Fr. Ellwood Kieser
October 19, 1984
PHARISEE #1..........................Steve Franken
PHARISEE #2..........................Gary Morgan
HEBREW EXILE.........................Henry Proach
EXT. STABLE - DAY
Three MAGI saddle up camels and start across countryside.
A heavy blue curtain, embroidered with innumerable golden
rays shooting upward from the sun, is ripped down to reveal.
INT. ARTABAN'S DINING ROOM - DAY
Lavish. The curtain, folded by two SLAVES, is carried out,
past another SLAVE taking a beautiful stone carving of a
winged archer off wall. He places it in wooden crate, covers
it with straw, picks up crate and walks past ORONTES,
ARTABAN's servant, thirty-five, who stands at door with a
ORONTES examines crate, checks list unhappily and signals for
SLAVE to continue on his way. ORONTES follows SLAVE into
INT. MAIN VESTIBULE - DAY
SLAVE and ORONTES enter, they pass RHODESPES, who stops them
and pulls stone out of crate. RHODESPES replaces stone in
crate, nods for SLAVE to move on. In b.g., other wealthy
CITIZENS move about room, clucking over ARTABAN's
Orontes, I can't believe your
Master is willing to part with this
most extraordinary piece of art.
I know sir, it's terrible. Just
terrible. He's selling everything
RHODESPES takes a moneybag, dumps gold coins into ORONTES
Of all the Magi he has the most
lucrative practice, he has the
Even the Emperor sends for him when
he has an ache or a pain.
I can't, for the life of me, figure
out why he's doing this.
On ORONTES shrugging unhappy,
EXT. WILDERNESS - DAY
CASPAR, MELCHIOR and BALTHAZAR ride camels across the
INT. ARTABAN'S TOWER - NIGHT
ARTABAN peers through a telescope. Strewn around are
astrological charts. ORONTES escorts MERCHANT in. MERCHANT
bows profoundly, as a sign of respect to the greatest Magi.
MERCHANT takes a packet out of cloak, hands it to ARTABAN.
ARTABAN carefully undoes packet, to reveal three remarkable
looking gems a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl. He holds them
to the light, studies pearl, very proudly. Satisfied, he
nods to MERCHANT, who in turn relaxes. ARTABAN brings out a
small chest, containing many pieces of gold. As he hands it
EXT. BORSIPPA - DAY
CASPAR, MELCHIOR and BALTHAZAR ride through city.
INT. ARTABAN'S DINING ROOM - NIGHT
CAMERA PANS around room, now completely bare. SOUND of
We worship the spirit Divine, all
wisdom and goodness possessing,
surrounded by Holy Immortals, the
givers of bounty and blessing...
CAMERA CONTINUES PANNING into
INT. MAIN VESTIBULE - NIGHT
Also stripped clean of everything.
We joy in the works of His hands,
His truth and power confessing.
CAMERA rests on ORONTES, waiting. HE turns, looks out into
INT. TOWER - NIGHT
ARTABAN at telescope, surrounded by charts, searches the
We praise all the things that are
pure, for these are His only
ARTABAN's POV -- Clear sky. Suddenly, out of the darkness,
an azure spark, circled by purple spheres, spires upward.
Tiny and remote, yet perfect in every part, it pulsate in the
ARTABAN bows his head and covers his brow with his hands.
It's the sign.
ARTABAN grabs charts and heads toward nearby house. As
ORONTES dutifully follows,
INT. ABGARUS' HOUSE - NIGHT
EXT. GARDEN WITH ALTAR - NIGHT
CU of flame, which rises with the SONG. CAMERA PULLS BACK to
reveal flame on altar, casting a bright light on entire
The thoughts that are true and the
words and deeds that have won
CAMERA reveals nine MEN, differing in age, but alike in the
winged circles of gold on their breasts. Their VOICES soar
as they reach end of song
These are supported by Him and for
these we make adoration.
ABGARUS waves thin branches above fire, feeding it with
fragrant oils. TIGRANES stands in front of MEN.
