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Muhammad: The Last Prophet (2004)
Directed by Richard Rich
Articles and Reviews
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"Muhammad: The Last Prophet"

Source: Arab-Celebs
Date: 2000

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MUHAMMAD The Last Prophet

More than fourteen centuries ago, Mecca was filled with gambling, drunkenness, superstition, slavery, the mistreatment of women, and greed. The holy Ka'bah was littered with idol gods. Pilgrims came by the thousands to worship them. Quarysh, Mecca's ruling body, reveled in their good fortune but cared little for the welfare of the pilgrims of Arabia.

Against this dismal scene, a man named Muhammad (pbuh) retreated to a cave high above Mecca to pray. The events that transpired in that cave changed the course of human history. The archangel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad (pbuh) and his prophetic mission began. He was to restore Mecca to the pure religion of Abraham, to the way of charity, and to the belief in the one and only God.

At first, Muhammad (pbuh) preached only in private. His words were recorded and collected as the Holy Koran. These powerful preaching were transforming the lives of humble Meccans everywhere. Rumors of his teachings began to swirl around the city. Quarysh became anxious. When Muhammad (pbuh) finally declared himself in public, Quarysh launched into a campaign of intimidation. But the new muslims were full of faith, not fear. Powerful converts like Bilal, Hamzah, and Abu Bakr were won each day.

The years that followed in Mecca were trying and bitter. Quarysh vacillated between pleading with Muhammad (pbuh) to stop his preaching and out and out violence against his followers. After a boycott against Muhammad (Pbuh) and his people was obliterated by a dramatic revelation, Quarysh finally attempted to assassinate Muhammad (pbuh) in his sleep. Rescued once again by the help of God and good friends, the Prophet escaped to nearby Medinah where fellow Muslims vowed to take him in and protect him if he would only bring peace to their strife-ridden city.

The Muslims prospered in Medinah. There, the first mosque was built and the new, young religion could worship in peace - and yet, Quarysh had confiscated much of their goods before their exodus from Mecca and began trading them to neighboring countries. An attempt to regain some of their badly needed resources resulted in the Battle of Badr in which three hundred Muslims under the direction of Muhammad (pbuh) defeated a well-equipped Meccan band three times their size.

The battle of Uhud would follow. Vastly outnumbered once again, the Muslims routed the Meccans at first, but when soldiers went against the inspired direction of Muhammad (pbuh) they suffered a crushing defeat.

Hoping to deal a final blow to the man who had caused them so much grief, the Meccans came again, this time with the greatest army Arabia had ever seen. Muhammad (pbuh) directed the digging of an enormous ditch around Medinah which kept the Muslims safe until an act of God dispersed the Meccan army for good.

Now the tables had turned. Whereas Mecca and Quarysh had once been mighty and invincible, Muhammad (pbuh) and Medinah had surpassed them. Converts flowed into Medinah as the message of the Holy Koran was spread abroad. Sensing their growing strength and the blessings of God, Muhammad (Pbuh) turned his sights back to Mecca.

Despite their superior strength, the Muslims returned to Mecca peacefully. Only the idol gods were dealt with harshly. They were purged from the holy Ka'bah and the establishment of a new order began. From Mecca would go the message and revelation that would transform the world.

Developing the screenplay for Muhammad (pbuh) The Last Prophet involved exhaustive research of the best historical materials available. The story itself was heavily supervised by UCLA-educated screenwriter, Ms. Firdosi Wharton-Ali, and UCLA professor of Islamic Law, Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl. Each draft of the screenplay was scrutinized for its accuracy as well as its faithfulness to the mission and message of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The final screenplay was submitted to Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy for review, and approval was received prior to production. A finished film was recently submitted to Al-Azhar Al-Sharief and a screenplay approval of the film was received pending a correction, that Badr is implementing.

Film Consulting Team:

The Making of the Film
Muhammad (pbuh) the Last Prophet has been in production for two years and includes more than 196,000 drawings. It was created as a traditional two-dimensional film, but the computer has played a huge role in its creation. Each "cell" is computer painted and fantastic computer effects can be found throughout the production.

All the designing for the film took place at RichCrest Animation in Burbank, California. Under the watchful eye and careful hand of the film's executive producer, a devout Muslim, characters and backgrounds were created to bring ancient Mecca and its people to life. The designers are all top professionals in their particular discipline as well as accomplished fine artists in their own right. After extensive study they went to work. The result is stunning.

Bringing the vivid characters of Islam's history to life required an exhaustive search among professional theatre, television, and film actors. Once they were selected, director Richard Rich took them through a series of recording sessions, making sure that each performance was distinct and precise. Early on in the casting it became clear that the voice of Abu Talib would be crucial. Though not an adherent to Islam, Abu Talib was a loving uncle to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). His was the responsibility to support his nephew but also to lead, placate, and sometimes stand up to his peers of Quarysh. The voice needed strength, majesty, but also kindness and a gentle quality. It was found in Eli Allem, a veteran actor of stage and screen. With each recording session it became clear that Eli was creating a unique and powerful performance. Finally, his job was done. On the day after his final recording session, he passed away.

