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'Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta' Gets Extended Play in Toronto

If you live in Toronto and were aware that the Ontario Science Centre was playing the IMAX film 'Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta' in conjunction with their exhibit 'Sultans of Science: 1000 Years of Knowledge Rediscovered', you might also be aware that the exhibit and film were supposed to end their run on June 10, 2009.

I never had a chance to visit the exhibit for myself, or view the film, even though I live in the Greater Toronto Area and have great interest in the life of Ibn Battuta. But that's exactly why I was glad to hear that, even though the exhibit has now ended, the screening of the IMAX film has been extended to September 07, 2009.

While I will probably be swamped with work until the beginning of August, I'll be particularly keen to watch it before Ramadan commences. It will be a nice kickstart into Ramadan, especially since the film is supposed to culminate with Ibn Battuta's arrival in Mecca for Hajj.

What's even better is that the film isn't being screened on regular theaters across North America, but rather, on IMAX. That means watching this first leg of Ibn Battuta's fantastic voyage on a screen that is 22m (72ft) wide and 16.1m (53ft) high, and in a theater that probably has some of the best screen resolution and sound setup in the world.

I certainly hope people who are ignorant of Ibn Battuta's travels are intrigued by the film. Too many people are criminally unaware of the greatest traveller of all time. Credit is quickly given to explorers like Marco Polo, but not enough is given to his predecessor.

If you are unaware of why Ibn Battutas travels are so remarkable, I'll state again verbatim some information I provided in a previous post:

...A scholar of the highest order, he travelled the world by foot, covering a distance of 117,000 km (73,000 miles) over a span of 30 years. To put those big numbers in perspective, the circumference of the Earth is 40,075.16 km (24,901.55 miles). A little math shows that this is equivalent to walking about 3x around the world (2.925x to be exact). One must also take into account that this range of travel extended from the Iberian Peninsula, through the desert sands of Morrocco, to the Horn of Africa, to the southeastern port city of Quanzhou, China, and then back to Morrocco again, where it is presumed he died from the Plague.

The film itself is supposed to be excellent. First released in theaters on January 28, 2009, the film took over 18 months to film and runs for 45 minutes.

The film itself is critically acclaimed and has a user rating of 8.2/10 on, as rated by 38 voters. It's written and directed by Bruce Neibaur, who also directed the IMAX movies, Beyond the Horizon (2009), India: Kingdom of the Tiger (2002), and Mysteries of Egypt (1998), among other movies.

The synopsis of the film, as taken from the movies website is as follows:

Journey to Mecca tells the story of Ibn Battuta (played by Chems Eddine Zinoune), a young scholar who leaves Tangier in 1325 on an epic and perilous journey, traveling alone from his home in Morrocco to reach Mecca, some 3000 miles to the East.

Ibn Battuta is besieged by countless obstacles as he makes his way across the North African desert to Mecca. Along the route he meets an unlikely stranger, the Highwayman (played by Hassam Ghancy), who becomes his paid protector and eventual friend. During his travels he is attacked by bandits, dehydrated by thirst, rescued by Bedouins, and forced to retrace his route by a war-locked Red Sea.

Ibn Battuta finally joins the legendary Damascus Caravan with thousands of pilgrims bound for Mecca for the final leg of what would become his 5000 mile, 18 month long journey to Mecca.

When he arrives in Mecca, he is a man transformed. We them experience the Hajj as he did over 700 years ago, and in recognition of its timelessness, we dissolve to the Hajj as it is still performed today, by millions of Pilgrims, in some of the most extraordinary and moving IMAX footage ever presented.

Ibn Battuta would not return home for almost 30 years, reaching over 40 countries ad revisiting Mecca five more times to perform the Hajj. He would travel three times further than Marco Polo. His legacy is one of the greatest travel journals ever recorded. A crater on the moon is named in his honour.

So if you have the opportunity to watch this, and find it playing near you, take the time to go. I know I definitely will.

To help, here is a link to official showings listed off the Journey to Mecca website:

'Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta' Theater and Showtime Listings

I've also included the trailer for you, below:

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Anonymous said... July 20, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Jazakallah for taking the time to compile all of this important information about the film Journey to Mecca. I have had an opportunity to see the film twice now, and it is fantastic! I think everyone - Muslim and Non Muslim - should see it. The extension at Ontario Science Centre is indeed wonderful news. I sincerely hope that projects like this signal a new general acceptance of the importance of Muslim heritage and history in Western main-stream media. Inshalah.

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