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The Medicus

The Medicus

Deutschland 2013 - with Tom Payne, Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Kingsley, Elyas M`Barek, Emma Rigby, Olivier Martinez ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:The Physician
Genre:Adventure, Drama
Direction:Philipp Stölzl
Cinema release:25.12.2013
Production country:Deutschland 2013
Running time:Approx. 155 min.
Rated:Age 12+

The Medicus by American author Noah Gordon is one of the most successful historical novels of recent decades. In Germany alone, the book has sold around 6 million copies since it was first published in 1987. Nevertheless, it took a quarter of a century for the world bestseller to be adapted for the big screen. Directed by Philipp Stölzl (North Face), the result is a German production with a major international cast that not only attempts to do justice to the popular original despite numerous changes, but also to match the class of similar European works such as Perfume, The Name of the Rose and The Pope Joan.

The story is told of young Rob (Tom Payne), who joined an itinerant healer (Stellan Skarsgard) as a child after the death of his parents, and has since been obsessed with the desire to become a respected healer himself when he grows up. When he learns that in the distant Persian city of Isfahan there is a scholar named Ibn Sina (Ben Kingsley) from whom he could learn everything he needs to know as a medic, Rob sets out on the long journey to the foreign land. After quite a bit of hardship, he actually reaches his destination and even manages to get accepted into Ibn Sina's school by posing as a Jew. But it is still a long and very dangerous way to his actual goal, which will claim many heavy victims.

To adapt a comprehensive novel like The Medicus for the cinema or television, it naturally requires some cuts and changes. This million-seller was not spared from that. And indeed it is so that even without previous knowledge of the novel the film version is noticeable that here and there something is missing and that the story was tightened in places badly. Significant plot changes, such as those concerning the ending, the romance between Rob and Rebecca, or the character of Bader, on the other hand, are only noticeable to viewers who know the book. Whether such changes are perceived positively, negatively or rather neutrally is, of course, a very personal feeling of each individual viewer. Objectively, however, the makers have succeeded quite well in giving the film its own, coherent character and at the same time transporting the essence of the book to the screen.

In this respect, the visual realization is particularly convincing. The sets, costumes and the wonderfully chosen locations in Morocco and Germany give the film a grandeur that is absolutely right on the big screen. The dramaturgical realization, on the other hand, can't quite keep up. Although it is carried by very convincing actors like Ben Kingsley, a wonderful Stellan Skarsgard or even Elyas M`Barek and Fahri Yardim, the story itself is rather on the level of elaborate TV productions like The Pillars of the Earth. This does not necessarily make the film bad. But apart from the pictures, the big wow effect only happens in a few scenes.

Tom Payne is really well cast as the main character. The Briton understandably conveys the enormous thirst for knowledge that drives Rob to take on the long journey and the dangerous lie to get closer to his goal of becoming a medic. But unfortunately, the script underutilizes the potential of the character and its actor. Only in a few scenes Payne is allowed to show a performance of lasting intensity. Otherwise, however, it is just the supporting actors who can leave a lasting impression in the end, while Payne, similarly to Emma Rigby, remain rather a bit pale despite convincing acting.

But despite all the weaknesses, The Medicus is a successful adventure film, visually opulent entertainment cinema, which also with its handsome length of just under two and a half hours no really disturbing lengths and here and there could even have been a little longer (which the later TV version then actually should be). If you liked the book and liked productions like The Pope Joan or The Pillars of the Earth, you definitely won't regret a trip to the movies. Worth seeing

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


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Cinema trailer for the movie "The Medicus (Deutschland 2013)"
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