The Physician

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The Physician
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IMDb: 7.2
During Europe's Middle Ages, the knowledge  and advancements in healing arts that had   been developed during the Roman Empire were  largely lost or forgotten. Medical care was   limited, with few trained doctors or hospitals  available to the general population. Instead,   traveling physicians offered  limited medical treatments,   often with little knowledge or  understanding of the human body. In contrast, medical science flourished  in the Islamic Golden Age. Scholars   and physicians made significant advances in  areas such as anatomy, surgery, pharmacology,   and medical ethics. These developments  were based on earlier Greek, Roman,   and Indian medical knowledge, which was translated  and further developed by Islamic scholars. The movie opens with a glimpse into the harsh  realities of life in 11th century England,   where we meet the resilient protagonist,  Rob Cole. As the eldest child in his family,   Rob is burdened with the responsibility of  being the sole breadwinner. He works in the   perilous mines, trying his best to provide  for his mother and two younger siblings. One day, a traveling physician, known as  Barber, arrives in Rob's town. With his   captivating charm and enigmatic persona,  Barber claims to possess the power to cure   a variety of illnesses. That night, Rob’s  mother suffers from excruciating pain due   to a mysterious disease. When he puts his hand  over her chest, he feels something scary and   quickly backs out. Fearing that his mother  is going to die soon, he goes to fetch the   only medical practitioner in town: Barber. The  latter agrees to help, but when they arrive home,   a lot of people have already gathered. Since  medical science is considered witchcraft,   the people forbid Barber from treating the  woman. Unfortunately, this turns out to be   a bad decision as the woman slowly succumbs to  her disease, much to the dismay of her children. The following morning, the two  younger children are taken away by   the townspeople along with the household  utensils. Now, Rob is left on his own,   with no one to care for him. So, he turns to  the only person who has shown him any kindness:   Barber, the wandering physician. Although  hesitant at first, Barber feels pity on   the boy and eventually decides to take  him under his wing, as his apprentice. As the years pass by, Rob and Barber traverse  different lands, healing the sick and injured   together. Along the way, Rob grows from a  vulnerable child to a confident and capable young   man. Despite his newfound skills and knowledge,  however, he remains curious about the human body   and longs to explore its inner workings. He  is also desperate to learn about appendicitis:   the illness that took his mother’s life. One  day, Rob tells Barber that he wants to see   what lies beneath the skin of a human body.  However, since operations and surgeries are   considered punishable by law, Barber warns  him to never speak of such things again. Months later, Barber's failing  eyesight due to cataracts begins   to hinder his work as a physician. One day, a farmer arrives at their   wagon seeking tooth extraction. As Rob assists  in the procedure by holding the patient still,   he feels a familiar sensation of impending death.  This is the same sensation he noticed the night   his mother passed away. Lo and behold, the patient  also passes away on the table, proving his hunch. After a while, a distraught Rob confides in Barber  about what he experienced. He says that he can   sense if a person is going to die. However, Barber  dismisses his concerns as mere superstition,   unwilling to believe that Rob possesses  any special gift or intuition. That night,   a mob of angry townspeople gathers outside their  wagon, accusing them of witchcraft and blaming   them for the farmer's death. They then beat  up the two and throw them out of their city. Despite his vision problems, Barber continues  to teach Rob the basics of medical treatment and   entrusts him with the care of their patients. As  his condition worsens, he is forced to rely more   and more on Rob's skills and expertise. One day,  a patient suggests that Rob take his master to a   Jewish healer, as they are known to have the  ability to cure blindness. Rob is skeptical,   since blindness is considered almost impossible  to cure in these times. But nonetheless,   he decides to give it a try as he  is desperate to help his master. The following morning, Rob and Barber arrive  at the Jewish doctor’s residence and begin the   treatment. The procedure takes days and nights but  at the end, Barber miraculously gains his eyesight   back. Rob is stunned that medical science has come  this far, so he curiously asks the doctor where he   got all this information from. In response, the  latter reveals that he was taught by the greatest   physician of all time: Ibn Sina of Isfahan.  