This was a piece of last week’s news that we’re getting to late – but is worth highlighting. It’s been reprinted 163 times, sold over 100 million copies and translated into over 40 different languages, so it comes as no surprise that, in an era of Hollywood producers scraping the bottom of the barrel for new ideas, a hugely popular book like Khalil Gibran’s masterpiece The Prophet will be adapted for the big screen. Deadline is reporting that Salma Hayek, operating under her Ventanarosa Productions banner, has partnered with Clark Peterson and Ron Senkowski to produce an animated feature based on the book of 26 poetic essays. Hayek’s producing partner, Jose Tamez, will executive produce along with William Nix and co-financing from Steve Hanson.
As each essay deals with such differing topics as joy to death and religion to beauty, The Prophet will get produced along the same lines as Fantasia and Paris, Je T’Aime, where several different directors are each responsible for their own interpretation of a particular segment. The complete film will be interconnected with a musical through-line. Peterson, who produced 2004’s Monster, told TheWrap, “The book is such an international phenomenon that has transcended cultures and languages, we didn’t want it to be any one person or any one country’s version.”
So far, he expects filmmakers Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), Kunio Kato (Tsumiki no ie), Oscar-winner Chris Landreth (Ryan), Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells), two-time Oscar nominee Darragh O’Connell (Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty), Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues), Bill Plympton (Guard Dog), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Oscar nominees Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes (This Way Up), John Stevenson (Kung Fu Panda) and Poland’s Michal Socha each to direct segments.
Gist: Published in 1923, The Prophet centers around Al-Mustafa, a prophet who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for twelve years and is waiting to board a ship that will take him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses many issues of life and the human condition. The book is divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.
Worth Noting: Though difficult to confirm, sources in the publishing world report that Gibran is the third most widely read poet in history, behind only Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. Hayek, who has been interested in The Prophet since childhood, seems to be getting in touch with her heritage. Her father is of Lebanese descent, which likely helped obtain the rights from the Gibran National Commmittee in B’Sharre, Lebanon, the representative of Gibran’s estate.
Do We Care?: The combination of an all-star assemblage of animation directors and an internationally recognized book is definitely interesting and the film should have a generally easy time eliciting anticipation for it’s release. The hard part will be up to Hayek and her team to creatively link all 26 different segments into a cohesive film, rather than a dismembered collection of short films.