English and Arabic film reveals Journey to Mecca

Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:11am EST
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By Stanley Carvalho

Abu Dhabi (Reuters Life!) - The modern-day Haj experience writ large in IMAX film format is twinned with the ancient story of the Muslim world's best known ancient traveler in a new film which premiered this month in the Gulf.

"Journey to Mecca" made by Cosmic Picture was shot in Saudi Arabia and Morocco and tells the tale of Ibn Battuta's adventurous 14th century trek to Mecca from Tangier woven with IMAX coverage of millions of Muslims performing the Haj today.

"Four years ago, when we started on the film, we wanted to bring the story of one man's quest to reach Mecca to the giant canvas of IMAX - the most spectacular cinema format on earth with a screen some 25 meters (yards) high," said Dominic Cunningham-Reid, Producer of the film and Chairman of Cosmic Picture.

"We wanted to mix a 14th century drama with contemporary Mecca to show the past and present."

Journey to Mecca marks the first and only time an IMAX camera has captured an aerial view of the Haj from a helicopter hovering 200 feet above Mecca and the first time an IMAX team has been admitted into the most sacred sanctuary of Islam - the Grand Mosque at Mecca.

"We knew that if we could overcome the uncharted challenges of getting IMAX technology into the grand mosque of Mecca and up in the sky above it then we would make a film with the potential to promote a better fundamental understanding of Islam in the West while sharing the heart of Islamic heritage with the widest possible audience, regardless of religion," Cunningham-Reid said.

The producers maintain the film is non-political and is entertaining and enlightening to the non-Muslim world, helping them to understand Islam.

"We have looked at the Haj in a historical context by telling the story of Ibn Battuta," said Taran Davies, CEO of Cosmic Picture who describes 'Journey to Mecca' as a "dramatic film with a documentary element."   Continued...