The past two weeks have been pretty intense writing-wise. The feedback I got on the previous outline I posted here (v. 2.01) proved to be very helpful. A lot has changed though, the story got more whimsical (talking statues, WTF), the background conflict emphasis changed from environmental issues to religious dogma, I had to cut the love story (bye, bye Manu) that became quite impossible to rhyme with the larger scale drama and focus more on a daughter-father relationship since the Chief is naturally torn between the two ideological fires with a daughter that deviates from the cultural established way of life and his role in the island society.
The story has become… big. Dauntingly so. It will even require a lot of spoken dialogue. (We have to find good voice actors as well as people able of writing clever dialogue since I know that’s not exactly a strong point of mine) but that’s all of later concern. First the story needs to be right. And I know no other group of people as sharp and inventive plucking on stories as you. So hereby we gladly offer our outline for your eyes-only and in the hope that this story appeals to your senses and imagination.
Untitled Easter Island project
Synopses v. 3.03 (21/1/08)
The story is loosely set on Easter Island during the fall of the proud Polynesian society that flourished on the Island for many centuries and erected an incredible number of giant stone statues of their gods and ancestors. It’s now commonly believed that this proud society collapsed because they completely cut down the island’s forest for producing and transportation of their giant statures and left them with no means to sustain their food supply. After fierce warfare under each other they eventually perished leaving the once green and fertile paradise a barren wasteland filled with broken statues well before the first European explorers came ashore in 1722.
The principle characters:
Kaula is daughter of the chief, an energetic 11 year old that’s pretty bright for her age. Kaula is bit of the odd one out since she has a radical different outlook on life then the rest of the clan. While the whole clan seems occupied with the wrath of the gods she’s more interested in nature. Kaula is immensely frustrated by the fact that her father doesn’t seem to really understand her nor take her very serious. Encouraged by the Easter Head statue she tries to convince her father of the impending danger of cutting down the forest for erecting ever more statues.
Turam is the Clan’s chief and Kaula’s father; a strong leader and a caring father but sadly not all too bright for a man in his position. He is quite oblivious to the manipulation by his Shaman and the impending doom for the island it is causing. He is quite content to live in a little bubble where everything is fine and dandy and isn’t all that eager to leave it until daughter takes decisive action to burst it. He is totally aghast to finally face the truth but he does find the strength and courage to take action, even if it means to go against the wishes of the Shaman.
Tahiri is the clan’s pretentious Shaman; the ‘great’ spiritual leader revered by the clan. The Shaman is a character with great inner-conflict because his secret shame is that he has spend his whole career trying to get a personal connection with the gods trough talking with the statues as his proud predecessors did, but failed. His inability to do so led him to believe he has yet to find his personal ‘medium to the gods’ and thus manipulates the chief into building ever more and bigger statues, not minding the strain this has on the island’s environment.
The Clan people are not the brightest bunch and they allow fear to take over by preferring to listen to the Shaman reinsurances then the Chief stern warnings and eventually starve to death under the Shaman’s reign when the chief and his daughter fled the island.
The Easter Head is an ancient statue inhabited with the spirit of the first great Shaman. He has grown rather wary over the last decades and worries the end of this once proud civilisation is nigh. Disappointed and annoyed by deluded last-in-line Shaman he believes in all honesty that the 10 year old Kaula is the only sane person left on the island and thus the only one that has a shot in changing the course of history… This old statue has a disturbing odd sense of dry humour without losing it’s sincerity.
We open with a series close up shots of the process of hacking a new Easter Island statue and see it then towed toward the coast. We are introduced to the clan cutting trees, hacking stones and towing cords while we see Kaula playing amongst it, studying flowers, protecting creatures out the forest from the careless clan workers, that kind of stuff.
