Founders Journal 86 · Fall 2011 · pp. 16-29
The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Docudrama, 14 DVD Set
Narrated by David Jeremiah
With Commentary from Mark Kielar
Shot on location in Plymouth, Massachusetts
Produced by Cross TV [www.crosstv.com]
One of the books I value most in my library is John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Its story is rich with the gospel and filled with biblical truth. I have read it with much spiritual benefit in personal study, in family worship, and in Bible training classes at church. C.H. Spurgeon explains why the book is so helpful and instructive: “Next to the Bible, the book that I value most is John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’ I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times. It is a volume of which I never seem to tire; and the secret of its freshness is that it is so largely compiled from the Scriptures. It is really Biblical teaching put into the form of a simple yet very striking allegory.”
I have seen several attempts to adapt Bunyan’s work to audio or video. Often these attempts fall short, leaving out important parts of the story–or even changing story, distorting and losing Bunyan’s point and message. One such effort that has exceeded my expectations, however, is The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Docudrama. Cross TV has produced one of the best and most useful adaptations of the book I have seen.
Part 1 of Bunyan’s book, the journey of Christian from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, is presented in 51 sections on 14 DVDs–over 14 hours of content and commentary. As the story is read in its entirety, sometimes you see the narrator reading from his book, and sometimes you see the scenes acted out. Even the Scripture references (from the margin of the book) are included at the bottom of the screen as the story is read. The allegory is carefully explained and the commentary offers key points and thought-provoking questions.
This past summer at Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, we used the series to study through Part 1 of The Pilgrim’s Progress in our family Sunday School. For sake of time we covered only selected scenes, but the series was easily adapted to our meeting time and well received by our church.
The docudrama format did have a few drawbacks. In some places comments were inserted into the reading of the story that I would have preferred to save until the commentary at the end of the scene. Some of the slides accompanying the commentary had typos and some of the fonts used were hard to read on the screen. While many of the commentary slides were read aloud by the narrator, not all were. We solved the issue by assigning someone with a microphone to read the slides aloud when the narration was not provided on the DVD.
Despite these minor issues, the docudrama proved to be worthwhile and enjoyable. Cross TV is to be commended for producing a thorough study and for staying true to Bunyan’s text. I recommend this series both to those who know Bunyan’s story well and to those discovering it for the first time. It is a valuable resource for any desiring to mine the treasures in The Pilgrim’s Progress.