|The Development of the Film||177|
|§ 1. The Film, the Art Form of the Future||177|
|§ 2. The Primary Problem of Treatment||181|
|§ 3. The Love Interest||185|
|§ 4. The Antagonists||188|
|The First Part of the Film||193|
|§ 1. Prelude||193|
|§ 2. The American Point of View||194|
|§ 3. The British Point of View||197|
|§ 4. The Pawn||200|
|§ 5. Dr. Harting lectures on The Causes of War||204|
|§ 6. The News becomes Public||206|
|§ 7. The Pawn Moves||208|
|The Pawn is Promoted||219|
|§ 1. Note on the Music||219|
|§ 2. King of Clavery||219|
|§ 3. The King reviews his Position||224|
|The King who Wanted to Know||231|
|§ 1. The King Explores||231|
|§ 2. The Princess Departs||236|
|§ 3. The King in Council||240|
|Paul the Peacemaker||255|
|§ 1. The Secret Meeting||255|
|§ 2. The Coup d'État||260|
|§ 3. The King Kills—as Kill he Must||263|
|§ 4. Public Opinion veers About||267|
|World Control of Calcomite||273|
|§ 1. The British Point of View||273|
|§ 2. How They took it in New York||275|
|§ 3. Paul looks Ahead||276|
|§ 4. Curtain Effect||280|
|Difficulties in the Way of Production||285|
It has been interesting to watch the elegant and dignified traditions of the world of literature and cultivated appreciation, under the stresses and thrusts produced by the development of rapid photography during the past half-century. Fifty years ago not the most penetrating of prophets could have detected in the Zoetrope and the dry-plate camera the intimations of a means of expression, exceeding in force, beauty and universality any that have hitherto been available for mankind. Now that advent becomes the most obvious of probabilities.
The line of progress that was to open up those unsuspected possibilities lay through the research for more and more sensitive photographic plates, until at last a type was attained to justify the epithet "instantaneous." Various motives stimulated such a research. The disputes of Governor Stanford of California with his sporting friends about the real paces of horses made him anxious to fix attitudes too transitory for the ordinary eye, and he was a rich man and could offer considerable inducements to the inventive. He got his inventors and his snapshots. And also working in the same direction to stimulate rapid photography there must have been a desire to put the ordinary photographers' "sitters" more at their ease, and attempts to facilitate the operations of the amateur photographer, and so promote the sale of cameras.
The Stanford snapshots came to Paris and played an effective part in a discussion of the representation of horses in movement that raged there about Meissonier as a centre. Meissonier saw more quickly than most of us, and his representation of horses was at war with established conventions. It was Meissonier apparently who suggested the reconstruction of animal movements by running the new "instantaneous" photographs together. So in Paris Zoetrope and rapid plate met and the moving picture was born. But while the photography was done on glass the achievement remained a clumsy one. Mr. George Eastman, of the Kodak Company, hot in pursuit of the amateur photographer as a buyer of material, was the man chiefly responsible for the replacement of glass plates by a flexible film. By 1890, the "moving picture" was in existence, and the bottling-up and decanting of drama by means of film and record an established possibility. In 1895, it seems—I had completely forgotten about it until I[Pg 178] was reminded of it by Mr. Terry Ramsaye's history of the film—Mr. Robert W. Paul and myself had initiated a patent application for a Time Machine that anticipated most of the stock methods and devices of the screen drama.
That something more than a new method of reproducing and distributing dramatic scenes had appeared, does not seem to have been realized for some years. The films began with "actualities." the record of more or less formal current events, and with an almost normal drama, freed only from a limitation to fixed "scenes"; and with these two items they prospered and were content for a long time.
Indeed, the idea that the film was just a way of telling stories in moving pictures dominated the cinema theatre entirely for nearly a couple of decades, and still dominates it. It satisfied a hitherto unsuspected need for visual story-telling. It worked out lucratively. The themes, the concepts, the methods that ruled in popular fiction, popular drama and the music-hall were transferred to the cinemas copiously and profitably, and with the greatest possible economy of adaptation. It would be ungracious for a novelist to complain. Through a happy term of years "world cinema rights" distended the income of every well-known novelist and playwright. The deserving class of fiction writers was enriched even by the sale of the "cinema rights" of tales quite impossible to put upon the films, rights which the purchasers, nothing loth, were willing to buy again so soon as the period of the sale had elapsed. The industry clamoured for "stories," and its chief anxiety was that the supply of "stories" might presently come to an end. It bought right and left; it bought high and low; it was so opulent it could buy with its eyes shut. It did. Its methods were simple and direct. It took all the stories it could get, and changed all that were not absolutely intractable into one old, old story, with variations of costume, scenery and social position. That story included, almost of necessity, a treachery and a vindication, a partial rape and a pursuit. The new industry drew its actors from the stage and the music-halls and packed them off with the cameras to wherever in the sunlight the scene happened to be "laid." We saw Carmen in a real Spanish cigarette factory, Louis XI., only slightly out of place, at Carcassonne, Les Miserables in a perfect French setting, manhood stark and strong in a hundred variations of the Blue Lagoon, and the Sheik served hot upon his native desert. The wild Far West exhausted all its stories, and fresh ones were bred from the old. They bred true to type. Unless human invention cracks under the strain of a demand for variations that do not innovate, there is no reason why this naive film-story business, real in appearance and easy and conventional in sentiment, with the punishment of bullying and treachery, the reward of sacrifice, virtue saved in the nick of time and true love coming to its own, seed time and harvest, should not continue indefinitely a staple article of consumption. And so, too, the exploitation of amusing personalities in series of well-contrived comic or humorous adventures, depends only upon the appearance of these rare gifts of God, the personalities themselves. (How rare they are! How rare and wonderful!) But more of them will be discovered, rare though they are, and the cinema will watch for and welcome them and, with a thoroughness no form of success has ever known before, embalm and cherish their memories.[Pg 179]
Beyond these first established and permanent uses of the film, the critical and discerning few have always suspected other possibilities. I do not refer here to its obvious educational applications: a matter merely of adaptation and organization to class-room and lecture-room needs. Progress in the scholastic world is deliberate, yet there seems no reason to deny its occurrence; in a generation or so the "educational film" may have become a recognized instrument of education. But from the first it was evident that a quantity of possible cinema effects were not being utilized at all in the current methods of exploitation, and enquiring spirits sought opportunity to explore this undeveloped hinterland. It is this hinterland of real novelty that is the most interesting aspect of the cinema to-day to people who have outgrown the story-consuming stage. It may be that many of these early investigators realized little of the vastness of the region into which they were pressing. It may be that many of their earlier experiments were silly or affected. For a time, moreover, their enterprise was restrained by the huge commercial success of the commonplace quasi-realistic story. The cinema theatre was doing far too well to welcome any disturbing experiments. It would even block them. Collateral developments with a flavour of criticism and competition were not wanted.
These honest pioneers were for the most part young and unknown people, and they got little help or encouragement from those of us who had achieved any popular standing as novelists or playwrights. We had learnt our tricks and mastered the limitations of the old conditions. We were set in our careers. The magnificent marketing of our "film rights" in what we had already done, helped our willing blindness to the fact that that was not at all the sort of thing we could do for the films. It was expecting too much of us that we should hail the advent of a greater and richer artistic process. Some of us said, "This business is not for us, whatever its possibilities—if it have any possibilities—may be"; and others of us held that there was nothing here but a handmaid for the master crafts we followed. We were pre-disposed in every way to think upon such lines. Within our own special limits we had learnt to handle considerable complexes of ideas and emotional developments; it was appalling to think of learning over again the conditions of a medium. We knew how to convey much that we had to say by a woven fabric of printed words or by scene and actor, fine "lines" and preface assisting, and it was with extraordinary reluctance, if at all, that we could be won to admit that on the screen a greater depth of intimation, a more subtle and delicate fabric of suggestion, a completer beauty and power, might be possible than any our tried and trusted equipment could achieve.
Yet lying awake of nights it was possible for some of us to forget the crude, shallow trade "movies" we had seen, and to realize something of the splendour of the new powers that were coming into the hands of our happy successors. First there is the Spectacle. No limitations remain of scene, stage or arena. It may be the convolutions of a tendril which fill the picture, or the bird's-eye view of a mountain chain, or a great city. We can pass in an instant from the infinitely great to the infinitely little. The picture may be real, realistic or conventionalized in a thousand ways; it may flow into and out of a play of "absolute" forms. And colour has[Pg 180] become completely detachable from form. Colour in the films is no longer as it is in real life, a confusing and often unmeaning complication of vision. It can be introduced into the spectacle for effect, slowly flushing the normal black and white with glows of significant hue, chilling, intensifying, gladdening. It can be used to pick out and intensify small forms. It can play gaily or grotesquely over the scene with or without reference to the black and white forms. Sound too has become detached for the artist to use as he will. So long as it is irrelevant it can be made insignificant, or it can be brought in as a sustaining but unimportant accompaniment. Then it can gradually usurp value. The effective practical synchronizing of sound with film is plainly possible and close at hand. Then film and music will be composed together.
The spectacle will march to music, sink to silence or rise to thunder as its effects require. The incessant tiresome chatter of the drama sinks out of necessity, the recurrent exasperating "What did he say then?" When once people have been put upon the actual stage, they must talk and flap about for a certain time before they can be got rid of. Getting people on and getting them off is a vast, laborious part of dramatic technique. How it must bore playwrights! But with the film the voice may be flung in here or there, or the word may be made visible and vanish again.
Plainly we have something here that can be raised to parallelism with the greatest musical compositions; we have possibilities of a Spectacle equal to any music that has been or can be written, comprehending indeed the completest music as one of its factors. Behind the first cheap triumphs of the film to-day rises the possibility of a spectacle-music-drama, greater, more beautiful and intellectually deeper and richer than any artistic form humanity has hitherto achieved.
It may need generations of experience to work out that great possibility, but there it is, challenging creative effort. Few of us who are in the world to-day will live to see masterpieces of the new form, but the temptation to make an essay at least a little more in the direction of that hinterland than the current film, may attract even a writer past his middle years. This book is the story and description of such an excursion. It is the slightest excursion, a mere trip. Years ago the writer had a joy-ride in an aeroplane over the Medway and prophesied Lindbergh. This is the same sort of thing. We ask, Can we get off the ground of the realistic story-film? The writer discusses an imaginary film with the reader; it is a film dealing with a theme of world-wide importance. The problem to which we set ourselves here is this: Can form, story and music be brought together to present the conditions and issues of the abolition of war in a beautiful, vigorous and moving work of art, which will be well within the grasp and understanding of the ordinary film audience?
At the least the writer hopes this will prove a provocative and interesting failure. At the best it will be a producible film, marking a distinct step forward from the mere spectacle and the mere story towards an intellectual and æsthetic entertainment.[Pg 181]
If any existing work of art is directly available as a film synopsis upon these newer lines, it is surely Thomas Hardy's Dynasts. It is perhaps lucky for some great film corporation that I am not its director, for certainly I would at once set about realizing these marvellous stage directions, so impossible on any stage, so easy for the cinema producer with money to spend. Two I may quote by way of a sample:
"At first nothing—not even the river itself—seems to move in the panorama. But anon certain strange patches in the landscape, flexuous and riband-shaped, are discerned to be moving slowly. Only one movable object on earth is large enough to be conspicuous herefrom, and that is an army. The moving shapes are armies."
"The nether sky opens and Europe is disclosed as a prone and emaciated figure."
But alas! I have no power over any big film studio, and my rôle hitherto has been to refuse to write sketches—"synopses" they call them—of films. Until at last some years ago a certain Mr. Godal came along to me with so entertaining a suggestion that I succumbed.
He had discovered a title that he considered marketable, The Peace of the World, and, going a little in advance of accomplished reality, he had advertised this as a film ready for booking. It was a title I had already used for some war-time newspaper articles, but that was a point I did not recall until later. The response to Mr. Godal's advertisements was so encouraging that he decided to fill up the complete void that remained after the title, and come to me with the proposal that I should write a synopsis to supply the material needed. Following several conversations and certain reassurances, for there was something about Mr. Godal that I found attractive, I sat down to sketch out that synopsis. It was very different from the present story. After reading various text-books professing to expound the whole art of writing scenarios for the films, and after an attentive study of contemporary "releases," and with these text-books still troubling my digestion, I produced a synopsis that seemed to satisfy Mr. Godal more than it did my secret judgment. For, from the very first I mistrusted those text-books. That synopsis is merely the nucleus of what follows. Expert advice assures me that in its original form it was a practicable scheme, and I am by no means sure that expert advice will extend the same toleration to my revised and expanded effort. But I have had two years and more to think over that first draft; I have watched film possibilities with a quickened interest; all sorts of things have happened on the business side; I am told there is ample financial backing now for any production I can invent, and when I ask if I may make my scenario as difficult and expensive as I like, I am told to go ahead. So here I go ahead.
I propose to describe the film very much as one would see it on the screen,[Pg 182] and I shall even say something of the music that would have to be written to accompany it. In effect I am going to tell the reader about a film I have evoked in an imaginary cinema theatre, and having done so, I am going to leave it to my hopeful associates to turn it into a visible reality. But first I would like to discuss some of the distinctive problems of this film and how it has seemed best to solve them. And also, before getting down to the actual camera, I will deal briefly and more generally with the sort of film this is and the conditions it has to satisfy.
In the hasty and violent disputes and asseverations that constitute the bulk of literary, dramatic and cinema criticism, certain unavoidable classifications are continually in evidence. There is a pretension in one direction to be high and fine, in another to be easy and hearty, and in another to be broad and fruitful. The common nomenclature in these matters is insufficient; High-brow and Low-brow need to be supplemented by Broad-brow. The Broad-brow is as anxious not to be "arty" as the Low-brow and as terrified of the cheap and obvious as the High-brow. His rôle is neither to disdain the current thing nor accept it, but to learn by attempting the impossible and to be content with a partial success. A film which is to have for its subject the present drive towards World Peace is as likely to be abhorrent to the High-brow as to the Low. It has to give and sustain a view and a thesis; it has to reflect upon the political side of everyone; it has to show man making war, tortured and slain by war, threatened by war and perhaps and very uncertainly able to abolish war. The High-brow will call it a tract and the Low-brow a sermon, and they will blunder together towards the exit in a violent struggle to escape with these assertions intact. The High-brow has nothing to learn and the Low-brow will learn nothing; in effect they are the same thing. They are out of this attempt. After all, the High-brow is only the Low-brow plus pretentiousness. It is the same sort of brain stood up on end. The Broad-brow remains to struggle with his immense and exciting subject.
Now the "Peace of the World," when we come to think it over, is essentially a negative expression. In itself it means nothing except the absence of war. It is human life with war taken out of it. The substantial thing therefore that we have to deal with in this film is war, as an evil thing experienced, as an evil thing threatening to recur, as an evil thing conceivably made impossible. Peace, we repeat, is simply what life is and may become as this shadow lifts. Our subject, therefore, is life overcast, but with the possibility that it may cease to be overcast, and the development of the will and power to thrust back and dispel this cloud. So necessarily we have three main strands to supply the threads of interest in our film: first, the lovely and splendid possibilities of life, relieved of the restraints and destruction of war; next, the dark actualities that destroy life in warfare itself, and cripple and enslave it monstrously in the anticipation of war; and thirdly, the will to end war. This last is the heroic element. The story of the film must be the story of heroic service, of Hercules, if we are to carry the struggle to an imagined triumph; of Prometheus, if we are to go no further than a phase of revolt, initial defeat and the promise of a remoter victory. I have chosen for this experiment to take the simpler and more glorious path, because I believe that there can and will be an end of[Pg 183] war. In this film the defeat of war by the will of man is to be shown in progress. Man's will here is to be cast as demi-god and not as Hamlet. The spectacle is to be this present age seen as the Age of War Drawing to an End, and the human beings in the foreground must embody the hopes, fears, effort and success of a struggle that approaches a triumphant close.
In the opening survey of the material that presents itself, various methods of treatment had to be considered. Should we embody the forces at work in individualities and make the personal drama of some pacificist person or group our thread and chief sustaining interest, or should we make a film entirely spectacular, in which the onset and avoidance of war alike would be treated as mass phenomena, with waving flags, crowded streets, cheering multitudes, skirmishes, battles, war incidents, the hunting down and shooting of a protesting pacificist, the desolation of a home by a telegram, the recoil of young heroes from warfare, peace discussions, protests, mutinies, cabinet councils, international conferences and so forth, making together a vast heterogeneous procession from excitement to tragedy, fatigue and reaction? The latter of these two ways of treatment would be very much on the structural lines of that great unshot film, the Dynasts; the former would bring us much nearer the normal film story. It would be a normal film story with a relatively greatly enhanced and deepened spectacular background. The wall of the room would have to dissolve and show the world threatened by air, sea and land, but it would close again to resume the personal experience. The entirely spectacular way would certainly be nearer the truth, for the end of war is only possible through the convergent activities of thousands of different movements, propagandas, efforts and struggles. But it would make our film vie in scope and confusedness with the spectacle of life itself.
Little films must come before big ones and in the end it was decided to take the first of our two alternatives, and concentrate upon an individual figure in the foreground to unify all that we had to convey. The material would be too various, limitless and incoherent, unless there was this resort to a human being or a group of interacting human beings, responding to it all and trying to apprehend it all, as a bond of continuity. Undramatic entirely plotless spectacular films have, it is true, been made already and have proved enormously effective; that magnificent production, Berlin, for example. Some day again the great war of 1914-18 may be drawn together into one tremendous impersonal vision; but both these subjects possess an established organic integrity. The audience knows already that the parts belong to one another. Our subject, on the other hand, is an exploration and a synthesis that has to be established. What we have to present has not been established. To establish it and secure conviction in the audience, the manifest expedient is to show conviction arising in a sympathetic mind. A hero has to be invented to embody the will to abolish war in the audience, a hero who will concentrate the problem of what has to be done into a personal and understandable problem.
A hero here means an immense economy in statement. Art broadly conceived may be regarded as an attempt to simplify statement quite parallel to the attempt of science to do the same thing. But while science makes[Pg 184] an intellectual synthesis and simplification, art's synthesis and simplification are æsthetic. Intellectual processes are generalized processes common to all; but æsthetic processes involve someone who feels, and the method of art therefore has been always towards personification and the appeal of art towards sympathy. But a casually selected individual will not serve for our personification here. He must be exceptionally representative. The forces making for war must converge upon him; he must be in a position to make effective decisions for or against war. The spectacle of war-possibilities can then be unfolded in relation to his thoughts and acts. New war devices can be brought to him, he can listen to war schemes and have peculiar opportunity to see war approaching and understand what it will be like; his mind must translate these intimations into terms of human apprehension, judgment and endeavour. He will think out and carry out a course of action which must be a typical course of action. So he can be at once himself, and crystallize that intelligent will against war which is diffused so widely throughout contemporary humanity.
In spite of the present world-wide trend towards republican forms, it is structurally very convenient that this hero should be a monarch. Manifestly he has to be a very idealized monarch, a kingly concentration of the kingly will in all of us rather than a normal king. He will not be the sort of king who takes refuge behind a dictator or accepts the position of a petted symbol; he will think and act as a responsible ruler. This means that he will have escaped the normal training of a modern royalty in tact and apt graciousness, and that he takes kingship in naive good faith. He is, in fact, to be the common intelligent man as king. He is to be the king in you and me.
The best way to contrive that seemed to be to make him the son of a prince of some royal house who has gone into exile in America—as princes have done—and to make the Great War and some sudden catastrophe kill off the intervening heirs and clear his way to a Crown. This is a fairly obvious way to our end. In America his father, we assume, has dropped his titles, and he himself, unencumbered by any court tutoring, has read and assimilated the most modern and progressive ideas. Then if the kingdom to which he is suddenly projected is one of those crucial minor states where Europe, Asia and American enterprise meet and the great economic interests and national policies of the world jostle against each other, we shall have brought to a focus all the main factors in our discussion in a very convenient form. The jostling, we may suppose, is drawing to a crisis at his accession.
What will this King Everyman, who is really a concentration of hundreds of committees, thousands of leaders and millions of mute followers, do about it? Just so far as he is man enough and king enough the problems of the Peace of the World and the problems of his personal adventure become one.
Manifestly this highly generalized man, our hero, must be a good-looking, able-bodied, thoughtful person, not so much the average man as the quintessential man. His individuality must lie in his ready understanding and his abnormal steadfastness of will. Impossible here to give him "character" as it is commonly understood, oddity or idiosyncrasy, wooden-leg, wig, glass eye or inferiority complex. These things belong to another type of story altogether, very moving and appealing, but far away from this one,[Pg 185] the story of individual limitation and its comedy and tragedy. Our hero is to be a man without frustrations. He is to be yourself and myself as we would like to be, simplified, clear in his mind, unencumbered and going directly to his objective.
The film entrepreneur having given his imaginative author carte blanche is apt to return upon his tracks with after-thoughts. Among the trade and professional solicitudes that haunt him, one is predominant. He has to secure the services of a starry lady. More than half the normal audience is feminine. He insists they must find themselves in the film, and from his point of view this can only be done by introducing a "love interest." Our hero must have his sufficiently difficult task further complicated by the dire attractiveness of blue eyes or brown—or both. It is necessary that this delusion of the film entrepreneur should be dealt with plainly. A normal love interest has to be kept out of this film. It will be either a triviality or a fatal interruption.
By a normal love interest I mean the story of a man strongly attracted by a woman, or vice versa, and the success or failure of a sustained effort to possess her, the price paid and the good or bad delivery. This is currently assumed to be the chief motive in human life, and certainly it is that in the conventional film story. It is supposed to be particularly satisfactory to woman that life should be presented as sexual to this degree. No doubt sexual attraction is a very vivid motive at certain phases of most of our lives, but it is not the sustained or prevalent motive in the lives of most men, nor do I believe it is very much more important to women. Tradition and social conditions make the lives of most women turn more upon a sex affair than do the lives of most men, and there may be a greater constitutional predisposition in them towards sex issues. But there is surely not that absorption this incessant demand for a "love interest" implies. Women can listen to sexless music and compose and play sexless music; they can do scientific research, produce art and literature, give themselves to sport or business, without even as much direct sex obsession as many men betray. It is, however, not quite so certain that they can lose sight of their own personalities as completely as men can do. If women are no more sexual than men, it is nevertheless open to question whether they can release themselves as readily from a personal reference. My own impression is that, typically, they see the rôle more and the play less.
Now, first, with regard to this film I am convinced there can be no love interest, no chase and capture, of the vulgar sort. I would lay it down as a general rule that a love interest of the normal type in a film, novel, play or any other form of story conflicts with any other form of interest, and either destroys it or is itself reduced to the level of a tiresome complication. I have had a certain experience in the writing of wonder stories, romances about some sort of wonder, a visit to the moon, for example, the power of[Pg 186] invisibility, the release of atomic energy for mechanical purposes or the like, and nothing is more firmly established in my mind than that these topics can only be successfully dealt with by the completest subordination of normal sex adventure. Hundreds of failures in that line are due to the neglect of this simple prohibition. Either Juliet must have all the stage and limelight, or Juliet (with her Romeo) is merely obstructing the traffic. That is the law of it. The world grows out of the amiable delusion that Juliet (or Romeo) can be an "inspiration" for anything in the other sex except a strong desire for her (or his) charming self. Our hero wants to end war on its merits. It is no more conceivable that he sets out to end war for a woman, than that he does it for a bet or because some other fellow said he couldn't.
The entrepreneur of this film therefore must deduct from his calculations all that much of feminine humanity which insists upon pictures in which, as a primary element, it is, by sympathetic proxy, desired, adored, wooed, chased, trapped, rescued, dressed up, dressed down, undressed and finally and thumpingly won and made to yield deliciously and completely. That proportion of women will stay away. That proportion of young manhood too which finds its secret wishes embodied in the successful desiring, adoring, wooing, chasing, trapping, rescuing, winning and conquest of the delicious heroine must also be counted off. Perhaps we underrate the last contingent and overrate the proportion of feminine supporters of the dominant "love interest." And certainly our repudiation of the "love interest" by no means implies that the entire feminine sex is excluded from this film or that no appeal is made in it to the consciously feminine element in the audience. It is not merely that it is put to them how, as human beings, they are going to share in the Herculean task of cleaning up all that now festers towards a renewal of war, but also and more intimately whether, as women, with woman's acuter sense of rôle and keener perception of personal values, they have not a very special part to play in the struggle.
