Bab'Aziz - The Prince That Contemplated His Soul (2005) - full transcript

Bab'Aziz - The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul is the story of a blind dervish named Bab'Aziz and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every thirty years. With faith as their only guide, the two journey for days through the expansive, barren landscape. To keep Ishtar entertained, Bab'Aziz relays the ancient tale of a prince who relinquished his realm in order to remain next to a small pool in the desert, staring into its depths while contemplating his soul. As the tale of the prince unfolds, the two encounter other travelers with stories of their own--including Osman, who longs for the beautiful woman he met at the bottom of a well, and Zaid, who searches for the ravishing young woman who fled from him after being seduced by his songs. A fairytale-like story of longing and belonging, filmed in the enchanting and ever-shifting sandscapes of Tunisia and Iran.

There are as many paths to God...

as there are souls on Earth.


What a storm!

I've lost my bag, I'll go and look for it.

Don't bother, Ishtar,

even the dunes have moved.

Anyway, I have what I need.

Let's go.

I don't want to go there anymore.

Come on.

I want to go back.

We'll go back.

Let's go.

Bab'Aziz, won't you go to the gathering after all?

I will, my little angel. I will.

Will you go all alone?

I'll find my way.

But you'll get lost!

He who has faith...

will never get lost, my little angel.

He who is at peace won't lose his way.

But where is this gathering?

I don't know, my angel.

Do the others know?

No, they don't know either.

How can you go to a gathering

without knowing where it is?

It suffices to walk, just walk.

Those who are invited will find the way.

I don't want to go there.

I'll take you to the road.

Then you can take the bus home.

Are you afraid of the storm?

No, it's because of Boudour.

So you want to leave your grandfather

for a turtle...

What a granddaughter I have here!

Are you hungry?

When we stop for a break you'll get two dates.

I want them now!

Here's one... and here's the other one.

Let's go.

Someone's lying there!

So much the better! I'll ask him

to accompany you.

Excuse me, sir...

You think you can escape from me

by hiding yourself in the desert?

You won't get away like that!

What have you done to my brother?

I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

I'm looking for a red-haired dervish.

That one couldn't take you home!



If I see you again I'll thrash you!

Ishtar! Ishtar! Come back!

Lt'll soon be nightfall.

We have to collect wood for a fire.

Break off! Break off!

That's all I could find, Bab'Aziz.

This is my granddaughter, Ishtar.

Does she understand you, Bab'Aziz?

She's known me for a long time...

Bab'Aziz, I'm cold.

Pass me the wood, I'll make a fire.

Here you are, Bab'Aziz.

When you talk, it's less cold.

Do you want me to tell you a story?

A gazelle story, Bab'Aziz.

Once upon a time, long ago,

many moons before our time,

in a desert like this one...

It's ready for you to try, my prince.

It's still bitter.

Oh Lord!

Something terrible must have happened to our prince!

Bab'Aziz, the bread is done.

It'll burn.

Wait! It's too hot.

So, what happened to the prince?

- Has anyone seen the prince?
- No.

- And you?
- No.

- Have you seen the prince?
- No.

- Have any of you seen the prince?
- No.

I'm sure he got lost.

The prince is lost!

The prince is lost!

Ishtar, are you listening?

I'm listening, Bab'Aziz.

One day, a horseman arrived in the city...

We found the prince,

but he's not the same as he was.

What happened?

I don't know.

But at least he's not injured?

Seemingly not.

Stop talking in riddles!

Come and see for yourself.

You'd think he's contemplating

his image at the bottom of the water.

Maybe it's not his image.

Only those who are not in love

see their own reflection.

So what does he see?

He's contemplating his soul.

Don't wake him,

it might take wing.

Go back, all of you.

Don't disturb him.

I must stay here alone to watch over him.


Stop! Wait for me! Wait for me!

Bab'Aziz, I thought you'd left without me!

Me too. I thought you'd left

without me, my little angel.

Didn't you hear the bus? It woke me up.

I was praying.

Ishtar, it seems we're not alone.

Are you going to the gathering?

Yes, we're going.

I thought you wouldn't come with me?

I will now, because I want to know

how the story of the prince goes on.

It will take a long time,

but the road is long, my little angel.

Where will the gathering take place?

I don't know, even Grandfather doesn't know!