Amazed, Rob expresses his desire to travel there,   but the doctor reveals that he will be killed  before he can even reach there. He further   explains that in the land of the Muslims,  they do tolerate the Jews but not Christians. This is a heavy blow to Rob’s aspirations,  but he is still determined to make it to   Isfahan and learn under the tutelage of  Sina. His dream is to become a “Hakim”,   the greatest of all the healers. Barber  tries his best to talk Rob out of it,   but the boy seems to have made up his mind.  He is tired of the incompetence of the medical   treatment they have been performing till this  day. So, in order to broaden his knowledge,   Rob bids goodbye to his master and  starts the new journey of his life. After traveling for many months, Rob arrives  in Egypt. Before leaving for Isfahan though,   he decides to disguise himself as a Jew to avoid  any potential danger. He undergoes circumcision   and adopts the name "Jesse ben Benjamin"  to blend in with the Jewish community. During his journey, Rob joins a group of Muslim  travelers and meets a woman named Rebecca. As   they travel together, they come across a village  that has recently been attacked by the Seljuks,   a group of nomadic tribes who believe they  are chosen by Allah to punish sinners. The   only survivor of the attack is a little girl,  whom Rebecca decides to take with her. Rob,   using his medical expertise, helps take care  of the girl, impressing everyone around him. In the next scene, the group is caught  in a terrible sandstorm in the desert.   Many are killed on the spot while the others  get lost in the chaos. At the end of the day,   only Rob and one other person remain.  However, when the other person catches   Rob praying to Jesus at night, he attacks and  kills him, leaving Rob to continue on his own.   And after a few more days of excruciating walk,  he finally makes it to Isfahan. Rob rushes to   enroll in the medical school, hoping that he can  finally meet the legendary Ibn Sina. But to his   misfortune, he is not only rejected but also  beaten by the guards and left on the street. Later on, he is found by a man, who takes  him inside a room and arranges for him to   receive personal treatment from Ibn Sina. Rob  cannot believe that he has finally met the best   physician in the world. And to top it off,  he is also accepted into the medical school,   making him scream in joy. As the days pass,  Rob gets information about various diseases   which were considered incurable in  his country of England. But here,   they are mere illnesses which can  be treated with simple remedies. One day, Rob learns that Rebecca is still alive  so he excitedly goes to meet her. However,   his expression quickly changes when she reveals  that she is going to marry a wealthy businessman.   That night, after treating a sick woman, Rob  has a heartfelt conversation with Ibn Sina. He   talks about his childhood, explaining  that his mother died of appendicitis,   and that no one was there to save her.  He also reveals that he can sense if a   person is going to die. Rob wants to learn  everything he can about medical science,   but he is disappointed that even this  advanced hospital doesn’t have the means   to cure appendicitis. In response, Ibn Sina  says that surgeries are considered sinful   in this part of the world too. But maybe, in  the next thousand years, things will change. The next day, Ibn Sina brings Rob with him when  he is summoned to the palace by the emperor:   Shah. It is revealed that the Lord of Seljuks  had sent his son to propose a peace treaty,   but the Shah beheaded him and sent his severed  head back as a refusal. In retaliation, the   Seljuks send a man infected with the black death  disease to Isfahan. He walks around the city,   making sure that his disease can spread far  and wide. When he is finally discovered,   chaos spreads throughout the city like wildfire. Ibn Sina and Rob have a discussion with the  Shah, where they urge him to evacuate the   city to save its citizens from the deadly  plague that is spreading rapidly. However,   the Shah disregards their advice and takes no  action. Instead, he asks Ibn Sina to accompany   him in his hunting expedition through  the forest. The latter swiftly refuses   and chooses to stay with his students  and confront the outbreak. In no time,   infected individuals start pouring in and  the hospital becomes crowded with patients. As the situation worsens, the soldiers close  the gates of the city, allowing only nobles to   leave. Rebecca’s husband is one of them, and he  leaves her to die alone. Fortunately, Rob finds   her in the nick of time and brings her to the  hospital. He takes care of her day and night,   and also reads her stories. Meanwhile, Ibn Sina  is determined to find a cure for the disease   and analyzes the situation. He concludes that the  fleas found on mice are the vectors for spreading   the disease from corpses to the living. As a  result, he orders the immediate termination of   all the mice. Slowly, the patients begin  to recover, and the city reverts to its   normal state. Rebecca also becomes healthy and  one day, she ends up having coetus with Rob. In the next scene, all the  wealthy people return to the city,   including Rebecca’s husband. Hence, she  reluctantly has to go back with him,   despite her newfound love for Rob. Meanwhile,  the Shah arranges a celebration to honor   Ibn Sina and his students for their  brave efforts during the epidemic. After the hospital resumes its services, Ibn Sinu  assigns Rob to take care of the new patients,   one of whom is suffering from acute appendicitis.  