelist,” (Hugh McLean) a man who tells Christian that to escape the coming destruction, he must journey to “The Celestial City.” Despite the pleas of his friends and family, Christian sets off to find this distant place.
Christian finds that this journey is not an easy one. Along the way he faces many difficulties and he meets characters like “Obstinate,” “Mr. Worldly Wise,” “Lawless” and “Hypocrisy” from the land of “Vain Glory,” and “Giant Despair,” who all threaten to pull him off the path and hinder his progress. He learns that pilgrims face the most trouble when they are tempted to deviate from the path and try to follow what they perceive to be an easier way. He discovers that there are no short-cuts to “The Celestial City.”
The film is beautifully shot and well acted. Families will appreciate that this action-packed adventure does not include graphic violence or bad language. In addition to being a heart-warming drama, the film clearly presents the Gospel message.
Perhaps one of the most moving scenes happens as Christian approaches the place called “Salvation,” where he was told by Evangelist that his burden would be eased. He comes upon a large cross, and as he stares at it in amazement, the burden falls from his back and disappears. He is also given a certificate that will be his entrance into the gates of Heaven.
Another gripping scene comes after Christian meets up with his friend “Faithful” who has had quite a challenging journey of his own. As they enter the town of “Vanity Fair,” they are arrested for sharing their opinions with the city’s residents. They are prepared for this as Evangelist previously warned them that they would face many tribulations before entering Heaven and that one or both of them could die along the way. “But be faithful even to death,” Evangelist encouraged them. Faithful heeds this advice as he is martyred while attempting to preach the truth to the city’s residents.
The film stays faithful to the messages found in Bunyan’s work. It clearly communicates that the journey to Heaven is filled with trials and temptations, but even in the difficult times God watches over us and helps us along the way. With each trial that He brings us through, our faith is strengthened.
The movie also serves as a warning to those who may attempt to find a way to God apart from a relationship with Christ. Just as Christian learns there are not short-cuts to Heaven, we learn that there is no substitute for faith in Christ. It is only our personal relationship with Jesus that gives us the gift of eternal life in Heaven.
The film ends with a question that we all must answer: “We are all on the same journey. Are you on the right path?”
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