‘A Cross in the Desert’: A visually enthralling expedition of faith, temptation

SPKUP kadar 13 - prizor iz jordanske pustinje
(Photos: Sveta Petka – Krst U Pustinji)
"A Cross in the Desert," also known as "Sveta Petka – Krst U Pustinji," transcends the boundaries of conventional storytelling as it delves into the mesmerizing narrative of Paraskeva, a devout young woman who embarks on a transformative spiritual journey in the Jordanian desert. اضافة اعلان

Directed by the Serbian luminary Hadzi-Aleksandar Djurovic, this cinematic spectacle offers viewers a glimpse into the profound struggles and triumphant victories of an extraordinary individual.

Privately screened at the esteemed Royal Film Commission last week, the film stands as a testament to a fruitful collaboration between Serbian filmmaker Djurovic and Jordanian producer Khaled Haddad.

Based on the critically acclaimed novel Petkana (2001) by Serbian author Ljiljana Habjanovic Djurovic, this motion picture marks the first-ever Serbian-Jordanian co-production, primarily filmed in Jordan with additional scenes captured in Serbia and Romania.
A collaborative effort
Although production initially commenced in 2018, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its completion until 2022.

The project received support from the Government of Serbia through the Ministry of Culture of Serbia, Film Center Serbia, and the Royal Film Center from Jordan. Furthermore, the esteemed production house Jordan Pioneers played a significant role in the film's co-production.

"A Cross in the Desert" serves as director Djurovic's second feature film and his first endeavor as a cinematographer.

The film invites us to follow Paraskeva, also known as Saint Petka, as she ventures into the solitary realms of the Jordanian desert during the 11th century. Driven by an unyielding desire to live as a hermit, she confronts an array of challenges along her arduous path.

These trials encompass encounters with Zejneba, a young Bedouin girl, and an unrelenting demon who ceaselessly scrutinizes her faith. Throughout her turbulent expedition, Paraskeva remains resolute in her devotion, ultimately emerging as a beacon of unwavering faith and boundless inspiration.

Moreover, Paraskeva endures numerous tribulations and temptations on her spiritual odyssey. From encountering bandits and enduring the wiles of the devil to battling the allure of relinquishing her faith, she confronts an array of hurdles. However, she perseveres, transforming into an emblem of hope and fortitude for those who bear witness to her awe-inspiring journey.

A profound narrative
The film's splendor lies not only in its profound narrative but also in its exquisite visual composition and outstanding performances. Jelena Jovanović, the lead actress, delivers a poignant and emotive portrayal of Paraskeva.

Through her remarkable performance, Jovanović encapsulates the character's strength, unyielding faith, and inherent vulnerability, creating a deeply resonant and multifaceted portrayal.

Distinctly noteworthy is the film's treatment of religious themes. It confronts the manifold challenges encountered by Paraskeva, delving into the depths of her struggles while simultaneously emphasizing the transformative power of her faith.

Visual beauty and indelible imagery
Captivating viewers with its visually appealing cinematography, "A Cross in the Desert" transports its audience to the tumultuous yet captivating expanse of the desert.

Skillfully capturing the breathtaking beauty of vast landscapes, the film portrays the mesmerizing interplay of light and shadow. From the minute creatures that scuttle across the sands to the winds that whip through the dunes, the desert comes alive on the screen, enveloping audiences in its mystical allure.

Repetitive trials and spiritual contemplation
While acclaimed for its aesthetic prowess, the film may not resonate with all viewers due to its recurrent nature.

Following the initial stages where the story unfolds across various locations, the film predominantly centers around a singular setting. Some viewers have found the subsequent trials of temptation to be repetitive, lacking distinctiveness, and potentially impeding the overall narrative progression.

Yet, it remains crucial to recognize that these recurrent trials serve as a metaphor for Paraskeva's enduring struggle between faith and temptation, underscoring her unwavering commitment to her spiritual voyage.

A cinematic homage to faith and resilience
Aside from criticism, "A Cross in the Desert" serves as a poignant exploration of faith, resilience, and the profound human struggle against temptation. Paraskeva's unyielding dedication and unwavering resolve stand as a testament to the potency of belief and the relentless pursuit of spiritual enlightenment.

Inviting introspection into one's inner conflicts and prompting contemplation on the significance of faith in the face of adversity, the film resonates deeply within the hearts of its audience.

"A Cross in the Desert" presents a visually arresting depiction of Paraskeva's extraordinary expedition, encapsulating the myriad trials of the desert.

Filming in Jordan and the significance of religious films
Renowned for its rich historical heritage and numerous iconic locations associated with Christianity and Islam, Jordan has emerged as a favored destination for shooting religious films.

Among the prominent filming locations in Jordan, Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, commands attention. Carved meticulously into the sandstone cliffs of the Jordanian desert, Petra frequently serves as a stand-in for ancient Jerusalem in religious films.

Wadi Rum, a desert valley renowned for its breathtaking red rock formations and pristine starlit nights, has also featured prominently in numerous films, including the acclaimed epics "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Martian".

Additionally, Madaba, a town in Jordan, garners attention for its Byzantine-era mosaics, notably the Madaba Map, one of the oldest surviving maps of the Holy Land.

Recognizing the artistic and economic potential of the film industry, the Jordanian government has vocalized its support for filmmaking initiatives and offers a range of incentives to encourage filmmakers to choose Jordan as their production destination.

These incentives include tax breaks, financial assistance, and access to government-owned facilities.

In recent years, a discernible trend has emerged wherein religious films increasingly utilize Jordan as their backdrop. Notable religious films that have taken advantage of Jordan's cinematic potential include the profound "The Passion of the Christ" (2004), the revered "The Nativity Story" (2006), the enlightening "Son of God" (2014), and the thought-provoking "Paul, Apostle of Christ" (2018).

Read more Entertainment
Jordan News