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In Production

Eric Bana, Franka Potente, Marton Csokas, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Russell Dykstra, Jacek Koman

‘A story… with the simplicity of myth and the force of tragedy… I know of no other book where the love between father and son has been more beautifully expressed.’
Robert Manne, Australian Book Review

Arclight Films International Pty Ltd, 9229 Sunset Blvd, Suite 705, Los Angeles, CA 90069 Australian mob: +61 (0)418 971 504 UK mob: +44 7765 848 456 US mob: +1 917 826 2113

Developed with director Richard Roxburgh over seven years, ROMULUS, MY FATHER has been adapted for the screen by poet and playwright, Nick Drake. It is both Richard and Nick’s first feature film, and is produced by leading Australian production company, Arenafilm. Arenafilm is a partnership between Robert Connolly and John Maynard, with credits that include most recently THREE DOLLARS and THE BANK , Rowan Woods’ THE BOYS, Jane Campion’s SWEETIE and Vincent Ward’s THE NAVIGATOR. It is a production company distinguished by its commitment to independent Australian cinema and emerging directors.
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rai & Eric Bana as Romulus

ROMULUS, MY FATHER is based on Raimond

Gaita’s critically acclaimed memoir. It tells the story of Romulus, his beautiful wife, Christina, and their struggle in the face of great adversity to bring up their son, Raimond. It is a story of impossible love that ultimately celebrates the unbreakable bond between father and son.
ROMULUS, MY FATHER stars Eric Bana as

Romulus (MUNICH, TROY, CHOPPER), Franka Potente ( RUN LOLA RUN, THE BOURNE IDENTITY ) as Christina and Marton Csokas (LORD OF THE RINGS) as Romulus’s closest friend, Hora. Central to ROMULUS, MY FATHER is the story of how a compassionate and honest man taught his son the meaning of living a decent life, triumphing over a new life in Australia scarred by profound tragedy. The young Raimond is ultimately saved from the downward spiral of these circumstances by the compassion and honesty of his father.

Director, Richard Roxburgh

Richard Roxburgh is best known as an actor and theatre director. His adaptation of Tim Winton’s THAT EYE THE SKY is still regarded as one of the triumphs of Australian theatre. As an actor, Richard’s Australian film credits include MOULIN ROUGE, OSCAR & LUCINDA, THANK GOD HE MET LIZZIE, and for his role in DOING TIME FOR PATSY CLINE , Richard received the 1997 Film Critics Circle of Australia and AFI awards for Best Actor. Richard’s international film credits include FRAGILE, STEALTH, VAN HELSING and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II.

to film. I hooked up with Robert Connolly and John Maynard three years ago. Their responses to the book showed that we were of like minds, and their energy and insight has been instrumental in moving the project forward. We had an exhaustive hunt for the right person to adapt the story, and finally settled on an English poet (of Czech parentage), Nick Drake. From my first meeting with him he seemed to have a deep understanding of the material. He undertook the delicate task of adapting the complex biography to cinema. We were determined that the film must, at all costs, avoid the trap of the “period drama”. There were to be as few elements as possible of the set-in-aspic-migrant-periodstory from the script onwards. This ensured that there would be no safety of distance, that somehow the story, in all of its dark and complex beauty, would be allowed to breathe with a contemporary immediacy. In August of 2004 we sent the script to Eric Bana, who seemed the perfect incarnation of the character of Romulus Gaita. He

Franka Potente as Christina

I read the book ROMULUS, MY FATHER eight years ago. I finished it in one sitting, and decided immediately that somehow I was going to make a film of it. I made enquiries about the rights the following day, and set the process in train. There were many phone calls (one from a satellite phone from the Namibian desert) to the writer, Raimond Gaita, in London. There were transatlantic flights to tell the writer of my ideas for the film. The stor y of ROMULUS M Y FATHER centres on a battered little migrant family and is set in the Victorian bush sometime after the second world war. It is a heartfelt story, a vast reservoir of pain, and at times, humour. It is the tale of a boy, Rai, trying to balance a universe described by his deeply moral father, against the experience of heartbreaking absence and neglect from a depressive mother. We follow Rai’s journey through seemingly insuperable tragedy, including his mother’s arrivals and departures, her infidelities, her descent into madness, and her relationship with her husband’s friend which spills

with horrible inevitability, into death. And then perhaps most tragic of all, the fall of Romulus Gaita, the father, the rock, into his own madness, which he at last manages to pull himself out of, seemingly by his own strength of character. All of this is witnessed through the eyes of the young Rai. The singular thing about this story, given its tragic dimension, its almost biblical reach, is how strangely uplifting it is. Somehow through the pain, there is not only a sense of possibility, but of promise, held in the relationship of that father and son. The task was to find the right team, and also a worthy textual rendering of the biography

Eric Bana as Romulus & Franka Potente as Christina

read the script and was deeply moved by it. Similarly, we approached Franka Potente for the challenging role of Christina. I have always admired the deep honesty of her work, and she has brought an intensity to the role of Christina that reflects the beauty and sadness of the film. Her pairing with Eric Bana is particularly exciting, and they lead a small ensemble of very fine actors.

Kodi Smit McPhee as Rai

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rai & Marton Csokas as Hora


Australian Film Institute awards in 2002. In 1995, he played the notorious Roger Rogerson in ABC TV’s highly controversial miniseries BLUE MURDER , for which he received a Silver Logie Television Award.

Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Robert received a Centenary Medal for services to the Australian Film Industry and in 1998 he was named by Variety Magazine as one of the 10 best emerging producers in the world.

Maynard’s latest project, THREE DOLLARS, re-united the creative ensemble behind THE BANK , working with Robert and actor David Wenham for the third time.

Richard Roxburgh - Director
Richard Roxburgh has an esteemed career as both a screen and stage actor and stage director with success in both classic and contemporary work. Richard’s stage directing experience includes an adaptation of Tim Winton’s THAT EYE THE SKY, which earned him a Sydney Theatre Critics’ Circle Award (STCCA) in 1994. His latest play, RAY’S TEMPEST, which is based on his own original idea, opened in May 2005 to critical acclaim. His numerous stage roles include Hamlet in Neil Armfield’s 1994 production for which he received a STCCA and Lenny in Pinter’s THE HOMECOMING for which he received the 1992 STCCA. As an actor, Richard’s Australian film credits include MOULIN ROUGE, OSCAR

Robert Connolly – Producer
Robert Connolly is best known as the director and writer of THREE DOLLARS and THE BANK , and the producer of the award-winning film, THE BOYS. THREE DOLLARS was nominated for 6 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay which was won by Robert and Co-writer, Elliot Perlman. It also won Best Adapted Screenplay from the Film Critics’ Circle of Australia.
THE BANK , Robert’s first feature as director

Nick Drake - Screenwriter John Maynard – Producer
John Maynard is regarded as a producer with an instinct for talent and original projects. John has worked as a producer for over 25 years and his support and encouragement for new talent has introduced to the world cinema directors such as Vincent Ward and Jane Campion, resulting in three consecutive films In Competition, Cannes Film Festival: Ward’s first and second films VIGIL (1984),

and for his role in DOING TIME FOR PATSY CLINE , Richard received the 1997 Film Critics’ Circle of Australia and AFI awards for Best Actor. Richard’s international film credits include FRAGILE, STEALTH, VAN HELSING and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II . Richard’s television credits include BBC TV’S THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and the Australian miniseries THE ROAD FROM COORAIN, which won an impressive four

and writer had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival. It also screened at over thirty international film festivals and was nominated for 9 (AFI) Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Robert won the Best Original Screenplay Award. THE BOYS, Robert’s first feature film as producer, had its world premiere In Competition, Berlin International Film Festival 1998. It was nominated for 13 AFI Awards including Best Film, and won awards for Best Director,

(1988) and Jane Campion’s first feature, SWEETIE (1989). In 1989, together with partner Bridget Ikin, he co-produced Jane Campion’s AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE, in 1990 winner of the “Silver Lion” In Competition, Venice Film Festival. THE BOYS (Director: Rowan Woods), John’s first collaboration with business partner Robert Connolly, debuted In Competition, Berlin International Film Festival 1998. In 2000, John and Robert produced THE MONKEY’S MASK based on the novel in verse by Dorothy Porter and directed by Samantha Lang.

Screenwriter Nick Drake, who adapted Raimond Gaita’s memoir, ROMULUS, MY FATHER, is also the author of an acclaimed collection of poems. THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT won the Waterstone’s/Forward Prize Best First Collection Award and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His stage play, TO REACH THE SKY, the story of a high wire artist who walked a wire between the Twin Towers in 1974, will appear at Nottingham Playhouse in Spring 2006. His first play, MR SWEETTALK , was produced at Salisbury Playhouse and the Bristol Old Vic. He has also published a study, THE POETRY OF WB YEATS as well as several translations of Spanish and Mexican drama and short stories. Nick also worked as Head of Development for Intermedia Films, overseeing the creative development of many films including HILARY & JACKIE, ENIGMA and IRIS. He is also Script Doctor for the Atelier du Cinema European (ACE); Script Development Advisor to the New Zealand Film Commission; and Board member and Consultant to The Script Factory in London.


co-starring Jennifer Connolly. In 2004 he starred in TROY in which he plays Hector, Prince Of Troy. His most recent leading roles include LUCKY YOU and Steven Spielberg’s MUNICH about the tragic aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he plays a Mossad agent tracking Palestinian terrorists who assassinated Israeli athletes.

Potente was most recently seen in the German film ELEMENTA RTEILCHEN and also wrote and directed DER DIE TOLLKIRSCHE AUSGRABT. Both films were received with critical acclaim at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival. Potente was last seen in the hit thriller, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, reprising her role as ‘Marie,’ opposite Matt Damon following on from THE BOURNE IDENTITY. Other recent films include, Adam Goldberg’s I LOVE YOUR WORK , TRY SEVENTEEN and STORYTELLING. In 2001, she starred in BLOW. Other films include the German sci-fi film BLUEPRINT directed by Rolf Schubl and Peter Greenaway’s trilogy THE TULSE LUPER SUITCASES. In 2001, Potente starred in the romantic thriller, THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR . Potente’s additional German credits include the feature films, SCHLARAFFENLAND (PARADISE) (1998),

Raimond Gaita Author of the book, Romulus, My Father
Raimond Gaita was born in 1946 in Germany. He is Professor of Moral Philosophy at King’s College University of London, and Professor of Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University. His memoir ROMULUS, MY FATHER won the 1998 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. Gaita’s other books include, GOOD AND EVIL : AN ABSOLUTE CONCEPTION , A

Romulus - Eric Bana
Eric Bana is one of Australia’s best-known performers with a highly successful international film career. Eric made his feature film debut in a supporting role in the Australian film THE CASTLE in 1997 and went on to further acclaim in the title role of Mark “Chopper” Read in the hugely successful Australian film CHOPPER released in August, 2000. Based on the life of the infamous standover man, Chopper Read, Bana’s performance has won him both critical acclaim from the Australian Film Industry and the public as well as the AFI award for “Best Actor In A Feature Film”. The film premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and earned rave notices for its US release. Bana was seen co-starring in Ridley Scott’s BLACK HAWK DOWN as one of a group of elite U.S. soldiers opposite Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor and also starred in the title role of THE HULK for director Ang Lee and

Christina – Franka Potente
An actress who first made an indelible mark on Germany and Europe, Franka Potente has solidified her standing on the international film scene. In 1999, Potente made an impression on audiences worldwide as the title character in the critically acclaimed, RUN LOLA RUN.

(1997), EASY DAY (1997), and NACH FUNF


of the Economist’s best books of 2000, and THE PHILOSOPHER’S DOG, which was short listed for the New South Wales Premier’s Award and the Age Book of the Year, both in 2003. In 2003 he edited a collection of essays on the invasion of Iraq entitled WHY THE WAR WAS WRONG. Critically acclaimed both by philosophers and the general reader, Gaita’s books have been published around the world and translated into a number of languages.

Franka Potente as Christina & Eric Bana as Romulus




Rai – Kodi Smit-McPhee
Kodi’s film credits have been the features STR ANDED, END OF TOWN, two of the NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES MOW of the Stephen King novels – UMNEY’S LAST CASE & THE FIFTH QUARTER , as well as appearing in Richard Frankland’s theatre production, WALK ABOUT. In 2006 he appeared in a Sony MOW for US release “Untitled” filmed in New Zealand.

and THE HAM FUNERAL (Company B/ Belvoir Theatre), THE UNLIKELY PROSPECT OF HAPPINESS (Sydney Theatre Company), BELOW (Griffin), THE IMAGINARY INVALID (Ensemble), THE WINTER’S TALE , THE GIFT OF THE GORGON, WORLDS APART, AND A NIGHTINGALE SANG and SHIMADA (Queensland Theatre Company). His oneman show CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL toured nationally, earning him the 1998 Brisbane Theatre Critics’ Matilda Award.

and Cherie Nowlan’s THANK GOD HE MET LIZZIE alongside Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett. Jacek is noted for roles on many of Australia’s most recognised television series including STINGERS, MDA, THE SECRET LIFE OF US, WILDSIDE, MARY BRYANT and SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR’S BABIES.

Hora – Marton Csokas
Marton Csokas (pronounced CHO-Kash) has been acting professionally for sixteen years in theatre, film and television. This is the second time he and Richard Roxburgh have worked together; the first being TWELFTH NIGHT at The Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney. The last five years have been taken up with films such as XXX , THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, ÆON FLUX , and more independent projects like R AIN , ASYLUM and EVILENKO. The future holds Emile Zola’s THERESE RAQUIN, on stage in London’s West End.

