Saudi’s Sabotaging ‘Muhammad’ Film: Director

TEHRAN: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has led a global campaign to sabotage the screening of the epic film ‘Muhammad (PBUH): The Messenger of God’, director Majid Majidi said on Friday.

“The film began its international screening despite the acts of sabotage planned by Arab countries to prohibit portrayal of true Islam,” Majidi said.

Despite Riyadh’s efforts to suppress ‘Muhammad (PBUH)’, the film’s screening will continue in places around the world, including in Sweden, Norway, Italy, Denmark, the United States, and Lebanon, among others.

‘Muhammad (PBUH)’ portrays the life of Holy Prophet and narrates the early years of his life in Mecca. This is the first part of a trilogy which seems to cover the whole life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The multi-million dollar film is Iran’s nomination for Oscar this year. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter less than a week after 129 people died in coordinated attacks in French capital, Majidi said a key motivation in making the film was to show the world the “true heart of Islam.”

“This terrorism, bombing and brutality — has nothing to do with Islam. Extremists such as the Islamic State group have stolen the name of Islam. In the Western world, an incorrect interpretation of Islam has emerged that shows a violent image of Islam, and we believe it has no link whatsoever to the religion”, the celebrated Iranian director said, adding this movie can help create a new vision of Islam and help improve attitudes about Islam.

Majidi said he knew he would face challenges when making the film, which cost $40 million, making it Iran’s most expensive movie ever.

But his aim was always to craft a film that united, rather than divided the different branches of Islam, he says.

The film is not a historical movie, he insists.

“I tried hard to make this more connected with emotions, with humanity, with the real soul of Islam. I tried to make this movie beautiful and more connected, using special elements, using [Vittorio] Storaro as the cinematorapher — his work is more like a painting — to make it more attractive for those with no idea about Islam to make it more connected to people.”

Extremists using the name of Islam have nothing to do with the religion at all, he reiterates. “Those radical groups have nothing to do with Islam … as a Muslim, I believe nowhere is it written in the Quran [about] this brutally and anger of Islam.”

His film, he adds, is an attempt to “really try to touch people’s hearts.”

The film is as important for Muslims as for those in the rest of the world, he says. Made with Iranian government backing, the film  has broken box office records in his country, where four million people have seen it and it is still on wide general release.

The film is careful not to depict the Prophet, which some Muslims regard as blasphemy, but instead is shot from the point of view of Prophet (pbuh) up until the age of 12.

The European premiere for the film was hosted by Poland’s Camerimage Festival on Wednesday night. The festival, which celebrates the art of cinematography, is honoring both Majidi and Storaro with a special award.

No other international screenings are due yet, although Majidi says he is in talks with Turkish distributors and believes it will be shown in that largely Muslim country within the next couple of months. 



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