1 EXT. BEACH COTTAGE – PALM BEACH. DAY. 1908
Thursday, December 1, 2016
THURSDAY’S CHILD is the story of Bea Miles, one of Australia’s most famous eccentrics.
I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Bea Miles, along with fellow filmmaker Jan Sharpe. We planned to make a documentary about Bea.
Unfortunately, Bea died before the cameras began to roll. With the interview tapes, with access to Bea’s diaries and with other research I conducted, Bob Ellis and I co-wrote a screenplay which, at one point, resulted in a substantial investment in the project by the Australian Film Commission.
Alas, we could not fully finance the film at the time.
Bob Ellis is no longer with us and I ponder, in this new ‘Netflix World’ whether I should resurrect the project as a high end TV series. To do so would require that I talk with members of staff at Screen Australia. It would require also that I be able to make a development application to Screen Australia. I am allowed to do neither as a result of the ban placed on me by Screen Australia – essentially the same film funding body that was keen to see the film go into production all those years ago!
To the best of my knowledge the last time a filmmaker was banned in the ‘free world’ was during the 1950’s when Joe McCarthy reigned supreme in Hollywood.
1 EXT. BEACH COTTAGE – PALM BEACH. DAY. 1908
BEA MILES, a fair-haired five year old girl in a white dress, plays happily on a rock amidst tall grass and a profusion of wildflowers in a lush overgrown garden. Beside her is a hat full of flowers she has picked and in front of her a brightly coloured music-box – around which she is arranging a circle of wildflowers.
Through the wooden frame of an old swing and the gum trees at the lower end of the garden, Pittwater Bay can be seen, sparkling silver in the late afternoon light.
With great care and precision, Bea takes one last flower from the hat and completes the circle. She becomes quite serious now, placing both hands on the music box, tilting her face up into the sun, closing her eyes and whispering softly to herself:
BEA I wish…I wish…I wish…
The sanctity of her private ritual is broken by the sound of her father calling out to her.
MR MILES Bea…Bea, darling...
2 INT/EXT. BEA'S CAVE. DAWN
BEA MILES, a 60-year-old ‘bag lady’ now, awakens with a start in a cave at the mouth of a huge storm water channel.
BEA Yes?… What?…
After a moment’s disorientation she realizes that she has been dreaming – the changing impression on her face revealing the complex feelings the dream has induced in her.
As she sits up in her ‘swag’ – a rumpled assortment of old grey army blankets – BEA grimaces: her arthritis is bad this cold winter’s morning.
The cave is Bea’s ‘home’. A wooden packing case serves as a table. On it are jars of tea and sugar, a loaf of bread, a newspaper, some books and a vase with a bunch of wilting flowers in it.
Close to her swag are the smouldering embers of last night’s fire, on which sits a blackened billy. Leaning up against the rear wall of the cave is a painted wooden sandwich board placard that reads: SHAKESPEARIAN RECITALS, 6d, 1/-, 1/6. RATIONAL CONVERSATIONS ON ANY TOPIC. Another box, turned on its side, serves as a makeshift bookshelf. In it are a dozen or so books.
Overwhelmed by her memories, BEA looks out through the mouth of the cave at the mist-enshrouded park on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour. Her eyes sparkle in her lined old face.
3 EXT/INT. CITY STREET. DAY. 1963
OPENING CREDIT SEQUENCE BEGINS. MUSIC OVER.
BEA, wearing a thick brown army coat over a floral print dress, a stained sun-visor and with her SHAKESPEARIAN RECITALS sign around her neck, hides behind a red postal box at a busy inner-city intersection. People around her react with frowns, grins and amusement. A little girl looks at her with amazement.
When the lights change and the traffic stops, BEA runs as fast as her arthritic legs will allow, in the direction of a taxi. The taxi driver (whom we will later recognize as SYLVIE), notices BEA’s approach too late and is in the process of trying to lock the front-side passenger door when BEA opens it and drops into the seat beside her; greeting her cheerily.
SYLVIE clearly knows BEA well but would prefer not to have her in her cab right now; indicating the respectably dressed husband and wife in the back seat. Bea turns and smiles at the shocked couple, ignoring Sylvie’s angry scowl.
4 EXT. GENERAL POST OFFICE. DAY
Bea approaches a news stand in front of the large brown columns outside the General Post office and buys a newspaper from the proprietor. As she scans the headlines she makes her way further down the road to where a thin, leather-skinned old lady - MOLLY - is tending her flower stand. BEA and MOLLY greet each other warmly: old friends. As they chat, BEA picks out the bunch of flowers she wants and shakes the last of her money from a small leather pouch, handing it to MOLLY. MOLLY won’t take it. BEA insists. MOLLY shakes her head.
5 EXT. MITCHELL LIBRARY. DAY
BEA, standing on the sandstone colonnade at the Mitchell Library, recites animatedly to a small group of university students. Most are impressed - especially the young women - but there are a couple of young men who make no secret of the fact that they think BEA is crazy. Carried away by her performance, BEA is oblivious to her audience’s response. She finishes her recital to mixed applause and mocking laughter. A young pimply-faced smart Alec hands BEA a shilling and makes a joke at her expense. Several of the students laugh. BEA looks directly into the young man’s eyes and with a few carefully chosen words puts him in his place, causing him to blush and eliciting uproarious laughter from the crowd.
6 INT/EXT. TRAM. CITY STREET. DAY
BEA sits on a crowded tram playing a game with an enchanted three-year-old girl who stands between her outstretched legs and looks at her with awe. The girl’s mother, sitting adjacent, smiles a little nervously. The other passengers look on: amused. BEA is totally absorbed in the game. Her eyes sparkle and her old face is broken by a warm radiant smile. She taps the girl's forehead - ‘Knock at the door’. The girl laughs. She pulls the girl’s ears - ‘Ring the bell…’
As the game continues, a blue-uniformed TRANSPORT INSPECTOR can be seen moving down the aisle; checking tickets. Behind him is a somewhat nervous and apprehensive TRAM CONDUCTOR. The TRANSPORT INSPECTOR stands close to BEA, hands on hips, and demands her ticket. BEA, clearly annoyed by this interruption, refuses to acknowledge his presence. When he becomes more insistent she turns to him angrily and lets him know, in no uncertain terms, that she has not got one and has no intention of buying one.
The TRANSPORT INSPECTOR pulls the cord and the tram jolts to a standstill. He makes it quite clear that Bea should either pay her fare or get off. BEA folds her arms, shakes her head and looks out the window. Everyone on the tram - especially the TRAM CONDUCTOR - is amused by the officious TRANSPORT INSPECTOR’s inability to get BEA to buy a ticket. The angrier he gets the more studiously does BEA ignore him; taking her tobacco pouch calmly from the dilly bag that hangs from her shoulder and beginning to roll herself a cigarette.
7 INT. COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS. DAY
The MAGISTRATE, with BEA’s fat file in front of him, looks over the top of his spectacles to where BEA sits playing Patience with a pack of worn cards at the table reserved for legal counsel, obviously bored by the proceedings.
The TRANSPORT INSPECTOR, who has just finished giving evidence, stands in the witness box.
MAGISTRATE I seem to recall, Miss Miles, that you promised last week to pay your fares for the next month?
BEA Yes, Wally, but that was for buses; not trams.
Laughter in court. The MAGISTRATE shakes his head.
MAGISTRATE Fined five pounds. In default, five days hard labour.
BEA (cheerily) Time to pay, Wally. Please?
MAGISTRATE (wearily) Only if you give me an understanding not to offend again for at least a month.
BEA (sighing dramatically) I can only try, sir. But success is in the lap of the gods.
MAGISTRATE That includes taxis, too. And any other form of transport known to man.
BEA (smiles) OK. Wally.
MAGISTRATE Miss Miles, I should point out to you that this is your 199th conviction for traffic related offences. I hope I will not have to preside over your 200th.
8 INT. BEA'S CAVE. NIGHT
BEA lies in her swag beside the fire in her cave on a rainy winter’s night; propped up on one elbow, reading GULLIVER’S TRAVELS. She wears a tin miner’s hat with a flashlight attached its beam illuminating her book. Beside her, a steaming hot cup of tea and nearby, on her packing case table, a transistor radio playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The music brings back memories. BEA finds it difficult to concentrate on her book. She looks out into the night rain; absorbed by her private thoughts.
9 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM. AFTERNOON
BEA walks into a small intensive care ward in a hospital and over to the bed on which MOLLY lies unconscious. She removes her SHAKESPEARIAN RECITALS sign, places it against the wall, and pulls up a chair. She sits and looks with fondness at the sallow-cheeked face of her old friend; reaching out to push some wisps of white hair back from MOLLY’s face.
It is night now. BEA sits beside MOLLY; lost in her own thoughts. MOLLY opens her eyes. She recognizes BEA and the faintest suggestion of a smile appears on her face.
BEA (smiling) Hello Moll. You’re still aloft. Still with us.
MOLLY It’s bad this time, isn’t it? (BEA NODS) I’m worried about one thing, Bea. Probably doesn’t matter. Though I think it matters. I’m worried I was wrong.
BEA You could have been.
MOLLY He was a good man, Bea. And it’s too late.
BEA No matter, Moll. It’s all in the past.
MOLLY It was just a second ago and I was a girl. And he came in the front door, so…tall he almost filled up the door.
Molly’s words stir BEA’s own memories.
MOLLY And I looked up. (A BEAT) He didn’t mean it Bea. Not the way things turned out.
BEA Things change don’t they. Quick as winking.
MOLLY Hold my hand.
BEA takes MOLLY’s hand and holds it between her own.
BEA We’ve had a good innings. We’ve had good mates.
MOLLY I don’t like it Bea. I’m scared.
BEA (sings) “Hushabye, don’t you cry, Go to sleep my little baby. When you wake you shall have all the pretty little horses…”
10 EXT. BEACH COTTAGE - PALM BEACH. DAY. 1908
YOUNG BEA (5 years old) sits between her father’s MR. MILES' legs in amongst the tall grass and wildflowers; her head resting against her chest and her hands on his knees. A tinkling rendition of All The Pretty Little Horses emanates from the music box in front of them - its lid now open. Old Bea’s soft singing mingles with the music box music then fades...
OLD BEA (singing) “Pintos and bays, dapples and grays, all the pretty little horses…”
MR MILES, a handsome man in his mid-thirties, takes a distinctive red wildflower from the hat beside them and holds it in front of his daughter.
MR MILES And this one?
BEA thinks for a moment.
BEA Um...Fan...Blandfordia Grandi…Grandiflora.
MR MILES (smiles) Good girl.
BEA turns her head and looks up at her father proudly. MR.MILES kisses her on the forehead and picks up a blue flower. BEA looks at it, a slightly impish smile appearing on her face.
BEA It’s a... It’s a... It’s a...
MR MILES It’s a what?
BEA (smiling) A blue flower.
BEA bursts out laughing. MR.MILES hugs her tight and laughs also.
MRS MILES, in her early 30s, wearing an apron over a floral print dress, stands on the verandah of the green wooden beach cottage, watching her husband and daughter laugh together in the garden; a look of contentment on her face. Beside her is a table covered with a variety of freshly picked wildflowers that MR.MILES has been pressing and mounting in a leather-bound book. Behind her, in the house, her TWO DAUGHTERS are playing with new toys in front of a Christmas tree.
MRS MILES (calling out) Darling!...Bea!... Lunch.
MR. MILES waves his arm in acknowledgment but does not turn. MRS. MILES calls to her two sons who are playing cricket in another part of the garden.
MRS MILES Boys...wash your hands now... It’s time.
The tune on the music box finishes; BEA closes the lid.
MR MILES What did you wish?
BEA It’s a secret.
MR MILES You can tell me.
BEA shakes her head. MR. MILES hugs BEA tight - playful; insistent.
MR MILES Go on.
BEA Daddy, can I have a swing?
BEA runs in the direction of the swing, disturbing two butterflies that she then chases through the long grass; squealing happily.
MR. MILES gets up and follows her. In the background, close to the cottage, MRS. MILES and GRANDMA ELLIE (Mr.Miles' mother), arrange a sumptuous Christmas lunch on a table in amongst the trees.
BEA has stopped and stands transfixed, watching the two butterflies that have alighted on a branch and are now mating. She calls excitedly to her father.
BEA Daddy, look!
MR. MILES catches up, kneels beside her; his face close to hers.
BEA What are they doing?
MR MILES Mating, darling...to make babies.
BEA thinks hard for a moment.
BEA Why do they want to make babies?
MR MILES If they didn’t, there’d be no more butterflies after they died.
BEA (thinking hard) Oh! Where do they go when they die?
MR MILES Nowhere. They just die.
BEA Where do people go when they die?
MR MILES Nowhere, darling. They just die too.
BEA is puzzled and a little upset by this.
MR. MILES watches BEA intently as she ponders the implications of what her father has just told her.
MR MILES Come on, sweetheart. Lunch.
He sweeps her into her arms. BEA wrestles free.
BEA A swing first.
MR MILES Alright.
The rest of the family had sat down to lunch. MRS MILES calls out.
MRS MILES William! Lunch is on the table.
MR MILES (off screen) Be there in a minute.
MRS. MILES is a little annoyed. Bea's four brothers and sisters are resentful at having to wait.
BEA squeals elatedly as MR. MILES pushes her higher and higher on the swing.
BEA Higher! Higher!
MR. MILES, infected by BEA’s excitement, pushes her higher. GRANDMA ELLIE is annoyed.
GRANDMA ELLIE William!
MR. MILES seems not to hear. On BEA’s ecstatic laughing face as she swings up into the sky:
11 EXT. BEACH COTTAGE. DAY
NINE YEARS LATER
BEA, fourteen years old now, laughs as MR. MILES pushes her on the swing - her dress billowing out and exposing her naked thighs as she swings towards him.
