A sweeping epic about the quest for knowledge in a violent world full of superstition and prejudice, 'The Physician', follows Rob Cole (Tom Payne), from medieval England where he first discovers his terrifying gift, to the far flung corners of Persia. There he becomes apprenticed to the Barber (Stellan Skarsgard), and learns more how his unique ability to foresee impending death can be used to heal. Academy Award-winner Ben Kingsley stars as Ibn Sina, the "doctor of all doctors", who inspires Rob to accept his gift no matter what grave consequences he faces.
This 4-hour German TV production was cut down to 2.5 hours for cinematic release but is still achingly long. It plays like basic early Saturday evening TV fare, with stultifying direction and an irritatingly overbearing score. Stolidly paced and with little narrative thrust, it has taken over 20 years to come to the screen and was probably better left in book form. Lovers of the Isle of Skye will at least be amused to find our 11th century hero travelling around the Trotternish peninsula and coming across Dover!