Film: Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, as reviewed by Eva Ryder

While we at Parvati Magazine are fans of arty and thought-provoking work, we also believe in accessibility of the message. To this end, we asked our 17-year-old friend Eva Ryder to review “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet”, released this summer.

When I saw the trailer for “The Prophet”, it seemed like a film geared towards children. The animation was unique and eye-catching, and the girl Almitra was lively.

When I actually watched the movie, I found that it was difficult to understand – even though I’m 17. The Prophet named Mustapha conveys many inspiring motifs, such as freedom, to his audience in the film and the theatre. However, each time Mustapha launches into one of his (many) mini-sermons, the animation style changes, becoming very abstract and mismatched from the main setting in a Middle-Eastern village.

I had trouble appreciating the meaning of the verses to begin with, seeing as I have not yet read the book. The animations threw me off because while they were beautiful, it was a stretch for me to link a poem about love to a couple romantically tap-dancing on a broken champagne glass in an empty moonlit courtyard on-screen.

One word to describe animation during the detours away from the main plot and into the abstract is “trippy”. Another might be “enlightening” because broad topics like life, death and love are explored – unfortunately at too deep a level for my not-yet fully-fledged intellect to appreciate. For instance, as sad as this is, the lesson that stuck with me the most is that apparently when I eat grapes I’m supposed to proclaim, “I too, am a vineyard.”

I had a lot of laughs throughout the film, and while some were from funny moments in the movie, most were caused by my complete misunderstanding of some of the most profound lines of Kahlil Gibran’s work, quoted by Mustapha. Much of the humour employed in the film is childish – like when the bad guy falls in a fountain and is bowled over by watermelons.

I’m not sure that adults would appreciate this kind of comedy, but at the same time, Gibran’s poetry was not presented in a very family-friendly fashion: the main story about Almitra and Mustapha was heartwarming, but I think the several-minute long chunks of poetry and abstract animation of are too complex for children, as they were for me. I am left wondering who the intended audience is.

Overall, I’m glad to have watched “The Prophet”, because the parts I understood were definitely thought-provoking. I think it’s important to tread with caution when criticizing unless the critic can do better, and I most certainly could not top the film’s interesting interpretation of Kahlil Gibran’s book “The Prophet”. Unfortunately, I spent so much time scratching my head as I pondered the meaning that the person beside me likely thought I had dandruff.

Eva Ryder graduated as valedictorian from Richmond Secondary School, and is beginning studies at Simon Fraser University this fall.