MRS. MILES watches from the verandah; vaguely embarrassed. MR. MILES gives BEA one final exhausted push and staggers back breathlessly.
MR MILES Enough.
BEA (laughing) More!
MR MILES Enough.
She lets go of the swing and flies through the air; landing in front of her father, stumbling and crashing into him. They fall in a tangle of arms and legs in the long grass.
BEA (laughing) You’re getting old.
MR MILES (laughing) And you’re getting fat.
BEA kisses her father impulsively on the cheek.
BEA (coquettish) I am not.
MR. MILES, suddenly aware that he and BEA are lying in each other’s arms like lovers, feels a little uncomfortable. He rolls out from underneath her.
MR MILES Bet this old man can beat you to the lighthouse.
BEA Bet he can’t.
MRS. MILES looks on, worried.
12 INT. PUBLIC HALL. NIGHT. 1917
MR. MILES stands in front of a banner stretched across the stage that reads: COMPULSORY DEPORTATION OF OUR MANHOOD MEANS RACE SUICIDE. SAY ‘NO’ TO CONSCRIPTION. He is trying to make himself heard above the rowdy crowd. There are some soldiers in uniform present, a few policemen and as many hecklers as supporters. BEA, aged 14, sits in the front row, proud of her father.
MR MILES Through censorship the Australian government and the gutter press are whipping you into a hysteria which renders you all liable to vote a small minority of our sons to die in a war declared by a British Parliament in which we have no voice.
A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN, carrying what looks like a pillow, moves up the stairs leading
onto the stage. As she approaches MR. MILES she empties the contents of the pillow all over him. Thousands of white feathers swirl around his head. The noise and violence from the audience increases as policemen drag the woman off stage.
WOMAN (screaming) Coward! Coward! Coward!
With white feathers floating around his head, MR. MILES continues to shout above the noise.
MR MILES This is not merely a political issue; it is a moral issue...
13 INT. KITCHEN/DINING ROOM. EVENING
MRS. MILES finishes carving and serving a roast as GRANDMA ELLIE carries plates into the adjoining dining room. Through the window, MR. MILES, in a business suit and carrying a briefcase walks from his car to the back door, his arm around BEA’s shoulder, with Bea's younger sister CONNIE walking alongside. Both girls, in their school uniforms, talk over the top of each other.
CONNIE She was looking for trouble… BEA I was not. Pearl said…
CONNIE She’s always... BEA I was not. Liar...
They reach the back door now. It becomes apparent that BEA has a black eye. MR.MILES, in good spirits, is rather proud of BEA’s war wounds - which annoys CONNIE (and MRS. MILES) all the more.
MR MILES One at a time... one at a time ... sorry I'm late darling...
He puts his arm around MRS MILES’ waist; kisses her on the cheek. She does not respond.
BEA All I said was the boys can go to the war if they want to but they shouldn’t be made to and she called me a traitor and...
CONNIE You can hardly blame her... her brother...
MRS MILES (angry) Will you two stop?
CONNIE Her brother was killed a few weeks ago...
BEA I’m still entitled to express my opinion.
MRS MILES Sometimes, young lady, it’s best to keep what you think to yourself.
MRS MILES No, just be more discreet.
GRANDMA ELLIE, who has been carrying plates into the dining room throughout the scene, attempts to defuse the situation.
GRANDMA ELLIE Come on everyone...stop shouting and sit.
As they move into the dining room.
CONNIE I’m sick of being called Little Miss Bosch and a traitor just because...
MR MILES Sticks and stones will break your bones...
The two Miles boys appear and take their seats - greeting their father perfunctorily but respectfully.
GRANDMA ELLIE But William, the whole family must live with the reputation that each member...
MR MILES Damn the family reputation. If one can’t express a view that is currently unpopular...
GRANDMA ELLIE It’s dangerous to encourage one so young …
MR MILES I neither encourage nor discourage, mother. Beatrice is free to choose for herself what she wants to believe and how she wants to behave...pass the salt please John.
BEA looks at her father for a moment, a wicked glint in her eye. She pushes her chair back, gets up and walks to the piano on the other side of the room.
MR MILES Beatrice...
BEA ignores him. She sits at the piano and plays the first few bars of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. MR MILES is furious. All eyes alternate between him and BEA.
MR MILES Beatrice... What an earth...!?
BEA turns to him with a wicked smile.
BEA I’ve chosen to play the piano.
MR. MILES, hoist on the petards of his own logic, is not sure, for a moment, how to react.
MRS MILES (angry) William, you can’t allow …
MR MILES (angry) Beatrice!
BEA stops playing and calmly returns to the table. There is a long moment of tense silence.
BEA Do you mother? Keep what you think to yourself?
MRS. MILES, shocked by the question and unable to answer it, looks to MR. MILES to take control. He remains silent.
BEA Do you think we should have compulsory conscription?
MRS. MILES would prefer not to answer.
MR MILES Do you, darling?
MRS MILES Yes.
MR. MILES is shocked by this but does his best to cover it. There is an awful, strained, silence.
14 EXT. SYDNEY UNIVERSITY. DAY. 1920
BEA, a young woman now, (17 years old) wanders through the grounds of Sydney University, amidst the many stalls inviting new students to join the DRAMA SOCIETY, the ROWING CLUB, the DEBATING CLUB etc. It is Orientation week - the beginning of the University year. Amidst the crowd of university students, dressed in the fashions of the day, BEA’s white blouse, skirt and tennis shoes appear quite eccentric. Her excitement at being at University is apparent.
15 INT. LECTURE THEATRE. DAY
BEA sits in a lecture theatre with several dozen other students - most of them men. Behind the black-robed PROFESSOR hangs a biological chart of the 'Tree of Life'.
PROFESSOR...So, in a given environment, members of the same species compete for survival...
BEA puts her hand up.
PROFESSOR...And it is those best adapted to the environment that have the best chance for survival. Yes Miles?
BEA (standing) If Darwin is right and we’ve descended from apes and apes are animals, then we’re all animals too, aren’t we?
PROFESSOR (good humoured) Some of us more than others.
The Students laugh; BEA smiles.
PROFESSOR From a biological point of view, yes.
BEA Then does it follow that his theories of natural selection apply to man also?
The PROFESSOR, finding the question interesting, turns to the ‘Tree of Life’ chart, pointing first of all to the top of it.
PROFESSOR The beginning of life in the planet, roughly five...six hundred million years ago...
His finger moves past the various coloured blocks on the chart to the thin section at the bottom marked 'Homo Sapiens'.
BEA (interrupting) Then it must follow that charity is contrary to the laws of nature.
The PROFESSOR looks a little puzzled and there is some murmuring amongst the students.
PROFESSOR Is that a question or a statement?
BEA Well, natural selection dictates that the strong survive and the weak die off.
PROFESSOR (becoming impatient) Yes.
BEA And yet charity, which we hold to be a virtue, involves keeping alive those who would, in nature, simply die off...the weak...the cripple...the insane...
PROFESSOR That is our Christian duty...but I fail to understand what all this has to do with biology...
BEA I’m trying to reconcile the fact that all men are born equal, or at least we believe this to be the case, with the fact that in nature there is no equality at all. The strong survive; the weak die off.
PROFESSOR An interesting ethical question Miles but one I would have thought more appropriately directed at your philosophy professor.
BEA But if two professors contradict each other...
PROFESSOR (annoyed) This is biology class, NOT a philosophy tutorial.
BEA Yes sir, but...
PROFESSOR No 'buts', Miles! Now with your kind permission, I will proceed.
BEA sits, confused and upset by the PROFESSOR’s attitude.
16 INT. MR. MILES' OFFICE. DAY
BEA paces up and down her fathers’ ornately furnished wood-panelled office - frustrated and angry. MR. MILES sits on the edge of a large shiny wooden desk.
BEA I’d be happier teaching children.
MR MILES That would be a waste of a first-class mind.
BEA It’ll be a second-class mind by the time I finish university.
MR MILES Darling! Please! Stick it out. For me...
As he speaks, BEA begins to feel dizzy; the colour draining from her face.
MR MILES Three years will go by like that...
MR. MILES clicks his fingers.
From BEA’s point of view, the image of her father moving towards her becomes blurred and the sound of his voice distorted.
MR MILES And then you’ll be free to do what you want.
BEA’s vision returns to normal: MR. MILES standing in front of her with his hands on her shoulders. She moves away from him, puzzled by this sudden bout of dizziness.
MR MILES (concerned) Are you alright?
BEA (distracted) Yes.
17 INT. BEA'S BEDROOM. DAY
BEA, in a pair of men's shorts, an open-necked men's shirt and with a green scarf around her waist, looks at herself in the mirror of her untidy bedroom. She decides against the green scarf, removing it and hurriedly putting on a red one. As she races around her room picking up books and papers and stuffing then into her satchel, MRS. MILES appears in the doorway.
MRS MILES Beatrice! You can’t go to university looking like that!
BEA Oh mother!
MRS MILES And you’re not to leave the house till you’ve tidied your room...
BEA kisses her mother as she dashes out of the room.
BEA No time now. I’ll do it tonight. Promise...
MRS MILES Beatrice...?
BEA is gone. MRS. MILES is annoyed, upset; concerned.
18 INT/EXT. CITY STREET.TRAM. DAY
BEA rushes down the footpath to catch a tram that is stopped in the middle of the road. The tram starts to move off. BEA stops running for a moment, annoyed at having missed it and then, on an impulse, starts running again, racing out into the traffic, dodging a car that almost hits her and leaping onto the running board of the tram that is moving quite fast now. The passengers stare at her in amazement. BEA feels excited; exhilarated. Suddenly she feels dizzy, as if she might faint. She sits down. Her vision blurs. From her POV the world slips out of focus. The sound of the tram’s wheels on the track become amplified out of all proportion. For a moment the world comes back into focus. BEA sees the passengers staring at her. Her face is white now and her brow moist with perspiration. She closed her eyes and sits still for a moment before falling over sideways and onto the floor of the tram.
19 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM. DAY
BEA lies semi-conscious in a hospital bed as DR JAMES and two nurses examine her. During moments of consciousness, blurred images come into focus - the doctor leaning over her, the nurse writing on a clipboard, white curtains blowing in the breeze.
20 INT. HOSPITAL HALLWAY. DAY
MR. and MRS. MILES stand in the hallway, outside Bea’s room, with DR. JAMES.
MR MILES Encephalitis Lethargica!?
DR JAMES A disease of the central nervous system...one that we’ve never seen before...and that we know very little about... there’s an epidemic worldwide...
DR. JAMES is quite distressed.
MR MILES Yes...?
DR JAMES I think it only fair to tell you that...two of my patients have died.
A moment of stunned silence. MRS. MILES begins to cry. MR. MILES puts his arm around her shoulder.
21 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM. DAY
BEA is alone in her hospital bed; her eyes closed. The door opens. MR. MILES enters and walks over to the bed, MRS. MILES just a little behind him. Both Bea's parents are emotionally shattered. MR. MILES kneels beside the bed and looks with tear filled eyes at his unconscious daughter. He brings his trembling hands together, clasping them tight and holding them up to his face, as if to pray; a man in need of the god he does not believe in. BEA's eyes open. She looks wanly at her parents.
MR MILES Yes darling.
BEA Am I going to die?
MR MILES (a little too quickly) No.
BEA I don’t care.
MR MILES You must care.
MR. MILES is unable to reply. BEA looks at her father. He is having difficulty holding his tears back. Then she looks over to the window, where the white curtain blows in the breeze.
22 EXT. MILES' HOME. DAY
BEA sits in a large comfortable chair, in late afternoon sun, in the garden of the family’s suburban home, staring into space. MRS. MILES, sitting close by, is trying to cheer BEA up.
MRS MILES (savouring the word) Italy...embossed in gold on the cover...I suppose I was five...perhaps six… and because my father had hidden it, the book...the word Italy...there was something...magical and quite... forbidden about it...
MRS MILES laughs at the memory.
MRS MILES ...and inside, a lithograph of Michelangelo’s David, wearing a fig-leaf...but I didn’t know he was wearing the fig-leaf...I thought men were born with fig leaves...
The sound of a car pulling into the gravel driveway can be heard in the background.
MRS MILES (smiling) And it wasn’t until I met your father …
She laughs and looks at BEA, who tries to smile - to please her mother. MRS MILES, worried but trying hard not to show it, takes BEA’s hand in her own for a moment, squeezing it, then getting up to walk across the garden to greet MR. MILES, in a business suit.
BEA stares into space, lost in her own thoughts, as MR. MILES kisses his wife in the background, talks with her for a moment, then approaches. MRS. MILES follows; stands a little distance away.
MR MILES Hello darling.
He kisses her on the forehead; she barely responds.
MR MILES I’ve got something for you.
He opens his briefcase and takes a small wrapped parcel from it, handing it to BEA. She puts it in her lap.
BEA (softly) Thank you.
MR MILES Aren’t you going to open it?
BEA opens it. Inside is a leather bound volume of the COLLECTED WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. BEA smiles weakly, but does not look at her father.
BEA Thank you.
BEA stares into space. MR. and MRS. MILES exchange looks.
23 EXT. BEACH COTTAGE. AFTERNOON
BEA sits on the swing in the yard of the Miles’ beach cottage, looking vacantly out over Pittwater. MR. MILES and DR. JAMES approach.
MR MILES Beatrice, look who’s here!
BEA makes no response.
DOCTOR JAMES Bea, it’s Doctor James.
BEA does not respond. MR. MILES and DR. JAMES exchange knowing, concerned looks.
