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BMZ Review: Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta
By Ross Anthony


Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta
Written by: Ross Anthony
Source: Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card
Date: March 26, 2009


Category: Reviews

The film opens with some moody special effects usually not present in the more documentary-style IMAX films. The effects are used to capture the shimmering-star fantasies of Ibn Battuta as he dreams of traveling to Mecca and beyond. They're nice.

Soon enough Ibn Battuta bids adieu to his family, friends and world as he knew it in 14th century Morocco, and begins a solo pilgrimage across the African deserts to Mecca. Save for the earlier special effects, the big screen images are less than spectacular. The desert is baron and unappealing, and the talking heads don't show off the power of large format.

That said, the acting is good. Actually, very good for this format. A strong brotherhood is formed between Ibn Battuta and a would-be desert bandit; this sweet relationship carries the production to its destination. As the two join others, the production captures warm feelings of community and friendship, common bonds, while espousing respect and charity. Sadly, what's left out is the food; I wanted to see what these people packed for the journey or ate along the way.

Once in Mecca, the images shine. Millions of dedicated believers circle their destination object in reverence and celebration. The event is so big; LARGE is the only format that could do it justice. The time-lapse sequence is spiritual. You needn't be a Muslim to appreciate such images. Additionally, it's simply a beautiful thing whenever a person leaves the safety of home for a belief, an idea, or an unknown adventure. Be it an endless stream of Muslims walking the deserts to Mecca, Mormons two by two in ties on bikes across Europe, or agnostics exploring cultures unknown to them -- I'm inspired. While the destination is good, we're always reminded how the journey builds the person.

Journey to Mecca In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta (IMAX). Copyright © 2009.
Narrated by Ben Kingsley, Directed by Bruce Neibaur. Produced by Taran Davies, Dominic Cummingham-Reid, Jonathan Barker at SK Films/Nat.Geo.
Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

Copyright © 1998-2008. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: For Adult & Teen Novels written by Ross Anthony visit:

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