UFA adapting Noah Gordon bestseller

German helmer Philipp Stoelzl will direct UFA Cinema’s historical epic “The Physician,” an adaptation of Noah Gordon’s bestseller about an 11th-century Englishman who travels to Persia to study medicine.

The ambitious scope of “The Physician” is a good fit for Stoelzl, who exhibited a penchant for visual grandness in his Nazi-era mountain-climbing drama, “North Face,” and last year’s hit historical romance, “Young Goethe in Love.”

The story follows a young surgeon’s apprentice from London who travels across Europe to Persia, where he disguises himself as a Jew to study at the school of physicians in Ispahan, which does not admit Christians.

Stoelzl replaces Roland Suso Richter, who had originally been on board to direct from a script by Gavin Scott. Stoelzl is said to have brought in his own scribe for a major rewrite.

Wolf Bauer of UFA Cinema is overseeing the project, which is being prepped as a major international English-language co-production. Universal will release the pic locally.

UFA is in negotiations with Volker Engel and Marc Weigert to co-produce via their Los Angeles-based production and visual effects studio Uncharted Territory, which would provide VFX for the effects-laden pic.

Engel and Weigert most recently worked on Roland Emmerich’s historical drama “Anonymous” and are also set to exec produce the director’s sci-fier “Singularity.”

“The Physician,” which has secured €3.3 million ($4.6 million) in regional and federal funding, will likely shoot in Morocco, Romania and Germany.

Originally published in 1986, “The Physician” has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.

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