And here we must raise a question that is always cropping up in myriads of actual instances in modern life: Do women to any large extent and in any number really want the organized prevention of war? Just as one questions whether they want a mighty growth of science? Or want a world rebuilt on greater lines? Indignant feminine voices, quick to resent an implied belittlement, will retort at once, "Of course they do. Are they not the mothers and wives of the men who must be killed? Is it not their children and their homes that suffer most acutely from conflict and disorder?" But it is just that sort of reply which intensified the doubt. These are reasons why women should want an end to war, but not any proof that they do or are at all disposed to set about helping to end it for its own sake. Many men, although they are the fathers and friends of the men who must be killed and themselves must share the toil and risk, want peace and a reorganization of the world's affairs without any thought or very little thought of this personal aspect. They see war as a nuisance and an offence upon the general field of human work. They see spoilt possibilities in which they themselves may have only a very slight personal share. War to them is a monstrous silly ugly beast that tramples the crops[Pg 187] —a beast which may yet give good sport in the hunting. It is hated not as a horror but as an appalling bore. And the soldier is regarded not as heroic-terrible but as a tedious fool. Is there any equivalent proportion of women who see things in this way?
We have to frame some sort of answer to this before we can decide upon the part women are to play in this film. Is there to be a sort of feminine twin to Hercules in this film? A heroine parallel to the hero, profile to profile, like William and Mary on the old pennies? Or contrariwise, is woman to play the part of Deianira and cajole the hero into the shirt of Nessus and ultimate frustration? We have told that last story so often; we have had to tell that last story so often. It is one of the endlessly repeated stories, that story of the woman sex-centred, who wants so to concentrate the love of a man upon herself that she destroys him. But is it as usual to-day as it was in the past? Is this mutual injury through the egotism of love an incidental or an inevitable part of the human adventure?
And anyhow, since we have decided that this shall be a film of present victory and not defeat, even if Deianira is to appear, she will have to be evaded or defeated. Nessus' shirt can go back to the property room; it will not be worn. But it does not follow that parallelism of the sexes is the only other course. If women are going to play the same part in regard to war as men do, what need is there for a separate woman part at all? Fuse her with Hercules and let the film be sexless.
The reality lies between these contrasts. The liberations of our time release women more and more from the sense that custom, training and tradition have imposed upon them, of the supreme necessity of capturing and holding a particular man. But these liberations do nothing to change the essential fact that women do see life much more acutely as an affair of personalities than men do. They too are escaping from submersion in the personal drama, but they do not seem to have escaped to the same degree. They have the power to intensify the sense of individuality in men. They are apter to judge and readier to take sides, and when they take sides they do it with less limitation and compromise. In the vast and complex struggles that lie before us if the world is to be organized against war, women will be mainly assessors and sustainers. In this heroic endeavour to evolve a rationalized world out of a sanguinary confusion of romantic falsehood which is our present theme, just as in the struggle to establish social and economic justice, women will be decisive. Just so far as they give their friendship, encouragement, social support, their enormous powers of conviction and personal reassurance, to the struggling (and often doubting) spirits of creative men, so far will they enable them to realize effort. Just as far as they are dominated by the thought of their own individual triumph, just so far as they subordinate life to the conception of themselves as beloved individuals, queens of beauty, and the chief end of life to the old romantic conception of the egoistic love interest as the supreme interest for women, so far will they be on the side of the antagonists against the hero.
Our chief feminine interest therefore presents itself almost inevitably in two aspects, two parts: the first, the woman as disinterested friend and sympathiser; the second, as woman the decisive, emerging from the[Pg 188] romantic tradition, attempting to make a personal lover of our Hercules and then realizing the greater power and beauty of his larger and ampler purpose, giving herself to that and gaining herself, him and everything in that self-subordination. This second aspect is manifestly the more dramatic one, and it gives us the indications for our main feminine rôle.
For the uses of our personified story she can be a Princess, the effective ruler of another State close to the hero's and strategically essential. She apprehends the fine quality of his purpose and his endeavour, she tries to conquer him for herself, she becomes his fierce, and for a time she seems to be his chief antagonist, and then swiftly and decisively she becomes his ally and mate. Like the hero she must be simplified beyond any vividness of characterization; she must be beautiful, vigorous and direct. The frustrations of individuality are all on the other side in this film.
We have now given the reasons for making the hero and heroine in the story-argument of this film grave, abstract, quintessential and symbolical. For the antagonisms they face this is not nearly so necessary. It is just because the mind has to be left free to consider the complex of forces that make for war and keep it alive in the world, that these tremendous simplifications on our side have been made. For that we have resisted the temptation to make our hero "sympathetic" by, for example, giving him funny feet or a fascinated devotion to our heroine's crisp naiveté. The adverse forces, however, we suppose to be working through the weaknesses and intricacy of human nature and the errors in and distortions of human tradition. Our thesis is not that war is a simple thing but a muddle, an Augean stable to be cleaned up. The rest of our cast therefore can be a multitude of highly individualized figures, all with good and bad in them—all, so to speak, with souls to be saved.
Yet something is common to them all and holds them all together so that they are not an aimless miscellany. They are all susceptible to war suggestion. There is that in them which responds to war suggestion, a complex of fear, suspicion, self-assertion, gregarious assertion, xenophobia, pugnacity and subtler correlatives. War possibility is due not merely to ignoble strains in them. Brotherhood, loyalty, love of the near and intimate and fear for its security, the impulse to give oneself, may be played upon also to bring them into the bloody work. We have to show them under that complex of good and evil dispositions, and we have to show them diversely and humanly, so that the audience may find material for self-identification on that side also of the argument. But taken altogether we allege that there is an evil disposition inspiring that diverse antagonist mass. Against man the maker, man the hater, man the enemy of man, pits himself, more primordial, narrower, intenser.[Pg 189]
Suppose we take a leaf from the book of the medieval moralist, who went so frankly outside his proper Christian theology to hypothesize a devil. Suppose we make an antagonist to our hero, a spirit of jealousy and narrow aggression flitting through our film, inspiring this man, taking possession of that, sowing the tares, blighting the harvest. What sort of figure will he be? I conceive of him as something quite unlike that dithering devil Mephistopheles, who played so large a part in the moral symbolism of the nineteenth century. He will be much more an upstanding figure, more of a combatant and nothing of a mocker. Both he and the hero are fighters; the difference is that he is dark, narrow and destructive, while the hero fights to create. It will be false to refuse him a dark splendour, a beauty of his own. Neither is passive. They are kindred in that, and so we must admit a sort of likeness between the two, a cousinship. He hates. Through the ages he has been the inveterate enemy of the broad purpose and the distant aim, and the pitiless exploiter of that mingling of love and timidity in us which makes us all apologists and defenders of the accustomed and the limited.
So out of the proposition implicit in that original title of ours, The Peace of the World, we evolve the characteristics of our protagonists and antagonist. Quite after the most respected traditions of the movies, we drop our original title, and substitute, The King who was a King. We have now to develop the concrete story of King Everyman, the Princess and his Cousin the Destroyer, keeping in mind continually the great arguments they sustain.
The ordinary film to-day opens very raggedly, with unmeaning decorations and distracting irrelevant matter. I would reduce and simplify all this preliminary stuff as much as possible. For example there is the long list it is customary to give of the names of people who have contributed to the making of the film. Few of them are known well enough to arouse serious expectation or prepare the mind of the audience in any way, and all this and the advertisement of the entrepreneurs, the animated trade-marks and so on, would be better deferred until the end, when the audience is grateful for and excited by its entertainment and anxious to know whom it has to thank. I would begin starkly with a black screen with the title in very plain clear lettering (no "art" distortion), THE KING WHO WAS A KING.
This should be held for rather a long time in silence, still and important.
Then would come the title and the sub-title, arousing expectation, THE KING WHO WAS A KING: The Story of a Pawn Who would not Play the Game. That too would have a pause. Then I would have the music begin and the title fade out and give place to a slow drift across the screen, like a drift of sunflecks under trees ("absolute film" as the current phrase goes), keeping time to the music. The music would be threaded more and more with a rhythmic tapping and clinking, and the drift would eddy and swirl away and display a squatting half-brutish figure in a vague dark cavern, a primordial savage chipping a flint.
He would be the forerunner both of the hero and antagonist. He would change imperceptibly from the half-bestial into the human and he would presently be hammering a metal implement upon an anvil. He would put it aside to take up a carving. The lettering, "Man the Maker," would appear above him and fade out again. Beside him the premonition of the heroine would appear: woman. He would show his work to her, valuing her approval. Then he would become a duplicated superimposed figure, and the two figures would separate. Man the Maker would remain seated at his work with the woman looking at him, while the second figure would stand away from him and over him, looking at him and the woman. Lettering would appear against the cavernous darkness above this new aspect of man, Man the Destroyer, and fade again.[Pg 194]
The Destroyer is jealous and hard. He covets the woman simply and hates the Maker's work that interests her. He stoops down to seize the spear the Maker has shaped, and raises it as if he would threaten and dominate Man the Maker. The Maker leaps to his feet to regain possession of it. There is a struggle. One sees the two muscular bodies at grips and the stern faces close together. The Destroyer holds the spear; the Maker grips the Destroyer's wrist. The woman watches and her movements are indecisive. She lifts her hands as if to intervene, the music rises and dies away, the cavern grows dark, the struggling figures indistinct, and the streaming flecks of light return out of nothingness, drifting across the screen again. They fade out to a blank darkness as the music fades also. The argument has been stated and the story can now begin.
The world appears upon the screen rotating slowly, and a new movement of the music differing widely in character from the preceding one, music with a marching, militant quality, drum taps and trumpet airs, begins but dies away to the quality of an unimportant accompaniment. The world grows larger and the familiar outline of the Western hemisphere comes round to the audience. The globe sweeps towards the audience until North America fills the screen, a hand appears and points to New York, and a characteristic view of New York, an aeroplane view, is superimposed upon the screen as the hand (grown large) is withdrawn. This view recedes and a window-frame about it becomes visible. We are in the intimate conference-room of a great business organization in lower New York. A table, with fresh paper, etc., is prepared for a meeting.
The room can be rotated to make the window invisible or unimportant (the view has served its purpose). The room has two occupants. A man, A., of the ordinary successful business-man type, with a face of quiet determination, is fixing a map to a display board with drawing-pins. An office attendant stands by with the box of pins.
The map is important and the attention of the audience is concentrated upon it.
The map is to be a bold revision of all known geography. It must be prepared by a competent cartographer, as though it was a real standard map. It must not be a sketch map. It shows a broad seaway narrowing to a long and winding strait and then broadening out again into a sea rather like the Black Sea. The strait and all the surrounding country is marked KINGDOM OF CLAVERY. Behind it, in mountainous country and quite cut off from the sea, is the REPUBLIC OF AGRAVIA. To the west and partly enveloping the eastern end of this is SÆVIA, also mountainous, which bars the access of Agravia to the inland sea. Behind Agravia to the north is a boundary and the end of a name which is not wholly on the[Pg 195] map, one or two letters being cut in half. The audience reads SSIA. Occupying the south-west of the map is the-IAN SEA. An island or so.
Now here we use colour. The attendant holds out a bottle of ink, and A. has a ruler and a quill pen. He dips the pen in the ink, makes spots on the map and rules lines which appear in bright red. Then he writes in the margin of the map: "Red indicates chief calcomite deposits." They are all in Agravia except one, which overlaps into Sævia.
As he does this a second business man, B., enters the room and surveys the work.
"There," says A., "are the only deposits of calcomite in the world that are not in British territory."
B. reflects. "Who could have foretold ten years ago that all our metallurgical industries would depend upon this one rare mineral calcomite?"
A third business magnate joins them.
"Most of the country," says A., "is claimed by Sævia. It was given to Agravia by the Treaty of Versailles."
Other members of the Conference arrive. They go to the table and then are drawn to the discussion about the map. A. is obviously the best informed man in the gathering. He explains: "The Agravians are a nation of farmers. They do not want their minerals exploited."
This stays on the screen for three or four seconds and then these words are added: "Naturally the British support them in that attitude."
These words are uttered by a newcomer, C., who is impersonated by the same actor as Man the Destroyer in the prelude.
His words seem to change the key of the conversation. The other men turn their backs upon the map and move towards the table, where he stands one foot on a chair and forms the centre of the assembly. These sentences appear one after the other upon the screen as if spoken slowly, with pauses between. Then they are all held assembled for a moment.
"Sævia is too weak to attack Agravia."
"But with Clavery to help, it would be a different story."
"We have some good friends in Clavery."
A seated man with an impassive face remarks:
"To-day is the birthday of the King of Clavery, and to-day, as we talk here, the Princess of Sævia is being betrothed to the Crown Prince of Clavery."
C. speaks: "Agravia has no guns nor aeroplanes worth talking about. The army of Clavery is small but good. It would scarcely be a war."
But it is evident that the Conference still doubts. A., perceiving the hesitation, returns to his map and taps it as he speaks.
"Free access to this calcomite means for America liberation from this stranglehold upon our metallurgy that luck has given the British."
The group of men regard A. as he says this. The broad stripes of the American flag wave softly across the picture. But they are doubtful if the thing can be done so easily. Then for a moment a Union Jack, stiff in the breeze, is flashed on the screen. Then C. says, "The British are too fond of blockades and strangleholds."
There is a vision of a British Fleet steaming along some blockade coast,[Pg 196] and then this fades out to be replaced by a great American battleship, flags flying and coming full speed ahead towards the audience, which fades also to show the Conference, ruffled, uneasy, perplexed. A little capable-looking man, D., says:
"Why should two great Powers quarrel like this? Why should we not work with the British?"
This question and reply are thrown on the screen in white.
"The next thing you will want will be a permanent reunion with the British! What is the good of having different governments and different flags if we are always going to work together? Why have a flag if it means nothing?"
The little man D., driven to extremes by the argument, gestures "Exactly; why have it?"
Everyone is interested and a vivid discussion ensues.
And here we appeal to the powers of suggestion inherent in the film. The complex that renders any idea of amalgamating American interests with those of any other Power, and particularly with those of the British Empire, impossible, exists in every mind present in the conference. The organized peace of the world is distasteful because the Union is so dear. Through all this whirl of thought and feeling run the waving stripes of the American flag, surely the most beautiful on earth; and the musical accompaniment, which was scarcely perceptible in the opening of this scene when A. was marking calcomite on the map, becomes now the inspiring intervening memories of patriotic music. The audience is given dreamlike glimpses of pages from American history, if possible from well-known pictures: the bridge at Concord, the battle of Lexington, Valley Forge, etc. The British soldiers march on Washington and the capital is seen burning. The Shannon and the Chesapeake fight. The figure of George Washington rides up the scene, dominates it, mingles with the Star-Spangled Banner and fades out. You never quite lose the talking men as these visions expand and pass.
The little man D. is seen standing up and still clinging to his argument.
C. interrupts him. These sentences are thrown across the picture:
"Something we don't like in the British."
"We've sat quiet under their Fleet for a century."
A. says with violence: "Yes, but our turn has come."
The great American battleship reappears very gloriously, and its guns are fired as it sweeps towards the audience. The sea-waves and the undulations of the American flag mingle together.
A man who has not spoken hitherto interrupts.
"Gentlemen, what have we got to? We were talking of calcomite? What possesses us?"
The phantom flag still waves and streams across the picture.
The discussion is interrupted by the entry of a tall man, E.—evidently a very important personality. The flag suggestion fades quite out and attention concentrates on this man. The picture darkens in its values[Pg 197]; and grows hard and bright. He comes forward portentously with the telegram in his hand. The disputants, who have been in various easy attitudes, all stand. Then this legend is delivered on the screen very slowly, line by line:
"Gentlemen, everything has gone to pieces.
"That betrothal and the alliance of Clavery and Sævia have been blown to bits.
"A bomb in the Cathedral of Clavopolis.
"The Crown Prince is dying, the King is dead.
"You have been"—the last word is held back for a second or so—"out-man[oe]uvred."
Someone asks: "And the Princess?"
"She had not arrived."
D. cries: "The British could not do a thing like that!" The others doubt with him or scoff at him. C. is the chief scoffer.
A. says: "But how does this leave us?"
Scene fades out under his note of interrogation.
A glimpse is given of the House of Parliament and Whitehall, and then the scene is taken into a room in the Foreign Office. The time is the late afternoon. The dignified Georgian furniture of this apartment contrasts with the clear modernity of the New York conference-room. The Royal Arms and a sheaf of Union Jacks surmount a mirror at the back. A Foreign Secretary, a tall, handsome man, distinctively of the "English gentleman" type, a compendium of Grey, Curzon and Chamberlain, with if anything a preponderance of Grey, sits and examines a map. A short, very intelligent-looking private secretary stands behind him and points out the position of the States concerned. The Foreign Secretary taps the map with his glasses and shakes his head. He drops out these comments:
"I never liked this betrothal business.
"We've got to stand by Agravia. We've given our assurances.
He continues to shake his head. Words appear across this scene exactly as they did in the preceding one.
"Something I don't like in the Americans.
"Since the war they've got arrogant.
"Threatening to outbuild our Fleet!
"Vital for us. Just a luxury for them."
The secretary smiles slightly at these almost petulant comments. He puts his hand over his mouth as if doubting the wisdom of any comment, and then decides to speak.
"Since this calcomite process came in, Sir, we have rather PRESSED our advantage."[Pg 198]
The Foreign Secretary does not like the matter put in that way. His gesture shows his repudiation. "Question of business" appears across back of picture. The secretary indicates by a shrug of the shoulders that it is not his place to argue.
The Foreign Secretary looks up. Someone has entered the room. He stands up. The Prime Minister appears from the side with a sheet of paper in his hand. In appearance he is to be a mixture of the last four British Prime Ministers, a generalised British Prime Minister. If any ingredient prevails it should be Mr. Lloyd George. He holds out the document. Both stand while the Foreign Secretary reads.
"The bomb seems to have killed about thirty people."
They regard each other gravely and glance at the private secretary. The Foreign Secretary hands the paper to him. He reads and says:
"This alters the calcomite situation, Sir."
The Prime Minister sits down. He has vital things to ask. The Foreign Secretary intimates to the private secretary he is not wanted and sits down too. The two chiefs are close together and their manner is confidential. They watch the private secretary depart.
The Prime Minister asks:
"There was American influence behind the betrothal?"
The Foreign Secretary intimates "Undoubtedly." He makes some explanation not screened. The Prime Minister is preoccupied by another thought.
"This feeling of rivalry between us and America seems incurable," he laments.
Both nod their heads. Then the Foreign Secretary grows bright.
"So far as regards calcomite we have had rather the best of the game."
The Prime Minister sits back. He is uneasy. He takes up the dispatch, looks at it, and puts it down. He has a very disagreeable and searching question to put.
"Our hands are clean in this business?" he asks.
The Foreign Secretary shows two spotless hands. The two men still watch each other. The Foreign Secretary alters his attitude, plays with a blotter, considers.
"No country that carries on a set Policy against another country has perfectly clean hands."
The Prime Minister admits that sadly. The Foreign Secretary watches him and remarks: "Every country employs spies."
The Prime Minister knows that, but he hates to hear it.
"Every country," the Foreign Secretary pursues, "has Agents. And Agents may employ other Agents."
The Prime Minister wants to have that explained further. He is uneasy. He rather overdoes his innocence. Over their heads appears:
"Agents may exceed their instructions."
The Foreign Secretary remarks: "When I was a boy at Templedale we used to play a game called Russian Scandal. Do you know it?"
He explains. The screen shows a row of young people in evening-dress sitting round a fire. The first whispers to the second, who whispers to the third, and so on. The whispers appear in white letters above each couple in succession and remain.[Pg 199]
Canada is in America.
Can a dove be in America?
Can a dive be in America?
Can a devil be in a merry cur?
Can a devil be in a merry cove?
You see the words in white pass from one whisperer to another.
Another row of figures appears, showing a dignified Foreign Minister at one end and a chain of agents, officers, secret-service people, foreign agents, Agravian peasants.
The words, Spirited Policy, appear at one end and vanish, and the players whisper from one to another. The end man of the chain hesitates, nods, draws a knife, stands up and cries: "Murder!"
The Foreign Secretary urbane, saying this to illustrate his point. The Prime Minister dismayed. The Foreign Secretary is imperturbable. The Prime Minister shakes his head in repudiation.
The Prime Minister: "But now what happens? What is the good of it all? Who is the heir of Clavery?"
The Foreign Secretary: "There is a certain Prince Michael."
Prime Minister: "Who may marry the Princess of Sævia and carry out the American scheme quite as well as the Crown Prince."
Foreign Secretary, thoughtfully: "Yes. But there was also a certain brother of the late King who ran away to America on account of some lady, and left a son. He would come before this Michael."
The Prime Minister stares at his colleague as if to discover how long he has had this fact in mind. Then he considers it for its own sake. A possible aspect occurs to him. He remarks: "Unless his father was cut out of the succession."
The Foreign Secretary intimates that this was not the case. The Prime Minister would like to know more. The Foreign Secretary manifestly does know more. He comes to a point that is of great interest to him.
"He is an extreme pacifist. He goes about with the daughter of that pacifist fellow Harting. I have made some enquiries."
The Prime Minister sits and drums with his fingers on the table. As he does so a line of phantom battleships passes slowly across the picture, mere shadows at first and then more plainly.
"Why do we and the Americans play this everlasting fools' game against each other?"
Still pursuing his reflections:
"The country isn't with us in this.
"THEIR people don't want it."
The Foreign Secretary considers these revolutionary remarks. They jar with his fundamental convictions. The Royal Arms and the sheaf of Union Jacks behind him grow more distinct and larger. The idea of British policy becomes visible about him. He and the Prime Minister become mere shadows through which the idea displays itself. On either side Grenadier buglers blow the bugles of empire. Then a long line of phantom soldiers in khaki advances, and behind them one sees great cities[Pg 200] with minarets, eastern ports, elephants, the Himalayas, Australians and kangaroos, a mounted man on an ostrich farm, the crude bright elements of the pageant of British power. These phantoms strengthen and fade again. A Union Jack flutters across the screen and fades. The music swells proudly to Rule Britannia. The Foreign Secretary reappears upon the screen protesting to the Prime Minister.
"Why are we a separate Empire? Why are there such things as Powers? Why have we a Foreign Office?—if there is no game to be played—if 'Rule Britannia' means nothing?"
The Prime Minister nods as if to say, "Yes, yes—of course." Then he turns away, perplexed and foreboding. That standing preoccupation of party leaders appears above his head, "The country isn't with us nowadays in this sort of thing." He purses his lips and nods his head.
The scene fades out on his puzzled countenance, and the second movement of the music comes to an end.
A third movement of the music begins. An air already rendered in the tapping and clinking of the Prelude reappears, strengthened and bolder. At the same time rotating wheels and machine tools at work become visible. The screen takes the audience through a great factory in which the mass production of automobiles is in progress. The picturing of the factory must be good and exciting, for it is an integral part of our effects. The music must swing into the rhythm of modern machinery.
The hero, Paul Zelinka, is discovered in workman's overalls at work. He is the same actor as Man the Maker in the Prelude. He is gravely intent upon his work. It is team work. He has to take a part from a fellow-worker, manipulate it and hand it on. He is obviously chief of the group and is directing the group task. Here he may repeat poses and gestures of Man the Maker in the Introductory Scene. The viewpoint recedes slightly to show the whole bunch of workers. They are to be the most contrasted specimens possible of the American worker—an Italian, a mongoloid Finn, a negro, a big East European Jew, and so forth. They work together methodically and quickly.
Then the viewpoint moves back until these are only small figures in a great scene of industrial activity.
Four or five men walk across the foreground. They are visitors being shown the works, and a director and an assistant. The director says:
"The man working over there is Prince Zelinka. Three lives from the throne of Clavery. The press-men have just got hold of it. We didn't know it when he came here."
We then get the director's face closer. He feels he has said something snobbish and adds to correct the impression:
"On our pay-sheets he's plain Paul Zelinka.
"Here he's not a prince; he's a man."[Pg 201]
We then get the interested faces of the whole group.
"His father made good as a working man. He has a bit of capital and he means to learn business from the bottom up."
Then a factory whistle blows and we see men ceasing work. Zelinka knocks off and he is joined by an acquaintance, Atkins. The acquaintance, Atkins, is a small inferior type with an inquisitive face. They pass across scene to change their working overalls for ordinary clothing.
Then the scene changes, and we see Zelinka and Atkins going home from the day's work against a background of busy American town life.
