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The ELK HUNT


Note: How's this for a change from the finished product?!? ... and NO mention of the powerful Opening Vistas! This is how the script begins ...

[FADE IN

The screen is a microcosm of leaf, crystal drops of precipitation, a stone, emerald green moss. It's a landscape in miniature. We HEAR the forest. Some distant birds. Their sound seems to reverberate as if in a cavern. A piece of sunlight refracts within the drops of water, paints a patch of moss yellow. The whisper of wind is joined by another sound that mixes with it. A distant rustling. It gets closer and louder. It's shallow breathing. It gets ominous. We're interlopers on the floor of the forest and something is coming. SUDDENLY:

A MOCCASINED FOOT

rockets through the frame scaring us and ...

EXTREMELY CLOSE: PART OF AN INDIAN FACE

running hard. His head shaved bald except for a scalp-lock. Tattoos. He's twenty-five. He seems tall and muscled. Heavy, even breathing. We'll learn later this man is UNCAS, the last of the Mohicans.

PROFILE: UNCAS' ARMS

flash as he runs. One carries a flintlock musket. Sweat on the man's skin. A calico shirt is gathered at the waist with a wampum belt of small white beads over a breechcloth. He wears leggings to protect his legs. A long-handled tomahawk is stuffed in his belt.

CUT TO ...

ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST - MASSIVE WAR CLUB - DAY

in the hand of another running man. He's heavier, older ...

CHEST

A green bear claw is tattooed there. Silver armband. A snake is tattooed over his left eyebrow. Silver rings in his ear. He's forty to forty-five. His head is shaved into a scalp-lock. It says: "Come and lift this from me. Take it, if you can ..." That prospect strikes us as extremely unlikely. This man is CHINGACHGOOK. The French call him "Le Gros Serpent," the Great Snake, because "he knows the winding ways of men's nature and he can strike a sudden, deathly blow."

WIDE ANGLE: CHINGACHGOOK

runs, disturbing no leaves, no branches; making no sound. He's running parallel to Uncas through the cathedral of mature forest. It's heavily canopied. There's very little brush. The girth of the trees is huge. Shafts of light illuminate motes of dust and turn leaves emerald where the sun breaks through. Sometimes there's ferns; rhododendron, sometimes pale grass and outcroppings of rock. These men run the forest streams, over boulders, fallen trees and down into ravines as if they own them. They do.

CUT TO ...

ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST - LONG BLACK HAIR - DAY

rocketing through trees. His torn buckskin shirt is tied at the waist with a wampum belt holding a tomahawk and a large knife. A long rifle in which is carved the name "Killdeer" is in his right fist. Indian tattooing on his chest. His name is NATHANIEL POE. He's a few years older than Uncas. The French and the French-speaking tribes know him as La Longue Carabine (Long Rifle). Other frontiersmen in New York colony and the Iroquois and Delaware-speaking tribes know him as Hawkeye. Sweat stains his shirt. He flashes through the tree branches disturbing nothing. Making no sound.

HAWKEYE'S POV: A PIECE OF TAN

two hundred and fifty yards away, a few square inches buried in the foliage ...

SUDDENLY HE STOPS

Killdeer's at his shoulder ...

HAWKEYE'S THUMB

cocks the lock holding the piece of flint: click.

UNCAS

stops dead, holding out his hand ... no sound.

CHINGACHGOOK

slips through young trees and stops, shouldering his smoothbore musket. Is this an ambush?

HAWKEYE'S POV: RACK FOCUS THROUGH THE GUN SIGHT

Five feet and fourteen pounds of rifle is elevated a half inch and shifted left, off target. It's a precise, smooth movement. No human quiver.

KILLDEER'S TRIGGER

tighter ...

THE COCK

holding the flint hits the iron file of the frizzen, shooting sparks into the pan of priming powder which flashes and ...

TAN

is a huge elk that leaps at the sound.

KILLDEER'S MUZZLE

CRACKS like lightning.

AN ELK

leaps where the .59 caliber round was programmed to intercept him. On the moment of impact ...

WIDE

three men approach the fallen elk and each other. We realize they're hunting together. Hawkeye steps aside for Chingachgook. His massive war club is flat and angles to one side with a stabbing blade. Hawkeye is stepson and stepbrother. The two younger men treat Chingachgook with an easy deference and affection. Hawkeye's a dialectic of two cultures. In his coloration and worldliness he's more the Anglo-Saxon frontiersman. In his independent views and candid manner and in his combat skills and woodsmanship, he's more native American (Mohican). As Chingachgook takes out his long knife and they approach the fallen elk ...]

CHINGACHGOOK: [low Mohican; sub-titled] We're sorry to kill you, Brother. Forgive us. I do honor to your courage and speed, your strength ...

[CUT TO ...]

CAMERON'S CABIN ... (Night)


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