Geoffrey Simpson A.C.S. Cinematographer
Geoffrey Simpson, one of Australia’s most successful cinematographers, has a prolific career in both Australia and internationally. He recently filmed LAST HOLIDAY for director Wayne Wang, starring Gerard Depardieu, which followed UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN starring Diane Lane. Other film credits include LITTLE WOMEN, THE LAST DAYS OF CHEZ NOUS, GREEN CARD, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, MR. WONDERFUL , SHINE, ‘TIL THERE WAS YOU and THE NAVIGATOR (produced by John Maynard). Simpson has won Australian Film Industry Awards for OSCAR AND LUCINDA (1998), SHINE (1996), THE NAVIGATOR (1988) and was nominated for THE LAST DAYS OF

Vacek – Jacek Koman Mitru – Russell Dykstra
Russell made his feature film debut in the critically acclaimed SOFT FRUIT, for which he received the 1999 AFI Award for Best Actor. He has since appeared in LANTANA, GAR AGE DAYS , NED K ELLY and more recently THE WATER DIARY and CLUBLAND directed by Cherie Nowlan. Russell’s television credits include BLACKJACK , WHITE COLLAR BLUE, BACKBERNER, and Jacek has had an extensive career across film, television and theatre in Australia and is well known for playing the narcoleptic Argentinan in Baz Luhrmann’s, MOULIN ROUGE. Jacek was the recipient of the Age Performing Arts Award for Best Dramatic Performance for his role as Roy Cohen in ANGELS IN AMERICA for MTC; a role which also won him a Green Room Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Other film credits include FLOODHOUSE, HORSEPLAY,

CHEZ NOUS (1992). In 1985 Simpson won


the Golden Tripod A.C.S. Award and Milli Award as Cinematographer of the Year for the feature film PLAYING BEATTIE BOW and won an A.C.S. Merit Award in the same year for Scott Hicks’ CALL ME MR. BROWN. THE SHIRALEE , an Australian television mini-series, won him the Silver Tripod A.C.S. Award in 1987, and in 1988, he won the Golden Tripod A.C.S. Award for RIDDLE OF THE STINSON.

Eric Bana as Romulus

Romulus - Eric Bana Christina - Franka Potente Hora - Marton Csokas Rai - Kodi Smit-Mcphee Mitru - Russell Dykstra Vacek - Jacek Koman Mrs Lillie - Alethea McGrath Miss Collard - Esme Melville Tom Lillie - Terry Norris

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rai

Robert Cousins Production Designer
Robert Cousins most recently completed the feature film CANDY starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish. Prior to that he has had an extensive career designing sets for theatre, starting with the Company B Belvoir production of CLOUDSTREET in 1997. Since then he has designed sets for PAGE 8, AS YOU LIKE IT, TWELFTH NIGHT (Directed by Richard Roxburgh), ALIWA , WAITING FOR GODOT, THE THREEPENNY OPE R A , GU L PI L I L , A M I DSU M M E R NIGHT’S DREAM for Company B; JULIUS CAESAR , K AFK A’S METAMORPHOSIS for Sydney Theatre Company; THE ETERNITY MAN for Almeida Theatre, London; NIGHT

Director - Richard Roxburgh Producers - Robert Connolly, John Maynard Executive Producers - Andrew Myer, Gary Hamilton, Victor Syrmis Screenplay - Nick Drake Based on the book by Raimond Gaita Director of Photography - Geoffrey Simpson Production Designer - Robert Cousins Editor - Suresh Ayyar Sound Designer - Sam Petty Costume Designer - Jodie Fried Line Producer - Michelle Russell Make Up & Hair Designer - Angela Conte Casting - Ann Robinson

Franka Potente as Christina & Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rai


for Sydney Dance Company. He has also designed both set and costumes for HOUSE AMONG THE STARS , THE MERCHANT OF VENICE , DROWNING IN MY OCEAN OF YOU for STCSA; THE DREAMED LIFE for Comeout01; THE DUCKSHOOTER for Brink Productions, and WORRY WARTS for Monkey Baa Theatre Company.

Genre - Drama Running time - Est. 100 minutes Format - 35mm colour Ratio - 1:1:85 Sound - Dolby Digital Language - English Production Compay - Arenafilm Pty Ltd Level 2, 270 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010, Australia Ph: +612 9319 7011 Fax: +612 9319 6906 Email:

Screenplay by Nick Drake Based on the book “Romulus, My Father” By Raimond Gaita

16 March 2006

Arenafilm Pty Ltd Level 2 270 Devonshire Street Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia Tel (61 2) 9319 7011 Fax (61 2) 9319 6906

2. 1 TITLE SEQUENCE A LARGE OLD-FASHIONED LIGHT BULB, ITS SCRIBBLED FILAMENT INCANDESCENT AGAINST THE DARK SCREEN, SWINGS IN SLOW MOTION ACROSS OUR VISION LIKE A WAND. IN ITS PATH OF LIGHT WE SEE: A WORKING MAN’S CLOSED HAND CUPPING SOMETHING. DARKNESS - AND THEN ANOTHER SWING OF THE LIGHT ACROSS OUR VISION: A BOY’S FACE, EIGHT YEARS OLD, WATCHING HIS FATHER. THIS IS RAI. DARKNESS AGAIN. ANOTHER SWING OF THE PENDULUM OF LIGHT. THIS TIME THE FACE OF ROMULUS, HANDSOME, EARLY 30S. IT IS FINE-FEATURED, EASTERN EUROPEAN. WE SEE HE IS PASSING THE LIGHT BULB BACK AND FORTH OVER WHATEVER IS HELD IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND. DARKNESS: SWING OF LIGHT: FLASH OF THE BOY’S WONDERING FACE. DARKNESS: THEN THE LIGHT BULB TURNS INTO A BLINDING SUN: FLASHBACK: THREE FIGURES, A MOTHER, A FATHER, A VERY YOUNG RAI BETWEEN THEM, CARRYING LUGGAGE. END OF A LONG, LONG JOURNEY. AROUND THEM A BIG, PARCHED EMPTY LANDSCAPE. A FEW GUM TREES. DUST. THE WOMAN IS CHRISTINA, YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL. HER FACE AND SMART CLOTHES TELL US SHE BELONGS IN A CITY, NOT HERE. SHE EXCHANGES A LOOK WITH HER HUSBAND. DARKNESS AGAIN. THEN AS THE BULB RETURNS: WE SEE IN EXTREME CLOSE-UP SOME STRANGE FIGURES, YELLOW, BLACK, SOMETHING BLURRING... ROMULUS LETTING A SLOW SMILE HAPPEN ON HIS FACE. THE BOY AND THE MAN TOGETHER. FLASHBACK: CHRISTINA STANDING BY A DEAD RING-BARKED GUM TREE, ALONE. IN SOMETHING MORE LIKE NORMAL TIME NOW, ROMULUS SETS THE LIGHT BULB ON ITS CABLE ABOVE THE TABLE AND MOVES TOWARDS THE DOOR AND ITS STRONG RECTANGLE OF DAYLIGHT. FLASHBACK: CHRISTINA SEEMS TO MAKE A DECISION AND WALKS AWAY INTO THE WHITE-OUT OF THE BLINDING SUN. 3 EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY RAI exits Frogmore farmhouse, a simple wooden shack with verandah, surrounded by a few peppercorn trees and grass littered with a few empty tin cans and bottles. In the background bony gums rising in one direction to sparse low hills. 2 1 SWING OF LIGHT BULB. ROMULUS CUPS THE MYSTERY IN BOTH HANDS. HE SHAKES IT LIKE DICE, OFFERS HIS CLOSED FISTS TO RAI WHO BLOWS ON THEM FOR LUCK, AND THEN - CASTS A HANDFUL OF NEWLY-THAWED BEES FREE INTO THE AIR. ROMULUS MY FATHER SUMMER 1960 INT - FROGMORE - MORNING From a crackly radio: Australian country and western. Strong sunlight illuminates a simple, frugal but ordered room: tongue and groove walls and ceiling, plank floors, faded old curtains at the windows, two tables, one pushed against a wall holding kitchen stuff. RAI, 8, with an open, thoughtful, cheerful face, attended by a dog, ORLOFF, quickly and expertly prepares breakfast on a one-burner kerosene stove. Scrambled eggs, coffee. He serves ROMULUS, who wears working man’s clothes. They eat. As they do so, ROMULUS dips bread in his coffee and serves this to JACK, a smart white cockatoo who sits on his shoulder and presses his beak every now and then to the man’s lips in an unmistakable gesture of love. RAI occasionally passes ORLOFF bits of bread. ROMULUS Did you drink your milk? RAI Not yet... He drinks a cup of milk with no relish. ROMULUS Two cups. They look at each other for a beat. RAI, still looking his father in the eye, slugs back the milk and bangs the cup down. His big grin: CUT TO: 3 2

3. In the other to paddocks and a farmhouse between old pines; LILLIE’S FARM. Beyond that, pure distance. RAI jumps on his bike, enthusiastically belting along a long unmade rutted track between the paddocks that runs from the house to a nearby road. JACK flying in circles around him, ORLOFF running with him. At the turn to the road, ORLOFF comes to the edge of his territory and sits down, panting, watching them disappear. 4 EXT. FROGMORE DAY 4



ROAR of a motorbike. ROMULUS and RAI on an old Sunbeam, tearing through the evening landscape, leaving clouds of dust. ROMULUS wears a long leather coat, gloves, helmet and goggles. RAI wears an army greatcoat, leather helmet, mittens and goggles. They look like fighter pilots. ROMULUS speeds up and they clatter over the rails of a level crossing (the endless perspective of the straight tracks whizzing past). RAI grins under the goggles. 7 EXT. MALDON - EVENING They enter MALDON, a quiet local town with hills, old buildings and wooden verandahs along both sides of narrow streets. It is Saturday evening, people turn to look at the noisy bike and its strange riders. 8 EXT. MALDON - EVENING ROMULUS parks. RAI is embarrassed by the oversized great coat and quickly tries to take it off. ROMULUS wears a suit and open-neck shirt. People nod in recognition. 9 INT. MALDON HALL - EVENING A large dusty tin hall with wooden chairs. RAI is mesmerized by the b/w gangster movie. ROMULUS is fast asleep, exhausted after his day’s work. RAI nudges him. RAI You’re missing it! 10 EXT. MALDON CAFE - EVENING RAI and ROMULUS seated at a worn formica table in the window. The place is basic, tatty, and the paint is peeling. RAI has a soft drink and an ice cream. ROMULUS smokes and drinks a coffee. A record player plays a scratchy old country and western song. Among the Australian farming families, lively and chatting, ROMULUS’s dark good looks stand out. A couple of young women cast glances at ROMULUS. At the next table we overhear snatches of conversations: 10 9 8 7

ROMULUS climbs over the fence and then walks the edge of the high summer wheat towards LILLIE’S FARM where he works. His hand brushes the surface of the wheat. Now we see him from a distance, a small figure wading up through the sea of wheat moving around and against his progress. 5 INT. SCHOOLROOM - AFTERNOON RAI writing intently in an exercise book. Whispering o/s. We are in the local schoolroom. It has no more than 20 pupils of various ages. Several blackboards are filled with closely-written set work for the different ages. The kids are itching for the bell. The whispering turns to mucking about. The teacher is RON MOTTEK, an eccentric young Dutchman who teaches all six grades. MOTTEK Shhhhhhh! The kids go quiet. Mottek holds up a large old-fashioned alarm clock. MOTTEK Tick tick tick. Shh. Listen. Tick. Tick. Tick. Each tick you are a second closer to your grave. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. RAI absorbs this. Complete silence. The clock ticks the very last seconds to 3.30pm. Tick tick tick... The alarm bell on the clock MOTTEK is holding suddenly goes off: 5



MAN 1 (quietly)...and so to scare it out what does he do? He sets fire to the bloody hay! End of January. Place goes up like a roman candle!..(laughter from the table). MAN 2 (turning and noticing Romulus looking at them) Evening Jack. ROMULUS Good evening. He nods respectfully. They nod back. RAI Those girls keep looking at you. ROMULUS Well, they’re nice people and want to be friendly. RAI pulls a face. One of the girls looks away, amused. He looks out of the window. From the outside, ROMULUS and RAI seen sitting together in the lit window in the dark country street. 11 EXT. FROGMORE TRACK - DAY 11


A double bed and a single bed, and an incongruously feminine wooden dressing table with mirror between them. The simple order of the home is gone; there is stuff everywhere; clothes, make-up, bags with their colourful feminine contents spilling out. CHRISTINA is glamorous, charismatic. She is cleaning out RAI’s ears with a bobby pin. He submits to this happily. She hums a cheerful song, Kann denn Liebe Sunder Sein, in German. Her presence is like food to him. CHRISTINA It’s so nice to be home. RAI You haven’t come for ages. CHRISTINA I know, darling. I’ve been so busy in Melbourne. RAI Doing what? She gets up, lights a cigarette, blowing the smoke out nervously. CHRISTINA Come on, let’s do something. A pile of cigarette butts in the ashtray by the bed. RAI picks one out, with red lipstick smudges on the filter, and hides it in his pocket. A keepsake or a clue. 14 INT. FROGMORE BEDROOM EARLY EVENING 14

A dusty old taxi clears frame. We see a beautiful woman, immaculately dressed, standing with a suitcase and a vanity bag. The landscape hums with heat. Up ahead, the low shape of Frogmore. She regards her surroundings. She picks up her bags and starts the long walk up the track. 12 EXT. ROADS - DAY Rai cycling home from school with JACK on the handlebars. As he nears the house, he catches a glimpse of a reclining figure in an incongruously fashionable white bathing suit on the front verandah, reading a magazine. RAI (yells) Muti! CHRISTINA’s face, breaking into a smile. Her son runs up and throws himself at her. 12

CHRISTINA making herself up at the old dressing table, which she has decorated with a silk scarf. She has placed there a few crystal bottles of perfume, and make-up, and a fine tortoise-shell hairbrush. RAI sits on the bed, fascinated by the rites and secrets of the dressing table. CHRISTINA Fasten my straps, darling. He does. They both smile into the mirror. She applies perfume, and gives him a quick playful squirt.



