Original Tale - Legend of Persia
This film is based on a legend coming from the Persian region (now Iran and Iraq).
About two thousand years ago, when the Romans were occupying the Western world, there lived four wise men who were also kings. They were Gaspar from the Kingdom of Meroe, Melchior from the Kingdom of Palmirene, Balthazar from the Kingdom of Nipur and Artaban (Taor in my adapted version) from the Kingdom of Mangalore.
In the days of Herod the king, when the Saviour of the world, was born in a poor cave near Bethlehem, an enormous star suddenly lit up the sky over the countries of the East. The star shone with a bright, dazzling light and slowly moved itowards the land of the Hebrews. The astronomers, or magi as they were called, took note of this new light. They thought it was a sign from God that somewhere had been born the Great King, whose coming had been foretold in the Hebrew books. Several of them, who devoted themselves especially diligently to the study of God's truth on earth, and were grieved by the extent of men's wickedness, decided to go seek for the newborn King, to worship Him and serve Him. They decided to gather first in a specified place, and then to proceed together in a caravan, following the star in search of the Great King.
Together with the other magi, the great Persian wise man Artaban prepared for the journey. He sold all his possessions, and with the money he bought three precious gems: a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl. These jewels were extremely costly; a whole fortune was paid for them.
In his house Artaban gathered for the last time his close friends, said his good-byes and departed on his journey. It was several days' ride to the gathering place, but Artaban was confident he wouldn't be late. "The Great King is coming to us from the sky, and soon, Lord, I shall see You.
Suddenly the horse drew up short, snorted and started to move backwards. Artaban peered into the half-light and there, almost under the horse's very hooves, he saw a man lying. He quickly dismounted and inspected the prostrate figure. He turned out to be a Jew, exhausted by a raging fever. One could have taken him for dead but for the weak, barely audible groans which broke intermittently from his cracked lips. Artaban deliberated: to pass by, to hasten to the meeting place, leaving the sick man was something his conscience wouldn't allow; but to remain with the Jew in order to revive him would take several hours, and he would be late for the rendez-vous; the caravan would leave without him. What shall I do? thought Artaban. I'll go on, he decided, and he lifted his foot into the stirrup. But the sick man, sensing that his last hope was about to abandon him, groaned so pitiably that its pain resonated in the magus's heart.
"Great God!" he prayed. "You know my thoughts. You know my efforts to see you. Direct my steps! Is it not your voice of love which is speaking in my heart. I cannot pass by; I must help this unfortunate Jew.
With these words the magi returned to the sick man; he loosened his clothing and brought him some water from a nearby stream. He refreshed the man's face and moistened his dry lips. From a pack attached to his saddle his obtained some medicine, mixed it with some wine and poured it into the Jew's mouth; he rubbed his chest and hands, gave him something to sniff, and so spent many hours with the sick man. Dawn had long ago come and gone, the sun already stood high in the sky; it was approaching noon when the Jew was finally able to get to his feet. He didn't know how to thank the kind stranger.
"Who are you?" the Jew asked Artaban. "Tell me for whom I and my family should pray to God until the last of our days? And why are you so sad? What grief afflicts you?
Artaban told him who he was and where he was going. "My friends have certainly left without me," he said sorrowfully, "and I shall not see the King of my desires.
The Jew's face lit up.
Do not be sad, my benefactor. I can repay you in a very small way for your kindness. In my sacred scriptures it is said that the King of righteousness promised by God will be born in the city of Bethlehem of Judah. Even if your friends have left, you can make you way to Bethlehem and, if the Messiah has been born, you will find Him there.
The Jew thanked the Persian magi once again and the two men went their separate ways. Artaban turned back; it would be folly to attempt the journey through the desert alone; he needed to hire some men for protection, to buy some camels and load them with provisions and water. A week went by. He was obliged to sell one of the gems in order to equip his caravan, but Artaban didn't sorrow too much; he still had two gems. The main thing was not to be late in reaching the King. He hurried the servants, and the caravan moved as quickly as possible. Finally, they reached Bethlehem. Tired, dusty, but happy, he rode up to the first house. He went in and showered the host with questions.
Did some men from the East come here to Bethlehem? Where did they go? Where are they now?
