‘Messiah’ centers around a man, “Al Massih”, who claims to be the Messiah, and a determined CIA agent investigating him. It explores the global movement that builds around the man, and the different lives he impacts, all the way from the Middle East to America. The show brings together narratives of people from various backgrounds, including a young Palestinian refugee, an Israeli Shin Bet officer, a Latino Reverend, a Jewish CIA agent, a troubled teenager among several others.
Just due to the sheer nature of the themes it explores, the show is set in — and has been filmed at — different parts of the Middle East and America, and even has an ethnically diverse cast that makes use of Arabic, Hebrew and English. In case you’re wondering where the series was filmed owing to its global narratives, here’s everything we know about it.
Where Was Messiah Filmed?
Netflix’s ‘Messiah’ is set in several places which include Syria, Israel, Jordan, Texas, and Washington DC. But the series was largely not filmed in here, and instead made use of other locations that served as double for these places. The principal photography for the show took place between June and August 2018, and was majorly shot in different parts of New Mexico, some other parts of America, as well as Amman, Jordan.
Netflix recently made its first purchase a studio complex, and bought one in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s latest political thriller, ‘Messiah’ was both filmed in different parts of New Mexico, but also produced here. According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production employed around 500 local crew members, 40 local actors, and about 1,800 local background talent works.
New Mexico has often been considered one of the best places for film and production because of its great incentives and resources. It also has a diverse landscape that ranges from wide, rose-coloured desert, to broken mesas, to high, snow-capped peaks. This is also why it served as a double to overseas locations in Middle East, like Damascus, and the Syrian desert that Al Massih and the 2000 refugees cross to reach the Israel border.
A reason why the team could not film on location in Middle-East was probably also because of the show’s controversial and politically charged premise. One example of this would be the scenes set in Temple Mount of Jerusalem, which got a lot of attention, not all of which was positive. But according to Petroni, setting the action at a sacred location like Temple Mount was essential for the story as it serves as a nexus of religion where Christianity, Islam and Judaism converge:
“Obviously historically they don’t meet up happily. But that is where they all meet up. And so to me as a location to a story that’s about politics and religion, it was so symbolic.”
Since it was obviously not possible to shoot on location in the sacred Temple Mount, an entire replica of the same was built for the filming of the scenes. Just like these, there were other sets built too to substitute for the settings, including another replica of the sacred Dome Of The Rock. Several parts of New Mexico were used in the filming of ‘Messiah’, including, Albuquerque, Mountainair, Estancia, Belen, Santa Fe and Clines Corners.
The other locations where Netflix’s Messiah included the area around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, in Washington DC, which is where (SPOILER ALERT) Al Massih walks on water. The scene was shot with hundreds of extras, early in the morning at 7am. But since filming on location in DC proves to be difficult, parts of the series were filmed in downtown Nashville which filled in for Washington DC.
Netflix’s ‘Messiah’ was also partly shot in Jordan, particularly Amman. Jordan has become a popular filming location in past few years, and its capital city Amman has proven to be a versatile backdrop. Over the years, films like Spielberg’s ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ and the Oscar-winning ‘The Hurt Locker’ have been filmed here.
For ‘Messiah’ the locations in Jordan were particularly used as a stand-in for its neighbouring country Syria, as shooting on location in Syria wasn’t a viable option. ‘Messiah’ manages to be a provocative but grounded suspense thriller as it explores its multicultural narratives surrounding religion, faith and politics, in a global stage, being both reflective and critical of institutions during these troubled times.
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