"What's all this talk I hear about your being a Prince or a Grand Duke or something? Anything in it?"
Zelinka shrugs shoulders as if indisposed to reply. Then thinks better of it.
"Nothing that matters. My father was a Grand Duke. Seven brothers older than himself—the war cleared most of them off. Not a very grand Grand Duke. And it bored him. There was some trouble about his marriage. She was a noble lady all right, but she wasn't the noble lady they intended him to marry."
Zelinka's face becomes reflective. An interlude gives the fairly obvious tale of his father, and gives it in the manner of a score of pre-existing films.
(Zelinka's father must be played by the same actor as Zelinka. He must make up as a more decided blond, and with a fuller moustache, pointed at first and normal later. He must do all that is possible to get a taller effect, and he might wear stays to sustain a more "drilled" bearing.)
We are given a garden terrace of the palace of Clavopolis, the capital of Clavery. It is a scene we shall see again later. Flowers. Blossom. Zelinka's father is shown as a young man, with a fragile little wife. Costume of 1904. They talk rather anxiously. A court official comes with a summons. Zelinka's father obeys with evident reluctance. He turns back and embraces wife.
Then comes a dignified room in the Clavopolis Palace, with a venerable monarch in military uniform seated. Court officials are grouped and waiting. A pause of expectation. Zelinka's father enters. The King receives him coldly and admonishes him with evident severity. Zelinka's father stands sulkily under the admonition. He shakes his head in refusal. The admonition becomes a scolding. Against all etiquette he answers back. An angry dispute follows. The old monarch orders his son's arrest. He is arrested.
Then an escape from prison and a flight to America are indicated by three or four swift pictures.
The audience is given brief scenes of (for example) the launch leaving the liner for Ellis Island or of the young fugitives passing through Ellis Island or passports being scrutinized. Then the passage from Ellis Island to New York. The mother is seen dying in a cheap lodging (costume, 1905) and the father is doing any sort of hard industrial work the producer finds it convenient to shoot.
Then father and little Paul (five years old) tramping a long road (1910).
Then the father in working overalls in his own garage repairing a 1912[Pg 202] car (1912 costume). Later, the father is more prosperous in an office looking out upon some works. His manner suggests active business responsibility. Some subordinate takes directions from him. Paul, a boy of nine, comes in (1914).
These story-pictures thin and fade out to show three-quarter lengths of Zelinka and Atkins walking along the evening street again. Zelinka looks ahead and tells his story. Atkins takes it all in with a rat-like alertness.
Zelinka says: "It was only at my father's death that I learnt my proper name and the story of his life."
He ceases to speak and the screen shows his memory. He is now about sixteen years old, turning over his father's papers beside his death-bed. Pause as he looks at his father's still face. He glances round rather guiltily, as if ashamed of emotion, and then kisses his father's forehead.
This scene does not fade out, it flashes out and gives place to:
"Well, here I am," in white letters, and then in normal black on white—"starting from the ground up, as a good citizen should." Then the figures of the two men talking reappear. The street is now debouching into a traffic circle and public park. Atkins and Paul halt as having come to their parting-place.
"That's a great story you've given me. You won't mind my writing it up for the 'Despatch'?"
"But you're not a journalist!"
"I'm going to be. Just as you are going to be an industrial prince. I'm starting from the ground up, as a good citizen should."
Atkins disentangles himself from Paul after a little dispute, in which Atkins insists on doing what he wants to do and departs. Zelinka makes a gesture of vexation and watches Atkins' receding back. Then he walks on slowly in his own direction. His father appears like a great shadow behind him, becomes more real and more nearly his own size, seems to talk to him and lays a hand upon his shoulder.
"Forget you are a Prince. Let everyone forget it.
"Forget the Old World. Begin—a man—in the New."
Zelinka regrets his frankness with Atkins more and more. The figure of the father vanishes, but the son is so preoccupied with his thoughts that he does not note a pretty young woman in a small runabout car, who is going very slowly beside him and trying to attract his attention.
Then at a particularly vigorous blast of her claxon he looks up, discovers and salutes her.
She draws her car up by the sidewalk and they talk, he with a foot on the running-board. They are evidently close and warm friends, but so far, as their manner shows, there has been no love-making between them.
"Don't be late for my father's lecture."
He looks at a watch. He will be there. They talk, and she discovers he is preoccupied and questions him. He says it is nothing, nothing at all, but she presses him.
"I've been talking like a fool about my father to a man I didn't know was a journalist. He's trotted off to write an interview, and unless I go after him and[Pg 203] kill him he'll do it. I suppose he'll call me Prince Zelinka or Grand Duke Zelinka—and after that what chance have I in Steelville of being Paul Zelinka, the citizen of the world?"
She tries to reassure him, but he is in a mood of foreboding.
"Talking with that journalist has brought my father back to me. Again and again he said to me: 'You belong to the New World, the world of human unity. It is your birthright. The Old World is division and war, rank without effort, and servitude without hope, tradition and decay. From that, this land is escape.'"
She watches his face. The words float over them:
"I hate these titles that cling to me."
The Clavopolis Palace garden scene reappears, but taken through a distorting lens and superimposed upon Paul Zelinka and Margaret talking together. The court officials are still there, but grotesquely changed, and the old King is raging. He points to Paul as if commanding his recall. Atkins appears like an impish gnome with a notebook in hand. The officials seize upon Paul and attempt to put him in uniform. The words, PRINCE, DUKE, NOBLESSE OBLIGE, HIGH POSITION, float through the air. A vast crowd of American society people seethes about him, hounded on by Atkins. Paul struggles against these things, all distorted by the lens. He and Margaret become involved in this thought vision. He takes hold of Margaret, and they struggle and swim against all these formal and traditional things towards a large clear place. There appears a pioneers' covered waggon into which they clamber and drive off. It recedes across a vast plain. It is pursued by a threatening cloud that takes the form of an armed figure. Against the horizon, bright, remote, and clear, rise the buildings and pinnacles of a splendid dream city towards which the waggon, now very remote, pursues its way. But the dark cloud spreads over the whole sky and swallows up the prospect. On the screen against the darkness appears, I fear the Old World, and then the two grave figures of Margaret and Paul, talking over the side of the car, are restored.
She has an idea. She puts out a hand towards him as if to hold his attention.
"But are you sure that America IS the New World? Did your father really mean that? MY father says that the New World is everywhere and the Old World everywhere. The New World stirs now almost as much in India or Angora or Berlin or Moscow as here. So my father says."
Yes, that is an idea worth considering. Then he laughs.
"Well, Atkins will pull all the Old World down on me if anyone prints his interview."
"Perhaps they won't print his interview!"
She smiles. There is a little pause between them. Both are shy. She glances at her wrist-watch and starts her engine.
"Don't be late for the lecture."
Again there is the momentary hesitation so characteristic of incipient lovers. Then he stands back and watches her depart.[Pg 204]
The film now plunges into the midst of Dr. Harting's Steelville lecture upon The Causes of War.
Dr. Harting is an old distinguished-looking American, lean and tall, after the type of the late President Eliot of Harvard. He uses glasses to read his notes, and holds them in his hand while he speaks, often tapping the papers. He stands upon a platform at a reading-desk. Behind him are diagrams, indistinctly seen at first, and a chairman sits beside him. The picture is photographed with the camera turned somewhat upward in such a way as to make Dr. Harting slenderly dominant, like the prow of a ship.
A glimpse is given of Zelinka and Margaret sitting together in the front row of the audience, and then one sees a few other figures in the audience. Man the Destroyer is present, hostile and critical, and several commonplace and excitable types.
The lecturer says:
"Do not imagine you can secure the Peace of the World by good resolutions. So long as you have national flags, national competition, national rivalry, you will have war."
Man the Destroyer in the audience shouts, "Traitor," and an old gentleman sitting near him says, "My country, right or wrong!" and looks round excitedly for approval.
A middle-aged man rises, points to the lecturer and says:
"You go too fast and too far."
The picture centres back on the lecturer.
For a moment he has to content himself with gestures. Then he says:
"Well, here is a case in point. The calcomite dispute."
He takes up a pointer and the map of perverted geography which has already figured in the opening scenes becomes clear and distinct. The lecturer's pointer passes across it.
"There, locked up in Agravia, are the richest calcomite deposits in the world."
He becomes quietly argumentative.
"Since the new processes came in, calcomite has become vitally necessary for all the metallurgical industries in the world—except for the British, who have their own supplies in South Africa and Malaya."
The audience needs a little time to take that in. Faces show expressions of suspended interest. The lecturer pauses before his next point.
"Has Agravia, with British collusion, the right to play the part of Dog in the Manger to that calcomite?"
The audience is divided about its answer.
Man the Destroyer leaps to his feet. "If we need that calcomite vitally, we have a right to take it."
Others approve him.
An argumentative little man in spectacles, addressing all and sundry, says:[Pg 205]
"We can't have our national industries strangled by a geological accident."
The dispute grows hot. Here the musical accompaniment may be supplemented by gramophone voices. Such phrases as: "Rights of nationalities," "Plain justice," "Common sense," "Sacred Egotism of a Great People" and so on, float indistinctly into the music.
The lecturer waits for a moment of comparative quiet.
"How in the world at present is a question like that to be settled?"
Man the Destroyer stands up again, and with a gesture to the people about him cries: "Let the British release that calcomite!"
Applause, and voices shout approval in the music. A distressed innocent little man is seen trying to attract the lecturer's attention:
"But the Kellogg Pact has outlawed war."
The lecturer tries to hear him, signals to him to say it again, and then realizing what he is saying, answers with a lean finger held out.
"But the Kellogg Pact doesn't help us a bit to solve the calcomite difficulty! Or any other difficulty."
A neighbour of the distressed innocent little man pokes him and says to him:
"The Kellogg Pact hasn't stopped the building of a single submarine. If it meant business the world would disarm."
The Evil Man bawls:
"Let the Europeans stand out of our light or take the consequences."
Evidently he carries with him the warm response of a number of excitable people sitting about him. He gives a form to their instinctive feelings. "This is sense," their faces say. They shout down the innocent little man.
The long finger of the lecturer goes out towards Man the Destroyer: "And how about the National rights of Agravia?"
Man the Destroyer answers: "Our National rights come first!"
Manifestly many of the audience are with him. The American flag streams phantasmally across the picture. Then across it, following its waving lines, streams the suggestion of a battle fleet. This fades almost to invisibility, and the lecturer comes to his point.
"There is one thing other than War that can decide the question."
This is held for a moment before the one thing is defined. "A Cosmopolitan control and rationing of calcomite."
"And all natural resources."
Men turn to each other in the audience as if to ask, Is this possible? And then Man the Destroyer, to check the wavering, shouts: "That is a dream!"
Then he spreads his arms out, with his fingers curved like claws. He is enlarged until he fills the screen. He is dark, evil and loud.
"This is to sacrifice your independence!"
The faces of Margaret and Paul are seen attentive to all that is happening, and then the faces and gestures of individuals and groups in the hall. The hall is allowed to appear very large, it suggests now the world audience to modern thought, and little groups of nationals appear—Germans inclined to agree with the lecturer, Italians with little flags, a group of English and Irish, a storm of types. The following phrases are flung across the disputing[Pg 206] confusion. They are flung across the picture and also they are shouted by the gramophone:
"Would Britain stand for anything of the sort?"
"What would Agravia say?"
"Every nation is absolute master of its own soil."
"This would be an entanglement for us."
"George Washington said we were to stay apart—for ever."
"But we need calcomite!"
"We need calcomite!"
"We are strangled for want of calcomite!"
"We shall have three million unemployed."
The lecturer stands out, high and logical, above the confusion. Presently he begins again.
"Since you have no Cosmopolitan control, since you say such a thing is impossible—let me tell you as an object-lesson something of the intrigues and stresses this calcomite question is producing between Clavery and Agravia."
He turns to the map again and shakes his long hand at it.
"While we are signing Peace Pacts that mean practically nothing, Pacts that no nation dare back with honest disarmament, Agravia and its calcomite is like a smoking bomb that threatens the Peace of the World."
The picture centres down to Paul's face very attentive and earnest.
Outside the Masonic Hall of Steelville before the dispersal of the audience. Placards announce lecture on The Causes of War by Dr. Harting. There is also the placard of a concert or so, less distinctly displayed. An attendant comes out and talks to a policeman.
Two or three newspaper sellers stroll up with uninteresting placards and a few copies left in hand. Everyone seems to be following habitual routine. But there is a sudden stir when a man on a motor bicycle with the fresh edition of the Steelville Despatch and fresh news-bills arrives. At first the film audience does not see these news-bills, but evidently there is a selling stop-press item. There is a commotion with the newsvendors to get sufficient copies. They disperse, excited, to their pitches. One remains, and the attendant and the policeman read the news in copies that are hastily refolded for sale.
The news-bill is displayed.
The audience reads: Horrible Bomb Outrage in Clavopolis Cathedral. King of Clavery slain and Crown Prince dying.
The attendant is recalled to his duties and other attendants appear. Doors are opened. The audience of the lecture begins to disperse. Many of them argue as they go. The viewpoint changes across the street to show a considerable crowd dispersing, and then returns to a side exit of the[Pg 207] Masonic Hall. Paul and Margaret and Dr. Harting come out among the last. They are still talking about the lecture and the discussion. Then "Clavery" catches the ear of Paul. He buys a newspaper.
Near view of the three holding the paper, and startled and grave as they realize how the news touches him.
We next see a fragment of newspaper with stop-press paragraph printed a little askew.
A bomb exploded in the crowded Cathedral of Clavopolis this evening during the service in honour of the birthday of the King, causing literally hundreds of casualties. The King and Prince Otto were killed instantaneously and the Crown Prince dangerously injured. Mr. Baxter, the American representative in Clavery, escaped with a slight contusion. No other Americans injured.
Paul relinquishes the paper to Dr. Harting and stands amazed, staring in front of him. Dr. Harting nods his head as who should say, "Just what we might have expected." He turns his face slowly towards Paul. Margaret also is watching Paul; she also is dumbfounded, first at the stirring quality of the news and then at the prospect she sees opening out behind it. His bearing changes slowly. He seems to stiffen, and his face and attitude reveal a man gathering himself together to face a great difficulty. He turns to her with a slight gesture of the hand to the paper which Dr. Harting holds and says:
"See how the Old World pursues us!"
She says without conviction:
"The Crown Prince may live."
Dr. Harting is thinking more of the new situation than of Paul's share in it. Whence came that bomb? Then to Paul: "And what will you do about it?"
Paul's gesture asks what can he do about it?
The old man's face and the words above him say together, "You become King!"
Paul shakes his head resolutely.
The old man sees the difficulties of repudiation.
"Somebody has to fill that vacant place."
Paul still rejects that suggestion. Margaret looks from him to her father and from her father to him.
As they stand thus on the steps, Atkins comes dashing along the street. He recognizes Paul, but is going so fast, he goes past them before he can turn upon them. Then he darts at Zelinka and holds him, imploring him confidentially:
"The scoop of my life! For God's sake tell no one where you are or what you are for twenty-four hours. Keep it for me. I shall be a made man. A made man. A thousand dollars I shall get. Two thousand."
He gesticulates wildly. Snatches a sort of assent and departs, and Zelinka and Margaret descend the steps of the Masonic Hall slowly, with Dr. Harting coming behind them. The scene narrows down to the two of them. Paul's mind is now made up.
"I must vanish from Steelville."
He examines the contents of his pocket.
"I must get the night train to Baltimore."
She asks, "What will you do?"[Pg 208]
"Disappear. Not from you! To escape this Europe clawing at me."
The old man, intervening, pats his shoulder and says he cannot do that.
"At least I must think."
That, the old man agrees, is desirable.
The scene changes to the office of the Steelville Despatch, and Atkins is seen struggling to see the editor to tell him of his great scoop. He encounters considerable difficulty.
Scene changes to night. A long white wall in Steelville lit by electric light. Atkins leading a little band of camera-men to Zelinka's lodgings. Three or four go by. Then belated ones running.
At the door of Zelinka's lodgings Atkins appears with his commando, and parleys with the keeper of the lodgings.
"Not come home yet!" appears in letters across the scene.
There is a consultation. "But why should he go away?" floats over their surprise. They will wait for him. Camera-men compose themselves for a vigil. Atkins, at a loss, sees the affair taken out of his hands by a more competent representative of the Despatch, who arrives on the scene. The newcomer suggests:
"Perhaps he has just had stage fright and bolted. Did you cover the railway station?"
The humiliation of Atkins, who had never thought of stage fright, is extreme.
Scene changes to a street in Steelville at dawn; all the shadows are
long; the sun is rising. A prowling cat goes home down the vista. The
view moves along and returns to Zelinka's lodgings. Slumbering
camera-men are discovered outside. One awakens and yawns and stares
INSERT: Normal American telegraph form.
Margaret Harting, 326 Williams Avenue, Steelville. Profoundest perplexity. Sore need of talk and advice. Steelville impossible because of press-men. Washington press-men also alert. Can you meet some place not Steelville or Washington. Forgive outrageous demand. Failed to get you telephone. Paul, Boucher's Hotel, Baltimore.
INSERT: Telegram in reply.
Paul, Boucher's Hotel, Baltimore.
Telephone me Woman's Club, Steelville, after ten to-morrow and will dine some obscure chop-suey Baltimore. Margaret.
A chop-suey in Baltimore appears. Guests and waiters are shown, and then the picture shifts to where Paul and Margaret sit side by side at a table. They are nearly through with their dinner, and they are talking freely. The picture concentrates on Paul.
"I thought it would be perfectly easy to drop out of all this. It is not so easy."[Pg 209]
He stares before him as he explains. The words appear above him: "Change my name. Vanish. Begin again."
He looks at her. These two sentences appear in succession, the first remaining on the screen after the second has appeared:
"Not only would it be difficult.
"It would be running away."
She assents. That has been her secret thought. And she has something she can now tell him. "My father says this of you, if you feel you are a common man, resign. No one can oblige you to go back. But——"
The words are held for a moment and then given.
"If you dare, go."
Yes, that is how Paul begins to see it. But for hidden reasons it is a difficult thing for him to say. He now decides to tell her of something he has done.
"I have already been to the Claverian Legation at Washington."
She is glad he has not simply hidden himself, but at the same time she is sorry. He goes on talking, as if describing what follows.
The exterior of the Claverian Legation in Washington is shown, with a big flag bearing a rampant leopard, and Paul hesitates at the door. Then he approaches it. The scene changes to the bureau of Mr. Kymark, the Claverian representative in Washington. A large portrait of the late King is shown on the desk. This is not the old King, Paul's grandfather; it is Paul's uncle. He must have the family features and resemble Paul closely.
Over the mantel is a sort of trophy with a rampant leopard. This rampant leopard is the symbol of Claverian nationalism throughout this film. It is indeed a symbol of all nationalism. (See Note at the end of this chapter.)
Mr. Kymark's secretary is slitting open and arranging letters at his chief bureau. Mr. Kymark has not yet appeared. There is also a typist at a small desk reading a newspaper.
Mr. Kymark enters the room. He is a short, intelligent, broad-headed Eastern European of the diplomatic type, and very brisk in his movements.
"Have any more Paul Zelinkas appeared?"
The secretary holds up six letters. One he thinks amusing enough for his chief. He hands it to him, and both laugh at something in it. Uniformed attendant appears and hands a paper. Mr. Kymark is surprised. Here is something different. He hands paper to secretary to see the effect upon him.
The audience is shown the usual form, with printed letters and spaces
filled in in MS., requesting an interview. At the head are the words
"Claverian Legation" and the national arms, and that very heraldic, very
rampant black leopard on a shield supported by similar heraldic
Name Of Visitor: Paul Zelinka to see Mr. Kymark.
Nature Of Business: To consult Mr. Kymark on dynastic outlook.
Mr. Kymark remarks: "The fellow has courage. He isn't afraid to face the music in person."
Mute consultation of secretary. Kymark turns to attendant and indicates, "Show him in."
The typist thinks, and the words appear, "Perhaps a lunatic."
Pause of expectation. Sceptical group. They think the chances are on the whole in favour of an impostor.
Then door is opened and Paul Zelinka appears, and halts in doorway.
Pause. First there is a scrutiny of the newcomer and then a realization of his great likeness to the King's portrait, shown by the glances of all three towards it. He advances into room. He speaks, and the screen shows: "Am I speaking to the chief of this Legation, Mr. Kymark?"
Mr. Kymark passes from suspended judgment to provisional belief. He assents. His manner is already deferential. The two men confront each other. Paul Zelinka glances at the two subordinates. They are dismissed by a gesture.
Mr. Kymark waits for the door to close. "You have come to claim your position as Prince Paul Zelinka."
"I have come to discuss it with you."
Mr. Kymark, still taking him in, motions his visitor to a chair in such a way as to bring him side by side with the portrait of his uncle. Paul sits down, glances at the portrait, understands and smiles. Unconsciously Kymark stands before his seated visitor. There is no scepticism in his manner, only extreme gravity.
"You have come, Sir, to claim a very great position."
Zelinka shrugs his shoulders.
"I suppose I am next in the succession to my cousin Otto."
Kymark considers him. Then takes up and puts down a cipher despatch on his desk. Hesitates and decides to speak.
"He is dead, Sir. If you are the man you seem to be, you are now King of Clavery."
Paul considers that.
"If I choose to be."
Kymark protests one cannot go against facts. Paul says: "No power on earth can take me back to Clavery unless I choose to go." Kymark is unprepared for such an attitude, and shows it. Paul says: "I want to know more about my position before I decide. Meanwhile here are my proofs of identity. You will find them satisfactory."
He produces papers, glances over them, considers and hands them. Kymark takes them. He looks at them and finds them striking, but he is still more impressed by the personality before him. He turns over one or two documents and then has a sudden thought.
"Your Majesty ... I suppose, Sir, you can speak Claverian?"
Paul answers: "My father taught me some. I cannot speak readily, but give me a newspaper or a book."
Zelinka reads aloud to Kymark, who nods approvingly, and Zelinka translates without much difficulty or error. This is held for a few seconds. Zelinka is intent on his book. Kymark's eyes wander from the man to the[Pg 211] portrait and then to his desk. He is thinking out the situation while Zelinka's attention is given to the book. Kymark's mind returns to the documents in his hand. These, of course, come first.
"You understand, Sir, that all these papers must be verified."
Nod of assent from Zelinka. That is what he is here for. Kymark touches bell and secretary appears with great promptitude. Kymark hands the papers to secretary, and gives certain directions. Secretary makes a note of instructions.
Then secretary says press is worrying on the telephone about the story of the American heir. Kymark reflects.
"No, we have no news whatever for the press of the alleged Prince Paul Zelinka."
As secretary departs, Kymark turns to Zelinka with an expression between liking and deference. It is better, he explains, to leave the press alone for a time. But he declares he has no doubt in his mind of Zelinka.
Zelinka considers his next speech before making it.
"I am not sure that I wish to be King of Clavery.
"Tell me about the situation of my country. Why should I go back there?"
Kymark's broad back is close to the screen. He is surprised. He stares at Paul, shrugs his shoulders and gesticulates. He cannot imagine how anyone in Paul's circumstances should not want to go back.
Paul says: "It is a difficult position."
Kymark responds: "Your family, Sir, is not accustomed to shirk difficult positions."
Paul shows no sign of being flattered nor nettled. "What good can I do if I go back? What is the position?"
Kymark's gesture asks Paul's permission to seat himself. Paul, mildly surprised at this deference, assents. The two men become like lawyer and consultant at the desk.
Kymark evidently enquires whether Paul understands about the explosion. Both look at the murdered King. Then he takes up a map and hands it to Paul. For a moment or so it is flashed on the screen. It is the now familiar map that has been shown thrice to the audience. The red marks indicating calcomite are given again in the flash. Then the picture of the two men in the bureau is restored, and they both bend over the map, while Kymark points to this and that. Paul nods understandingly.
He puts a question.
"What is the connexion between this bomb outrage and these man[oe]uvres to monopolize calcomite?"
That Kymark does not know. But he feels they are connected. His gestures indicate the most perplexed mind in the world. Paul watches him closely. He presses Kymark.
"But in your heart what do you think?"
Kymark will not think even in his heart. And he recollects himself.
"After all, Sir, we go too fast. There are questions of State. Until your identity is established...."
Paul agrees to that.
Kymark changes his mind.
"But why should I make a mystery of it? We think that bomb came from[Pg 212] Agravia. Agravia fears a combination of Clavery and Sævia. As you know, the Crown Prince was to have married the Princess Helen of Sævia."
