Hey! I’ve got a book you can use as the basis for a script!
And here is a choice portion from another book, Richard Grenier’s brilliant The Marrakesh One-Two, a fictionalized but quite informed account of someone who tried to do just this movie:
We’re making the life of Mohammed, right? It’s going to be like The Mohammed Story, or The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, like Mohammed Superstar. But Islam, a little detail, had this ferocious hostility to the graven image, rather well known in historical circles, and they don’t like tri-acetate images either. There is no show business in Saudi Arabia, you can believe me. The Egyptians are backsliders to the point of having a film industry of sorts, but never deal with sacred subjects. There are places where they’d kill you in a spirit of devoted piety for daring to represent the image of the Prophet. They take these things seriously. No one had ever thought of doing the life of Mohammed until Omar except for Moustafa Akkad, and you know what happened to him. So Omar had to go about it very cautiously so that we didn’t get ourselves assassinated by some fanatic. After conferring with the doctors of Al Azzar in Cairo he tells me we’ve got to cut out Mohammed. We’re doing The Mohammed Story, you understand, but Mohammed’s got to go. Too holy to be portrayed. We’ve got to “shoot around” Mohammed. But also all his immediate family has to go: This wealthy widow he married who gave him his start in life. All his ten or so other wives. His children, all the daughters. His famous sons-in-law. Ali goes. Omar goes. The four first caliphs go. Mohammed’s mother and father go. The ten Companions of Mohammed go. That’s the ten apostles right there. Talk of Hamlet without the prince. This was Hamlet without the prince, king, queen, Ophelia, Polonius, Horatio, Laertes, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. It was going to be Hamlet with the gravediggers and Fortinbras. The only thing they would give me was that I could have P.V. Mohammed. That is I could script shots from Mohammed’s Point of View, subjective camera. I could have faces reacting and people talking to Mohammed. But Mohammed couldn’t answer them because his voice would be too holy. I got to work it all in by hearsay. And Mohammed couldn’t cast a shadow. He was too holy to cast a shadow. That would be sacrilege too. Mohammed seems to have been about five foot four but when people speak to him in our movie they look up to him as if he’s the size of Bill Walton. But it is still the Mohammed story, you understand, and the working title is Mohammed, Man of Mecca, because confusingly enough the Moslems are quite proud of the fact that Mohammed isn’t set up to be any kind of a supernatural being but just a man like you or me, give or take a little. I mean there’s no abracadabra about Son of God, on the third day ascended into heaven where he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead sort of stuff. Just an ordinary mortal prophet. The Koran only is a miracle, which Mohammed dictated by bits and pieces here and there when he was in his states, and which I will leave you to read for yourself and you can come to your own conclusion. — Richard Grenier, The Marrakesh One-Two, 1983
“Matrix producer plans Muhammad biopic,” from The Guardian, November 2 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Producer Barrie Osborne cast Keanu Reeves as the messiah in The Matrix and helped defeat the dark lord Sauron in his record-breaking Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now the Oscar-winning American film-maker is set to embark on his most perilous quest to date: making a big-screen biopic of the prophet Muhammad.
Budgeted at around $150m (Â£91.5m), the film will chart Muhammad’s life and examine his teachings. Osborne told Reuters that he envisages it as “an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam”.
Thus it is likely not to mention his consummating a marriage with a nine-year-old when he was in his fifties; or his ordering the murder of a Jewish poet and allowing the murderer to lie to the victim in order to trick him and lead him to his death; or calling upon Allah to curse the Jews and the Christians; or telling his followers to offer the unbelievers conversion, subjugation or death; or any number of other embarrassing elements of Muhammad’s life as it is relayed in authoritative Islamic sources.
Osborne’s production will reportedly feature English-speaking Muslim actors. It is backed by the Qatar-based production company Alnoor Holdings, who have installed the Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to oversee all aspects of the shoot. In accordance with Islamic law, the prophet will not actually be depicted on screen.
“The film will shed light on the Prophet’s life since before his birth to his death,” Ahmed Abdullah Al-Mustafa, Alnoor’s chairman, told al-Jazeera. “It will highlight the humanity of Prophet Muhammad.”
The as-yet-untitled picture is due to go before the cameras in 2011. It remains to be seen, however, whether it will be beaten to cinemas by another Muhammad-themed drama. Late last year, producer Oscar Zoghbi announced plans to remake The Message, his controversial 1976 drama that sparked a fatal siege by protesters in Washington DC. The new version, entitled The Messenger of Peace, is currently still in development.