The Archangel Raphael

Published July 1, 2013 by RowanMeir Films

Writing the character of Raphael in Archangels was one I looked forward to every time I picked up pen to paper. When I began the rigorous journey of conducting research on the nine divisions of angels written about, philosophized upon, and debated over and why, the ninth division of angels: the archangels–the warrior angels made up of seven Seraphim–didn’t have equal amount of information on all seven angels as I had originally thought would exist. Michael and Gabriel dominated the research I poured over through the three main religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Uriel was pretty dominant in Kaballa; Sariel, Raguel and Jeremiel had very little information; while Raphael, however, popped up solely in the Book of Tobit–one of the Deuterocanonical books that was originally in the official Greek translation of the Old Testament, but was eventually left out over time.

“So the prayers of them both [Sara and Tobit] were heard before the majesty of the great God…and Raphael was sent to heal them both, that is, to scale away the whiteness of Tobit’s eyes [for he was blind], and to give Sara the daughter of Raguel for a wife to Tobias the son of Tobit, and to bind Asmodeus the evil spirit….”

– Book of Tobit (3:16-17)

While reading the Book of Tobit, I quickly jotted down notes as to how to utilize the tidbits of information revealed about Raphael and how he could be recreated in both the screenplay (and later the book) to be someone “relate-able.” I didn’t have to dig too deep since Raphael made himself relate-able to mankind in this book by transforming himself into human form:

“And Tobias left and ‘went to seek a man, he found Raphael that was an angel, but he knew not.'”

– Book of Tobit (5:4-5)

The passage goes on to describe how Raphael appeared to Tobias in the form of a man named Azarias. He travels with Tobias to a town where he meets Sara, his future wife, who had “been married to seven husbands whom Asmodeus the evil spirit had killed, before they had lain with her” (Book of Tobit 3:8). Raphael advises Tobias on how to rid Asmodeus from strangling him on his wedding night, and once he follows Raphael’s instructions:

“Asmodeus fled into the utmost parts of Egypt and the angel [Raphael] bound him.” 

-Book of Tobit (8:3)

Image(Property of RowanMeir Films. Artwork of Asmodeus by Stefan Gutierrez)

So I thought Raphael, who seems to like transforming into human form to perform works for God, could easily do it again. In Archangels, Raphael is a professor in linguistics at Oxford University, conducting research alongside one of the main characters in the story–Rachel Devereaux:

Both Raphael and Rachel share the moderate-sized office at the university, for they are colleagues—professors in linguistics—working jointly on researching the evolution of language amongst common species. He is an extremely handsome man in the classical sense: a paradox of beauty marred by an overly analytical brain that gives him an air of intimidation. And Rachel might have been attracted to him if it weren’t for the fact that his obsessive-compulsive behavior regarding tidiness, efficiency, and his incessant need to organize everything his eyes fell upon, didn’t drive her insane. The current look of horror on his face as he looks around the current state the office is in is confirmation that a love between these two will never be.

(Excerpt from Archangels: Book I © Copyright 2013)

As the friendship between Raphael and Rachel progresses throughout the story, there was a line in the Book of Tobit that was essential to the “great reveal” when Rachel soon discovers that her best friend is not as mortal as she thinks he is:

“I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.”

– Book of Tobit (12:14-15)

Image

(Property of RowanMeir Films. Artwork of Raphael by Stefan Gutierrez.)

I referenced that line as well when Rachel’s eyes are opened to who Raphael truly is:

“How? How can you possibly read this? You fought that thing. It knew your name!”“No, wait! Wait…you said the scroll was written in angelic language. Yet, somehow, you can read this.” Rachel starts to back away from him until she is at the opposite end of the office from where Raphael stands. Rachel can barely speak. Read the rest of this entry →

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He Who Is Like God

Published June 19, 2013 by RowanMeir Films

Moloch’s red beady eyes narrow in lustful desire of what he will do to these humans once their souls come to his lair. For he hates. He hates. He hates. He hates them. It is then that he feels the cold wind blow through the street as his master whispers to him a name—a name that means warning, “Michael…Michael…”

Michael in the alley

Graphic Novel Design by Scott Edward

   Moloch whips his sword from his sheath and caws loudly to his brood. The fallen angels go silent; they quickly reach for their weapons. Their goat-like eyes search the sky, the shadows, the rubble.

   Michael.

   It was bad enough when Gabriel was here, but Michael…Michael will annihilate them with a single swipe of his adamantine sword. But why this street? Moloch continues to search the landscape for the archangel. “We feel him…we curse him…we know…”

   He does not call out to Michael, for to speak his name is a battle cry in the name of God. And no fallen angel would want him here. This can only mean one thing…someone here did.

