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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (chapter 11)

2006-07-09 16:35

  INT. KITCHEN - EVENING

  Robert and Francesca are in the middle of dinner. But instead of the usual silence that surrounds Johnson family eating,Francesca is mesmerized by Robert as he manages to eat and tell a story. The scene begins with a LAUGH FROM FRANCESCA.

  ROBERT(laughs)

  …… No, wait, it gets better.

  He stands up and acts it out for her.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  You have to get the full picture here. I have three cameras around my neck, a tripod in one hand and my pants down around my ankles. I thought this was a private bush. I look up and this gorilla, this female gorilla, is staring at me with what can best be described as the most lascivious expression I've ever seen on a female with so much body hair.(Francesca laughs)

  I freeze. 'Cause that's what they tell you to do. In this position. She comes towards me and…… and she……

  (he stops awkwardly)

  FRANCESCA What?

  ROBERT She starts sniffing me.

  FRANCESCA Oh my God……

  (laughs)

  You're blushing.

  ROBERT It's still a very sensitive memory for me.

  FRANCESCA Then what happened?

  ROBERT We got engaged.

  FRANCESCA Oh you!

  She throws a napkin at him.

  FRANCESCA (cont'd)

  None of this is true!

  ROBERT No, it is. Except for the engagement part. She wouldn't have me, although I still get a Valentine every year.

  Francesca is laughing so hard she can't breath. Robert loves making her laugh.

  FRANCESCA You ought to write these stories down.

  ROBERT Nah. I've tried. My writing's too technical, I think. Problem of being a journalist too long is you stop giving yourself permission to invent. I better just stick to making pictures.

  FRANCESCA“Making pictures.” I like that. You really love what you do, don't you?

  ROBERT(nods, smiles shyly)

  I'm kind of obsessed by it, actually.

  FRANCESCA Why, do you think?

  ROBERT I don't know if obsessions have reasons. I think that's why they're obsessions.

  FRANCESCA You sound like an artist.

  ROBERT No. I wouldn't say that. National Geographic isn't exactly the hub of artistic inspiration. They like their wild life in focus and without any personal comment. I don't mind really. I'm not artist. I'd faced that a long time ago. It's the course of being well-adjusted. I'm too normal.

  FRANCESCA(supportively)

  I don't think you're normal.

  He looks at her in surprise. She catches herself again.

  FRANCESCA I didn't mean that the way it sounded.

  ROBERT Well, let's just call it a compliment and move on.(changes subject)

  Did you love teaching?

  FRANCESCA (cont'd)

  Sometimes. When there was a particular student who made a difference. I know they're all supposed to, but it's not true. You tend to single out one or two you think you can contribute something to.

  ROBERT And did you?

  FRANCESCA I'd like to think so. I know one of them went on to Medical school.

  ROBERT Why did you stop?

  FRANCESCA My children. And Richard didn't like my working.

  ROBERT Do you miss it?

  FRANCESCA I don't know. I've never thought about it…… what was the most exciting place you've ever been to?

  Unless you're tired of talking about it.

  ROBERT You're asking a man if he's too tired to talk about himself? You don't get out much, do you?

  Francesca smiles, a little embarrassed.

  ROBERT I'm sorry. That was……

  FRANCESCA(overlapping)

  No. It's all right. I just meant, it might be a little dull for you,telling all this to some housewife in the middle of nowhere.

  ROBERT This is your home. It's not nowhere. And it's not dull.

  Francesca smiles again, this time relieved.

  ROBERT Let's see —— my favorite place……

  Francesca settles in to listen, never taking her eyes off of him.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  Well, it's the obvious choice, but I think I'd have to say Africa. It's another world. Not just the people and the cultures but the land, the colors you see at dawns and dusks ——and the life there. It charges every molecule of air.

  Francesca is fascinated, being drawn into his imagery.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  It's tangible —— the moment to moment of life and death, the co-habitation of man and beast, of beast and beast,who'll survive, who won't —— and there's no judgement about it. No right or wrong or imposed morality. It's just life. It's a voyeurs paradise really because those animals don't want anybody in their business. You can watch but at a distance.(excited)

  I remember one time I was on a truck headed for the Niger.

  Lights begin to dim as Francesca is so taken in by his story,she begins to actually see what he is describing.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  We were driving north. The truck was old so I guess the sound of the motor muffled this kind of rumbling in the distance —— until finally, it was upon us like, like a hundred thunder claps all at once……

  CU on FRANCESCA as WE BLEND THE SOUNDS OF AFRICA and ——

  CUT TO:

  EXT. AFRICA - DAY

  Robert and a driver are in a truck driving north. Robert turns to look out the window and sees:

  A HERD OF GIRAFFES AND GAZELLES AND WATERBUCKS AND ZEBRA are running in the grasslands to the right of the truck. Robert excitedly instructs the driver:

  ROBERT Get us closer!!

  The driver veers off towards the stampede as Robert opens his door and makes his way to the flatbed part of the truck with his camera. The truck takes its position within this breathtaking force of wildlife, as giraffes, zebras and gazelles surround it —— all going in the same direction.

  Robert stands in the truck, shooting as fast as he can. The truck races to keep up with the animals. Robert is so pumped he can hardly catch his breath. Suddenly, the force and beauty of these creatures causes him to lower his camera. He is unable to film it because it overwhelms him. He just stands there in awe and lets out a primal scream. The animals gradually veer off to where the truck can no longer follow. Robert watches them disappear into the distance.

  CUT BACK TO:

  INT. JOHNSON KITCHEN - NIGHT

  Francesca has seen all of this in her mind. Robert smiles at her, sensing how in tune with the story she was.

  FRANCESCA My God. How I'd love to see that.

  ROBERT They have safaris for tourists now. Maybe you can convince your husband.

  Francesca smiles. There is an awkward pause between them.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  It's a beautiful night. Would you like to go for a walk?

  FRANCESCA Well, it's kind of buggy out there.

  ROBERT(rises)

  Have no fear. This Shoshone Medicine Woman taught me how to make bug repellent tea out of tree root.

  FRANCESCA You drink bug repellent?

  ROBERT No, you rub it on you. I have some in the truck. Don't go away.

  She shakes her head. He runs out the screen door, not letting it slam. Francesca looks like a teenager with first date excitement.

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