Kymark produces a photograph and hands it to Paul. He looks at it. The photograph is displayed to the audience and this speech of Kymark's:
"She is practically the ruler of Sævia. She is the Princess Regent. Her father is—infirm."
Paul speaks English. These words appear over him: "He is, in fact, a lunatic?"
Kymark's diplomacy is wounded, but he assents. Paul reflects on the portrait.
"And the marriage of this young lady might have set all the world afire!"
Kymark tries to minimize that. His hand and fingers gesticulate. That doesn't follow at all. Though of course:
"More pressure might have been put on Agravia."
"To disgorge its calcomite."
Kymark finds his new master embarrassing.
"If, perhaps, we talked later.... The honour of your company here to dinner.... Your papers will then have been examined."
Paul is willing.
Then appears a view of Clavopolis on the screen.
This is a still photograph to prepare for the scenery of the Claverian part of the film. The town is very beautifully situated in a crescent of hills towards the sea. The houses are crowded in a picturesque and insanitary disorder. The great Cathedral of Saint Joseph dominates the city; it is domed, and with a seaward end evidently richly decorated. Beside it and rather higher than it is the eighteenth-century royal palace. On the hill above is a castle fort, and old-fashioned walls like the walls of Lucerne fringe the hill boundaries. The lower edge of the foreground gives the quays and a few cranes and some shipping. Cathedral, palace, military castle and a seaport of obviously limited importance make it a compendium of a European national State with eighteenth-century traditions.
This picture is held for some seconds until the audience realizes it is a still photograph. Then it is turned over like a leaf of a book, and one sees the Cathedral façade nearer. (Sideways at first, and then the book is turned over.)
Then a view of an Assembly House in public gardens. The leaf turns over again, and the port and straits are seen. The hand of Kymark (cuff and sleeve of evening-dress) passes over this scene and points to a line of railway or trams.
Then a market-place in a country town to show peasant types, pleasant-looking people, with ox-carts and a well.
"A sturdy and industrious population, Sir."
The picture tilts down so that one sees more plainly that it is a page in a great album of views which is being shown by Kymark to Zelinka. In rapid succession two other towns are displayed, and a glimpse of wild mountain scenery. Mountain scene and horsemen indistinctly seen. All this scenery anticipates the scenery of the latter part of the film.
The album page is still more flattened down, and one discovers Zelinka[Pg 213] and Kymark seated side by side—first just the shoulders and arms and heads. Then the picture turns about and the scene becomes fully explicit. It is evening. A clock indicates 11.15. Zelinka and Kymark are in evening-dress, they have dined together, and they are in an apartment of the Claverian Legation. Signs that Kymark has luxurious tastes. Coffee, liqueurs, flasks and glasses and cigars at hand. On a second table a litter of photographs, maps and other papers. A large portrait of the late King adorns the room. There is a framed portrait of the Princess Helen of Sævia on the table. Kymark exhibits other photographs and pictures to Zelinka.
Paul speaks: "Well, now I begin to see the position. What do you think I ought to do if I go back?"
Kymark says: "I presume you will be advised to follow the traditional policy of Clavery."
Paul: "You mean join with Sævia and gobble up Agravia? And hand over the calcomite to our friends? Be the catspaw of the American metallurgical interests?"
Kymark by a gesture reproves his undiplomatic bluntness. "They would not be sorry to see the two States united."
Paul: "I am against war anywhere and for any reason."
Kymark: "The next in succession to yourself, Prince Michael, is of the opposite way of thinking."
Paul: "I could stop all that."
Kymark: "At a price. At a risk. Of course if you left Agravia alone, that would suit the British game. It would not please our friends here."
Paul nods. He understands that. He is still nodding thoughtfully as the scene changes.
The figures of Paul and Margaret in the Baltimore chop-suey are restored to the screen.
He turns to her. That, he says, is how things are.
"If I go back—if I make war I may set the world afire again. If I make peace I help strangle a vast industry.
"I am like a coin tossed up by two players."
She thinks him over, her hands on the table.
"What would happen, Paul, if you refused to go?"
He does not know. He reflects.
A figure we shall know better later appears like a ghost at his elbow, Prince Michael Zelinka.
"My cousin, Prince Michael. He is dangerous and treacherous, and Kymark, I see, is afraid of him. But he will surely marry the Princess of Sævia, and make this war."
"Paul, is there no other way?"
Paul has been thinking hard.
"One may discover some way when one gets there—of doing a deal with Agravia, perhaps, and releasing the calcomite without war."
She nods. He asks:
"Your father thinks that?"
That is what her father has been telling her. It is plain to both that he has to go. The old man appears, gaunt and dominant, above them. His figure, much enlarged, is imposed upon them.[Pg 214]
"If you dare—GO!" appears above him.
Then the old man speaks, and as he speaks he fades out, and his words replace him:
"Paul ought to go. He will see things in a modern light. He will take the New World to Clavery."
The two people reappear sitting in the restaurant, with the magnified figure of the old lecturer still imposed upon them.
"But if he fails——! If he is killed——!"
The old man's prophetic face smiles faintly. He moves his head slowly from side to side.
"Does that matter?
"He ought to go.
"He ought to do what he can do."
His eyes become those of a prophetic visionary.
"What is a single life or death to the destiny of mankind?"
The old man fades out, leaving the two together. They scrutinize one another. Is Paul to go?
The vision is recalled of the two people flying westward across the plain that was shown in the first conversation of Paul and Margaret. But now they fly on foot, crouching as they go, and not in a waggon. They are shown very remote and small. The distant city of the New World shines far away, but the vast black cloud of ancient tradition storms down upon them to shut them off from it. It becomes almost absolutely black—a streaming, stormy black. They appear as comparatively small figures torn apart in the gale. She is driven back as if by a gale, and he struggles eastward, gesticulating.
They sit at table again, with this vision fading behind them.
"You think I might perhaps do something, Margaret? That I might make head there against our Inheritance of War?"
She is sure. He looks at her strong, quiet face. He seizes her hand.
"Margaret, come with me and help me. I know surely I must go. But I am afraid of that Old World which made me. Which is in my blood. Come with me!"
She controls herself. She shakes her head and tries to smile.
"You go back as a King."
His gesture says, "Damn the King part!"
"What would your Claverians think if you brought back the daughter of an American professor in your luggage? And how could my father do without me?"
He pleads. She refuses. The words "As my queen" in white appear and vanish over his head. The very words make the impossibility plain.
"You must go alone," she says.
"But don't you care for me? Can you let me go like this?"
She looks at him—stung. He realizes the cruelty of his words. She weeps—but very quietly, with great self-control. He says: "Ah, my dear, forgive me!" and crushes her hand. Both realize that it is separation that has come to them. He must go his way to do his task, and she must go hers. They sit, with him holding her hand. As quietly great a moment this as[Pg 215] the actors can make it. She ends the pause by standing up.
"It will be wisest to part here."
They stand quite still, rapt in their situation. Then Paul with a sideways gesture calls an attendant, who appears with Margaret's cloak. He takes it and puts it about her, slowly and very lovingly. It is the last time he will ever do this, and they realize as much.
The background of the little restaurant darkens.
She holds out her hands to him and he takes them. She tries to smile and becomes very grave.
"Good-bye, my dear. My dear ... and God be with you. Peace be with you."
Then a single word drops into place at the end, "Dear!"
Her face is towards the audience. He clings for a moment to her hands, and then bows down and kisses them.
The same black clouds that have swept across their dream of the city of the New World sweep across the screen and hide Paul and Margaret.
The drifting clouds give place to Kymark's bureau in the Claverian Legation, and Kymark is seen rising to his feet as Paul enters.
Paul advances in a mood of grave resolution.
"I will go," appears over his head.
Kymark bows low.
The arms of Clavery surmounted by a crown now advance from their position over the fireplace and spread out upon the screen until the rampant leopard of Clavery dominates it altogether, and becomes still.
For the Claverian scenes the decorator should design an heraldic leopard with a crown about its neck and thorny paws. This appears on shields, decorations, coins, uniforms, etc. It is a swaggering aggressive animal, and here it is meant to be a symbol of nationalism. Its tongue streams out; it has a panting grin.
There should also be a national coat of arms in which the animal figures.
Paul's flag, i.e. the royal banner of Clavery, is a big white flag with a broad cross dividing it into quarters, and the leopard figures in a laurel wreath in the first quarter.
The flag of the Michaelists is grey with a black leopard sprawling across the entire field.
The decorator may have all the fun he likes with the Agravian basilisk, which appears on certain boundary posts—except that it must be very fierce and face in the opposite direction to the Claverian leopard.
In arranging the music, the orchestration of the First Part, after the mechanical processes of the opening have been expressed, has been mainly an anticipation of the later parts. It is necessary to have a Claverian national anthem with a distinctive air. Intimations of this will have crept into the music of Part One. (There should have been a certain stir of trumpets when Kymark speaks of the challenge to Paul.) Now we are free for big music in the manner of Berlioz at his most fantastic. The music of the Coronation scenes that follow should have a strong element of bells, and quasi-religious phrases and patriotic clangour; Berlioz is badly needed to co-operate in the development of this Music-Spectacle Film, and it is a great pity we cannot recall him from the silences.
The Second Part of the film opens with the great square in front of the main doors of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Clavopolis. Steps lead down to the square. (This scene has already been shown as a still photograph in Part One. Now it is viewed from high up, looking down on it. The scenic artist must bear in mind that this is not simply the Cathedral of the capital of some obscure Ruritanian State. Clavery symbolizes European monarchy and romantic nationalism. He can go large.)
It is early morning. The sun is low and the shadows long. The square is decorated with masts from which hang black as well as coloured festoons. The façade of the Cathedral is also draped with black, and workmen are still busy upon it.
Obliquely across the square go goatherds with their goats; then an ox-drawn cart piled with produce. Then a yoke of oxen. Also peasants[Pg 220] in gala attire coming into the city and stopping to stare at the Cathedral and the festoons. Children play. Spectators are gathering at foot of steps. Police control them.
The same scene reappears at a later hour. The light is clearer and the shadows shorter. People are accumulating. A military guard has been set about the square. Police on foot and mounted appear, and an official of some importance gives directions. Evidently the city is getting ready for great events.
The scene shifts to side of the square where there is the corner of a Boulevard and a tram terminus. Sightseers descend from trams to secure good places in the square. Policemen are giving advice and pointing. The camera swings back to the original view.
A powerful car dashes into the square reckless of the traffic. It pulls up. Attention concentrates upon its occupants.
Chief among them is Prince Michael Zelinka, the leader of patriotic Clavery. He is a darker, congenitally malformed repetition of the Zelinka type. He is long, very slightly hunchbacked, but with an intelligent, forceful, evil face. He affects a Huzzar's uniform with the Claverian leopard in evidence on the sabretache. With him are two Huzzar officers and the Evil Man, Man the Destroyer, evidently very much in his confidence.
Prince Michael has a question or so for the police official in control. It is answered. Salute. Drive on.
Picture follows car down a winding street. The street is decorated. A festoon says, "Welcome to our King." Sightseers and so forth hustle out of the way of the car. It halts at the portals of an old house (fine doorway). Party descends, and door opens and closes on them.
A large room is seen, barely furnished, and hung with festoons of black. The Claverian leopard in evidence. A portrait of Michael. A map, too indistinct to see, but the lettering GREATER CLAVERY. OUR INHERITANCE, is very plain.
A long, plain table is in the centre of the room. At it sit three or four moody officers and one civilian (apart). Civilian wears a black shirt and black collar, and a leopard button badge, and has a great shock of hair. He is to be a caricature of a Fascist patriot.
The party of Prince Michael enters. There are no familiar salutations; all stand stiffly and salute. Michael goes to head of the table; the Evil Man close beside him. Ceremonious procedure ensues.
"Clavery Our Own Mother Land, Land of Heroes, The Greatness of Clavery, Clavery Live for Ever."
Hands are held high. Then swords are drawn and upheld. The Civilian holds up his hand.
"We swear to avenge the murder of our King. We swear to recover our lost province of Agravia."
Pause and sheath swords. Then, as if unwillingly, Michael redraws his sword.
"Allegiance to our new King!"
The party stand at attention, swords drawn, but without enthusiasm. Swords resheathed. Michael speaks.
"To-day we crown him. He is a stranger, an American. He can hardly[Pg 221] speak three sentences in our beautiful language. But he is our rightful King. If he serves Clavery faithfully, we must serve him. To-day I shall ask him to speak to the people in our native language."
The gathering does not know how to take this. Evidently a discontented gathering. How can Paul do it? That is the point. Michael repeats it with impressive significance.
"I shall ask him to speak in our own language."
The meeting grasps the idea.
The Civilian sees his opportunity. He holds up his hand and shouts: "Michael!"
General shout and enthusiasm. All swords out. Two other officers enter and join in. They are all crying "Michael!"
Attention is concentrated upon the dark and sinister figure of Michael, brooding and wary.
The square before the Cathedral is seen. But now the day is older. A large crowd has gathered and a police cordon has been formed. Troops are deploying in central clear space. Carpets have appeared on steps of Cathedral. The musical accompaniment gathers force.
Then the square is seen at a still later hour packed with people. In the cleared space are carriages and officials on foot and horse. Old-fashioned uniforms and liveries are grouped on the steps. The great doors of the Cathedral are now wide open. Dimly seen within are a huge nave, a vista of ranked people, an altar very remote, a multitude of candles and the coronation ceremony in progress. Swell of religious music.
Sudden silence. Everyone intent and motionless. The camera advances upon the altar, and little figures of the bishops and principal people of the coronation ceremony appear in silhouette. The crown goes on Zelinka's head.
A closer view of this is given. Then a salute of guns thuds out; the Cathedral bells break out, and there is a vast stir and emotion.
The picture darkens down, and "Long Live King Paul!" is flung across it, with a corresponding swell in the music.
There is an "inset"; a great banner run up a flagstaff and released to the breeze. This is Paul's banner. (See the Note at the end of Part One.)
Then in a vastly exaggerated nave of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, crowded with a great congregation, the altar is seen very remote, and a procession descends slowly from the altar to the Cathedral entrance. All this is seen from high up. Heralds precede the procession. Then comes the King crowned and robed, with pages helping him to bear the weight. He is a glittering, light-coloured figure. On either side and a little behind him are two ecclesiastics. Then officials bearing a sword of justice, the Claverian double axe and other symbols. Then four or eight bodyguards, very stiff, in steel caps, rather like the Puritan cavalry of Cromwell. (These men will be important later. They come in unobtrusively here to establish the uniforms.) Then the Dowager Queen in black on the arm of Prince Michael (darkly uniformed). Functionaries, royal visitors, and conspicuous among them because of her white-robed beauty, the Princess Helen of Sævia. Then the Chancellor Hagen in black velvet, an old man with silvery hair. Then Ministers, and particularly Mitzinka, the Minister of War, a toad-like[Pg 222] intelligent-looking personage. Then the diplomatic staff in evening-dress and sashes and orders. Then officers, etc.
Then a close-up is shown of Paul in royal robes, and crowned. Other figures are seen behind him, particularly Michael, envious; the tragic Dowager Queen and the Princess Helen, haughty and calm. The figure of the Chancellor Hagen begins to emerge upon the attention.
The scene returns to the square before Cathedral. The royal procession debouches on to the steps. A great clamour of people intermingles with the music.
Functionaries (unobtrusive, but assiduous) place the personages as they emerge from Cathedral, until the King stands out alone, stiff and as it were submitting to his greatness, at the head of the steps. Fanfare of trumpets. Crescendo of the Claverian National Anthem. The Chancellor Hagen, an old stately figure in his black velvet, stands out, a step below the King, and on his right hand. There is a bright contrast of the shining royal robes and the black Chancellor. Hagen has a fine, wise face. He holds up his hand.
"Claverians, behold your King!"
Huzzas. Throwing up of hats. Cheers.
Hagen makes a speech. Three-quarter-length view of him standing to the right of the King.
"Sworn to defend our rights and avenge our injuries. Claverian of Claverians. King Paul the Third."
The Chancellor Hagen lifts his hand.
Enthusiasm of crowd.
Then attention returns to the group close to the King's right. The Princess Helen watching his face; she is deeply interested and attracted.
Then farther round to the right. Prince Michael who has now been joined by Man the Destroyer and another officer who was with him in the car. They glance at the crowd and at the King. One speaks over his shoulder to the other.
"Does he even understand what is said?"
Rapid consultation with Michael. Then Man the Destroyer pushes down towards the crowd. He shouts something that is taken up by men in the crowd:
"Let the King speak to us in our language. Let the King speak."
Swing back to King and the group around him. The cries are evidently spreading. Hagen, disconcerted for a moment and taking counsel with himself. He glances at the King and is partly reassured. He remains watching the King. The other officials embarrassed. Rapid consultations behind Paul. Paul, however, is ready. He turns to them, and says something rapidly. He will speak. They realize this is the solution. The crowd is hushed to silence. Paul steps forward and speaks, picking his words with care.
"Dear Brothers! Claverians!
"As yet I cannot speak our dear language rapidly or well. But I learn daily.
"My Heart has come home. My Tongue comes home.
"I live to serve you and our Land and Freedom, and Justice and Peace.[Pg 223] The Peace of Clavery. The Peace of the World."
The picture returns to the old Chancellor, to show his relief at Paul's readiness.
Then the faces of Prince Michael and his friends are seen. They are disappointed at the failure of their kindly intention. Paul has been too clever and ready to be caught in their trap.
Attention returns to the crowd below the group, attentive to the speech and bursting into cheers and huzzas.
Man the Destroyer has descended among the crowd. Everyone is pushing and applauding about him. He tries to stem the tide that is running strong for Paul. He gesticulates and shouts:
"What about the Crime?
"What about Agravian aggressions?
"What about the honour of our glorious Flag?"
He gets no support. He tries to argue. Bystanders tell him to shut up. Picture recedes from him until he is a small item swallowed up in a surging crowd.
The picture returns to the whole Square full of people. It is exactly the early morning scene, but now a vast popular enthusiasm.
Here the music should go strong. A clamour. Then suddenly the thudding of guns in salutes, and again a vast joyous uproar of bells. Motive of bells punctuated by big guns. If the music is good enough, the scene can be held for some little time. The King and all the rest are only a minute group of figures very vivid on the Cathedral steps.
Then slowly the scene fades out and the music becomes remote as the picture fades.
We see next a dressing-room in the royal castle. Valet-like officials are in attendance and Paul is being assisted out of his robes. The crown is on a table. Paul's abandonment of his decorations, in the opinion of his attendants, borders on disrespect. He stands in shirt and knee-breeches.
"So this is what it feels to be an anointed King."
He sinks into an arm-chair. A tall drink and cigars are brought to him. Stately, ceremonious removal of the regalia. Paul drinks and smokes. He addresses a man who is evidently his personal valet.
"Prepare me a hot bath right away, and put out a lounge suit and a soft shirt."
The valet makes some objection. Paul looks at a clock.
"The State Banquet is not until eight. Until then let me be human and modern."
The valet continues to object. Paul yields.
"Very well! If they must wear their gala clothes, I suppose I must have a uniform too! No spurs. No sword. Black crape on the arm to please the Queen."
Valet is seen considering what will be the easiest possible uniform.[Pg 224]
The scene changes to a garden in the royal palace. Comfortable garden seats are arranged with cushions. This is the same scene as that in which Paul's father and mother awaited the anger of the old King, but the trees have grown, the great wisteria (or what you will) has spread wider, etc.
Attendants in Claverian costume prepare tea and refreshments.
The widowed Queen and two lady attendants appear. She leans on the arm of one of them. She is in a state of sorrowful emotion. Prince Michael follows. Expression of solicitude. One or two minor characters. Members of Diplomatic Corps and so forth may appear unobtrusively in the background. A rather obvious American is the centre of one group, an English diplomatist of another.
The Queen intends to make a scene with Paul. She remarks:
"He said no word of my martyred husband and my martyred son. No word of these Agravian murderers. Has he no heart or no courage?"
Michael speaks and is manifestly sympathetic, but his words are not screened. The diplomatic personages are furtively attentive. British and American representatives are associated with opposition groups. Minor groups pretend to talk, but are all ears for the Queen and all eyes for her and the American and British agents.
The Princess Helen enters, with a lady-in-waiting in attendance.
The Queen greets her effusively.
"This is no day of rejoicing for us. We who mourn our dead and hear no word of vengeance."
The Princess seems to protest. The Queen speaks.
"How can this stranger from another world understand the Heart of our People? What does he know of our wrongs or our glories?"
Everyone except Michael a little startled at this outspokenness. Michael watchful.
The Princess takes the part of Paul.
"We must be fair to the King. He seems simple and honest and brave. It is for us to teach him Clavery and Sævia, and all that these great little lands mean to the world."
The camera gives a closer view of Helen. Paul has attracted her strongly. She dreams already of "teaching" him.
The picture broadens back from her to Michael watching her, and then to the whole scene again. Movement of attendants. An official appears. Stir first among minor guests, which spreads to main group. The King is coming. The movements of the people present group them into a crescent, all looking off stage at the approaching King, except Michael, who suddenly turns his back. Paul enters to this doubtful, questioning, half-hostile company.
Queen prepared for a scene.
Paul grasps situation at once. Goes straight for her.
"Dearest lady, you must be fatigued and distressed beyond measure by this dreadful day."[Pg 225]
He takes her hands. Urges her to sit down. Arranges cushions. Invokes attendants and puts tea-cup in her hands. Sits down beside her, like a son caring for his old mother.
The two are brought nearer and larger.
"Let us rest for a time from this burthen of ceremony."
The Queen is unable to escape this sudden reduction to the rôle of a tired woman. The Princess Helen scrutinizes the scene. Then with the shadow of a smile she sinks into a chair and turns with a command to Michael. Michael's gesture says plainly—"Tea! At a time like this!" He turns almost angrily to an attendant.
The tension of the situation relaxes. Everyone has of course stood while the Queen, King and Prince stood; now in the background they resolve themselves into seated groups. But everyone is alive to the drama in the foreground. Two or three diplomatists whisper together. The American and British representatives are unable to conceal their interest. They would so like to exchange a humorous comment, but diplomacy forbids.
The Queen gets rid of the tea-cup, which makes her tragic pose impossible. The King abandons his.
The Queen, free now to be dignified, stands slowly as if to depart. Everyone stands. It becomes evident she is going to make her scene after all.
"Sire, we do homage to our new King."
She stands tall and stately, and then breaks into passion and speaks simply and hotly.
"You come from far!
"You do not know the passion and sorrow of this land.
"I call on you for Justice. Avenge our dead! Avenge Clavery on these Agravian assassins!"
Pause. What will the King say? Paul considers before he speaks.
"Madam: God has called me from the ends of the earth to rule and save this country. A whole nation prayed to-day that God would guide me."
He pauses, still considering his words. The bystanders slowly grasp the significance. When he speaks again, he speaks not so much to the Queen as to everyone present. At the last sentence he turns to Michael.
"I share your great distresses.
"But this kingdom is mine. I AM THE KING.
"I look to you not so much for direction as for loyalty."
He becomes still. The Queen, dignified under his reproof, bows slowly. The Princess likes his tone, but is doubtful of the significance of his words. Michael glances at her, realizes that Paul attracts her, remains outwardly calm, but clenches his fist. The bystanders glance at one another. The English and American scrutinize each other. The American half smiles as if to say, a point to you. The King means to be King. But what does he mean to do about Agravia? Does he understand.
Movement of dispersal. Paul, hands behind his back, walks slowly forward deep in thought as picture fades.
The scene returns to the Square before the Cathedral. It is twilight passing into night. Black groups of people moving about. Trams lit up at the corner. Illuminations begin and spread. The squat citadel, uphill on one side, is outlined in light, but the huge bulk of the Cathedral[Pg 226] façade towering up out of the picture into the night remains unlit, black, sombre and portentous.
The camera passes to a loggia in the palace of Clavopolis, upon which the King's private apartments open. There is a view from the loggia, and it is one of very great importance in this film. It takes in all the town and is oriented at right angles to the façade of the cathedral that dominates the scene in the Square. The full length of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph and its central dome are seen in the view from the loggia. In the scenes in the Square the eastern façade of the Cathedral was seen and the dome was remote or hidden. Clavopolis is the quintessence of romantic monarchist national European civilization. It slopes down the mountain-side to its important seaport, and its main buildings rise out of a bristling mass of old-fashioned houses. Above it is dominated by a medieval citadel. By lighting up this loggia foreground this view can be made faint and distant. By darkening the foreground the foreground figures become black silhouettes against the filmy beauty of the city by moonlight or its strong lines seen by sunset or daylight.