The mistress of the house, a young woman, was nursing a baby and at first shied away from the stranger, but then she calmed down and related that a few days earlier some foreigners had come in search of Mary of Nazareth and had brought her baby some expensive gifts. Where they had gone-she didn't know. That very night Mary together with Joseph and the Baby had left Bethlehem to go into hiding.
People say they went to Egypt, that Joseph had a dream and that the Lord ordained that they should flee from here.
While the mother spoke the baby fell asleep and a pure smile played on his pretty, innocent face. Artaban hadn't had time to think about this news, about what he should do next, when a commotion broke from the street: wild cries, the clanging of weapons, women wailing. Half-dressed women, their heads uncovered, their faces contorted with fear, ran through the settlement carrying their infants and crying: "Flee to safety! Herod's soldiers are killing our children!"
The face of the young mother paled, her eyes grew large. Pressing the sleeping infant to her breast, she could only say, "Save the child! Save him, and God will save you!"
Without a moment's thought, Artaban rushed to the door; there just beyond the threshold stood the troop's captain, and behind him could be seen the bestial faces of the soldiers, their swords red with the blood of innocent children. Artaban's hand as if automatically reached into his chest; he produced a bag from which he extracted one of the remaining gems and gave it to the captain.
The latter had never seen such a treasure; he clutched it greedily and rushed his soldiers away to continue their dreadful business.
The woman fell to her knees before Artaban. "May God bless you for my child! You are seeking for the King of righteousness, of love and kindness. May His face shine before you and may He look upon you with the love with which I am now looking at you."
Artaban carefully raised the woman to her feet; tears of mixed joy and sadness ran down his cheeks.
"God of truth, forgive me! For the sake of this woman and her child I gave away the precious stone which was meant for you. Will I ever see your face? Here once again I am late. I shall follow after you into Egypt." The poor magus walked for a long, long time, seeking the King of Righteousness. He traveled through many countries, he saw many different peoples, but nowhere did he find the desired object of his wanderings. His heart ached and more than once he wept bitter tears.
"Lord," he thought, "how much grief, suffering and unhappiness there is everywhere. How soon will you reveal yourself and bring consolation to people's lives?"
He helped the poor, cared for the sick, consoled the unfortunate, visited prisoners. From the sale of the first gem he had money, and he spent this on helping his neighbor. The last gem, however, he carefully guarded near his heart, thinking that at least this gift he could some day bring to the King, when he found Him.
Thirty-three years had gone by since Artaban had left his homeland. His figure had become stooped, his hair white, but his heart still burned with love for the One Whom he sought so long.
One day the elderly magus heard that the Anointed One of God had appeared in Judea, and that He was performing many wondrous deeds-by a word He healed the sick, raised the dead, made saints of sinners and hopelessly wicked men. Artaban's heart began to race with joy.
"At last," he thought, trembling with emotion, "I shall find you and be able to serve you."
Arriving in Judea, he discovered that everyone was going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. There, too, was the Prophet Jesus whom the magus so desired to see. Together with crowds of the faithful Artaban reached the Holy City. He found a great commotion; great multitudes of people were surging along the streets. "Where are they hurrying?" asked Artaban. "To Golgotha. It is a hill on the outskirts of the city where today, together with two thieves, Jesus Christ of Nazareth is to be crucified. He claimed to be the Son of God, the King of the Jews."
Artaban fell to the ground, weeping bitterly.
"Again... again I am late. I never had the opportunity to see you, Lord, to serve you." But perhaps it isn't too late after all. I'll go to His torturers and offer them my last remaining gem. It may be that I can buy His freedom.
Artaban arose and hastened after the crowd to Golgotha. Suddenly, at one of the cross-streets, a contingent of soldiers barred his way. They were dragging a girl to prison. Recognizing Artaban as a fellow-countryman, she seized a corner of his clothing.
"Pity me!" she begged. "Free me. I too am from Persia. My father came here to trade; he brought me and then fell ill and died. For the debts he incurred they want to sell me into slavery, for a life of shame. Save me. Save me from dishonor, save me, I beg you!"
The old magus shuddered. The former battle again broke out in his heart-to keep the gem for the Great King or give it away for the sake of the unfortunate girl? Pity for the girl won out. Artaban reached into the pouch at his breast and took out his last treasure; he gave the gemstone to the girl.
"Here, buy with this your freedom, my daughter. For thirty-three years I have guarded this treasure for my King. Evidently I am unworthy of bringing Him a gift."
