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article imageReview: ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’ is a stunning and moving picture Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 13, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’ is a striking big screen adaptation of the Lebanese poet’s classic text brought to life by a selection of internationally acclaimed animators.
Inspirational films based on real-life stories are released frequently nowadays. They pull at the audience's heartstrings and show someone triumphing over adversity to achieve their goals. But what if inspiration could be completely fused with the cinematic experience? In bringing Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet to the screen, filmmakers create a beautiful film that is inherently thought-provoking and motivational.
After several years of imprisonment, Mustafa (Liam Neeson) is as positive and understanding as the day he was jailed. Instead of allowing this time to embitter him, he has taken the opportunity to become more at peace with life. In the meantime Almitra (Quvenzhané Wallis) wreaks silent havoc in the town, while her mother and Mustafa's housekeeper, Kamila (Salma Hayek), soaks up the tranquility that he emits to help her deal with the unforgiving townspeople. As their worlds intersect and Mustafa is conditionally released, his teachings are shown to have survived his absence and will likely outlive his presence.
This movie is unabashedly stunning. The framing narrative, directed by Disney’s Roger Allers, is a vibrant display of rich and soothing earth tones. Each of the poems recited throughout the film is read against a matching animation composed by a renowned director from across the globe, including Bill Plympton, Joan C. Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Nina Paley and Joann Sfar. These standalone chapters are absolutely breathtaking. They unequivocally express Gibran's words in images, perfectly matching the rhythm, tone and meaning of the poems while maintaining a distinct style.
The episodes about love and marriage are portrayed by couples engaged in a dance as the melodic words guide their steps. One image blends into another in the chapter about work, and eating and drinking. The narrative seamlessly incorporates the poems and just as easily transitions back to the framing story.
Neeson's voice takes on a wise and caring tone in Mustafa's body that is both commanding and vulnerable. Though as a producer Hayek never intended to be a member of the voice cast, she brings a vivaciousness to Kamila that is believable and infectious. Wallis doesn't play a huge role since Almitra is predominately silent through most of the picture, but when she finally speaks the voice is exactly as imagined. John Krasinski plays a lovesick guard, Alfred Molina is a by-the-book authority and Frank Langella is the treacherous superior.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is screening in the Special Presentations programme at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Directors: Roger Allers et al.
Starring: Salma Hayek, Liam Neeson and John Krasinski
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