As faithful members of the Magi,
we've searched the secrets of
nature together, so that we could
heal the sick. And we've
deciphered books of prophecy in
order to foretell the future. But
the highest form of learning is the
study of the stars, which are the
thoughts of the Eternal --
ARTABAN enters with charts, excited.
I have an extraordinary
Artaban, we're in the middle of the
Father, I beg permission to speak
before my fellow Magi.
Go ahead, my son.
TIGRANES frowns as ARTABAN replaces him in front of the
The prophecies are fulfilled. The
new King has shown me the star.
Meaning that he is coming to govern
the entire world, as one family.
Some of us have been trying to
chart the King's arrival for years
And some of us have a greater
facility than others.
(angrily turns to ABGARUS)
Lord Abgarus, everyone acknowledges
that your son has a brilliant mind,
but remind him that we Magi
practice humility along with our
It's true, Artaban. Your desire
for truth is sometimes obscured by
We will study your findings --
There's no time. Caspar, Melchior
and Balthazar are waiting in
Borsippa. We are leaving now, for
the court of the new King. All of
Is this why you've sold your house
and all your possessions? Is this
why you have turned away your
Yes. I bought --
(takes out gems)
These three jewels a sapphire, a
ruby and, most precious of all, a
pearl to carry as tribute to Him.
They won't leave my side till I've
placed them in His Hands.
But where would we find Him?
(draws scroll from tunic)
"There shall come a star out of
Jacob and a sceptre shall arise out
The tribes of Israel are scattered
throughout the world like lost
sheep. They are a broken race of
I am convinced He is in Jerusalem.
Artaban, better to spend your money
increasing the power of the Magi
here in our own country, rather
than surrender it blindly to some
Don't let your jealous pride hold
you back from this great challenge.
Your arrogance is only surpassed by
You say I lack humility. But you,
Tigranes, use the knowledge of the
Magi only for your own personal
TIGRANES and ARTABAN stare angrily at each other, an
explosion imminent. ABGARUS goes to altar, adds oil to flame
which causes it to burst into large size.
TIGRANES and ARTABAN step back, their eyes dropping.
TIGRANES looks at ABGARUS.
I know he's your son but can this
be the man you intend to make
leader of our brotherhood?
He turns and exits. OTHERS whisper. ARTABAN rushes to
Rhodespes, we have been waiting for
this day. Follow me.
I can't leave my new bride and I
certainly can't take her with me...
To have worked as hard as you have
to reach the pinnacle of success...
How can you push it away so
I'm not losing anything. Look what
I have to gain.
If you have to go, may your steps
He exits, OTHERS all follow, leaving ARTABAN alone with
And you, father? I know you're
anxious to lay down the burdens of
the Magi. But do you see why I
have to do this first? To give my
life meaning. Direction. Purpose.
This sign in the skies may lead to
the King. Or it may be only a
shadow and, after a long search,
you'll find only emptiness, more
Are you saying I shouldn't go?
Better to follow even a shadow of
the best, than to sit content and
do nothing. Be true to yourself.
Follow your star.
Come with me.
I am too old. But you'll have my
heart as your companion.
Then goodbye, Father, for I must be
(hugs him tight)
This could be the last time I ever
Nonsense. I'll be back soon to lay
at your feet all that I've learned
from the King of Kings. And then
I'll take the responsibilities of
the Magi from your shoulders. I
I know you will, son. Go in peace.
They hug again, tearfully, then ARTABAN gathers up jewels,
goes to altar, stares at flame, then extinguishes it. As he
exits, ABGARUS watches him.
ORONTES peeks in sheepishly. ABGARUS turns.
That didn't go well, eh?
He's searching for a King who has
the power to restore the dead to
Perhaps he's hoping to restore the
lives of his wife and children.
I expect you to serve my son
I'd rather stay here, sir.
Promise, you'll never leave him,
despite all hardships and
I'm a slave. I obey but I have no
right to make a promise.