DOCTOR JAMES Bea, you’re cured. The disease is gone. There’s nothing to worry about.
BEA takes no notice of her visitors.
MR MILES Beatrice, this nonsense has to stop!
DOCTOR JAMES William!
DOCTOR JAMES (paternalistic) Yes Bea?
BEA I’ve been thinking about evolution.
DOCTOR JAMES What have you been thinking about it, dear?
No response from BEA. The men exchange glances.
BEA (still staring ahead) Life just keeps evolving, forever. Millions of years to go. There’s no end, no goal. What’s the point?
DOCTOR JAMES Bea, young ladies don’t have to concern themselves about such things.
BEA (vacant) I can’t help the way I think.
DOCTOR JAMES Leave it to us men to torture ourselves with questions for which there are no answers.
BEA stares at the water, smiling almost imperceptibly to herself at the fatuousness of this last statement. MR. MILES and DR. JAMES exchange concerned looks.
24 INT. BEACH COTTAGE. BEA'S ROOM. PRE-DAWN
Early morning. Bea’s room is empty and the window open; the curtains blowing in a light breeze. MRS. MILES stands in the doorway; worried.
MRS MILES (shouting) William...William...
25 EXT. BARRENJOEY HEADLAND. PRE-DAWN.
BEA, in her nightdress, climbs the steep rock face at the northern end of the beach; her face expressionless. Out to sea, on the horizon, the pre-dawn sky is bright orange.
26 EXT. PALM BEACH. DAWN
MR. MILES and Bea’s TWO TEENAGE BROTHERS run along the water’s edge, following fresh footprints that lead in the direction of the rocks. The sun is just about to rise.
27 EXT BARRENJOEY HEADLAND. DAWN
BEA stands on a rock ledge that juts out over the sea. The incoming swell covers a rock ledge forty feet below, then sucks back leaving the rocks bare again for a few moments before another white mass of water swirls over them. BEA's face glows golden in the light of the rising sun; her nightdress and hair blowing in the breeze. After a long moment looking at the sea BEA steps off the edge of the cliff quite calmly. The boiling white mass of water sucks back into the sea. There is no sign of her.
28 EXT. PALM BEACH. DAWN
MR. MILES and his two sons are near the end of the beach now, close to where the rocks begin to mount up at the base of the cliff. They stop running, unable to believe what they see:
BEA, her white nightdress clinging to her, emerging from the water, smiling broadly.
BEA (radiant) Morning dad.
MR. MILES looks on with shock and horror. There is an unusual peace and calmness in BEA. Her father and brothers are speechless.
29 EXT. COUNTRY RAILWAY LINE. DAY
Amidst lush hilly sheep country a goods train puffs past. BEA, dressed in white shorts, white shirt, white sun visor and with a large dilly-bag around her shoulder, rises up into shot and starts running beside the train, closely followed by two bearded and dishevelled SWAGGIES. One grabs hold of a metal bar protruding from the side of a carriage and deftly swings himself on board. BEA copies him, though not quite as deftly. She almost loses her footing but is held on board by the SWAGGIE on board whilst the other swings himself up with ease.
BEA, exhilarated by the experience, clings to the side of the train as it moves through the lush green hills - her face broken by a huge and happy smile.
30 INT. MILES' HOME. DAY
Mr. Miles hands a sheet of paper to a POLICEMAN, on which is written: BE BACK SOON, BEA. DR.JAMES stands nearby. MRS. MILES, extremely upset, sits down; a handkerchief in her hand.
31 EXT. COUNTRY ROAD. DAY
BEA, her swag beside her, sits by a red dirt road, taking in the beauty of her surroundings, thinking for a moment, then writing in the notebook in her lap: a travel journal.
32 INT/EXT. CAR/COUNTRY ROAD. DAY
BEA hitching a ride, as seen through the front window of an approaching car. In the front seat is a FARMER, his WIFE and TWO CHILDREN; in the backseat FOUR MORE CHILDREN - all startled to see BEA standing at the side, arm outstretched. The car pulls up. BEA leaps over a puddle and leans down to talk through the window.
BEA (cheerful) Morning.
FARMER Sorry! No room.
BEA inspects the interior and the exterior of the car hastily.
BEA Cripes, plenty of room out here!
She hands her dilly bag through the window to the startled wife.
BEA Thanks. I’m Bea...
BEA swings one leg over the left front mudguard and sits astride it, her feet on the front bumper bar. Hanging onto the mudguard with one hand she turns to wave to the farmer that she is ready; they can go. The farmer and his wife - both bewildered - look at each other for a moment. The children are amazed.
BEA rides the mudguard as if it were a horse and as the car picks up speed Bea becomes increasingly exhilarated. There is a bit of a bump as the car hits a puddle, splattering Bea with a brown muddy water. She looks at her mud-bespattered clothes and laughs; looks back then with a happy smile at the occupants of the car, who can’t believe this is happening to them. MUSIC OVER this traveling sequence.
33 EXT. COUNTRY ROAD 2. DAY
The car is parked at the side of the road in drier country; further west. The wife passes Bea’s dilly bag to her through the window. BEA thanks them for the ride and the car drives off, down a dirt track off the main road. MUSIC OVER.
LATER IN THE DAY
BEA, some distance from the road, late in the afternoon, collects wildflowers. She hears a truck coming and runs back through tall dry grass clutching a handful of wildflowers.
She hails the truck and as it slows down, douses the smouldering fire with the remnants of a blackened billy of tea, closes her travel journal and packs it and her fountain pen into her dilly bag.
The TRUCK DRIVER, a leathery man in his 40s, opens the door for BEA. She clambers up and into the passenger seat, closing the door behind her; smiling her 'thanks' to the driver.
She suddenly remembers that she has forgotten something, opens the door, gets out and retrieves, from beside the now dead fire, her bottle of ink.
She climbs back into the passenger seat with it. The TRUCK DRIVER looks at the young mud-bespattered woman beside him, clutching a bottle of ink and wonders what the world is coming to. MUSIC OVER.
34 INT/EXT. COUNTRY ROAD 3. NIGHT
BEA and the TRUCK DRIVER laugh and talk together as the truck headlights illuminate the road ahead. MUSIC OVER.
35 INT/EXT. COUNTRY ROAD 4. SUNRISE
Bea is curled up asleep in the cabin of the truck a little after sunrise. The truck is coming to a stop. As it does so the TRUCK DRIVER nudges BEA, who wakes and looks out the window. The country is drier still. Outback NSW. MUSIC OVER.
36 EXT. COUNTRY ROAD 5. SUNRISE
BEA stands at a crossroads as the truck pulls out and turns left, heading south. She walks a little way down the road heading west, puts down her dilly bag and looks around. Some distance down the road there is a Station homestead. MUSIC OVER.
BEA, sitting cross-legged on the ground in the early morning sun, flattens a wildflower between the pages of a book.
BEA lies on the ground, in the shade of a tree, writing in her journal.
BEA, a small figure in a vast dry landscape, watches another truck approach the crossroads. She holds her hand out but the truck turns right, heading north; stopping a little around the corner. BEA runs to the truck.
DRIVER (voiceover) Where y’going’?
BEA (voiceover) Western Australia. Where are you going?
DRIVER (voiceover) Queensland.
BEA looking through the window at the RED-FACED DRIVER and his MATE. She thinks for a moment.
BEA Got room for a passenger?
RED-FACED DRIVER Hop in.
37 INT/EXT. COUNTRY ROAD 6. DAY.
Bea looks excitedly out the window of the truck as it moves north through the dry landscape, under a cloudless sky. MUSIC OVER
RED-FACED DRIVER Whatcha wanna go t'Western Australia for?
BEA To pick wildflowers.
RED-FACED DRIVER Three thousand miles to pick wildflowers!?
BEA nods. The RED-FACED DRIVER and his MATE exchange looks.
38 INT/EXT. COUNTRY ROAD 7. DAY
BEA, at the side of the road, waves goodbye to the RED-FACED DRIVER and his MATE as they drive off, then makes her way towards a river along the edges of which grow magnificent white gums. MUSIC OVER.
39 EXT. RIVER. DAY
BEA, naked, stands knee-deep in water at the edge of the river, pounding her white clothes against a rock to clean them. A large flock of galahs, chattering loudly, bursts out of the gums and flies in an arc over the river. BEA looks up - thrilled, enchanted, happy.
BEA, naked still, sits with her back against a tree overlooking the river, writing in her journal, stopping for a moment, crossing out a sentence then re-writing it. In the background, in her 'camp', her white clothes can be seen hanging drying in the trees.
Bea sits on her swag in the bush, late at night, staring into the glowing embers of her fire; a look of peace and contentment on her face. MUSIC OVER.
40 EXT. COUNTRY TOWN. DAY
A large country pub in a small coastal town. Several CANE CUTTERS in blue singlets stand drinking on the verandah. A blue Buick pulls up across the road, outside the office of the North Coast Clarion. BEA, in her now clean white outfit, gets out with her dilly bag and swag; makes her way into the newspaper office. Her arrival does not go unnoticed by the CANE CUTTERS and a tall angular bushman of about 30 whom we will get to know as NEIL JENKINS.
From across the road NEIL sees, through the window of the newspaper office, BEA standing by the EDITOR’S desk reading through the article she has written. He laughs but shakes his head and hands it back to her. MUSIC OVER.
BEA, a little despondent, walks out of the newspaper office. She folds her article and puts it in her pocket as she looks around the town. The MUSIC OVER fades as NEIL crosses the road, raises his hat and speaks in a slow, flat, country Australian voice.
NEIL G’day. Neil Jenkins.
BEA smiles and holds out her hand.
BEA Beatrice Miles.
NEIL’s face lights up as he takes BEA’s hand.
NEIL Cripes, I heard about you!
BEA Who from?
NEIL Mate of mine. Bob Govett.
NEIL You jumped into his car down Sydney way a few months back. Said you were a bit of a philosopher; that you could talk the leg off an iron pot. Well, what a coincidence, eh! Can I buy you a drink?
He indicates the pub.
BEA Yes please.
NEIL picks up BEA’s dilly bag and they make their way into the pub.
41 INT. COUNTRY PUB. DAY
BEA and NEIL sit on stools in the crowded pub. MIN, the barmaid, walks up to them.
NEIL What’ll it be, Beatrice?
BEA Lemon squash.
NEIL Blimey. Lemon squash, Min. And a schooner.
BEA You a cane-cutter?
NEIL Prospector. Tin. And I grow red bananas.
BEA Red bananas!.
NEIL Yeah. Little fellers. About this long...
He holds his hand about fifteen inches apart. BEA laughs.
BEA Where’s your farm?
NEIL Mt Romeo.
BEA Mt Romeo!
NEIL Yeah. "I would I were a glove upon that hand that I could touch that cheek!"
BEA smiles - enchanted by this Shakespeare-quoting banana farmer and tin miner.
42 INT. COUNTRY PUB OFFICE. DAY
BEA sits at a desk in a small office that looks out into the crowded bar, a telephone receiver in her hand; waiting for the operator to connect her.
BEA (excited) Hello...dad...it’s me...
MR MILES (angry) Beatrice, where are you?
BEA (deflated) Townsville. I just...
MR. MILES Your mother’s worried sick…
BEA I’m alright dad, honest...I’ve been having...
MR.MILES I want you to come home immediately.
BEA But dad...
MR MILES (firm) No buts...
BEA (angry) No. I’ll come when...
MR MILES (shouting) If you don’t...
Bea hangs up and hits the desk angrily with her hand.
43 EXT. COUNTRY PUB. COURTYARD. EVENING.
BEA and NEIL sit at a table in the courtyard at the back of the pub; midway through a meal.
BEA (petulant) It’s my life
NEIL Yeah, but I can see it from their point of view too. If it was me own daughter gadding about the countryside on her own...
BEA What...(would you do?)
NEIL (deadpan) Probably put her across me knee and give her a good hiding.
BEA (laughs) Have to catch me first.
They look at each other for a moment. NEIL smiles.
NEIL So, where you headed? After this I mean?
BEA Cairns first, I reckon, then up to Thursday Island.
NEIL Thursday, eh! Lovely spot. You’ve got your fare then, have you?
BEA Well, I was hoping to sell an article to the Clarion.
NEIL Not much chance there, I don’t think. All they want to read about is sheep dip and who’s marryin’ who. You want a lend of the fare?
BEA Well I...
NEIL You’ll pay me back. I know that.
BEA Yes I will. I promise.
NEIL "Thursday’s child has far to go."
NEIL Want to go to the pictures?
NEIL (calls out to the Barmaid) Hey Min, you got a room for Beatrice?
MIN Course we got a room! We got eighty.
44 EXT. OUTDOOR CINEMA. TWILIGHT.
BEA, NEIL and a FEW DOZEN MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN sit in canvas chairs under an open sky watching a melodramatic silent movie, accompanied by a jug band. A few men are trying to separate two dogs fighting down by the screen. BEA and NEIL watch the screen but their attention is more on each other. BEA leans closer to NEIL.
BEA You read a lot?
BEA Me too.
NEIL Nuthin’ much else to do out Romeo way of a night. Haven’t got a missus, so I curl up with a book.
BEA laughs. They both look at the screen for a moment.
NEIL You got a bloke, Beatrice?
NEIL nods and looks at the screen again for a moment.
NEIL Listen, uh...mind if I put my arm around you?
NEIL puts his arm around Bea’s shoulder a little awkwardly; self-consciously. BEA smiles and leans closer to him; happy.
45 EXT. COUNTRY PUB. NIGHT
It is late at night now; the streets are deserted. BEA and NEIL stand on the verandah of the pub, illuminated by light spilling through the open front doors.
NEIL (awkward) Listen, I don’t want you to get me wrong, but...would you like to come and see me tin mine?
