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Muhammad: The Messenger of God on Iranian cinema screens

Montréal, Brussels, October 9th, 2015 (SIGNIS/Hindustan Times/Variety) In 1998, director Majid Majidi won the ecumenical award in Montreal with Children of Heaven and three years later, his film Baran got an ecumenical commendation at the same film festival. The last seven years Majidi worked at Iran’s most expensive ever movie, “Muhammad”.

It chronicles the childhood of the Muslim prophet and got his international première at the last Montréal film festival. The film was released in Iran end of August 2015, winning praise from early audiences. Majidi’s film has a duration of 171-minute. This visually stunning film costs around $40, partly funded by the state.

Majidi said the aim of his work, the first part of a trilogy, is to reclaim the rightful image of Islam, which he said extremists have wrongly made violent “Muhammad,” which captures Saudi Arabia more than 1,400 years ago, offers much more than stereotypical trains of Arabs on camels riding across yellow sand dunes. It takes the audience from the miraculous birth of the future prophet up to his teenage years, and is packed with miracles. The crew of this film is indicative of its ambition, it includes the three-time Oscar-winning Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The score was devised by AR Rahman, known for the music of the Danny Boyle-directed blockbuster “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The American film magazine Variety said that Majidi respects Islamic convention by never showing Muhammad’s face and shooting him mostly from the back. At the press conference in Montréal, the film director explained that a Steadicam had been used, especially to show the prophet’s point of view. However, noted Variety, “Since the central part of the film covers Muhammad’s life before he became a prophet, we hear the actors playing him at the ages of 6, 8 and 12. But in the scenes that bookend the film and are set 50 years later, his words are repeated by his uncle Aboutaleb”.

Mid-September 2015, an Indian Islamic group has issued a fatwa against Iranian film-maker Majid Majidi and the Oscar-winning Indian composer AR Rahman over the depiction of the prophet Muhammad in this film, reported the Indian Express

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