Al-Risalah

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An epic which trades on the conventions of the Hollywood Christpic without quite living up to DeMille vulgarity. The historical parallels of the ascendancy of Islam with early Christianity are heavily stressed throughout: a persecuted minority gradually emerging victorious with large-scale conversions; ideals of religious toleration; slave, female, and even camel liberation. Mohammad doesn't appear, and as a subjective presence (when he's there, the characters address the camera) he's mostly effective, sometimes clumsy as a narrative device. There's some fine widescreen desert location shooting, and a couple of fairish battles. All in all, a fair piece of Arab PR.

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By: RM

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