Thursday, 13 June 2013

Animating Faith

by Lon Vining
Glorious Films Director of Outreach

Where’s the Passion?
A few years ago when a well-known Bible story was tackled by a large animation studio, film critic Ron Wells of Film Critic wrote, "Much of the animation is stunning and all of the vocal performances are's just that much of the passion seems to be [dedicated to] not stepping on anyone's beliefs or interpretations, instead of in telling the story in the most compelling way possible (Dec 6, 2005).” In trying to make the movie palatable to the widest possible audience, moviemakers actually cut the heart out of the biblical story.
Glorious Films is taking the completely opposite approach. We have a penchant for telling stories that are faithful to the Bible and spread a passion for Jesus Christ.  Rather than glossing over the biblical stories, our job is to bring them to life, as Ron Wells suggests, “in the most compelling way possible,” through beautiful animation, strong writing and powerful music.

Mary's real-to-life character is drawn carefully from the Scriptures.
Restoring the Glory to the Story
The first of these compelling Bible stories we’ve turned into film is the birth of Jesus, entitled, The Promise: Birth of the Messiah. You may think this is a pretty well known tale, but we found that the story from the New Testament has been replaced in popular culture by a very simplified, sentimentalized and politically-correct version of the original.  Its heart has been cut out. We want to restore the story to its original glory, and present it completely, accurately and faithfully.

The “voice” of The Promise may be its most distinctive trait. Not the voices of the professional actors, which are fabulous, but the point of view of the movie. The Promise is true to the Bible without being wooden, and realistically humorous without being trite.  We believe the story has the chops to delight - and transform - audiences today just as it has for millennia.

Just What the Dr. (Luke) Ordered
Creative Director Todd Shaffer says he found the voice of The Promise by simply following the story straight out of Luke’s Gospel.  “I didn’t bring an agenda to The Promise. I just opened the Bible and drew from the well of Luke’s Gospel. We made no substantive additions or subtractions to the story, we just let Luke tell the story.”

The Promise contains real-to-life characters and themes like difficult relationships, love and romance, unexpected joy, and troubling sorrow.  It also contains that other element of great stories - the unexpected, the impossible, the extraordinary.  Add to that ancient prophecy, political intrigue and God’s miraculous intervention in the affairs of earth, and you have a rich, complex story that inspires and entertains even as it challenges your faith and stretches your imagination.

More than Shepherds, Angels and Mangers
This is not just another baby-in-a-manger rewind. The Promise’s script includes scriptural teachings and nuances that will engage even serious Bible students.  The story begins around 4 BC in the painstakingly re-created splendor of the holy place within Herod’s temple where a priest asks God when He will fulfill His long-foretold promise to send a Messiah to save His people. The action then erupts onto the tumultuous streets of Jerusalem where hope, fear, insurrection and power vie for the hearts of the people. These aspirations are heard through the voices of Romans, Zealots, Herodians, Pharisees, Sadducees and common, everyday Jews like a young woman named Mary, her cousin Elizabeth, and a carpenter named Joseph. And so the story begins...  

Wired to be Inspired
Glorious Films is creating quality animated entertainment like The Promise from a biblical worldview to help families thrive in today's world.  Shaffer says, “We want the musical to challenge and equip individuals and families on a faith level, and to entertain and inspire them on an artistic level. God has wired us for both, and I am excited to be able to combine faith and artistry to present His ancient story to modern audiences in this unique and exciting way.”

Watch for the release of The Promise in the Fall of 2013, and for other trusted entertainment from the Glorious Films brand in 2014.


  1. Yay!!! Such a wonderful approach -- modern audiences are aching for this kind of combination of "faith and artistry" as they muddle through great material with poor artistry or great artistry with compromised content! Glad you are doing this!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. And well said! We are trying to make the kinds of films we've always wanted to see, and we trust that others will enjoy them, too.