The late writer Richard Grenier (d. 2002) made these trenchant observations in his novel The Marrakesh One—Two [1983, pp. 3—4] which depicted the fictional travails of Burt Nelson. Attempting to film a version of the life of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, Nelson comments,
"It's going to be like The Mohammed Story, or The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, like Mohammed Superstar. But Islam, a little detail, has this ferocious hostility to the graven image, rather well known in historical circles, and they don't like tri—acetate images either. There is no show business in Saudi Arabia, you can believe me. The Egyptians are backsliders to the point of having a film industry of sorts, but never deal with sacred subjects. There are places where they'd kill you in a spirit of devoted piety for daring to represent the image of the Prophet. They take these things seriously...After conferring with the doctors of Al Azzar in Cairo...we've got to cut out Mohammed. We're doing The Mohammed Story, you understand, but Mohammed's got to go. Too holy to be portrayed. We've got to "shoot around" Mohammed. But also all his immediate family has to go: This wealthy widow he married who gave him his start in life. All his ten or soother wives. His children, all the daughters. His famous sons—in—law Ali goes. Omar goes. The four first caliphs go. Mohammed's mother and father go. The ten Companions of Mohammed go. That's the ten apostles right there. Talk of Hamlet without the prince. This was Hamlet without the prince, king, queen, Ophelia, Polonius, Horatio, Laertes, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. It was going to be Hamlet with the gravediggers and Fortinbras. The only thing they would give me was that I could have P.V. Mohammed. That is I could script shots from Mohammed's Point of View, subjective camera. I could have faces reacting and people talking to Mohammed. But Mohammed couldn't answer them because his voice would be too holy. I got to work it all in by hearsay. And Mohammed couldn't cast a shadow. He was too holy to cast a shadow. That would be sacrilege too. Mohammed seems to have been about give foot four but when people speak to him in our movie they look up to him as if he's the size of Bill Walton."
Andrew Bostom 2 08 06