Since the success at the of “Parasite” at the Oscars all eyes have been on South Korea, but audiences there have been flocking to see another film linked to Bedford.
The animated version of the Pilgrim’s Progress, a book by Bedford’s most famous son John Bunyan, sold 250,000 tickets in screenings across South Korea where the work is revered. The book was introduced to South Korea at the same times the Bible and has remained essential reading for the huge Christian community. There is even a John Bunyan “theme park” retreat* showing the journey of the pilgrim Christian, the landmarks of which are taken from sites Bedfordshire where the author lived in the 17th Century.
Since being released in October 2019 the film continues to reach audiences across the globe and is being translated into various languages* with the hope it will eventually reach out to speakers of 100 different tongues. The original book has been translated into more languages than any book, except the Bible and remained the second best selling to the same for centuries (until being overtaken by the Harry Potter series).
Film distributor Stephen Briggs visited Moot Hall on Elstow Green, the village where John Bunyan lived, to meet the Bunyan Round Table members who helped to publicise the premiere of the film in Bedford.
Originally local cinemas refused to screen the film, although it had been taken up elsewhere in the UK and only after a campaign led by the BRT, local schools and churches, did Cineworld at Aspects agree to one screening. It was over subscribed and then Vue took up at the option at Riverside and again every screening was a sell-out.
“This lit a fuse leading to Vue screening the film in 25 locations, which has been added to in cinemas across the UK who are still showing even now, bringing it to more than 80 venues,” said: Stephen
The film is now available to order on DVD
and will further spread the word. Churches and community groups are being encouraged to share the film and take up the school tool kits created by local enthusiast and founding Chair of BRT Ruth Broomhall.
First launched in the United States at Easter 2019, the film there has been seen widely through streaming and DVD sales. There is talk of a computer game creating the challenges facing Christian on his quest.
*Said Stephen: “We are excited to let you know that the Pilgrim’s team is currently making the final edits to the following versions of the film: Bengali, Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Nepali, Mandarin/Putonghua, Tamil and Urdu. Currently in production: Arabic, French, Korean, Polish, German, Turkish, Dutch, Mandarin and Spanish.”
For more information about John Bunyan and his historical and literary connections with Bedford go to:www.bunyansbedford.weebly.com