Translated by:Tariq Alashair
My friend, the renowned Syrian filmmaker (Mohammad Malas) presented me with work papers for a variety of projects he was planning to implement. From among all of those projects I chose the documentary film project about the veteran artist (Sabri Moudallal). At the time it did not occur to me that his departure was imminent. At the time no one ever attempted to conduct any work about this original artist and his marvelous ancient city, the same city that Poet (Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi) made me become attached to more than one thousand years ago.
Thus this artistic journey with (Sabri Moudallal) began. He was a man of genial and gentle character, sober and sweet voice, and a shining memory.
The viewer will notice that the memories film arrives at numerous stops and meets with many figures, starting with the Call for Prayer (Athan) that Haj Sabri performs using his melodious and strong voice, moving back and forth between five musical Maqamat (Assemblies) including the Qudud Halabiya (means musical measures of Aleppo), Andalusi poems (muwashahat), and religious songs.
Haj Sabri began his artistic career by signing with one of the “Mawlaw'īyya Sufi” band known among the people as “Milwiyya”. The film presents a wonderful scene from one of the band’s Sufi breathtaking dances that elevates the audience’s soul to the skies of ecstasy, purity and amazing beatitude.
This cinematic work comes to emphasize the glorious and charming side of the past when the sky and the earth meet, much like Sufism meet dances and songs, love with work and goodness with beauty in a harmonious and unified human whole away from intolerance, isolation and death. The viewer’s feelings will melt into this sublime art, especially when the camera shows the city of Aleppo at the end of the film with its castle, popular neighborhoods, monuments and markets. But it is impossible for us to forget that today our eyes can only see a devastated historical city, one that occupies a special place in our national, literary and architectural history. My heart is in pain to see this ancient city in such a condition. The hand of destruction has affected everything that is beautiful and original in this place, and what remains is this film which reflects the originality and uniqueness of the city.