More than four decades after it was banned, The Message is set for Eid release in UAE cinemas
The Message, Moustapha Akkad’s 1976 film that tells the story of the Prophet Mohammed will finally run in cinemas across the Middle East, 42 years after the movie first failed to secure a regional release due to religious objections and false rumours that the film depicted the Prophet Mohammed, in contravention of religious laws.
Mohammed's voice and image are actually not in the film, neither are his wives and daughters: the central characters are, instead, people who lived around him, including his uncle and his adopted son. Akkad’s historical epic was, ambitiously, filmed simultaneously in Arabic and English with two entirely different casts. The English-language version starred Anthony Quinn and was Oscar-nominated. The Arabic language version, meanwhile saw Abdullah Gaith take on Quinn’s Hamza role, but to date has never been widely seen in cinemas in the Arab world, even though Akkad, himself a Muslim, consulted closely with clerics throughout the film’s production and won the support for his project from one of the region's most prestigious universities, Al Azhar in Cairo.