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The Message is relevant today
I watched the film about the founding of Islam called The Message ( AKA Mohammed, Messenger of God ) tonight.|
It's 3 hours long, but never boring.
Of Course it's script was "Approved" by various Islamic Scholars, and whatnot, and had the unusual conceit of never showing the prophet, or giving his character voice [ Except thru a narrator ( The great voice of Richard Johnson ), or by characters relaying his message, and orders, as required by the script ].
This was supposedly in accordance with Muslim beliefs, and meant that his seven wives, his daughters, and his sons-in-law could not be depicted.
This left Mohammed's uncle, played by Quinn, as the central character from the perspective of the newly forming religion.
The characters speak to the Camera when talking, and reacting, to The Prophet, and the Point of view of The Prophet is seen from the cameras view of what is in front of it, especially when he moves around.
This film was made to give voice to a Moderate Islamic perspective of a religion that its practitioners felt was misunderstood, or unjustly characterized by the West.
It fits squarely in the tradition of all the Biblical films familiar to western audiences in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. The more unsavory facts of the life of Mohammed, the founding of his religion, and the contents of the Koran, of course, are nowhere to be found, but I don't hold that against the filmmakers of the time.
To say that they would not be able to get away with that in the current climate is a waste of time, just as saying that making a reverent film equivalent, in quality, and unfamiliar perspective, to the Last Temptation of Christ would result in protests, and Fatwahs of the vehemence of the reaction to the recent Danish Cartoons. The Script does its job in an intelligent, and thoughtful, manner.
The acting, by its 3 famous leads is uniformally excellent, as are the performances of an international cast of Europeans, Arabs, Westerners, and African-Americans, in other important speaking roles. The most unusual of this last was seeing early Christianity portrayed by Black actors as the King, Advisors, and courtiers of a Kingdom bordering the Arab territories.
The Cinematography is breathtaking, and the several full-scale battles are as well executed as any comparable ones of the time.
The Score was well deserving of its Oscar nomination.
The scenes shown under the closing credits are a reminder that Islam, radical, and moderate, is a religion that has spread around the world, and makes you sit up and take notice of this fact if you haven't already.
The film took 6 years to prepare, and a year to film, and the effort shows in its quality.
This is a film sadly long forgotten, but that should be seen now by anyone who wants to get a little knowledge of Islam unaffected by their own, or any Media's prejudices.
You will come away from this educational film with an understanding you may not have had before, and may be inclined to look for more information so as to be better informed about the Conflict with Radical Islam that the West has found itself in since at least a year after the release of this film.