There is a pathologist's scene, so please look away if you're squeamish...
You can read the text version as an excerpt here
V.O. = Voice off scene
EXT = Exterior
B.g = background
INT = Interior
Malta - Delimera Point
“DEATH IS ANOTHER LIFE”
EXT. AERIAL VIEW - MALTA - DAWN
A painted eye, red and white staring out of a blue background, with an arching black brow. Wide open, ever alert. The eye of Osiris, to ward off evil. Painted on the prow of a fishing boat.
We pull away, to see three small boats, with huge night lamps hanging over their sterns, still lit but no competition for the dawn spreading gold across the Mediterranean.
Sea-gulls circle, screeching, accompanied by the muted chugging of motors and the lapping of the sea.
B.g. - cliffs of Malta, reddish-brown.
The eyes on their boats are old superstition and they don’t work. Evil is already on the islands.
Two fishermen with cigarettes dangling from their mouths struggle to haul in their net.
Water sluices off and they see a human arm protruding through, then the rest of a naked body.
EXT. FISHING BOAT - DAY
The fisherman crosses himself and says something to his companion.
The other fisherman flicks his cigarette butt into the sea then pulls out a cell-phone from a food-basket under the seat.
DR CARUANA (V.O.)
The smell isn’t too bad. Fish have eaten the contents of the
stomach and intestines.
CUT TO:INT. MORGUE - DAY
Floriana Morgue. The clock on the wall says 17:45. The ticking is faint but can be heard above the sounds of flesh being professionally sliced. We just heard DR CARUANA, 60, a pathologist, speaking into a suspended microphone.
Beside him is his daughter, MARIA CARUANA, 30. Attractive. She’s Maltese-American, a reporter. Both are in green scrubs and gloves. Cream on her upper lip to combat bad odours. The rest of the staff have gone.
The cadaver on the metal autopsy table is female, the front of her torso gaping from throat to pubis. Her skin has a pulpy sickly white sheen to it. Maria points to the gaping wound.
Hey, Dad, this isn’t your usual ‘Y’-cut.
He ignores her comment and removes the woman’s lungs. Weighs them.
(He switches the mike on before reading out the weight of each body part then switches it off).
Lungs: 1.2 kilograms. And before you ask,
she’s Doris Tabone, the heiress.
I know, I can’t use it in my paper just yet.
He glances up, notices the crucifix dangling from his daughter’s neck.
You’re still wearing your mother’s necklace.
Her dying wish. (Defiantly) It doesn’t change
how I feel about religion.
Maria, Maria, you were always too hard on her beliefs.
He removes the heart, places this on the scales.
DR CARUANA (CONT’D)
Heart: 280 grams.
I envied her deep faith, you know.
As a scientist, I’ve lost that simplicity, that sureness.
But you were never close.
We were, my dear. You were too young to notice.
When she left, taking you to America,
a light went out in my world.
It’s the liver’s turn for the scales.
DR CARUANA (CONT’D)
Liver: 1.4 kilograms.
But you never came after us!
I wanted to, but my work -
You were always bringing
the smell of death home.
So - I’m grateful you brought her back,
even if only to die here.
It’s what she wanted.
Her mouth suddenly twists.
INSERT - GAPING CAVITY OF BODY
A white-and-red speckled ganglion.
BACK TO SCENE
It looks like an umbilical--
He lifts up the cord-like appendage and nods, eyes suddenly very sad.
She was pregnant.
There’s no sign of the baby.
These cuts - they were done with a knife.
Oh, God, the baby was cut out of her, wasn’t it?
Dad, I don’t deal in probabilities - only facts!
Jesus! (Beat) She isn’t the first, is she?
I’ve had my suspicions for a few months.
Suspicions! What, like Black Magic?
You’re joking, Dad. Black Magic here –
an island with a church for every day of the year?
Yes, but if you went to church you’d see the congregation is
of a certain age - and mostly old women.
What will you do?
Nothing. I’m too near to pension.
I just want to retire with my roses on Gozo.
Well, I’m not going to let it lie. She deserves better.
I’m going to find out which twisted pervert did this!
MONTAGE - LIBRARIES - DAY
A) Cathedral crypt. Maria leafing through a very old book padlocked to the wall. Making notes.
B) University library. Well-stocked shelves. Maria scanning microfiches.
C) Private library. Maria reading computer screen, typing while surrounded by medieval shields, swords on the walls, with bookshelves between them.
D) Public library. Maria annoyed at obviously not finding anything useful. On the shelf, a Book of Mediterranean Birds.
We must stamp on the ugly face of crime!
It is ruining our children’s futures!
EXT. AERIAL VIEW - VALLETTA - DAY
A flock of big black birds -- Black Kites -- flying over Valletta Harbour, over the liners and steam-ships, the walled city, down to Queen’s Square, just off Republic Street ...
... where a crowd of people gather, listening to a loud brass band.
A garish float follows the band then stops outside the Caffé Cordina whose tables are ranged on the street and across the road in the square. In a corner of the square is the black statue of Queen Victoria.