BEA (excited) I’d love to, but …
BEA I want to get to Thursday before 'the Wet'.
NEIL Fair enough. Well, maybe on y’way back.
BEA Yes, in a few weeks.
NEIL Good, Well, I guess...(I’d better be off)
BEA Thanks Neil. It’s...
There is a moment’s awkward silence between them as they try and work out how they are going to say goodbye.
NEIL Can I kiss you, Beatrice?
NEIL kisses her. It is BEA's first kiss and she finds the experience quite delightful. They look at each other for a moment.
NEIL Well...I’ll see you in a few weeks then?
BEA I promise.
NEIL 'Night Beatrice.
BEA 'Night Neil.
NEIL walks off. BEA watches him go, excited by the encounter.
46 INT/EXT. TRAIN/COUNTRYSIDE. PRE-DAWN.
BEA, FOUR ITINERANTS and an ABORIGINAL MAN, in a goods carriage filled with crates of chickens, her travel journal on her lap, looks through the slats at the country passing by - the pre-dawn sky filled with wispy pink and orange clouds. The ABORIGINAL MAN plays a harmonica. The other three are asleep - on the floor and propped up against crates. There is a look of peace and contentment on BEA’s face as she takes the cap off her fountain pen and writes JUMPING THE RATTLER in perfect italics at the top of the page.
The train is stationary now, at a railway siding. BEA and the others sit in fearful expectation; listening to voices and the sound of approaching feet on the gravel outside. The doors are flung open to reveal a uniformed STATION MASTER and TWO POLICEMEN.
STATION MASTER Alright! Everyone out.
47 INT. DINING ROM. MILES' HOME. NIGHT.
BEA, in good spirits, talks animatedly at the dinner table. MR. MILES' amusement is muted by parental concern. MRS. MILES is upset. Younger sister CONNIE is resentful that BEA is the centre of attention and the other children obviously think BEA is a little odd. GRANDMA ELLIE is concerned about both BEA and MRS. MILES.
BEA ...And Police Constable O’Dougherty says (thick Irish brogue) "But apart from not being in possession of a ticket, Miss Miles, y'uv no visible means of support and I’m afraid I’m going to have t’charge you with vagrancy." Did you know it’s against the law to be broke? You can be thrown in jail for being poor!?
MRS. MILES puts her head in her hand as if about to cry. GRANDMA ELLIE touches her arm soothingly: 'Come on, it’s not that bad.'
MRS. MILES She’s throwing her life away.
BEA I’m not mother, honest. I know what I’m doing. And anyhow I wasn’t broke. I had a couple of quid in the bottom of my sock that Neil had given me but...
MR MILES (shocked) Neil!?
BEA Neil Jenkins...a bosker chap I met in a pub. And I was broke so he...
MRS MILES O my god! And he gave you money?
MR MILES (exerting his authority) I don’t think this is the time or the place...
A deathly silence falls over the table for the moment it takes for BEA to understand the origin of her parents' fears.
BEA (laughs) Don’t worry dad. I’m still a virgin, if that’s what you’re worried about.
MR MILES (angry) Beatrice!
MRS. MILES starts to cry. The Miles children look daggers at BEA.
BEA (exasperated) Oh, Jesus!
48 INT. SUBURBAN STREET. DAY
BEA, in exceptionally good spirits, dressed flamboyantly and a little eccentrically, stands on the running board of a chauffer driven car as it makes its way down a tree-lined North Shore street; oblivious to the shocked reactions of its occupants. When the car slows at a corner, BEA waves her ‘thanks’ through the window and leaps off.
49 EXT. KINDERGARTEN. DAY.
Bea rushes through the gates of an old mansion that has been converted into a kindergarten and in through the front door.
50 INT. CLASSROOM. DAY. DAY.
MRS HENDERSON, looking every bit the headmistress, with FOUR TRAINEE TEACHERS in tow, stands in front of a classroom full of noisy SCHOOLCHILDREN, clapping her hands.
No sooner has the class quietened down than BEA flies through the doorway, apologizing breathlessly to Mrs. Henderson.
BEA Sorry. Caught the wrong tram.
MRS. HENDERSON Punctuality, Miss Miles! Punctuality!
BEA nods, catches her breath.
MRS. HENDERSON Children, I want to introduce our new trainees.
A YOUNG BOY smiles toothlessly at Bea and she makes a funny face in response.
MRS. HENDERSON Miss Emily Mathison...
En masse, the class erupts in laughter at the funny face BEA has pulled. MRS. HENDERSON is surprised, flustered and finally angry.
51 EXT. PALM BEACH. DAY
BEA, alone in a vast blue expanse of sea, swims breaststroke one hundred yards out from the shore, humming happily to herself. Her peace and quiet is short-lived. A wooden surf boat with FOUR SURF LIFE-SAVERS aboard approaches quietly; at first unnoticed by Bea.
1ST LIFE-SAVER (polite) Excuse me sir...
BEA (startled) What!
2ND LIFE-SAVER (exclaims) It’s a bloody sheila!
The LIFE SAVERS exchange amused looks.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER What do you think you’re doing, Miss?
BEA Knitting a sweater for my mother.
The life-savers exchanged looks.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER You're swimming, miss.
BEA That's very observant of you, mister.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER Yes, well you can’t do it this far out.
BEA Why's that?
1ST. LIFE-SAVER Y'just can't...
BEA (startled) Yes I can and I am. I’m a strong swimmer. I don’t need to be saved, thank you very much. Goodbye.
BEA swims off. She is alone again for a few moments before the boat reappears.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER I’m only going to ask you one more time, Miss.
BEA Why can’t you just leave me alone?
1ST. LIFE-SAVER It’s my job to see that no-one drowns.
BEA (angry) I’m not drowning.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER We’ve seen sharks out here three time this summer.
BEA In the event of a shark attack I am fully prepared.
BEA stops swimming, reaches down and extracts a large sheath-knife from a belt around her waist. The life-savers are astonished.
2ND. LIFE-SAVER She’s barmy!
1ST LIFE-SAVER (angry) Miss, give me that knife and get in the boat. This minute.
The 1st LIFE-SAVER dives into the water and surfaces close to BEA. He reaches for the hand holding the knife.
BEA (upset) I’m not hurting anyone.
Holding BEA’s right hand with his left, he hits her hard with a right hook.
52 EXT. PALM BEACH. DAY
BEA, hands on hips, confronts the 1st LIFE-SAVER - close to the water’s edge. She is furious. Around her waist is a leather belt with a sheath attached. The 1st LIFE-SAVER is holding Bea’s knife. A small crowd of curious and amused bathers has gathered - one of them a handsome young man of athletic build - JOHNNO.
BEA (rubbing her chin) Bully.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER If you were taken by a shark I’d be in big trouble.
BEA If I want to risk being eaten by a shark it’s none of your business. I’m going to charge you with assault and theft. Interfering cretin.
The crowd laughs. JOHNNO is impressed. The 1st LIFE-SAVER does not like to be laughed at.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER And I’m going to have you charged with threatening me with a dangerous weapon.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER Ratbag.
BEA takes a swing at the 1st LIFE-SAVER, hitting him fair and square on the chin. The blow has no power in it, however and he barely flinches. The crowd laughs. BEA turns on her heels and storms off. The 1st LIFE-SAVER shouts after her.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER You can pick this up at Manly police station.
BEA turns and shouts back.
BEA You can keep it. It’s a present. And you know what you can do with it?
The crowd laughs. BEA turns and strides off down the beach. JOHNNO runs after her, catching up and walking alongside her. He has an English accent.
JOHNNO You should have led with your left.
JOHNNO (demonstrating as he talks) It’s all a question of balance, you see. Weight on the ball of the left foot, a few quick jabs with your left and then come in swinging with your right.
BEA stops walking, looks at JOHNNO for a moment, them imitates him.
JOHNNO That’s better, but don’t swivel your hips...
He places his hands firmly on her hips.
JOHNNO Alright. Left, left, left; right.
BEA’s 'right' almost hits JOHNNO's chin; he has to pull his head back to avoid contact.
JOHNNO That’s it. John...John Sinclair. Johnno to my friends...
He holds out his hand. BEA takes it.
BEA Beatrice...Bea to my friends.
JOHNNO (smiles) "To be or not to be."
BEA laughs. They continue walking.
JOHNNO To be decided by the sharks, eh?
BEA Cripes, I hope not. I’d go for my life if I saw one.
JOHNNO Be a bit late by then, don’t you think?
BEA Not necessarily, because a shark, you see, before it can attack, has to turn on its back and...
BEA looks at JOHNNO, who is grinning: obviously not taking her seriously.
BEA Anyhow, what would you know!? You’re a Pom. Probably can’t even swim!
JOHNNO Don’t care for Poms?
BEA Not much. With rare exceptions.
JOHNNO Ah! Well, that’s me.
BEA A rare exception?
JOHNNO (nods) And I can swim.
BEA Oh! How long’ve you been here?
JOHNNO Six months.
BEA Like it?
JOHNNO (deadpan) Bit backward.
BEA (deadpan) When’re you leaving?
JOHNNO (laughs) God knows! Was only going to stay six months...but you know how it is.
JOHNNO You plan to do one thing but something else always happens, doesn’t it?
BEA What happened?
JOHNNO Chap offered me a job.
BEA rolls her eyes and groans.
BEA Oh dear!
JOHNNO Journalist of necessity; writer by inclination.
BEA looks directly at JOHNNO for a moment: she likes him.
JOHNNO I could do an article on you...(WITH DRAMATIC FLAIR) "Has Nature Girl Got Sharks Scared?"
BEA bursts out laughing.
JOHNNO I’m serious.
BEA (thinks for a moment) Only if you tell the truth.
BEA And if you buy me a milkshake.
JOHNNO It’s a deal.
53 EXT. BEACH COTTAGE. DAY
BEA, clad in her white bathing costume, her hair dripping wet, rides her bicycle down the driveway of the Miles’ cottage and around to the side of the house. MR.MILES is supervising two men who are in the process of erecting a large red and white marquee in the backyard. Another man is unloading trestle tables and chairs from the back of a truck. BEA is in good spirits as she rushes past her father, into the house.
MR. MILES How’s the water?
54 INT. BEA'S BEDROOM. BEACH COTTAGE. DAY
BEA stands in front of a full length mirror in her bedroom, looking at her reflection; appraising the line of her body. She slides the straps of her bathing suit off her shoulders and begins to peel it off.
MR. MILES walks down the hall, past BEA’s bedroom. Through the part-open door he catches a glimpse of BEA - the upper part of her body naked now. He stops and watches unobserved as BEA steps out of the bathing costume and looks at her naked body.
She watches the reflected image of her hand caressing her neck; her shoulder, her breast. She sees her father reflected in the mirror and they look at each other. BEA makes no attempt to cover her nakedness and MR. MILES remains frozen, for a moment, before continuing on down the hall.
55 EXT BEACH COTTAGE - GARDEN. DUSK
It is a little after sunset on a warm summer’s evening. A FEW DOZEN GUESTS have arrived for the Miles’ Christmas party. They sit and stand in small groups, talking as a uniformed WAITER moves amongst them serving drinks. A band has set up under the red and white marquee - tuning their instruments; preparing to play.
MR and MRS. MILES greet newly arrived guests in the driveway that runs alongside the house and in which are parked several shiny expensive cars. As MR and MRS. MILES - stylishly dressed - greet their equally stylishly dressed guests, their attention is diverted by the arrival of a mud bespattered motor-bike, on which sits a man in an old worn leather coat, leather helmet and dirty goggles. He pulls up, dismounts, removes his goggles and helmet. It is JOHNNO. He looks at his insect bespattered goggles, holds them up and as if by explanation calls out:
JOHNNO (grins) Insects!
MR and MRS MILES have no idea who this man is and are lost for words. JOHNNO walks up to them, his hand outstretched: a perfect gentleman.
JOHNNO John Sinclair!
MR MILES (polite but distant) William Miles. My wife, Mrs. Miles.
JOHNNO shakes MR. MILES' hand and nods to MRS MILES.
JOHNNO (charming) Yes, you’re obviously Bea’s mother.
A moment of awkward silence.
JOHNNO I’m a friend of Bea’s.
MR MILES (cool) Ahh...Yes.
MRS MILES (polite) Can I take your coat?
JOHNNO Thank you.
JOHNNO removes his leather coat. Underneath he is dressed neatly, if somewhat eccentrically.
The band plays under the marquee in the garden. It is almost dark now. A few couples dance but most stand in small groups, talking and drinking. MRS. MILES in engaged in conversation with two women. MR. MILES, hands clenched tightly behind his back, is engaged in a battle of wills with JOHNNO; attempting, at the one time, to be both polite and to assert his age and authority. MR. MILES does not like JOHNNO.
MR. MILES Anti-social?
JOHNNO No. Merely anti the existing social order.
MR. MILES Only the young and the foolish believe that the world can be changed overnight.
JOHNNO What do the old and wise believe?
MR. MILES That society changes slowly. That life is short. That it is better to achieve what is possible than to merely dream of achieving the impossible.
JOHNNO Nothing less than the impossible interests me.
MR. MILES Romantic nonsense.
Along with several other people, MR. MILES and JOHNNO turn to see BEA, dressed in a stunning and quite revealing white dress, walk from the verandah down onto the lawn. MR. MILES is shocked, caught between looking at BEA as a man and looking at her as a father. JOHNNO smiles in appreciation of BEA’s daring beauty. MRS. MILES is quite upset - not just by BEA’s dress, but by her husband’s response. BEA walks up to JOHNNO and MR. MILES. She shakes JOHNNO’s hand and kisses her father.
BEA John. Dad.
