Dirty Cuts

Well, it appears perhaps my favorite class of all time (yet), Modern Mythology in American Film, has come to an end.  Of course, like everything I take an interest in, I have attempted to end it with a boom!  I wrote this screenplay:

  1. Kroonstad Prison – South Africa – Day

Begin with a birds-eye view of Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa.  Zoom into the seemingly central, but fairly small city until a single building is in clear view: the Kroonstad Prison.  The zoom slows down as the view reaches the front of the prison.  No people, or signs of people, are visible, except a small, ex-military Jeep, standing directly outside the building.

  1. Inside of Kroonstad Prison

Start playing haunting strings classical music until the camera reaches the end of the corridor.  The inside of the prison isn’t well kept, but it remains somewhat dilapidated, indicating rough use.  The lighting isn’t bright, but seems sterile.  The shot is of a hall of cells.  There are many prisoners, but they are quiet, as if something important is happening.  As the camera moves forward through the corridor without drawing attention from the prisoners, two guards at an intersection between two corridors at the end of the current corridor, holding assault rifles, come into focus.  Increase the speed and intensity of the strings music at this point.

The guards acknowledge the camera, indicating that it is from the view of a person, though there are no other similar indications, such as footsteps.  The guards nod to allow the person behind the camera to pass.

The camera stops once it turns left at the fork.  The person who was indicated as standing behind it doesn’t pass into view, so it is apparent that they have stopped as well.

About 10 yards away, two African men in black suits stare at a prisoner.  Their mouths move, but their words are not discernible.  These are Gert Saaiman’s accomplices.  The music stops as soon as the focus of the shot is on Saaiman’s accomplices.  There should be an utter silence.

The camera dollies forward, much faster now.  The strings music resumes, softer before, though the intensity and speed are sustained.  The camera rises, tilts down, and turns until the shot is of Saaiman’s men from above.

The person who was following behind the camera enters from the left of the shot.  It is now apparent that he is the warden of the prison.  The strings music becomes even softer.  It is barely audible while the characters are talking, but it is still playing.  Eventually, it fades out.

WARDEN

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Who are you?

The shot cuts to a view from behind the bars which the men are facing.  They turn as the warden continues approaching to face him with looks of anger on their faces.  One reaches into his coat, appearing to be holding a gun.  This is Saaiman’s Accomplice 1.  The warden puts his hand on the holster which contains the revolver he has been issued.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Leave, now.

Camera zooms into shot of Saaiman’s Accomplice 1’s torso, with a focus on his hand, which remains hidden in his coat, but appears to be in a fist around something, presumably the handle of his gun.  The warden doesn’t appear to be disgruntled by this.  He stops a few feet away from the men, and turns to look back the way he came.

 

The shot changes to show a view of the beginning of the corridor, which looks oddly empty: the guards with the assault rifles have left their post.  The warden begins to look a bit worried.

 

The camera returns to the previous shot of all three men through the bars of the cell.

 

WARDEN

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

I will repeat myself.  Who are you?

The camera exits the cell, showing Saaiman’s Accomplices, the 2nd behind the 1st in a full shot from directly beneath the warden’s eye-level view.  Saaiman’s Accomplice 2 steps forward.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 2

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

And I will repeat myself.  Leave.  We’re not afraid of you.

The shot cuts to a medium shot of the warden from the waist up.  He has a smirk on his face.  He laughs grimly.

 

WARDEN

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Hmph…  In that case, who do you think you are?

The shot zooms in so that it doesn’t show his hands, which are still at his waist, on the grip of his handgun.  The warden relaxes, but quickly tenses again and immediately shifts his hand backward.  The shot does not include what he does with his hand.  The shot cuts to behind the bars.  However, this time, the warden and Saaiman’s two accomplices can only be seen from the waist down.  The warden’s gun is gone.  The shot immediately cuts to show Saaiman’s Accomplice 1, who has pulled out his gun from his coat, and is holding it by his side.  His body is visible from the knees up, and Saaiman’s Accomplice 2 is blurred in the background directly behind him.  Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 looks agitated and angry.  For the first time, the camera turns to the other side of the bars and looks upon the prisoner from the neck down.  His face is off the screen, but he looks well-kept and in shape.  His arms are muscular, and he is somewhat bulky in a very tough way: he is somewhat short.  He is wearing an orange jumpsuit which seems loose because it was previously warn by a taller inmate.  His fists are clenched, and just from his body, he looks angry.  It is possible, and likely that he is the hunter seen in previous scenes: Gideon van Deventer.