While he spoke, the sky grew clouded. It was midday and yet it was dark as night. The earth shook and groaned heavily, as it were. Thunder crashed, lightning ripped the sky from end to end; a great cracking was heard; houses shook, walls rocked and stones showered down. A heavy slate tore off the roof and hit the head of the old man. He fell to the ground and lay there, pale and streaming with blood. The girl bent down to help him. Artaban moved his lips in a barely audible whisper. His face was radiant. The dying man was looking at Someone standing invisibly before him. "Lord," he uttered, "but when did I see you hungry and fed you? When did I see you thirsty and gave you to drink? Thirty-three years I looked for you and not once did I see your face; never was I able to serve you, My King." Like the slight evening breeze which caressed the hair of the dying man, there came from above a tender, unearthly voice:
"Truly I say to you, all that you ever did for your needy brothers you did for Me."
Artaban's face became transfigured. His heart at peace, he lifted his eyes thankfully to heaven and fell asleep unto all ages.
Dramatised Story - Treatment
About two thousand years ago, in the minor countries in the Near East, lived four close friends; Balthazar from the Kingdom of Nipur, about 100 miles. South-East from the region that is now Iraq, Melchior from the the Kingdom of Palmirene, in the Syrian region, Gaspar from the Kingdom of Meroe, near the Nubian desert in Northern Africa, and Taor (better known as Artaban) from the Kingdom of Mangalore, on the coast of Ekbatana in Persia. Among them, Balthazar and Taor were best friends. The four friends met each other regularly.
Taor was a serious man who worshipped Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian god. He read all books that existed and disputed with scholars, sages and priests but that didn't satisfy his search for the meaning of life. Meanwhile, he heard about a legend coming from a Western country called Judah that a king will come, a king who will save the world. And the speaking said there will be a sign in the sky at his arrival. Hoping that the king could give an answer to his question, he observed the sky everynight, with the other three men who promised to leave with him whenever the star will appear.
In Taor's palace, there was a girl called Biltine who danced in the sanctuary. One day, Taor and Balthazar were faced by her and they were both charmed, at first sight, by boldness and dignity. And Baltine, her, fell in love with Taor. Balthazar, who had come back to Nipur and ascended the throne, asked Maharajha, king of Mangalore, to send Biltine for his second queen. Maharajha accepted the request seeing that it will add to the fellowship of the two kingdoms. Biltine and Taor, who didn't speak for their love, finally lost each other. Balthazar ignored the fact that Biltine had her mind on Taor.
Meanwhile, queen Maharani, who knew the relationship between Taor, Biltine and Balthazar, laid plans. She was Taor's stepmother and the second queen of Mangalore who was watching for a chance to put her son on throne.
Then, despite queen Maharani's plans, Taor became king. To celebrate, the three friends, with Biltine, came to Mangalore. A few days after the coronation, the star appeared. They hurried to pack up, except Taor who didn't want to do anything after losing his love. That night, Biltine visited Taor alone on a hill. They made love. Balthazar knew Baltine went out to meet Taor but he also knew he couldn't stop it. The next day, Taor left with his friends at Baltine's recommendation. With them, queen Maharani sent Akbar as Taor's attendant. He was told to kill Taor at the first chance and to bring his necklace as proof, threatening that his mother won't be safe in case of betrayal.
The four men were walking and a wounded man was lying on the street. They knew they had to look after the man but the star, that they had waited for their lives and they'd given up their countries for, was going its way, they had no time. They decided to continue their journey.
But Taor came back. He took the man to a hospital but he died. Taor, who was four days late, hurriedly got back on his journey but his friends were too far away, with the star. Akbar led Taor into a region infested with robbers.
Taor got caught. Akbar took his necklace and ran away.
Akbar, now chased by an assassin sent by queen Maharani, spent his life hiding and one day, stung by conscience, he looked for Biltine. He found her and confessed and asked for a punishment. Baltine said, "death can cover your sin but it can't wash it away" and told him to find Taor. But Akbar couldn't find him in the bandit's den.
Balthazar, who had come back from the journey, noticed the prince born of Biltine was Taor's. Plagued by self-doubt and betrayal, he admited he was paying for his greed.
