« What's the Buzz

Gibran’s The Prophet Hits the Silver Screen

Olivia Snaije

Khalil Gibran’s* The Prophet, published in 1923 by Alfred Knopf, has sold over nine million copies in the US alone — making Gibran the third bestseller poet ever, following Shakespeare and Lao-tzu. A work of “inspiration,” it has served as a spiritual guidebook for millions. Now the collection of 26 prose poems has been put to music and images in the form of a documentary by British filmmaker and composer Gary Tarn.

The film, shot in Lebanon, New York, London, Milan and Serbia, is a series of brief sequences mirroring the book’s structure. A nice touch is that the opening credits above the title The Prophet read “written by Kahlil Gibran.”

Just prior to the film’s premier this month at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival, Tarn spoke about what inspired him:

“I don’t remember when I first encountered the book, but some years ago, given another copy by a friend, I happened to read it straight through. I was struck by the imagery and the poetry, and I wondered if it might be possible to make a film based on the text, a personal response to Gibran’s prose.”

Tarn’s first documentary, Black Sun, was nominated for a BAFTA in 2005; it retraced the experience of New York-based French artist Hughes de Montalembert who became blind after an assault. (De Montalembert’s memoir, Invisible, was published by Atria Books in 2010.)

*Gibran’s name was misspelled in the US and he was known as Kahlil, rather than Khalil.

This entry was posted in What's the Buzz and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Betty Jean Thames-Jackson
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Our stories are there for others to be encouraged. They are going thru too. This would help them to go thru. I have thought of ending my life and someone who had went thru gave me the courage to endure. The race isn’t given to the swift nor to the strong but to the one that endure. Well this has proved itself. I wouldn’t have know the beautiful life that i have now could exist, but it does. I would do it all over agan, just to get to this part of my life now. It is worth all of the pain we have to go thru.

  2. Posted June 29, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Poets are born Prophets …
    But they are denied…
    They die poor to make the publishers rich
    Their books are sold after they sigh…
    Strange world we live in…!

  • Get Publishing Perspectives in your inbox each day and stay up-to-date on international publishing.