CHRISTINA So are we ready to go? RAI Go where? CHRISTINA Aren’t you taking me to dinner in some fine restaurant? RAI Oh. Yep! 15 INT. FROGMORE EVENING 15 17

CHRISTINA, humming, passes from the main bedroom into the second bedroom, carrying bedding. CHRISTINA Darling, it’s your bed time. RAI jumps up willingly. ROMULUS glances in their direction for a moment, then bites a thread off between his teeth. CUT TO: INT. BEDROOM OF FROGMORE NIGHT 17

RAI darts about, lighting all the candle stubs he can find, placing one on a tin-lid between them on the kitchen table. CHRISTINA looks around the bare room now lit by the flickering candles. She moves around the room, restless. RAI Women smile at Papi. A lot. CHRISTINA I smiled at him once too you know. RAI What happened then? 19 CHRISTINA You did, my darling. And look! Here we all are. ROMULUS standing in the doorway. RAI watches as his parents acknowledge each other. ROMULUS is surprised, he wasn’t expecting her: but he disguises this. CHRISTINA exhales cigarette smoke. ROMULUS Yes. Here you are. 16 INT. FROGMORE NIGHT 16 18

ROMULUS and CHRISTINA fucking, climaxing. ROMULUS lies on his side, turned away from CHRISTINA, his serious eyes staring at the wall. CHRISTINA staring at the ceiling. She knows he is awake. She reaches out tentatively to touch him, but she loses her courage. CUT TO: INT. SPARE BEDROOM OF FROGMORE NIGHT 18

RAI wakes up to find his mother getting into the camp bed with him. She holds him to her, tightly. He spoons happily into his mother’s warm embrace. INT. KITCHEN OF FROGMORE DAY 19

RAI and ROMULUS, JACK and ORLOFF in their usual routine. But there is a new silence in the room. CHRISTINA enters. She glances at ROMULUS, who has busied himself with something. RAI Morning Muti. She mumbles good morning, lights a cigarette, then goes into the main bedroom and closes the door. RAI looks at his father, who leaves.

The hiss of the lamp. RAI puts his second cup of milk down for ORLOFF to drink. RAI and ROMULUS at the table, RAI reading a comic and eating fruit piled generously in a box. ROMULUS efficiently mending one of RAI’s shirts. ORLOFF at RAI’s feet. JACK perched on ROMULUS’s shoulder. All together in the circle of light from the kerosene lamp. ROMULUS’s hands work fast, dipping the needle, tugging hard on the thread. He goes to the shut bedroom door. RAI Bye Muti. No answer.







She looks at the glass she is drying. Holds it up to the light. CHRISTINA All bombed to rubble. RAI The war. CHRISTINA The war. Terrible explosions every night, boom! boom! all around. We had to hide under the kitchen table. RAI looks at her excitedly.

Flies and heat buzzing. CHRISTINA sits on the edge of the bed, with a magazine. She flips the pages, bored. She looks out of the window. Nothing but hot, barren paddocks, and a dead ring barked gum tree. 21 EXT. FROGMORE LATE AFTERNOON 21

Music plays on the radio in the kitchen. RAI jiving with CHRISTINA on the verandah. He’s pretty good, and they’re having a great time. She sings the tune; then she turns it into a Bavarian folk dance which he also knows: Now she seems glorious, glad to be alive. They look up to see ROMULUS in his work clothes, watching them. We wonder how he’ll react. He smiles, pleased to see them happy together. He claps. ROMULUS Dancing, very good. CHRISTINA persuades him to dance. She hums a slow music hall tune, and turns it into a slow dance. They move together for a moment or two. RAI’s optimistic face: absorbing this. CUT TO:

CHRISTINA I was sixteen, your father was twenty two. We used to meet in secret because if my parents had found out, we’d have been in big strife! RAI Because you were too young... CHRISTINA And because your father was not German. He was Romanian. And poor. It was not allowed. RAI 22 Why not? CHRISTINA Oh, it was a bad time. We were always hungry. D’you know, your father used to walk for days at a time to find us bread and potatoes and sometimes a cigarette or two. But we were crazy about each other, we had nothing else! In fact She whispers this theatrically: CHRISTINA I’ll tell you a secret; he loved me so badly when I tried to leave him he shot himself! RAI is amazed. This is new information. RAI What?




RAI doing the washing up. CHRISTINA lazily drying. ROMULUS outside on the verandah, his first relaxation of the day, carving a knife-handle from a sheep bone: his hands always working. He can hear everything that follows. RAI (he knows this already) Tell me again how you met Papi. CHRISTINA You already know that story. RAI (encouraging her) Come on. In Germany... CHRISTINA In a beautiful city of concert halls with avenues... and green parks full of trees and flowers and..and rain.



CHRISTINA (enacting this story with her finger as the gun as she tells it) He took a pistol, and he pointed it to the side of his head, and then he just pulled the trigger BANG! RAI jumps back a little, startled. CHRISTINA (giggling now) But he missed! Can you believe it! The bullet just scratched his nose. Imagine, bombs falling on our heads out of the sky every night, and your poor crazy father shoots himself in the nose. ROMULUS stands in the doorway, his face dark with anger. 23 INT. SPARE BEDROOM/KITCHEN NIGHT 23

In the spare bedroom, RAI’s face. 24 INT. FROGMORE BEDROOM DAY 24

The bed and the bedroom empty. CHRISTINA has gone. RAI is under his bed with ORLOFF. He has the silk scarf of CHRISTINA’s which she has left behind, and a cigarette butt. He gets out an old hat box, inside we might glimpse stones, photos, some unfinished cross-word puzzles. He puts the scarf and cigarette butt inside. Footsteps. ROMULUS’s boots come into view. ROMULUS Raimond? RAI is silent. ROMULUS knows exactly where RAI is hiding. He looks down at the empty beds. Then he leaves the room. RAI closes the lid of the box and lies back, staring at the underside of the mattress where his mother slept. 25 EXT. RAI CYCLING - AFTERNOON RAI is cycling along a track through a grove of eucalyptus trees below some big granite boulders balanced on a great hill. He almost runs into a man in his 50s; a collection of ragged clothes surmounted by a great beard, his possibly alarming appearance countered by an open-hearted face under a beanie pulled low over his forehead. This is VACEK (pronounced VA-TZEK). He is standing very still, observing a witchety grub which he holds in his outstretched palm. RAI examines it: RAI Nice one. See ya! He cycles off. 26 EXT. LILLIE’S VERANDAH - AFTERNOON 26 25

RAI sees fragments of the next scene through cracks between the boards. The effect of what passes plays out on his face: A furious row. CHRISTINA both elated and scared by what she has unleashed. ROMULUS You’ve got no right to tell that story. Not here. CHRISTINA I love that story! ROMULUS Why, so you can tell our son his father’s a crazy fool? CHRISTINA (overlapping) No, I love that story because it reminds me we were happy, and that you loved me! (In German:) It reminds me you were a human being with feelings, with a heart. ROMULUS (overlapping) (low, angry) You think your feelings are all that matter. (In German:) And look where they’ve got you.

MRS LILLIE and MISS COLLARD (sisters; both sprightly old country girls), have prepared a high tea from another century. Teacups, saucers, cake, scones. Doilies. The table full. MISS COLLARD’s face, heavily lined and weathered, bright eyed. She serves up scones.



MRS LILLIE Now then; we want to see you eat until you’re as full as a goog. MISS COLLARD Full as a tick, I say. MISS COLLARD slaps a fly, an incredibly swift movement, a lifetime of practise. The fly falls dead. She flicks it away. 27 MRS LILLIE How’s your mother, Rai? RAI She’s gone back to Melbourne. The sisters share a look. RAI When she comes to stay she and Papi sleep in the same bed. MISS COLLARD Ah yeah? Silence. RAI But she never stays very long. I reckon we should live together all the time. MISS COLLARD Well sometimes what you reckon and what you get ain’t the same thing. Beat. MRS LILLIE So, just you and your father again, then, is it? RAI sees in the distance at the shed, his father, shirt off, working away. TOM LILLIE approaches and points up the paddock to another task. ROMULUS nods, wiping his brow. RAI And Jack and Orloff. MISS COLLARD Does the bird want tea too? RAI Yes please. She pours a saucer of tea and leaves it for the bird. 29

MRS LILLIE And cake? RAI Yep, he likes his cake. She offers cake. RAI dips cake and feeds JACK. INT. KITCHEN OF FROGMORE - EVENING ROMULUS is repairing RAI’s black, flat-soled shoes. RAI is writing a letter, helping himself to fruit from the wellstocked box. JACK is by ROMULUS, who pets him. Hiss of the gas lantern. RAI watches ROMULUS. RAI I’m writing to Muti. ROMULUS Good. 27

RAI I’m asking her when she’s coming home again. ROMULUS says nothing. His face is troubled. 28 INT. FROGMORE NIGHT 28

RAI asleep in his bed. He sits on his own bed and looks at the small figure of his son. He looks at the empty space where CHRISTINA had slept. He undresses. Turns out the light. A train whistles in the distance. His profile in the moonlight. EXT. SCHOOL - DAY 29

RAI comes out of the little school building among the noisy kids. A good looking, tall, striking, and cheerful man in a suit and open-necked shirt is waiting for him. PANTELIMON HORA, known to everyone as HORA. RAI Hora! RAI is thrilled to see him. HORA Hello Fritz!




EXT. CAIRN CURRAN - DAY HORA with RAI in a home-made boat not far from the edge of the reservoir. Both in swim suits. HORA Ready? RAI Ready! HORA Go about! Go about! Quickquickquick!


RAI ponders this. HORA Not many men stay true to their beliefs, despite everything. RAI thinks. RAI Semmelweiss did! HORA (nods) Ignaz Semmelweis... RAI Cause he worked out why the ladies were dying in hospital after having their babies. HORA And why was that? RAI Because the doctors never used to wash their hands after cutting up the dead bodies. HORA And then everybody laughed at him.. all the professors and the medical establishment and so on...And more mothers kept dying. Do you remember what he did then?

RAI ducks under the home-made sail, and anxiously positions himself on the other side of the rocking boat. HORA pretends to lose his balance as if in stormy waters: HORA Ah no! Man overboard! With a big splash he dives into the water. RAI waits for HORA to emerge. Nothing. The lake is still. He gets a little worried. Still nothing. Then suddenly HORA bursts up from nowhere, blowing out water and gently splashing RAI who shouts with excitement. Then he takes the boat’s rope and starts to swim confidently towards some skeleton trees near by. We can tell he loves the water and the sun. 31 EXT. CAIRN CURRAN - DAY 31

HORA and RAI relishing the sun’s warmth in the branches of a skeleton tree in the middle of the glittering lake, their boat moored below. HORA meticulously assembles and smokes a rollie, at the same time as reading a much-read book, its cover and spine repaired with tape. HORA Listen to this: ‘The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.’ He laughs, repeats the line, then he smiles, relishing its implications. HORA Bertrand Russell. Now, you see here’s a man who thinks for himself. Even when there was...war, and horrors and craziness all around him, he still believed in something.

RAI (thinks) Um... No... HORA He wrote letters in the newspapers and called them murderers. RAI Yeah. And then he went mad. HORA And then he went mad. But now, you know, because of his belief, young mothers just don’t die like that anymore. He was right. He was right... They lie back in the sun, thinking about that.







In the kitchen, the three men. A blur of smoke, drink. RAI sits apart with the radio, listening to the men talking. There is between HORA and ROMULUS a deep sense of friendship. ROMULUS reads the SUN newspaper, HORA has the book open. The radio is on, Jack Davies’ QUIZ SHOW. Cheery title music for the programme, then:

HORA (more quietly) They’ve moved in together... Some place in Melbourne. And they’re coming down here - they’re going to live in Maryborough. ROMULUS is distressed by this news. RAI listens. ROMULUS Why? HORA Mitru’s got himself a job. At the post office. ROMULUS is silent. RAI listens to the men.

JACK DAVEY Hi Ho, everybody! RAI, HORA, ROMULUS and JACK call out their response without even thinking about it: ALL Hi Ho Jack! But ROMULUS is thinking about something. He replenishes the glasses of slivovitz and hands one to HORA. HORA assembles a rollie. ROMULUS I’m thinking of sending him to St Joseph’s. HORA That’s good. Expensive... ROMULUS Yes. But I’ve got an idea. HORA nods. They smoke and ponder. RAI apart listening to the radio: JACK DAVEY What is the capital of Mongolia? RAI Ulan Bator. The questions and answers continued, muted, in the b/g. HORA (quietly, to ROMULUS) I’ve got to tell you something else. About Christina. ROMULUS looks at him through the smoke. ROMULUS Go on. 33 Silence.

HORA I’m ashamed. He’s my brother but I’m ashamed. ROMULUS Don’t be.