(Excerpt from Archangels: Book I © Copyright 2013)

Moloch

 Moloch Artwork by Scott Edward

When I was first writing the character of the Archangel Michael in the screenplay—followed by the book adaptation—I often wondered if Homer was thinking of Michael when imagining his mortal Achilles. I mean that in the warrior sense, not the core character of the person for that matter—an unbeatable champion…but without a weakness. For I find that in writing about the archangel himself, there is no flaw—not even to curse the very presence of evil:

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

– (Jude 1: 9-10)

A being where there is no imperfection; no ounce of pride, only humility:

I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing [the visions] to me, But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

– (Revelation 22 8-10]

A being where there is no compromise on the will of God—only duty and purpose offered by Him to carry His messages on the wings of eagles:

“Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me…’Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.’”

– (Daniel 10; 13-14)

A being whose moral compass is so firmly rooted in power and strength under the reign of God, that his sole purpose is to protect mankind from evil suffrage:

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will rise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.”

– (Daniel 12: 1-2)

Michael 2

As part of my research, I poured over scripture stemming from Judaism to Christianity to Islam to Kabala. And the one single thread that connected all mentions of the powerful archangel together was simply this: he is the champion of the people. His name is a battle cry in the name of God, for his name means “He Who is Like God.” Even various art pieces depict the inscription of his shield bearing the words, Quis ut Deus, bearing the brand of his very name. And with every mentioning, there came a sort of peace in the understanding of what this being exists for and fights over. There is a great comfort to it—if you believe in that sort of thing—which I do. So how does one begin to write a character such as this and incorporate the spiritual essence of such a being in order to force a moment of change—especially when there is no story that lacks a hint of triumph? For the archangel Michael is the moral compass in spiritual form.

So I thought of all the reasoning and arguments that deter people away from their destined paths, their religion, their families, their friends. They don’t feel welcome. They feel judged. They’re misunderstood, etc. Most (but not all) of the time hurt feelings, fear and anger are felt because one is speaking the words of their story and the other is not listening to the footsteps of the other’s paths—or so they believe, and on and on it goes. There is a lack of understanding, often at the fault of stubborn will, pride, denial, or perhaps merely a firm disagreement in the other’s actions. Or perhaps—someone isn’t really listening. Both feel they are right in their reasoning. One could be wrong. But who’s to say who should compromise or if something comparable should be considered? Each person has their own version of their kind of truth—often called perspective—that in either agreement or disagreement of that version, understanding or lack thereof, keep people apart. Whatever that argument or reason may be, throw that deterrence into the lap of the archangel Michael and a connection to the character can be made. Thus, take the black and white and hurl it into gray:

    As he caresses the feather between his fingers, he searches for the answers to his questions as to how her feather came to be there and why. From the far recesses of his mind a memory comes forth. A memory so long forgotten that Michael’s breath quickens at the suddenness to which it has revealed itself—as if this memory alone wanted to be remembered, shouting that it should never have been forgotten. And it is of Gabriel.  As soon as he remembers it, a feeling of dread consumes him. There were demons on this street when he arrived. Had Gabriel been here, that would not be. The people here were defenseless when he stepped out of the alley and onto the street. Had Gabriel been here, that could not be for she would have summoned a squadron of angels here to protect the humans as she has always done since the birth of mankind. But she knows…and the evidence that she knows is like a slap in the face that she had been here and done…nothing.

    Looking at the fire raining down around him, gripping her feather in his hand, Michael fights the thoughts, would she help him? Would she do this? But the answer does not come. Tightening his fist around her feather, he forces the doubt from his mind. No, she would not do it. Not for him. Not after that moment. Not after what Lucifer had done, for Michael remembers it. But then, in the remembering he thinks on the things that once were before they turned into the things they had become. Therein lies the doubt and the thoughts come again. Has she helped him when she should not? Has she broken the chain of command and sought escape in the shadow, away from God’s light?

    “To entertain the idea, Gabriel, of going against God’s plans is an abomination and disgrace to the word ‘angel’.”         

    Michael looks at the bloodied ground scorched in fire. Feeling the coarseness of Gabriel’s feather between his fingertips, he closes his amber eyes and breathes in long and deep. There is only one way to know the answer.

(Excerpt from Archangels: Book I © Copyright 2013)

 Graphic Novel

Graphic Novel Panel by Scott Edward

What is one to believe? What is one to know? What is an archangel to do when his second-in-command does not reveal the reason for their action and throws the world into chaos allowing the doorway of hell an opportunity to pass through? Thus lies the conflict created for the archangel Michael in this screenplay and in this book. For even in the perspective, there in only one truth–and He Who Is Like God is the one who will see the light in the darkness, see the purpose, and see it through till the end.

