Salma Hayek produced the animated film "Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet" and also voices one of its characters. As she explains during our recent webcam chat (watch below), "I don't have an agenda for [audiences] to take anything specific out of it. Everybody takes something different, and this is what I'm most proud of," But even though the story inspires different people in different ways, "My main hope is that you become compassionate not because there are sad things in the movie that are going to make you feel sorry for someone, but because it makes you ponder those things that connect us all."
"The Prophet" is based on Kahlil Gibran's 1923 book of prose poems on life, death, love and everything in-between. It's not a traditional narrative, so Hayek had the idea of creating a central story that would connect the poems, and from there a diverse group of animators interpreted the poems each in their own way.
"We used nine different animators," Hayek reveals. "Roger Allers does the animation for the main story, and then every single one of those eight animators, who are some of the very best in the world, were chosen. We made sure there were men and women, different ages, that they come from different religious backgrounds, different countries … and we gave them complete freedom for interpretation."
Those animators included Oscar-winner Joan C. Gratz, Oscar-nominees Tomm Moore and Bill Plympton, and Emmy-nominees Gaetan and Paul Brizzi, along with Mohammed Saeed Harib, Nina Paley, Joann Sfar and Michal Socha. Hayek feels their unique styles bring a unique sense of "freedom" to the poems that couldn't have been captured with live-action: "What really gets you in the heart and in the subconscious, it's the poems, the visuals and the music."
Hayek ultimately believes the film is both "timeless and timely" because of how it expresses a much-needed feeling of human connection. "It doesn't matter what religion you come from, where you come from, what color you are, what age you are," she says. "We all have to confront death, love, we all have to eat, we all have to drink. It boils it down to the things about humanity that make us all one."
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Salma Hayek photo credit: Theo Kingma/REX
"Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet" photo credit: GKIDS