Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Pilgrim's Progress

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Not recommended under 8 (violence, scary scenes, themes), parental guidance to 13

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for The Pilgrim's Progress
  • a review of The Pilgrim's Progress completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 July 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes.
Children aged 8–13 Parental guidance is recommended due to violence and themes.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 could see this movie with or without parental guidance though families will likely want to discuss some of the concepts the movie contains.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: The Pilgrim's Progress
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes and animated violence
Length 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In a desolate city of never-ending toil the descendants of Lux, a devilish creature, rule over the inhabitants, keeping order and ensuring no one ever ventures into the outer regions. One inhabitant, Christian Pilgrim (voiced by David Thorpe), finds a book left by an escapee of the city, Faithful Pathfinder. Disobeying orders to destroy the book, Christian discovers the book depicts the Celestial City and contains 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. Christian soon learns that this is not a journey he can make by himself and that help will always be given if called for. Despite clear instructions to stay on the straight path and follow the light, Christian finds that he can be easily mislead or deceived by false friends or flatterers intending to lead him astray or who are actually Lux in disguise. The journey is long and dangerous and far more difficult than Christian ever imagined. However, along the way he 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, to trust in the teachings of the book and to be grateful for the journey that is leading him home.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Faith, good vs evil, a father leaving his family, impending war, the carrying of burdens insecurities and fear, struggle through hardships and sacrifice.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A fire bomb drops from the sky and explodes a house when it lands.
  • Lux shoots a fireball at the supervisor who is blasted backwards. His skin is singed, his hair is wild and his clothes are burned. He eventually limps away. This type of thing happens on a few occasions.
  • A gatekeeper kicks and hits giant mutant-like bats with a large stick. 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 stands on to crack and crumble and begins to attack him: lashing him with his tail, throwing him through the air and shooting fire at him. Christian fights back, repeatedly stabbing and slashing him with a sword. Eventually Lux flies away bleeding.
  • Lux threatens Christian, telling a supervisor that: “He (Christian) will be lying in a pool of his own blood by the time I am finished with him.”
  • Christian and Faithful are attacked by a mob of townspeople that throw rocks and kick and punch them even when they are lying on the ground. They are later shown bleeding, bruised and limping.
  • 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 will be next.
  • A pair of giant, trolls capture and imprison Hopeful and Christian in a castle of despair in a room filled with skeletons and encourage them to kill themselves.
  • After Christian goes through the waterfall he struggles in the water as Lux fulfils his promise that he will 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.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The supervisor transforms from a dragon into a man and finds himself in a dark and evil looking chamber where he is attacked by Lux.
  • On Legality Hill Christian is attacked. There is thunder and darkness as parts of the hill fall away, crumbling and crashing and nearly killing him. The music is loud and intense and the threatening nature may frighten younger viewers.
  • There is a scary looking man with bloodshot eyes and wild hair repeatedly screaming: “No hope.” He is very intense and terrified looking and the image may disturb some young children.
  • Two fierce lion statues come to life with ferocious growls and glowing eyes and Christian must make his way past them. The scene is intense and both statues come close to biting off Christian’s head but he just escapes.
  • There are two very evil and awful looking giant trolls who lock Christian and Hopeful in a cage suspended from the ceiling in a room filled with skeletons. They are provided with knives, hatchets, ropes etc. all the means necessary to kill themselves. There are creepy whisperings coming from below telling them to “end it” along with the encouragement of the trolls who are starving them and are repeatedly surprised when they come to check on the prisoners to find that they are still alive. While some of the conversational content may go over the heads of younger viewers the sinister whispering, creepy trolls and general despairing atmosphere could disturb many children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • There is a jump-scare scene involving a sudden close-up of a screaming, evil looking, bat-like creature with snarling teeth and fangs. A whole swarm of them suddenly come out of nowhere and attack Christian. There is intense ominous music as Christian flees for his life. He manages to get through a gate and the gate keeper fights them off.
  • There is a very dark scene where Christian suddenly finds himself in a place called the Valley of Humiliation. Here he sees visions of his children begging him to return to them and the supervisor that initially came to persuade him to abandon his journey transforms into the terrible, towering, dragon Lux who threatens him with death while attempting to burn and grab him. Christian fights back with the sword he has been given but Lux causes the ground to crumble and crack and lava to rise. Lux repeatedly throws him aside and knocks him down until Christian manages to forcefully stab him causing him to retreat. The scene is both brutal and intense and could potentially frighten many children.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • There is nothing additional in the movie that would potentially frighten children between the ages of eight to thirteen.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that children over the age of thirteen will be frightened by this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • There is no product placement in the movie.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • The movie does not contain any sexual references.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • At the carnival in Vanity Fair two woman look suggestively at Hopeful and Christian and there is a game where women are shown exposing bare thighs as they kick up their legs in what looks to be a dance move.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man drinks from what appears to be a liquor bottle.
  • A tray of drinks is offered to Christian and Hopeful and there is a carnival stall offering spirits for sale.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • There is occasional name calling such as “You blithering fool!” “Good for nothing oaf!” and “Stupid.”

In a nutshell

The Pilgrim’s Progress is an animated adventure based on the book by Paul Bunyan. Despite its appearance this is not a film for young children. Older children and adult audiences will likely find much to discuss in terms of the powerful messages conveyed as well as some not so savoury concepts.

The main messages from this movie are to follow the straight path, to be faithful to the teachings of the King and to be vigilant against all the forces of evil that will undoubtedly block your path.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Faithfulness
  • Devotion
  • Courage
  • Hope
  • Forgiveness
  • Trust

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Not blindly following those who would lead you astray
  • The dangers of greed, pride and fear
  • Depression, hopelessness and how Christian and Hopeful were encouraged to kill themselves.
  • The film also indicates that the only way to reach the Celestial City is to die. Both Hopeful and Faithful are waiting for Christian when he finally throws himself through the waterfall and he understands that once he has gone to the city he cannot come back (he had hoped to lead others to the hallowed destination). Christian’s family receives a sign that he is still alive even though in the physical sense that is not true. Faithful was killed for his beliefs, and both Hopeful and Christian must end their own lives if they are going to continue their journey and enter the Celestial City. If taken the wrong way this could be a dangerous and misleading concept and may be confusing to some viewers. 

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