The Prayer Of The 13th Warrior

Two movies I watched on HBO recently featured muslim characters.

In the 'The 13th Warrior' Antonio Banderas plays the role of an Arab traveller who gets mixed up with Vikings and neo-neanderthals. His role is in itself a rarity – a positive muslim character in a major Hollywood film.

Morgan Freeman playing Kevin Costner's friend in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' is another such role that comes to mind. Usually the stereotyped muslim characters you see in every other mainstream Hollywood movie play the roles of 'islamic' terrorists.

Since it's a Hollywood movie, 'The 13th Warrior' has errors like the scene where Antonio Banderas as Ibn Fadlan prays not to 'Allah' but to 'Holy Father' in true christian fashion.

In the climatic prayer scene before the final battle, the Antonio Banderas/Ibn Fadlan character recites a hollywood-ified version of the following prayer:

For all that we should have thought
and have not thought;
For all that we should have said
and have not said;
For all that we should have done,
and have not done;
We pray Allah for forgiveness.

For all that we should not have thought
but have thought;
For all that we should not have said
but have said;
For all that we should not have done,
but have done;
We pray Allah for forgiveness.

Thankfully, the director does not show a muslim character being cremated – as happens onscreen in 'The Ghost & the Darkness'. That blooper apart, TG&TD is one of my favourite films. It's like Jaws with claws !

Unlike the majority of film adaptations, both films surprisingly complement the books they are based on – Michael Crichton's 'Eaters of the Dead' and 'Man-eaters of Tsavo' by John Patterson. Since both these films are based on actual persons/events, muslim characters were essential to the plots.

How hard can it be for Hollywood to do a wee bit of research and portray characters belonging to a particular religion accurately?