Islam has been getting a lot of bad press in recent years, mostly from the Judeo-Christian controlled media.
Islam has been getting a lot of bad press in recent years, mostly
from the Judeo-Christian controlled media. That’s not to say
that a minuscule minority of fanatics haven’t besmirched the name of Islam with
their misunderstanding of the core teachings of their Prophet. Of course, all
religions are equally guilty of making their own interpretations of their
scriptures to suit their own agendas. History is littered with examples of
blatant ignoring of the core precepts of their teachings that would leave these
prophets reeling with something resembling dismay. This is why Prophets,
Avatars and Incarnations turn up on a regular basis, to bring people back onto
the right path, and it appears that the people of the Middle East have needed
more guidance than any other nation over the last couple of millennia. We are
certainly ripe for a new incarnation to sort us out, but Mohammed was the last
Prophet that has been universally recognised and The Message is the story of the early days of Islam.
One of the rules
of Islam is that God cannot be depicted in form, which is why Arabic art is
primarily geometric, and this courtesy has been extended to Mohammed, making
this a unique biopic where the film’s subject does not appear on screen. On the
occasions when the Prophet has to be in a scene it is shown from his point of
view, so there is a lot of talking to camera.
As with The Ten Commandments and The Passion of Christ, the film shows a
society in a state of religious decay, and the arrival of an outspoken leader
who upsets the status quo. To the filmmakers’ credit, they got approval for the
film from eminent Muslim scholars and authorities so as not to antagonise
anyone. This has resulted in a faithful retelling of the Prophet’s life and
includes many of his teachings about peace and also how to conduct themselves
in the inevitable war against the established powers. Just listening to this
film it is easy to see how far the fanatics have deviated from both the word
and the spirit of their Prophet’s teachings.
Apart from the
obvious religious content this is also an epic tale of scheming and power
struggles, with a cast of thousands, led by Anthony Quinn and Irene
Papas. This is old school filmmaking free from continually moving or
shaking camera, CGI and fast jump cuts. As with Lawrence of Arabia, it is filled fantastic vistas photographed with
lingering shots, with both films sharing the same Oscar-winning composer, Maurice Jarre.
Even if you are
not interested in religious history, you should see this film for its place in
cinematic history and because it looks spectacular in this new HD Blu-ray
release. Also look out for Lion of the
Desert from the same director and also starring Anthony Quinn, which is
rereleased at the same time. Equally spectacular it is set in pre-WW2 North
Africa as the Bedouins battle Mussolini’s troops.