Posted by Arab American Institute on July 30, 2015 in Blog
By Anna Toth
The renowned poetry of author, artist, and Arab American, Kahlil Gibran is brought to life in “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” a film based on Gibran’s beloved international bestseller, “The Prophet.” For Arab American actress and activist Salma Hayek-Pinault, producing the film was a labor of love. She assembled a wealth of talent to transform this prose poem dealing with the great questions of life into an animated film of brilliance and imagination. Directed and written by Roger Allers (Lion King), the film features the voices of Liam Neeson, Qvenzhané Wallis, John Krasinski, Alfred Molina, and even the producer herself. The mastery and skillful weaving of Gibran’s genius through the animated film is guaranteed to evoke a sense of wonder, leaving audience members to reflect upon the artistry and beauty in their own lives. The weight of Gibran’s work goes hand in hand with the imaginative world envisioned by producer Hayek-Pinault.
Hayek-Pinault, the most recent recipient of the Arab American Institute’s Kahlil Gibran Award for Individual Achievement, holds this film and the original work very close to her heart, as she associates the book with her beloved, Lebanese grandfather. The celebrated actress finds her grandfather’s spirit and the lessons she believes he would have wanted to impart upon her in the pages of Gibran’s poetry and states that this film is a love letter to her grandfather as well as her Lebanese background.
The overarching narrative is one of adventures encountered on a long journey home taken by a poet in exile named Mustafa (Neeson), accompanied by his housekeeper (Hayek-Pinault) and her ever-mischievous and silent daughter, Almitra (Wallis). Freed from his house arrest on the condition he will never return, Mustafa and his two companions embark on a journey in hopes of returning Mustafa to his home village. Along the way, there are twists and turns, and lessons to be learned. While primarily targeted at children, “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” deals with issues and life-lessons with which any man, woman, or child can empathize. “When I read the book for the first time as a teenager the poem that touched me was the one about love,” Hayek-Pinault said in a recent interview, “In my 20’s and 30’s it was the one about good and evil. And now it’s about children. That’s what this book is, and what I hope the film is. It changes as you change.”
Inspired by the universality of Gibran’s words, Hayek-Pinault evokes that same feeling in the film by having animators from all over the world direct eight autonomous “chapters” of Gibran’s poetry interpreted in their own animation style interwoven throughout the overarching narrative. One director worth noting is Mohammed Saeed Harib, the only Arab director working on the film. This is Harib’s first time working on a feature length film, he is most known for the animated television show, Freej, the first animated television show to come from the United Arab Emirates region. The unique illustrations provide a sense of whimsy that lends itself to the powerfully prophetic poetry of Gibran, which Hayek-Pinault believes will be appealing to children and adults alike all over the world. This deeply felt and personal project years in the making is reintroducing the simple messages of love, life, death, beauty, and art of Kahlil Gibran to a new generation through the creative mastery of a team of international artists.
“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” is being released in the United States in select theaters beginning August 7th in both New York and LA. Watch the trailer here:
Anna Toth is an intern with the Arab American Institute