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The Runner from Ravenshead

Little Crew Studios
http://ravensheadmovie.com/index.html

The Runner of Ravenshead is a delightful family movie with a wonderful message. Accurately described on the website as "Pilgrim's Progress meets The Little Rascals," it's an allegorical story about the "metaphorical prisons and wardens faced in life--things that seem impossible to escape or outrun."

It's difficult to explain the storyline further without first touching on what makes it so unique. Every main character in the story is played by one of the five child actors in the movie, and not one adult is in the film. When I first realized this, I figured it would be a great movie for the kids but probably a little "ho hum" for me. I was wrong! It held my attention throughout, and I truly enjoyed it.

The opening setting of the movie is actually the dream of one of the characters and not specifically germane to the film itself. I note this because, while not a huge flaw by any means, it does throw off the pace of the storyline a bit as the viewer tries to pay careful attention to the busy scene, assuming it's key to the storyline. Knowing this ahead of time would be helpful, which is why I wanted to mention it.

When the scene switches to reality, we are soon introduced to Sam, a young girl who is taken to an underground prison called Ravenshead. There she meets Clyde, a somewhat friendly inmate who acts as a sort of ringleader for the despondent prisoners. When Sam expresses her desire to escape, Clyde informs her that escaping isn't the hard part--staying out is. This perplexes Sam, who breaks away anyhow and quickly finds out for herself that no matter how fast she runs, a warden is never far behind her, following with a firm and unemotional resolve to bring her back.

Soon after Sam escapes, she meets a boy from the City of Refuge Guide Service. His job is to show her the way to the bridge where her pursuer cannot go. He can't force her, nor can he interfere with the warden's attempts to catch her. This is his first assignment as a guide, a job he has only dreamed of up until now, and there is no absence of good hearted humor as he bumbles his way along in his sincere and noble attempts to help her.

The remainder of the film follows Sam's difficult and adventurous journey to get to the City of Refuge and stop running. We watch her escape from close calls, discover surprising twists, and ultimately, enjoy her victory!

While this film really is superbly done, I do want to note a few possible drawbacks some parents may have with the movie. Because Sam is fighting against captivity, there is some mild violence in the film (nothing excessive or gory). To me, it seems an appropriate metaphor since we do wrestle with and fight against things in our lives that keep us from progressing in our faith. Another thing to be aware of is the scene involving a large black dog that could possibly frighten very little children. The dog never does anything aggressive, but because he is searching for Sam, the scene is intense. If you have a little one prone to a fear of dogs, it may be good to either skip the scene or make sure he or she knows it will turn out fine.

When my family and I finished watching the movie, every one of us, from age 5 to adult, agreed that we thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to watching it again. In preparation for my review of the movie, I did a little research online and soon discovered that the five child actors are in fact siblings, and the movie was produced by their parents (Little Crew Studios)! This is the first movie put out by this talented young family, and I hope there will be more! The cinematography is very well done, the actors are believable and entertaining, and the allegories work on many levels without coming across as preachy. It left me thinking for a long time about our struggles in this life, how the Lord calls us to pursue godliness, how His strength is made perfect in our weakness and how even though our fight against sin will not end until heaven, we have His grace, help, and love as we journey forward. I would highly recommend this to any family I know--it is a definite keeper here!

Product review by Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November 2010






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