MR. MILES stands back a pace to look at BEA, smiling approvingly.
BEA Do you really like it?
MR. MILES You look beautiful.
JOHNNO (nodding in agreement) Yes. Very.
BEA is flattered.
MR. MILES Did it cost me an arm and a leg?
BEA (grimaces) Yes.
MR MILES (smiling) You can repay me on the dance floor.
As BEA and MR. MILES move onto the dance floor, JOHNNO can be seen approaching MRS. MILES and asking her for a dance. She accepts graciously, succumbing to JOHNNO’s charm but her attention on BEA and her husband dancing. BEA looks directly at her father.
MR. MILES You’re leading.
MR. MILES That’s my job.
MR MILES (smiles) Because the man always leads. And the woman always...follows...
He twirls her. She resists. They both enjoy this sparring.
BEA Except among the Tchambuli in New Guinea. Where the men wear rouge and the women dig in the fields.
MR. MILES But an ordered society, nevertheless. You’d be bored very quickly. Not enough conflict. Not enough chaos.
BEA smiles at her father warmly; decides not to continue the sparring any more. She relaxes in his arms now and allows MR. MILES to lead her in the dance. JOHNNO and MRS. MILES dance close by.
MR. MILES I had lunch with the Chancellor last week. He agreed with me that you should finish your course...
MR. MILES (reluctantly) Alright! But I reserve the right to continue to pester you.
JOHNNO cuts him off in mid-sentence.
JOHNNO (mischievous) Change partners.
JOHNNO releases MRS. MILES at the same moment BEA moves away from her father and into JOHNNO’s arms. MR. MILES is angry that the initiative has been taken away from him in this way but tries to hide it. He has no choice but to dance with MRS. MILES now.
He watches BEA and JOHNNO dance - reacting negatively to their obvious infatuation with each other. MRS. MILES is hurt - well aware that his attention is with BEA and not with her.
56 INT/EXT. KINDERGARTEN. DAY
Through the windows of a classroom, MRS. HENDERSON - hands behind her back - can be seen as one of her students conducts a class for a room full of attentive children, all sitting with their hands on their small desks. When she holds up a card on which is drawn a yellow lion, several of the children put their hands up. The teacher points to one small child who stands at attention and we see her lips mouthing the word 'lion'. As the windows are closed we do not hear anything from inside this class-room but we do hear, from the classroom next door, a loud roar followed by the slightly muffled sounds of uproarious children's laughter.
MRS. HENDERSON hears it but does not pay too much attention until the roar is followed by a wolf-like howl and more laughter. As she strides angrily out of the room the children all rush to the window to see what is going on. As they do so the camera tracks along the outside of the building to the next classroom, on the windowsill of which BEA - her hair and clothes in total disarray - is crouched, scratching her armpit and behaving like an ape. The children are all crouched on top of their desks playing at being apes also.
The door to the classroom opens and in strides MRS. HENDERSON, a look of outraged horror freezing on her face at what she is seeing. It is not necessary for MRS. HENDERSON to say anything for the terrified children to stop laughing instantaneously and to climb quietly down from their desks.
BEA is initially at a bit of a loss to understand what is going on but it soon registers on her that she has done something wrong. MRS. HENDERSON stands back from the door, opens it wider, points through it with her outstretched trembling arm.
MRS. HENDERSON Go! At once!
The expression on Bea's face is one of pain and confusion.
57 EXT. TRAM/CITY STREET. DAY
BEA, angry and upset, stands in the open doorway of a moving tram, her face streaked with tears. She leans out a little way, placing one foot on the running board, closing her eyes and savouring the rush of wind on her face. Her spirits begin to improve. A loud and angry voice intrudes from off screen:
TRAM CONDUCTOR Hey you!
BEA ignores the voice. A fat TRAM CONDUCTOR appears.
TRAM CONDUCTOR What do you think you’re doing?
BEA looks around, takes in his large blue-uniformed body and scowling face and turns away - studiously ignoring him.
TRAM CONDUCTOR Did you hear me?
BEA (without looking around) Yes.
TRAM CONDUCTOR Get in here.
TRAM CONDUCTOR Because I’m telling you.
BEA Not a good enough reason.
The fat TRAM CONDUCTOR pulls the cord. Ding. The tram grinds to a noisy halt. With his hands on his hips the tram conductor glares at BEA.
TRAM CONDUCTOR This tram will not move another inch until you get inside.
BEA glares back at him for a moment, then reaches in and pulls the cord. The tram jolts forward. The passengers laugh. The red-faced TRAM CONDUCTOR pulls the cord and the tram stops again.
TRAM CONDUCTOR Get in or get off!
BEA Well, if that’s the way you feel!
She takes the tram conductor’s hat off, puts it on her own head, smiles wickedly and dashes out into the traffic.
58 INT. COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS. DAY.
The fat TRAM CONDUCTOR is in the witness box at the Court of Petty Sessions. BEA and her solicitor are seated in the front of the Court. A few rows back, amongst the others waiting for their cases to be heard, sits Mr. Miles.
TRAM CONDUCTOR ...And I had to chase her two blocks before she’d give me hat back.
Some chuckling in court. MR. MILES' face is expressionless. The magistrate looks at Bea.
MAGISTRATE Why did you do this Miss Miles?
BEA A public service your honor. The man needed exercise.
Laughter in court. MR. MILES smiles.
BEA I was just having a bit of fun.
The magistrate looks at BEA and then up to MR. MILES.
MAGISTRATE I suggest, Mr. Miles, that you take your daughter in hand and discourage...
MR. MILES leaps to his feet.
MR. MILES In my considered opinion my daughter has broken no law save that of common sense...
MAGISTRATE I will remind you Mr. Miles that this is a court of law. Your daughter has in fact broken several traffic regulations and may be guilty of theft.
BEA I was hurting no-one.
MAGISTRATE Had you fallen off, Miss Miles, you could have been severely hurt.
BEA That’s my concern, not yours.
MAGISTRATE Perhaps, Miss Miles, perhaps. But you have broken the law and that is my concern. You are fined one pound. In default, five days hard labour.
59 INT. COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS OFFICE. DAY
MR. MILES and BEA in the office of the Court of Petty Sessions. MR. MILES taps his fingers on the counter as the clerk finishes writing out the receipt. BEA looks on a little apprehensively - well aware of her father’s annoyance. MR. MILES hands the clerk a one pound note and he and BEA walk to the door.
BEA Thanks dad.
MR. MILES does not reply.
60 INT/EXT. MILES' HOME. DAY
MRS. MILES lies in bed looking quite distressed; her pale face streaked with tears. Through the window MR. MILES car can be seen pulling up on the gravel driveway. As BEA and her father get out, CONNIE rushes up to tell her father that MRS. MILES is not well. MR. MILES rushes into the house immediately, leaving CONNIE to berate Bea in no uncertain terms. BEA does not respond at all. As MR. MILES comes into the bedroom and sits on the edge of the bed next to his wife, she begins to cry again. He takes her hand. In the background CONNIE can be seen (and heard) shouting at BEA as they make their way into the house.
MR. MILES Come on...come on...it’s not that bad.
MRS. MILES Yes it is. Look.
MRS. MILES indicates the newspaper on the bedside table. MR. MILES picks it up, his attention caught first of all, by the photo of BEA in her clinging white and quite revealing bathing costume, hands on hips, smiling provocatively. As he begins to read the article BEA comes into the room and starts to move towards her mother.
BEA (upset) Mum...
MRS MILES Please...no more apologies.
BEA stops; distressed.
MR MILES (angry) Jesus Christ Bea, I would have thought you’d have had more sense than to talk to a journalist...
MRS MILES (near hysteria) More sense! MORE SENSE!!! She’s ruining her life and all you can say...
MR. MILES cuts across his wife; becoming increasingly angry.
MR MILES Mother!... MOTHER!!! Keep out of it...
MRS. MILES She makes a laughing stock of the whole family...I've kept out of it too long.
MR.MILES Be quiet.
MRS. MILES None of this would have happened if you hadn't encouraged....
MR.MILES loses his temper
MR.MILES You will not talk to me this way!
Quite out of control for a moment, MR. MILES tears the newspaper up. MRS.MILES starts to cry again. MR.MILES regains his composure quickly, looks at BEA, realizes that he has revealed an aspect of his character he would have preferred to keep secret. Indicating his hysterical wife:
MR MILES (to Bea) I hope you’re satisfied now...
With that he storms out of the room. BEA, trembling and in tears, stands for a moment before moving forward and sitting on the edge of her mother’s bed. MRS.MILES turns her head and looks at BEA.
MRS. MILES Why, Bea? Why?
BEA (distressed) I don’t know.
61 INT. NEWSPAPER OFFICE. NIGHT
SEVERAL JOURNALISTS are at work at tables in the foreground. At the far end of the office, through a glass partition, BEA and JOHNNO can be seen talking. BEA, dressed scantily and eccentrically, is obviously distressed.
62 EXT. COASTAL ROAD. NIGHT
BEA rides on the back of Johnno's motor-bike, her hair blowing in the wind, her spirits picking up as they drive fast around a corner of a coastal road overlooking the silver moonlit ocean.
BEA (shouts) Faster! Faster!
JOHNNO smiles and opens up the throttle.
63 EXT. BEACH COTTAGE. NIGHT
BEA and JOHNNO pull into the Beach Cottage driveway. BEA dismounts; in better spirits now. In the background, MR. MILES can be seen looking through the living room window.
BEA Thanks Johnno.
JOHNNO places his arm around BEA’s waist and gently pulls her towards him, kissing her briefly on the lips. BEA looks at him for a moment.
BEA See you later.
JOHNNO If you’re lucky.
BEA smiles, kisses JOHNNO quickly on the cheek, turns and walks towards the house.
64 INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT
MR. MILES, his face set hard, paces up and down the room nursing a glass of whisky as Bea’s footsteps can be heard coming through the back door. MRS. MILES and GRANDMA ELLIE are clearly fearful of what MR. MILES might do in his anger. BEA enters the room.
BEA (cheerful) Hello everyone...
MR MILES (exploding) Where have you been?
MRS. MILES William...
BEA is taken aback by her father’s anger.
BEA Riding on the back of...
MR MILES (loudly) Where have you been?
BEA (annoyed) None of your business.
MR. MILES, in a rage, throws his glass of whisky at the wall. As the argument intensifies, Bea’s brothers and sister, in their pyjamas, appear in the doorway.
MR. MILES For as long as you live in this house it is my business.
BEA, hands on her hips, looks defiantly at her father.
BEA Alright, I’ll go and live somewhere else.
MR. MILES You will not. You will learn to fit in with the routines that have been established for the benefit of all the members of this family.
BEA Routines established by you...
MR. MILES Yes. And for as long as I am head of this household you will do as I say. You will not wear clothes that make you look like a whore...
BEA Perhaps I am.
MR MILES (shouting) Beatrice! Be quiet. BE QUIET. I will not have you talk this way in front of your mother in my house.
MRS. MILES is sobbing.
BEA (angry) YOUR house! And this is YOUR family and I am YOUR daughter...
MR. MILES moves towards her with clenched fists. BEA stands defiantly still.
BEA And because I am YOUR daughter…
MR MILES Don’t twist what I say...
BEA…you think you can tell me how to live my life. Mr W.J. Miles advocate of free thought…
MR MILES You are incapable.....
BEA…rational discussion on any and every topic "Don’t believe a thing to be true simply because
MR MILES I will not have...
BEA…a person in authority says that it is true!" … As long as the person in authority is not you...
MR. MILES explodes, hitting BEA around the head with his open palms; quite out of control. BEA’s teenage brothers and GRANDMA ELLIE attempt to pull him off. MRS. MILES cries hysterically and faints to the floor. BEA, in a state of shock, stands still; doing nothing to prevent her father from hitting her. Suddenly, MR. MILES stops hitting BEA and sits at the table, his head in his hands, trembling and breathing heavily. BEA walks slowly out of the room, her face betraying no sign of emotion.
65 EXT. PALM BEACH, NIGHT
MR. MILES, in a state of panic, Bea’s TWO BROTHERS and CONNIE, run along the beach, at water’s edge, their figures dimly illuminated by the light emanating from the lantern MR. MILES carries. They stop in their tracks when they see BEA, waist deep in the surf, her hair wet and her flimsy dress clinging to her like a second skin. She turns and looks, like a frightened animal at the four figures enclosed in a dim circle of light. MR. MILES moves slowly forward, wading into the surf, stopping knee deep in the water.
MR. MILES Beatrice...come home...
BEA stares at him. MR. MILES slowly removes his jacket.
MR. MILES Please...
As if mesmerized, BEA moves slowly towards him. MR. MILES holds his jacket open and drapes it over her shoulders as she nestles up to him like a frightened child, resting her head on his shoulder. MR. MILES hugs her tightly to him; too tightly. He is for a moment, quite 'out of control' - his desperate embrace revealing the intensity, complexity and forbidden nature of his feelings for her. CONNIE and Bea’s TWO BROTHERS look on; shocked. MR. MILES 'comes to his senses', becoming for the first time, consciously aware of and shocked by the sexual component in his feelings for his daughter. He pulls away slightly. Bea is immediately aware of why he has done so and backs into the surf, staring at him with blazing mad eyes. MR. MILES, looking more than a little mad himself, moves towards her.
MR MILES (pleading) Beatrice...please...
From her teetering point of view, MR. MILES, his coat held out as if to trap her, is a frightening vision.
BEA (hysterical) I know what you want. I KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ...LEAVE ME ALONE.
MR. MILES, his body trembling uncontrollably, stands frozen in the surf, staring wide-eyed at BEA, who turns and screams at the roaring sea: a chilling howl of despair. CONNIE and Bea’s TWO BROTHERS look on; horrified.
