Inspired by the great classic by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet is an animated feature film, with chapters from animation directors from around the world.
Gibran’s book is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and for almost a century since its first publication (1923) – inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, buying and selling, crime and punishment, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, good and evil, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.
Naturally, the animated version of such a classic comes as a big and exciting project. Director Roger Allers (The Lion King) assembled an array of internationally acclaimed animators to realize episodes from The Prophet, which are woven into the tale of a mischievous young girl (voiced by Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis) who attempts to free an imprisoned poet (Liam Neeson).
The film is not going to be only a visual marvel. With a score by Gabriel Yared (The English Patient, Cold Mountain) that includes contributions from Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, and Yo-Yo Ma, it is also a captivating musical collaboration. Salma Hayek is producing The Prophet, and in the interviews given at Cannes, she talked about her paternal grandfather who was Lebanese. “In my very long career I haven’t been able to find an Arabic role to play,” she said. “This is a love letter to this part of my heritage.”
She also discussed the timelessness of Gibran’s text: “When I read the book for the first time as a teenager the poem that touched me was the one about love,” she said. “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.”
Gibran’s book can be found online, all the chapters. Here are the excerpts from Love, Children & Self-knowledge.
“Then said Almitra, ‘Speak to us of Love.’
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.”
“For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’
Say not, ‘I have found the path of the soul.’ Say rather, ‘I have met the soul walking upon my path.’
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.”
“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, ‘Speak to us of Children.’ And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to see this film. If you are in Toronto, the film is premiering at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) this week, so do not miss it! If not – wait and stay tuned for more.
/all the images in this post via Variety Latino, they have a great collection of exclusive photos from The Prophet/