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‘Muhammad’ Aims to Depict True Face of Islam
Art And Culture

‘Muhammad’ Aims to Depict True Face of Islam

Iran’s biggest film project, ‘Muhammad’ will depict the true face of Islam and the compassionate nature of its prophet to the world, help bring all Muslims together and create unity and empathy between the Shia and Sunni sects, said Majid Majidi, its director on Monday (August 17).

At a press conference, broadcast live on state TV, on the location sets of the film in the 100-hectare Great Prophet Cinema Town, near the holy city of Qom, nine days before the public release of the film in Iran and Canada, Majidi said the idea of the production occurred to him eight years ago when a ceremony to honor him was planned in Denmark. It came soon after a section of the Danish media published cartoons desecrating the prophet.

“I thought how can they hold a ceremony to felicitate me in a country where my beliefs and sanctities were insulted. So in a letter, I said I would not attend the ceremony as my sacred beliefs were desecrated.”

Sometime later he decided that instead of reacting to the insults, it would be better to introduce the true Islamic culture. That is how the production started seven years ago.

Majidi’s epic movie will debut on August 26 in Iran, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Imam Reza (PBUH). A total of 145 movie theaters across the country are set to screen the highly-artistic film aimed at a wide audience.

As for its world premier, ‘Muhammad’ will open the 39th edition of the Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF), slated for August 27-September 7, in Montreal, Canada.

 Trilogy

Majidi’s work is the first part of the big-budget trilogy on the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

On the claims by some Arabic media that the prophet’s face is shown in the film, he said, “I assure them that the face of the last Messenger of God is not shown in the movie. This has been done both to preserve the dignity of the holy prophet and to refrain from creating sectarian discontent following the movie’s international release.”

On the cinema town built particularly for the project, Majidi said, “The city will be maintained for at least 30 years and perhaps used for other movie productions as well as serve as a tourist attraction in future.”

A major part of filming was done on the sets. However, certain scenes requiring elephants were filmed at Bela-Bela in South Africa.

The most colossal film in Iran’s history, ‘Muhammad’ runs for 178 minutes and produced with a budget of over $20 million.

The film depicts the pagan age with tyranny and oppression as seen through the eyes of the young Muhammad.

It starts with the birth of the prophet and ends when the 12-year-old Muhammad travels to the Levant with his uncle Abu Talib ibn Abdul-Mutallib, where they encounter Bahira: a Nestorian monk who foretells the prophetic future of the adolescent Muhammad.

 Box Office

Over 100 local cinema halls have been built and equipped with the latest technologies suitable for screening the film which has used state-of-the-art audio visual techniques in production.

“We have used the best local cast and professional international crew so that the final outcome will satisfy the audience. I am sure the movie will be a box-office hit,” Majidi said.

The film has raised high expectations with the involvement of celebrated movie-industry figures from abroad. Italian Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, a three-time Academy Award winner did the filming with a 30-member crew.

Another Oscar winner, American visual effects supervisor, Scott E. Anderson, was employed to undertake special effects design of the military expeditions of Abraha against Mecca in the invasion of Hijaz. Abraha was the Ethiopian general who at that time ruled much of present day Yemen and Hijaz.

Make-up design, costume design and music composition has also been done by well-known foreign cineastes.

Top Iranian actors Alireza Shojanuri, Mehdi Pakdel, Sareh Bayat, Mina Sadati, Mohsen Tanabandeh, Dariush Farhang, Hedayat Hashemi and Negar Abedi are among the cast.

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