Historical Saudi drama ‘Born a King’ opens in cinemas to rave reviews

The cast of ‘Born a King’ includes a number of Saudi actors and crew, with filming taking place between the Kingdom and the UK. (Social media photo)
Updated 27 September 2019

Historical Saudi drama ‘Born a King’ opens in cinemas to rave reviews

  • Jeddah’s Vox Cinema was packed with viewers of all ages eager to see Saudi history brought to life on silver screen

JEDDAH: Saudi film fans were on Thursday left thirsting for more after the long-awaited release of the historical drama “Born a King” finally hit the Kingdom’s cinema screens.

“I felt proud to be from Saudi Arabia,” said moviegoer Asayl Al-Zahrani after watching the remarkable true story of a 13-year-old Saudi prince dispatched to Britain on a high-stakes diplomatic mission to secure the formation of his country.

Jeddah’s Vox Cinema was packed with viewers of all ages eager to see Saudi history brought to life on the silver screen.

Set in 1919, the film was partly shot in Riyadh and Diriyah, and sees a teenage Faisal, later to become king of Saudi Arabia, as the young hero sent by his father to lead negotiations in London with the fate of his nation resting on his shoulders.

The theater audience watched in amazement as the movie recounted how Prince Faisal (played by Abdullah Ali) negotiated with some of the pre-eminent figures of the age, including Lord Curzon (Kenneth Cranham) and Winston Churchill (Celyn Jones), while forming a friendship with Princess Mary (Hermione Corfield) who helped guide him through the corridors of power.

Enamored with the character of Prince Faisal, viewers laughed and even shouted out in anger in reaction to the prince’s clever responses to those ridiculing Arabs or one scene when his attaché was kicked out of their hotel.

The movie was amazing. I never expected it to be that good. There were clips where I felt extremely proud of my country and the kings of Saudi Arabia.

Asayl Al-Zahrani, Moviegoer

The film’s cast included hundreds of Saudis, and Al-Zahrani, 23, told Arab News she was impressed by the scale of the production. 

“The movie was amazing. I never expected it to be that good. There were clips where I felt extremely proud of my country and the kings of Saudi Arabia.”

She said that the scenes portraying Prince Faisal’s wisdom were the ones she liked the most and added: “Another part that I enjoyed was when Prince Faisal returned to Najd and his father, then Prince Abdul Aziz, expressed how proud he was of his son. The movie affected me so much that whenever the British looked down on the prince or his acquaintances, I felt angry.”

Another cinema fan, Abdullah Al-Halawani, also lauded director Agusti Villaronga’s flick. “The production of the movie was better than expected. The scenery they chose, and the locations painted a picture of how the environment must have been in the past.

“I would love to watch more movies about the history of our country, because when my mother and grandmother tell me stories about events that happened in their past, films like ‘Born a King’ will aid my imagination and help me picture things better,” said Al-Halawani.

He added that big-screen versions of such tales were better than reading about them in a book.

Lina Baja’afar said: “I thought it was pretty good on the whole, but I felt that the story dragged on a little bit. It would’ve been nice to see more events and the progression of King Faisal’s life than having a film solely concentrated on this trip.”

She added that the acting was excellent and was impressed with how the actors toned down their accents and spoke in broken English to fit the times.

“Born a King,” which also stars Ed Skrein and Rubén Ochandiano, is now showing in cinemas throughout the Kingdom.


Wait is almost over for music fans eager to learn who will headline E-Prix concerts

Updated 13 November 2019

Wait is almost over for music fans eager to learn who will headline E-Prix concerts

  • Organizers promise this year’s line-up of international stars at Diriyah event will be bigger than ever

RIYADH: The first of the major international music acts that will perform at the Diriyah E-Prix this month will be announced on Wednesday.

There were incredible scenes at the event last year when David Guetta, One Republic, the Black Eyed Peas, Amr Diab, Enrique Iglesias and Jason Derulo rocked the UNESCO World Heritage site. About 40,000 fans flocked to the Diriyah Circuit, on the outskirts of Riyadh, for the after-race concerts, the first unsegregated music events in Saudi Arabia

The stage is set for even bigger and better things this year, with the promise of another two nights of unmissable music on Nov. 22 and 23 as the E-Prix racing returns.

“If you were one of the 40,000 who were lucky enough to be part of that watershed moment (last year) for the Kingdom, believe me, you have not seen anything yet,” said Prince Abdul Aziz Al-Faisal Al-Saud, chairman of the General Sports Authority.

“Last year we told people before we announced (the acts) they should get their tickets early to avoid disappointment. Once we revealed who was coming, the tickets sold out incredibly quickly. This year will be the same but even bigger, so for music fans who want to enjoy the biggest concerts in Saudi Arabia, the smart move is to get your ticket now.”

The Diriyah E Prix kicks off the sixth season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s premier all-electric motorsport series, with a double header of races. It also marks the start of Diriyah Season, a month of sport, entertainment, art, cultural festivities, food and retail experiences. Tickets for the Diriyah E Prix, which include entry to the after-race concerts, are available at www.diriyahseason.sa.