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Final Project

EVENING: Edgar is born again

Through the black of the screen, small white letters begin to appear: August 13, 1900.

As the screen begins to lighten, lighting cracks, and breaks the silence.  The picture shows a large aerial view of massive terrain, as the camera sweeps over the land, slowly, then picking up speed.  As the camera slows down, a small town begins to come into view. The camera pans the streets, as a rat darts from one dark corner to another, bumps into a trash can, loudly, before it scatters into the gutter.  The camera continues showing one run down house, then another, only a muddy road separating them.  Finally it stops at the front of a small, rundown shack.  The silence is broken by a loud, prepubescent scream.

Inside the house a pale, thin boy is seized in pain, his body twisting awkwardly on top of the wooden table in the middle of the humble room.  Holding the boy’s hand, an older woman, salt and pepper hair, held his hand and whispered in his ear.

MOMMA: Calm yo self, boy.  God ain’t gonna set no pain on you, as you cain’t take.  Another cramp seized his body.

MOMMA: Them chariots gonna be worth all this if they get you tonight.

The old woman’s voice is soft and quiet in that small space, as tears rolled down her pale cheeks.  Crouching in the corner, a young boy clutches a bible, scared.

The pain seized Edgar again and his body contorted; his arms flailing behind him, his head thrown back.  His fingers were knotted in peculiar shapes and he stares down at them, unable to move. The camera follows his gaze, fixed for a few seconds on the boy’s awkward fingers.

BROTHER: The devil.  (The older boy, David, whispered from the corner.)

MOMMA: Shush up, boy.  Now go on over there and get me something to put under his head.  Go on now.

Edgar’s brother watched for another moment, and as Edgar screamed again, he jumped and ran into the other room.   When he came back he only clutched the bible.

MOMMA: Give me that thing.  (She took the bible from David, and placed it under Edgar’s head.)

MOMMA: This here will give you comfort in your time of trouble.

Outside, thick drops of rain hit camera, highlighting the crude windowpane in the shack.  David went to the window, rubbed the condensation off, and stared out into the night, the camera lighting the boy’s scared eyes.  The wind hit the old wooden shack hard, the rattling noise breaking the silence in the room.  Suddenly, the door flew open, air and dead leaving sweeping into the room.  Edgar’s Momma ran to the door, trying to close it, as the rain rushed inside.

Edgar screamed and blood began running from the boy’s mouth, ears and eyes.  In the back, Edgar’s brother screamed and ran out of the room and his mother just stared at him.  Suddenly, in the corner of the small humble room, a shadow began to take form and spread seemingly without a source.  Edgar watched through bloody eyes.

Lighting struck somewhere outside, which was followed by a loud boom.  Edgar looked down; he saw a shadow move across the floor.  It was small and almost unnoticeable at first, but as he watched, and the camera slowly focused, it grew bigger, climbing the wall to within a foot from the ceiling.  It stood there, still, unmoving, as if watching.  His mother did not seem to notice the shadow.

The book beneath his head grew harder with each moment, and the boy struggled against the weight.  Edgar wiggled his body until his head was no longer on the book, but beside it.  He touched it, closing his eyes to finally allow the inevitable to come, as if accepting his fate.  In the distance somewhere, he heard his mother gasp.  He touched his face, the blood on his hand was bright red compared to dark, depressive room.

Just at that moment a great wind pounded on the house, blowing open the doors, as they rocked back and forth on their hinges, the house began to shake and rattle as if it were coming apart at the seams.  At the same time, almost simultaneously, the dark thing in the corner dodged at Edgar, and before he could even move, it had seized him, grabbing a hold of him..

The camera switches to show the view from Edgar’s eyes.  The sound is completely absent and the boy sees a concession of visions flash before his eyes. Ancient temples, blood, death, plague… Suddenly a bright light blinded him.  It seeped from his pores and into his humble room, in the small shack that he shared with his family. After what seemed like a life time, he opened his eyes.  He awoke with his mother and brother staring at him.  His mother’s eyes were red and stained with tears.

EDGAR: Woman why are you crying?

The old woman looked at him strangely.  Thunder booms in the distance.

MOMMA: Rabboni?

EDGAR: I have seen the Lord.

His mother sighed, began to cry. She held the bible that had been lying next to the boy’s head.

