prophet

There’s a beauty in poetry that we don’t get in many other art forms. Poetry can be unstructured, abstract, sprawling, and subtle in ways that media like film cannot. But when you marry the two – when you create a cinematic poem – then the rules are different.

KHALIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET is an offering within an offering. At arm’s length, the animated film is about a revolutionary poet and artist named Mustafa (voiced by Liam Neeson). After being under house arrest for seven years, he has finally been freed on the condition that he leave the unnamed country where he is captured and go home…never to return. This extradition is witnessed by a woman named Kamila (Salma Hayek) and her daughter – Amitra (Quvenzhané Wallis) – who never speaks. As he makes his way to point of extradition, Mustafa is constantly stopped by locals, followers and well-wishers…each asking him for words of wisdom.

This prompts the offering within the offering. Whenever Mustafa stops, he shares his thoughts and dreams in the form of poems by Khalil Gibran. Each one of these poems prompts a visual sequence within itself. These sequences are often abstract, illustrating the thoughts and wishes contained within the text, and opening them up to splendid interpretations. Some are even further interpreted into songs by artists like Damien Rice and Glen Hansard, taking us further up into the atmosphere fuelled by these beautiful thoughts.

There’s an obvious point of comparison coming away from KHALIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET, and that is Walt Disney’s FANTASIA. Much like that film, this movie revels in the beauty of another art form and seeks to do it justice by interpreting it in other forms. Like that film, this film finds texture and colour within the existing art and adds…well…texture and colour. It sounds simplistic, but it actually encourages us to let our brains go. It wants us to listen to one singular voice and let our hearts and souls go to places we only see in our dreams, and get in touch with feelings we only feel when we are being nakedly honest.

It’s a scary place to go, one that most people would rather laugh off with cynical smirk. The thing is though, every powerful moment in our lives has grown from the seeds of these feelings. It’s difficult to actually capture on film – and in poetry – but I dare say that KHALIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET comes darned close to capturing it.

This is a film that wants us to let go. It bathes us in inks, watercolours, oils, and acrylics and prompts us to think about the happiest, most loving, and most hopeful we can ever be.

Then it backs away, letting us revel in that thought…if only for a little while.