-Written by: #CorinaMarie

(Corina Marie Zurcher is an actress, producer and screenwriter.)

Michael 1

The Bible: The Epic Miniseries

I, Gabriel

Published May 5, 2013 by RowanMeir Films

“Whaddayamean Gabriel’s a girl?!?”

That is, without a doubt, the number one reaction I get when discussing the screenplay and book to Archangels: Book I (© Copyright 2013). It reminds me of that line in the movie Roadhouse when Patrick Swayze’s character is often told, “I thought you’d be bigger.” In other words, I have come to expect this response, and I don’t blame a single person for it, for throughout all of history, Gabriel has always been depicted as a man.

The archangel Gabriel—whose name means “strength of God”—is the most well-known angel ever mentioned in scripture. He is the “Great Messenger” often depicted as the angel that will herald the seven plagues of Armageddon with the sound of his trumpet:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

In the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to interpret his visions. In the text, Gabriel is described as a “man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude” (Daniel 10: 6).

In the New Testament, Gabriel is mentioned several times, first appearing to Zechariah:

“I am Gabriel. I stand n the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell this good news.” (Luke 1:19).

Then to the Virgin Mary:

“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greeting, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’” (Luke 1:28).

And finally, to the shepherds:

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them….’Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people…” (Luke 2: 8).

Theologians have also argued that Gabriel was one of the three visitors that appeared to Abraham and Sarah to reveal to them they will bear a son within a year’s time (Genesis 18:2), as well as the angel that visited Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to comfort him the night of the Passion:

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22: 43).

But outside of Judaism and Christianity, Gabriel is of extreme importance in Islam. It was the angel Gabriel (Jibril or Jibrail) who recited the Qur’an to the prophet Muhammed in a cave, Hira’a, near Mecca.

Taking into account all the descriptions of Gabriel throughout history, why is he a girl in Archangels?

 Gabriel-SE

(Follow AngelsandtheAnguished )

As an actor and writer, it is the relationship between the characters that, in my mind, drives a story and keeps the audience interested in the tale you are trying to tell or in the character you are playing. When writing the screenplay and then the book, the relationship between good versus evil is a dominant theme between the idea of Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil, and free will versus imposing one’s will over another. In order to capture that idea, I felt it was a necessary element to elevate the relationship between Gabriel and Lucifer into one that many people can relate to: that between a man and a woman.

How often have we read, heard or seen stories of mothers weeping over their sons who made horrific choices, or women staying in abusive relationships either with a boyfriend or husband, or even bearing witness to addictions in your brothers or sisters or very best friends? Love is a dominant theme in Christianity, and women have often been the bearers of love in the world. So what happens in a woman’s world when the one they love—whether it be a brother, husband, father, son, boyfriend or friend—makes the wrong choice, the one where you see the doom at the end of the tunnel and you try with everything within you to get that loved one to choose the light instead…and then they don’t? That relationship and understanding could only best be told, in my mind, when looking at the relationship between a male and a female—Lucifer and Gabriel.

May this choice be one others can relate to—as I know it has for me.

-Written by: #CorinaMarie

(Corina Marie Zurcher is an actress, producer and screenwriter.)

 Big John 024

 (Now available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and on Kindle.)

Writing “Archangels”

Published April 21, 2013 by RowanMeir Films

A friend of mine recently said to me, “Where is your new book?”

“What new book?”

“Exactly.”

I sat there, stunned. I looked at him utterly speechless. I had no answer. I had no idea. I had no knowledge that I was even supposed to be writing one. I was in the middle of writing another screenplay trilogy, for crying out loud. But that one little bit of dialogue was all it took. That one little question/accusation/inspiration got me going. Where was it? Where was this magical book I didn’t know I had in the works that was somehow supposed to be created and brewing within? I hadn’t written a book in a while; I had been focusing on screenwriting, auditions, meetings, coverage, building the production company, etc. I didn’t have any more time in the day to sit down and write an entire book! The last one I had written–actually–the only book I’d written was a children’s book about the misfit son of Santa ClausGrowing Up Claus © Copyright 2007) But once the idea was out there, its subtext being, What more can you create right at this moment? What story are you leaving unsaid? Well, that got my fire going.