ROMULUS studies his glass, looks at RAI. HORA pats his hand. HORA It’ll be alright. Suddenly, decisively: ROMULUS Raimond! There is a new Egg Board in Castlemaine. Shall we sell eggs? RAI looks up: CUT TO: INT/EXT. FROGMORE DAY 33

Hundreds of hens suddenly burst through the rooms of the house, running about everywhere, roaming free, shitting in the kitchen, ORLOFF and JACK going crazy. RAI laughing. RAI and ROMULUS and HORA chasing them out. VACEK standing serenely in the middle of the chaos. CUT TO:


20. ROMULUS (cont'd) These eggs are sending you through boarding school. CUT TO: RAI admires hundreds of eggs, neatly stacked and awaiting collection. 35 EXT. VACEK’S BOULDERS - AFTERNOON RAI, accompanied by ORLOFF abandons his bike in the eucalyptus trees at the foot of the boulders. He is carefully carrying a dozen eggs in a box. He looks up and sees VACEK’s shelter made of corrugated iron and old bits of timber and branches between two great granite boulders. He starts to climb, holding the eggs. 36 EXT. VACEK’S BOULDERS - AFTERNOON VACEK accepts the gift of eggs from RAI. He treats their fragility with great respect. VACEK picks up a battered cooking pot, turns away from RAI and pisses noisily into it. 36 35

ROMULUS and HORA, shirts off, strong bodies, sweating with exertion, construct a chicken-proof wire fence around the house. Then they build hen coops, banging nails into timber and posts made from tree branches. It is hard, physical labour. VACEK passes them things they need. He is entirely accepted here. RAI takes no part in the construction. He wanders around collecting a bucket full of eggs. RAI There are billions, all over the place. HORA (wiping the sweat from his brow) Now you need to wash off all the shit. RAI That’s gonna take forever. And don’t use words like Shit. HORA laughs, amused. CUT TO: 34 INT. LIVING ROOM OF FROGMORE DAY 34

Then he calmly sets the pot on the fire, and begins to chat softly, with understanding, to ORLOFF. CUT TO: A boiled egg and a battered spoon are set down in front of RAI. His face shows his profound uncertainty: RAI Thank you. He breaks open the crown of the egg. VACEK and RAI eat their eggs on the top of the boulder, looking out at the spectacular view. 37 EXT. CAIRN CURRAN - DAY INTERCUT with following scene. It’s a hot summer Sunday. A well-deserved day off. HORA and RAI confidently tacking their boat through the skeleton trees. RAI (shading his eyes and calling out) Papi!! CUT TO: 37

ROMULUS is making the final adjustments to an ingenious, Heath Robinson egg washing machine. It is three metres long, with a handle that operates two cloth-covered shafts running the length of the machine. ROMULUS nods to RAI, who takes an egg, feeds it into the machine and turns the handle. It is passed through warm soapy water, and then cleaned as it is turned with one shaft, and dried as it passes between the towels on the other. Somehow it works. ROMULUS nods to RAI, who adds more eggs. The first clean egg comes off and rolls into a wire basket. ROMULUS watches his invention working. RAI whoops with excitement. HORA takes the egg and throws it to RAI, who catches it, and throws it back. HORA juggles with three clean eggs. RAI picks some up and attempts to copy, dropping all. ROMULUS (smiling) You be careful. (MORE)




EXT. CAIRN CURRAN LAKE EDGE- DAY ROMULUS, sitting on a giant tree stump on the edge of the lake, holding in his hands an unopened letter. He squints into the sun. He slits it open and unfolds the letter. Out on the lake RAI calls again. ROMULUS does not hear. He finishes reading the letter. He is confounded by what he has read. He looks off to the distant horizon.

38 40


The end of dinner. Awkward silence. The camera pans: ROMULUS’s face, RAI’s, CHRISTINA’s, and finally rests on MITRU: he has a striking, generous face; sad, almost comical, with slicked-down black hair, and a fine, soft voice. He is extremely uncomfortable being here. Finally: RAI (practical) So where are we all going to sleep? Adult embarrassment. CHRISTINA almost amused. After a moment: ROMULUS Raimond. RAI You and Mitru and Muti can have the bedroom. ROMULUS Raimond, finish your dinner and be quiet. MITRU That’s very kind of you, Rai. But I’ll sleep in the spare room. ROMULUS gives him a brief stare. The sound of cutlery. ROMULUS (overlapping) No, I mean it. No matter what she’s done, we’re still a family. (In Romanian:) For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health... These things don’t change. HORA You just keep forgiving her, Gaita, no matter what it costs ...What more can I say? ROMULUS takes back the letter angrily. 41 EXT. FROGMORE NIGHT 41


EXT. CAIRN CURRAN LAKE EDGE - DAY HORA, still in his swim suit, is carefully reading the letter. He too is shocked by what he has read. RAI stands watching. HORA She’s crazy. Don’t even consider it. He looks to ROMULUS for confirmation. HORA Don’t tell me you’re going to agree to it? ROMULUS Raimond needs to see his mother. HORA (overlapping) Yes. But is it right that she comes here, in front of you and your son, with her - (he gestures)...with my brother under your roof? You can’t mean it.


RAI comes back from brushing his teeth at the tank. He finds MITRU sitting outside at a little distance from the house, smoking anxiously. They sit together looking up at the stars. They can hear the voices off of an argument in the kitchen. Then: MITRU Some people think our destinies are foretold by the stars. Your mother thinks so. What d’you reckon?



RAI I know Muti and you are living together in Maryborough. I don’t reckon that was foretold by the stars. MITRU (amused) Probably not.

MITRU standing in the doorway, distressed, looking at CHRISTINA and at ROMULUS. RAI at his side. MITRU I think I should leave. Could you please take me to the station. CHRISTINA looks disgusted. EXT. CASTLEMAINE RAILWAY STATION - NIGHT ROMULUS and MITRU on the platform. It is shadowy, silent, deserted. The large platform clock ticks over. The signals down. No trains. The lines run silver either way in the moonlight. MITRU wants somehow to reach out to his friend, and attempts a hand shake, which ROMULUS cannot but accept. They hold for a moment. 43

RAI I mean why would they be interested? True. MITRU Very true.

He laughs ruefully, shakes his head. 42 INT. FROGMORE NIGHT 42

CHRISTINA and ROMULUS. He is washing up. CHRISTINA cannot believe his apparently calm demeanor. She is standing, smoking and staring at him. ROMULUS (matter of fact) You were never faithful to me for even one day. CHRISTINA So why did you marry me? He carefully puts down a plate and turns to her. ROMULUS Not because I loved you. She gives him a shocked slap. CHRISTINA Then divorce me. Please. Do it. Do it.
45 44

Then ROMULUS quickly breaks it, and leaves. Sound O/S of the motorbike starting up and speeding off. Silence returns. MITRU alone on the empty platform. He looks up at the disinterested stars. EXT. MOTORBIKE - NIGHT ROMULUS on the bike returning to Frogmore alone, his face grim, driving suicidally fast along the moon-lit, rutted country roads. Shadows of gum trees flickering past at terrifying speed. Then he sees a tight bend ahead. Almost as if deliberately he pushes up the speed and leans over crazily, too far into it And the bike flies from under him and crashes suddenly at speed into the bushes. ROMULUS is thrown off. He rolls over and over. Silence. He does not move. FADE TO BLACK. INT. BENDIGO HOSPITAL - DAY 45 44

ROMULUS I’ll never divorce you. Do you understand? CHRISTINA Why not? Why not? ROMULUS Because you need me! She has no answer to this. They look up to see:

Christina and Rai, holding hands, running down the corridor of the hospital and into a ward. The rows of beds. The bored faces of the men, young and old. They come to a bed with ROMULUS in it. He is a mess. In considerable pain and barely conscious. CHRISTINA approaches the bed. ROMULUS opens his eyes. They look at each other.



She sits beside the bed and tenderly takes his hand. ROMULUS shirtless, and now we see clearly the tattoo on his arm: Christina. RAI takes his other hand. A chain. He smiles bravely for his father. 46 EXT. FROGMORE - DAY The summer afternoon landscape hissing with heat. In the shimmering distance, HORA walking up the dusty distance, lugging two heavy sugar-sacks of groceries over his shoulders. 47 INT. LIVING ROOM OF FROGMORE AFTERNOON 47 46

CHRISTINA (appearing in the doorway) Of course you can. HORA glances at her. CHRISTINA I’ll have one too. HORA They’re for Rai. CHRISTINA brushes past HORA, and takes two oranges. She holds them in the palm of her hand, like a pair of balls. CHRISTINA (quietly, to HORA) Big man. She throws one to RAI, and then mischievously starts to peel hers in one long length of peel, singing ‘Sing Mit Mir’ by Marika Rokk as if she was performing a sexy cabaret. RAI laughs, applauds. CUT TO:

CHRISTINA and RAI lie together, she in her white swim suit, their feet in each others’ laps, in an old enamel bath tub which is kept here in this room used mostly for storage. Hot afternoon light filters in through the dusty blinds. JACK perched on the rim of the bath near RAI. She is trimming his toe nails carefully. He is ticklish. RAI How long are you staying? CHRISTINA As long as you need me, darling. RAI What about Mitru? Is he alright without you there? CHRISTINA kisses his foot, without replying. RAI Do you like Mitru? CHRISTINA He’s a kind man. Don’t you think? RAI shrugs. RAI I think Papi’s better. HORA enters the kitchen, breaking the quiet atmosphere, struggling under a sack of groceries. He looks exhausted. He has carried the groceries a long way. He sees them together in the bath. CHRISTINA just ignores him. RAI jumps out and helps him to unpack. He finds oranges: RAI Beauty! Can I have one now? 48



HORA arrives to visit ROMULUS who is still in bed, in pain, his leg in plaster and in traction. HORA stealthily draws the curtain around the bed. He unpacks a thermos and pours them both shots of slivovitz. They toast the broken leg, and drink in silence. ROMULUS struggles a little to get his down. ROMULUS Got any smokes? HORA gets out his green tin and takes out two prepared rollies. He passes one to ROMULUS, and lights both. He waves the smoke away... They say nothing for a while. ROMULUS How are you doing for money? HORA Don’t you worry about that. They smoke. ROMULUS And Christina?



HORA shrugs, resigned. HORA You know what she’s like. She’s been the same since Rai was a little kid. ROMULUS nods. They smoke some more. Then HORA, drawing on his rollie, makes his attempt: HORA Listen. I have a friend in Melbourne. Corinna. She has a cousin, back home. A good woman. Young. Hard working. Beautiful. She’d make someone a good wife. ROMULUS smiles at his friend’s attempt. He shakes his head. ROMULUS If she’s that good, why don’t you marry her yourself? Holds out his cup for more slivovitz. HORA Nah, she’s not my type... They grin. HORA refills ROMULUS’s glass.





The door slams, and they follow him out. CHRISTINA What are you doing? HORA takes aim at a chicken. He fires, and misses. Pandemonium among the chickens. CHRISTINA and RAI, startled. RAI (shouting) Why are you shooting the chooks!? No reply. BANG - he lets off another shot, and again misses. He tries to train the sights of the gun on the chickens, but they’re crazy with panic now. He throws down the gun and chases down a sick chicken. He grasps it, and tries to break its neck - but it slips out of his grasp. He chases it among a storm of feathers and flustered birds. RAI chases him, grabbing at his legs, trying to stop him. HORA They’re sick, alright? They’re all sick. CUT TO: 49 52 EXT. FROGMORE DAY 52 HORA has dug a long pit. He is throwing in the last of the live, struggling chooks and shovelling down earth like a madman, burying them alive. CHRISTINA and RAI watch. 50 BANG BANG BANG: HORA burying all the chickens in their mass grave. CUT TO:




HORA is outside feeding the chickens and collecting eggs. He notices several of them are ill. He picks up one, examines it, and is alarmed by what he sees. He looks at the others. Same thing. He makes a tough decision. 50 INT. KITCHEN OF FROGMORE DAY

Dirty dishes everywhere. HORA comes stomping in. HORA Look at the state of this bloody place. HORA reaches up to a high cupboard to lift down a .22 and a pack of shells. As he walks back out: RAI What are you doing? No reply. CHRISTINA’s face: flinching with every bang of the shovel. CUT TO: HORA stops beating the ground with the shovel. There is no movement. He is breathing heavily. Silence. All of the chickens have been killed. He sees RAI’s face.



RAI Murderer. He looks back at the house and sees CHRISTINA’s accusing face. HORA alone, trying to gather himself, shakily smoking a rollie. 53 INT. FROGMORE BEDROOM/KITCHEN DAY RAI in the bedroom with the radio, it plays a jaunty country tune. Through the just-open door into the other room he can overhear HORA and CHRISTINA. We cut between RAI in the bedroom, and CHRISTINA and HORA in the kitchen. HORA I had no choice. CHRISTINA You enjoyed it. HORA You’re sick. CHRISTINA Me? You’re the one who buries chickens alive. You coward. In his room RAI turns up the song on the radio a little louder now (they do not notice). HORA Don’t think I am going to put up with this from you. CHRISTINA Why don’t you just leave us alone? We don’t need you here. HORA And who’ll look after Raimond then? You? Where will the money come from? Who’ll cook and clean? CHRISTINA We’d find a way. HORA Alright. You find a way. You buy the food. You cook dinner from now on. 53

CHRISTINA And who are you to give me orders? HORA (overlapping) I’m not going to let the boy starve CHRISTINA (yelling) - The Commandant of Camp Frogmore? HORA loses it. With grave fury: HORA If you don’t leave this house today, if you don’t leave me and Raimond alone, I’m going to take a stick and I’m going to break every bone in your bodyRAI, more upset now, has turned the volume right up. CHRISTINA (right at HORA) I hate this place. Jesus, I hate this place! But I always come back, don’t I? I’m buried alive here. Just like your bloody chickens! RAI runs into the kitchen, and throws the loud radio at the wall. It crashes to the floor, broken, silenced. RAI Don’t talk about being dead! CHRISTINA is mortified. 54 INT. FROGMORE DAY 54

RAI in the bedroom, under the bed, with ORLOFF. He holds the spiral of orange peel, turning it like a DNA helix. He puts the peel in the old hat box together with the other finds and shards. RAI sees under his father’s bed a black tin trunk. He shuffles across and flips the catches. Inside he finds sheaves of letters, a Bible in Romanian with an Orthodox cross embossed on it, an old wool winter coat and a train ticket in German in the pocket. And lastly an impressive box, with tissue paper, containing a magnificent cut-throat razor.



RAI opens out the immaculate, polished blade. Wow. He holds the blade up to the light. He touches the sharp blade very carefully, fascinated. 55 INT. FROGMORE PADDOCK DAY 55

HORA So what you going to do with this cubby palace? RAI I reckon if we had more space, when Papi comes home we could all live together. HORA Do you think so? RAI Why not? HORA Because things change. RAI Why do things change? HORA thinks and smokes.

