Pilgrim’s Progress movie star John Rhys-Davies ‘A shame children don’t know classic today’
Written in 1678 by preacher John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress is probably the best known Christian book after The Bible. Claimed by some to be the first novel written in English, the tale is a Christian allegory of a believer’s journey through life from his home town, City of Destruction (this world) to the Celestial City (Heaven). Bunyan began writing the work while in prison for preaching without a license and to date the book has never been out of print and has been translated into over 200 languages. A number of adaptations of The Pilgrim’s Progress have popped up over the last century, including Liam Neeson in his film debut, but the latest is a CGI animation starring John Rhys-Davies.
The Lord of the Rings Gimli actor voices Evangelist, who sends Christian off on his walk along the narrow way to the Celestial City.
Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, the 75-year-old legend lamented how many today haven’t heard of what was once very familiar to the Western World.
He said: “Not many people do know The Pilgrim’s Progress [or its author].
“The man [John Bunyan] had steel in him, as well as a wonderful skill to communicate simply and clearly.”
Rhys-Davies agreed that what is essentially the first English novel, had quite the influence on popular fantasy epics with Christian imagery like JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings and CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.
The actor added: “We are suckers for stories, allegories. It really derives from our earliest social experiences as man.”
Rhys-Davies continued: “Y’know sitting around the fire at night and somebody says ‘there was a beast that lived in the woods at night. And that beast feared light’, and we’re there. We’re listening to that story.
“That part of our human condition, we love the story. That’s why film is so wonderful.”
In a sense, The Pilgrim’s Progress is the archetypical Hero’s Journey, that familiar quest to redemption via suffering and sacrifice that so dominates the most popular blockbusters of our day.
From Iron Man’s self-giving end in Avengers Endgame after starting out as a selfish billionaire to Harry Potter’s death and resurrection via King’s Cross, we can’t seem to get enough of it.
Still, with the UK release of the Pilgrim’s Progress movie this week, Rhys-Davies is hopeful kids will unearth the classic epic for themselves.
He added: “It’s very hard for the youngsters these days because they haven’t heard about Pilgrim’s Progress.
“But 15,000 things a day that scream for them to pay attention.
“There’s just so much that it’s almost impossible for a child to hear a consistent message and listen.
“And in a way, I hope this sends children back to reading the book again.”
The Pilgrim’s Progress is in UK and Irish cinemas on October 25th.
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