MOMMA: That was the answer that our dear lord gave to his momma, Mary, in this very book…. It means teacher.  My boy, you are meant to lead others.

MORNING: Twins in Church

The screen goes black, small white letters appear: Hopkinsville, Kentucky July, 1910

Light, playful music of children softly plays.  In a small humble room, a group of people sit and listen to a sermon.  The preacher screams loudly and as the music fades, his is the only voice heard.  The camera slowly focuses on two little girls sitting on the pews.  One girls is very light skinned and her complexion is a contrast to her sister whose skin is very dark.  The dark skinned girl has on a very light yellow dress, and the light skinned one has on a darker blue one.  The camera picks up this contrast of complexions and colors and room and sounds fade in the distance.  The room and everything around them is dark and dull in contrast.

The darker skinned girl swings her legs back and forth, kicking the back of the rickety bench. Beside her, her daddy gives her a look, and so the girl stops and sits back, defeated.

A few rows back a woman shouts “Amen” and begins wiggling in her seat.  As the minister talks the women falls to the floor, shouting crazed hallelujahs to the Lord.  Leona and Iona giggle covering their mouths, staring at their father, so they won’t get in trouble.  Beside her, a man waves a brightly colored fan with a picture of a pretty white angel on the back, over the old woman.

The girl’s oldest brother, Jacob, covers Leona’s mouth with his hand to keep her from making too much noise. Mr. Jefferies bit off a great, big hunk of his tobacco, walled up in a big old ball, chewed on it a bit and got up and spit in the tub in the back of the church.  He winks at the girls on his way back to his seat.

When the preacher is finished, everyone gets up and shakes hands in fellowship.  Leona stands up, looking bored.  By the time she makes her way outside, Iona is already there laughing at her.

A young girl wobbles out, taking each of the stairs one at a time.  Her feet were as big as sausages and her belly is bigger than her head.  She strolls by the girls, smiling at each of them and walks off into the trees and disappears.  Iona looks at Leona and then back at her parents, and before her sister could stop her, she dashes off into the woods after the girl.  Leona follows, her bright skin flushing red in the heat.  The camera runs behind the girls, the lens brushing against the tree branches, and over tree stumps.  As they run, the same lighthearted son begin to play again.

Suddenly it becomes obviously darker inside the tree line than it had been outside, and the music stops.  The sun hardly peeks through the bushy treetops at all, and in the camera light, it looks almost as if it has turned to night instantly.  Somewhere in the distance, the girl cries.  The noise distorted in the woods and the shadows begins to take on a sinister feel, as the light grows even darker.

Iona turns to her sister and the girl’s face is concerned.  Leona, smiled, but it’s forced and the camera zooms in on the girl’s imperfect teeth.  Leona then reaches out to her sister, tries to stop her twin.

The pregnant girl sits on a fallen tree trunk, her hand perched on top of her massive stomach.  Tears stained her face, falling to her humble dress in fat drops, staining that too.  She tries to smile when she sees the twins, but it’s strained.  Iona looks at her sister, nods and says, “Janice.”  Iona made her way to the pregnant girl.

IONA: Are you all right?

PREGNANT GIRL: Yeah.

Suddenly Iona reaches out and touches her, quickly, too fast for the camera to see, so it moves in slow motion. A tiny shock is sent through the girl.  Janice jumps and looks into the Iona’s eyes.

PREGNANT GIRL: How old are you and your sister now?  Nine?  (Iona nods.)  I thought so.  I remember when you was born.  They say you two was special, ya know. ( She paused for a long time.  So long she looked like she’d fallen asleep with her eyes opened.)  It hurts…real bad. (Janice touched her stomach and puts hand between her legs.)  It ain’t time though.  I got me two months to go.  It’s somethin’ else.  Something’s wrong.  I can feel it.

IONA: I know.  I feel it too.

As the camera watches, Iona’s eyes flair up like a light, twinkling.  Janice’s face begins slowly become calmer and more tranquil. The two, Iona and Janice, stare at each other as Leona watches.  Finally Janice closed her eyes.

IONA: Suffering never last as long as it feels sometimes.  And heaven comes after, momma said.  So it’s worth it, I guess.

The pregnant girl smiles, nods. She sits there for a moment longer, then stands up and wipes her dress clean.  When she walkes away, she is just a little lighter on her feet, her back just a bit straighter.