 

The shot cuts back to a view of Saaiman’s Accomplice 1, who is now seen from the wrists up.  The gun is not seen.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

We are whoever we want to be.  It is none of your business, nor should it be.

The shot cuts to a similar shot of the warden.  He now looks extremely serious, and is trying to exert his authority, but seems to have trouble doing so, as he appears not to have been put into a situation like this before.  He manages it well, though.  As he is talking, the music fades back in, staying quiet.  This time, rather than being strings, though, it is an ominous brass.  This causes a ringing effect, but doesn’t have any of the mild excitement and confusion caused by the multiple sounds in music composed of strings instruments.  He raises his gun as he talks and gains confidence.  As he does so, the camera zooms out to show him, and eventually Saaiman’s Accomplice 1.

 

WARDEN

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Put down the gun.  I am not afraid to shoot.  I will not hesitate to kill you.

The way the warden holds the gun shows that he has training with his revolver, but does not have extensive experience using it, as Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 seems to by the way he holds his gun.  As soon as the warden raises his gun, Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 does so as well.  However, while the warden holds his in a way more often associated with law enforcement officers: both hands on the grip, gun held straight out to create a clear line of sight to the target, Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 holds his in a way more commonly associated with criminals or gangsters: casually, nonchalantly with one hand and a less focused line of sight.  However, due to their proximity, it is obvious that a shot from either one would undoubtedly fatally harm the other.  Despite their different stances, the shot with each of them facing towards each other in a seemingly equal space serves to make them seem equal.  By this point, the music should be noticeable, though not prominent.

 

As Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 replies, the shot should turn to face him from just above his gun.  His outstretched arm is visible, though his hands and the gun are not.  Behind this, he is visible from above his head to approximately his navel.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Laughing Will you now?  I’m not so sure about that.

Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 continues smirking and turns his head slightly to glance back at Saaiman’s Accomplice 2.  The camera shifts slightly to accommodate him, thought the focus is quickly drawn back to Saaiman’s Accomplice 1.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Trust us, no one here will care.  You are the warden, who do they hate more?  Just remember, wherever you go after this, we warned you, and you didn’t listen.

The shot zooms out to encompass more of Saaiman’s Accomplice 1, and the tip of the gun.  However, it is still within closer range than the warden.  Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 fires the gun.  Immediately, the music cuts of.  The sound of the shot echoes through the hall.  Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 looks towards where it is inferred that there is the dead body of the warden.  He puts the gun back into the pocket inside his coat where it previously was.  The camera turns to look back down the hallway, making sure that the warden’s body is beneath the shot, invisible to the viewer.  There is distinctly no one there.

 

The shot returns to Saaiman’s Accomplice 1, who has turned back to face the cell where van Deventer presumably stands.  Saaiman’s Accomplice 2 has similarly turned and stepped forward, now facing the cell.  He, though he is not the focus of the shot, looks disgruntled by what has just taken place.

 

The shot turns to face van Deventer, who has sat down on the floor and clasped his head in his hands.  He has an expression of hopelessness and worry.  He sustains this look, though he looks up to face Saaiman’s Accomplices when Saaiman’s Accomplice 2 begins to speak.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 2

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

You see, we will stop at nothing.  Our trade is our lives.  Nothing is more important.  And nothing will stop us.

Van Deventer adopts a more serious expression at this, resorting to his previous, tougher personality.

 

The shot cuts back to Saaiman’s Accomplices, side by side.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

There you are then.  We will give you everything you want.  All you have to do is forget about what they have accused you of and come with us.  We will protect you.

The shot cuts to van Deventer.  He is still sitting on the floor in his hopeless position, but now appears to be pondering the proposition.

 

VAN DEVENTER

(English, subtitled in Afrikaans)

You didn’t protect her.

The shot cuts back to Saaiman’s Accomplices.  Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 looks obviously confused, most likely not knowing who “her” refers to.  Accomplice 2 leans over and indiscernibly whispers a few words to him.  His face clears up, and he resumes his look of disdain and control to and over van Deventer.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

That was not our fault.  We could not have protected her.  After all, what does she matter to you?

The shot returns to van Deventer.  He is sitting up now, though his elbows remain in the same position, supported against his knees.  He looks angry: not quite fuming, but almost there.  He speaks through his teeth.