On the float is a National Party politician, Manuel AZZOPARDI, a megaphone in his hands. Above him is a banner showing his name and party.
Malta is not the centre of the universe.
We must pay our way.
The black birds, not perturbed by the music and noise, perch on a roof-top, sinister, watching, and...
EXT/INT. QUEEN’S SQUARE/CAFFÉ CORDINA - DAY
... Maria notices them and turns away, uncomfortable at their appearance. She’s sitting opposite Detective Sergeant Francis ATTARD, 42, at a table in the square. He’s a rather portly man in crumpled tan suit, open-necked shirt. We can see the belt holster and revolver under his jacket folds. Maria is in a colourful sleeveless dress.
Their sea-food meal is half-finished. They sip white Marsovin wine.
It’s good of you to see me, Francis,
at such short notice.
I spend most of my lunch-breaks here,
watching the world go by.
And not watching my weight!
Many of the tables are occupied, the diners idly curious about the antics of Azzopardi, who is overweight and sweating in his dark suit and tie. Others couldn’t care less. There’s the sound of cutlery, dishes, loud talking, the hubbub of passers-by.
Police in tan uniforms and Ray-ban sunglasses stand at regular intervals along the procession’s route up Republic Street. Waiters and waitresses weave between the tables. Nobody is in any particular hurry.
We must get things done today,
not next month, not next year!
A waiter rushes through the crowd and leans over Attard.
Attard gets up and follows the waiter through the crowd ...
INTO CAFFÉ CORDINA ...
... and passes two men, ZONDADARI, 40s, and BONELLO, 35, sitting by the window as he makes for the wall-mounted phone in the contrasting dark interior of the café ...
Zondadari is reflected in the ornate gilt mirror on opposite wall. He’s handsome: the REFLECTION reveals a badly scarred RIGHT cheek, glinting eyes and a smile playing on his lips. He is talking to Bonello who looks tired and drawn, eyes sunken yet filled with a strange light.
Now, Bonello, is the time to exert your
leadership of the New Power Party.
Just concentrate very hard and your
opponent won’t know what hit him.
I will try, Count Zondadari.
Bonello closes his eyes and his face hardens. Oblivious to his surroundings...
... while Maria is leaning over the back of her seat, watching Azzopardi the politician.
Azzopardi stops a moment to bite on a sandwich a pretty girl helper has given him. Then:
A vote for me is a vote for the future of these
magnificent islands! Vote Azzopardi!
Which is the signal for the band to start again. And, as if disturbed by the sound of the brass instruments, the black kites flap their wings, take off and drop towards the float, circling Azzopardi, suddenly covering his face.
Some onlookers scream.
Azzopardi tries batting the birds away with the megaphone. A bird snatches his sandwich and flies off.
And Azzopardi overbalances, the birds still surrounding him.
He falls off the float... as a policeman withdraws his revolver and shoots it in the air, chasing the birds away.
People run back, screaming, fearful.
While Azzopardi falls directly under the wheels of the following limousine.
Whistles blow, police rush through the panicking crowd. The band players stop, though not in unison, it’s a squawking cacophony... followed by silence...
While Maria, having seen it all, closes her eyes and...
...Bonello opens his eyes, looking quite pleased with himself. He’s flushed, looks down, grateful his lap is covered with a napkin.
Enjoy that, then?
Yes, very much.
Remember, that was possible through
the sacrifice of a new life.
Yes... as you keep reminding me!
Just think what more is possible in this election.
The New Power Party can’t lose!
Attard passes their table, heading outside to finish his meal with Maria. Attard notices the commotion and stops to talk with a policeman. He shakes his head, pats the cop on the shoulder and walks up to Maria’s table.
I’ve got to give evidence at the
Law Courts in an hour.
Can I have the story?
Sure. Family feud. The usual.
Sitting down, he thumbs back at the crowd.
Looks like his policies took a nose-dive.
Maria pushes the plate away, no longer hungry.
It was an awful accident.
At least, I think it was an accident.
Hey, don’t get paranoid on me. I doubt if there’s
anything in your father’s suspicions, but I’ll
dig up any strange goings-on in our reports, okay?
(shaking her head)
You didn’t see those birds. They seemed
to know what they were doing.
Attard is cutting open a pawpaw with a fruit knife from his pocket. Eating it. Wiping his mouth with a paper handkerchief.
Maria pulls herself together.
Okay, Francis, get me anything you can
find in your musty old police files.
The supernatural. Do you believe in it?
No. I just want the story. Something that’ll
push Azzopardi’s death off of page one.
Well, I do. And it scares me.
She gives him a look of disbelief.
Three years ago I was called in by
the curator of Ghar Dalam cave.
I read about that in George’s back issues. You were lucky to
get out alive. But I don’t remember anything supernatural...
Yes, I was lucky. Not like the poor priest.
... and there we'll leave it. The script was finished some time ago, the standard length, 150 pages. Note the white space - lots of it. Speech is kept to a minimum, also. I try to limit the instructions to the actors (in brackets) - they prefer to interpret the emotions of the characters.