Bring him home safely and I'll make
you a freed man.
A freed man? You have my solemn
Good. Send me full reports.
As you wish.
God be with you both, Orontes.
I certainly hope so...
ABGARUS turns to go.
ABGARUS turns back to face ORONTES.
Are you sure you wouldn't like to
try, just once more, to talk him
out of this?
On ABGARUS, shaking his head no,
EXT. ARTABAN'S HOUSE - NIGHT
INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT
ARTABAN, dressed for travel, ORONTES comes in.
Come on, we're leaving.
If I may say so, Excellency, it's
time for sleep, not horseback
I must reach Borsippa in ten days
or the caravan will leave without
(goes into Vestibule)
Borsippa in ten days?
He follows ARTABAN into Vestibule.
INT. MAIN VESTIBULE - NIGHT
ORONTES follows ARTABAN as he walks quickly toward door.
I'm sure Master is aware that's a
distance of one hundred and fifty
Are the provisions ready?
Of course. But we can't possibly
travel more than ten parasangs a
Fifteen, if we push ourselves --
Fifteen, if we push ourselves.
He looks up to Heaven, pleadingly, exits.
EXT. ARTABAN'S HOUSE - NIGHT
ARTABAN walks briskly. ORONTES hurries to catch up.
Good sir, you haven't slept in two
ORONTES puts foot step so that ARTABAN can mount horse.
ARTABAN puts up hood of cloak to cover his head.
Look, slave, I am about to embark
on the most incredible journey in
the history of mankind. If all
you're going to do is whine and
snivel, stay here.
ARTABAN takes off. ORONTES stands, as dust flies.
Excellency but, I was ordered by
ARTABAN continues riding away at full speed.
Hey! Wait up!
As ORONTES quickly mounts horse and rides after ARTABAN,
EXT. FIELD - DAWN
LONG SHOT of ARTABAN and ORONTES on horseback, riding.
EXT. SWAMPY MEADOW - DAY
LONG SHOT of them riding through swamp. Shrill CRIES fill
the air as flocks of wild birds rise and wheel in great
EXT. BY A WATERFALL - NIGHT
They continue to ride at top speed.
EXT. GROVE OF DATE-PALMS - TWILIGHT
ARTABAN rides into the middle of a clearing, dismounts.
ORONTES rides into view, dismounts, slowly, painfully. He's
got saddle-sores on his derriere.
I think it's time to tell you
something, Master I hate to travel.
(rubs sore spot)
We'll rest here ten minutes.
You are most kind. Oww.
Feed, water and brush down Vasda.
We'll reach Borsippa by midnight.
Just in time to leave with my
friends for Jerusalem.
As ORONTES approaches VASDA, the horse whinnies.
Don't you know how to take care of
a horse, you dolt? What's the
matter, girl? Hmm?
She senses danger nearby.
(heads to his horse)
Let's see what it is.
Do you think that's wise?
ARTABAN walks slowly into grove. ORONTES picks up large
stick, closes eyes. FOLLOW THEM.
ORONTES opens eyes. Starlight reveals the form of a MAN,
humbly dressed in the style of a Hebrew exile, lying still.
His skin is dry and yellow, the marks of a deadly fever.
A dead Israelite, may I suggest we
But ARTABAN keeps going.
Master, he's a total stranger.
This will only take a moment.
ARTABAN bends down, lifts EXILE's lean hand, feeling the
pulse for life. ARTABAN releases hand, it falls back
inertly. ARTABAN turns away from EXILE, just as a faint,
ghostly SIGH comes from EXILE's lips. His boney fingers
close convulsively on the hem of ARTABAN's robe, holding him
fast. ORONTES lets out a yell.
Help me. Please.
ARTABAN stops, turns.
Excellency, consider this if you
stay and help him you'll never
reach Borsippa in time. Your
friends will think you've given up
and leave without you.
Help me. Help me...
But. If I go now, he'll die.
Your goodness is renowned, sir, but
what claim has this miserable
beggar on your compassion?