Big John 001

What was my goal? What was I after? I have been writing scripts as vehicles to act in, produce and build a career off of. And with the varying stories and genres they represent, I can clearly see which one would be a good book, another a graphic novel, and the rest–simply the movies and films they were meant to be. So where was my book? Well, clearly seeing the one that it needed to be, I pulled the first of the screenplays: Archangels (© Copyright 2009)the first of a fantasy trilogy. The book would be written to build an audience toward the larger goal, I told myself. So off to work I went. I put the project I was working on aside and dove right in. And now it is done. I have put it out in the world and there is no turning back. No harboring this story anymore. No clasping it to my breast and squeezing it tight. Yes, it’s now out there. Archangels: Book I © Copyright 2013) has come to press.

Big John 024

To my friend who asked the question, to the Guillermo del Toro’s out there and the Darren Arnofsky’s and Gene Hackman’s and Steve Martin’s who have turned their ideas and scripts into books and graphic novels to get a film made, I salute you. It is you who have inspired me and reminded me that being one thing isn’t the only thing to be. To be an actor, you are a storyteller–by all means possible–even if you write them…

-Written by: #CorinaMarie

(Corina Marie Zurcher is an actress, producer and screenwriter.)

When Less Isn’t Always More

Published April 5, 2013 by RowanMeir Films
“It was romance I was after and it was a nightmare I found. That is my regurgitated answer whenever I am asked, ‘What was the inspiration for your book?’ Of course, I could be more specific and philosophical, but then the poetry of my meaning would be lost in the articulation. We writers know our influences. Actually, we harbor them, holding them close to our breasts, possessively and obsessively clinging to them, seized by our sorrow and our rage and our out-of-reach grace; for what we hold near are the songs of our souls that summon our muses, herald the champions within, and stir the torment that lies within our shadowed, warrior selves. Yes, we know them. We know them well. And we never forget that exact moment when the idea came. Sometimes it starts as a small seed that slowly grows. Other times, it hits us like thunder and electrifies our bodies, setting us on fire so that every word must be written down as fast as the thought comes before the fear sets in that the idea will be lost. But for writers like me, I only wished I could actually be one. I had no muses, I lacked an understanding of the champions, and my life was privileged enough whereby my only torment was my lack of torment, realizing I resided in the sun, left only to envy the warriors outside myself. And in my desperation to be that which I dreamed to be, the idea came. ‘What was the inspiration for your book?’ Yes, I remember that moment. It was a moment when I fell in love with a dead woman…and she haunted me ever since. The summoning of my muse.”  (Excerpt from Hyde by Corina Marie Zurcher.)
“Every artist has something to say. If they didn’t, they’d all make shoes. You are not a cobbler, are you Johnson?” (From the film Anonymous.)
Many times, I’ve watched a manager or agent flip through a script, nodding their head in their own silent agreement, “Good, good…not too many words…dialogue is one to two lines…no monologues…great!” Nothing in the script  is actually being read at that moment, just skimmed through as if it were an old piece of microfiche. Then their head pops up, a smile resting on their face, “This is good. No producer will read a script with too much dialogue. The audience nowadays has no attention for it, and neither does anyone
else.”
Yes, these are the keys to the kingdom…a script with minimal words. But it’s words, I say, that humans understand; it’s words, I rage, that ears are meant for; it’s words I seek when creating a character. I often wonder when the exact moment came when this “rule of scripts” suddenly shifted. When did the audience lose interest? Or when was it that filmmakers told them they should? Being a fan of classic film, I find that I watch the old films time and time again over the newer ones. East of Eden, On the Waterfront, Cool Hand Luke, A Place in the Sun. And I don’t just watch them because they are classics, I watch them…because of the words. And not just any words, but particular words that an actor can use to create the brilliant character the writer intended. Words a director can play off of to engage the audiences’ attention into the world of his players. Words adapted from a book. Words pulled from a play. Words that were more than two sentences long. George Stevens  understood this principal, even when he was asked to dumb down the dialogue for the audience in Giantand didn’t.

 

I wrote the opening excerpt to this post, having utilized a bit of the narrated dialogue from the screenplay version to Hyde. I share it on this post to hopefully prove a point, even if it’s only to myself: that words help you immediately engage with the character. Without  knowing his name, without understanding his nature, that somehow these mere words open a doorway into another world where you wish to know this man, understand who he is and wishes to become. As an actor, words are the doorway–whether or not the camera captures it.

Something has been lost over the ages, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be found. For those of you who write, keep your words. Give them to the world, engage your audience, and don’t succumb to the modern rule of “less is best” when all that is left is nothing more. Actors, demand the words. Seek them out. Use them to open a doorway into another period of time, another moment longing not to be forgotten, for without the words the authors write, we would all be cobblers…

-Written by: #CorinaMarie

(Corina Marie Zurcher is an actress, producer and screenwriter.)