Here we see Clavopolis illuminated. A display of fireworks is going on in the distance. At first the loggia itself is not seen. Then the eye of the spectator recedes so as to frame the view of the pillars and parapet of the loggia. It continues to recede and discovers the black silhouette of the King standing quite still in a corner. Still it goes back, until the floor and furnishing of the loggia are displayed and the view of the town is essentially background. In the opposite corner to the King there is a table with chairs and shaded lights, at present unlit. The King is in a dressing-gown and comfortable at last.
He sighs and turns round slowly. He is waiting.
The lights go up. Attendant appears. The corner with the table becomes brightly lit, and all the view, etc., falls now into comparative darkness and faint remoteness. No illuminations, no fireworks, must be allowed to approach the light of this corner in value.
Paul comes forward towards the light and meets the Chancellor Hagen, who enters. The light is concentrated upon these two. But they do not fill the screen. The sense of the town and of the world beyond the town is present, great and dark behind them.
"You are not too tired to talk? I cannot sleep yet, and I have sent for you. This has been an enormous day for me."
Deferential Chancellor. The two men sit at the little table. Shaded lights on them. Faces and hands vivid. These two figures must not fill the picture even now. They sit in the lower corner; they are two human beings in the grip of larger powers. But they are bright and clear, very sharply focused. The background is faint, vast and sombre; the loggia parapet and pillars quite black, flat black. The camera approaches and recedes from these men as may be necessary, but the figures remain essentially small.
"Is all this real?
"It is like being in a play—or a dream.
"Do ALL kings live as if they were in a play or a dream?"
The Chancellor replies. (Not screened.)[Pg 227]
Paul peers under the lights to watch and judge his man. Then he speaks.
"You have served the Kings of Clavery for half a century. You knew my father. I have been King now for half a day.
"Never in my life have I felt so much alone. Can I count on you?"
The Chancellor stands up and makes protestations. Paul signs to him to be seated again.
"But can I count upon you as a man?"
Chancellor hesitates between etiquette and affection. Paul holds out his hand across table. Chancellor clasps it and holds it for three or four seconds.
"I loved your father, Sire, and you are very, very like him."
Paul turns more to face the audience, and speaks. The background darkens imperceptibly, and continues to darken until it is a very dark grey, framed in the flat black loggia pillars.
"I thought I had inherited a kingdom. I seem to have inherited a war. All things are making for war here?"
The Chancellor thinks. Across the grey background appears in still darker grey the outline of the heraldic leopard rampant of Clavery. It blackens and becomes more distinct. The beast seems gigantic and swaggers as if prepared to trample on the two lives below it.
Then, retaining this background, the words that follow appear written across it in white. They appear and fade out again, leaving the leopard blacker.
"The traditional policy of Clavery is expansion to the east.
"This new Agravian republic has been torn from us and thrown across our path."
Paul lays his arm on the Chancellor's.
"Chancellor, do you want war?"
The Chancellor repudiates by a lively gesture.
"Sire, I hate war."
Paul's gesture says, "And I." Pause. The black leopard fades out, and the screen gives a nearer view of the two men with their grave faces.
"Chancellor, are you deeply interested in the question whether a big American group or a big Anglo-European group controls the calcomite of Agravia?"
Hagen's gesture says, "Not a bit of it."
"Am I a King or a chess-man?"
The alternatives become visible on the screen.
"Chancellor, there is someone else who is playing a game not only with us but with the British and Americans. One of the pawns is playing off the players one against the other. That is the way with this living chess."
A new phase of the conversation is reached here. The background, which has remained dark grey, now creeps back slowly to the faint view of Clavopolis at night, and this grows stronger as the conversation proceeds.
The expressions of the faces are more important now, and the picture comes closer to them. Paul is going to ask a very penetrating question.
"The patriots, the newspapers, nearly all my officials, made a great clamour about the murder of the late King. To-day was not so much a coronation as a demonstration against Agravia."[Pg 228]
The Chancellor speaks very earnestly with explanatory finger. Conversation continues for a time. Chancellor makes a point.
"If the people are not made angry they may refuse to fight."
Paul accepts that. Brings hand down on table for his next question.
"Now, a very important question. Chancellor, are you sure? Are you sure? Was that Crime really hatched in Agravia?"
Hagen is seen considering that.
"If it was not hatched in a greater country—yes."
Zelinka says, but not upon the screen: "You can really think that of modern statesmen?"
The Chancellor answers, "The system is complicated. They may not have wanted the thing in the actual form it took."
Zelinka shakes his head.
"Neither Americans nor British are made like that. There is something else in this, something more primitive."
The Chancellor has never doubted the correct explanation. He now thinks of a conclusive point.
"The fragments we have found of the bomb have the stamp of the Agravian arsenal!"
Paul smiles and nods.
"That was very simple of the Agravians, was it not?"
The Chancellor takes that idea. He has been a fool. He is keen to know what next is coming from Paul. Paul thinks profoundly and then turns to him.
"Something else I want to know—very badly indeed.
"Why was not my cousin Michael killed with the King and the Crown Prince?
"Why was he not even in the Cathedral when that bomb exploded?"
A moment of mental encounter. In a few seconds the Chancellor has taken this point and all that it implies.
The King stands up, and the Chancellor follows suit. A second or so again of mutual scrutiny.
Then Paul indicates that the Chancellor is dismissed. He touches a bell. More lights are turned up. Attendants appear. Paul holds out his hand to Chancellor, who shakes deferentially, and retires bowing.
Paul, with a gesture to attendant, has all lights turned out, first one set, then the shaded lights about table. At each extinction, the background makes a jump back into importance. At the second the loggia and Paul are left in silhouette against the view of the city. This strengthens and becomes more detailed, just as it would do to anyone's eyes after the extinction of brighter lights. Paul stands still, and then walks to parapet. The eye of the spectator goes with him, and the view opens out.
Paul looking down very still at the magic, misty, illuminated city of contemporary mankind.
He leans over and looks down into the streets below, which are seen tortuous and medieval. A small group of people, much foreshortened, looks up at him.
Darken out slowly to a black screen on which appears the leopard rampant in white on a shield.
The King is discovered in négligé on the loggia at breakfast. Attendants come and go. He sends one for the Captain of his Guard. The Captain enters, salutes and stands at attention. He is very young, with a bright sympathetic face. Paul dismisses attendants.
Paul walks up and down three or four times thinking. Then he addresses Captain.
"Captain, I have to learn my business as a King. And that it not to be done by staying in a palace."
Captain at attention most intelligent.
"I want to see something of my people for myself. I must go among them. I want you to get me the clothes suitable for, say, a commercial traveller."
Captain requires further information. Paul makes some explanations. Captain salutes and is about to leave. Then hesitates. He returns and salutes.
"Pardon, Sire, there are dangers for you here. Your life——
"Your life may not be altogether safe if you are unprotected."
Some passages of interrogation and explanation. The Captain explains the hostility of the Michaelists. In their thoughts appears a group of Michaelist officers, sinister and watchful.
"Captain! I know what you say as well as you do. No man's life is in greater danger than mine in Clavery.
"A little more danger, or a little less. What does it matter?"
The Captain likes that. He is again departing, and then reflects and turns.
"Sire, if I might be so bold. If you would permit——
"I have a brother who is secret and trustworthy and clever. If he might accompany you."
Paul scrutinizes him, considers and assents. The Captain departs. Paul walks towards the audience, thinking. His hand gestures as he thinks. He holds out two fingers.
"Old Hagen. The Captain. Two men I can count upon. Perhaps. Two—— Who else? And I am the King. This is being a King."
He approaches camera, deep in thought.[Pg 232]
The scene changes to a peasant's cottage among the mountains of Clavery. It has whitewashed walls on which falls the shadow of a great tree. There are rather ruinous outhouses and a wood-pile. A bench and table stand before the door. A middle-aged woman appears attending to her fowls.
She must be a woman of some dignity and beauty. She is all the peasant mothers of Europe.
Paul enters disguised as a young man in commonplace walking dress and rucksac. He asks the woman for refreshment. She is only too glad to earn an extra kroner. He sits down as if tired and throws rucksac on table. Woman finishes with her fowls and goes indoors, returns with milk, bread and cheese.
Paul makes complimentary remarks about the bread. Eats a little, watching her. Then asks questions. The woman answers:
"It is a hard life without a man to help one. Nothing but a cripple and a lad."
Paul asks an obvious question.
"They killed my man in the Great War, and as for my eldest son—you shall see."
She goes into the cottage, and reappears assisting a blind young man with a crushed arm in a sling. He is mentally enfeebled. She leads him into the sunshine and sits him down very tenderly. She beckons Paul nearer to look at the hand on the end of the arm.
"Such sharp eyes he had! Such a clever hand!"
Paul makes a gesture as if he feared the mutilated man might hear. She shakes her head and taps her forehead. Then she turns to the wounded man again, to help and tend him. A close-up is seen of the man's face as it was before the fire, alert and intelligent, and then it is blinded. Then his hand is given, to show the beauty of the human hand. It blackens and shrivels.
The picture returns to the woman tending her son. Paul asks a question and she answers:
"They pay me five crowns a day for him now. Enough, almost, to buy his bread."
She holds out a paper note to Paul. Close-up of her hand holding a note, with the leopard rampant in the centre, and the inscription, 5 kr. This grows larger and larger, until the leopard fills the picture.
Then dissolve back into the former scene, but the triumphant form of the black leopard is kept sprawling across the mutilated man.
Paul stands to one side of this and the woman to the other. He speaks and the woman answers.
"Do I hate war? Yes! And now they are making war on us again!
"Those Agravian rebels!"
Paul starts, because it is not what he expected her to say. Asks is it possible? She retorts: Has he not seen the papers? He questions her point of view, and she argues. The shadowy leopard fades out.
A boy of sixteen appears, carrying a pack of stuff, with a newspaper in his hand. She snatches this from him and shows it to Paul, smacking the paper to emphasize her point of view.
Insert of the newspaper, with one of the woman's work-worn hands[Pg 233] pointing, and the other gripping the paper. The paper is to be like a provincial French or other continental paper in its general make-up, not like an American or English paper. Its first page is to have the title head, Sons of Clavery. The two-column article on the first page is headed:
Continued Agravian Aggressions.
Is it War?
The woman asks: Does Paul see that? These Agravians will not leave us alone!
The son is equally indignant against the Agravians.
Paul looks from the eager, lively boy to the blind man. Then he looks at the mother. Great pity possesses him. The woman raves hysterically against the Agravians. This appears on the screen:
"I would like to blind every mother's son in Agravia."
She stands between the son who may have to fight and the son who has fought. What may yet happen to the former? Mutely she interrogates God and Paul and the cruel universe, one hand extended to one son and one to the other.
Then she sinks into a sitting position on the bench, in sorrowful despair. The son stands over her and comforts her. Paul is helpless. The black shadow of the leopard reappears, trampling on mother and son. (Or the shadow of a tree falling upon the white wall of the house takes on the form of the leopard and expands.) Paul can do nothing. He turns away thoughtful and sorrowful.
The Captain's brother appears waiting at some distance from the cottage. Paul emerges from it and comes slowly towards him.
"Did you find refreshment, Sire?"
Paul perplexed by the question. He is preoccupied by what he has seen.
"I forget. Let us go on. We were on our way to the Frontier."
The two men are seen walking in a high place commanding a wide view of mountains and cultivated country. There are two boundary posts facing each other. They have vivid stripes of white and black. One bears the Claverian leopard. The other bears the equally aggressive heraldic beast, the Agravian basilisk.
The two men halt at the boundary. Paul looks at these creatures and asks a question.
"That, Sire, is the Agravian basilisk."
Paul considers it. Then he stands looking at the view. He takes out a monocular pocket field-glass and scrutinizes Agravia. What he sees is shown—a cottage, a woman at work, a man loading a cart.
"They look very like our Claverian peasants. What is the difference?"
Young man considers problem.
"No difference, Sire.
"Except that they are Agravians."
Paul takes that in. He turns to some similar scene on the Claverian side. He continues to survey the landscape. Points. Asks what is that place down there? Young man answers that it is the frontier railway station.[Pg 234]
The field of the monocular is shown again, giving a view of a little frontier railway station with a few houses about it. The field-glass follows along the railway line. Farther off is the Agravian station. A train is coming from Agravia to Clavery.
An Agravian frontier guard with large whiskers appears, and strolls up and stands staring at the two. Does not approve of field-glasses but knows of no regulations to prevent their use on Claverian soil. Exactly similar Claverian frontier guard, except for difference of uniform, appears and stands staring also. Paul and young man attempt to appear at their ease. Paul suggests a descent to the frontier railway station below. Exit the two, leaving the frontier guards, legs apart, surveying their departure. Then frontier guards regard each other fiercely. Twirl whiskers and exit.
Now follows a series of sketches of the incivilities and absurdities of a frontier: the train in the station and the passengers, Agravians and Claverians, peasants and middle-class people, three or four American tourists, one or two middle European travellers, are being shepherded towards the various examination sheds. They are all encumbered with baggage. Then various doors with perplexing inscriptions: "Claverian passports only." "Foreign passports this way." Jumble of people. Trouble with sticks and bags.
Then the officials with rubber stamps, uncivil and slow, with the poor wretches filing by. Paul and his companion appear, looking on at this.
Then they are seen watching the Customs examination. Crowding. Confusion. Rage. Ill-tempered or lordly Customs officers are turning out bags. A violent argument arises, and a smuggler is detected. He has tried to smuggle three new knives.
Dishevelled travellers with bags that have been badly repacked, pyjamas trailing from the bags and so forth, are shown struggling on to "Money Exchanged." Man chalks up "100 Claverian Kr.—27 Agravian," and presently wipes out 27 and puts 26.50. Passionate annoyance of old Jewish traveller who is just too late for the 27.
Examination of the registered luggage. Return of the battered and exhausted travellers to the train. Large inscriptions: "Buy Claverian Goods. Claverian goods are best." Bookstall exhibits placards of a newspaper, The Sons of Clavery.
The Sons of Clavery. Five o'clock edition.
The Agravian Danger.
Serious Incident on the Sævian Frontier.
Other papers visible are the Claverian Patriot and The Leopard.
People buying and opening papers.
People are hustled into the train. The train is delayed for belated victims of the douane. Departure of the train. Paul and his companion survey the officials returning to their lairs.
"Why do human beings stand this foolery? Who really profits?"
Paul's companion is not very clear about it.
"We have to make a difference between our own people, Sire, and strangers."
Paul and his companion are seen crossing a desolate place in which huge thistles are growing. They are ripe, and thistledown is blowing away. Paul watches it blowing across the landscape. White thistledown blowing[Pg 235] before the wind. (Or dandelions or loosestrife or suchlike down-producing plants.)
Next appears the large room of a country inn in Clavery. There is a main large table and smaller tables at side. A portrait of the former King is seen. Two framed inscriptions: one says, "Buy Claverian goods: Claverian goods are best"; the other, "Swearing prohibited." The latter is to be to the right of the former, so as to be read after it.
Three men sit at the main table, in argument. One is the detected smuggler. Enter Paul and his young officer, who sit at another table. They give orders for refreshment and are served while listening to the talk. As this talk goes on, a Michaelist, a young man with a black collar and a large black bow tie and a leopard badge, comes in and stands in a watchful attitude behind. The detected smuggler is comparing Claverian and Agravian knives.
"Why should I have to use one of these beastly knives? Good knives are made sixty miles that way, and we mustn't use them without a breakneck tax, because that's Agravia. Bad knives are made two hundred miles that way and forced upon us, because that's Clavery. Why should I injure the good chap that way and suffer for the rotter this way?"
The argument thickens. His duty to his country. Someone lifts up and waves The Sons of Clavery about. The smuggler is rude and angry.
"Damn Patriotism! We pay too much for Patriotism! I want a good knife."
Consternation. The Michaelist makes a dramatic interruption. He carries a loaded cane. The smuggler quarrels with vigour. The two other men stand aside. The smuggler is no match for the young Michaelist, who strikes him.
Paul starts up in anger and indignation. His attendant grips him to restrain him. It will not do to make a row. The smuggler is beaten but fights. Paul hesitates. He must not do anything here. Fade out.
A street in Clavery, outside the offices of The Sons of Clavery. Paul and his companion stand and watch. Excitement. Little crowds gather and disperse. A big inscription is displayed outside office. The inscription says:
Agravia threatens Sævia.
Why does our King say Nothing?
Are we to desert our Sister State?
The emission of a new edition of the paper is at hand. The picture shifts to the door at which papers are given out. Boys and distributing vehicles are catching bundles and rushing off. Bystanders are buying eagerly. Flutter of white papers passing across scene, passing from hand to hand. Paul remembers the thistledown. Fantasy of these newspapers flying through the air as the thistledown did. Wherever they alight, a little plant grows and spreads, bristling with bayonets and carrying bombs like fruits. Then the Claverian street scene returns, and goes on to a street corner dispute. Man gesticulating about paper gathers crowd. Paul and his companion go to listen.
While dispute is in progress Michael in a car passes through the crowd.[Pg 236] Michaelists cheer. Michael stiff in his car. An appeal to him to say something by his companion in the car. He stands up and makes a rhetorical gesture.
"Help Sævia! Clavery must help Sævia!"
Car goes on. The crowd is divided but on the whole approving. Paul realizes that matters are urgent and that he should return to the palace. He and his companion hurry along street in wake of Michael's car. Paul and his attendant are seen receding along crowded narrow street, with political excitement gathering behind them. The dark rampant leopard becomes visible, sprawling over it all.
The leopard fades, to disclose a long gallery in the palace. The Queen and Princess Helen are seen with an attendant or so. They converse and prepare to part. The Chancellor Hagen enters at the back of scene. The Princess speaks:
"I must take my leave. I have stayed too long in Clavery. My place is at the head of my people."
The two women embrace. Farewells. Exit the Queen. The Chancellor comes forward.
"His Majesty has been engaged on urgent public business, but he will come to you very shortly to bid you farewell."
Princess accepts the message with dignity. Michael appears. Approaches and greets Princess. Hagen stands apart.
"Well, Cousin, so you leave us.
"And our stranger King is not even in the palace to wish you farewell."
Hagen intervenes politely to correct the impression of this, and falls back into the background. He hesitates. Michael glances at him and Hagen goes off reluctantly. Michael approaches Princess, who is vexed by remissness of King.
"This Stranger has as much politeness as policy."
Princess bites her lip and says King has many duties. Michael shrugs his shoulders. He professes indignation. That he should neglect you!
He begins to make romantic love to the Princess.
"For you I would leave any duties. I would go through any dangers. I would do any deed. I glory in the sacred egotism of my blood."
He puts his hand over his heart for a moment. He bursts into declaration of passionate devotion. The Princess does not respond to this. She is indignant at the neglect and coldness of the King, but she is falling in love with the King. She has an instinctive dislike of Michael, and distrusts him.[Pg 237]
Then he accuses her suddenly of loving the King. She is angry but unable to deny. His jealousy and hate boil over. He begins to abuse the King, this Stranger who knows nothing of Claverian life.
"Our King is murdered. Does he do anything to avenge him? Your country is threatened. Does he do anything to help you?"
She tries to express her confidence in Paul—without confidence. He asks her to put Paul to the test.
They are interrupted by the return of Hagen and two court attendants. They intimate that the King begs permission to speak to the Princess. Enter the Captain of the Guard. Enter the King in uniform. He approaches the Princess, to express his regret at her departure. There are formal greetings, and then the Princess becomes at once intimate and colloquial.
"Michael here says you are afraid of war.
"He says you are afraid of me."
Michael disconcerted by her boldness. She stands challenging Paul. A certain admiration creeps into his expression, but he remains wary and self-controlled.
"I AM afraid of war here."
Michael is contemptuous.
"For the sake of Our Royal Skins?"
Paul grave and thoughtful.
"For the sake of all mankind."
He looks the Princess in the eye.
"If I can prevent this war, I shall."
She is indignant at that. Michael sees an opportunity. He thrusts forward rudely.
"And the Crime! You will forget the Crime!"
Paul considers Michael thoughtfully. Then he shakes a finger, as one might shake it at a younger brother.
"No, Michael. I am tracing the Crime—
This stings Michael. He did not dream of the suspicions in Paul's mind that peep out with this remark. Paul turns from him to the Princess. Then, regally to Michael:
"We would talk alone."
Paul turns his back on Michael, who stands in a conflict between fear, anger and jealousy, and then bows and takes his departure. Paul addresses himself to the Princess.
"Is it a crime to fear war?"
She acts her reply that it is. What can they do now? The situation calls upon them. The Crime? Paul glances after the retreating Michael and decides not to tell her his own ideas about the Crime. "Why do you wear that uniform and that sword?" she asks. He appeals to her.
"But do you know what modern war means? For simple peasants? For common people?"
She would dismiss that. But he insists upon telling her something. Fade out, and fade in for a moment the figure of the blinded son of the peasant woman, and then let Paul tell by gesture the story of the morning's encounter. He holds out and moves his hand, and then describes the mutilated hand[Pg 238] of the crippled man. He repeats exactly the gesture of the woman torn between her mutilated and her younger son. Then Paul warms to his task. He speaks of air bombardments and destruction. His gestures suggest wounds, blindness, endless pain. She is touched, but she has resolved to be obdurate.
"People suffer in peace as well as in war.
"Dishonour is more than suffering."
He pleads, but is it dishonour? Yes, she says.
"What are we for if not for Honour?"
She turns to the wrongs of Sævia and Clavery. He protests:
"It is unjust about your boundary. But is it any remedy to kill thousands of Claverians and Agravians, and perhaps set all the world on fire?"
This is so reasonable that it angers her. She takes a step or so away from him and returns. She is pleading for him to be belligerent and patriotic. He assents to something she has said.
"Yes, I belong to the New World. Of workers. And great works. Of knowledge and power."
There appears behind them the vision of Man the Worker, beautiful and strong—not a "labour" man nor a capitalist, but a man responsible and directive—and of some towering engine, or of huge lock-gates opening for the passage or launching of a great ship. She dismisses this with a gesture and it fades out.
"No. I belong to the world of Ancient Honour, the World of Kings and Captains and Lords among Men."
There appear crusaders and knights in armour with tall lances, and kings riding in triumph, and great captains with unsheathed swords. They advance splendidly. Joan of Arc must be in the procession, and beside her an armed woman like the Princess herself.
She turns to him from this as it fades slowly. It does not fade altogether. The banners and mounted men still linger behind her. The music is militant and triumphant, the banners and spears and the movement of the soldiers persists even when the words are on the screen.
"Does your flag and this glorious little land mean nothing to you?
"Do they count for nothing against your engines and your science, your explorations and your flying machines?"
He shakes his head.
"Those things have had their time. The New World comes."
She becomes rhetorical. The music, the flags and spears and glint of armour sustain her words. These words appear upon the screen behind her:
"Mere size, power, comfort, cowardice, degeneration! Behold the modern world!"
He is obdurate. He smiles, as if he would smile these ideas away. She does not understand what the modern world can be. For her there is only the world of romance and conflict.
"Let me tell you," she says, "that I WILL face this war. It is the only course honour can take.
"If Clavery dare not declare war on Agravia, Sævia shall face Agravia alone."[Pg 239]
Evidently he argues against that. But she fears she is falling under his influence and her pride resists him. She becomes fierce. He makes a personal appeal. He is becoming aware of the emotional possibilities between them. He pleads. He takes hold of her wrist, and she does not snatch it from him. They pause, looking at one another. The music, the banners and pageantry, increase and diminish with the hope in her argument. The spears and banners wave visibly about them. She becomes confident of the power of love between them. She speaks:
"Why should not we two unite Sævia and Clavery?
"Together they may indeed do great and mighty things."
He becomes suddenly full of desire for her. But he says:
"Only for peace!"
She throws off his hand. They stand for some moments confronting each other, she a challenge and he a will. They are full of a passionate disposition for each other, with which their wills are in conflict. She wants to make him a warrior king of romance. He wants to make her his helper in the service of this New World that comes into being. She says scornfully:
"Marry like peasants, for peace and quietness! Join our estates, to be better off! No!
"Paul, marry me, if marry we must, for Victory and Empire. We could make these two little lands of ours, if we dared, the key to all Europe."
