FORTY is a story about faith and the resilience of the human spirit. An atmospheric and cinematic film about the loss of compassion and connectedness in Western society. A young refugee full of hope at being reunited with his sister arrives in the UK off the back of a lorry. This is day one of his journey into the wilderness. He hitchhikes across the country, telling each driver who picks him up a different story. He is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He is a student, an athlete, a carpenter, a doctor. One part of his story never changes. He is going to a place called The Seven Heavens. It is a big house in the country. His sister lives there. Years ago she wrote to him. This journey is intercut with that of another outsider, a ragged old man who collects cardboard boxes from behind an out of town shopping mall. He turns out to be a priest long deserted by his flock. He is making himself a new congregation from the packaging of consumer goods. Without knowing it these two struggling souls are destined to meet at a derelict church and be each other’s salvation.
Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus is tested in the wilderness. FORTY is inspired by Jesus’s forty days and forty nights in the wilderness and is an exploration of what faith means. In my re-telling the Jesus figure is a refugee who has arrived in the UK (the wilderness) in the back of a lorry. He has faith that he will find his sister and a better life. The devil is not personified as one individual but as the negative aspects of Western society, with its values of materialism, competition and disconnection. Mirroring scripture, he is challenged three times by this new culture and it is a battle for him to maintain his integrity. At his lowest point he gives up struggling, connects with the natural world and by so doing hands his fate over to the universe. He trusts in something bigger than himself and it is this huge leap of faith that shifts his despair. The angels that attend Jesus in the scripture are represented by one old priest who is himself struggling. In this version the angel needs Jesus just as much as Jesus needs the angel.