The boss of the robbers, Nathan, got a serious injury and Taor, who was waiting for death tied up in chains, treated the wound. Confided by Nathan, Taor became the spiritual leader of the gang. He taught farming and opened a new way of life to these people. But Taor lamented his mutable life in a bandit.
Trrsah was a girl who was forced to be a plaything in the gang. She was slightly mental. One day, Taor saw his rival Zacchaeus coming out of a cave, zipping his pants with a smile on his face. Feeling that there was someone in the cave, Taor walked in to find Trrsah grinning, her clothes disheveled. He came out and ran into Zacchaeus. After seeing Taor flying into a fury, no-one ever dared to touch Trrsah.
Three years passed by, the robbers became farmers, honest men who worked to earn. Trrsah started to become normal and she liked Taor. But for Zacchaeus, it was hell. He laid plans and finally Taor was kicked out.
The star was gone long ago, his half-brother Altabar was now king of Mangalore, he had nowhere to go. He walked and walked. Suddenly a man with a pale look ran to him, telling that he was charged with murder and was chased after. Taor let him hide in his room, at an inn. When Taor came back to the room with something to eat, the man was gone and Taor was arrested.
Taor was now a slave in a warship. As "No. 36", the man who was once king of a nation, rowed for thirty years.
His life as "No. 36" was hopeless. Instead of answers to his questions for which he had given up everything, all he had left was doubt and endless whippings. All seemed vain, Taor gave up himself. When someone would talk about god, he swore in a passion. He cursed the god.
One day Taor is asked by the new slave, Omar, how he became a slave. He answered it was just because of one damned star. Omar laughed and said "Well, a star? There it is, there." At Omar's sarcasm, Taor bent down and looked outside through a little crack. His eyes glittered. And after a few days of observation, he realised the star was following the ship. He assured himself that the god didn't abandon him. Taor was so serious that Omar couldn't dare to tell the truth.
Meanwhile, Biltine's son, who had now become a young man, realised that Taor was his father and that his mother was waiting for his return. The prince decided to find his father. Biltine grew weaker and passed away.
One day a young man visited the warship embarked at Sidon port and bought Taor and Omar. Then Taor realised once again that the god ridiculed him. The star that followed him wasn't a star, it was the lamp that lighted the deck. In poor health and with bad sight, he had mistaken it for a star.
Taor was introduced to a mansion by his new owner. It was Akbar's house. He was waiting for Taor knowing that he was a slave in the Roman Army and that they would once stop at the Sidon port. Akbar handed the necklace to Taor.
Realising that Baltine was dead and that Akbar saved him, Taor lost his senses. He shivered in hate of god who was playing with his life. Omar restrained Taor, who picked up a dagger, from trying to stab Akbar.
A few days later, Taor decided to go find the king, the messiah, the one... but this time with a different intention. He wanted his head.
Somehow he arrived in Jerusalem. The place where meet the heaven and the earth, the god and the man, the ideal and the reality. Taor met Trrsah in a castle. She told him what happened to the robbers, when she left them, how she prostituted herself in cities and how she got caught by people, how they threw stones at her and how she got saved by a young man just when she was about to die. She said she had been sacrificing her life following that saviour and she added that he was a prophet worth accompanying. After listening to Trrsah's story, Taor thought the man could be the same man who asked him for water just before arriving in Jerusalem. He got angry that he just let his enemy slip away like that. But what upset him more was that he felt his anger subside as he listened to Trrsah's story.
A few days later, the atmosphere inside Jerusalem was strange, despite it was the Passover. It was as if there was a battle between the unknown conspiracy and the power that was trying to reveal it.
So Taor decided to find the young man. After long hours of asking around, he found out that the young man and his companions were staying at the house of someone called Mark. But when Taor arrived, all he found was breadcrumbs and empty wineglasses on the table. The maid told him that they had gone to the hill, but, again, he couldn't find anyone except a bloodstained dagger.
Then he met a man, who told him that the young man had been caught and sent to Herod's palace. His chase was in vain. He was tired and hungry, he was almost insane. But he felt better when he heard that the young man had almost been beaten up to death. So he wanted to see it himself.
When he reached the hilltop and shouldered through the crowd, he was three men attached to three crosses. Taor knew by intuition that the young man he'd been looking for was the one in the middle. Taor tried to get closer but got swept away by the crowd, he fell down.