Paul has fallen in love with her in the last five minutes. But he is not the man to subordinate his work to sexual love. He sticks to his own vision of the world.
"There shall be no blood on our marriage."
Pause. She speaks:
"Who fears blood fears life ...
The parting. She holds out her hand to be kissed. She turns away from him. Then she says over her shoulder:
"I go to Sævia. There I—I alone will declare war on Agravia and take the consequences."
He says, without any gesture, thinking it over:
"The Agravians can beat Sævia."
"And you will look on!"
Paul moves a pace forward and controls himself. But what can he do? She must go. She is obdurate. She goes down the corridor. Far away down the corridor appears Michael, uneasy and sinister. Then, at the sight of her parting from Paul, he draws himself up and stands waiting. Attendants reappear. She halts far away and looks back at the King a last interrogation. Will he surrender? A moment of mutual scrutiny. Paul is unflinching. She bows. She departs, with Michael in attendance, and Paul is left standing three-quarters back to screen audience. So he remains as the scene fades out, standing quite still.[Pg 240]
The scene changes to a dignified council-room in the palace of Clavopolis. There is a central door, shaded lights illuminate an important table, and the room is generally well lit. There are two door-keepers. The Councillor Hagen and seven other Ministers stand about and talk. Two official reporters stand by a secondary table. Everyone stands awaiting the King. Through the scene, which becomes for a few moments semi-transparent, the King is seen approaching, then the wall is once more opaque.
General Monza, the Foreign Minister, and Baron Mitzinka, the War Minister, talk apart, and their names are indicated to the audience as the scenario writer can best contrive. Monza is tall and wears a diplomatic uniform. Mitzinka is every inch a soldier, but has not very many inches. He is thick-set and spectacled. Monza must be the Evil Man himself.
"Everything is prepared. Every day's delay is against us. Our friends in the west wait the signal. And he delays and inquires and hesitates."
Baron Mitzinka enlarges on the fatal consequences of these delays. The attendants announce the King. Paul enters. Bows. The King seats himself in a specially high and carven chair at the centre of the table, and the others follow suit. Hagen stands up and makes a suggestion. There are very delicate matters to be discussed. The official reporters and the attendants are dismissed. Hagen goes to the door and touches light switch. The room is darkened, so that only shaded lights upon the faces at the table remain. Attention is concentrated on their discussion. Above them is a space and a darkness that gathers intensity. From the point where the lights are turned down this picture must develop in low, horizontal lines.
Hagen, on King's right, stands up and says some formal hocus-pocus; then sits, and the King makes a gesture to Monza, who stands up, nervously, with sheaf of notes. He is very grave, very slow, very polite and explanatory, but very deliberate and resolute; and he, like all the others, addresses himself to the King.
The King listens stonily for a time, and then asks a question. Monza answers, and asks for map, which someone produces. It is the map made familiar in Part One. It is passed forward. Scrutiny of map by King. Mitzinka interferes with an explanation. Picture of intent faces, bright lights and black shadows. Fingers point. Dim, vague suggestions of the leopard gather in the darknesses above. Paul is evidently being difficult. Mitzinka is very impressive.
"Sire, every day's delay is a day given to the enemy."
Paul's hand comes down impatiently. He leans back and the faces recede. Paul explains his point of view, which leaves them all unconvinced. He is, they think, an "idealist." He throws out a hand.
"But this little war, as you call it, may set all the world ablaze!"
One Minister, a commonplace fellow, is disposed to deny this. Mitzika[Pg 241] stands up very slowly, rather squat and reptilian in his uniform, and in the black and white lighting. He leans forward:
"Sire, we have counted on that."
Everybody moves according to character. Paul still and silent. Then he makes a mild reasonable gesture as who should say, "That's rather a large order." The others all intent.
Monza to the side of him rises to say:
"All the world will suffer. The world is made to suffer. But WE shall emerge."
Monza remains standing. It is the quintessence of his thought. Two Ministers nod. But old Hagen is very white and still, and looks at the King. Paul leans forward on the table, thinks for a moment, playing with a quill pen before him, stripping the plumes off and at last breaking it up. He says:
"Tell me a little more. Remember I am your King. Why are you so sure you and that great Power you believe stands behind you will win this war?"
Everyone except the King is to look over his shoulder as if fearful of hearers, and then all concentrate on Mitzinka. Then comes a close-up of Mitzinka, cunning and wary, readier to hint than tell. The little group becomes merely the front margin of the screen.
"The resources behind us are far larger than anyone expects. And we have certain inventions."
The darkness above them lightens and takes on the appearance of a cloudy sky. This invades the lower part of the picture. Then appear aeroplanes. First in a wedge far away. That grows and grows—until they darken the sky like an inordinate flight of birds. Then from them bombs begin to drop, until all beneath is a wild waste of smoke and flame.
This is all swept away to the left, and dissolves into a close-up of Mitzinka. His gesture seems to dismiss the aeroplanes and to evoke something else.
It is a row of defeated tanks like broken things on a beach.
Dissolve out and restore Mitzinka, complacently telling of it. Then he turns smilingly to the others, to deliver his great plum.
"The real winning card is our very own. It is our secret. The British and their friends are pinned to tanks and mechanical armies. But certain powerful people, friendly to our aspirations, have provided a gas—a new gas,—our gas. No other War Office has it."
He leans on the table, with his eyes gleaming with delight and a sort of salivation of pleasure on his lips.
"They scream horribly when they get it. It would demoralize any troops in the world. No masks can stop it. And it is QUITE, QUITE cheap!"
Everyone struck. But Paul is still struggling to be rational.
"I thought that gas was forbidden by International law."
Shaking of heads. Mitzinka, still standing, still exultant.
"You can't keep gas out of war."
"The war will not last three weeks. And it will leave Clavery the dominant power in Europe."
Monza and the others in accord. Monza drives home his view. But we must act now. Paul leans back. We have a close-up of his face staring before him. This clouds out, and we see a rush of men, rushing tormented[Pg 242] through clouds and smoke, gassed. Some struggle with masks. Most are screaming horribly. Rank after rank, screaming and spewing, comes pouring up the picture. They vanish and dissolve out, leaving Paul sitting at the head of his Council. He asks, is there no way of arresting this war? No. A member of the Council who has not spoken before, says:
"There is a rumour that Sævia means to declare war independently. That will force our hand."
Monza and Mitzinka know of this and exchange glances and nod.
Paul, with clenched hands on table, faces his destiny. He sits looking in front of him. Then he asks:
"What of the vanquished?"
Close-up of Monza speaking.
"Life has always been a struggle for survival. We shall impose our will on them."
Symbolic vision of human humiliation. Crowds of people bow low before Monza and Mitzinka, who trample over them carelessly.
The King stands up suddenly, and all rise. The King has found the moment for decision.
"I will do no more now. The Council is adjourned until midday to-morrow."
Pause. Then come simultaneous protests from Monza and Mitzinka. Other members support them, but less effectively. Old Hagen stands silent by the King.
Monza, losing his courtly manner, speaks not only to the King but to those about him.
"War is inevitable. The sooner begun, the quicker over. It is false humanity to delay."
The King, firm and kindling to anger, silences him by a gesture. These words appear:
"The Council is over.
The King with gesture of dismissal. The councillors go out rather like unruly, partly subjugated schoolboys; two whisper briefly. Each halts and bows at the door. The movements throughout are slow and the general effect ominous. The photography of the picture is dark and clear. The faces of the darkly dressed councillors in the rather shadowy room make a loop that curves away and then comes round towards the figure of the King. Hagen is the last to go. He turns at the door and stands. The King recalls him by a gesture. Hagen, with a glance behind him, closes the door and comes to the King, who lays his hand on his shoulder, hesitates and speaks in an undertone.
"How long—before they strike at me?"
Both look towards the closed door. Hagen, speaking like a head clerk who gives a summary of an account:
"Not yet. The city police is safe. The soldiers are simple and loyal. Your guard can be trusted absolutely. But there is trouble brewing in the citadel and among the troops on the Sævian frontier."
The King thinks. "Perhaps three days?" in white overhead. Yes, Hagen thinks things may hold for three days.
The two men become more like conspirators. The King speaks.[Pg 243]
"You said you could make it possible for me to meet the President of Agravia secretly on the Frontier. Can that be done?"
Hagen has everything ready. He says as much. He explains that a car can be got to the lane under the castle. The King can motor through the night to the Frontier. What time is it? Look at watches. Hagen sounds bell, and the young Captain of the Guard appears and shuts door behind himself. Close and intimate conversation. The Captain goes off by a small, inconspicuous door at side. Hagen, after a sentence or so, goes out by the main door at centre.
The King stands by the table in silence. Half-an-hour to wait. He goes to his royal chair and sits down brooding. He consults his wrist-watch twice, and then sits still with his arms folded before him.
Paul sits thinking deeply—not sleeping at first—not at first dreaming.
The shadows descend about him. He reappears—but now this is in his meditation—still sitting on his throne, but in great darkness. Then, like thistledown, the newspapers begin to fly about him. They droop and curl about. Some fly up towards the screen so as to be seen in detail. (I suggest producer shall study skate swimming about in an aquarium.) One sees:
Sons of Clavery. War! War!
The Clavarian Patriot. War! War!
The words, War! War! detach themselves and fly across amidst the papers.
They become like a snowstorm and change in shape, changing into aeroplanes that pass ever more swiftly. A sort of glare like the glare of a fire appears behind the King. It becomes a dully coppery red. The subsequent scenes of this part are to be tinted or coloured to strengthen the effect with reds, golds and flashes of intense green-white, moonlight blue, green and cold mauve.
Two figures appear on either side of the King. One is Mitzinka, but now his uniform is more Japanese-reptilian in character; the other is Monza, the Evil Man. They seize the King by the arms and lift him into a standing position, pointing drawn swords forward. Other dimmer figures appear behind, thrusting him on. The black leopard overrides the group. The Princess Helen floats into prominence, and the motive of the banners and lances mingle in the unfolding decorative scheme. She is equipped like the Joan of Arc in the procession in the previous scene with Paul. She is splendid and exciting. She taunts Paul with cowardice. She draws a great sword, holds it by the blade and thrusts it into his hand. He protests to her, and she is pitiless. He takes the sword. Instantly everyone ceases to urge and everyone acclaims him. He waves the sword. The Princess comes to his side, a little below him.
The whole crowd advances in a wedge-like formation, with the King at their head, through a turmoil of rushing clouds. A multitude of common people and of soldiers is seen beside and below this group.[Pg 248]
Meanwhile there is troubled and then militant marching music, rising to a menacing crescendo of noise.
The clouds pour in a torrent that moves very swiftly. It is a torrent of
smoke and cloud that is now bearing Paul and all who are with him before
Vocal elements weave into the music, shouting, cheering, and the National Anthem of Clavery.
Paul and the crowd of supporters about him advance towards the audience, towering up and becoming vaguer and more and more transparent as he becomes vaster, until he fades out altogether. The multitudes that have been dimly apparent below and beside him become more and more definite, until the screen has changed altogether into a scene showing the Square before the Cathedral of Clavopolis, seething with people, huzzaing and thrusting, and displaying innumerable little leopard banners, as a column of troops in war kit marches through the Square. The camera comes down to pick out details of the seething multitude; and shows the crowding mass—women frantic with excitement, old women weeping, an old man thrown down in escaping a lorry, and trampled. The picture concentrates on the soldiers, and then swings up for a moment and stays still on a group upon the Cathedral steps.
The group shows an elderly ecclesiastic in canonicals, in an attitude of benediction. Before him is a ridge of bayonets, and on either side are two acolytes. Higher up the steps stands Monza, triumphant, and squat beside him is Mitzinka. The British representative to Clavery is present, in a state of affected calm, drawing his hand repeatedly over his moustache and mouth. The American representative stands beside him in an attitude of indifference. Then it happens that both men glance at each other. Diplomatic tension has kept them apart for weeks. The British representative shakes his head as who would say, "Well, well!" The American shrugs, as if to say, "Well, what else could we have?"
The camera sweeps back to the troops and picks up a group of soldiers in the marching column. They are excited and cheering. One of them looks back at a girl, and for a moment he and the girl are held on the screen.
This group of soldiers is seen again abruptly in a railway horse-waggon, at dawn, on a little mountain railway; they wake after a long night, and they look fagged and weary.
The train has stopped with a jolt. The soldiers are pouring out of the train. The music is invaded by the roar of an aeroplane attack. Out they all tumble, looking up at something in the sky. One or two hold their rifles ready. One fires up. Along comes an officer, saying, "Scatter! Scatter!" They are too late in scattering. One has a glimpse of a squadron of aeroplanes swooping, and then the little company is mowed down by[Pg 249] machine-gun fire from the aeroplanes. They tumble and scream. The face of one vanishes, but for a moment he still runs.
The youngster who looked back at the girl is hit, and rolls into a ditch, his face passes out of sight and his feet stiffen. The girl appears in an attic bedroom at dawn. She awakens, sits up in fear; she has had a dream. She runs her hand through her hair and thinks in terror. Then she turns for comfort to a crucifix by her bedside.
Suddenly she starts. Maroons are sounding. She stops her prayer and goes to the window. There is a crash near at hand. She looks out, and suddenly the window is bright red with the glare of a fire.
She runs back across the room.
The picture returns to the trains unloading their troops. Claverian aeroplanes are now engaging the Agravians. There is a duel, and the nosedive of one of these to a flaming crash. The troops are deploying to meet a tank attack. Advancing towards them are a row of five big tanks, bigger and uglier than any contemporary tanks. Officers are gesticulating the men to go back and take cover. A group of specialist men, looking like divers in chain armour, staggers forward under cover of a bank with a clumsy, ugly machine looking like a cross-breed between a howitzer, a dust-cart and a street watering-cart. Attached to this is a sort of hose. One of the great tanks looms up against the sky, and the hose is directed to this. The screen has been darkening for some moments in preparation for the next effect. A jet of fluid that becomes blinding white flame comes out of the hose and impinges on the tank, which softens visibly, crumples, bursts into mauve flames and explodes violently. The camera recedes and shows the other tanks exploding one by one. A vast turmoil of purple smoke pours across the scene and becomes a greenish yellow as it blows out.
From out this smoke appear men running, and agonizing as they run. They are being suffocated. They fall and writhe and struggle, bent up upon themselves. The sounds of aeroplanes and tanks and guns die into the background, and a sorrowful air intertwined with a sound of gasping and groaning dominates the accompaniment. This dies down for some seconds, and one man is heard trying to breathe, and sobbing. One sees a wide moorland space upon which men have fallen and writhe. The camera comes slowly nearer and nearer to one man in the foreground; the colour of the screen becomes a livid green, and another man, who was seen in the Square, his face now streaked with black blood and filth, crawls painfully and slowly forward, until his questioning countenance dominates the screen. He raises himself and stares at the audience as if amazed.
The music ceases abruptly as he raises his head, and remains silent while he stares. An expression of agony comes upon his face, and his eyes close. The Claverian National Anthem breaks out triumphantly. The man sinks slowly. The screen brightens in colour, and the leopard flag flutters out and flaps against the man's dying face. It seems to annoy him, for he tries to brush it off his face. He disappears in the welter of the flag.
The Claverian music mingles with "Rule Britannia" and "My Country 'tis of Thee," or whatever characteristic patriotic British and American airs best suit the composer's needs. A trophy of flags appears. At first they are Claverian, and then other colours come in. The Stars and Stripes[Pg 250] wave and mingle with the Union Jack. And then we see a great fleet going into action. Far away the enemy is just visible above the horizon. The guns flash. Then the thunder of machinery invades the music.
The scene changes to the interior of a battleship. Men nearly naked are working near the boilers. One of them goes up a little ladder. The camera follows him. A glimpse is given of the deck of the battleship near a gun turret. Then this man ducks down as if terrified, and leaps from the ladder down among the other men. A shell has got them. There is no time to say anything. In another instant the shell has burst in the battleship and one sees jets of steam hissing out from cracked and broken pipes among the men, who try to escape in vain. The ship turns over steadily, and suddenly a cascade of seawater comes pouring in upon these tormented men. One has a near view of the man who climbed the ladder struggling desperately through the swirling water and then borne back.
The scene changes to the crowded streets of a town on a hot summer's night. They are crowded like the streets of East Side New York or like the back streets of Naples. Then comes the sound of maroons, and boy cyclists sweep by blowing whistles. The multitude dissolves in panic, huge bombs burst among them and stalls and houses flare up in wild conflagration. The swirling waters return into the effect and a great multitude of agonized human beings foams forward. They gesticulate in panic, they scream, they fall, clutching hands are lifted, and the whole spectacle is swept drunkenly aside by fresh torrents of water.
The waters pour about, and the figures of Paul and his group reappear dimly through the foaming confusion. About him, up to his knees, the black water remains, but now there mingle in it human forms—dead men, wounded men, wounded women flying before him, a stormy welter of human suffering which he tramples beneath his feet. The Princess Helen, the Councillors, everyone, except Monza and Mitzinka, fade out. They grip Paul on either side. They point him onward. "Victory!" they say to him in great letters. "Victory! Our Friends are winning! Clavery for ever!" Paul's face is now rigid with horror. He still clutches his sword. He becomes more and more the dominant figure on the screen.
He begins to struggle against the forces that grip him.
"Damn your patriotisms if this is what they signify."
Black smoke pours about him.
"But this is victory," says the Evil Man.
Paul wipes Monza away from him by a gesture of his arm. Across the scene in black appears NO!
But he cannot wipe this vision away at once. The war nightmare continues the eddy of tormented and destroyed lives. The black smoke of a bursting shell takes the form of a leopard rampant.[Pg 251]
By a dream transition Paul shrinks to a small figure marching forward with this great monster towering over him. Then suddenly he turns and grips at it. Change to a struggle (such as one sees when the animated cartoon mingles with real figures) of Paul and the heraldic leopard. He wrestles and fights with it grotesquely. Its head becomes like the head and face of the Evil Man. It shrinks as he does so, and he grows proportionately. Presently they wrestle on equal terms. He grips its neck and forces it down. The struggle of the introduction is recalled. The Evil Man is forced down.
The picture returns to Paul dreaming in his chair in the council-chamber. He stirs and crumples up paper for notes exactly as he clutched the leopard's throat, and repeats various gestures of the conflict. Hagen is discovered waiting beside him and looking down on him. The young Captain appears to the right, standing at attention.
Paul wakes with a start.
"All is ready" is flashed across the picture.
He stands, passes his hand across his eyes and turns to give some last instructions to Hagen.
Paul and the young Captain depart by the small door. It remains open, and the accompaniment passes into the sound of retreating and echoing footsteps and dies away to silence.
The screen shows a roadside inn in Agravia near the Frontier. The inn is a dark massive building looming through the dimness on the verge of daybreak. A road is visible in either direction from the inn. There is a Claverian boundary post at one side. There are lights in various windows and lights moving about and a stir of little figures. Something is manifestly afoot. Big car (closed body) with headlights comes from Agravia. These lights are switched off, and the car stops at the inn door.
"Mr. Himbesket, President of the Republic of Agravia."
There is a near view of Mr. Himbesket (seen by lights of door, etc., which mingle with dawn) descending from the car. He is a good-looking, substantial, middle-aged man in a heavy fur overcoat. (Later he wears a frock-coat, but now this is hidden by furs.) He has a slender, younger secretary, and an officer is in attendance. Soldiers in Agravian uniform salute and the landlord of the inn greets him deferentially. Enquiries. Has King Paul arrived? No. Soldiers and the secretary stand out and look down the road towards Clavery. Ah! What is that coming?
Cut back to the distant view of roadside inn. Dawn. Low streak of bright light spreading in sky. Big torpedo car arrives from Clavery. A group of people descends, but there is no near view. The meeting of the President and the King.
The best room of the inn is now shown. It is dawn outside. But the room is lit by candles. (If these candles are made specially of quick burning stuff they will help to lengthen out the interview.) Woman servant is nursing a reluctant wood fire, for it is keenly cold before sunrise.
The door of the room opens. The President holds door politely for the King. The King enters, pulls off gloves, and blows and beats his hands. Attendants remove coats and the President warms hands at fire. All this to suggest a long automobile ride in the night.
Himbesket's secretary giving directions. They are in Agravia, and so he is responsible for hospitalities. Refreshment? Coffee and biscuits. There is a coming and going of inn servants. Secretary gets rid of them.[Pg 256] Bustles them out. Is that all right? Himbesket signals that will do. Secretary at door, a lingering look. Yes, there is paper on the table. He goes and closes door. The King and President are left together.
"We should have met before, Mr. President, but I am rather new to this business of being a King."
He suggests they should sit. Neither thinks of touching the coffee and so forth on the table; they are much too preoccupied with the business in hand. They sit down together. Paul is intent upon what he wants to say. The President is more wary. This, he thinks, is a queer development. Is it a trap? What sort of fish is King Paul? Paul opens:
"I find my Government, my press, and an unknown proportion of my people, set upon war with Agravia.
"Do YOU want war?"
"Good God, No," cries Mr. President. He leaps to his feet. (He is perhaps too addicted to addressing assemblies, and this appears in his manners throughout.) But it is Clavery which has been making all the trouble! Agravia is the most innocent of States. Paul says:
"No State is altogether innocent in a dispute between nations.
"But I want to stop this war."
Mr. President protests there is nothing he desires more. There is an exchange of confidences about the prospects of the countries in the war. Mr. President says:
"You have enormous business interests in America behind you. Force is overwhelmingly on your side."
Paul becomes confidential. Tell me, he says. Well, what am I to tell you? asks the President.
"If Clavery refuses to make war, will those big interests force my hand?"
Mr. President thinks that over. They can't. No, as he reflects over it, the more sure he is that they can't. They can't act unless Clavery lights the match. Their peace treaties and all the bunk they have let off at Geneva and elsewhere will be too strong for them. "Kellogg has tied them up too much," he says.
That is what Paul thought, and he is glad to have his view confirmed.
"And now will Mr. President tell him something more?
"If the Princess of Sævia begins to strike matches, will you let Sævia alone? Will you keep your troops out of Sævia?"
Mr. President considers. Is this some trick to get an early advantage in the fighting? Yet this King Paul seems honest. Mr. President sits down to scrutinize his man more closely. Stares in his face and is emphatic with his hands. You see Himbesket, commonplace in his bearing, still with the manners of a peasant and much of a peasant's suspicion and shrewdness, but honest and in real fear and distress at the vast forces that hang over Agravia. He questions and requestions Paul. He decides. "Yes, he will." His personal promise. Shake hands? Paul will shake. And now, Sir, what next? Paul stares before him at the fire as he speaks, not very cheerfully.
"You understand I may get killed. I don't believe in presentiments, but this is going to be a close thing."
In that case Himbesket will get nothing for his restraint. Yes. That is[Pg 257] understood. Paul is winning Himbesket's confidence fast and sure. The talk goes on. A break is made on the screen—shorter candles—clock on—men in a different position and the room much lighter. The two men are getting on well together. Paul is still a little doubtful about the next matter, but he feels it must be discussed.
"Now tell me, Mr. President, as one man in danger to another—did that bomb in St. Joseph's Cathedral come from Agravia?"
President Himbesket is quite unable to deal with such a question in a sitting posture. He jumps up—portentous. For a moment or so he is speechless. Then he spits out, and the words must be imposed upon the picture in dark black.
Mr. President standing with the air of a man who has said something stupendous. Paul remains calm and nods slowly. He agrees. But is there any evidence? The trouble is, proof. What can the President prove? Rhetoric from the President.
"He wants to be King. He has a blind passion for the Princess Helen—and for Power."
Yes, but proof, says Paul.
"The evidence is in Clavery. My police know where the evidence is, but it is in Clavery.
"How can WE get at it? If we could, we would have it in every newspaper in the world."
Paul finds all that reasonable. Will the President help him in that matter? Help! Rather! The two men confabulate on that. So far good.
Paul: "And the English had no hand in that?"
Himbesket indicates the idea is absurd.
Paul: "And had the Americans any hand in the projected war?"
Himbesket shrugs and seems to say "As little." Then he walks to the fireplace with air of a man with something very big to deliver.
"If the Americans and English are fools enough to be rivals instead of partners, everyone in this part of the world will try to make something out of it. You think Prince Michael is a chess pawn!"
He smiles the idea away.
He presents a picture with a gesture. One sees Prince Michael and himself sitting at a chess-board and on the chess-board now you see the British and American representatives: the British Foreign Minister, the big American financier, etc.
Says Himbesket: "In the game of diplomacy it is the smaller creatures who use their betters as the pieces."
