One Thousand and One Voices

This 2001 documentary on the mystical aspects of Islamic music is worthwhile for its long sections presenting music found in different parts of the world. We get chanting of the Koran in Tunis, singing accompanied by instruments in India, and joyous wailing in Senegal—where women, banned in most Islamic nations from participating, can join in. In one fascinating segment the Tunisians chant to themselves in silence while counting date seeds, one for each word. But director Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud never translates the participants' fervor to the screen—the diverse angles and pans used to show whirling dervishes are cliched and pedestrian—and the English-language narrator sounds mechanical and disengaged. In various languages with subtitles. 90 min.

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