LEONA: The baby’s dyin’.

IONA: You sure?  (Leona nods.)

IONA:  What’s wrong with it?

LEONA: It was bad.

Suddenly the camera flashes to what the girl saw in her vision.  Dramatic music booms as the insides of the girl’s belly come into focus.  Amniotic fluid swirls as the fetus appears on screen and slimy crawling, wiggling worms smothered the life from the unborn baby.

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Sections:

  • Intro

Saints of the Black Patch is a historical film set during the 1908 Black Patch Tobacco Wars of Kentucky.  Struggling to survive in the segregated south, nine year old twin psychics befriend a young supernatural healer as they battle fear and prejudice to save the town from the men who have come to destroy it.

Hopkinsville is a small little town barely even noticeable on any given map.  The land is massive and empty and the days are long and hot, oppressive.  Tobacco is the heart and soul of Hopkinsville. The people here live and breathe by the thick, dark leaves of this plant.  But that which has sustained this land and its people for so long has begun to die.  No rain, and the soil is dry and unable to sustain the dark plant.

God is not absent in this land and the people pray to Him to insure they wake to see another day.  They pray for Him to guide the souls of their dead.  But this does not always help in this God forsaken place.  Sometimes, sometimes they need more.

This assistance comes from three young children who are feared and revered in this town for their gifts as if they have been blessed or cursed by God himself.  Most people in Hopkinsville KY don’t know which they believe, whether the children are blessed or cursed, so they just keep their distance.

  • Characters
    • Leona and Iona Kelly: Nine-year-old Negro twins, Leona and Iona Kelly, work and play on their father’s farm, leading the tobacco and keeping the crop.  They play with each other, and the undead things that live in the shack in the woods behind their house.  They also work hard at the gift God has bestowed upon them.  Leona sees the dead.  Iona eases the pain of those still living through touch.
    • Edgar Kay Morrison: A white boy’s whose friendship with the girls is forbidden.  Most people in Hopkinsville Kentucky think that Edgar is cursed; he is hated and revered all at the same time.  People accept him, because they need him; they use him to help the souls of their dead.  But Edgar senses something terrible brewing in the soil of Hopkinsville, something other than the restless souls. 
    • John Amos: John Amos and his Brigade of men are set on destroying anything that they feel is not holy—including several cursed, colored children, damned by God.  He arrives in town, the camera looking up at this great white man, on his great white horse as he set fire to another man’s crop.  As the land burns, the leathery, metallic green wings of June bugs danced in the sky.  Soon, Amos will set his sight on the children.
    • Sam Newton King: Sam Newton King fancies himself king of the reporting world.  He’s sure that the news, as he sees it, is just a conduit into the lives of others.  Sometimes those lives are happy but more often than not, they are wroth with trouble, and he is always there to help guide them through it.  Or at least report on it.  He is here in Hopkinsville to report on the struggle of the Brigade and the Trust holding the monopoly against the farmers’ tobacco.

Scenes:

  • Beginning scene/ The opening scene will show a series of gritty black and white photographs of African Americans post civil war, as the slow mellow gospel voice of Vera Hall sings Death Have Mercy spectacularly in the background.  The pictures will show blacks working the fields that they sharecrop.  There will be pictures of more affluent and poorer families, large families and individual men and women.  Pictures of small towns with mud roads and women walking with dirty skirts sliding along the ground and many more.  As shown below:

The final pictures will show children working and playing, picking up speed as the last photos take the screen and the beautiful voice of Vera Hall slowly fades.

  • Additional Scenes/ I will focus on several scenes showing the relationships and the importance of the characters through dialogue, setting, lights, etc. and their roles within the film.   The film itself will have the gritty, realism feel of a period piece. 
  • Arc of story/ In the night, the camera focuses on the dark figures in the distance, as it slowly centers in on Amos, his face appearing in the night. His brigade beats the twins’ brother in the center square while the town gathers around.  As the onlookers watch, Amos shoots Edgar Morrison and sets fire to the town.  Edgar dies in the twins’ arms unable to save himself as he has so many others. The town as a collective whole must decide to come together as a group to save themselves and they kill and bury Amos in a shallow, unmarked grave in town as a warning to others that they will never allow this to happen on their soil again. 
  • Ending scene/ Both Leona and Iona walk through the remains of their family’s land, the camera focusing on the girls’ sandaled feet.  They go into the woods, the trees brushing against the camera lens, as it pans each girl, back and forth.   The audience learns that the girls have come to save the souls of Negros trapped, still walking the night by moonlight guided by the North Star toward freedom that they will never reach.  The twins release the souls as Edgar has taught them and the audience is assured that they each will keep their promise to Edgar and the dead Negros from the woods; they will remember to tell those that come after them that things can, and will, get better.

