Noah Gordon (shown below, now near 90, and called 'the most successful writer you've never heard of') authored a trilogy spanning 1000 years about physician Rob Cole and his descendants. The first book of this trilogy (1986), THE PHYSICIAN, became a film directed by German filmmaker Philipp Stolzl (Young Goethe in Love, North Face, Erased) and has spawned a musical that debuts this June in Germany. Neither the novel nor the movie gained a following here but were much appreciated abroad. Now, at least, the film is streaming on Netflix for fans of fictional historical drama like Restoration (also on Netflix) or Lawrence of Arabia. The Physician, however, is loaded with political relevance to us because of its war on secularism by radical Islam. (Click here for Noah Gordon's web site and a list of his historical novels.)
Adam Thomas Wright, below) watched his mother die of 'side-sickness' -- appendicitis was a death sentence. Now homeless, he attaches himself to Barber and learns the tricks of the trade but he's frustrated -- diseases of the inside were guesswork and dissection of the human body was a crime. Rob grows up craving knowledge about how the inside of the body works.
Tom Payne, a better actor than, and lookalike to, Lorenzo Richelmy of Netflix's Marco Polo. Payne (below, right) is currently in AMC's The Walking Dead and is compelling enough to hold the center even in the midst of players with much more gravitas.
Olivier Martinez, below) is the chief support of Ibn Sina's scientific work. A vain and secular tyrant, he's ripe for overthrow, outraging local religious leaders:
"Why did our citizens have to die [of plague]?" shouts the Imam (Makram Khoury). "It is the sins committed each and every day in the university whose Godless philosophy corrupts our city..... Isfahan is decaying from vice and apostasy. The Shah's time is over, and now there is only God... Allahu Akbar!"
Criticism doesn't change one's mind about the film's being a fairly entertaining and fast-moving tale. There are particular objections to the tampering with history creating inaccuracies about the known life and times of Ibn Sina. Still, all reimagined history is guilty of same -- the abridging of fact for the purpose of story-telling. Also there's the soap-opera framework including Rob/Jesse's dangerous romance with Rebecca (Emma Rigby), a Spanish Jew who has been sent to Isfahan for an arranged marriage to a much older Jewish aristocrat (below: Rebecca en route Isfahan).
Pixomondo (Marco Polo, Game of Thrones) that bring the city-in-the-desert setting to life.