Besides, no one needs to know.

And how will you get there?

It suffices to walk, just walk...

But what if we get lost?

He who has faith will never get lost.

Everyone uses his most precious gift

to find his way.

For you, it's your voice.

Sing, my son,

and the way will be shown to you.

O day, arise! The atoms are dancing...

The souls are dancing, overcome with ecstasy.

I'll whisper in your ear where their dance is leading them.

What is a dervish?

Are they all as old as you are?

No, there are dervishes of all ages,

women and men.

Even children?


They gather every 30 years,

and the party goes on for many days and nights.

So keep your breath for walking,

you'll need it, little angel.

Bab'Aziz, he's still following us!

I know, little angel. I know.

Bab'Aziz, hurry up! It's them! We've arrived!

They are dervishes,

but we haven't arrived yet.

Bab'Aziz, I've swallowed some sand.

You bear the angel's mark.

What is the angel's mark, Bab'Aziz?

Babies in their mother's womb

know all the secrets of the universe.

Butjust before they're born

an angel comes and puts his finger on their mouth

so that they forget everything.

As a souvenir of this lost knowledge,

some of them, like you,

have a mark on their chin.

That's the angel's mark.

But then, do we one day remember

everything we knew?

Who knows? Maybe.

There are so many dervishes! Have we arrived this time?

No, little angel. Not yet.

I'll bring us something to eat.


More! The old ones count double.

If you're still hungry you can come back.

Here you are, Bab'Aziz.

Ishtar, why are you eating so quickly?

So you can finish telling me the prince story.

The prince was still despondent.

He just gazed into the water.

Everyone had left, even the quartermaster.

Only the old dervish remained, watching over him

for many days and nights.

Help! Help! A man jumped into the well!

I'll go and see!

Wait, Ishtar!

May God bless us!

Stand clear! Stand clear!

He's alive! Move out of the way!

What's your name, my son?


Why did you jump into the well?

I seek my palace. It lies in the bottom of a well.

I want my palace.

The poor devil. He's raving mad!

Come on, do you want to die?

Tell me your tale, my son.

It will ease your heart.

The first time I fell into a well,

I found myself in a palace. But where is my palace now?

This time I'll go.

I'll leave you to your desert and your dust.

My father, I'm leaving you.

After my father died I became a sand-carrier,

as he had been.

My best customer was the scribe.

At his place, I met his student Hussein,

my only friend.

I wanted to leave the country,

and I wanted him to come with me.

But he didn't want to leave.

Something kept him.

A secret...

Master, I brought you some sand.

This sand is as soft as silk.

I have brought it from far away for you,

but this is the last time.

I'm going to leave.

Why, Osman?

It was your forefathers' profession.

Precisely. I don't want to pass it on to anyone.

Take this letter.

You know who it's for.

Don't forget. I'm relying on you.

That's great!

Will you help me?

So you're leaving? - Yes.

Come with me!

It's impossible.

I haven't enough money, even with my motorbike.

Sell it, then come and join me at the mosque.

Sweep with your soul, before your beloved's door.

Only then will you become her lover.

Sweep with your soul, before your beloved's door.

Only then will you become

her lover.

Joyous is the time

when we two are united.

You and I,

two distinct forms,

but one single soul,

you and I.


Sweep with your soul, before your beloved's door.

Only then will you become her lover.

The butterflies! The butterflies!

The butterflies!

Where are we going?

You said you didn't have enough money.

- Have you decided?
- Yes.

- Are you really sure?
- Yes.

You're sure it will be better there?

Yes. I'll go somewhere where there's no sand.

- Will you buy this watch?
- No, I don't buy.

Are you sleeping?

Take it.

Your smuggler will surely give you more for it.

- He didn't buy it?
- No.

You're still a long way short.

Do you realise the risk I'm running

by taking you over the border?

I'm risking my life.

That's all I have.

That's your problem.

I'm going to leave tonight.

You can wait for the next trip.

Okay. See you tonight.


I look for you at the mosque,

and I find you in the tavern!

Are you talking to me?

What are you talking about?

At the mosque?

I've never set foot in a mosque!

- I don't understand anymore.
- What?

I leave you at the tavern and find you at the mosque.

Me? At the tavern? Are you drunk?

I swear I saw you!

I see. You must have got me

mixed up with my brother, Hassan.