The patient is a Zoroastrian who asks Rob to leave   his body for the vultures after his death, as  they believe this cleanses their souls. Rob   assures him that everything will be fine, but  even after his best efforts, the man eventually   passes away. Initially, Rob is distraught, but  then he remembers that Zoroastrians don’t mind   if their bodies are dissected. So, he takes  the corpse to a secluded place and performs   an autopsy on it. He meticulously studies the  human anatomy and also locates the vermiform   appendix. Rob even records his research  findings in papers, which he keeps safe. During the course of the next few days,  the royal Mullahs of the city begin a   revolt against the Shah. The reason is that  they don’t want other communities residing in   their Muslim land. In this instance, they  join forces with the Seljuks to achieve a   common goal of banishing the Shah and the  Jews. The ultimate aim is for the Mullahs   to rule over Isfahan, with the Seljuks using it  as a stepping stone to conquer all of Persia. Meanwhile, Rebecca discovers that she is  pregnant with Rob's child and goes out   to look for him in the city. To her dismay,  she sees him being taken away by the Mullahs,   who have accused him of necromancy due to his  research on human anatomy. To make matters worse,   her husband finds out about her adultery,  and hence sentences her to death by stoning. The following day, Rob is brought to court, where  the Mullahs accuse him of being a necromancer and   portray Ibn Sina as his accomplice. They also  present the dissected body as evidence against   them. As a result, the court sentences them both  to death. The common people are enraged that a   Jewish man has come to their city and committed  a sin, so they hurl angry comments at him. This   makes Rob very upset, so to save himself and  also the Jewish community, he confesses that   he is actually a Christian. Unfortunately, no one  believes him, and his sentence is not reversed. Inside the confinement cell, Rob pleads for  his master's forgiveness. Ibn Sina tells him   that he considers him his greatest student  who has contributed greatly to the field   of medical science, but his recklessness  will now cost their lives. During their   final hours inside the prison, Rob  shares his knowledge with Ibn Sina,   describing the internal organs and  his life experiences with them. Just when it appears as if all hope is lost, the  Shah orders them to be freed. It turns out he is   also suffering from appendicitis, and is slowly  succumbing to the sickness. He knows that Ibn Sina   and his student have the cure, so he wants to try  it out, even if it means dissecting his body. Rob   promptly agrees to help him, but only if Rebecca  is freed. The Shah, having no other choice,   orders his soldiers to fight the Mullahs and  bring her back, which they do in the nick of time. After all the preparations are done, Rob starts  the surgery on Shah, assisted by Ibn Sina and some   other students. It is a nerve wrecking moment for  him, as something like this has never been carried   out anywhere in the world. But using his knowledge  from the previous dissection, he successfully   removes the affected appendix. The Shah is now  out of danger, and to repay the favor, he promises   to help Rob secure the safety of his people.  He orders his soldiers to escort the Jewish   community out of the city and provide them with  all the necessary resources for their journey. Outside, the war between Isfahan and the Seljuks  has erupted, with the Mullahs attacking the city   and burning the hospital. Rob and others gather  people around the east gate to flee the city,   but Ibn Sina is nowhere to be found. Worried, Rob  goes back to the hospital and discovers him there,   staring in the abyss. With tears in his eyes,  the greatest physician of all time hands Rob   the medical records book and addresses  him as ‘Hakim Robert Cole’. He then stays   in the room to die, while Rob reluctantly  escapes through the exit. Following this,   he, along with the others manage to escape  through the gate and leave the city behind. At last, Rob's dream has come true. He has become  a renowned physician and operates a hospital in   the bustling city of London, where all kinds of  ailments can be treated. He is living his dream   life with his wife, Rebecca, by his side.  One day, the old Barber learns about his   apprentice’s success from a little boy who has  recently been to the hospital. The movie ends   as the two chat all the way there, with Barber  boasting that he taught Rob how to be great.
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