Gebran Khalil Gebran's 'The Prophet': A literary masterpiece celebrated in magical motion picture


Written by Hala Madi
Translated by Rana Hajj

Renowned Lebanese writer and artist, Gebran Khalil Gebran, born in the northern Lebanese town of Bcharri in 1883, described his book "The Prophet" as his "second birth", and said shortly before his death in 1931, "This book has occupied all my life."

The Prophet is a book of 26 prose poetry essays written in English by the Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer Gebran Khalil Gebran. It was originally published in 1923 by Alfred A. Knopf. It is Gibran's best known work.

The Prophet has been translated into over forty different languages and has never been out of print.

In the book, a prophet named Almustafa, has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years and is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses topics about life and the human condition.

"The Prophet" the movie is an animated film adapted from Gibran's book. The film is produced by Salma Hayek, who also performs voice work. The production consists of different directors for each of the film's collective essays, with animation director, Roger Allers, supervising and credited as screenwriter. Segment directors include, Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi, Joan C. Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore, Nina Paley, Bill Plympton, Joann Sfar and Michal Socha.

The film had an in-progress preview at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

This celebration of Gibran's masterpiece stars Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek-Pinault, John Krasinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina, John Rhys-Davies and Quvenzhané Wallis.

In further details about the book, The Prophet presents the farewell observations and recommendations about life and death of Almustafa, the chosen and beloved Prophet, as he ends a twelve-year sojourn in Orphalese.

Almustafa, the chosen and beloved Prophet around whom the story revolves, has spent twelve years of his youth in Orphalese, serving as the people's harp, flame, seeker of silence and guardian of the night.

Much of his time has been spent in the overlooking hills, watching and listening to their lives. The people have generously met Almustafa's physical needs, but he realizes that some have criticized his aloofness. Now the ship he has been watching for to take him home arrives, and Almustafa comes down from the hills to the temple, bittersweet about leaving. The people gather to see him off, hungry to imbibe whatever wisdom he can deliver, for posterity's sake.

In the temple and on the prompting of the seer Almitra, who believes in him, a tongue-tied and emotional Almustafa agrees to respond to questions about what separates birth and death. Almitra opens the question-and-answer session, and the responses inspire others to seek guidance about things close to their hearts. Almustafa's responses are all delivered to the whole citizenry of Orphalese, but each is also tailored to the individual questioner, the sincere and the cynical.

There are twenty-six questions regarding various aspects of life. Addressing each question individually, Almustafa exhibits a general tendency to show, through allusions to nature and everyday activities, the interrelatedness of life.

The breathtaking movie scenes take the audience to a world of creativity through the charming drawings associated with music and excitement. The viewer is swept into an indescribable world of charming tones that carry the signature of global Lebanese musician, Gabriel Yared, the composer of "The English Patient" movie soundtrack and other international cinema works.

This film comes under difficult and complicated circumstances experienced by the Arab region, particularly Lebanon. It carries a message and an invitation of love and peace away from violence and hatred.

Gebran 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. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth...."


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