Exclusive: Behind the Scenes of the Iconic 'The Message' Documentary (Part 1)

Published June 10th, 2018 - 12:53 GMT
Moustapha Akkad and his son on set.
Moustapha Akkad and his son on set.

Nearly forty years following the release of the legendary Moustapha Akkad epic, The Message, his son has decided to remind the world of something that it has been missing lately: Unity. 

Two and a half years ago, Malek Akkad began restoring his father’s masterpiece to re-release it all over the globe. He had no idea that it would take so long nor how massive it was going to be. But just like his father, his humility preceded himself. “In the end, all I’m doing is restoring it. My father was the one that went through the truest hardship of all.”

 

Malek stressed the controversial issues that went with the making of The Message. “They went through such difficulties making that movie, it’s unbelievable. As a producer now, I think, ‘Oh! We have problems; the occasional actress tantrum, etc.’, but no… All of that is nothing compared to what my father had to face.” During the long restoration process, a closer relationship between Malek and his dad was also in the works.

“I became so much more intimate with my father’s work than ever before. It was truly a wonderful process; scanning every single frame on two different films, one being three hours long and the other almost three and a half, in two separate languages. It was a very long process, but we did it, and now the films have never looked or sounded better.”

Father and son, courtesy of Akkad family.

Now as many know, Malek’s father had not only made The Message, but he had also played one of the biggest roles in bringing horror film, Halloween (along with eight more installments) to the big screen! Ultimately, the torch of Halloween had been passed down to Malek since he officially took over the series, without his father, in 2007 with Rob Zombie’s Halloween installments.

“When I first arrived on a Halloween set, I was 9-years-old. Of course, I wasn’t working with him then”, Akkad chuckled. “I was more of an annoyance, I was pulling his leg constantly, “what’s that, what’s that!” and he just had so much patience… It was beautiful… Because now, I’m a produce and I don’t have children, but I don’t know how to be that patient because he was so patient, and he never once said ‘go sit over there! or don’t bother me!”

So it’s clear that at a very young age, Malek was very interested in the world of cinema and wasn’t prepared to leave it alone. Was this the beginning of Malek Akkad’s cinematic career?

“Watching him [as a a kid] and following him was the best… I was actually in Libya for two months during the filming of The Lion of the Desert, over my summer break, and it was the coolest place in the world to be, on set! My brother and sister wanted to be back in Los Angeles and I’m like, ‘Noo! I want to stay out here!’ and that put the bug in me very early.”

But how exactly did all this affect Malek as a child?

“For one thing, when I would go see movies with my friends in my early ages, I would always be fully aware of everything: The camera angles, the lighting, the crew, all the stuff that you’re not meant to be aware of. My friends could watch a movie and that would just be watching a movie for them while I was totally aware of the process from a very early age… So that was different. I mean, I grew up in L.A… So that’s as normal as it gets.”

Ultimately, how does Malek feel about continuing his father’s legacy and following in his shadow?

“His shadow is huge. His footsteps are huge. My tiny feet fitting? Never going to happen. I learned so much from him… He’s my example, my mentor… I feel him nudging on my shoulder every day. It’s a big shadow, and I’d never be so pretentious to say that I could fill those shoes… There’s only one Moustafa Akkad, and he left such a big mark that is still felt to this day.” So not only did he know that he had big shoes to fill, he admitted that he would never dare to step in his father’s shoes.

Part 1 by Hayder Al-Shakarchi

 

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