[introduction & exposition of the clan and Kaula ‘in action’ intersected for maximum effect of their differences]
Kaula runs in late on the statue completion ceremony just when her father congratulates the clan for the completion and gives the word to the Shaman who all to eagerly starts a pompous sermonize of how this new statue will please the gods and of his vital and exclusive role of mediating with them. Most of this speech will be background noise to a meaningful exchange of looks between Kuala and her father.*
*First a fierce look of annoyance and incomprehension of Turam why her daughter is late on which Kuala responses with a ‘dunno, does it matter?’ look/shrug, Turam’s facial expression then goes from angry (not again) to sad (why is she so grouchy / can’t I do something) to determent (I know just the thing to cheer her up)
[introduction & exposition of Turam in the role of Chief and father the ‘strained relationship’ with his daughter and introduction of the Shaman and his role.]
After ceremony Turam takes a moment to talk with his daughter. She asks why “we” are still building new statues, since there are so many of them already; she points at the many statues scattered over the coast. Her father explains that it is the will of the gods and that the gods should be obeyed. Kaula then asks how her father really knows that this is what the gods want and her father explains that it is the witchdoctor who knows these things. Kaula goes on , asking how he knows, but her father smiles and kindly switches the subject (“enough big questions for a little girl like you”, something like that). Kaula grows annoyed again which Turam notices (although still pretty clueless as to exactly why) and hurries on with the cheer up part he had planned.
He has a surprise for her. It’s a little creature in a beautifully crafted cage. Kaula looks at the little creature aghast since she’s protecting these for a long time against the other islander’s deforesting. Turam, disappointed in the lack of gratitude this gift brings to her daughter he continues to tell her that it’s very rare these days and that it took one of his servants many days to find one for her. Kaula, while still staring at the little creature that’s whining and quivering of fear, is now boiling with anger. Turam now gets angry because she doesn’t even try to be grateful with the gift that took him so much effort to acquire.
Kaula snaps and runs off. Her father - partly angry partly confused - yells after her suggesting to talk about it. But when he gathers her daughter really needs to blow of steam he leaves, sighing.
[staging the main father-daughter conflict as well as the nature vs. religion theme]
Kuala stops running on a high far-out cliff overlooking both the island as the sea. (this would be a good point to show that the island is more than half deforested). There is also a statue present (which shouldn’t really attract the viewer’s interested too much, because they are everywhere. Completely caught in her anger she curses her father and the whole clan for not understanding her or anything else while she releases the thankful creature which immediately flies/crawls away. She keeps looking at it until it’s almost gone. And the sighs deeply, finally unwinding a bit while the sun is setting.
Then a deep voice starts talking to her (something like: I wonder what your father would think of this). She freezes, then swiftly looks around, but doesn’t detect anyone. The statue speaks another line while Kaula is now looking in his direction. She is amazed. They start talking. Kaula gets of her chest what bugging her. The statue can’t do much more then agree and then explains to Kaula that she’s probably the last sane person left on the island. He could know, he’s been looking out on the island from this statue for generations, but lately the hunger for more and bigger statues is unnecessary (insert joke with many heads in the background complaining) and has disrupted the natural balance on the island. It should be stopped; she should find a way to make the people see.. She suddenly notices it’s already dark and tells the statue she should go home.
As Kaula returns home she finds her father discussing plans for a new, even bigger statue with the Shaman. Kaula is very energetic and tells her father they shouldn’t build a new statue. The Chief is baffled because this was the last thing he expected his daughter to say after their fight just that afternoon. The Shaman, however, looks visibly annoyed. Turam brings her daughter upstairs while she explains what happened and that he should come with her to see the statue, he doesn’t really believe her but in the hope of resolving the issues with his daughter he agrees to come with her in the morning.
When the chief returns to the Shaman and murmurs some mild doubt about the necessity of this ridiculous big statue, but the Shaman reassures him that this is the will of the gods. They will provide for the people if the people keep them happy.
