The Prophet is a much-needed experiment that interwines film animation, directed by the well-known Roger Allers, with the philosophical works of Libanese Kahlil Gibran, that gets to be reimagined by eleven of the most talented current animators (Bill Plympton and Nina Paley just to name a few). By doing so, the film succeds to fascinate its target audience, the children, but the more mature moviegoers also.
The film ignites the public’s curiosity and simpathy from the very beginning of the story, despite its candid simplicity: Almitra is keeping company to Kamila, her widowed mother, in the house where Kamila works, the house that is also the prison of Mustafa, an artist held under house arrest because of political reasons. But the story hides the real purpose to it: it aims to introduce the spectator to the wisdom of Gibran’s essaysWISDOM.
What also catches our attention – like many other clever decisions concerning the artistic development of this project – is the voice cast. Liam Neeson and Salma Hayek (also the producer of the film) are the ones that bring life to the characters, molding them so they could fit in Gibran’s enchanting universe. The film’s choise of these particular two interesting actors is also an inventive solution to a potential spectator that would seem reluctant to such an eccentric artistic product.
And so, as the story builds up, the spectator begins to acknowledge what the film is really about: it is a gracious invitation to face ourselves, a trip we take in order to discover our most intimate thoughts and feelings. In the middle of the plot, short philosophical moments blend into the narrative, each one of them discussing major themes concerning human existence (such as love, parenthood, work or death) and taking the spectator on a journey in eleven different worlds. Each animated segment encloses the originality of its author, recreating the philosophical metaphors of Gibran and, in this way, pleasing its audience with the stunning visuals.
It is the uniqueness of the artistic approach in which the main quality of this film resides. The Prophet stimulates not only visually and musically (the wisdom of the story being emphasised by an enchanting score), but also intelectually, through Gibran’s subtle writings, and spiritually, considering the bitter-sweet significance the story carries within.
By the end of this film, each person will give a different meaning to it, honouring the first of the many teachings Mustafa offers to Almitra in the beginning: the freedom of thought and of spirit is absolute, in spite of the everyday’s mundanities, and it is meant to never cease. The Prophet is as close as you can get to a transcendental experience inside the film theater.