A pickpocket grabbed his necklace, Taor begged him in vain. The pickpocket tried to snatch it away, making a scratch on Taor's neck, and dropped it. The necklace disappeared in the ground.
Taor fell down bleeding and immediately perceived his death. He thought of Biltine. Just as his spirit left his body, he felt someone looking down at him. Taor desperately opened his eyes. The "young man" was looking at him silently, smeared in blood. Taor stared and asked, full of hatred and remorse. "You are Him?"
The "young man" didn't answer. But Taor looked at him as if he was talking and continued. "Once I had devoted everything for you... But now you've ridiculed me and stolen everything. I've nothing to offer you. Except one thing... It's curse."
"You've never heard of my curse? Are youasdasdasd I gave you the best love? Hah..." said the young man.
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"Me? I saved you? I gave you water? And the robbers? The baby? The mother? It was all you? But how..."
"Your three friends came to see me 33 years ago. They gave me their treasures and went back home. But you gave me not your treasures but yourself. and now you are with me."
Taor stayedng still with his eyes opened, started to cry. His tears fell on the ground. On his face wet with tears, shed a luster. He said quietly staring in the sky. "Baltine, did you hear that? I finally met Him. Now I can be at your side..." and he breathed his last breath on the street. His corpse was trashed in the valley of Hinnom, his eyes were now food for crows, and his body was just meat for wild dogs.
That night, Omar, who was looking for Taor, found the necklace and sold it in Persia and made money to start his business, and he became very rich. Then after a long time, he told Taor next to his deathbed. "I bet everyone will say your dad's life was a fail, even I used to think so. And people praised me for having gone through the diffculties and becoming successful. But now I realise it was all wrong. I sure have gained a lot of money but I don't think I have anything else. Your dad's star was to know himself, mine was to have rich and comfortable life. I've realised how worthless my success is compared to his fail."
Concept of Dramatization
In every december, everyone celebrates the birthday of a man who was born in the Middle East two thousand years ago and you could hear the story of the three kings in every play. Everyone knows the story as the Three Wise Men but in fact, there was another one. You couldn't see the fourth king Taor mentioned anywhere. Even history ignores his existence. In the Bible, there's not a single line, a word on him. And this film, is about this man.
Most of you would consider this as another boring Christian tale and me as a faithful Christian. So the ones who go to church would be interested, the ones who don't would go "what, again? another holy preaching?" and sigh. But I'm a person who's totally against not only Christianity but any kind of religion (but not an imprudent who also hates people who believe in it!).
This film is not a religious tale, this is about life. Taor, he's a total failure. Unlike his three friends who did their best to reach their biggest goal, he lost all he had, dealing with every little thing that happens around him. Everyone of you would say so, that he's a "flop". But that's probably because you read the end of the story or just because this is supposed to be a beautiful, sad, touching film that's got nothing to do with your own life. But in the time we live in, if your friend or your family lived a life like Taor and died miserably, you'd change your mind.
This film is going to be pretty long, three hours of running time. This film is a painting movie. I used the word painting movie instead of animation because "unicolour characters outlined in black, in a simplified background" is not what I want to do, what I want is real oil paintings on that you could even see the canvas texture. Imagine seeing beautiful oil paintings on canvas that are moving on the giant cinema screen. Most of people would freeze. They're going to be seriously shocked.
But my wish is that they get shocked more by the theme of the film, than the visuals. Most people would just think of it as another beautiful film, but seeing someone, at least one of the thousand people who will have watched this film, who realises that everyone has his/her own star to follow, is why I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to this film.
You would know by now, that this project is like a dream that's practically unrealizable. A lot of people around me encourage me but if they were my families, I'm sure they'd have begged me to give up.
To make this film, I need at least seven years and about two hundred thousand US dollars. In one word, the possibility for me to make it is less than 0.0001%, even zero. But what I know is that a man's life can't be limited with mathematical calculations.
Actually, it's not impossible to find a way to make this film. For example, if I turnt this into a Christian film, I could get endless support from Korean churches. But I have no intention at all to turn this into that. Taor looked for the young man of Nazareth till his death but he never gave up his faith in Zoroastrianism. And although he was a Zoroastrian because of his homeland's culture, he wasn't even interested in religion in the first place. Neither was the man of Nazareth.
- Chronologic Table of Principal Events -