Easter term break. Autumn in the air. The land greener, the light gentler. RAI and HORA chucking wood down from the TOM LILLIE’s UTE. HORA doing most of the work, rollie in his lips; RAI moving slowly, reluctantly. HORA is trying to re-establish contact with RAI. HORA I’ll pay you a penny a day. RAI Two. HORA All right. Deal. Pause. HORA What will you do with the money? 56 RAI I’m gonna build a cubby house. Out of bricks. I reckon I’ll need a thousand. 57 HORA That sounds more like a castle. Pause. Did I tell you the story about the brilliant scientist who lived in a room so tiny that he had to put his arms out of the windows to put on his jacket in the mornings? RAI You’ve been telling me that story since I was born. HORA smiles through his smoke. CUT TO: 58

HORA I don’t know. RAI is struck by HORA’s answer. EXT. FROGMORE DAY 56

RAI sits in the shade whittling on a piece of wood with the razor. He sees the blade is damaged, serrated. He panics. EXT. FROGMORE DAY 57

RAI stands at the edge of the dam and throws the razor: it glitters in the sunlight, then vanishes under the murky water. His face, frightened: he knows this means serious trouble. EXT. FROGMORE DAY 58

A taxi drives up the track and parks out at the front of Frogmore. RAI and HORA watch from the verandah. RAI (anxiously) Can’t you stay longer? HORA I have to find a job. RAI Why?

Stacking the wood in the lean-to.



HORA Because none of us has any money! ROMULUS gets out with the help of a walking stick which we will see him use for a while. His broken leg is still in plaster. HORA gives RAI a gentle push, and RAI goes to his father. They hug, a little awkwardly. ROMULUS (Shaking hands with HORA) Thank you. JACK is elated to see ROMULUS. He raises his crest, dances, makes a racket, and demands to be kissed. ROMULUS kisses him. He puts his arm around RAI, and they move to the house. HORA lights a rollie, the smoke curling around his smile. A touch of sadness. It is time for him to go. 59 EXT. FROGMORE - DAY SEQUENCE: Cold weather has arrived. ROMULUS works, despite the plaster cast: Climbing over the gate. 63 Chopping wood. Riding the bike, his plaster cast propped up straight on a specially-constructed steel mount. RAI laughing at the sight. 60 INT. FROGMORE - NIGHT ROMULUS repairs the shattered radio. It works again. He moves the dial through static, different stations, finds a song, listens a little, then switches it off. CUT TO: 61 EXT. GENERAL STORE - DAY A cold day. ROMULUS, his leg no longer in plaster, is filling the bike with petrol. RAI runs excitedly out of the STORE/POST OFFICE waving a letter. RAI It’s from Muti! 61 60 59

ROMULUS hardly glances at the letter, quickly folds it away into his jacket pocket. RAI Aren’t you gonna open it? It might be important. ROMULUS Later. RAI But ROMULUS I said not now. Don’t argue Raimond. 62 INT. FROGMORE DAY 62

ROMULUS sits very still on the edge of his bed holding the opened letter. Then he folds it, slips it back in its envelope. He slides out and opens his trunk, adding the letter to the many others. He re-ties them with a faded red hair-ribbon, and replaces them in the trunk, next to the razor box. As he does so he moves the box to one side. It feels oddly light. He opens it and sees it is empty. He searches for the razor. It has gone. He sits for a moment with the empty box in his hands. EXT. FROGMORE DAY 63

RAI is playing in the paddock with ORLOFF. He hears ROMULUS shout to him from the house. ROMULUS Raimond! RAI stops what he is doing. His father approaches. He knows he’s in trouble. ROMULUS Where is the razor? RAI What razor? ROMULUS The one that was in the box in my trunk. Pause. RAI Maybe Hora borrowed it?


36. Unlike rural Maldon with its quiet houses and Victorian streets, this is a bustling, more modern town. More traffic, people, noise. 67 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - DAY They park outside a large Victorian Boarding House, a wine bar at the front. 68 EXT. BOARDING HOUSE YARD - DAY 68 67

ROMULUS realises RAI is lying. ROMULUS Raimond, don’t lie to me. Even if you burn the house down you must tell me the truth. Always. You tell me the truth you won’t be in understand? RAI thinks. Silence. Eventually: RAI (quietly) I don’t know where it is. Suddenly ROMULUS is incensed. He grabs RAI roughly by the arms, and beats him hard wherever he can land a blow. It’s a messy, furious struggle. RAI twists in his grip like a dervish, furious and hurt, trying to evade the blows, screaming all the time. Finally, he struggles out of his grasp and runs away. RAI I’m just a kid! 64 INT. FROGMORE EVENING 64

The single-storey, rented rooms at the back of the house open onto a small hot yard shared by the tenants - a mix of drunks, transient labourers, and no-hope families. Just arrived, ROMULUS, holding RAI’s small suitcase, RAI, and MITRU holding the BABY, stand awkwardly together in the yard. HORA is here too. Silence. MITRU (to ROMULUS) Would you like to hold her? ROMULUS nods. The baby is passed to ROMULUS, who receives her in his arms: the child of his friend and his troubled wife. The baby is asleep. Eventually: ROMULUS Look how beautiful she is. MITRU Yes. She is beautiful. ROMULUS Like her mother. Quiet. Then the door to the room opens, and CHRISTINA stands there in the shadows. She looks at all the men in her life, and the baby. ROMULUS passes the baby back to MITRU. 69 EXT MARYBOROUGH DAY 69

They sit at the table opposite each other. ROMULUS not eating. RAI toying with his food. Eventually: ROMULUS Your mother is going to have a baby. Pause. RAI’s brave face. He struggles to take in this information. A train whistles in the dark. 65 EXT. FROGMORE - DAWN A freezing morning. Bird song. Long cold light. RAI looks down at the wash bowl. The water is frozen over. He touches it carefully. Then he smashes the ice into fragments... 66 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - DAY SUMMER 1961 Summer day. ROMULUS and RAI on the motorbike enter Maryborough, driving down the wide main street. 66


ROMULUS sits on the parked motorbike. We see the awful pain of this moment of separation in his eyes. He puts on his goggles, guns the engine, and moves off. INT. BOARDING HOUSE ROOM - DAY 70

MITRU stands with the baby in his arms. CHRISTINA is turned away on the bed. RAI reaches into his pocket and produces an envelope which he gives to Mitru.



RAI From Papi. MITRU opens the envelope. It contains a generous amount of money. CHRISTINA turns over, and sees this. MITRU nods with amazed gratitude. He puts the envelope down on the table. 71 INT. BOARDING HOUSE ROOM - DAY The baby is howling in her crib. CHRISTINA is in bed. She looks haunted. RAI Muti? No reply. RAI I think she’s hungry, and she’s stinky. He tries to shush the baby, but she just cries and cries. RAI What do you think I should I do? CHRISTINA Take her outside. Just take her somewhere else. She turns to the wall. 72 EXT. BOARDING HOUSE YARD - DAY 72 71

MITRU There. All clean again. I’ll be back later. He carefully gives the baby to CHRISTINA, and hurries out. She stares at the baby. 73 EXT. BOTANICAL GARDENS - LATE AFTERNOON 73

MITRU, CHRISTINA, RAI lie together on the cool grass of the Botanical gardens. MITRU, still in his Postie uniform, plays with the BABY on his lap. He’s great with her. She gurgles with delight. MITRU gets her to wave at CHRISTINA. He puts his kind face next to her smiley face, and pulls a funny expression. CHRISTINA is looking a bit better. She smiles at MITRU. He’s is delighted to have pleased her. Then she leans back and looks around. She notices two TOWN LADS checking her out. She gives them a little smile. MITRU sees this. TOWN LAD 1 Those are the finest legs in Central Victoria! TOWN LAD 2 They’re corkers! They pass by. MITRU looks away. CHRISTINA And so they are. She admires them. To RAI: CHRISTINA Don’t you think? 74 EXT. FROGMORE EVENING 74

RAI walking in circles in the shade with the howling child. MITRU comes running into the yard, in his Postie uniform. He takes the child from RAI. MITRU Here. MITRU enters the room, CHRISTINA still in bed, her face still to the wall. MITRU How are you feeling, my love? He kisses her on the forehead tenderly. She doesn’t reply. He expertly changes the baby’s nappy. He’s very good with her. She looks happy again.

HORA and ROMULUS on the verandah. We come into: HORA smiling, urging ROMULUS to take from him a small black and white photograph. ROMULUS shakes his head, amused. ROMULUS I’m not looking at it. HORA in a gentle, funny way, urges him again. HORA Come on. Just a peek.



ROMULUS regards him through his smoke. Shakes his head, laughing now. ROMULUS I’m not looking at it! HORA offers it again. ROMULUS looks at him. Then he eventually reaches out to take it. At the last moment HORA pulls it back, still joking. Now both men laugh out loud. Then HORA slips the photo to ROMULUS. ROMULUS takes the small image in his working man’s fingers. We see it shows a beautiful young woman. HORA Her name’s Lydia Vukovic. ROMULUS glances at it, offers some kind of non-committed non-verbal appreciation of her prettiness, and hands the photo back to HORA, who takes it, but leaves it on the table between them. Both men smoke and think. HORA glances sideways at his friend. Both men have little smiles, which they try to suppress. 75 EXT. BOARDING HOUSE - AFTERNOON CHRISTINA twirling for RAI’s approval in a beautiful new dress. The shopping bag and wrapping lie on the floor. She looks astonishing, in the dress, in this poor room. MITRU is tearing his hair out. 75

CHRISTINA Well we wouldn’t be if you got a better job. We never have anything Someone bangs on the wall: VOICE Shut up! Fuckin dagos. CHRISTINA leaves, brushing past RAI. Silence. MITRU joins RAI on the step. They both throw pebbles at an empty tin can. RAI Why don’t you ask Hora for help? Or Papi? He could give you some more money. His pebble misses. Mitru takes aim. MITRU I’m ashamed. You understand don’t you? His pebble goes in. He smiles sadly. RAI Oh yeah. It means you’re embarrassed and humiliated. RAI throws a pebble. It misses.

CHRISTINA (brightly) You just don’t understand beauty! That’s your problem... MITRU (exasperated and concerned) Darling, that money was for rent! How am I going to feed the baby? And Rai? I earn 8 pounds a week and you spend £20 on a dress. RAI She looks great though. MITRU (angry now) What’s great is we’ll be kicked out of here again because I can’t pay the rent.

MITRU smiles wryly. MITRU That’s exactly right. His pebble goes in. RAI Why don’t you take her to the movies? At least she’d get to wear the dress. MITRU Well now she’s got the dress I can’t afford the movies. Pause MITRU I suppose we could just stand in the foyer. Have an eskimo pie.



He shakes his head wryly. Another pebble goes in. RAI Hey, you’re great at this! MITRU ruffles RAI’s hair. MITRU Well, every man has to have one thing he’s good at. CUT TO: 76 INT. BOARDING HOUSE ROOM - NIGHT MITRU in bed asleep. He is woken by a delicate kiss on his face. CHRISTINA kisses him gently, over and over. CHRISTINA I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Promise me you won’t leave me. Promise me for my sake and our baby. Please. She continues kissing him. MITRU responds to CHRISTINA’s kisses. A moment of release of tenderness and desire. He unzips the dress and it slips to the floor. MITRU I promise. I promise. I love you so much. He takes her in his arms and holds her for dear life. He kisses her breasts, she strokes his hair. CUT TO: 77 EXT. BOARDING HOUSE YARD - NIGHT RAI on a mattress laid each night outside the room, in the yard, listening to the bedsprings and the sighs. He looks up at the stars. 78 INT. MARYBOROUGH HOTEL- DAY We INTERCUT the following scenes: RAI, in a phone cabinet at the pub, checks the clock. The hands are almost on 9am. He dials and waits. 78 77 76


ROMULUS in his working clothes waiting by the telephone next to the Hall that serves as the cinema. He anxiously checks his watch. The seconds count down to nine o’clock, and the phone rings. He eagerly picks up the receiver. CUT TO RAI Papi? He feeds a coin into the machine. CUT TO: ROMULUS so happy to hear his son. ROMULUS Raimond? How’re things? RAI (o/s) Ok. ROMULUS And your mother? CLOSE UP on ROMULUS’s face as he listens intently to more from RAI which we don’t hear. ROMULUS I see. Pause. RAI So can she come home with me? CUT TO: ROMULUS’s face. ROMULUS Stay there with her a little while longer and then come home. CUT TO: The pips start. RAI very disappointed. RAI I’ve run out of money. CUT TO:



But we see he still has coins in his hand. CUT TO: ROMULUS (o/s) Raimond... The line goes dead. Romulus replaces the receiver. 80 INT. FROGMORE - NIGHT ROMULUS on his bed, alone, ashtray on his chest, smoking. He is staring at the photograph of LYDIA. 81 EXT/INT. BOARDING HOUSE - DAY 81 80

He heads towards the source. He finds a deshevelled girl, probably 12 years old, dancing by herself to the music on the verandah of a tumble-down house. Then a voice comes from inside: MOTHER Alice! Turn that bloody thing down! The voice is drunk. Alice sighs. The song comes to an end. The needle scratches around and around the dead centre of the record. Alice picks up the arm and starts the song again. RAI watches her dance again. Then the MOTHER appears at the verandah door. She wrenches the needle off the record. MOTHER Get the fuck out of here and give me some peace. She runs off, and sees RAI. RAI Who was that singing? ALICE Jerry Lee Lewis. He’s from Ferriday, Louisiana. They call him The Killer. RAI Why? ALICE (Shrugs) Who are you when you’re at home? RAI (with pride) I’m Raimond Gaita. From Frogmore, Victoria. 84 83 85 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - DAY ALICE and RAI run off up the alley away from the house. EXT. MARYBOROUGH - AFTERNOON 85 84

RAI looking after the BABY in the yard, hears CHRISTINA talking in the room. It sounds like an argument. (’Go away, go away... Leave me alone...’ etc) He carefully pushes the door and looks in. His mother is standing there, looking up a little, talking to thin air. She seems transfixed. RAI Muti? His voice seems to bring her out of the strange trance. She stares at him in alarm. CHRISTINA What? RAI Who were you talking to? Fear crosses her face. She slams the door shut. 82 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - DAY RAI runs fast down a back street, and then dodges into another more down at heel, and then another. Eventually he comes to a halt, panting. He doesn’t know this part of town. 83 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - DAY RAI walking slowly, tired and listless, down an alley. Suddenly he hears something different: the distant sound of a rock n roll song on a cheap record player. It is scratchy and jumpy. He loves it. 82

ALICE and RAI on the main street outside a pub. It’s closing time. They’re begging. ALICE has a few coins in her open hand. Most passers-by ignore them.



