DUBAI (AFP) – “The Message”, Syrian-American director Moustafa Akkad s epic film about Prophet Mohammed, will be screened for the first time in Saudi cinemas on Thursday — four decades after an initial ban.
“Knowing that there were so many difficulties… , now that they re showing it in the theatres I couldn t be happier,” Akkad s son told AFP.
The 1976 film has been widely-watched in the Arab world since its release.
But it was banned in the land of Islam s holiest sites and boycotted by conservatives for its depiction of the Prophet and his companions.
“It caused a lot of controversy and there were a lot of obstacles put in its way,” said Akkad s son, Malik Moustafa Akkad, noting it remains banned in Kuwait.
Saudi Arabia lifted a longstanding ban on cinemas last year, part of an easing of social restrictions pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi theatres will now screen a restored version of the 1976 epic, produced from the film s original negatives.
“Even if you ve seen the film, you ve never seen it look this good,” said Akkad s son.
The late director “always intended it to be a big-screen event. And that s the way to see it”, he added.
Profits from the screenings will support a scholarship fund for filmmakers from the region to study at Moustafa Akkad s alma mater, the University of Southern California.
The Aleppo-born director perished with his daughter in the 2005 Amman hotel bombings claimed by Al-Qaeda that cost dozens of lives.