66 INT/EXT. HOSPITAL. DAY
Mr. and MRS. MILES are in Dr. Carruthers’ office, signs admission forms as DR. CARRUTHERS (about 50 years old), on the other side of the desk, reads a handwritten letter.
Between the two men, through the window, MRS. MILES, BEA and the SUPERINTENDANT can be seen gathered around the door of a small cottage. Bea’s BROTHER is taking suitcases from the trunk of MR. MILES’ car.
67 INT/EXT. HOSPITAL COTTAGE. DAY
BEA, MRS. MILES and the SUPERINTENDANT look into the sparsely furnished room in the cottage.
SUPERINTENDENT (cheerful) Spartan...but comfortable...
He and MRS. MILES look at BEA to see what her response is but her face betrays no emotion. She is in a strange and distant frame of mind. Bea’s BROTHER carries Bea’s suitcases into the room.
MRS MILES (cheerful) Can I send Bea a few things … brighten the room up a little?
SUPERINTENDANT Of course.
In the background, on the front porch of the stately old mansion that has been turned into a Mental Hospital, MR. MILES shakes hands with DR. CARRUTHERS, says goodbye and starts walking towards the car also. BEA follows.
MRS MILES Everything’s going to be alright, darling.
MRS. MILES kisses Bea, trying hard to be cheerful.
MRS MILES You will cooperate with Dr Carruthers?
BEA nods. MR. MILES stands by the car, looking very uncomfortable. MRS. MILES kisses BEA again and gets quickly into the car so that her daughter won’t see her crying.
MR MILES (awkward) If there’s anything you need...clothes... books...just let the Superintendent know and...
BEA nods. MR. MILES stands for a moment, unsure how to say goodbye. The moment is excruciatingly painful for him. In his awkwardness, he nods and gets into the car. With a blank expression, BEA watches the car make its way down the driveway to the large iron gates at the entrance to the Hospital. The SUPERINTENDANT starts to walk towards Dr. Carruthers office, holding his arms out to indicate that BEA should come with him.
SUPERINTENDENT (cheerful) Do you like gardening, Miss Miles?
BEA walks with him. She shakes her head.
SUPERINTENDENT Pity! We’re very proud of our gardens.
BEA looks at the well-tended, highly ordered gardens. Under the supervision of a nurse, three patients are removing weeds from between neatly arranged rows of flowers. They look up at BEA as she passes. One smiles. Another stares vacantly. The third looks quite demented.
68 INT. HOSPITAL. DAY
BEA, sits in Dr. Carruthers’s office, looking blankly out the window. She is unaware that DR. CARRUTHERS has been referring to the letter on his desk when he looks up and speaks to her.
DR. CARRUTHERS Well, it seems you’re a lucky young lady to be alive.
BEA does not respond.
DR. CARRUTHERS How have you been feeling...since the illness?
BEA shrugs her shoulders.
DR. CARRUTHERS Distressed? Confused?
BEA (soft) Sometimes.
DR. CARRUTHERS About what?
BEA looks at him. She sees a man with a kind and caring smile.
BEA (shrugs) Life.
DR. CARRUTHERS Yes, it can be confusing at times, can’t it?
BEA nods and looks away; out the window.
DR. CARRUTHERS Anything in particular...that you find confusing?
A thought occurs to BEA. She looks at the letter in front of Dr. Carruthers and then up from the letter, directly into his eyes. DR. CARRUTHERS is quite unnerved by this. BEA looks at the letter again. She smells a rat.
DR. CARRUTHERS Well, Miss Miles, that will be all for now...
He moves around the table towards to door. BEA's eyes are fixed on the letter.
DR. CARRUTHERS I’m sure...together...we’ll be able to get to the bottom of your 'confusion' … a bit of a break from family, friends and so on’ll do you the world of good...Time to sort things out...
BEA That’s my father’s handwriting.
DR. CARRUTHERS (nervous) Yes.
BEA What has he told you?
DR. CARRUTHERS It’s private correspondence.
BEA looks at DR. CARRUTHERS for a moment and then moves over to his desk and picks up the letter. Before she has a chance to start reading it DR. CARRUTHERS, in a panic now, moves with unseemly haste across the room and snatches it out of her hand.
BEA (icy calm) You’ve already made your diagnosis, haven’t you?
DR CARRUTHERS (flustered) Not at all.
BEA walks past DR. CARRUTHERS and opens the door.
DR. CARRUTHERS Miss Miles...
BEA (turning; angry) I’m not a fool, doctor.
She strides out into the adjoining office, past DR. CARRUTHERS' startled secretary and
69 EXT. HOSPITAL. DAY
BEA, walks fast, across the porch and along the pathway leading to the main gate. DR. CARRUTHERS and MATRON O'NEILL - a large woman of about 40 - follow her.
DR. CARRUTHERS Miss Miles! Stop! I want to talk to you!
BEA ignores him. She quickens her pace. A NURSE and THREE PATIENTS look on. MATRON O'NEILL runs to catch up with BEA. She grabs BEA by the shoulder.
MATRON Alright young lady...
BEA pulls way from her, stops and turns to face MATRON O'NEILL; her eyes blazing.
BEA (screams) Don’t you touch me.
The NURSE who was supervising the gardening is running towards her now; as are TWO OTHER NURSES some distance away. Terrified, BEA turns and runs towards the large iron gates at the entrance to the hospital. She gets to them before her pursuers but the gates are closed; she cannot escape. She turns, finding herself quickly surrounded by Matron O'Neill and three nurses. As MATRON O'NEILL attempts to grab hold of her, BEA, in terror and panic, lashes out, striking Matron in the face. She resists violently but soon overcome. The nurses wrestle her to the ground.
BEA (screaming) Leave me alone.
MATRON O'NEILL Camisole, Metcalf...
NURSE METCALF runs off to get a camisole (Straight-jacket). BEA continues to scream, kick, bite and struggle in an attempt to free herself. NURSE METCALF returns with a straight-jacket. BEA is being held securely on the ground by MATRON O'NEILL and the other two nurses, but when NURSE METCALF holds out the straight-jacket and attempts to put it on her, BEA struggles so violently that it is impossible. MATRON O'NEILL, one arm around BEA’s neck in a headlock, tightens her grip, eventually strangling her into unconsciousness.
FADE TO BLACK.
70 INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR. DAY
FADE UP FROM BLACK.
BEA regains consciousness to find herself being carried down a corridor by MATRON O'NEILL and two other nurses: the upper part of her body retrained by a straight-jacket. She lashes out with her feet catching MATRON O'NEILL full in the stomach and knocking her to the floor. A fierce struggle ensues. MATRON O'NEILL gets her arm around BEA’s neck and strangles her into unconsciousness.
FADE TO BLACK.
71 INT. PADDED CELL
FADE UP FROM BLACK.
BEA, straight-jacketed, is being tied into a seat in a small padded cell by TWO NURSES. She is in shock; terrified. MATRON O'NEILL, sporting a black eye, stands in front of her.
MATRON When you learn to control yourself...
BEA kicks MATRON O'NEILL hard in the shins. MATRON O'NEILL loses her temper and hits BEA across the face with a hand in which she is holding a bunch of keys. BEA’s face is cut.
BEA Bloody coward.
MATRON O'NEILL looks at BEA guiltily: sorry to have lost her temper. BEA glares at her. MATRON O'NEILL walks out of the room.
72 INT. REFRACTORY WARD. EVENING
BEA, the cut on her face partially healed now, stands by her bed in a crowded 18 bed Refractory Ward a little after sunset, watching TWO NURSES bundle a seriously demented patient into a straight-jacket as MATRON O'NEILL completes her cursory inspection of the other patients. Folded, in a pile at the end of her bed, are grey blankets, green sheets and an off-white bath towel. In one hand she holds a toothbrush and comb; in the other a cake of soap. MATRON O'NEILL completes her inspection, nods to the other nurses, glances briefly at BEA and walks out of the ward. The NURSES punch cards into the bundy-clock by the door and leave also; closing the doors behind them. The sound of the door being bolted from outside can be heard. BEA, in shock still, looks around the ward.
KITTY, a thin, prematurely-aged woman with sad eyes, sits on her bed, the fist of one hand resting on her breast as she strokes it with the other and talks softly and affectionately to it as it if were a baby.
BERYL, a woman of about 40 with terror in her eyes, sits trembling and sweating in the wooden chair by her bed.
ELLEN, a large and partially bald woman lies on her bed staring hatefully at BEA.
BEA becomes aware of MRS. LANDING - the middle-aged woman in the bed next to her - smiling at her.
MRS LANDING (full of admiration) You’re the one gave Matron the black eye...
BEA nods and manages the beginnings of a smile but her attention is caught by ELLEN who is striding towards her with a hateful expression on her face. ELLEN pushes BEA forcefully onto the floor and then walks calmly back to her bed. BEA is dumbfounded. MRS. LANDING helps BEA up.
MRS. LANDING She just wants to let you know she’s boss cockie.
BEA looks over to ELLEN, who is lying on her bed again looking triumphantly at BEA. In the background a patient can be seen standing by the bundy clock, talking to it.
PATIENT I’m sorry my mother is a bloody whore. I’m sorry my mother is a bloody whore.
BEA lies in her bed, on her side, looking out into the darkened ward. Most of the patients are asleep now, with the exception of BERYL who is still sitting in her chair trembling, and another woman, at the other end of the ward, who is tearing her waterproof sheet into strips and guffawing moronically as blue sparks fly out. BERYL’s moaning increases in intensity and then suddenly stops. BEA watches. BERYL’s trembling ceases; a large puddle of urine forms on the floor under the chair.
73 INT. HOSPITAL BATHROM. DAY
BEA stands with a group of twelve of so listless patients in the shower block, waiting for a free shower; her towel over her arm, her toothbrush, comb and soap in one hand. THREE NURSES, working to a tight schedule, undress, bathe, dry and dress patients who are unable to do so by themselves; with little patience for uncooperative inmates. Tempers flare. KITTY, nursing her clenched fist protectively, screams and resists violently when a nurse attempts to prise her fingers apart so that she can wash her hand.
SARAH, waiting to be bathed has removed her nightdress and stands in front of a mirror feeling her breast, squeezing it until a drop of milk appears, then smiling to herself. A NURSE notices this and moves quickly across the wet floor to slap SARAH’s hand.
ELLEN glares at BEA from underneath her shower. When she gets out BEA realizes that she is the last of the patients who is able to bathe herself so she places her towel and toothbrush on a wooden bench, takes off her nightdress and stands under the shower, letting the hot water stream over her hand, closing her eyes as if to block out the nightmare images. When she opens them and looks out through the steam, she sees ELLEN pick up her toothbrush and walk out of the shower block.
74 INT. HOSPITAL DINING ROOM. DAY
The Mental Hospital dining room. BEA, in something of a daze, sits on a bench at a table with a dozen patients, staring at an unappetizing bowl of grey porridge. MRS. LANDING sits beside her. ELLEN sits on the other side of the table, a few patients up. At this and other tables in the dining room, nurses help to feed those patients incapable of doing so. Even if the food were edible the images and sounds confronting BEA would make eating difficult.
MRS LANDING (sympathetic) It’s not so bad if you cover it with sugar, close your eyes and pretend.
BEA looks at MRS. LANDING and manages a weak smile. She looks at ELLEN, who is spooning porridge into her mouth in a most disgusting manner and up to see MATRON enter the room. BEA gets up and moves towards where MATRON is talking to the NURSE in charge. As she sees BEA approach MATRON turns her back and pretends she is not there. BEA stands for a moment, staring at MATRON’s back.
BEA The nurse told me...
MATRON swings around angrily, her eye black still.
MATRON I beg your pardon.
BEA The nurse in the shower block...
MATRON (loudly) I beg your pardon. If you wish to speak to me you will address me as Matron.
BEA breathes deeply, trying to contain her anger.
BEA Matron, the nurse told me to ask you about getting another toothbrush.
MATRON What happened to the one you were issued with?
BEA Someone took it.
BEA will not answer.
MATRON Who took your toothbrush?
BEA I don’t know.
MATRON You’ll have to be more careful with your possessions in future, won’t you?
BEA Yes, but...
MATRON Sit down, Miles.
BEA glares at her.
MATRON Sit down, Miles.
BEA Someone took it.
BEA walks back to her seat, breathes deeply for a moment to calm herself.
BEA Ellen, please...
ELLEN Don’t talk to me...
BEA Ellen, please give my toothbrush back.
ELLEN Haven’t got your toothbrush.
ELLEN leans forward and spits a mouthful of porridge in BEA’s face. BEA lunges across the table, grabbing hold of Ellen and knocking her to the floor. Pandemonium breaks loose. A violent struggle ensues between BEA and ELLEN.
MATRON, who was leaving the room, rushes over to see what is going on. Through the throng of demented onlookers, she sees BEA sitting astride ELLEN, her hands around ELLEN’s throat, her face streaked with tears, crying desperately:
BEA I want my toothbrush.
THREE NURSES pull BEA off ELLEN. BEA offers no resistance. One of the nurses helps ELLEN to her feet. BEA, in tears, explains - to no-one in particular.
BEA She took by toothbrush.
ELLEN, also in tears, whimpers like a four year old child.
ELLEN Someone took my toothbrush.
BEA looks at ELLEN and then at the MATRON, whose face betrays no emotion at all.
75 INT. PADDED CELL. DAY
BEA is in a straight-jacket, tied to a seat in a small padded cell. Looming over her, looking down, is DR. CARRUTHERS. MATRON is standing in the doorway.
BEA (desperate) She stole my toothbrush.
DR. CARRUTHERS Your toothbrush?