He needs my gifts as a doctor. In
my saddle bag --
There's a herb, I know, I know.
(turns to go, mumbling)
I don't understand, he sells
everything, leaves the people he
loves, to seek out some King he
isn't sure exists and at the first
The King will wait for me, Orontes.
I know it.
ORONTES turns back, gives ARTABAN a half-hearted smile,
continues on his way.
The man's a lunatic.
ORONTES disappears from view. On ARTABAN lifting dying
EXT. OASIS OUTSIDE OF BORSIPPA - NIGHT
BALTHAZAR looks through telescope as MELCHIOR sits patiently.
The star grows fainter as each
We all agreed to leave by midnight.
It's past midnight.
Artaban was the one who explained
the mystery behind the star.
But maybe he changed his mind.
And if we don't go now, we'll lose
sight of it.
Artaban will be here. I say we
wait another half an hour.
I say we don't. Balthazar?
BALTHAZAR is perplexed.
Balthazar. Say something.
Another half an hour.
MELCHIOR smiles. CASPAR throws up his hands and goes to the
telescope. On BALTHAZAR sitting down sheepishly,
EXT. GROVE OF DATE-PALMS - NIGHT
EXILE, garments open, lies on makeshift bed, still weak.
ARTABAN finishes tying off bed, goes to campfire and lifts
draught he has mixed off fire. He hands it to EXILE, who
You should be fine now.
May the God of Abraham and Isaac
and Jacob bless you.
I don't need your prayers. I need
directions. I'm on my way to
Jerusalem, in search of the new
King of the Jews. Where will I
Our prophets have said that the
Messiah will be born not in
Jerusalem but in Bethlehem of
ORONTES arrives, carrying water, plops it down with a splash.
Would you like my slave to bathe
I mean, shouldn't we be on our
I can't stay any longer. Here's
all that I have left of bread and
ORONTES reacts unhappily as ARTABAN rises.
May God travel with you.
ARTABAN and ORONTES go to horses, mount. As they start to
ride, ORONTES turns to ARTABAN.
All our bread and wine? Sir,
what're we supposed to eat -- sand?
On THEM riding,
EXT. ROAD - NIGHT
ARTABAN and ORONTES push their horses furiously through sand
EXT. BORSIPPA - NIGHT
The two HORSEMEN reach the Oasis. ARTABAN hurries to spot,
only to find it vacant.
Melchior? Balthazar? Caspar?
How dare they leave without me?
Not a camel, not a slave in sight.
Not even a crumb or two of bread
(looks into telescope)
I know. I just told you --
I don't see how the two of us can
cross the desert ourselves. We...
wait a minute... that means the
trip's over, doesn't it? We can go
home right now. Yah.
Suddenly, ARTABAN bolts away, starts running up hill.
ORONTES runs after him.
EXT. HILL - DAWN BREAKING
ARTABAN runs to top of Hill, stops, looking West.
ARTABAN's POV -- Nothing, but the border of the desert. A
jackal skulks through a low bush.
ARTABAN sits on ground, as the sun rises behind him.
ORONTES, panting, comes up to him, knells next to him on
You have remarkable athletic
abilities, Master; though I'm not
sure this is the time to try them
ARTABAN takes packet from cloak, pulls out the pearl,
sapphire and ruby. He hands the sapphire to ORONTES.
Here take this. Sell it.
(replaces packet in cloak)
Oh, wonderful idea. This'll buy us
more than we need to go home.
We're not returning to Persia.
Really? Then may I ask where we
are headed --
(stops, reality hits)
Master, you can't be thinking what
I think you're thinking.
I'll follow them across the desert.
I'll need camels and provisions,
Orontes. Get them.
Master, this sapphire is worth --
Do as I say. Now.
ORONTES, heads downhill, leaving ARTABAN in solitude. He
rises, looks West into the slowly disappearing darkness and
cups his hands over his mouth.
I'm coming! I'm coming!
On ARTABAN, the sun rising beautifully over his back,
END OF ACT ONE