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Muhammad: The Messenger of God
Album Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:
A.R. Rahman

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Matt Dunkley
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Sony DADC (India)
(December 23rd, 2015)
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Regular release in India, available elsewhere digitally or initially on CD as an import at normal retail prices.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you demand your epic religious scores to stomp, wail, coo, and soar with maximum Westernized influence, though the regional ethnic instrumentation remains superior in this otherwise stereotypical romp.

Avoid it... if you are prepared to issue your own fatwa against shamelessly bombastic, mystically loving music that relies upon overwhelming execution values rather than intellectual prowess to bolster what essentially serves as a propaganda venture.
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WRITTEN 3/7/16
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Muhammad: The Messenger of God (A.R. Rahman) For those of you tired of witnessing the seemingly endless stream of movies about the life of Jesus Christ, most of which containing about as much fiction as any epic set in ancient Earth, then at least there is, finally, as of 2015, a massive cinematic production about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It, too, contains about as much fiction as any epic about ancient Earth, but one has to credit leading Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi for spending eight years of his life obsessing about the making Muhammad: The Messenger of God, especially when considering the fact that many in Islam strictly forbid any artistic depiction of the prophet to begin with. Blessed by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he forged ahead with the $40 million Arabic-language production, Iran's most expensive movie ever assembled, and was, perhaps as a rebuke from his deity, slapped with a scholarly fatwa, condemnation from Sunni Arab countries, mixed reviews from Shia critics, and, perhaps most humiliatingly, terrible performance at Iran's box office. Its plot was meant to be the first of a trilogy (don't hold your breath for those sequels), showing the Islamic religion's account of history from about a month prior to the prophet's birth until his thirteen year, a period of time criticized by some reviewers of the movie as being relatively uninteresting in the prophet's life and therefore not worthy of any $40 million. Guided by the unyielding faith of its crew, the production of Muhammad: The Messenger of God extended well beyond Iran, eventually requiring post-production work across Europe. Such was especially the case with the film's original score, tackled for more than a year and a half by leading Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman. While it may seem like an odd match for Westerners not familiar with Rahman beyond his major hits in India and sporadic forays into Hollywood, the composer, raised an atheist, converted to Islam in 1989 and has been influenced by Sufism in his family. He dedicated himself to Muhammad: The Messenger of God with much the same devotion that John Debney famously admitted towards The Passion of the Christ, Rahman taking six months simply to generate ideas that properly matched the tone of Majidi's film.

When you think about epic religious scores nowadays, you imagine a plethora of Middle Eastern specialty instruments, choral magnificence based upon religious texts, the might of a Western orchestra, and an overload of brilliantly shiny harmonic resonance. Despite Rahman's reported toils to find the right sound for Muhammad: The Messenger of God, he landed squarely in the middle of this religious epic film score stereotype. If his year and a half of discovery during the composition and recording of this score was meant to find a new avenue of religious film music expression, or if Rahman was interested in avoiding a fatwa issued against him personally, then he failed miserably on both counts. It doesn't take much imagination to ponder why a scholarly fatwa issued by a Sunni Muslim organization was leveled at Rahman (seemingly nullifying, of all delightful things, the legitimacy of his marriage) for this score, because subtlety is not exactly the technique he chose to utilize here. If you're not even supposed to depict a prophet on screen in the first place, then who can blame any pious type for getting his rear end in a knot over a composer's massively rendered, bombastic explosion of largely Western-influenced music for that very depiction? Still, collectors of film music across all faiths, including the intriguingly high ratio of intellectual atheists among them, recognize that religious music involving glorification has yielded some of the most entertainingly beautiful scores of all time. Rahman, disregarding any notion of modesty, blasts forth with yet another of cinema's great epic scores based on faith. In so doing, he references successful techniques from the likes of John Debney, Mychael and Jeff Danna, Basil Poledouris, Mark McKenzie, and Hans Zimmer for similarly expansive modern efforts requiring more than just a touch of blissful magnificence and/or ethnic authenticity. He recorded Muhammad: The Messenger of God across no less than eight countries, employing instrumental and vocal soloists for application with and without the hefty mix of an orchestra recorded in Germany. For those familiar with Rahman's collaboration with Craig Armstrong for Elizabeth: The Golden Age in 2007, know that orchestrator and conductor Matt Dunkley carries over to Muhammad: The Messenger of God, and some of the broad scale that Dunkley periodically contributes to Armstrong's works was likely a contributing factor in this work, too.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.96 Stars
***** 165 5 Stars
**** 67 4 Stars
*** 35 3 Stars
** 31 2 Stars
* 27 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
Let me say something about the 'prophet' Muhammad
Ken Kirchner - March 18, 2016, at 8:38 p.m.
1 comment  (638 views)
Review at Movie Wave
Southall - March 17, 2016, at 4:40 p.m.
1 comment  (656 views)
ARR returns to form in style
SivakumarK - March 16, 2016, at 8:21 p.m.
1 comment  (501 views)

Track Listings Icon
Total Time: 69:26
• 1. Prologue - The Infinite Light (2:36)
• 2. Makkah 740 AD (2:07)
• 3. Ababeel (5:51)
• 4. Signs of the Last Prophet (3:59)
• 5. The Birth... (3:01)
• 6. And He was Named Muhammad (4:26)
• 7. Roubama - composed by Le Trio Joubran (2:53)
• 8. The Camel's Divine Intervention (2:39)
• 9. Through the Sands (4:02)
• 10. Abraha (4:34)
• 11. Halima's Healing (2:36)
• 12. The Land of Friendship (2:36)
• 13. Shajaan - composed by Le Trio Joubran (1:06)
• 14. Mother's Advice to Her Son (3:51)
• 15. The Search (2:06)
• 16. Protecting the Innocent (3:54)
• 17. The Last Hajj of Abdul Mutallib (3:08)
• 18. The Sea Miracle (5:35)
• 19. The Sermon (3:02)
• 20. Ya Muhammad (5:24)

Notes Icon
The insert is extensive in size, barely fitting in a jewel case when printed for the CD release, and contains lengthy credit information, scholarly quotes about religion, and a full-size picture for each track on the album. The CD's jewel case comes in an exterior slipcase with identical art to that of the interior packaging.
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