The Physician (2013 film)
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The Physician (German: Der Medicus) is a 2013 German adventure film based on the novel of the same name by Noah Gordon.
The film focuses on an orphan from an 11th-century English town whose
mother died of a mysterious illness. The boy vows to study medicine and
decides to travel to Persia.
Robert Cole has an extraordinary gift, where he can sense when someone left untreated has a terminal illness. He notices this for the first time when he feels it as a little boy when his sick mother is dying of appendicitis,
a disease he was unaware of. The young orphan joins an itinerant
barber-surgeon who calls himself Barber. Barber teaches him the basics
of medieval medicine, with services such as cupping therapy, bloodletting, and dental extraction. Even as an apprentice Rob recognizes the limitations of these simple practices. When Barber suffers from a cataract, Rob consults a real Medicus for him. This Jewish
doctor heals Barber completely. He learns a little bit of Jewish
culture. He speaks with two children, Jesse and Benjamin. There, Rob
sees for the first time a world map, and learns of the famous Ibn Sina, who teaches medicine in distant Persia. So he decides to train there to become a physician. During the Islamic Golden Age, the medicine in the medieval Islamic world (evolved from a symbiosis of GondishapurIranian medicine and NestorianByzantine medicine in Baghdad’s House of Wisdom) is far more advanced than in Europe. The doctor, scientist and philosopher Ibn Sina teaches in Isfahan, the most important school for aspiring practitioners in the world at that time.
Rob is told Christians are forbidden in Muslim lands while Jews are tolerated. Upon arriving in Egypt, Rob therefore circumcises
himself and calls himself Jesse ben Benjamin, pretending to be a Jew
(Rob is, in fact, a Christian). In a caravan he comes to know Rebecca
who reads to him from a book about Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor.
He experiences a desert storm and almost dies. When he asks for
admission to the hospital and school of Ibn Sina, he is thrown out and
beaten by guards. Lying in the street with a cut and a concussion he is found by the Guardian, so then he is taken in as a patient.
In a bimaristan (hospital) and madrasa (college), he is treated by Ibn Sina and made a student to learn the basics of scientific medicine as well as other sciences and philosophy (including Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy). Rob learns to perform a medical history and medical examination including pulse diagnosis, the leech treatment, the use of opium, including the analgesic effect, and surgical procedures. After the Shah refuses a peace treaty with the Seljuks, the Seljuks send a man infected with the Black Death to infect the city. Thousands begin to die after being cared for by Ibn Sina and his students, Rob’s discovery of basic hygienic principles, the plague is overcome. Rob suggests that oriental rat fleas
may be the carriers of the Black Death, and with rat poison the pest
may be suppressed. Rob is reunited with Rebecca, who has come down with
the plague, and is able to bond with her since her husband temporarily
abandons the city, leaving her to become sick and Rob nurses her back to
health. Rebecca makes a full recovery, and she and Rob become
romantically involved and engage in extramarital sex
right before Rebecca must return to her husband, who has returned to
the city. Rebecca is impregnated as a result, and her husband eventually
discovers this, which leads to her being sentenced to death by stoning.
The Christian, Jewish and Islamic religions influence the evaluation of medical science, and a conflict is sparked by the ethical assessment of the autopsy on the human body. As a Zoroastrian dies of appendicitis,
Rob learns from him that Zoroastrianism does not prohibit an adherent
from undergoing autopsy after death. Rob secretly performs an autopsy on
his body to deepen his knowledge of anatomy and to discover the
inflamed vermiform appendix. When the mullahs discover what he has done, both Rob and Ibn Sina are sentenced to death for necromancy. Rebecca is about to be stoned for adultery, when the Shah is stricken with appendicitis. Rob and Ibn Sina are freed so that Rob will perform an appendectomy, using anesthesia, on the Shah. Before beginning the surgery, Rob arranges for Rebecca to be rescued from her impending execution.
Isfahan is betrayed by the mullahs to the Seljuks,
since they want to drive the Jews and Ibn Sina’s madrasa out of the
city. Mullah soldiers then arrive to attack the hospital. Ibn Sina heads
to the burning library and transfers his medical writings to Rob Cole, and also awards him the medical title ’Hakim.’ Ibn Sina then stays to die in the burning library.
Rob Cole, as well as others, escape through a gate the Shah has told
them about while he and his men go to make a last stand against the
Seljuks. Rob returns with Rebecca, as his wife, to London and
establishes a hospital. The old Barber, Cole’s first teacher, learns
from a little boy of the return of his former pupil and his fame. The
Barber then asks the boy to take him to see his old pupil as the film