All this while the daylight has been increasing and the candles diminishing in value. Sunrise sends long horizontal shadows through the windows, the light increases, and almost unconsciously Paul puts out two guttering candles that stand on the table. He is thinking deeply. Perhaps the war may yet be stopped and the peace of the world saved. He stands up.
"Mr. President, there are wild patriots in your country. Hold them and I will try to hold mine.
"But now about this calcomite question?"
Zelinka and Himbesket sit together and consider that.[Pg 258]
"First," says Zelinka, and the words appear above their heads, "we don't mean to be fought over."
Himbesket nods appreciatively.
"In the next place, in the common interests of the world, the calcomite in Agravia must be exploited."
That, Himbesket declares, is more difficult. He hesitates. He says something about his people, and the Agravian basilisk appears in a defensive attitude above him. Behind it appears the British Foreign Minister. Himbesket decides to be entirely frank.
"My British friends will not like that."
"The British people will not mind. It is only the British Government and the British monopolists who will object."
Himbesket thinks. Then he stands up and assumes the attitude of the orator.
"If only I could put the case before the British people."
Zelinka agrees with a smile.
"If we could only put the case plainly before any people to-day, we could kill any national policy. The people do not understand. But they are sick of war."
Zelinka sits back with the manner of a man thinking aloud.
"I suppose that when calcomite was stuck into this planet it was meant for all mankind."
Himbesket thinks that may be reasonable, and Zelinka proceeds.
"Unhappily it was all put either into Agravia or the British Empire."
Well, that is so, says Himbesket's expression.
"And as it has become vitally necessary for the metallurgical industries of the world in general and America in particular——"
Himbesket puts out his hands, a rational man.
"It ought to be under a world control to share it out."
Zelinka touches the difficulty. "Only there isn't a world control!"
The two men's faces ask each other. Their attitudes say: So what are we to do?
Himbesket agrees, and for a moment his mind is occupied with a speech. He turns from Zelinka and addresses an imaginary audience in silence, but with expressive gestures.
Zelinka sits thinking.
"If we were to issue a joint declaration calling for a world control of the calcomite supplies, on which ALL the great metallurgical countries should be represented."
Himbesket says, leaning over the chair back:
"Your American friends might like that no more than my British ones."
Zelinka hits the table softly with his fist.
"But we should have cut the ground from under their game—their deep, secret, silly game."
The two men look at each other. Zelinka also stands up.
"You hold your basilisk." The figure of Himbesket appears holding a recalcitrant basilisk as a man holds back a quarrelsome dog.
"I'll tackle my patriotic leopard."[Pg 259]
A corresponding figure of Zelinka throttling his leopard by its crowned collar is seen.
"And they must do what they can with their patriots."
Uncle Sam is seen suppressing a fierce little man with a large American flag, while John Bull restrains an equally fierce British patriot.
"And we shall have taken the first step towards that world control of world interests which is the primary necessity for the Peace of the World."
One sees a stormy crowd waving a multitude of national flags, and then above it appears a vague shape that slowly takes the form of a brooding woman rather like the beautiful Sybil in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. At her feet the carven words, "The Empire of Mankind," becomes distinct.
Yes, Himbesket agrees to all that. "Empire of Mankind" floats over his head. The more it soaks into his imagination the better he likes it. He knows he can handle his basilisk all right. After all, he has wanted peace all along. He repeats Zelinka's phrase to an imaginary audience. Zelinka, however, is not so readily cheered. He comforts his mind.
"Every war that can be averted helps a little to make their vast armies and navies absurd."
Himbesket making a speech to himself fades out, and Zelinka occupies the whole picture, becoming more evidently Man the Maker and thinker. On one side of him rears the basilisk and on the other the leopard. He addresses them:
"You beastly carnivores; shall we ever make safe pets of you?"
He reappears with the leopard and the basilisk fawning like pet dogs at his feet. But he doubts about them and watches them suspiciously.
"I would like to strangle you both."
He thinks. Below him appear marching soldiers with flags and a military band. The soldiers are in Grenadier uniform, and a stupendously solemn tall man with a silver staff twirls it in front of the band. To appease the queasy stomach of the English or American patriot, the leopard banner of Clavery is to be shown plainly here. These soldiers are part of a military tattoo. The scene opens out below them. One has a glimpse of a vast arena with cadets in star formation doing miracles of drill. The leopard banner is to be well in evidence. These marching toylike figures fade and give place to Zelinka still brooding over the nasty little reptiles at his feet. He makes to kick them aside. He recedes into the picture still thinking deeply. Himbesket reappears beside him. Zelinka faces him.
"Traitors to our 'foreign policies.' Loyal to Mankind."
Handclasp. The two men have become allies and friends. They linger for a moment or so regarding each other.
Then Mr. President turns about briskly and claps his hands, and the secretary comes in. Himbesket is so relieved that suddenly he discovers they haven't touched the coffee. Seizes a roll and pours out coffee. Secretary feels pot, is it still hot? No, but another can be got in an instant. Servant with fresh pot at once. Paul also takes coffee. Both men can think of eating now. Their minds are eased.
Directions upon some matter of detail are being given to the secretary by Himbesket, who is in a state of enormous relief, as the picture fades out. But Paul is not feeling so much relieved yet. He does not even know if he is still a King.[Pg 260]
The scene returns to the Council Chamber in the Palace of Clavopolis again. The adjourned Council reassembles. (One of the councillors formerly present does not reappear—unimportant—this is just for a difference.) Three councillors and Hagen are present. All are nervous and uncomfortable. The secretaries are subdued but curious and watchful. Monza and Mitzinka enter together, with the elation of men resolved upon a course of action. Monza's bearing says in effect, "Well, what are we going to wait for?" Does Hagen know where the King is? If Hagen does, he isn't going to say.
The three councillors are all disposed, as schoolboys put it, to suck up to Monza and Mitzinka. But (glance at door) where is the King? Someone coming along passage. Phantom glimpse of the King which disappears. The door opens. Enter Captain of the Guard with twelve guards, who file to left and right of door. This is unusual. Two minor councillors become uneasy and question each other. Mitzinka pulls face at Monza. Is the stranger King frightened? Pause. Attendant announces, "The King."
Paul, clean and well groomed. Slow entry and takes his seat. Will the councillors seat themselves? Hagen rises, goes through some brief formality of "minutes of the last meeting" type, and sits again. Mitzinka turns and signs to secretaries to leave the room. This is an impertinence. No, says Paul, they will stay. Oh, very well! from Mitzinka.
Expectant pause. Paul speaks calmly.
"I had a conference with the President of Agravia this morning. His assurances have satisfied me. There will be no declaration of war."
Amazement. Monza and Mitzinka leap to their feet and speak together. Hagen stands up to expostulate with them. Other councillors exchange questions. The King remains stonily tranquil. He repeats.
"There will be no war."
He motions to Mitzinka and Hagen to sit down. Everyone is to sit except Monza. Monza may speak. He stands and speaks eloquently and passionately. He makes subtle expositions. They cannot go back on their engagements. He glances at the secretaries and leans forward on table very confidentially.
"Our secret undertakings to our friends, our very powerful friends abroad."
Paul leans back with an expression of affected surprise. Hullo! What is this cat coming out of the bag? Monza passionately protests at presence of secretaries if this sort of thing is to be discussed. Paul makes a concession. The secretaries may go. They do.
Now, please let us hear about it all!
The manner of everyone becomes conspiratorial. Monza, Mitzinka and occasionally other councillors embark upon a discussion, with occasional corrections from Hagen. Paul sits stonily, hardly attending to what is being said, maturing his next step. Monza comes to a crowning point.[Pg 261]
"All this discussion, Sirs, is—academic. The war has begun already. The Princess of Sævia has declared war on Agravia."
Already! Paul believes Monza is a little ahead of facts. Still, the Princess Helen is a very perplexing young woman. He remarks:
"Then Sævia will have to UNDECLARE war."
He says that and glances round to the Captain of the Guard, who stands at attention on his right hand. Their eyes meet. Ready, sir. Monza has lost his head. Undeclare war! He protests. Preposterous! Who ever heard of such a thing! The King is a fool. He ceases to address the King and talks to everybody. The Council becomes disorderly and disrespectful about its stony monarch. He turns to Hagen and whispers.
Then he commands order with a gesture of the hand, first quietly, then imperiously. The other councillors realize that they have been betrayed into informality. The King stands up and everyone becomes still and attentive.
"Gentlemen, this Council is dissolved. The Foreign Minister and the War Minister will surrender their portfolios to the Chancellor. They are under arrest."
Amazement at this coup. The King makes a slight gesture to the Captain of the Guard. Two soldiers step forward to each of the arrested Ministers. Monza shrugs his shoulders. Mitzinka, an intensely vain man, is amazed and wounded. He expostulates to the King. The King intimates by signs: "Take him away." The two arrested Ministers are marched out. The others file out, except Hagen. The King remains sitting.
"First round to us, Hagen."
The scene changes to the loggia, a little later in the morning.
A foreign diplomatist neither English nor American, very spick and span, with the little ribbons of two Orders and a button, is expostulating with Paul, who leans against the parapet of the loggia and is obdurate to his remonstrances.
"Our Government has worked steadily with the big American interests. We have pinned our faith to Clavery and trusted you to take a strong line with Agravia. If you let Sævia down, Clavery will have no friends left in the world."
Paul asks what that means. Diplomatist explains.
"I don't care if I am left without a friend on earth. Either I keep the peace of the world here or I get killed. Clavery shall not be the storm centre of a second Great War."
A word or so more. Captain of the Guard enters and salutes. He announces that the two chief newspaper proprietors in Clavopolis and the editor of the Sons of Clavery have been arrested. Paul says, bring them in. They come in under guard. Captain of the Guard stands by. Paul, with an introductory gesture to the diplomatist:
"These gentlemen I think you know already—a little too well. Mavick and Hess, the proprietors of the SONS OF CLAVERY and the CLAVERIAN PATRIOT, and Savet, the editor of the SONS OF CLAVERY."
Savet is the more vigorous personality. He is a bull-necked type not easily frightened and very alert and confident. Mavick is short and fat, Hess is commonplace and rather fashionable. They stand to one side of[Pg 262] picture. Paul in centre. Diplomatist opposite.
Diplomatist professes to be profoundly shocked.
"But this will startle all the world, Sire. Where is liberty of speech? Where is the Freedom of the Press?"
Paul smiles, sceptical of these things. Savet says their seizure is illegal. That even the law-courts of Clavery would order their release. Paul answers quietly.
"Illegal perhaps, but necessary.
"The press is a very great power in the modern world, and I intend to make it a responsible power. I value the peace of the world more than your right of free mischief making."
"Or your lives."
But Savet has seen something that gives him a retort even to this. He stands staring out of the loggia at the citadel of Clavopolis. Then he looks at Paul. He takes a step forward.
"There is something out there, Sire, that may be a warning to you."
He stands pointing. All look away into background view and stand quite still, staring. This is held for a moment or so. Then the citadel is made very distinct. The big standard of the King is being lowered. A dark standard jerks up the flagstaff in its stead. The Michaelist flag is taking the place of the King's. A near view of this is given, and the picture returns to the men still staring.
"Revolt" appears in sharp black on the sky and fades out slowly. Everyone still motionless; then Savet turns his eyes to Paul. Then all turn their eyes back to Paul's face. He is almost imperceptibly shaken.
"So the citadel calls for Michael!"
Paul stands thinking. Then he turns and walks to the loggia parapet and looks over, while the others, diplomatists, guards, prisoners, remain in the foreground and watch him. There is an effect of isolation. For a time he is one man against the World.
He turns about and comes to the front of the scene again. He turns to his young Captain.
"What of the Guards, Captain?"
Captain salutes, and Guards stiffen.
"The Guards, Sire, are not in politics. They stand to their duty."
"Then I still hold my palace—and my prisoners."
Savet, however, has something more to say. He becomes insolently sham respectful.
"I don't think, Sire—with all due respect—that you know all that has happened since yesterday.
"The garrisons on the Sævian border have revolted, they have been joined by troops from Sævia, and they are preparing to march on Clavery."
Paul's face is shown by a close-up.
"With the Princess?" he asks.
Savet nods yes.
Paul questions sharply:
"To proclaim Michael?"[Pg 263]
Savet would like to be able to say yes to that also, but he cannot. He hesitates and speaks.
"They do not know yet of your secret dealings with Agravia. They come to ask you to lead them against Agravia."
"Michael is with her?"
Insolent half smile. Yes, Michael is with her.
Enter Hagen hurriedly. He comes with the same news. He says something to Paul, and Paul replies. Intensify effect of everyone watching Paul.
He turns. Gives directions. The prisoners are to be removed. They shrug their shoulders, cross stage under guards and exit. Their bearing is the bearing of men who feel that circumstances fight on their side and that they will shortly be released. Paul turns with effusion on diplomatist, shakes his hand and dismisses him. Then he draws Hagen to him. They exchange a few words.
"I did not expect this of the Princess. Which way are these troops coming? How many are there? I counted on three days."
Explanation. Hagen goes off and returns, and produces a map from a small bookshelf near the table. Hasty conference. Hagen points to particulars on the map.
"They are coming by the Ridel Pass. It is a rough, high Pass, but so they avoid the garrison at Fridala, which is undecided. The commandant there is loyal."
Paul quick and intent. Asks questions and points to places on map. How long to get here? How long to get there?
"If I don't stop this before it gets to Clavopolis I am beaten."
Rapid decision. He will ride out and take Michael by the throat. He will take the Captain and eight men with him. Hagen must hold the Palace with the rest of the Guard. Paul will appeal to the revolting troops against Michael. Either he will come back—or Michael will come. All this is what they are saying, but it need not be put in words upon the screen. The rapid conference; the exit of the Captain to execute orders; the last earnest word with Hagen will suffice. The King asks a question. Hagen says:
"The people in the city do not know what to think or say. They never do. They will act as they are told to act.
"At present the tide flows for Michael."
Darken out on the King and Hagen talking very earnestly upon the loggia, with Clavopolis and the citadel behind them.[Pg 264]
Scene changes to a postern gate in a high steep wall. Two big cars, eight guards and the young Captain await the King. The King appears, jumps into the first car and both start off rapidly.
A winding upward road in a mountainous gorge, with an old ruined castle the cars sweeping along round breakneck corners. Several such scenes follow to enforce the effect of the King's rush to the Frontier.
A place among mountains, with a little inn. High road runs across the scene, and a winding mule-track ascends behind the inn. Three or four soldiers with a score of horses. They wait. Cars arrive, and Paul and his party tumble out. Rapid mounting of horses, and King, Captain and party start off up the mountain steep.
The King's party is seen mounting amidst rocks and pine trees, approaching crest of the Pass. The Captain points to the crest.
The crest of the Pass is displayed from the other side. The crest is high, and the ground drops suddenly. The mule-track passes slantingly to the left, and then curves about, descending as it curves, so that if a man rides over the Pass in the direction in which the King is coming, his head and shoulders first appear; he comes right into view until he towers up full length, then he must pass to the left, go almost out of picture, and then curve round and pass across picture, left to right, at a level so much below the top that anyone standing on the top is completely visible. Over the right side of the picture he comes about again and rides, growing larger, right at the camera, dropping down out of the picture as he does so. People going to Clavery, as the revolted troops are, will necessarily reverse all this. They will appear coming up from margin, big and low, with their backs to the camera, and take an S-like curve upward to the crest.
On this scene appear first the heads and then the bodies of Paul's little party. They rein up on the crest and become immobile. They search the vast expanse of country before them. The Captain points. He hands his field-glasses to the King.
The view from the top of the Pass towards Sævia is now shown. The mountain falls away in beautiful slopes not so steep as on the Clavery side. A long column of cavalry still far below is seen approaching along a winding track. At the head of this column rides a group of officers and two other people.
The field-glasses come into use and reveal that this group contains the Princess, moody and silent, with Michael riding moody and silent a little behind her.
Nearer view of Paul on a great horse is now given. The others are behind him and a little lower so that one sees only the upper part of them. The Captain is nearest Paul. The Guards appear as the upper part of stiff disciplined figures, some yards behind. There is a pithy exchange of views. The Captain looks under his hand.
"About two thousand, Sire—or more."
Paul nods, and both are still and thoughtful. Then Paul looks about him. There is a tree in blossom, cicadas in the trees. The music is full of the shrilling of cicadas and the rustle of leaves. He thinks but does not speak. The words appear against the sky:
"Here I suppose is where I am to be killed."[Pg 265]
He looks about him. It is a very beautiful afternoon. He turns to the Captain. The Captain is all attention.
"These cicadas make a pleasant sound."
Captain is surprised, but agrees. The sweet mountain air makes death seem more than a little unreal. Paul feels there could be no pleasanter place to die in. He looks again at the approaching expedition.
The scene changes to the path below. Michael and the Princess are seen riding close together. The camera follows them along a bend in the rocky road. Far away the crest of the Pass comes into sight and the figure of Paul very remote.
She pulls up and points. Michael pulls up. She whispers. Officer looks and whispers to a subordinate. The whisper passes back along the column. The words float above them. "The King!"
The scene changes to show the invaders much nearer Paul. There is a close-up of the Princess and Michael. The Princess keeps her eyes on the white-uniformed figure above. Michael watches her. She turns and points with her riding-whip.
"Perhaps he has come to lead us."
Michael darkly does not agree with that. He is perplexed, disturbed and disconcerted at this unexpected apparition of Paul.
The scene changes to show Michael and the Princess now much nearer to Paul. She points with her whip again.
"You said we should find him hiding from war in Clavopolis as a hunted rat hides from the dogs."
She says this with a note of triumph. But Michael will not agree.
"Even a rat will turn when it is in a hopeless corner."
But she is looking at Paul.
Next, we see the Michaelists close to the King's party. Paul sits high above, still like a statue. Michael talks to his officers, giving directions. The Princess intervenes.
"But you must use no violence to him, because he is your King."
Michael glares at her suspiciously. Is she going back on him?
Next, the two groups are almost in contact at the crest of the Pass. Michael with the Princess close beside him mount to left. Paul holds up his hand for everyone to halt. Everyone comes to rest. Paul and his Captain, white-uniformed and sunlit, and the Guards (half-length) seen behind them. Then nearer, larger and darker, come the others in a descending crescent. The bottom edge of the picture is fringed with the heads, backs and weapons of troopers, all looking at Paul.
The Princess looks from Paul to Michael and back to Paul. Michael has an unpleasant feeling that he is come to the supreme crisis of his life, and that he will not surmount it easily. He turns half-face to Paul and half-face to his followers. He says:
"Clavery and Sævia call upon you to declare war upon Agravia."
Paul, looking at him serenely and almost disdainfully, replies:
"I stand for peace."
Michael still half-face.
"Then you are a traitor King. Why do we stop here talking?"
He draws his sword and points to Paul, turning his face to the men below.[Pg 266] "Arrest him," he says, and the words are held above the picture. Two men make as if to move towards Paul, and then cease to move. There is something in the still King and the still Captain that arrests them. There is a moment of great tension. Then without haste, quietly, Paul draws a revolver from his holster. He raises it. But he cannot shoot a man whose face is turned away.
Michael turns and sees Paul pointing the revolver. He makes as if to hold up his hands, then realizes that will not save him, and holds them out (one has a sword) as if to protect himself. His head goes down. Paul's face has the intentness of a man who aims carefully at a mark and does not wish to miss. He aims and fires. Michael's body seems to start back at the impact of the bullet. Then he hangs for a moment and then falls like a sack out of his saddle. Paul watches this happen and lowers his pistol slowly. For a moment or so he stares at Michael lying below his feet.
By killing Michael Paul has killed the brain of the revolting war party. For some moments everyone is dumbfounded. Paul speaks down to the colonel of the revolted cavalry.
"Well, colonel, whom do you follow now?"
Men look at one another. Suddenly the Princess, who has watched all that has happened in unrevealing silence, touches her horse up and brings it alongside Paul. What is she going to do? She turns to the soldiers and holds up her riding-whip.
The colonel and his soldiers lift their swords in salute. "Bring that body," says Paul, turning his horse about. Men dismount to pick up Michael and put his body across a horse. Paul is now sideways to the camera. He points towards the way he has come. "To Clavopolis," he says. The Captain of the Guard falls in behind him and the Guards below turn about sideways. There is a drilled fatalism in their movements. Michael's body is moved out of the way as Paul and the Captain ride out of sight over the Pass to allow the cavalry to follow.
The picture fades out upon the dusty scene of clattering horse soldiers riding up the spiral track and over the crest of the Pass.
Paul is seen descending from the Pass. This must be in profile, sloping sharply across picture and rather dark, with a very beautiful and remote craggy view as background. Paul rides impassively. Behind him rides the Princess Helen, with a face like a mask. Yet for a moment there peeps out from the mask an interest in what Paul may be thinking or feeling. She is recalling the intense scene she has just witnessed. She turns in her saddle and looks back at the crest of the Pass, and so passes out of the picture.
Behind these two come the colonel of the cavalry followed by some of his men.
Then the body of Michael carried across a horse.
Then the rest of the soldiers. Fade out, as these last ride down and out of the picture. The horses are picking their way down a mule-track.[Pg 267]
The scene returns to the Square before the Cathedral of St. Joseph. The Square is empty except for a few lurking figures and for a little bunch of troops at one corner with two machine-guns.
An officer stands out and looks up at citadel. He becomes animated. He calls attention of a fellow-officer. The Michaelist flag is being lowered. Then Paul's banner is restored.
Other people become aware of this. Little knots of people stand in the Square looking up at the citadel.
Stir in Square. A few more people assemble. Someone is coming. People cease to look up at the citadel and stare towards the end of a street which opens into Square. Thereby there enters the head of the cavalcade from the Pass. Paul ahead and then the Princess Helen. The column crosses the Square.
More people gather. Excitement as the body of Michael appears, followed by an astonished crowd. Closer view of group about this.
The scene returns to the loggia. Paul and the Captain still in their boots and spurs. They go to look at citadel and town. Then turn about. The three newspaper men are brought in under guard.
Paul advances genially, shakes hands. The guards are dismissed.
"Sorry for any inconvenience I have caused you. I have much to tell you, and I shall want a good press."
It is made evident that he will get a good press. He begins to talk. Savet produces notebook and makes occasional notes.
Scene: Twilight. Street lights on. Outside the office of the Sons of Clavery. An enormous placard proclaims:
ATTEMPTED REVOLT AGAINST THE KING.
PRINCE MICHAEL SHOT.
A crowd (black and low in picture) has assembled but is very still and perplexed. It becomes more excited by the display of a second large placard:
TRUTH ABOUT THE LATE TREASON.
STARTLING NEW EVIDENCE.
PATRIOTIC LEAGUE IMPLICATED.
Papers handed out and a flutter of white through the black mass of the crowd.
Scene in an obscure back street. Two anxious women encounter newspaper-seller. A corner is found. One reads. The other looks over her shoulder.[Pg 268]
Insert the front sheet of the Sons of Clavery. Headlines of big article:
Sævia withdraws Ultimatum.
Peace is assured.
Joy of the two women. Other people join them.
Orchestral music suddenly breaks into peal of bells. Soon all the bells in Clavopolis are ringing. The obsession of another great war has been suddenly lifted from people's minds. People realizing this in the crowded street. Girl and youth begin to dance. An old man rushes down the street ringing a dinner bell.
The scene returns for a few seconds to the Square before the Cathedral. Hilarious people are much in evidence. Across the evening darkness in white letters, here and there, like fireflies, appears the word PEACE.
The loggia next morning.
Paul stands waiting for the Princess.
She enters. Very charmingly dressed, in contrast with the uniform she wore upon the Pass. They confront one another. Paul speaks.
"You saved my life upon the Pass.
"I thought you had come to kill me."
She had never meant to kill him, and she does not think she saved his life. If she had not been there the Claverian soldiers would probably still have come over to him after the killing of Michael. They had always been in two minds about their revolt. But he will not let her minimize her share in their triumph. No, he will have it she saved his life. She denies again.
They both become tongue-tied. A King and a Princess have become a young man and a young woman in love and embarrassed. They seem to have so much to say and suddenly there is nothing to say. It is she who has the greater courage.
"And now, King Paul, are we to unite Sævia and Clavery?"
They smile at each other. They are full of friendliness to each other. Paul takes a step or so forward towards the camera and turns to her.
"I am still a traitor to all you love and honour.
"I am still resolved to set up the New World in this old land."
