The Message, Moustapha Akkad's $17 million saga of the birth of the Islamic religion, bears favorable comparison as a religious epic. H.A.L. Craig's screenplay is remarkably literate, sometimes witty and ironic, but ultimately and perhaps inevitably simplistic.

The Message, Moustapha Akkad’s $17 million saga of the birth of the Islamic religion, bears favorable comparison as a religious epic. H.A.L. Craig’s screenplay is remarkably literate, sometimes witty and ironic, but ultimately and perhaps inevitably simplistic.

The action snowballs from underground cell meetings by followers of Mohammad, through brutal harassment, expulsion from Mecca, pitched battles in the desert, and the final conquering pilgrimage back to Mecca. Throughout the narrative there is uncommon respect for the mind and the eye.

Ultimately it’s a triumph for Akkad who welded a logistically sprawling epic into coherence. His crowd scenes are credible and the battle scenes superbly rendered.

The Message

UK

Production

Filmco. Director Moustapha Akkad; Producer Moustapha Akkad; Screenplay H.A.L. Craig; Camera Jack Hildyard; Editor John Bloom; Music Maurice Jarre; Art Director Norman Dorme, Abdel Mouneim Chukri

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1976. Running time: 179 MIN.

With

Anthony Quinn Irene Papas Michael Ansara Johnny Sekka Michael Forest Damien Thomas
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more