DEARBORN — Of all the events in human history, it’s hard to find many more suited for an IMAX documentary than the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
Renowned traveler Ibn Battuta’s journey from Tangier, Morocco to Mecca is faithfully reproduced in “Journey to Mecca.”
The movie follows
Battuta’s journey in the year 1325 of about 5,000 miles from Tangier, Morocco to Mecca and his tribulations along the way. Battuta, a legendary Islamic scholar, traveler, and explorer who visited more than 40 countries and made five trips to Mecca in his lifetime, traveled three times farther than Marco Polo. He left his family for the journey at age 21 despite urgings from them to wait a few more years. His goal was to “see with his eyes what he has seen in his dreams.”
His perilous cinematic voyage resonates with adventure while presenting an unforgettable picture of Islamic civilization during the 14th-century. “Journey to Mecca” culminates Ibn Battuta’s first Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the longest running congregations of people in history. The film reveals for the first time the Hajj as it was performed in 14th-century and dissolving into the most astounding modern day footage of the Hajj ever recorded in IMAX®, with over 3 million pilgrims.
Narrated by Oscar® award-winning British actor Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Schindler’s List), “Journey to Mecca” stars Chems Eddine Zinoun (The Objective) as Ibn Battuta and Hassam Ghancy (Traitor, Rendition) as the Highwayman.
This production is the only IMAX® team ever granted permission to fly over and film aerials of Mecca and also given unprecedented ground access into the holy area of the Grand Mosque, the most sacred site in the Islamic world. The film has the endorsements of many world leaders such as the Dalai Lama, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and numerous international experts on Ibn Battuta and Islam.
“Journey to Mecca” was directed by Bruce Neibaur (IMAX® hits Mysteries of Egypt, Lewis & Clark) and produced by Dominic Cunningham-Reid and Taran Davies of Cosmic Picture and IMAX® veteran Jonathan Barker of SK Films. Executive producer is Oscar® award-winning Jake Eberts (Chariots of Fire, Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves).
The allure of the movie, which runs just 40 minutes, lies mostly in its breathtaking, realistic portrayals of Battuta’s journey and the “‘moving city” of 10,000 people that eventually accompanies him along the way.
The footage is gorgeous. Massive sand dunes, rock formations, caravans of people, and incredible panoramic views and time-lapsed film of the holy site and thousands of pilgrims circling the Kaaba at the end are among the many visual delights movie-goers will experience.
Along the way, Battuta is forced to contend with harsh desert sandstorms, attacks from thieves, and an unforeseen setback toward the middle of the movie that forces him to change his path.
The plot in “Journey to Mecca,” isn’t anything too complicated, as there isn’t much character development, dialogue, or many plot twists. The movie still manages to get a clever theme across, however, as it seamlessly integrates scenes of modern-day pilgrims into the movie at the end to remind audiences just how difficult and risky the journey to Mecca used to be compared to the modern way of taking airplanes and busses.
Basic facts about the hajj are related to the audience, integrating seamlessly with the movie experience and making “‘Journey to Mecca” an ideal film for people who aren’t familiar with the religious journey and its splendor.
Overall, the film is a strong addition to IMAX’s current non-feature film offerings and is an easy-going and straightforward, yet beautiful and inspiring, re-telling of a story that too many people in the Western world aren’t given the chance to hear, see, or learn about.
“Journey to Mecca” on IMAX is about as close as you can get to the holy site without actually going there and the movie is highly recommended to anyone who’s curious about the largest annual religious pilgrimage in the world.
The Henry Ford, located in Dearborn, Michigan was founded in 1929 by automotive pioneer Henry Ford. This history destination includes Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre, The Benson Ford Research Center and The Ford Rouge Factory Tour. The Henry Ford, America’s Greatest History Attraction, is the history destination that brings the American experience to life.
Ticket prices to “Journey to Mecca” at the Henry Ford IMAX Theatre on Oakwood Blvd. in Dearborn are $10.00 for ages 13 and up ($8.50 for members), $8.50 for kids 12 and under ($7.75 for members), and $9.00 for senior citizens ($7.75 for members). Showtimes vary daily. For showtimes, visit www.thehenryford.org. For ticket information, call 313.271.1570.