 

VAN DEVENTER

(English, subtitled in Afrikaans)

She was my wife.  Who are you to say she didn’t matter to me!  You knew from the beginning they would come after you next.  I have always been the only obstacle standing in between.

By the time he finishes this statement, he actually is fuming.  He will never forget what happened to his ex-wife after his arrest (she was raped in her house).  He knows that he can’t trust Saaiman’s Accomplices.  Saaiman drew him into the rhino poaching industry, but was also the one who placed the blame on van Deventer when they were all convicted.  However, van Deventer also knows that his other choice might be to live the rest of his life in prison.  Having been witness to the murder of the warden, this is not a positive prospect.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

You have no choice.

Van Deventer appears to think he does, but his expression after hearing this begins to become less certain and his previous expression of hopelessness begins to return.  The shot becomes a close-up of Accomplice 1’s face.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Should you choose to testify against us, we will blow your brains out, same as we did that bastard.  No one will know.  No one will care.  You will die the poacher that you live to be.  Come with us and you will finish your life in peace, at the top of the hunting world.  One hundred thousand US dollars, your own truck, and a job.  What more do you want?

The shot returns to van Deventer.  He seems to have gathered himself, and is more aware of what is happening now.

 

VAN DEVENTER

(English subtitled in Afrikaans)

You forget the police.

The shot returns to the two Accomplices.  The focus is on Accomplice 2, but the shot includes Accomplice 1.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 2

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

The police mean nothing.  Gert Saaiman has power you can never imagine.  They will not dare to touch us if they don’t have you.

Van Deventer has stood up.  He faces away from the Accomplices: towards the wall on the side of his cell.

 

VAN DEVENTER

(English, subtitled in Afrikaans)

Even so, what do I get out of this?  What do any of you, or him, mean to me?  You’re f**king safari operators.

The shot returns to the Accomplices.  There appears to be anticipation for them becoming angry, but it doesn’t happen.  They don’t appear to care or feel insulted by this statement.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

For a brother.  We took you in when nobody else did.  We earned your trust, your respect.  Without us, you would be nothing.  If for nothing else, this is to pay him back.

Show van Deventer.  He has turned around, and is facing the Accomplices.  There is a look of seriousness and intensity on his face.

 

VAN DEVENTER

(English, subtitled in Afrikaans)

Saaiman is not my brother!  My brother was arrested same as me.  Saaiman abandoned us when we needed him.

Van Deventer walks up to the front of the cell and grabs ahold of the bars, while staring at the Accomplices.  The camera zooms out and moves up.  It begins to angle down, still showing van Deventer, but also showing part of the heads of the Accomplices.  Once their full heads are visible, the camera cuts to a long shot from the back of van Deventer’s cell.  It shows van Deventer from the back, facing the Accomplices, standing up straight, tense.

 

VAN DEVENTER

(English, subtitled in Afrikaans)

I hate it here!  But I would much rather deal with it than work with Saaiman.  He ruined my life once.  I won’t let it happen again.

The camera zooms in to van Deventer as he talks.  By the time he finishes. It shows him from the back, from the waist up.  The Accomplices are still clearly in front of him, though they are not the focus of the shot.  The shot shifts to over-the-shoulder as Accomplice 1 begins talking.

 

SAAIMAN’S ACCOMPLICE 1

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

We can assure you; we will let you play by the rules.  No more poaching.  You will be safe.

The over-the-shoulder shot becomes over-the-shoulder of Saaiman’s Accomplice 1.  The visible person is van Deventer.

 

VAN DEVENTER

(English, subtitled in Afrikaans)

He said the same after we started last time.  He said he would get us out of the trade.  I didn’t enjoy it.  I did it because I knew I would lose my job if I stopped.  Saaiman just saw the money.  He didn’t see the rhinos.  He didn’t see the horns being ripped off and the bullet wounds in the hides of the beasts.  He became addicted to the products of my work.  Of course I won’t trust him!

Van Deventer turns around to sit back down in the back of his cell.  As soon as he sits down, the shot returns to the Accomplices, through the bars.

 

ACCOMPLICE 2

(Afrikaans, subtitled)

Say what you would like.  We will be back in two days.  Make your decision, but remember the consequences.

The camera zooms out to show the Accomplices in a full shot.  They start walking back the way they came.  Once they leave the frame, the camera turns to face directly down the corridor, though the body of the warden is below the frame.  The scene ends when the Accomplices reach the end of the hallway

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