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Scripture as a Springboard in Hollywood

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In the elegiac drama “Last Days in the Desert,” Ewan McGregor portrays a holy man headed for Jerusalem: a wandering prophet variously addressed as “rabbi” or Yeshua who’s seeking spiritual awareness but who sheepishly describes himself as “a bit lost” to those he encounters.

Shown fasting and praying, weeping in solitude and shivering through frigid Judean Desert nights, he’s the embodiment of Jesus Christ in everything but name. “Father, where are you?” he cries out in the film (which arrives in theaters Friday, May 13). “Father, speak to me!”

The movie implicitly takes up where the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and Mark leave off. But the film’s writer-director, Rodrigo García (“Mother and Child” and “Albert Nobbs”), is quick to point out the existentially fraught father-son relationship depicted onscreen is all poetic license and appears nowhere in the New Testament.

“I liken it to a literary conceit: You take a person from history or mythology — for example, Napoleon while he was a prisoner at Elba or Pocahontas before the Europeans arrived — and invent a few days for yourself,” Mr. García explained.

“In the figure of Jesus, everyone knows his origins and his destiny,” he continued. “I’m freed because I’m not talking about episodes that are in the Gospel.”

Read more at the New York Times.

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