ALICE (to all concerned) He’s my little brother. Look at the poor fella. His leg’s buggered! He’s a cripple! He needs calipers. He needs help... RAI obligingly hobbles pathetically up and down. A DRUNK emerges from the pub, swaying in the traumatic light. He squints at the kids. Chuckles. Explores his pockets, finds nothing, until he comes up with: one coin. He grins, and throws it to them. Then he leans down and roars: DRUNK Now fuck off! ALICE and RAI (shocked) run away fast, laughing hysterically. 86 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - ALICE’S HOUSE Both kids breathless from running: ALICE I’ve got to go in. RAI (ie of the money) Where’s my half? 88 ALICE runs into the house, comes tip toeing back out, closing the screen door silently so as not to be heard. She holds the record in her hand: ALICE You can keep this, I want the cash. RAI (thrilled) Beauty! He takes the record reverently. A huge smile. 87 EXT. MARYBOROUGH MAIN STREET - DAY The street is busy with noisy traffic. HORA waiting in the street opposite the BOARDING HOUSE with bags of food; fruit, sausages, bread. MITRU emerges from the doorway and sees him. HORA waves. 87 86

MITRU crosses the street. HORA looks at his brother’s exhausted face. MITRU looks at his shoes. HORA (tenderly) Come on now, what’s wrong? He lifts his brother’s chin up. MITRU pulls back a little. MITRU Everything’s fine. HORA knows it isn’t. HORA What’s happened? Just then RAI appears at the entrance to the doorway holding the BABY who is crying. MITRU shakes his head. He takes the bag. MITRU I’d better go. Thank you for the food. RAI approaches with the crying baby. MITRU takes her and goes. HORA looks at RAI, his downcast face. Time to go home. EXT. KITCHEN OF FROGMORE EVENING 88

On the verandah. ROMULUS, RAI, HORA. ORLOFF at RAI’s side, JACK perched somewhere. Smoke, radio, slivovitz. A page of a newspaper spread with salami, bread, cheese. RAI is leaning happily against his father, half asleep. RAI Muti’s got great legs, don’t you reckon? The best in Central Victoria. ROMULUS (smiling, tender) Raimond, time for bed. He picks up RAI and carries him inside. We stay with HORA who sits in silence, thinking about something. He cuts himself a morsel of salami. ROMULUS returns. They sit nursing their glasses, looking out at the landscape and the colours of the sky.



Eventually HORA produces from his jacket pocket a letter. He places it on the table. ROMULUS What’s this?

RAI enters, enthralled by this new wonderland. It has a forge, an anvil, a workbench, a vice, and among the junk an old record player. RAI’s thrilled about the record player. 90 INT. WORKSHOP - DAY ROMULUS expertly working the forge. Sparks fly. His work has a distinctive rhythm: tap tap bang, tap tap bang. It gets louder and louder, as he beats harder and harder. RAI stands, excited by this revelation. ROMULUS fashioning something - it glows white and red - then he plunges it in the bucket of cold water. Hiss of steam. CUT TO: 90

HORA It’s addressed to you. ROMULUS picks it up, glancing at HORA. We see the foreign stamps, the curling, feminine handwriting of the address, the Yugoslav return address on the back, the distinctive feminine colour of the stationery. ROMULUS puts the letter back down. ROMULUS I am a married man. And I’ve got my son. HORA observes his friend. The letter remains between them on the table. HORA What will you do? ROMULUS (with a smile) Work! He refills the glasses of slivovitz. But he leaves the letter on the table. 89 INT. WORKSHOP - DAY DARKNESS. Rattle of keys in a rusty old lock. Then sudden light as the door creaks open revealing a small, dark workshop, unused for some time. Implements and cobwebs and dust. TOM LILLIE switches on an electric light: the big old bulb we saw in the opening sequence. RAI stares up at it: RAI Wow! TOM LILLIE (grumpy) You’ll pay all the electric. And you’ll fix anything needs fixing around my place. And don’t forget to switch off the light when you go home. ROMULUS Thanks, Tom. 89

The metal cooling. The shape of a bird taking flight. RAI It’s a bird! ROMULUS Yes. But it’s not very useful... ROMULUS studies it, puts it to one side. 91 INT. FROGMORE - NIGHT 91

ROMULUS at the table, with the lamp, with paper and pen. He finishes re-reading Lydia’s letter. He picks up the pen and begins, slowly, to reply. In close up we see him write the first words: Dear Lydia... 92 INT. WORKSHOP - DAY RAI enters the forge with his record. He examines the record player, opening the lid cautiously, working out how to switch it on, how to operate it. He places the record on the deck. It moves, undulating slightly in the light from the door. He very carefully lowers the needle into the groove, and: The song comes on really loudly. He hurriedly tries the knobs until one turns the volume right down. He looks up, anxious. Nothing. He listens to the very quiet rock n roll with absolute wonder. Then he hears footsteps and his father calling: ROMULUS (O/S) Raimond? He hurriedly stops the record and shuts the lid. 92



His father’s dark shape stands in the strong rectangle of light.

Then he puts the ute into gear and moves off. EXT. ALICE’S HOUSE - DAY RAI knocks timidly on the door. ALICE appears, puts her fingers to her lips, and lets him in. 98

ROMULUS Give me a hand... 93 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - AFTERNOON ROMULUS and RAI arrive in town in TOM LILLIE’s UTE. It is laden with pieces of well-made useful iron work. They drive down the main street, and past the BOARDING HOUSE. RAI looks at it, ROMULUS doesn’t. 94 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - AFTERNOON ROMULUS is delivering to a furniture store. RAI Can I go to the movies? ROMULUS We have work to do. ROMULUS untying the items, passing a piece to RAI to carry. ROMULUS You won’t be measured as a man by the movies you’ve seen. ROMULUS picks up a particularly heavy piece of iron work.
101 100

99 EXT. MARYBOROUGH STREET - DAY ROMULUS walks from the ute up to a post box. He posts the letter, turns around quickly and returns to the ute. INT. ALICE’S HOUSE - DAY 100 99


RAI and ALICE in her room. Adult voices, a man and a woman, come through the thin wall. ALICE (quietly) He recorded this at Sun Records. In Memphis. She puts on a different record. Slower... They sit back on the bed and listen, while in the next room old bedsprings start to squeak. ALICE and RAI concentrate on the music. RAI also concentrates surreptitiously on ALICE as she lies next to him on the bed. INT/EXT. UTE - EARLY EVENING ROMULUS and RAI drive back to Frogmore in silence, each nursing their secrets. They pass through the prehistoric hills, the rough friezes of trees, the sparse foliage, silver and gold. The UTE speeds away from us abandoning its wake of dust, drifting bright in the long evening light. 102 EXT. LILLIE’S FARM - DAY SEQUENCE: the end of harvest. 102 101

ROMULUS A man’s work is his dignity. 95 EXT. MARYBOROUGH - AFTERNOON All the heavy ironwork has been transferred. RAI is completely knackered. ROMULUS (a wry smile) Now you can go to the movies. He gives him a penny. RAI runs off. 96 EXT. MARYBOROUGH STREET - DAY RAI looks back. His father is nowhere to be seen. He ducks down a side street. 97 EXT. MARYBOROUGH STREET - DAY ROMULUS parks the ute near the BOARDING HOUSE, but not so near as to be seen. He sits and stares at the doorway. 97



The stubble burn-off. Romulus among the other men, scrolling the flames with rakes. Romulus at work in the fields, ploughing, working hard with the teams of men and women. INT. FROGMORE KITCHEN NIGHT 103

ROMULUS intently writing a letter to LYDIA. RAI pads silently into the room. He watches his father for a while.



RAI moves forward, and a loose floorboard creaks. Suddenly, ROMULUS looks around, sweeping something under the pages of paper. RAI just has time to notice it is a photograph. He sees pages of writing. He sees lavender notepaper. He continues walking off to the toilet, knowing something is going on. 104 INT. FROGMORE - DAY RAI alone in the bedroom. He pulls his father’s trunk out from under the bed. He opens it carefully. He finds a new stack of letters. Lavender stationery. Strange stamps. Strange new handwriting. He sees there are perhaps ten letters. He opens one. The photo of LYDIA falls out. He stares at it. He looks to the bottom of the page of the letter. He sees several x marks. Kisses. 104

ROMULUS Raimond. Go home. Now. RAI stares at him. Then he turns and marches away. TOM LILLIE Cheeky little bugger. CUT TO: INT. FORGE - DAY RAI has the record on: he cranks the volume up high. The door is shut. ROMULUS, surrounded by TOM, MRS LILLIE and MISS COLLARD attracted by the sudden blast of rock n roll - throws open the door to see: RAI dancing defiantly to the music. ROMULUS Turn that off. RAI turns the volume up. 106

Horror. 105 EXT. LILLIE’S FARM - DAY ROMULUS is at work on the UTE engine, covered in grease. TOM LILLIE is there with him, carefully considering the problem. ROMULUS looks up to see RAI marching towards him. RAI Who’s she? He holds forth the offending photograph. ROMULUS is embarrassed. TOM LILLIE watches this exchange with interest. ROMULUS (beat) Give me that, please. RAI Why has she written you ten letters? ROMULUS (angry now) Raimond, go home. RAI Why is she sending you kisses?
108 ROMULUS Never believe that I don’t love you. RAI hears the words, but doesn’t respond. ROMULUS, his eyes wide open. EXT. FROGMORE DAY 108 107 RAI turns and runs. ROMULUS runs his hand through his hair. INT. FROGMORE - NIGHT RAI turned away from ROMULUS, each in their own beds. 107


ROMULUS moves towards the record player, and RAI tries to stop him. ROMULUS pulls the plug from the electric socket, and the song quickly winds down. Silence. RAI You don’t love Muti and you don’t love me!

RAI on his bike with ORLOFF running along side, comes up the track from the road after school. He hears singing from inside the house. The voice is beautiful, almost classical.







CHRISTINA gives him a big hug. CHRISTINA Surprise. Happy birthday, darling! RAI Muti. My birthday isn’t until Sunday. He pulls back. We see she has swelling and a bruise on the side of her face, which she has tried to disguise with makeup. RAI takes this in. He reaches out to touch her face, but she stops him, holding and kissing his hand instead. CHRISTINA Oh well, it’s nice to be early. We can spend some time together! RAI Where’s Susan? CHRISTINA She’s at home, with Mitru. RAI says nothing. CHRISTINA Is everything alright, darling? RAI Yes. Pause. RAI looks away. CHRISTINA So everything’s really alright, darling? RAI Yes Muti. Everything’s really alright. 110 INT. BEDROOM OF FROGMORE EVENING 110

ROMULUS I’ll make up the bed in the spare room. CHRISTINA closes her eyes. 111 INT. KITCHEN OF FROGMORE Smoke in the kitchen. CHRISTINA pulls a burned, blackened sauerbraten from the oven. Pull back to reveal ROMULUS and RAI at the table with MRS LILLIE and MISS COLLARD and TOM LILLIE, wearing party hats. MISS COLLARD Can I help you with all that? CHRISTINA No thanks, everything’s under control! But she is devastated at the disaster of her cooking. She forces herself to continue as if all is well. CHRISTINA Imagine in America they have machines, Labour Saving Devices, to do all these things. Still, we settled for here. And here we are. Then suddenly she brightens up: CHRISTINA There’s more to life than cooking! You were conceived in a graveyard, and look at you. Full of life! As she says this she delivers the blackened sauerbraten to the table. ROMULUS is concerned at her strange state of mind. CUT TO: PAN around the faces of the guests as they all chew on the burned offerings, until we reach RAI, who is crunching away with relish and his big, indefatigably optimistic smile. RAI Delicious! Suddenly everyone agrees. Delicious. CUT TO: DAY 111

ROMULUS enters. He is shocked to see CHRISTINA. She is asleep in the double bed. He notices the bruise immediately. He sits down, exhausted, on the edge of the bed. He looks at her. A tender moment. He resists touching her. She opens her eyes and looks at him.







