Quest for Light — Adventure of the Magi, Written by Byron Anderson
Quest for Light takes place in northeastern Persia, in one of the kingdoms of the decentralised Parthian Empire just before the switch from BC to AD. First, we meet the main characters of the story thrity years prior as three strapping young lads who manage to help their fathers’ crew fend off a band of robbers in the desert. Now just before the advent of the common era, the boys are now men of consequence in ancient Persia, where they follow the teachings of Zoroaster — one of the earliest prophets to preach monotheism, the official religion of the Persian empires until the advent of Islam more than seven centuries later. The names of the three protagonists, who are variously kings of their lands and magi of Persia, may be familiar to western followers of Christianity: Balthasar, Hutan, and Gaspar. They are the so-called ‘three wise men’ mentioned once in the Bible, in the Gospel of Matthew. Quest for Light tells the story of their lives and the paths that led them to the New Testament.
Since being together as boys in their fathers’ caravan in the desert, they have become separated from each other as men, but they reunite to discover the origin and meaning of a new natural phenomenon in the sky: a bright star in the west — what is, in fact, the Star of Bethlehem. Besides the fact that this star is particularly bright in comparison to the others, there is something magical about this star: Despite its brightness, it is apparent that not everyone can see it. It shows itself, apparently, only to those who are worthy of its sight. The wise men all see it, and speculate as to its significance. Is it a product of their own god, or the god of the Hebrews? If the latter is the case, could it be dangerous to move toward the star? It may be a trap, or something which has nothing to do with them.
Balthasar notes that this star behaves differently from the others — it doesn’t move with the rest. ‘Surely a star this amazing doesn’t signal doom. Something extraordinary must be happening in Persia. I’ve never seen anything like it’, he says. Gaspar, knowledgeable about holy books and traditions, insists that they must travel in its direction to understand its meaning: ‘The star’s location and the Hebrew scriptures are compelling. We must go to Jerusalem’. The evil sorcerer Aeshma, on the other hand, warns the wise men otherwise: ‘Ignore the star! It will bring death and destruction to those who seek its light’. When the men decide to ignore his evil advice, the powerful Aeshma sees to it that their journey will be a difficult one.
The story is structured well, the dialogue is well-written, and the story is interesting and exciting — a real potential thriller on the screen. The Zoroastrian religious details are well-researched, but the religious aspects of the film hold true to the teachings and modern interpretations of western Christianity — from the names of the wise men, to their pious conversion and rejection of Zoroastrianism, and to the magical star which leads them to Jesus. If the story does not match history, it certainly ‘holds true to Christian theology’ — that according to the screenwriter himself. The intended audience is a religious one, and Christians will be pleased to see the care with which the story is told and the verification of their scripture on-screen. The non-Christian won’t like the ending, however, which jumps out as preachy, especially if one isn’t expecting it. The story draws one in with gusto, and then takes a decided turn toward the religious. ■
Length: 118 pages
Genre: Religious Drama, Christianity
Country: United States
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Byron Anderson is an American screenwriter (and lawyer) in Washington.
This critical review was commissioned and sponsored by the filmmaker.
Featured Image: iStock.com/LiliGraphie