We are back on the cliff. Kaula and her father enter the shot. Kaula is holding her father’s hand, trying to make him go faster. Kaula desperately tries the statue to speak, even knocking on/touching the statue, the statue, of course, remains inanimate. Her father explains she must have been dreaming and that the island is fine, the Shaman told him last night. Kaula blames her father for not taking the Easter Head seriously (‘that must be it’) and storms off, Turam who keeps standing there a little while longer shaking his head in disbelieve for her daughter strange behaviour suddenly catches sight of the empty, barren hills and scratches is head with a looming worried expression before heading off.
Now she feels her father will not believe her, Kaula goes off to seek the shaman for advise. (He is working on drawings of the new statue-to-be) She tells him that she spoke to an ancestor through an ancient statue on the high cliff, the shaman is shocked but does not show this, he laughs it away. She must have dreamt this, surely only he is able to speak with the gods…
That evening Kaula is making her way up to the cliff again. When she’s almost there she meets the shaman walking away from the site. He acts as if “caught”, makes up a silly excuse why he was there and then quickly goes away again. Kaula goes on and tries to make contact with the statue again. Once again, it speaks. He tells her he’s only willing to speak to someone really capable of listening. (if you catch my drift) He mentions that the shaman was with him a moment ago and that he clearly is not; he jokes about that he was glad that he finally left. Kaula tells of her problems trying to convince her dad. The statue ponders on that a while and then replies that he may be able to “help” a little convincing him…
The Chief has a nightmare in which he is confronted with scary statues. And then he is confronted deforest island. (Maybe at some point in the dream we could do something with the little creature being huge and the chief in a cage that looks just like that one he gave to Kaula. This would help move away the focus on deforestation, toward a more general-lack-of- respect-for-your-surroundings.
Awoken from the nightmare he shares his new insight with his daughter and promises that will stop the statue-making process at one. Delighted, Kaula runs off to the statue to tell him the good news. The Shaman, who was listening in on their conversation is enraged and decides to follow her secretly.
Kaula wants to give the statue the happy news but stops halfway when she finds that the statue is in a particular blue mood. The statue warns her that bad things are coming and tells her he can help her to get away from the island, but she must act quickly. Kaula wants to get her father first. The grave statue then tells her that her father is doomed, that there is no point going after him. Simultaneously, the Shaman hidden behind another statue is completely crushed by finding out that Kaula really can speak to the statues and almost breaks down, but gets himself together again and while a vicious gleam appears in his eyes he runs off at the end of the scene. We don’t see whether or not Kaula decides to take the offer or not.
Kaula’s father is standing in front of the crowd and tells about his plans to stop the building of statues. The crowd responds in a confused shock. An enraged Shaman shows up again and declares that the Chief is a going against the will of the gods and thus should be killed. Some of the crowd respond in favour to that idea. The Chief, thrown off guard, clumsily (the Shaman is the better speaker) tries to convince the crowd that the Shaman is wrong. That everyone will die of hunger soon if we don’t stop making statues. The crowd looks confused and scared. The Shaman then promises that the gods will provide for the people if they keep building statues for them and kill this heretic. The crowd goes wild and storms the stage to kill the Chief. But amidst of the chaos Kaula comes to get her father. They run off.. The Shaman, even angrier because he sees Kuala again, yells at the angry mob to stop them.
An angry mob follows the two through a maze of statues towards the coast. When the mob almost caught up with them the Easter Head statue suddenly come to life and tumbles over. Cutting the bewildered crowd off. With the mob out of the picture, the two flee following the other statues lead. They lead them to a quiet spot on the coast where a little boat is docked. They get in and leave the island.
While the credits run we see the island going up in flames and near the end of the credits we see the ship of Jacob Roggerveen and arriving at the barren island, stunned, thinking what the in hells name happened here.
Yeah, I know. Me and Alex would like to do a feature film length production if it were possible. But somehow this thing has to be condensed in 10 to 15 minutes. Without feeling rushed. Talk about ambition. XD