History or Propaganda?
According to the executive producer’s reasoning for making the movie — “to bridge the gap of understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims” — one can’t help but conclude the latter.
“Prophet Mohammed film The Message set for remake,” by Chris Irvine, for the Telegraph, October 28:
A remake of The Message, a movie about the life of the Prophet Mohammed, is to be filmed, its producers have said.
“The Messenger of Peace“, to be shot around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, was originally a 1977 Hollywood film made by Moustapha Akkad and starring Anthony Quinn.
It is often applauded by Muslims as an example of how commercial Western cinema can respect Islam.
Producer Oscar Zoghbi, who worked on the original, said: “We have only the utmost respect for Akkad’s work but technology in cinema has advanced since the 1970s and this latest project will employ modern film techniques in its renewal of the first film’s core messages.”
Executive producer of the new movie, Hajja Subhia Abu Elheja, said: “Since 9/11, Islam’s image has suffered tremendously.
“Now more than ever it has become important to bridge the gap of understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.”
Clearly, then, this will be a movie totally based on the primary sources of Muhammad’s life, such as the hadiths and the sira of Ibn Ishaq. Wonder if the anecdote of Muhammad sending assassins to kill the aged Umm Kirfa (by tying her legs to two camels and driving them in separate directions) will be depicted?
“It is telling that only one great historical film has ever been made about Islam, a religion with 1.5 billion followers, whereas Christianity has been the subject of over 30.”
Yes, very telling: producers are terrified of having a fatwa issued against them.
The film’s scriptwriter Ramsey Thomas, said: “In the 21st century there is a real need for a film that emotionally engages audiences on the journey that led to the birth of Islam.”
In the original Message, Mohammed was not seen or heard. Instead Syrian-born director Akkad signified the Prophet’s presence with light organ music and occasionally framed the film from the prophet’s point of view.
Two versions of the film were shot – one in Arabic and one in English. The remake will be only the second English-language film of its kind ever made.
Akkad, who was the executive producer behind Hollywood’s Halloween horror films, was killed in a suicide bomb attack on a luxury hotel in Jordan in 2005.
Portrayals of Mohammed have sparked anger in recent years – Danish cartoons of him in 2006 triggered protests by Muslims in many countries.
Random House US recently cancelled the publication of The Jewel of Medina, a book about one of Mohammed’s wives, over fears it would offend Muslims.
It was also pulled in the UK when publisher Martin Rynja’s house was targeted in a firebomb attack.
Why again are film-makers not too enthusiastic about making a movie about Muhammad?