Conclusion:

I will discuss why I think this film should be made and how it differs from others in its genre.

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Two completely separate drinking fountains appear on the screen as dark harbingers for things to come in the film Mississippi Burning.  The fountain themselves, both pasted on the wall, as if held there by an invisible string, are as different in appearance as the two groups of people using them.  The separate water sources vividly illustrate the forced separation of the black and white people within the state of Mississippi.

The first fountain, listed for “whites” is a big elaborate affair.  It’s stainless steel construction and noticeable durability looks about as unmovable as the forces behind segregation depicted within the film.  The second fountain for the “colored” is an older, worn, porcelain model which has seen many years.  The water flows steady and constant, which it obviously has done for a long time. The walls supporting the fountains have faded, becoming dingy and dirty, but they have endured for many years and there is no doubt they will continue for many more.

The importance in this scene, however, is the water itself.  The steady flow of fluid cascading down the porcelain tub symbolically represents the slow steady pace of progress for which the blacks within Mississippi have overcome the hardships of this oppressive system.  The water flow, however, has not been stopped, and as each drop tumbles over the edge, another one comes to replace it.  So, too, does the movement continue despite obstacles.

Like the walls, the black people in Mississippi endure many trials and hardships, becoming faded and tired.  But no matter how difficult the tribulations, just as the unstoppable water in the small fountain did in the beginning of Mississippi Burning, they persevere and will not stop until they have overcome the system trying to hold them down.

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Ominous light and dark shades are used to convey an overall oppression in the agonizing film, Matewan.  Racial tensions pervade throughout the story and the coal mine and the company that owns it is a dangerous harbinger of hopeless pain for the people in this small community.

The film opens with a single light brightening an expansive darkness.  This solitary light is repeated many times over, illuminating a vast empty space; and in one case symbolically signifying the arrival of Joe Kenehan, a beacon of light guiding the town through this rough time.

Down in that hole in the mine, soot covered the faces of the men, and nothing but the whites of their eyes are visible, making every man the same black color.  This is an important image in the movie.  The company wants to keep the men from coming together to form a union.  As soon as they realize that they are all suffering because of the mines, however, the men form a solitary united force.  This is obvious in the night scene when the characters decide to work together, each throwing down their pickaxes and shovels.  None of the men’s faces are any more visible than the other in the dark, and each is equal to the man beside him.

Likewise, small, closed rooms and dark spaces packed with people, represent the dark, closed bleak lives that the people within the town endure every day.  It isn’t until the group moves out into the fields, in the open, away from the mine, that things get lighter, elevating the cramped desperate feel of the coal mines and life with the company.

In the last scene, Danny, the young preacher, is back in the mines, his eyes white and wide, and having not been successful, his soul as black as the men he’d grown up alongside.

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When a woman exerts her power mentally, physically and sexually, she is usually seen as a threat to men and the establishment.  This is the case for Norma Rae, who is very unhappy and looking for something she can’t seem to find in the men around her.

The first love of Norma Rae’s life is her father.  He spends his days in the textile working next to his daughter and he wants her to stay in the house with him at night as well.  Norma Rae herself comments on his odd behavior telling him “There’s something wrong with [him] trying to keep [her] off men.”  Even so, her father is one of the few stable people she can count on.

Norma Rae doesn’t have a lot of control over her life.  She works at a dead end job in a dead end town, supports her two children on a minimum wage and she still lives with her parents.  Because of this, she seems to use sex as a means of escape.  The first man she sleeps with on camera beats her up when she refuses to do it again.  This use of violence and control spills over into her job as her boss sexually harasses her and she is intimidated by a group of men while she tries to change unfair policies at work.  In doing so, she is roughed up, arrested and manually forced into a police car by several policemen.

One of the bright spots for Norma Rae is Reuben Warshowsky. A strong and powerful character—like Norma Rae—and he seems to be her soul mate. Norma Rae’s smitten with him as he helps her get justice at work and become more self-assured and comfortable with herself.

