Under the Sun(my screenplay distillation of the second chapter of Ecclesiastes)
"I said in mine heart, go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure."
MEDIUM TRACKING/DOLLY ON: Young Narrator(he is obviously a younger version of Bitter Face, without the bitterness of time and experience and clean-shaven) and Sarah leaving the city arm in arm, in celebration, smiling and surrounding by smiling friends. Flower petals rain around them like confetti.
"I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?"
MEDIUM PLUS ESTABLISH ON: Narrator's empty building site, an undeveloped plot of land that belongs to he and Sarah, where he will build their home. It is a sandy expanse amidst a portion of open green ground.
TIME LAPSE/DISSOLVE IN: House and Stables appear. Time has passed. The Narrator and his young wife have indeed but a life on their land. Slaves move about, entering and exiting the house, busy at their duties.
CU ON: Flower petal on stone floor in ambient golden light of afternoon. Signifies the end of the celebration and the return to the narrator's normalcy: his searching. It is as delicacy itself disregard, discarded and forgotten, but it is there just the same, waiting, unbusy, unoccupied and unclaimed.
"I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life."
MEDIUM ON: Young Narrator reading from book with wine jug in one hand. Absent- mindedly, he takes long drinks from the jug. Afternoon light spills in from the gaping void of a window frame. This lighting is happier than the shot of the office and desk, with a cheerful mood is in its orange quality, making it almost, but not quite a sepia effect.
"I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits. I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees."
LONG ON: Narrator fiddling with grape vines, tending the young, tender plants, guiding them across his trellis. He uses thread to secure the vines, tying around and around them.
MEDIUM ON: Narrator walking eating a handful of nuts. Dogwood blooms rain down upon him, almost like a celebration, like from earlier. This is the happiness not yet over, at least from the perspective of the Narrator, and that nature itself celebrates alongside him.
MEDIUM STATIC ON: Fool asleep under the tree. Narrator regards him, disappears from sight, walking out of frame for a few moments and returns with blanket. He puts the blanket on the FOOL and tucks it in, regards him for a minute with an ounce of doubt on his face, which might be the dawning of despair within him.
"I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts."
LONG ON: Narrator and FRIEND side-by-side watching the bustling of the workers. He passes by each in MONTAGE, smiling, and they smile in return, because they are happy there, treated well. They pick fruits, carry pails of water and cajole with one another.
"Whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour."
LONG/MEDIUM ON: Pregnant Sarah with servants. The servants are mostly women, girls and boys, fetching dollops of water from a spring, joyfully. Sarah smiles with them, and plays with them, as though she were one of them.
"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that i had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit and there was no profit under the sun."
(on "vexation", CUT TO: close up, bitter face)
(on "under the sun", CUT TO: sun shot with artifacts)
LONG ON: Nightime. Bedchamber. Sarah poised in childbirth: legs open, pushing. She writhes in torment, then seemingly passes out with a blank drained look on her face, eyes open wide, neck stretched. There is something animal about her.
TIGHT ON: Narrator regarding Sarah, shocked and concerned. (O.S.)Sarah is dead, but the midwives are still working.
SAME: Narrators head turns. Something around the midwives has called his attention. But what?
OVERHEAD ON: Outdoors. Narrator holding up naked, healthy, writhing baby, in victory, as if an offering to God or a presentation of the baby to its heavenly maker. The baby writhes in good health.
"Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness."
LONG ON: Narrator on farm in morning. He has let his beard grow, as a bow to the strength of wisdom, or experience, or just as a rememberance, or the silent protest of a righteous man.
"And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath already been done."
MEDIUM ON: Narrator regarding FOOL again, with the FOOL sitting against the tree, in the middle of a coughing fit. Foolishness has not been good to his health. The mixed hues of sunset are in BG.
"The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one even happeneth to them all."
MEDIUM ON: FOOL talking before a crowd, the prodigious movement of hands helping to illustrate his words. Here there is some wisdom mingled with foolishness; up to the viewer to decide which is in greater supply.
"Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity."
TIGHT ON: Narrator regarding FOOL again. Longer establish, but then a meditative close-up on the Narrator.
ZOOM ON: Narrator's eyes, with appropriate light to read the figure of the FOOL in the black iris of the Narrator. As if he has encompassed or imprisoned the dying FOOL.
"And how dieth the wise man? as the fool."
TIGHT ON: FOOL'S FACE, placid and lifeless, as he is enclosed in the blanket that the Narrator gave him earlier. The effect is as though curtains are being closed.
CU, FOOL POV: Blanket closing over him-the two sides converging like a curtain, bringing perfect darkness before next shot of brilliant mid-day light.
"Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
(on "under the sun", CUE sun shot w/artifacts)
MEDIUM SIDE SHOT ON: Narrator stretching his back in the vineyard, midday, in which the sun is harsh.
FULL SHOT OF: Young son, maybe three yrs. old, playing in the dusty dooryard, while Narrator sits on doorsteps.
CU ON: Narrator's meditative face, gray mingling into his beard. He is becoming the Bitter Face, slowly but surely as time and experience beats lessons into him.
"Yea I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun."
(on each of three "under the sun" iterations, CUE sun shot w/artifacts)
(after first "under the sun", CUT TO: CHILD playing in dust)
(after second "under the sun" CUT TO: Narrator's meditative face)
"What hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea his heart taketh not rest in the night."
(on "under the sun", CUE sun shot w/artifacts)
CU ON: Sarah's grave: a pile of rocks roughly the size of a human.
CU ON: Sarah's smiling face remembered: beautiful, happy.
REPEAT CU ON: Sarah's grave.
"There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour."
LONG, FROM INSIDE HOUSE, FRAMED HEAD-ON ON DOORWAY: Narrator sitting in doorway with a clay jug, watching the child play in the dust. The doorway is like a truncated screen, with all inside the house invisible, and the father and son seeming like the only thing that exists. We might ask where all the happy servants went.