Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is More than just Gospel, A Review

3 Sep

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

For much of the month of August, Kahlil Gibran‘s animated version of The Prophet is finally making its pilgrimage throughout North America in select theatres, and it is a tour de force of spirituality and wonder. It’s beautifully worded euphemisms and metaphor imparts important lessons not only to the people of Orphalese but also to audiences. Hopefully more theatres will be added to this tour, as this is not your typical animated film. It’s a spiritual film that makes perfect use of the animated medium to impart knowledge to the masses. The animation blends a variety of styles into a cohesive whole and it truly is a journey of self-discovery for anyone coming to see it.

In this tale, a young Almitra has lost her way. The Hamsa that’s seen in this film and promotion of it offers her some protection against the township who see her as a street urchin, a scoundrel. Her mother believes that she is simply lost. Ever since her dad passed away, she stopped uttering a single word. When Kamila has to go off to work, to take care of a poet, Almustafa, under house arrest, the day goes awry when this young girl tags along instead of going to school. When she meets this supposed criminal, what happens is a journey of realization. When he gets released, the township greets him with open arms while the French administration has other plans. Just what happens is ultimately predictable and the action connects this character to other prophets of yore.

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Just what exactly happens is best left ambiguous and that’s this movie’s charm. Even more enduring is in how Kamilia treats her daughter. It’s somewhat like how Nani treats her sister Lilo, in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch — the two are trying to make the best of a difficult situation. Lilo, although not as rambunctious as Almitra, tries to mean well, but trouble follows her everywhere these two similar characters go.

Even Almustafa parallels Qui-Gon Jinn from Star Wars. Both have a calm quality that makes Liam Neeson the perfect casting choice. When he speaks, people want to listen. The stories within a story turns into a kaleidoscope of wonder as different artistic styles are used to give meaning to the words of wisdom imparted by this poet. These segments are handled by other filmmakers like Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea), Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues) and Bill Plympton (Guide Dog). The stand out pieces have to be the Greco-Roman styled animations — these segments show just how far Almustafa’s influence has spread throughout most of the Mediterranean. When compared to other animated movies, this film makes use of the medium quite well to tell a universal tale that will no doubt spread Gibran’s gospel to new worlds.

4 Stars out of 5 

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