Lamya’s Poem Review: A secret animated gem that combines fantasy and real war

Lamya’s poem is a hidden gem, a film that defies the expectations of contemporary American animation but might resonate with fans of international projects like Cartoon Saloon Host. The direct-streaming release comes from non-profit educational studio Unity Productions Foundation, founded by speaker and writer Alexander Kronemer, who wrote and directed the film. It follows a bright young girl named Lamya (Millie Davis) who finds solace in the poetry of the 13th-century scholar Rumi (Mena Massoud) after being forced to flee her hometown of Aleppo during the Syrian civil war.

The film follows three intertwining plots: Lamya’s escape from Syria, Rumi’s similar emigration after the Mongol invasion, and the two meet in a strange fantasy world where they meet metaphorical beings that represent the dangers each of them faces. Each of these threads could hold an entire movie on its own. Lamya tries to keep her head up high when all hope is lost. Rumi struggles with a thirst for revenge that overcomes his devotion to poetry. And in dreamland, the two meet and discover a mysterious city that is under attack.

two women in hijab praying in their apartment;  one is older and the other is a teenager from Lamya's Poem

Photo: Unity Productions Foundation

However, when Kronemer brings them together, they sometimes turn their backs on each other – especially the fantasy plot, which sometimes undermines the individual journeys of the characters. However, at the climax of the film, all three threads come together, and Rumi’s poetry brings them together, and they come together in a beautiful, evocative moment.

Brilliantly rendered backgrounds help enhance this beauty. Lamya’s poem it has its limitations, especially in the animation of the characters on stilts, but the gorgeously painted scenery more than makes up for it. The fantasy world of dreams has the most eye-catching visuals, but even mundane backdrops on the streets of Lamya’s hometown or Rumi’s desert trek are beautifully rendered. And this artistry isn’t just reserved for pink moments. Some of the film’s most difficult scenes – Lamya and her mother on a raft from Syria, Lamya alone in a refugee camp – resonate even more when the set design plays such a huge role.

aerial view of bustling middle east market

Photo: Unity Productions Foundation

Lamya’s poem draws parallels between the Syrian refugee crisis (along with the prejudices faced by Lamya when he ends up in an unspecified European country) and Rumi’s own emigration from Samarkand after the Mongol invasion. These are important topics, but Kronemer avoids showing overt violence. Instead, he uses poetry to tie his dark stories together. Lamya repeats one particular poem by Rumi about reeds being cut off from their source throughout the film, and as the film progresses the meaning of the words becomes more and more obvious – Lamya and Rumi are cut off from their homelands.

And this idea connects them, just as the poem itself gives them a link that extends over time. There aren’t as many poems in this film as a story about poetry could have, but that just underscores the importance of the particular piece Lamya clings to, which Rumi himself composes in a flashback. It is a testament to the power of poetry and art and how it connects people over time and resonates with human truths unchanged through the ages. Lamya’s poem it shares the transcendental influence that art can have, being in itself a unique work of art.

two figures sitting under a large green tree

Photo: Unity Productions Foundation

Lamya’s poem is for rent on Amazon, iTunes, Apple TV, Voodoo, Google Playand other digital platforms.

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