BEA looks at him, nods her head and says 'yes' inaudibly.
DR. CARRUTHERS So you attacked her!?
BEA begins to cry quietly; making no attempt to explain herself. Her tears make DR. CARRUTHERS uncomfortable. He looks at MATRON whose expression, as she looks at BEA, betrays considerably more sympathy for her that we have seen hitherto.
76 INT. REFRACTORY WARD. NIGHT
BEA, leans up against the wall at the end of her bed in the Refractory Ward, writing in a school exercise book with a fountain pen. It is evening. Some of the patients are in bed; others are engaged in various bizarre activities. BERYL sits in her chair trembling and sweating. MRS LANDING, in the bed next to BEA, is reading a book.
BEA (voiceover) My observations of insanity have led me to the conclusion that I am not mad and I long heartily for my freedom. Though I feel keenly the loss of my liberty, I am happy-natured enough to bear the loss of it with reasonable equanimity. The experience is not doing me any harm and besides, I am developing my powers of observation and comprehension every day. The only change in me is that I am wiser...
BERYL has begun to make low moaning noises. BEA looks up from her writing and MRS. LANDING from her book.
BEA Beryl, why don’t you use the toilet?
BERYL (with great pathos) Haven’t got a penny.
BEA and MRS. LANDING laugh. BEA leaps off her bed.
BEA Come on. I’ll lend you a penny.
BEA takes BERYL's hand and leads her to the toilet, past KITTY, who lies on her bed nursing her fist; whispering quietly to it.
77 INT/EXT. REFRACTORY WARD/GARDEN. MORNING
BEA, a little after dawn, stands at the end of her bed, looking out through a small window, onto the hospital garden, in which stands a large jacaranda tree.
BEA (voiceover) I stand at the back of the bed and gaze at a magnificent jacaranda tree which fills the central garden. Mauve flowers, garden leaves, and a grey sky. What an idea for an outfit...
The camera moves past BEA’s head, dissolving through to:
78 EXT. HOSPITAL GARDEN. DAY
Bea sits under the jacaranda tree writing in her journal. It is early summer and the mauve flowers are being blown loose by a light breeze and falling all around her.
BEA (voiceover) ...Shall ask Grandma to buy me some grey linen for a frock, some green silk for underclothes and a piece of mauve ribbon for a belt...
GRANDMA ELLIE approaches, unseen by BEA, her arms full of parcels.
BEA (voiceover) She and mum are the only relatives who care about my being here and, to allay any misery I may feel, she buys me everything I ask for.
GRANDMA ELLIE stops a few feet away from BEA looking at her lovingly for a moment. BEA is so absorbed by her writing that she does not notice.
GRANDMA ELLIE Bea!
BEA leaps to her feet.
She hugs her grandmother; the parcels get in the way.
BEA You’re so good to me.
GRANDMA ELLIE (smiling) I probably shouldn’t be.
BEA takes the parcels happily.
BEA How’s dad? Mother?
GRANDMA ELLIE They’re still in Italy. Your mother’s poorly. They may have to come home.
GRANDMA ELLIE I’m sure she’ll be right dear.
BEA Gran...do you think I’m mad?
GRANDMA ELLIE (evasive) No dear. None of us think you’re mad. You just needed a rest.
BEA It would have been more restful in Italy.
GRANDMA ELLIE Do you want some more books?
BEA Yes. Yes I do. I have a list...
BEA takes a folded sheet of paper from her pocket.
GRANDMA ELLIE Matron tells me you’ve settled down nicely and...
GRANDMA ELLIE pauses for dramatic effect.
GRANDMA ELLIE That you can come shopping in town with me one day next week.
BEA throws her arms excitedly around her grandmother.
BEA (happy) Bosker!
79 EXT. HOSPITAL GARDEN. DAY
BEA, in a grey frock, with a mauve ribbon for a belt, at the far end of the hospital garden, pacing up and down the high wall surrounding it; her copy of Shakespeare’s Collected Works in her hand. She reads a passage, commits it to memory, closes the book.
BEA "Fear no more the heat o’ the sun; Nor the furious winter’s rages..."
MATRON watches BEA through her office window some distance away. Behind her stands a grim-faced MR. MILES.
BEA paces up and down by the wall; reciting.
BEA "Fear not slander, censure rash..."
MATRON (voice off) Bea.
BEA looks up and sees MATRON, some distance away, beckoning her. She walks towards MATRON.
MATRON Your father’s here...
BEA’s eyes light up and she looks past MATRON to where MR. MILES stands on the gravel driveway outside the Admissions Office. BEA begins to run excitedly towards him, not noticing, as she rushes past her that MATRON is visibly upset.
BEA (calling out) Dad!
As she gets closer, BEA registers the grim expression on his face. Her pace slows, her smile fades. She stops a few yards from him, looking at him quizzically. MR. MILES will not look at her.
There is a long silence.
MR. MILES Your mother’s dead.
BEA looks at her father; devastated.
MR. MILES is trembling. It is increasingly difficult for him to hold his feelings back. BEA moves up to her father and puts her arms around him.
BEA (crying) Oh, dad.
MR. MILES stiffens and pulls away. BEA looks at him - her grief heightened by his rejection. She opens her mouth to speak but no sound comes out. MR. MILES stands frozen, like a statue, staring into space. MATRON looks on from a distance. MR. MILES, his eyes filled with tears, turns to look at BEA.
MR. MILES You broke your mother’s heart.
BEA is so shocked by this that she is unable to respond. MR. MILES turns and walks to his car. BEA stands frozen, overwhelmed by despair. MATRON moves forward, standing for a moment a few feet from BEA looking at her with almost maternal concern. BEA turns to look at her. MATRON moves forward, taking BEA in her arms. BEA rests her head on Matron’s breast and cries uncontrollably.
MATRON It was a kidney infection. Your mother died of a kidney infection.
80 INT/EXT. DINING ROOM/GARDEN. EVENING
Through a rain-streaked window, TWO NURSES can be seen looking outside. Behind them, in the dining room, patients at their dinner. MATRON appears and looks through the window also. From her point of view, BEA can be seen standing some distance away in the garden, close to the now leafless jacaranda tree. Her clothes are soaking wet. She looks up into the torrential rain - crying in desperation.
81 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, DAWN. 1963
OLD BEA, her face wet with tears, holds MOLLY’s hand still, as a nurse, with two fingers on the old lady’s neck checks for a pulse and shakes her head. BEA places MOLLY’s hand under the cover, which the nurse then pulls up over MOLLY’s grey face. As she stands, the pain of her arthritis causes BEA to grimace.
82 INT/EXT. TRAM/CITY STREETS. DAY. 1963
Bea sits next to the window of a tram crowded with early morning commuters, her SHAKESPEARE READINGS sign resting up against her knees. She is looking out the window, in a pensive mood. The Conductor makes her way along the aisle, collecting fares.
CONDUCTOR (friendly) No point in asking you for your fare I suppose, Bea?
BEA snaps out of her reverie, turning to the smiling CONDUCTOR.
BEA (smiles) No.
The CONDUCTOR moves down the aisle.
83 INT/EXT. TAXI/CITY STREET. DAY. 1963
BEA stands at a mid-city intersection waiting for the lights to change; her SHAKESPEARE RECITALS sign around her neck. People around BEA react in different ways. Children stare, some adults studiously ignore her and others exchange smiles and glances. BEA is oblivious to them all. The lights change. The traffic stops. BEA scans the cars quickly and then makes her way through the traffic, as fast as her old legs will allow in the direction of a vacant taxi. The driver - FRANK - notices her approach too late and tries, unsuccessfully, to lock the front-side passenger door before BEA opens it. His face falls as BEA settle into the seat beside him.
FRANK Oh no!
BEA (smiling) Hello, Frank.
FRANK (exasperated) Please Beatrice...
BEA (raucous voice) What’s wrong with you, you’re empty.
FRANK I’m engaged. I’ve got a pick up.
BEA That’s alright. I don’t mind a detour. Don’t mind company.
FRANK For Christ’s sake Beatrice, I’ve had a hard day. Me wife left me last week...
BEA I’m sorry to hear that Frank, what did you do to her?
FRANK Oh Jesus.
A WOMAN comes up and knocks on the window, hailing the cab. Then she sees BEA.
WOMAN (prim) Oh no!
FRANK Beatrice: get out.
FRANK (getting angry) Get out.
BEA Frank; have I ever said I’d pay and then not pay? Take me to Chatswood.
FRANK (in a rage) No
84 INT/EXT. TAXI/CITY STREET. DAY
The cab has pulled up beside Central Park. With one leg jammed in the door to keep it open, FRANK stands with a bucket of water poised.
FRANK (angry) I’m warning you.
BEA I’ve got money in Chatswood. Take me to Chatswood.
A crowd is gathering.
VOICE IN CROWD Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?
2nd VOICE IN CROWD We’re on your side, Beatrice.
FRANK throws the bucket of water over BEA. She squawks, drenched.
FRANK (angry) Get out you smelly old bitch.
This is too much for BEA. She sees red, gets out of the cab and in one brute action rips the door off its hinges and throws it on the road. The crowd cheers.
85 INT. POLICE CELL. NIGHT. 1963
BEA sits on a bunk in a Police Station cell rolling herself a cigarette. In the background, on a counter on which rests the taxi door, a small GROUP OF POLICEMEN laugh as one recounts how BEA ripped if off. Her cigarette rolled now, BEA lights it, takes a puff and looks up at the metal-grill covered window. The opening bars of the Moonlight Sonata mingle with the laughter of the policemen.
86 INT. HOSPITAL RECREATION ROOM. DAY
Young BEA is alone in the Hospital Recreation Room playing the Moonlight Sonata on the piano with considerable feeling. A nurse enters.
BEA stops playing.
NURSE Matron wants you.
BEA looks worried.
NURSE You’ve got a visitor.
BEA looks pleased.
BEA My grandmother?
NURSE Your cousin.
BEA is bewildered.
87 INT. MATRON'S OFFICE DAY
BEA walks into MATRON’s office, bewildered still, to find JOHNNO, dressed in a tuxedo and bow tie, his hair slicked back, wearing a false moustache and looking very dapper. MATRON looks bewildered. JOHNNO rises to his feet and winks boldly at BEA.
JOHNNO Bea, dear cousin Bea, how are you? You look well.
JOHNNO kisses BEA on the cheek and whispers a word in her ear.
BEA (genuinely surprised Nigel!
JOHNNO (smiling) Beautiful as ever.
JOHNNO (to Matron) Haven’t seen each other in years. I’ve been in India.
JOHNNO laughs and throws his hands up.
JOHNNO I’ve made a complete mess of it I’m afraid Bea. Gran thought I’d arranged to pick you up and I thought she had. My fault really.
JOHNNO looks at his watch and begins to move towards the door, taking BEA by the arm.
JOHNNO Wedding starts at three. We’ve got two hours. Gran’s got you a wonderful outfit.
MATRON fears she has no control over what is going on. She’s right.
MATRON Mr Miles, this is most irregular. Whose wedding...?
JOHNNO grins from ear to ear: a real charmer.
JOHNNO pulls BEA towards the door, turning to MATRON as he goes.
JOHNNO Oh, what time must I have Bea back by?
JOHNNO does not wait for an answer. He walks out the door.
88 EXT. HOSPITAL. DAY
JOHNNO and BEA walking out of the door, into the sunshine and in the direction of the iron gates. MATRON follows closely behind, flustered but not quite sure what to do.
MATRON As officer in charge I am responsible …
JOHNNO keeps walking. Without looking around:
JOHNNO I take full responsibility. (SOTTO VOCE BEA) Keep walking. Ignore her.
MATRON Mr. Miles, you can’t just...6 o’clock.
JOHNNO waves his hand in acknowledgment but does not look around.
JOHNNO I’ll have her back by six, don’t worry.
As they walk down the drive-way the figure of MATRON on the steps becomes smaller and smaller. Close to a big black shiny car, a UNIFORMED CHAUFFEUR opens the passenger door. BEA gets in.
89 INT. CAR. DAY
BEA How did you know I was here?
JOHNNO (talking fast) I read about your mother, called your father, who told me you were studying in Europe, spoke to your grandmother, who gave me a few clues, did a bit of journalistic sleuthing and...(here I am).
BEA But...they’ll catch me.
JOHNNO Won’t matter. You’ll be in the custody of your husband then.
BEA I haven’t got a husband.
JOHNNO (grinning) You will have this afternoon.
BEA looks at JOHNNO for a moment. His grin broadens.
BEA I can’t marry you!
JOHNNO (grinning) Why not?
JOHNNO I’ve worked it all out. We get married. I become your legal guardian. I sign the release forms. You’re are a free woman.
BEA is speechless.
JOHNNO tears off his false moustache; wriggles his nose.
90 INT. REGISTRY OFFICE. DAY
JOHNNO and BEA standing at a counter in the Registry Office talking to a somewhat intimidated but nonetheless officious CLERK.
JOHNNO Three days!
CLERK I’m sorry sir, but the banns must be posted three days beforehand.
JOHNNO Have you any idea how much it cost me to rent this suit?
CLERK I’m sorry sir. I’m just...
JOHNNO Yes. Yes. Give me the forms.
91 EXT. REGISTRY OFFICE. DAY
BEA and JOHNNO walking out of the Registry, towards his motor-bike, which is parked outside.
JOHNNO (determined) Right, plan B! We’ve got to keep you out of sight for three days. Now I can either fix you up with somewhere to stay or you can come and stay with me...
BEA overwhelmed by the pace at which all this is happening.
JOHNNO You can have the bed and I’ll have the couch.
