The Prophet is as much a narrative film as its source material - Kahlil Gibran's 1923 book of the same name - is a novel. There are the bare bones of a plot, but the true purpose of this animated feature is to highlight Gibran's poetic essays, recited sonorously by Liam Neeson.
Yet, those essays aren't even the real draw of The Prophet, in part because the narrative structure is not sufficient to support them. Instead, what makes The Prophet worth watching is the animation.
The film is directed by The Lion King's Roger Allers, who brought together top animators to create the visual sequences that accompany eight of Gibran's essays. They include Bill Plympton ("On Eating & Drinking"); Joan Gratz ("On Work," which contains Gibran's most famous line, "Work is love made visible"), and Tomm Moore ("On Love," a sequence set to the music sung by Lisa Hannigan and Once's Glen Hansard).
The plot exists simply to tie the essays together, but is, in the end, superfluous. Mustafa (Neeson) is a political prisoner on a foreign isle who is given the chance to return to his homeland. As he walks through the city, he recites his essays to the people he meets along the way. He is joined by a mischievous young girl, Almitra (Quvenzhané Wallis), whose mother, Kamilla (Salma Hayek), struggles to contain her.
The Prophet is a passion project for Hayek, who ushered it to the big screen. The effort is lovely to look at, and animation fans should certainly flock to it (as should those who have copies of The Prophet on their bookshelves). But those who are not enthralled by the idea of gorgeous animated sequences can sit this one out.