We're twins, but as different

as the two sides of a mirror.

Continue with your story.

I should have left immediately. I knew it...

Did you leave or not?

First, there was the letter from the scribe.

Good day. I've got a letter from the scribe.

Come in.

Drink. You must be thirsty.

Sit down.

Sit down here.

Read it to me.

"I embrace her

and yet still desire her. "

"How can we be closer than an embrace?"

"I kiss her lips to calm my desire.

But the thirst I suffer increases... "

My husband!

The wretch was the devil's plaything.

No. God let him have

a foretaste of paradise.

Paradise is in the eye of the beholder...

When I fell into the well,

I found myself in a palace

full of beautiful girls.

They all loved me.

But I loved only Zahra,

and I wanted to run away with her.

Come with me.


There's a fire in the distance.

Look, they're here! It must be a camp.

Go and check, then come back and get me.

I left the palace. I ran and ran...

But in the desert

there was nothing except a burning palm tree.

I turned around,

but there was no palace anymore, no Zahra.

Before I came here,

I wandered about in search of the palace.

My son, don't be satisfied with a drop of water.

You have to throw yourself into His stream.

Continue yourjourney with us.

He's mad, he's just a madman!

Who's mad?

The madman is not always the one who we believe is mad.

What if he's really seen the palace?

It's a miracle, my brothers! A miracle!

So it's true? You know my palace?

Come to the gathering with us.

Maybe you'll find your palace.

Bab'Aziz! This is not the way!

You know the way, little angel?

But the others all go the other way!

Everyone has his own way, Ishtar.

Bab'Aziz, we've lost the way.

I know, my little angel.

Is it still far?

It's not very far now.

Is it true that they come from everywhere?

Yes, from everywhere.

From farther away than us?

A lot farther.

Some go across the mountains,

others go across the sea.

- And we go across the desert.
- Yes, we go across the desert.

Keep your breath for walking,

you'll need it, little angel.

Sweep with your soul before your beloved's door.

Only then will you become her lover...

Are you lost, grandfather?

No. I've lost my granddaughter.

Her name is Ishtar.

Please follow her tracks,

maybe she fell asleep.

Don't worry, I'll find her.

You were lucky to run into me.

God sent me to rescue you.

My feet were swollen,

I couldn't walk anymore.

But what are you doing here?

I want to take my revenge on a dervish,

On a red-haired dervish.

What did he do to you?

He killed my brother.

And you think you'll find him
in the middle of the desert?

He'll certainly be at the
gathering, with all these madmen.

I'd pay a lot for his scalp.


Give me back my clothes, at least!

Wait till I get you!


Give me back my shoes, at least!


The souls are dancing, overcome with ecstasy.

I'll whisper in your ear where
the dance is leading them...

Don't worry, grandfather.

She's here. She's on my back.

She has a fever. Let's go
back to the mosque. Quick!

She's burning hot. Go and heat up some water.

She has fever.

Let me do it.

Don't stop talking to her.

She's a child. What can I tell her?

Ishtar's a child, but her soul is old.

Tell her about your
lastjourney. She loves that.

I went on a long journey

to participate in an
international competition.

One evening, some candidates
took me to a poetry circle,

because I had just won...

I had just won

the grand prize of Psalmody Chanting.

Gazelle, whose face the full moon forms:

Time has warned us never to approach her.

O how many letters did we send her,

Whose meaning she could not resist.

What we kept as a secret.

Is much more than what was written?

Great sea, memory of desire,

Blazing and burning fire,

New day that stands in contrast,

Past loves that dwell in the sea,

O my country, marvel of the East,

Where my food was a pure delight,

And my beverage, milk of nobility and pride,

O country, protection against
the impious and enemies.

But who will console me
in my unbearable exile?

And when will I follow the desire of my soul?

O day, arise! The atoms are dancing.

Thanks to Him the universe is dancing.

The souls are dancing, overcome with ecstasy.

I'll whisper in your ear

where their dance is taking them...

All the atoms in the air and in the desert

Know well, they seem insane.

Every single atom, happy or miserable,

Becomes enamoured of the sun,

of which nothing can be said.

They all left.

Just she and I stayed, a tete-a-tete.

This poem was written by my father.

O day, arise!

The atoms are dancing.