Norma Rae did not marry for love as much as she married for stability.  Although her relationship with Reuben is a source of contention between the two, her husband Sonny loves her unconditionally.  When asked, Norma Rae says she hasn’t slept with Reuben but she admits that “he’s in her head.”  Unfazed, Sonny tells her that he has no other woman on his mind and that he’ll be there with her for as long as she wants him.

Norma Rae may not find true love in Sonny, but she does learn to trust in herself instead of the men around her.

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Although the “dueling banjo” scene is one of the most memorable images in the movie Deliverance, an important character is almost wholly overlooked: the river. The water and the elements of nature are so ingrained in this movie that they can not be removed.

In the truck on the way to their big adventure, one of the characters, Lewis, tells his three comrades that this river is, “Just about the last wild, untamed, unpolluted, un-fucked up river in the South.”  Unfortunately for them, the entire valley is set to be flooded to construct a dam, so this is the last chance any of the men will have to explore it.  Though the Cahulawasse River in the movie is fictional, we get a sense for these uncivilized waters, as we catch the first glimpse of the raging torrents and the camera slowly focuses in to show the full effect.

As the four friends set out, it is clear that they feel as if they are on top of the world, laughing and screaming in joy while gliding through the violent rapids.  At one point, one of the friends mentions having tamed the river.  But, Lewis is there again to remind them of how wild and unpredictable it is.  He says simply, “You don’t beat it.  You don’t beat this river.”

True to the word, the river delivers two members of the group into danger.  They stop to rest and drink and several men attack them.  During the infamous “squeal like a pig” scene, in the silence, just before Lewis has to take the life of a man to save his comrades, you can hear the water, just so in the background, running, steady as you know it has done for hundreds of years.

The river is used for survival as the men try to flee, and it is deadly, killing at least one member of their party.  However, in many respects, the water also becomes their savior when the group buries their secrets beneath its depths.

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Struggling to survive in the segregated south in 1909, nine-year-old twin psychics,

Leona and Iona Kelly, befriend a young supernatural healer named Edgar Morrison,

as the three helplessly fall victim to fear and prejudice in the rural southern town

of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

CHARACTERS: Nine-year-old Negro twins—Leona and Iona Kelly work and play on their father’s farm, leading the tobacco and keeping the crop. They play with each other, and the undead things that live in the shack in the woods behind their house. They also work hard at the gift God has bestowed upon them. Leona sees the dead. Iona eases the pain of those still living.

Edgar Casey: A white boy’s whose friendship with the girls is forbidden. Most people in Hopkinsville Kentucky think that Edgar is cursed; he is hated and revered all at the same time. People accept him, because they need him; they use him to help the souls of their dead. But Edgar senses something terrible brewing in the soil of Hopkinsville, something other than the restless souls.

LOCATION: Hopkinsville, Kentucky is said to be a cursed land, as Native Americans are believed to have said “let the White man have that land if he’s stupid enough to settle there.” As our story progresses, so does the temperature and the tobacco, which has sustained the land for so long, is dying.

CONFLICT: John Amos and his brigade of men are set on destroying anything that they feel is not holy—including several cursed, colored children, damned by God. He arrives in town, the camera looking up at this great white man, on his great white horse as he set fire to another man’s crop. As the land burns, the leathery, metallic green wings of June bugs danced in the sky. Soon, Amos will set his sight on the children.

LIGHTING, CAMERA, MUSIC: There will be many long shots used to show the expanse of fields and massive land on location. The girls are young, poor and black—to elaborate on this, the cameras will be kept low, eye to eye with the girls and their sharecropper family. Music will be used to add to the tension. The days are long and hot, and the lighting will be oppressive, making use of this with our low budget.

Based on a true story and very reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Saints of the Black Patch is a historical film set during the 1908 Black Patch Tobacco Wars of Kentucky. Filmed on location, Hopkinsville Kentucky today is a small out of the way town barely even noticeable on any given map. This makes it the perfect spot to film, as it is still basically untouched with farms and large, lavish tobacco fields. The shooting will take place in the summer, where the heat and humidity will add to the tension and feeling of hopelessness and oppression.

Saints of the Black Patch is a ninety minute feature film with a low-budget of about 5 million dollars.

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