It is to the film's great fortune that Abu Talib was Eli's final performance in life. The power of Muhammad's mission as portrayed in the film shines more brightly for Eli's magnetic performance.

William Kidd has created a thrilling epic score that illuminates this most important moment and man in history. Mr. Kidd helped solve on of the film's greatest challenges. According to tradition, the Prophet (pbuh) is not physically portrayed in the film. How then does the filmmaker convey his presence in a powerful way? Cinematically, Mr. Rich used the camera's point-of-view to indicate the comings and goings of the Prophet (pbuh). But this technique is completely brought to life by an unforgettable melody created by Mr. Kidd. The effect is stirring.

Muhammad the Last Prophet is a pioneering film in many ways. It brings the life of God's Prophet (pbuh) to millions in a new and exciting way. It will also be the first movie in cinematic history that will be finished in high definition video, then transferred to film. It is the hope of all those who have worked on the film that this retelling of the story of Muhammad (pbuh) will bring a new peace and understanding to our world.

The Producer
Badr International Corporation, a British Virgin Islands Corporation, is a development stage production and distribution company in the entertainment business formed to produce films and video material for television, theater, and the home video market. Its products will be specifically targeted to the worldwide Islamic market, which is grossly under served in quality production material dealing with their cultural beliefs and interests.

It is Company's vision to become the major provider of high quality Islamic animated stories, episodes, and series for distribution to Islamic countries and people worldwide. Such stories will be produced in Arabic, English and other significant languages in the Muslim world. Badr will embark upon an aggressive program of developing animated programs that will capture the hearts and interest of the Islamic people. Simultaneously, the Company will initiate efforts to creatively market and identify distribution channels to effectively distribute product for maximum visibility.

The Company's primary mission is to convey knowledge and cultural values through the medium of animation in an entertainment format, targeted to the entire family as a single audience. Through a long-term commitment to this mission, Badr will be known as an entity that produces and distributes high quality family oriented entertainment that is educational and enjoyable to view.

To implement this mission, Badr is utilizing the successful formats of the American film industry, and its expertise in producing animated films. By combining the vast cultural material from Islam with the "Hollywood" style of production, the Company will produce entertaining and educating films unlike those available in the Islamic marketplace today. The content of the productions will encompass a range of topics including religion, history, and cultural issues.

In order to establish the Badr's presence as a premier provider of Islamic entertainment, the Company has embarked upon the development of a prestigious and high quality animated full- length feature film, Mohammed (pbuh): The Last Prophet, regarding the life of Mohammed (pbuh). The film, which will be approximately ninety minutes, is planned for release during 2001.

Other Projects of Badr: Due to be release this year

The Production Team

The Director

Richard Rich
After fourteen years of experience at Disney, which included directing the animated classic "THE FOX AND THE HOUND" Richard went on to form Rich Animation Studios. Since that time he has directed dozens of high-quality animated tales like "THE ANIMATED HERO CLASSICS" (in conjunction with Time-Warner) which were featured on HBO. He enjoys bringing drama and laughter to the screen accompanied with a message that tugs at the heart and changes lives. He has directed more than seventy short form stories and six feature length movies, including the popular "SWAN PRINCESS" series and E.B. White's "THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN" which will be distributed by Tristar for the Spring of 2001. Directing "Muhammad, the Last Prophet" has been an incredible journey for the veteran filmmaker. Of the experience, he states, "Bringing his story to life has been an enormous challenge but it has given me a great appreciation for what Muhammad has accomplished for the world."

The Screenplay Writer

Brian Nissen
While working on his Master's degree in acting from The California Institute of the Arts Brian wrote a one-act play that won the American College Theatre Festival's Best Short Play Award. It was consequently produced and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Since that time Brian has been writing screenplays for RichCrest Animation. His credits include over sixty short form screenplays and five feature length screenplays.

Music Composer

William Kidd
William Kidd was educated in composition, conducting, and orchestration at the prestigious Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Southern California. In 1992 he won an Emmy for best original score and received an Emmy nomination in 1990 for his musical direction of the 62nd Academy Awards Show. He has orchestrated scores for numerous motion pictures including STAR TREK VI, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, and KARATE KID III. His work is heard in movie theaters, on television sets, and in theme parks across the world.

Production Company

A Brief History of RichCrest Animation
Originating in 1984 as Rich Animation Studios, RichCrest has established a reputation for top quality family animation. For years it produced religious videos along with its critically acclaimed "Animated Heroes Series" which ran on HBO. In 1994 Rich entered the feature market with the theatrical release of its animated classic, "THE SWAN PRINCESS". Two sequels quickly followed. Rich Animation then teamed with larger Hollywood studios to produce the features "THE KING AND I", "SCARECROW", and "THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN". In 2000 Rich was acquired by Crest, an animation company based in India, and became RichCrest Animation. RichCrest now looks to the future with a greatly enhanced capability in the exciting new world of computer animation.

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