The souls are dancing, overcome with ecstasy.

I'll whisper in your ear

where their dance is taking them...

My father is somewhere in this huge world,

like all the other Sufiis.

I've been waiting for him for a long time.

Your voice was a message from him.

It was a call, an invitation even.

I absolutely must find my father.

I'll take your passport and your clothes

and leave to search for him.

Goodbye. Noor.

She flew away.

Where is she now?

Can you hear me?

Are you in love?

Are you feeling better, Ishtar?

I'm well again, Grandfather.

Bab'Aziz, I heard a cat.

So did I.

Let me down! It must be lost.

No, it's not lost.

It's Noor's cat.

I took it with me.

I want to see it!

It's sad.

What has become of Noor?

I'm sure she left in search of her father.

Why did she cut her hair?

Were you pretending to be asleep, Ishtar?

A little bit...

Yes, she took my glasses,

my passport and my clothes.


Over there, a woman can't travel on her own.

She passed herself off as you!

Where is she now?

I really wish I knew...

Let's go!

You'd like to see her again?

Bab'Aziz, let him come
to the gathering with us!

He's already with us, little angel.

But he's no dervish, Bab'Aziz.

Who knows...

Everyone in this great world

has a task to fulfil.

The rest is not so important,

as long as you don't forget that.

But if you remember everything

except that,

it's as if you didn't know anything.

My brother...

What did you do to my brother?

I just fulfilled his wish.

The people of this world are
like the three butterflies

in front of a candle's flame.

The first one went closer and said:

I know about love.

The second one touched the flame

lightly with his wings and said:

I know how love's fire can burn.

The third one threw himself
into the heart of the flame

and was consumed.

He alone knows what true love is.

You killed the brother I loved so dearly.

Let me die!

Tell yourself that I loved him even more.

I fulfilled his wish.

You won't do this for me?

Do I have to find someone else?

You can't ask me to do something like this.

I can't.

It's time.

Joyous is the time

When we two are united.

You and I,

Two distinct forms,

But one single soul,

You and I.

Forgetful of you and me,

Joyous of the same joy.

Calm and free of vain words,

You and I.

Bab'Aziz, djinns... djinns!

Don't panic, they're my friends.

Be careful, Bab'Aziz.
There are many holes here.

They aren't holes,

they're graves.

But they're empty, Bab'Aziz.

They're waiting for their hour to come.

How cold it is!

Come and warm yourself, my angel.

When will we arrive?

I have arrived.

But you'll go to the gathering with Za:?:d.

No. I won't go without you, Bab'Aziz.

Go with Za:?:d and help him to find Noor.

But you haven't told me the
end of the story of the prince.

He stayed there for a long time

gazing into the water.

In the end, his people forgot him.

Only the dervish watched over him

and sometimes the gazelle came too.

The prince contemplated his soul so much

that he left the visible world

for the invisible one.

And the prince became a dervish?

Ishtar, you start to see

with the eyes of your heart.

When the prince woke up again,

he found the old dervish's clothes

in the sand.

I've got something for you, Ishtar.

Wherever I am

I'll watch over you, Ishtar.

Do you remember what this is?

The angel's mark, Bab'Aziz.

The time has come for me

to find what I had lost.

Listen, Ishtar.

There's the gathering. Go with Za:?:d.

Don't forget to remind him

that he's there to sing.

Come with me.

We didn't come to dance, Ishtar.

Come, we'll look for Noor.

Do what Bab'Aziz said: Sing!



I've been waiting for you.

You've been waiting for me?

To be witness of my death.

Why me?

I'm so afraid of death...


If the baby in the darkness

of its mother's womb were told:

"Outside there's a world of light,

with high mountains,

great seas,

undulating plains,

beautiful gardens in blossom,


a sky full of stars

and a blazing sun...

And you, facing all these marvels,

stay enclosed in this darkness... "

The unborn child,

knowing nothing about these marvels,

wouldn't believe any of it.

Like us, when we're facing death.

That's why we're afraid.

But there can't be light in death,

because it's the end of everything.

How can death be the end of something

that doesn't have a beginning?

Hassan, my son,

don't be sad on my wedding night.

Your wedding night?

Yes. My marriage with eternity.

The time has come.

Leave me alone now.

Come back to cover my body with sand.

Subtitle by Arif chandio

The end