92 INT. COFFEE LOUNGE. DAY
BEA and JOHNNO sitting at a small table in a popular bohemia coffee lounge of the day, finishing off their meals. On the wall in the background is a flamboyantly colored poster: SPANISH NIGHT - Friday 4th. Two bohemians of the day are decorating the lounge with large sombreros, bright coloured blankets and other things Spanish.
BEA You don't marry someone you barely know!
JOHNNO (grins) No, I suppose not!.
BEA Then why?
JOHNNO Might be my only opportunity, mightn’t it?
BEA To what?
JOHNNO smiles and holds out his arms: as if to say "To do what I’m doing now". He takes a mouthful of food.
JOHNNO (chewing) Might be dead this time next week.
BEA You’re a strange one, Johnno.
JOHNNO (looking at Bea’s clothes) Got to get you something for tonight.
BEA is intrigued by JOHNNO; has never net anyone quite like him.
93 INT. COFFEE LOUNGE. NIGHT
BEA, dressed in scarlet and black Spanish dress, dancing with JOHNNO (dressed as a matador) in the coffee lounge at night, along with a small crowd of senors and senoritas, to an upbeat number played by three non-Spanish guitarists.
JOHNNO (deadpan) Your eyes.
BEA (laughs) You don’t marry someone because of their eyes!
JOHNNO looks directly into her eyes, but says nothing.
BEA And if I say 'no'?
JOHNNO Back to the madhouse.
BEA And if I say 'yes', I trade my father for a husband.
JOHNNO The frying pan or the fire? "That is the question."
BEA I will be a disobedient wife.
JOHNNO I sincerely hope so.
They look directly into each other’s eyes for a long moment.
BEA (impulsive) I want to show you something.
She takes his hand and pulls him towards the door.
94 EXT. HERBARIUM. BOTANICAL GARDENS. NIGHT
BEA runs excitedly through the Botanical Gardens, leading JOHNNO in the direction of a large and predominantly glass Herbarium. From behind a bush she removes a small plate of loose glass, grins mischievously at JOHNNO and climbs through the hole.
95 INT. HERBARIUM. NIGHT
BEA’s small figure appears at the far end of the Herbarium filled with hundreds of shrubs, ferns and exotic plants of different varieties; glowing a strange green in the moonlight. She looks around excitedly and then down to where JOHNNO is halfway through the hole. She places her fingers over his eyes.
BEA You mustn’t look till I tell you.
JOHNNO stands. BEA takes her hands from his eyes.
BEA My wedding present...For you.
JOHNNO opens his eyes and looks at the sea of iridescent green and then, his face broken in a smile, at BEA; her head a little to one side, observing his reaction with the expectancy of a child eager to please.
BEA (softly) It’s my secret place. You’re the only one I’ve ever brought here.
JOHNNO looks at her.
BEA (impulsively) Come on.
She takes JOHNNO’s hand, leading him down an aisle, between shelves packed with pots, to a corner in which hangs an extraordinary fern with hundreds of long green tendrils hanging in a green curtain from a slab of bark.
BEA This is my favourite.
BEA places her hand under the curtain of green tassels, pulling it towards her so that they run through her fingers. When she looks up JOHNNO is looking directly at her.
BEA Do you like it?
JOHNNO steps close to BEA. She looks back at him. He touches her face and neck gently, kissing her lightly. BEA stands, her arms hanging limply at her side, offering no resistance.
BEA (softly) I’ve never done this before.
JOHNNO continues to caress her.
96 INT. REGISTRY OFFICE. DAY
BEA and JOHNNO stride confidently through the door of the Registry Office - arm in arm; very happy. The CLERK looks at them fearfully as they approach, then over to where MR. MILES, TWO NURSES a POLICEMAN and MR PHELPS (Mr. Miles’ solicitor) stand. BEA and JOHNNO follow the line of the CLERK’s vision and stop dead in their tracks. There is a moment of unnatural stillness. No-one moves. BEA and MR. MILES' eyes lock for an instant.
97 INT. HOSPITAL. DAY
BEA, kicks and screams as she is carried down the corridor of the Mental Hospital by FOUR NURSES. MATRON and DR.CARRUTHERS look on. MATRON feels very uneasy about what is happening to BEA.
BEA (screaming) You’ve no right...LEAVE ME ALONE.
98 INT. JOHNNO'S ROOM. NIGHT
JOHNNO sits at his desk, in his room, at night, typing up an article. There is a half empty bottle of wine on the desk and a cigarette burning in the ashtray.
99 INT. MILES' HOME. MORNING
MR. MILES, puts on his dressing gown as he moves down the hallway towards the front door; stopping for a moment before he opens it, to straighten his hair with his hands. He opens the door. FIVE JOURNALISTS start asking questions all at once, as TWO PHOTOGRAPHERS position themselves to take photos. Out of the jumble of questions, one is clear:
JOURNALIST What is your response to the Smith’s Weekly allegation that you forcibly incarcerated your daughter because...
MR.MILES is overcome by anger and shock: his eyes blaze.
100 INT. MR. MILES' OFFICE. DAY
The front page of SMITH’S WEEKLY carries the banner: MADHOUSE MYSTERY OF A BEAUTIFUL SYDNEY GIRL. FIVE DOCTORS DECLARE HER SANE, CONDEMNED TO A LIFETIME IN A MADHOUSE...
MR. MILES paces up and down his office with his hands behind his back casting occasional glances in the direction of MR PHELPS who is reading the article, seated in a large comfortable chair.
After a long pause, during which MR. MILES becomes increasingly nervous and agitated.
MR. PHELPS Defamatory. No doubt about it.
MR. MILES nods; relieved.
101 INT. COURTROOM. DAY
A crowded courtroom. Bea’s legal counsel, MR. COLLINSON, questions a PSYCHIATRIST in the witness box. MR. MILES, MR. PHELPS, MATRON, DR. CARRUTHERS, JOHNNO and GRANDMA ELLIE are in court.
MR COLLINSON Insane, doctor?
PSYCHIATRIST Abnormal, peculiar; yes. A little excitable... flighty...what we call manic; yes. Neurotic, yes. But certainly not insane.
MR COLLINSON Eccentric?
PSYCHIATRIST (smiles) Eccentric, certainly...I mean she...
MR COLLINSON Yes?
PSYCHIATRIST She made me sit for her sanity test... before she let me give her mine.
MR COLLINSON (amused) How did you do?
PSYCHIATRIST I passed, narrowly. She was very exacting.
Laughter in court. A look of relief passes over BEA’s face. MR. MILES writes something on a pad and shows it to MR. PHELPS.
BEA in witness box being questioned by MR COLLINSON.
MR COLLINSON Do you see how your behaviour could have been misinterpreted as madness?
BEA Yes. By fools.
MR COLLINSON How do we know that you are not mad?
MR PHELPS (leaps to his feet) Objection. The issue at hand is whether or not Smith’s Weekly defamed Mr. Miles. Miss Miles’ own opinions regarding her sanity are irrelevant.
MR COLLINSON Your Honour, in light of the fact that five doctors have told the court that Miss Miles is not insane, I would have thought the question of whether or not Mr.Miles 'wrongfully committed' her - as Smith’s Weekly claims - is inextricably bound up with the question of whether or not Miss Miles was 'insane' or appeared to be 'insane' in the months prior to her committal.
JUDGE Objection overruled. Proceed Mr. Collinson.
MR COLLINSON Miss Miles, how do we know that you are not mad?
BEA Because I can admit the possibility that I might be or might seem to be. And no really mad person can do that.
MR COLLINSON You admit the possibility?
MR COLLINSON Do you think that wise?
BEA I don’t know what’s wise, obviously.
MR COLLINSON You agree that in society’s terms your behaviour appears, at times, to be eccentric.
MR. PHELPS cross-examines BEA.
MR PHELPS You say you have a high regard for your father; that you love your father?
MR. PHELPS Then why did you choose to bring him so much grief?
BEA I didn’t choose to do that. He chose to react with grief to what I did.
MR. PHELPS And why did you behave in the way you did?
BEA For fun.
MR. PHELPS For fun?
BEA Yes. The intelligent woman’s reason for being unconventional in public.
MR. PHELPS Even when it brings you into conflict with the police, with your family and results in your being declared insane and put in a mental hospital?
BEA I am responsible for my actions. Not society’s reactions.
MR. PHELPS Society has no reason to react in the way it does?
BEA No good reason. Society applauds the man who dies climbing up a Himalayan mountain for glory’s sake or freezing to death in the quest to be the first to reach the South Pole. Society calls these deeds achievements and what I do, madness. I am not responsible for society’s reactions.
There are murmurs in the courtroom and some tentative applause. JOHNNO smiles.
MR PHELPS You are responsible only to yourself?
BEA Yes, so long as I don’t hurt anyone. Physically.
MR PHELPS Do you seriously contend that you have not hurt anyone?
BEA Not physically. Other people’s mental hurt, as a rule, is not, should not and cannot be my business.
She looks at her father. MR. MILES looks away.
MR. MILES is in the witness box. He seems forthright and honourable; arrogant but concerned.
MR COLLINSON You opposed conscription in the Great War.
MR. MILES Yes.
MR COLLINSON You believe that an individual should not be forced by society to do what he did not want to do.
MR MILES Yes.
MR COLLINSON You believe in the freedom of the individual?
MR. MILES Yes. (HE SHOOTS A GLANCE AT BEA.) And along with that freedom I believe comes a measure of responsibility.
MR COLLINSON But your daughter Bea was too free for your taste.
MR. MILES No, too irresponsible.
MR COLLINSON Insane?
MR MILES I’m not sure the distinction matters. Hurtful, yes. Distressing, yes. In the case of her poor mother probably fatal.
BEA, distressed, looks down.
MR COLLINSON But surely that distinction is what we are here for?
MR. MILES (impassioned) No. What we are here for is to decide whether I acted properly in dealing as I did with a situation that was ignominious and painful beyond belief. A situation that, in all possible ways, threatened the stability and the reputation and the health and the peace of mind of the family of which I was head. A situation that, however unjustly, was worsened by my daughter’s illness, and her deranged behaviour thereafter.
MR. COLLINSON Deranged.
MR. MILES Yes.
MR. COLLINSON Like having an untidy room, and staying out late?
MR MILES (emphatically) And coming home in the charge of police for having behaved indecently in public. And risking her life in the pursuit of a free lift she could well afford.
MR COLLINSON Deranged?
MR. MILES Yes.
BEA looks down.
MR. COLLINSON Not just high spirited.
MR. MILES You have not lived with it. You could not know.
MR. COLLINSON And you had no choice?
MR. MILES I did not think so.
He looks away. BEA is looking away too.
MR COLLINSON But what brought you to it? Was it just your overseas trip? And that Beatrice might be an inconvenience while you travelled overseas?
Some of the JURY look shocked at this.
MR MILES (angry) And that Beatrice might disappear while we were overseas with her, and never see her again.
MR COLLINSON So you had her committed.
MR. MILES Not just for that reason.
MR. COLLINSON What other reason?
MR MILES (backing off) It was a culmination of many reasons. Including her illness.
MR. COLLINSON And she was deservedly put in a place where she was strangled into unconsciousness?
A look is exchanged between MR MILES and BEA. MR MILES looks down.
MR. MILES I was not aware of those things.
MR. COLLINSON Do you love your daughter Mr. Miles?
MR. MILES Yes I do. Very much.
He looks down. BEA's eyes cloud over with tears.
MR COLLINSON Then why did you do it? What did she do to you?
MR MILES It was what she did to the family.
MR. COLLINSON Nothing she did to you personally.
MR. MILES No.
MR. COLLINSON Mr. Miles. I want to read something to you.
He opens a manila folder and reads from a letter.
MR. COLLINSON "When I put Beatrice into the hands of Dr Carruthers for disciplinary and psychoanalytic treatment, it was not because I expected any good result, but merely to get final proof that Beatrice’s trouble was a psychosis as distinct from a neurosis..."
There is loud murmuring in the court. BEA looks at MR MILES in horror. MR MILES, caught between shame and anger, whispers urgently in MR. PHELPS' ear.
MR. COLLINSON (reading) "I really had no doubt myself but needed to satisfy others..."
MR. PHELPS leaps into his feet.
MR. PHELPS Objection.
MR. COLLINSON It's relevant your honour.
Uproar in the court.
MR. PHELPS Your Honour, this is private communication between my client and...
JUDGE Objection overruled. Continue Mr. Collinson.
MR. COLLINSON There is another letter, Mr. Miles, dated the 9th December.
MR. MILES is sweating profusely; absolutely terrified.
MR. COLLINSON (reading) "On several occasions I was obliged physically to chastise Beatrice. I mean I had to hit her. It was my belief that she was suffering from a'father fixation'. One night...
MR. MILES leaps to his feet.
GRANDMA ELLIE lowers her head; ashamed.
BEA's eyes are on her father.
MR. MILES I wish to confer.
JUDGE Yes, alright.
MR. COLLINSON looks triumphantly at BEA. She is tense and tearful. MR. MILES and Mr. Phelps confer silently, JOHNNO is excited.
MR. PHELPS My client would like a brief recess, your Honour.
JUDGE Oh, very well. Adjourned for half an hour.
MR. PHELPS leans over BEA and MR. COLLINSON, speaking softly.
MR. PHELPS Mr. Miles will withdraw his case and pay costs, and undertake never again to attempt to have Miss Miles committed if she and Smith’s Weekly in turn will undertake not to pursue this matter any further legally.
BEA (not understanding) What!
MR COLLINSON (puzzled) Pay costs?
MR. PHELPS And furthermore give Miss Miles an allowance of seven pounds a week. In perpetuity.
MR. COLLINSON Cripes, that’s more than I get.
BEA Seven pounds!
MR. COLLINSON Why’s he want to stop now?