Kahlil Gi­bran’s The Prophet

KAHLIL GI­BRAN’S THE PROPHET, an­i­ma­tion, rated PG, Vi­o­let Crown, 2.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS -

Few books are as beloved as Le­banese au­thor Kahlil Gi­bran’s The Prophet, a story of a sage en­treated by a group of peo­ple while on a jour­ney home from the city of Or­phalese. In the book, which has been in print since it was first pub­lished in 1923, the prophet Al­mustafa dis­penses knowl­edge to the group on the top­ics of good and evil, beauty, free­dom, friend­ship, plea­sure, and death, to name a few. A new, an­i­mated film ver­sion is a suc­ces­sion of seg­ments based on chap­ters from the book. Each seg­ment was di­rected by a dif­fer­ent an­i­ma­tor: Roger Allers (The Lion King), who di­rected the fram­ing nar­ra­tive, Michal Socha, Gaë­tan Brizzi and Paul Brizzi, Joan Gratz, Mo­hammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore (The Se­cret

of Kells), Nina Pa­ley (Sita Sings the Blues), Bill Plymp­ton (Cheatin’), and Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat). De­spite all this tal­ent, the vi­sions of so many artists do not nec­es­sar­ily amount to a co­he­sive film.

If you’ve read the book, you’ll note some changes. The fram­ing story in­volves Almi­tra, voiced by Qu­ven­zhané Wal­lis. She’s a young girl who has re­fused to speak ever since the death of her fa­ther. Almi­tra takes an in­ter­est in Mustafa, a con­fined artist and poet in ex­ile, and she ac­com­pa­nies him and his es­cort of sol­diers to an await­ing ship that will take him to his home­land. Mustafa, voiced by Liam Nee­son, im­parts his philo­soph­i­cal ideas on the jour­ney and gains such a crowd of fol­low­ers, who flock to hear his pro­fun­di­ties, that the author­i­ties fear he will in­cite them to revo­lu­tion and, so, sen­tence him to death. Nee­son’s voice is, per­haps, a lit­tle too rec­og­niz­able, and this is jar­ring. One is al­ways think­ing, That’s the voice of Liam Nee­son. Mean­while, Almi­tra and her mother, Kamila, voiced by Salma Hayek, who helped pro­duce the film, sal­vage what they can of Mustafa’s art and letters for the sake of pros­per­ity. Within this fram­ing story, each di­rec­tor adds his or her con­tri­bu­tion. The dif­fer­ent seg­ments il­lus­trate Mustafa’s pow­er­ful lessons, which some­times come off sound­ing like New Age plat­i­tudes or so much clap­trap: “When you gather the grapes for the wine press, say in your heart, ‘I, too, am a vine­yard.’ ” The vi­sions of the an­i­ma­tors, such as Moore’s trippy an­i­ma­tion for Mustafa’s thoughts on love, are in­spir­ing and in­ven­tive. Plymp­ton’s seg­ment (on the topic of eat­ing and drink­ing) is more sub­dued than his own solo ef­forts are. But hav­ing so many guest di­rec­tors who work in dif­fer­ent styles is dis­tract­ing, and The Prophet calls too much at­ten­tion to this nov­elty. The film tells a rather sim­ple story that gets swal­lowed up by the im­pres­sive vi­su­als as each new se­quence vies for your at­ten­tion. — Michael Abatemarco

Find­ing in­spi­ra­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.