Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with eleven screenplays. Her adaptation of No Place for a Lady, by Maggie Brendan, has been optioned by Starz Media for distribution on the Hallmark Channel. In addition, her script, Angels on Earth, placed second-runner up in the 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Competition sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. She recently completed her first novel, The River Flows, based on her script by the same name. She currently serves as attorney, co-founder and EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a faith-based and family film finance and production company headquartered near Atlanta. Caroline has a Business Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Juris Doctor in Law (JD) and an (MBA) from Wake Forest University. Affiliations include Women in Film, American Christian Fiction Writers, the American Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar Association. Caroline is also a Stephen Minister and a Bible study teacher. She resides in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband, Bill, three children, Anna, Braxton, and Rachel, and yellow lab Dodga. She can be found at www.sixthdaymedia.com/caroline.
The Fisherman’s Testament
by César Vidal
My former pastor gave me a copy of this critically acclaimed novel by best-selling Spanish author César Vidal, and I read it cover to cover in one sitting. It is a fascinating and interesting twist on the presentation of the gospel as told by the apostle Peter while imprisoned in Rome in AD 62, under Emperor Nero’s rule.
An aging Peter has been cruelly imprisoned and is set to stand trial as an insurrectionist. Nero, wanting to understand the philosophy behind this strange Jewish sect that follows the Christos, or the Anointed One, summons one of his well-traveled generals Marcus Vitalis to lead the inquisition. Vitalis, known as “the Asiatic” for his military campaigns that have taken him to Asia Minor, Egypt, and beyond, is familiar with a wide range of cultures represented within the Roman Empire, and so becomes the logical person to assist the emperor in understanding this Christos, named Jesus of Nazareth.
When Vitalis and Nero meet the prisoner face-to-face, they quickly realize Peter is no ordinary Jewish fisherman. As he relays his experiences living and learning under the teaching of Jesus, the emperor becomes nervous and eventually leaves the courtroom. Vitalis, on the other hand, becomes intrigued, despite being plagued by disturbing thoughts and vivid nightmares.
He feels himself being slowly drawn to what is said, until he eventually takes on a protective demeanor toward the fisherman. Chilled by the stories of miracles, healings, and resurrections of the dead, Vitalis hires a historian and friend (think Roman private detective) to research the testimony and is shocked when he learns they are corroborated by reliable witnesses and historical events.
As Peter’s testimony reaches its climax of the resurrection of Jesus, Nero has become appalled at this heathen religion, while Vitalis has become a believer. Fearful the emperor senses his newfound loyalty to the Christos, Vitalis inadvertently plants a seed in Nero’s mind to rid Rome of these “despicable pigs.” As
history proves, this seed blooms into the emperor’s burning a majority of Rome to initiate his grand plans to rebuild, blaming the followers of the Christos as the culprits.
As I read this story, I imagined Russell Crowe or Clive Owen in full Roman regalia, compete with toga, laced sandles, forward-combed hair, and gleaming sword at his side. This is our Asiatic (a good alternative movie title): a man who is handsome, intelligent, physically strong, and commanding of the respect of men and women alike. Put him in the lushness of a Roman setting and you have the perfect backdrop for a blockbuster. But to ensure success, the script would need to encompass the right combination of romance, political intrigue, and sword fighting, of course.
Much of this would need to be added to the story, but the bones are there. In particular, the ending would need to be fleshed out in a movie. For example, it would be great to see Vitalis sacrifice the security and accolades of a successful Roman life by standing up to the emperor, warning Peter and the Christian leadership of the fire, and even assisting some in their escape to safety.
Ultimately, the story would strike home with the viewer as a classic tale if the great “Asiatic” sacrificed his life for the Christos, similar to the ending in Gladiator. These Christ-like stories, where the hero sacrifices his most precious possession for the greater good, has a way of piercing even the hardest of hearts. I am reminded of one of my favorite movies, The Robe, with Richard Burton, where in a similar story, a hard-hearted Roman soldier who hammers the nails into Christ’s hands encounters the power of Jesus through the robe that touched his precious shoulders prior to the crucifixion. What a clever and powerful way to show the passion of the Christ to a suspicious world (like Hollywood) who is turned off by the cross! Perhaps Christian filmmakers should consider stories like these as an encouragement that it isn’t always the underlying message being told but how it is presented.