Create Your Opportunity

Published March 18, 2013 by RowanMeir Films

One of the first experiences I had on set was in a little independent film called A Month of Sundays. It wasn’t so little for me since it was my first starring role in a feature film. Even bigger in my mind was who was cast as my co-star–or rather, I was cast as his–Rod Steiger. What a mammoth, a chameleon, a master, and an absolute gentleman. To say that Rod set the bar for me on how generous you should be to your fellow actor, is an understatement. To have been able to act opposite such a behemoth of an actor was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t cherish those days on set with him or bring that experience with me from project to project.

I’ll never forget the day when Rod said to me, “Create your opportunity. Don’t just be an actor who waits around for your manager or agent to get you cast in something else. That was my mistake.” I looked at him, completely taken off guard by the comment. Here was an Academy Award Winner whose legendary scenes such as the famous “Taxi Cab” scene with Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront is shown in almost every master acting class known to man, here was a legend who had won the Oscar for his tornado of a performance in In The Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier, and here was a man whose silent scream in The Pawnbroker gives me chills to this day. So I asked him, “What do you mean?”

“It was after I had won the Oscar,” he said. “I thought, ‘Opportunities will hunt me down now.’ But four years went by and not a single one came. That was my mistake. I waited. And because nothing came, I got depressed. And there’s nothing worse than an artist who gets depressed. You’re young. Create your opportunity. Find stories for yourself and don’t wait for others to find them for you.”

Those words have motivated me and inspired me ever since. As projects come my way, I am creating my opportunity outside of them. I’m not the best at networking, as a matter of fact, I despise it sometimes. But I have, thankfully, found a means of connecting and networking in a manner that I can tolerate, and have come to realize that the best moments only come when I find other creators doing the very same thing. Writing screenplays, turning those screenplays into books, finding music that inspires the circumstances and art that takes my breath away and captures those moments I seek to write and embody…how can one not dream of creating an opportunity? We live in a world of “do-it-yourself-ism.” As an actor, why wait? As a writer, why not dream? As a musician, why not perform? And as an artist, why not wield your brush for all to see? For those of you who make the idea a reality, it is you who continue to inspire me.

Create your opportunity...I know I am creating mine. Here’s to you, Rod…

-Written by: #CorinaMarie

(Corina Marie Zurcher is an actress, producer and screenwriter.)

Image

Me and Rod at the Los Angeles Film Festival

Marlon Brando in a screenshot from the trailer...

Marlon Brando in a screenshot from the trailer for the film en:On the Waterfront. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rod Steiger in ''The Pawnbroker

Rod Steiger in ”The Pawnbroker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A photograph promoting the film The Wild One depicts actor Marlon Brando. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

What Are Your Words?

Published January 12, 2013 by RowanMeir Films

I’ve heard it be said, “Write what you know.” Write the pain, write the joy, write the injustice…write your dreams. For “dreams are illustrations…from the book your soul is writing about you” (Marsha Norman).  And there should always be a purpose for what you write, for what other reason would your soul desire it? Passion does not speak in whispers, but shouts like thunder from something deep within. And so many people have that stirring within them, but they never write it down; they never share their story or put pen to paper to breathe life into that idea. They are waiting for a moment when their everyday life slows down and they have “more time” to do so. Life is all about time. It’s what you do with it that counts. And I’ve never known anyone who gained time. “It is never too late to be what you might’ve been” (George Eliot).  To tell the story that must be told, to speak your voice while your candle is still lit.

I believe that we are all creators, that every single one of us has something to say; that we all have an idea burning deep inside us. Ironic how these ideas often burst forth after listening to a piece of music, or while driving on the freeway in the middle of rush-hour traffic where you hope you can hold onto the idea long enough to write it down.  The sordid humor of the muses.  I am writing this blog to summon the muse within you. I want more stories in the world, more ideas, more words that take me to far-off places, imaginary worlds, adventurous places; ones that move me beyond any emotion I have ever felt–whether it be to drive me to anger, laughter or woe; more stories that open my mind, make me think…make me see. I want more choices, and I want those choices to be good. And what I have known, is that nothing holds more true than when someone writes from their own experience. Write what you know…  Experience elevates the ideals, speaks directly to the human heart, and ultimately binds us together by a single thread of common yearning and understanding–that we all have a song to be sung.

“Change the world with words…be the soul of the age.”

-From the film Anonymous

Be the soul of the age…William Shakespeare holds the title. But what about you? All you writers, screenwriters, songwriters, and poets…what about you? What are your words? What is the song of your soul? What is the story brewing within you waiting to be told? And more importantly…why are you waiting to tell it?

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

-Written by: #CorinaMarie

(Corina Marie Zurcher is an actress, producer and screenwriter.)