ROMULUS He gives RAI a small parcel, carefully wrapped. RAI unwraps it. Inside he finds a fine penknife. RAI is overwhelmed by the present. 113 EXT. FROGMORE - DAY RAI, whittling with the penknife, sees CHRISTINA standing before the dead ring barked gum tree. She reaches out to it, seems to be whispering to it. RAI (calling) Muti! She turns to him. Her face with a curious look. 114 INT. BEDROOM OF FROGMORE - AFTERNOON CHRISTINA is curled up at the top of the bed. RAI enters tentatively. RAI Tea’s ready, Muti. CHRISTINA That’s nice. Her speech is slurred, and she seems sleepy. She holds her son close to her, and strokes his hair, a terrible sadness in her eyes. CHRISTINA (mumbling) You know I love you. Your mother loves you... She passes out. RAI shakes her. Nothing. RAI (screaming) Papi! 115 EXT. LILLIE’S FARM - AFTERNOON ROMULUS is working in the paddock when he hears RAI’s scream. He looks up in alarm, drops his implement, and starts to run through the PADDOCK towards the house. 116 INT. FROGMORE - AFTERNOON 116 115 114 113

MISS COLLARD and MRS LILLIE huddle in a corner preparing something. RAI has his eyes shut. MISS COLLARD No peeping! They light candles and bring a big birthday cake before RAI. MRS LILLIE Now you can open your eyes! He does, and sees a fantastic cake decorated with his name and the words HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY RAY! RAI You spelt my name wrong! CHRISTINA suddenly sings a beautiful German lullaby. The pure beauty of her voice hushes the room. She finishes. A moment of awkward silence. Then light applause. The sisters exchange a glance. Then CHRISTINA kisses RAI on the cheek, extravagantly. CHRISTINA Happy Birthday darling. MISS COLLARD Now blow out the candles MRS LILLIE (overlapping) - And make a wish MISS COLLARD And don’t tell anyone what you wish for CHRISTINA (sincerely) - Or it will never come true. RAI, believing this, screws up his eyes and blows the candles out. He makes his wish. Applause. RAI opens his eyes, and is allowed to divide up the cake with a big knife. He passes out the pieces, giving an especially large one to CHRISTINA. RAI Thanks everyone. I’m really happy. I want everything to stay like this forever! Silence.

ROMULUS hurries in. He shakes CHRISTINA, but her head lolls back. He’s more angry than alarmed.



ROMULUS What have you taken? He slaps her to wake her up. CHRISTINA (barely comprehensible) ...let me sleep... RAI What’s wrong with her?

Her hand reaches out desperately towards a bottle on the bedside table. CHRISTINA (mumbling) Please. I need to sleep. I need to sleep now. RAI holds the bottle in his hand. CHRISTINA Please... She launches herself at him. RAI No! He throws the pills against the wall. The pills fly everywhere. Sound of a truck outside. She tries to drag herself off the bed towards the pills on the floor. RAI trying to pick them all up and keep them away from his mother. The perfume bottles and the hand mirror go flying. She lies on the floor, moaning. ROMULUS and TOM LILLIE sweep in. CHRISTINA (howling) Let me go, let me go, let me go ... ROMULUS scoops up CHRISTINA and carries her outside. TOM LILLIE follows, shaking his head. RAI is left standing there alone, back to the wall. Frozen. 117 EXT. FROGMORE - AFTERNOON RAI sits on the roof of Frogmore. There is nothing to see but the endless land and the endless sky. And the remorseless sun hanging above everything. CUT TO: RAI still on the roof, waiting and waiting. It is dark now. The moon and the stars shine vastly over the shadowy landscape. 118 EXT. FROGMORE DAWN 118 117

ROMULUS Stay with your mother. And talk to her. Make sure she does not go to sleep. RAI Where are you going? ROMULUS To Tom Lillie for the ute. Can you do that? RAI Yes Papi. ROMULUS runs out. RAI alone with his mother. Desperate to keep her awake, he tells her a story. RAI Once upon a time. Once. A time a long time ago. Muti wake up! There was a tree. It had leaves and they were all new and green. And it had silver branches. And a bird would come every day and sing in the tree. It would sing and sing and sing. It was a bloody good singer this bird, but it was small and brown. You wouldn’t expect it to sing so well, like on the radio. It wasn’t famous or anything, but just happy where it was. And then this woman, this beautiful woman, used to come and listen to it. She came every day. The bird expected her, and she expected the singing bird. She never said much, just listened while the bird sang. They were very happy. That’s the end of the story, Muti. Are you awake? Open your eyes!

RAI has fallen asleep on the verandah. He wakes to the sound of the UTE doors slamming.



ROMULUS (O/S) Thanks, Tom.

RAI Let’s make breakfast Muti. He puts a pan on the burner, and offers CHRISTINA an egg. He shows her how to tap it against the side of the pan, but she taps too hard and it starts to break up in her hand

TOM LILLIE (O/S) Yeah, yeah, righto. He squints up and sees his father approaching. ROMULUS comes and sits next to him. ROMULUS She’s all right. He holds his son for a moment. RAI I want to be with her. ROMULUS You can’t. RAI I can. She needs me. ROMULUS looks at RAI. 121

RAI Quick! She casts the egg into the pan where it lies sizzling, bits of shell still in it. She stares at it. EXT. MARYBOROUGH - AFTERNOON 121

RAI and ALICE and the BABY sitting on a park bench outside the pub, amongst the locals standing outside nursing their beers. Comfortable together, not talking, ALICE jiggling the BABY. Eventually: ALICE I gotta fly. I’m cooking dinner. See ya later. She kisses the baby, hands her back to RAI. RAI






See ya. She smiles and goes. A barmaid is out on the street collecting the scattered glasses. RAI smiles at her, as he jiggles the BABY in his arms, and deftly manages her feeding bottle at the same time. RAI A beer please. WAITRESS (dry as a bone) Dream on, Buster. She goes. RAI (to the BABY) Worth a try, eh? 122 EXT. MARYBOROUGH STREET - AFTERNOON RAI with the baby in the one pram walking up the main street, past other kids of his own age doing the kind of things kids normally do. 122

The TAXI pulls up at the junction of the road and the track. CHRISTINA makes her way, small, frail, uncertainly, up the track. In the vast landscape with only crude wires to mark a human impression on it, she seems forsaken, as if she has returned from the dead and is unsure of the value of the achievement. 120 INT. MARYBOROUGH BOARDING HOUSE - DAY In the shared kitchen. MITRU in his postie uniform trying to manage everything but sleepwalking. The BABY throwing her food back at him. RAI I can do it. MITRU takes RAI’s head in his hands and kisses it. He takes a look at the mess, shakes his head, leaves. RAI takes over: warming the milk on the stove, testing it with his elbow, persuading the BABY to eat. CHRISTINA enters and sits listlessly at the table. 120



RAI catches a glimpse down a side street, of CHRISTINA walking away; he goes to call out to her, but then sees she is followed by the TOWN LAD who praised her legs. 123 EXT. MARYBOROUGH STREET - AFTERNOON 123




RAI wakes up. CHRISTINA is not there. He rubs his eyes, and goes out into the yard. 129 EXT. BOARDING HOUSE YARD - EARLY MORNING A strange quiet. Still no sign of CHRISTINA. up the passageway towards the street. As he emerges he sees: RAI wanders 129

Pushing the pram he follows them down a semi-derelict side street, and into a ramshackle house. CUT TO: 124 INT. MARYBOROUGH DERELICT HOUSE - AFTERNOON 124

In between the beams and broken walls RAI catches a glimpse of his mother, her back to a wall, the MAN kissing her fiercely. He moves closer. The MAN clumsily fucking CHRISTINA. Ferocious and desperate. She looks more distressed than excited, clinging on. Her eyes tight shut. RAI stumbles back. 125 EXT. MARYBOROUGH STREET - AFTERNOON RAI running, spooked, pushing the pram fast down the streets. 126 EXT. BOTANICAL GARDENS - EVENING 126 125

2 COPS talking to CHRISTINA, who seems distressed. She has her hand over her mouth. They are explaining something to her, and consoling her at the same time. When she turns to look at RAI her face is shattered. 130 INT/EXT. TAXI - DAY ROMULUS, RAI, HORA, CHRISTINA, all dressed in black, with SUSAN and BARBARA, being driven to MITRU’s funeral by the TAXI DRIVER. HORA sits alone in the front passenger seat. He stares out of the window in grief and rage. RAI, holding the BABY. CHRISTINA, her face half-hidden under a head scarf, stares out of her window. RAI looks at the adults, each lost in their own world of grief, each with their own window to stare out of, unseeing. RAI (to CHRISTINA) But Muti, have they found the car that knocked him down? CHRISTINA No darling. RAI The man who did it must still be out there then. No-one responds but the tension tightens. HORA can hardly bear it. RAI sees the TAXI DRIVER glance briefly at CHRISTINA in the rear view mirror. 131 INT. BOARDING HOUSE ROOM - DAY ROMULUS puts down an envelope of money on the table. ROMULUS Cristal. I’ll send more soon. Do you need anything else? She reaches out to try to touch him. She just manages to brush his arm with her fingertips. 131 130

RAI sitting, shocked and quiet now, just slowly rocking the pram. 127 EXT/INT. BOARDING HOUSE YARD - DAY A furious row. RAI listens in the yard. CHRISTINA (O/S) Stop it! Stop it! Sounds of MITRU beating CHRISTINA. RAI tries to get in, but the door is locked. Desperate cries from within. He bangs on the door anxiously. RAI Muti! Suddenly the room goes silent. Then MITRU emerges breathless and exhausted. He looks at RAI and the BABY. He reaches out and cups the baby’s head in his hand for a moment. Walks off. RAI goes to open the door, but CHRISTINA slams it shut. 127



ROMULUS guides RAI reluctantly out of the room. RAI I’ve got to go, Muti. I’ve got to go to school. CUT TO:

Standing at the gate, but not wishing to go further, ROMULUS wears his old pin-stripe suit. RAI wears the school uniform and the home-made trousers. RAI Bye Papi. He hesitates.

ROMULUS and RAI walk away up the dark passageway to the street, and disappear. Go on. CUT TO: CHRISTINA, alone with the BABY, puts her hand to her mouth to stop herself howling as the thin walls of the grim room close in on her. 132 INT. BEDROOM OF FROGMORE Weeks later. RAI is standing on a stool in front of the old dressing table with its mirror, wearing a new school blazer, watched by ORLOFF. 135 ROMULUS, kneeling, JACK on his shoulder, is making adjustments with pins to a pair of long grey woollen school trousers he is making for him. Suddenly he stops, stands, his mouth full of pins. He looks at his son on the stool in his new school jacket, at eye level. RAI looks more like a young man now. ROMULUS stares at him for a moment. RAI What? ROMULUS suddenly grips his son’s shoulders, but says nothing. He then offers RAI a letter, not in an envelope, on lavender paper. RAI knows the hand writing. Lydia. He looks at his father. His father proffers it again. ROMULUS It’s for you. RAI decides to take it. He opens the sheet and a simple gold crucifix on a chain quickly slips out. He catches it, just. 133 EXT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL - DAY RAI starting at the new school in Ballarat. A group of Victorian red-brick buildings, with a large grey chapel, green lawns, archways. 133 138 136 NIGHT 132 134

ROMULUS RAI walks away across the bright, formal lawns. He turns back at the last moment and looks at his father. ROMULUS watches as his son disappears. He turns away, whistling through the pain of this separation. INT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL - DAY A WHISTLE blows: A line of boys hold their hands out for a master’s hand/nail/shoe inspection in a corridor. INT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL - AFTERNOON RAI playing football on the now-muddy games field, attempting to mark the ball, but missing it. INT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL - NIGHT 136 135 134

RAI reading in his dormitory bed, the others already asleep in the dark; he finishes the book, turns the light out. 137 INT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL - AFTERNOON A high-ceilinged, spartan class room. Quiet rain at the window panes. The clock ticks. Everyone works. There is a knock at the door. The Headmaster enters. HEADMASTER Gaita. You have a visitor. INT. BALLARAT CAFE - AFTERNOON Rain drumming heavily at the windows. RAI and CHRISTINA face each other across a table. She looks awful: thin, pale, hollow-eyed. The place is dead. RAI is awkward, staring out at the rain. She sees this. CHRISTINA How smart you look in your new uniform. RAI plays with the menu. 138 137



CHRISTINA I’m working as a shoe polisher in a factory! Can you imagine! She lights a cigarette with a shaky hand, blows out the match. CHRISTINA Your mother, ending up as a factory worker. Silence.

RAI (loudly) I don’t want to. Silence. CHRISTINA stops dancing. The song finishes and we hear the sound of the arm lifting off the record, and the whirring mechanics of the jukebox go silent. Just the sound of the rain falling outside. 139 EXT. BALLARAT STREET - AFTERNOON Neither RAI nor CHRISTINA have an umbrella. The rain is thundering down now. They run fast up the street from verandah to verandah, getting wetter and wetter. CHRISTINA I want to come home. To you and your father. RAI looks away. CHRISTINA I’ve never loved or respected any other man as much as him. And you, of course. RAI does not know how to respond. CHRISTINA I know I’m a hopeless case, but I want to try again. RAI looks away again. Panicking now: 139

RAI Where’s Susan? CHRISTINA looks out of the window. CHRISTINA She’s in a home. A good home, just until... things get better. Sometimes she comes to stay with me. RAI takes this in, looks at his mother. RAI You haven’t been to see me. Or even written me a letter. For so long. CHRISTINA I’m sorry darling. I’m sorry... Silence. She can’t find any words... Suddenly she jumps up:

CHRISTINA Let’s cheer this place up! She goes to the machine and punches in a song. The jukebox whirs, the needle lands on the record, the hissing and then the song. Then she starts to dance between the tables, towards RAI, in a cafe barely a quarter full of customers. Sensual and desperate. Everyone tries to ignore her. When the chorus starts to build to its climax she tries to make RAI slow dance with her. He hates this, and refuses to get up. She sings along with all her heart. Suddenly RAI pulls back.

EXT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL GATES - EVENING The rain has subsided now, but they are both soaked. CHRISTINA Please, darling. I want to come home. Please. Please. RAI looks at his mother for a long moment. RAI I have to go now.


CHRISTINA bends down to kiss RAI on the cheek. He lets her, but doesn’t really respond. She tries to smile for his sake. CHRISTINA How tall and handsome you are. Just like your father.



