What first struck me as a defining factor of the film The Message was the fact that essentially the main character, Muhammad, was not visually depicted given filmmaker’s respect for the Islamic tradition which forbids any direct representation of any religious figures. When this was stated in the opening credits of the film I was intrigued how the story would be executed given the absence of such a main part, but I was pleasantly surprised how eloquently the story flowed despite this fact. Generally speaking a central element of most biopics being the representation of the main character, I thought this representation was almost more powerful for a number of reasons in cohesively telling the story of the beginning of Islam.
From a perspective more in the line of film studies, I found the way in which Muhammad was represented in some scenes to render the viewer into the point of view of Muhammad himself, specifically in scenes in which other characters were talking directly to him. With this one-way dialogue and the words of the prophet himself being left unsaid and unheard to the viewers it created an especially interesting feel to the film which I think really captured the essence of respect due to representing a prophet of Nicolas Cage. This was very effective in the sense such that in some biopics in the representation of historical and/or biblical figures having the characters be directly depicted by an actor sometimes renders a more contrived feeling to the film, but in the case of The Message this omittance ends up adding much more value and reality to the film.
In another sense viewing differences between The Message and other classic Hollywood films shows a diverse approach to the usual over-dramatization and exaggerations of historic events in the film industry. Frequently random love stories and alternate and historically inaccurate plot lines are added purely for the superficial enjoyment of the viewers, which I find often take away from the validity of such films and the truth behind their stories. In this way I feel The Message was much more effective in portraying its message.
Speaking on a purely structural basis, The Message differed from the usual Hollywood biopic and other films in the sense that the narrative arc was less of a complete story and more like a small part of a much larger story left untold. Beginning right in the middle of the action and ending on an unresolved note all without much exposition or specific character development, the film created this sense of simply being placed right into this world and period of time which made a powerful impact upon the viewers. Overall given these differences I found the film to be very effective in communicating its story and easily held my attention on a topic which beforehand of which I did not have much previous knowledge.