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Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet – Review


Release Date: 7th August 2015 [USA]
Director: Roger Allers - Segment Directors
Writer: Roger Allers
Cast: Liam Neeson – Salma Hayek – John Krasinski



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Posted May 7, 2015 by

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Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet Review:

The excitement around any Arab cinema is palpable in Dubai, and it was heightened by the announcement of the release of the much anticipated film, ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’. Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese-American poet and writer and is considered one of the greatest Middle-Eastern poets of all time. He is touted as being the third-best selling poet in the world. Not a legend to be trifled with then.

The animated film ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’ is based on Gibran’s most famous work of the same name, a book of prose poetry essays extolling the philosophies of love, life, freedom, good and evil, and much more. It premiered to much fanfare in Dubai, with executive producer Haytham Nasr introducing the film. Directed by ‘The Lion King’ director, Roger Allers, the film stars the voices of Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek, John Krasinski, Quvenzhané Wallis, Alfred Molina and Frank Langella.

Additionally, each philosophy ‘chapter’ or ‘segment’ is directed by individual directors. One of the segment directors, Mohammed Saeed Harib, attended the premiere to loud applause. Of the project, he said, “These amazing talents united to celebrate one thing – Arabic creativity. This is especially important at a time when Arabic creativity is struggling!

“Roger Allers was a mentor to me… And Salma Hayek was the driving force behind this project. She wanted to bring to life the book that lay on her [Lebanese] grandfather’s bedside table.” Hayek serves as a producer for the film.

“Nothing compares to the happiness and joy of presenting this film in my home country,” Harib concluded.

The film is seen through the eyes of Almitra (Wallis), a little girl struggling with the death of her father. She joins her mother Kamila (Hayek) at work on the same day that her mother’s ward, political prisoner Mustafa (Neeson), is freed from captivity. But all is not right with his sudden release.

As Mustafa wanders the streets of Orphalese, he is greeted by many of his followers. As he meets them, he discusses the many topics of life. But in the end he must leave, and his farewell will have a great impact on the people of this town.

Each of Mustafa’s speeches is interpreted differently by the segment director, not only in form but in style. The first segment, exploring the concept of freedom is articulated through the use of birds and cages. Later, while Mustafa shares some rather practical advice about marriage, his words are interpreted through dance. Some of the directors use the Van Gogh-effect, others emulate the hand-drawn style of animation.

The main story is touching and at times humorous as well. Given its setting, it may seem a touch too quaint for some. However, there were quite a few teary eyes in the audience closer to the end. The philosophies will register with the spiritual of mind. Gibran and the writers moved beyond religion to explore human beings and their indomitable spirit.

The majority of the main cast are Oscar nominees and their work is incredible. There are no fake accents and hammed up performances, each person fills their own character with as much personality as their voices can add. There’s a lilting humorous undertone to Neeson’s Mustafa, and a comical side to Krasinski’s Halim. Molina and Langella are commanding in their smaller but significant roles. Hayek is great as the frustrated Kamila, and is a perfect fit for her character. This ensemble cast shows great dedication to the project.

The segments can seem at odds with the rest of the film at times, but given the propensity of films these days to show animated flashbacks (looking at you ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”), perhaps the changing styles will not bother everyone. Also, the repetitive pattern of the speeches gets a dull near the end.

The musical interpretations of Gibran’s work, however, are probably the only aspects that didn’t work in the film at all. They did not do justice to the written words, as the audience couldn’t follow them.

This film is as much a celebration of Gibran’s legacy as it is of Arab cinema. It may not be for everybody, but it doesn’t shy away from its goals and aims – to explore humanity and what it can do.


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Lestat de Lioncourt
Random Thoughts – Lestat’s Blog
Freelance Contributor

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