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A Prophet

French-language poster
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Produced by Martine Cassinelli
Antonin Dedet
Written by Jacques Audiard
Thomas Bidegain
Abdel Raouf Dafri
Nicolas Peufaillit
Starring Tahar Rahim
Niels Arestrup
Adel Bencherif
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Stéphane Fontaine
Editing by Juliette Welfling
Distributed by Celluloid Dreams (International)
UGC Distribution (France)
Release date(s) May 16, 2009 (2009-05-16)
February 12, 2010 (2010-02-12)
Running time 150 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget €12 million

A Prophet (French: Un prophète) is a 2009 French crime film directed by Jacques Audiard. Audiard claims that the film aims at "creating icons, images for people who don't have images in movies, like the Arabs in France,"[1] though he also had stated that the film "has nothing to do with his vision of society," and is a work of fiction.[2]



Sentenced to six years in prison, young man Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) is alone in the world and can neither read nor write. On his arrival at the prison he falls under the sway of a Corsican Mafia group, led by Luciani, who enforce their rule in the prison. Malik toughens himself and wins the confidence of the Corsican group. He follows Luciani's orders to kill prisoner Reyeb. Luciani arranges 12-hour leaves for Malik, in which Luciani sends him on missions, including murder. Malik learns how to read and write, and uses all his intelligence to discreetly develop his own network. His power grows and finally he is no longer on Luciani's side.


  • Tahar Rahim as Malik El Djebena
  • Niels Arestrup as César Luciani
  • Alaa Oumouzoune as Rebelled prisoner
  • Adel Bencherif as Ryad
  • Gilles Cohen as Prof
  • Salem Kali as Le prisonnier mutin
  • Pascal Henault as Ceccaldi (un corse)
  • Sonia Hell as Une matonne
  • Reda Kateb as Jordi
  • Jean-Philippe Ricci as Vettori
  • Jean-Emmanuel Pagni as Santi


The film's screenplay, re-worked by Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, was submitted to them by a producer, though the idea of making a film set in prison first came to Audiard after he had a film screened in a prison and was shocked by the conditions there.[2][3]

Audiard cast Niels Arestrup, who was in Audiard's previous film, as the Corsican crime boss César Luciani, and met Tahar Rahim, who plays Malik, when they shared an automobile ride from another film set. To ensure the authenticity of the prison experience, Audiard hired former convicts as advisors and extras.[3]


The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and currently holds a 96% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 101 reviews.[4]

Reception of the film after its debut screening at 2009 Cannes Film Festival at the competition was good. A Prophet was picked as the best film of the festival by a group of sixteen English language critics and bloggers polled by the daily independent film news site indieWIRE.[5]

Karin Badt at The Huffington Post called it "refreshingly free".[2] Jonathan Romney of Screen International said that the film "works both as hard-edged, painstaking detailed social realism and as a compelling genre entertainment."[6]

Luke Davies of The Monthly criticized some of the film's stylistic methodolgy and content, asserting that that prophetic themes could have been stretched out, but he celebrated the film's central character and his well-executed "improbable rise from invisibility to dominance", describing "what gives [the film] such dynamic energy is the seamlessness with which this transition unfolds". Davies described the film's main achievement as conveying a character "someone we care about and gun for" who started life on screen as a blank slate.[7]


The film was the submission of France for the 82nd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film.[8] On February 2, 2010, when Academy Award nominations were announced, A Prophet received a nomination for Best Foreign Language film. The other four films in the category were Ajami, The Milk of Sorrow and The White Ribbon, and the eventual winner, El secreto de sus ojos.[9]

A Prophet won the Grand Prix at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[10] At the 53rd London Film Festival, it won the Best Film Award.[11][12] It won the Prix Louis Delluc 2009.[13] At the 63rd British Academy Film Awards, it won a BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language. It was nominated for 13 César Awards, tying it with three other films for the most nominations of any film in César history. It won 9 Cesars at the ceremony, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor.


  1. ^ "Nous voulions fabriquer des héros à partir de figures que l’on ne connaît pas, qui n’ont pas de représentation iconique au cinéma, comme les Arabes par exemple." "Entretien avec Jacques Audiard, réalisateur d'Un prophète" (in fr). Dossier de presse. Cinemotions. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  2. ^ a b c Badt, Karin (May 18, 2009). "Cannes Favorite: Jacques Audiard's "The Prophet"". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Turan, Kenneth (May 19, 2009), "Jacques Audiard's 'A Prophet' has a buzz building", Los Angeles Times,, retrieved August 21, 2009 
  4. ^ "A Prophet". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-21-02. 
  5. ^ "Audiard's "Prophet" Hailed by Critics, Bloggers as Best of Cannes". indiewire. May 27, 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 
  6. ^ Romney, Jonathan (May 25, 2009). "A Prophet (Un Prophète)". Retrieved August 21, 2009. 
  7. ^ Davies, Luke (February 2010). "Lost Boys: Jacques Audiard's A Prophet and John Hillcoat's The Road". The Monthly. 
  8. ^ Le Figaro.Fr
  9. ^ "CNN". 
  10. ^ "Festival de Cannes: A Prophet". Retrieved May 9, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Winner of Best Film Award: A Prophet". Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  12. ^ "French film receives London award". Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Prix Louis Delluc : «Un prophète» sacré meilleur film 2009" (in French). Le Parisien. December 11, 2009. Retrieved December 11, 2009. 

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