The film opens with scenes in Morocco, and documents the route of Muslim pilgrims from North Africa on their journey to Mecca, culminating with scenes of Mecca and the rites performed during the Hajj. The film also shows brief footage of Ibn Saud arriving to lead prayers at the Great Mosque in Mecca, and another scene of him with Emir Faisal.
'Actual scenes taken by a non-Moslem who dared penetrate the holy confines of Mecca. A full account of the annual pilgrimage' (Educational Film Guide, 1951, p.276).
'During the annual pilgrimage to the holy city, as many as fifty thousand Moslems travel from as far as Malaya, Turkestan, India, Yugoslavia, and even the Philippines to Port Said, through the Red Sea, and on to Djeddah. This film includes a brief exposition of the historic and ritual significance of the pilgrimage which leads to the Kaaba, and of the Black Stone, which stands in the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca' (Film Images 1974, Catalog vol. 1, p. 49).
The producer and director of this important documentary, Marcel Ichac (1906-94), was a pioneering French filmmaker, photographer, explorer, skier and mountaineer. He directed the first two French expeditions to the Himalayas in 1936 and 1950, dived with Jacques Cousteau, and made the first documentary about caving with Norbert Casteret.
Ichac made two films in the Middle East between 1939 and 1940: Mission de la France (1939), which looked at the French in different parts of the world, most notably in Syria and Lebanon, and Pèlerins de La Mecque (1940), a documentary about the Hajj. These were part of the effort to counter Nazi propaganda, showing North Africans freely travelling to Mecca in spite of the war, made under difficult conditions with Ibn Saud’s consent. The present version, with an English title and soundtrack was released after the second world war in 1948.
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