She stands downcast. She speaks. She was prepared for that. But Paul means to be quite plain with her.
"I mean to offer up our flags, our armies, our tariffs and our boundaries to the United States of the World. To that the world must come. Clavery, Sævia and Agravia shall give a lesson in peace and union that greater Powers will follow.
"Our crowns, our kingship, our honours and State will dissolve and pass away. Clavery and Sævia and Agravia will become simple States in one great Federation."
She nods. That she understands now.
"Clavery and Sævia have been fortresses. I shall work to make them open roads for all mankind. Can you endure it?"[Pg 269]
She turns to him.
"Paul, I love you. Don't you understand?
"Your way shall be my way."
They stand trembling. He is almost ashamed to have forced his way upon her. He comes forward towards her. He wants to hold her in his arms, and he has that fear which comes in the first stage of love. "My dearest," he whispers. They are both too shy and too deeply in love with each other to fall into each other's arms. He puts an arm about her, and she rests a hand on his shoulder and takes his hand and looks into his face. It is the tremulous moment before the first kiss.
The Chancellor Hagen enters. They start a little apart, but remain side by side. Hagen is too tactful to notice anything or to retreat. All goes well, he says.
Paul looks over his shoulder at the town behind them, as one looks at something that does not matter very profoundly any longer, but which has mattered profoundly and which still remains of significance.
"Well, what are they saying in the town?"
Hagen shrugs his shoulders and replies:
"Just what the papers have told them to say: 'Down with the Michaelists. Paul, Peace and Prosperity.'"
Paul nods his head, then turns his face slowly back towards the Princess, who stands, serenely happy, looking up at him. Hagen, deferential, smiling, waits for permission to retire.
The scene fades out.
The room in the Foreign Office reappears, and the British Foreign Secretary is seen seated at a table with a paper in his hand. His short, intelligent private secretary stands beside him. The Foreign Secretary does not like the matter he is reading. Presently he lays it on his table, smacks at it with his hand and turns to the secretary.
"And you mean to say this precious document is the joint effort of the King of Clavery, the Princess of Sævia and the President of Agravia?"
The private secretary indicates that that is what he means to say. Or, to be more exact, the work of King Paul, signed by his associates. The Foreign Secretary says, "Good Lord!" He reconsiders the document, and his indignation grows.
"This fellow, this petty Ruritanian King, is to show the British Empire what is to be done about its calcomite supplies!"
The private secretary admits that the situation can be seen in that light.
The Prime Minister enters. The Foreign Secretary shows him the document. His indignant words flicker in the air. "Look at it! Look at it!"
The Prime Minister looks at it. Nods over it. He has already seen a copy. He turns over a page to gain a moment before he says what he has come to say.
"If our Tariff enthusiasts had let us come to a fair arrangement with the Americans, French, Germans, Russians and the rest, about calcomite, we should not have had to learn a lesson from this gentleman."
The private secretary glances approval at him. He is quite of that way of thinking.
The Foreign Secretary's face expresses his internal comment of, "Well, I'm damned!" He makes a fresh attack on the document.
"The phraseology is outrageous."
Yes, the Prime Minister evidently agrees, King Paul has been very outspoken.
The Foreign Secretary continues:
"It is not a genuine diplomatic document. It is meant for publication. It is an appeal over our heads to the world."[Pg 274]
The Prime Minister shrugs his shoulders. As a great party organizer and leader, his sense of values is rather different from that of the Foreign Secretary.
"Whether we like it or not, we shall have to accept this idea of a world control."
The Foreign Secretary flames into indignation.
"At the dictation of this—this Cinema King!"
The secretary does an act of great courage. He knows more of the business than either of these Ministers. He speaks now:
"At the dictation, Sir, of the common sense of the world."
The Foreign Secretary, who has almost forgotten his presence, turns in amazement and stares at him. The heavens are falling. Permanent officials dream dreams and private secretaries see visions! A kind of despair falls upon the Foreign Secretary. He turns to the Royal Arms and the British flags grouped about them behind him.
"What is that for? What does that signify now?"
He stands up, turns his back on the audience and then turns round again to say, with a quivering hand and the utmost bitterness:
"If this goes on, a day will come when you will have in control of the British Empire——"
The awful words drop one after another upon the screen. The lettering of each is a little larger than that of its predecessor, and the letters of the last four quiver increasingly:
He is left with hand extended, challenging the Prime Minister with these horrid possibilities. But the Prime Minister remains calm. "Well," appears over his head, and then, "if they are men enough."
He brightens visibly. An innate optimism betrays itself. He makes his admirable point with his index finger.
"And remember: we shall be on THEIR councils!"
But the Foreign Secretary has not imagination enough to be comforted. He takes up Paul's declaration again. "And when I was a boy they told me Diplomacy was a profession for gentlemen! This stuff—is—electioneering!"
The Prime Minister is too tough to be insulted. The Foreign Secretary almost throws the paper at his colleague. He stares blankly out of the picture, a superannuated type of man. His face grows longer. By the use of a distorting lens he is slowly drawn out to an extreme length and attenuation. The Royal Arms and the flag share his fate. So he vanishes.
The Prime Minister's face returns to the screen. He is thinking something out. He makes a platform gesture or so. Then he is seen on a platform addressing a not very clearly shown audience.
"Gentlemen. It is said that this calcomite world control can be only the[Pg 275] beginning of greater concessions to the spirit of world unity."
Rhetorical pause. He stands, hands on hips. The supporters behind him (a little out of focus) await his next phrase with anxiety. This floats on the picture.
"Well, what if it is?"
His supporters still do not feel safe. His gestures become persuasive.
"Everywhere, in practical affairs, in business, in finance, we hear a magic word to-day."
This is held on the screen for a moment, and then in capitals comes:
He is seen driving home his effect by a gesture.
"In business Amalgamation is the end of destructive competition.
"In politics it may be the end of war."
He becomes rhetorical, turning more and more to the film audience.
"What if the sole choice of the world is between Amalgamation or War?"
He becomes very eloquent against war, and the words "Political Amalgamation" float above him. He makes a point; the people about him, who have been hesitating, nod and applaud, and the picture gives place to that view from a window of New York and then to that board-room shown already in Part One.
The scene returns to the board-room in New York. First there is the view from the window, and then the picture comes in to the room.
The tall man E. stands with his foot on a chair, he holds a document in his hand and talks to D. and A. No other people are present.
"Here is this declaration from Clavery, Sævia and Agravia. We are told in plain terms that neither we nor the British are to monopolize calcomite. We are ordered—ordered, gentlemen."
His gesture is shown emphasizing the point.
"We are ordered to organize a world control of calcomite, and stop our confounded patriotic cornerings."
"By this two months' monarch Paul Zelinka."
But D. intervenes. No, that is not right. He amends A.'s statement to:
"By the common sense of the world."
The three men look at each other. The tall man E. broods, chin in hand, on a great idea.
"Can it be that the common sense of the world has outrun us and gone past us?"
The American flag streams across the picture and fades.[Pg 276]
"Can it be that all this thinking in terms of flags, boundaries and national competition is already getting out of date? Even now?"
D. raps the document and says:
"This declaration goes behind all the governments and politicians to the peoples everywhere.
"And there are hundreds of thousands of people who will think with King Paul."
The tall man asks:
"Are we nearer the World State than we have dared to dream?"
His colleagues stare at him and he continues imperturbably.
"I'm for it, mind you, gentlemen—the day I see it coming."
He smiles at his astonished companions.
"The British Prime Minister yesterday said
Two other business men stroll in and stand listening. The Evil Man follows and listens with disgusted amazement. The tall man continues:
"If you aren't going to fight over a world interest, you've got to have a world control for it. That's common sense."
He expands. "Not only calcomite" appears on the screen. One of the newcomers makes an objection, which E. answers.
"No, Sir. We don't resign our national freedom; we enlarge it. Remember if other people are to have a voice in our metallurgy, we are to have a voice in theirs."
The Evil Man appears with an interpolation, but E. will have none of him.
"We don't want national representatives. Damn nationalism. We want to forget about it. We want capable men—no matter where they were born."
D. has a brain-wave. He raps on the arm of E. to compel his attention.
"This King Paul for example!"
E.'s face assents.
"We don't want international men; this isn't a game between nations; we want world-wide men."
His colleagues, except for the Evil Man, agree. The scene fades out upon their agreement.
It is a bright afternoon and the King and Queen of Clavery are discovered standing with the Chancellor Hagen in the familiar garden scene of the Palace at Clavopolis. Behind a secretary hovers. An attendant has just announced the President of Agravia, and they await his appearance. There are no uniforms in this scene, but the palace attendants still wear the adaptation of the Claverian national costume they have always worn. Himbesket enters, large and eloquent even in his paces.[Pg 277]
He bows, kisses the hand of the Queen and, after a moment of hesitation, for he is not an expert with etiquette, shakes hands with Paul. He makes a sort of speech to them all.
"This is a very great occasion for me—a great occasion for the world. All Europe will rejoice, Sire, that you are on the calcomite control."
Paul is a little awkward under compliments, but Helen receives this remark with the graciousness her training has given her. Himbesket expands:
"And it is still more wonderful that you should have asked me to meet that great man, Dr. Harting."
He addresses the imaginary audience that is never far from his waking thoughts.
"Could there have been a better recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize than Dr. Harting? I challenge you. No!"
He puts his hands on his hips. He reflects and says with an air of profundity:
"This is a great moment in the history of the world."
He takes the centre of the stage, so to speak, and goes on to expand the situation.
"If there can be a common control of the metallurgical interests of the world,
"There can be a control of transport and transport charges
"of food supplies
"of raw materials of all sorts
He repeats his lesson as though he had discovered it for himself. He radiates his eloquence at the attendants.
The young officer of the guard appears, salutes and makes an announcement. Two other officers enter, Himbesket falls into place to the right of the scene, and the attention of everyone in the scene is concentrated to off stage on the left where Dr. Harting and his daughter are approaching.
They enter. Dr. Harting looks rather weary and his daughter supports his arm. But he becomes animated at the sight of Paul. He holds out both hands to him. Margaret and Helen know the essential facts about each other and scrutinize each other with curiosity. The scrutiny is satisfactory and Helen holds out her arms impulsively. They kiss and stand side by side.
Dr. Harting, in the foreground with Paul, says:
"It is not a year ago that I was lecturing on this calcomite danger. And you have dispelled it."
Paul becomes again the promising young man of the American industrial town. He says:
"Common sense, Sir, under your teaching."
Himbesket comes forward. He feels that it rests upon him to improve the occasion.
"Common sense, Sire, and courage.
"This is a great occasion for me."
He waves a hand at the Palace and the scene about them.
"Here, Sire, in this little city we have laid the true foundations, Sire, of the Peace of the World."[Pg 278]
Then he reiterates his lesson, and the items drop down on the screen one after another.
"If there can be a common control of world metallurgy there can be a control of transport and transport charges
"of food supplies
"of raw materials of all sorts
The old gentleman's face lights up and he shakes his lean finger to hold Himbesket's attention for a moment.
"So soon as you can control patriotic politicians."
He drives home the lesson.
"So soon as you have put the flags and emblems in their places."
He waves his hand. The banner of the Claverian leopard appears great and glorious imposed upon the whole picture, and then, at the gesture of the old teacher's arm, the animal shrinks and shrinks until it becomes merely the grotesque supporter of a small electric light at a corner of the balustrading.
The picture rests on that for a moment and concentrates upon the lamp, behind it appears a wallpaper and a piece of textile material with ingenious leopard patterns, and then a comic child's toy, a tin leopard on wheels, that rolls absurdly out of the picture and the rest of the bric-a-brac falls apart to show the loggia of the Palace that looks out upon the city of Clavopolis.
Four people are present. Himbesket has gone. Paul sits boyishly upon the parapet of the loggia and old Harting stands beside him and a little below him, nearer the audience. They are to the right. To the left are the two women. Queen Helen stands leaning with her back against the parapet and looks under her brows with a grave friendliness at Paul. Margaret is in the shadow, with her back to the audience, leaning over the parapet, and she gazes for the most part out of the loggia at the view of the city, but sometimes her thoughts turn her eyes to Paul and sometimes to Helen.
Paul surveys the town and hills for some moments and then swings round to talk to Harting.
"And so you think, Sir, that our calcomite control is bound to grow into a world economic directorate?"
Old Harting replies:
"Either it fails or it does that.
"You cannot control the metallurgy of the world and not the fuel.
"You cannot control the fuel and not the transport.
"You cannot control the transport and not food.
"You cannot control food and leave population to run wild."
Paul agrees. He muses again with his eyes on distant things. He has one thought uppermost in his mind:
"Of course," he says, "this is not our doing."
The old man says:
"You might have failed us."
Paul passes that by. He argues his point gravely, still like a clever student talking to a master.
"We could do nothing in this business if we were not supported by the gathering conviction of the world."[Pg 279]
Below him, gravely gigantic, appears his archetype, Man the Maker, a huge exaggeration of himself.
Paul continues: "We are just the particles upon which the crystallization began."
The old man smiles and pats Paul's arm affectionately. "A very good sound particle," he says, as this presence Paul has invoked fades for a moment. Helen's face and Margaret's endorse the old man's judgment.
Paul's face goes back to the mountains and the sky. Man the Maker reappears gigantic, a seated figure repeating Paul's attitude and now more powerfully imposed on the loggia view. He grows more vivid as Paul and his three friends sink in value.
"Defeating War is only a beginning.
"The Peace of the World means nothing unless it means Making;
"Unless it releases Science, Creative Effort, Power."
A figure like Paul is seen at some big piece of electrical apparatus. He puts on dark goggles and sets going an intense incandescence. Some substance fuses and drops. A fellow-worker catches the dropping substance.
A group of students appears watching this process. Among them is the youth, the son of the peasant woman shown in Part Three of the film. He asks a question and is answered.
The demonstrator addresses his class.
"With these new alloys we shall be able to build silent aeroplanes ten times as powerful, weight for weight, as the roaring, quivering machines we use to-day."
The scene changes to field of wheat upon an experimental farm.
A figure like Man the Maker stands showing the field to two students; one of them again is the old woman's son.
"Here," says Man the Maker, "upon half an acre we grow more food than formerly, with fifty times the toil, was given upon a square mile. We can turn the rest of our farms into gardens and playgrounds."
A figure like Man the Maker appears working in a biological laboratory. He wears a white overall and rubber gloves. Other workers appear beside him. He holds a test-tube up to the light and then prepares a drop of the liquid for microscopic examination. The picture fades, and shows the old peasant woman outside her cottage, as she was seen in Part Three of the film. Her mutilated and blinded son sits in the sunlight. There comes her youngest son with wonderful news. He says:
"Mother, I have got my qualifications as an electrical worker. No need for you to toil again."
The old woman is incredulous.
"We will bring power to help your old arms. Power to work for you here, warmth and light. Rest when you are weary. Food when you are hungry."
The old woman turns to her elder son, shakes her head in infinite sorrow. "Too late," she says. "Too late."
The spirit of hope is not rebuked.
"Even for him there is hope—now that there is peace and men can get about the real business of life."
The crippled son is seen, with a grave man of science in the likeness of Man the Maker sitting beside him and using an instrument to examine[Pg 280] his eyes. The old woman, cleansed and civilized, stands expectant and no longer bitter. The doctor turns to her with reassurance in his face. She clasps her hands at his promise. She repeats the words she has heard:
"Hope for his eyes and hope for his mind!"
The faces of Paul and old Doctor Harting are recalled to the screen. They both look out towards distant things.
"Life cleansed, saturated with happiness and hope, ever more powerful."
The screen shows the whole loggia again, and then centres on Margaret for a moment watching Helen and Paul. Then the centre of interest upon the screen returns to Paul. Outside it becomes night, and his gesture is towards the stars.
One is given a view of the interior of a great astronomical observatory. Then there is a vision of the starry sky, such as one sees it in celestial photographs. Across this sways the stays of an aeroplane. The stars fade. Dimly at first, and then clearly, there appears below the spectacle of a great city, such as London or Paris, with clustering buildings and a winding river.
The pilot of the aeroplane and his passenger come to the centre of the picture. The pilot is Paul and the passenger Helen. She is not seated as he is. She stands behind him and looks over him. They are flying towards the audience. They are Man the Maker and Woman the Protector and Sustainer. The music throbs up to a climax.
Then the scene passes to a staircase of great architectural beauty and spaciousness leading from the Palace to the road or a court below. (It is most important for the proper ending of a film that it should close on a new and beautiful scene.) At the bottom an automobile waits; above, Helen appears with Margaret and Harting. Helen's arm is about Margaret. She has come down to take leave of Margaret and Dr. Harting.
The whole scene is given, and then the picture is taken to the top of the steps.
Old Harting begins to descend by himself and halts. He is accustomed to his daughter's help. He looks at her, but Margaret lingers with Helen. Mutual regard. Then a passionate embrace. They are at once jealous and generous.
Old Harting lower down says, "Bother these steps!" He doesn't feel safe.
Margaret releases herself from Helen, and comes to his aid. Helen stands on the topmost step, looking down. She is full of emotion, which has suddenly taken the form of a great love for Margaret.
Margaret helps her father down the steps. So soon as she is beside him his embarrassment disappears. As he goes on down, he talks, a little dodderingly.[Pg 281]
"Flags fade. Patriotism fades.
"But the world will still have need of Kings."
Helen looking down very tenderly at Margaret.
The old man and Margaret are now very near the car. The old man repeats:
"Kings without crowns.
"Don't want crowns to know a King."
Margaret does not heed this. She looks up at Helen very beautifully. Then a picture is given of Helen, three-quarters length. Helen stands looking down. She smiles faintly, opens her arms wide, as if she offered her heart to Margaret and then they drop by her side.
A view of the whole staircase concludes. Helen remains in that attitude above, and Margaret supports the old man and looks back from below. This is held for a moment, and then fades out.
The music dies away.
In the same clear plain lettering that was used for the first title, appear the words:
Now is the time for the author and producers to take their applause if they deserve it. Their names appear: "Written by So-and-so——" "Scenario by So-and-so——" "Produced by So-and-so——" "The music by So-and-so——" Here, too, if anywhere, should it be recorded that the British Board of Film Censors has signified approval. The show is over. The lights in the auditorium go up, and if we are in Britain the band plays a few bars of a devout and patriotic air. The audience begins to disintegrate....
There you have my contribution to film discussion—my idea of what a popular film might be.
I submit I have provided producer and composer with the material for a handsome and possible, if difficult, film, and that I have done my part to show that a hard, fairly complex argument can be stated more clearly and more effectively upon the screen than in any other way. In no other way would it be possible to say so plainly that the Peace of the World can only be secured through the establishment of world controls of the common interests of mankind, and that if war is to come to an end there is nothing for it but a frank opposition to and struggle with the patriotic symbols and suggestions that sustain the base spirit of nationalism. I believe that all over the world audiences could be intensely interested in such a film as this, and sent home from the show seething with discussion and turned to new and more illuminating points of view.
But I admit there are a number of people who will dislike my thesis and find the creation and exhibition of such a film undesirable.
This possible opposition, I regret to say, seems to weigh with my prospective producers. They fear that my disrespect for flags might give offence, and that even the shooting of Michael like a mad dog goes a little too far in the way of provocation—though why those who take to the sword should not perish by the sword whenever that is the most direct and convenient way of disposing of them, is more than I can imagine. It is mere pedantry to hold that force cannot be used or death inflicted for the suppression of war. We use it for the suppression of retail murder; still more must it be used to stop wholesale murder.
Moreover, several of my reluctant associates seem to want my vision of war to be more of a fight and less of a massacre, so that the audience can[Pg 286] take sides and cheer; but it is just the fact that modern warfare is now nearly all of it massacre, aiming at demoralization, that is the most important to bring before the minds of people at large. The idea that war is still a sporting struggle in which the best man wins, is exactly the falsehood by which our dangerous and poisonous naval and military burthens are kept upon our backs. Armies and navies are in truth not fighting machines any more; they are machines for violent destruction. When they meet a more powerful apparatus they dig in or run away. There were amazingly few "pretty fights" in the last great war. Most of the fighting was about as fair and noble as arson and burglary.
Again it is urged against the present production of this film that people's minds are unprepared for the World State. But that is exactly why this synopsis has been planned and written. There are phases in the history of human thought, and this present time is one of them, when mankind seems to be in a conspiracy not to see things that are written on the sky. The substitution of a system of world controls in the place of the patchwork of independent sovereign governments that now mismanages the affairs of mankind is entirely within the range of human possibility. It is the plain necessity of human polity. Intricate and difficult it is no doubt to plan the development of such a control, but not at all more intricate than the riddles of minute physics and biology, through which the modern scientific intelligence threads its way with confidence. Huge it is, but no larger nor more extensive than the species which has to tackle it.
It is not to be done by shouting and tricks, but it can be done by thought and steadfast convergent preparation. The effort demanded can be little greater than the efforts of discipline and associated action that will be called for if the great powers of this planet blunder into another great war. It will merely be doing one co-ordinated world-wide thing instead of a number of vast inco-ordinated things. But on the side of war there is that complex of lazy procrastination which masquerades as respect for tradition, a sane conservative and amiable acceptance of things as they are, a distrust of "wild" revolutionary ideas. Vast numbers of people feel more or less assured that whatever catastrophes may loom ahead, the present system, to which alone they can imagine themselves adapted, will last out their time. For that their reflexes have been established. They cannot, they feel, begin over again. They will cheer at the sight of their Claverian leopard, ululate at the opening bars of their national anthem and hope to be missing or missed when the gas and the flame arrive. The world beyond war seems to them a queer, high, clean sort of place, where their habits, accents and table manners will put them at a sad disadvantage. So on the whole they resist and hope for the best—where indeed there is neither best, nor better nor good, but increasing danger.
And here I speak, not of the vast mass, which scarcely thinks or wills at all save as it is told, but of those who have a certain liberty of thought, those who might contribute by their acts to liberating and creative public decisions. The truth about war is known or nearly known to these people, the solution is apparent or would be apparent if they looked at it. Yet to-day they will delay and obstruct any such propaganda as this to the full extent of their powers. These ideas are nearly out of control in their[Pg 287] own minds, and they are far too uneasy about them to help release them among the multitude. And therein lies the tragi-comedy of the serious writer about current conditions. In the day of his vision he is regarded as a wild visionary, propounding extravaganza. Many who agree with him in their hearts will call him that. To-morrow, when his vision has been proved, and his truth realized, all that he had to say will be platitude. Everyone will know what he discovered, and few will realize it was ever a discovery.
Few people among the multitudes who visit the pretty show chateaux of the Loire to-day succeed in realizing what life was, when it could be so gay and pretty on its surface, and still have dungeons, torture-chambers and freshly murdered bodies hidden within a hundred yards or so of the banqueting hall. The life of the fifteenth century has passed already beyond the comprehension of mankind. A day will come—and it is no very distant day—when this warring world of ours will be equally inconceivable to the imaginations of men. Paul Zelinka will cease then to be in any way heroic; he will become simply the obvious, trampling almost brutally on a collection of picturesquely pleasing antiquities.
But at the present time, under the rule of these same antiquities, I doubt if my film about him will get itself made, and even if it is made whether it will be booked with any rapture for ordinary popular exhibition. It may even make censorship hesitate, as being in some obscure but offensive way "political." Book publication—thank Heaven!—is, for the present at any rate, another matter. Unhappily not one in a thousand who would see this gladly on a screen will ever read it as a book.
Punctuation errors have been corrected.
The following suspected printer's errors have been addressed.
Page 183. recoli changed to recoil
(the recoil of young heroes)
Page 197. preponderence changed to preponderance
(a preponderance of grey)
Page 198. carriers changed to carries
(that carries on a set policy)
Page 200. tome changed to time
(At the same time)
Page 200. amd changed to and
(methodically and quickly)
Page 200. isnt' changed to isn't
(the country isn't with us)
Page 202. or changed to for
(writing it up for)
Page 207. confidentally changed to confidentially
(imploring him confidentially)
Page 208. perfecly changed to perfectly
(it would be perfectly easy)
Page 212. fathers changed to father
(her father is infirm)
Page 214. Maragret changed to Margaret
(Paul and Margaret)
Page 222. beyold changed to behold
(behold your king)
Page 225. uassing changed to passing
(twilight passing into night)
Page 225. pp changed to up
(trams lit up)
Page 232. bling changed to blind
(assisting a blind young man)
Page 268. Calvopolis changed to Clavopolis
(bells in Clavopolis are ringing)