Pause. RAI Goodbye Muti. RAI walks away into the school. CHRISTINA stays, a lonely figure. She gives him a smile and a little wave. CLOSE UP on her face, desperate with loss. 141 INT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL CORRIDOR - EVENING 141 146 RAI walks down the corridor. The headmaster stands talking to a teacher. RAI stops. RAI If my mother calls for me again, please tell her for me that I don’t want to see her for the time being. Pause. The HEADMASTER nods. RAI walks away down the echoey corridor, resolutely holding himself together. 142 INT. FROGMORE NIGHT 142 145

CHRISTINA swallows the last pill, shakes the bottle. It is empty. She looks around the room, then lies quietly on her side. Framed photos remain in her eye-line: ROMULUS, RAI, MITRU, her daughter. EXT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL - DAY 145

RAI outside in the playground. He is shocked to see ROMULUS waiting at the school gate. He looks terrible. They look at one another. EXT. MOTORBIKE - DAY 146

ROMULUS racing too fast with RAI frightened on the back. Suddenly the bike skids wildly in some mud. ROMULUS manages to brings it to a halt. Shaken, he walks off into a paddock, and drops to his knees. RAI watches. His father returns. He restarts the bike. They carry on. 147 INT. BOARDING HOUSE - DAY ROMULUS opens the door to the empty Boarding House room. The bed has been neatly made. The blinds are drawn. Both men stand in the half light. ROMULUS sits down on the bed and takes in the pitiful surroundings. His hand moves across the smooth covers. RAI stares at the few remains of his mother’s life; the photos; letters and a few postcards. RAI opens the wardrobe. The expensive dresses hang there. He breathes in his mother’s scent. He folds the dresses into CHRISTINA’s suitcase. Lots of empty wire hangers. He moves his hand through them, and they jangle. Slowly he closes the door. There is a full length mirror on the door. He and ROMULUS stare at each other in their reflections, the old suitcase at their feet. Then RAI lets the blinds up, and hot light fills the place, cancelling the reflections. 148 EXT. CEMETERY - DAY 148 147

ROMULUS reading a letter from CHRISTINA. The letter is written on a page torn from a cheap lined pad. We see her shaky signature at the end. He finishes reading it, folds it slowly, thinking. He opens the trunk. We see the two piles of letters. One from each woman. ROMULUS considers them both. He picks up all CHRISTINA’s letters, far more of them than from LYDIA. As he does so he hears a sound outside, as if someone is out there... 143 EXT. FROGMORE - NIGHT 143

ROMULUS stands on the track. No-one is there. Just the moon and the great presences of the stars. 144 INT. BOARDING HOUSE - NIGHT This scene intercuts with the following. CHRISTINA is sitting on the edge of the bed in the shadowy room. She slowly feeds herself a pill from a small bottle of sleeping tablets. She swallows it. CHRISTINA feeds herself another pill, and then another. 149 144

CHRISTINA’s funeral. A hot, blinding day. A small group of mourners. Some of them CHRISTINA’s friends. Also MRS LILLIE AND MISS COLLARD but not TOM. Pan down from ROMULUS’s face to RAI’s. Numb. INT. FROGMORE NIGHT 149

RAI and ROMULUS in funeral suits, ties undone, side by side, not quite touching, staring at nothing, on the bed like a raft in a dark and stormy sea.

69. ROMULUS (cont'd) I also believe if I ask her she would agree to come here, and live with us. If she does, we could apply to bring Susan home. 150



Long pause. RAI considers everything. He stares about him, at Frogmore, at the land... ROMULUS waits. Eventually: RAI All right. ROMULUS smiles. Nods. They sit there on the fence together, in the sun. CUT TO:

ROMULUS working hard, forging metalwork, machining parts, hammering, beating and battling with the intractability of the hard materials. Noise and struggle and assertion. 151 INT. FROGMORE - NIGHT 151 156

ROMULUS, alone, sitting with a new letter from LYDIA. He opens it, and finds a new photograph. This one less formal; she has a little smile on her face. He stares at it. 152 EXT. ST JOSEPH’S SCHOOL - DAY 152



RAI is waiting in an anti-room to the office where ROMULUS is making his petition to adopt the BABY. Both of them look smart, and we notice RAI is wearing Lydia’s crucifix. RAI observes his father, standing upright and addressing the officials - not altogether comfortable in this formal and bureaucratic environment, but speaking with dignity through the ribbed glass of the door. He strains to catch his words. ROMULUS exits the office. He and RAI look at each other. Hopeful. 157 INT/EXT. FROGMORE - DAY SEQUENCE: 157

End of school term. RAI in uniform meets ROMULUS at the school gates. ROMULUS looking unusually smart in his suit. 153 EXT. ORPHANAGE - DAY ROMULUS and RAI in the ORPHANAGE, walking with the BABY. 154 INT. FROGMORE - DAY 154 153

RAI runs in. He notices at once that the house is in order. RAI goes into the bedroom. For once the door does not stick, but swings freely. RAI Hey, you fixed the door! He tries out a tread in the kitchen that had given way some years before and not been fixed. It is newly nailed in place. RAI And the floor! 155 EXT. FROGMORE - DAY 155

ROMULUS and RAI working hard to restore Frogmore from its deteriorated condition to a home fit to receive a woman. ROMULUS crooning ‘Memories are made of this’ as he works hard and fast: Restoring joists that have given way. Energetically tidying up the detritus in the Living Room. Making lace curtains for the windows. Building cribs for the baby. RAI watches his father. Sees his new joyfulness. Sees the focus and energy of his actions. They stand and stare at JACK comfortable above the nasty archaeology of shit-stained newspapers below his perch. ROMULUS You can clean up that bit.

ROMULUS and RAI sitting on a fence, in shorts, sharing lunch. Bird song. ORLOFF nearby. They munch in silence for a while. ROMULUS begins to speak: ROMULUS I’ve been writing to Lydia for some time now. She’s a good person. A good woman. She cares for me. And I believe I care for her. (MORE)



RAI No, Papi, you can clean up that bit. 158 EXT. FROGMORE - DAY 158

Sound of a man sighing, of paper being torn up, crushed, discarded. PULL BACK to see ROMULUS writing feverishly at the table, but he is trapped in a terrible circle of hell: no sooner does he write a few lines than he scratches them out and discards them, sheet after sheet. There are dozens of balled, torn versions of this impossible letter on the floor. He crumples up another one, finds a new sheet, and oddly, makes the sign of the cross over it, as in blessing. He sits for a moment. Then repeats his benediction. And again. We see HORA sitting to one side, watching helplessly, smoking, guilty, taking this hard. Unable to help his friend in his distress. 162 INT. FROGMORE - EVENING 162

ROMULUS cheerfully regarding the exterior of the house, in particular admiring the new lace curtains. RAI, inside, pulls them open and stands in the window grinning. 159 EXT. FROGMORE - DAY 159

RAI is throwing a ball for ORLOFF when he suddenly notices, at the foot of the track, HORA. He is just standing there, head bowed, still and thin as a fence post in the afternoon light. RAI (calling out) Hey! HORA slowly raises his head. FAST CUT TO: 160 INT. FROGMORE - DAY 160

Another evening. The three men at the table, soup in plates. ROMULUS not eating. Staring deep into the mantle of the lamp. ROMULUS Look at this. If you just touch it with your fingertips it turns to dust. And yet here it is, right in the heart of the fire. ROMULUS stares into the heart of light. RAI looks at HORA. 163 INT. FROGMORE - MORNING 163

HORA and ROMULUS grappling suddenly in a strange embrace, a weird broken waltz of pain, HORA trying to kiss him on the forehead, ROMULUS staggering to be free. The table tips over. HORA (in Romanian) I’m sorry, I’m sorry...Gaita, Gaita... ROMULUS (in Romanian) She wrote me letters! She wrote me letters Suddenly ROMULUS bolts out of the door and disappears. RAI dashes after him but HORA stops him, holds him into himself. CUT TO: 161 INT. FROGMORE - NIGHT RAI watching a hunched shadow cast large on the kitchen wall by the light of the kerosene lamp. 161

RAI and HORA in the kitchen. The door to the bedroom shut. RAI has made breakfast. Eggs. Coffee. Silence. He goes to the door and knocks. RAI Papi? No answer. 164 EXT. WORKSHOP - DAY Days later: HORA sitting outside the workshop, still smoking. The door shut. SOUNDS of banging and hammering coming from within, going on and on and on, without the old rhythm. RAI What’s he doing in there? 164



HORA shakes his head. He puts his arm around RAI, and leads him away from the workshop, and down the paddock towards Frogmore. RAI Why didn’t she tell him she was already getting married to someone else? Why would someone do that to someone else? HORA I don’t know. RAI But he sent all the money for her whole family to come out. HORA is shocked by this additional revelation. 165 EXT. FROGMORE - AFTERNOON ROMULUS dragging a large, heavy object through the wheat stubble. He looks terrible: unshaven, gaunt, intent with sorrow. He is moving at some speed, despite the great weight of the object. We catch glimpses of crude iron-work, strange curls and curves of metal, patches of imagery woven into an object which we do not see whole... CUT TO: RAI hears BANG BANG BANG on the side of the house. He hurries around to see what is happening. He sees: ROMULUS on a ladder, struggling to hammer a six inch nail to support one arm of a large, heavy cross, into the timber wall. The cross is part orthodox, part pagan. He already has the other arm of the cross supported by nails. RAI backs away, and runs off. ROMULUS continues to hammer in the nails. BANG BANG BANG. RAI reappears, hurrying HORA by the hand to see this. HORA is horrified by this madness. HORA (alarmed, pleading) Gaita, you’ve got to stop this now ROMULUS glares down at him. 167 166 165

ROMULUS Get away from me. HORA tries to bring him down, but ROMULUS struggles, the ladder goes, he is on the ground. The cross swings perilously on one arm, now at a crazy angle on the wall. ROMULUS attacks HORA, punches him hard. HORA goes down. RAI runs forward: RAI Papi! Suddenly ROMULUS grabs an axe which is propped nearby, raises it high above his head, and is about to strike RAI dead. ROMULUS Get away or I’ll cut off your head! RAI is frozen with fear. RAI Papi! It’s me. It’s me. ROMULUS stares at him. Suddenly he realizes what he has nearly done. He lowers the axe, and it slips out of his grasp. He stands there, shivering like a fire in the sun, his world shattered. EXT. BALLARAT PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL - DAY RAI sits on the bonnet of the ute in the carpark. The sun blazes down. Everything shimmers like a strange mirage in the heat. He looks at the figures of the patients in the grounds, most of them struck still, staring at their shadows. Nurses move among them. Then HORA exits the hospital. Ashen-faced. They stand at the car for a while. Hora tries to frame a thought, but fails. He cannot look at RAI. EXT. FROGMORE DAY 167 166

RAI and HORA sit together by the dam. HORA rolls a cigarette. HORA picks up his much loved anthology and thumbs through it. HORA I can’t stay off work any longer. I’ve got to get us some money. Will you be ok?


76. Then another pair of arms comes into view: VACEK. PULL BACK to reveal his face, bearded beneath the beanie. Between them they stack the ute high with ROMULUS’s iron work. 171 EXT. LILLIE’S FARM - DAY 171

RAI Ah yeah. Pause, HORA smokes. RAI I reckon things go on changing forever. I reckon you have to say goodbye to everything, all the time. HORA nods. He finds a familiar place in the anthology: HORA (reading) Things change. But our life is what our thoughts make it... HORA Here. Keep it. It’s yours now. He gives RAI the anthology. RAI accepts it. 168 EXT. FROGMORE DAY 168 173 172

MRS LILLIE and MISS COLLARD distribute lemonade and cake to RAI and VACEK. MISS COLLARD Don’t mean to be rude, but who’s driving? RAI Vacek. The sisters look very unsure of this plan. VACEK nods. EXT. LILLIE’S FARM - DAY 172

VACEK driving away, with complete competence and assurance, in the over-loaded vehicle with ORLOFF sitting between them, the LILLIES waving them off. INT. BALLARAT HARDWARE STORE - DAY RAI and VACEK un-stacking the last garden set. 174 INT/EXT. UTE - DAY 174 173

Followed by ORLOFF, RAI traces his father’s habitual path up through the paddocks, to LILLIE’s farm. He walks through the yellow grasses, almost up to his chest, moving irregularly against the deep blue sky. 169 EXT. LILLIE’S FARM DAY 169

VACEK driving back. RAI makes up his mind about something. RAI opens wide the big old wooden doors to the workshop. Inside he finds to his surprise a great number of the more conventional accumulated products of ROMULUS’s intensive labours, ready for delivery: garden settings, tables and magazine racks, chairs, fire grates, gates. He rummages around, looking for something. He finds it: the record. LATER: RAI gets out and walks past them, and into: RAI listening to the music in the workshop, surrounded by his father’s well-made objects. Not dancing now, just listening. RAI makes a decision, and lifts the needle off the song. CUT TO: 170 EXT. LILLIE’S FARM - DAY We see RAI stacking the iron work furniture on the van, struggling. 170 176 INT. BALLARAT PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL - DAY RAI walks down the corridor and stands at the entrance to the ward now decorated with streamers and a shabby Christmas tree. The brass band music carries faintly down the corridor... RAI sees a man, sitting among a group of men. ROMULUS, his father. 176 175 RAI Can you turn left here, please? VACEK complies. EXT. BALLARAT PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL - DAY VACEK parks, and he and RAI watch a Salvation Army band playing carols in the fore-court. The muted, melancholy tones of the brass... playing ‘The Silver Stars’... 175



His face is thin, stubbled, his hair closely shaven. Bewildered and shrunken, he has been given electric shock treatment and large doses of Largactil. He looks more like King Lear than RAI’s father. RAI stands as near as he dares and stares at him. RAI (whispering) Papi? Slowly ROMULUS raises his head, his eyes burning. He stares at the boy. ROMULUS I can speak quite normally. RAI is too terrified to speak. He can hardly recognize his beloved father in this poor man. ROMULUS (suddenly passionate) I can speak quite normally. He suddenly reaches towards RAI: But RAI is terrified, backs away, and runs - bang into a NURSE. NURSE Hey, you alright there, darl? ROMULUS (calling out) Raimond! NURSE Is that your dad? RAI (profoundly distressed) No. That’s not my father. He turns and runs. 177 EXT. BALLARAT PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL - DAY 177




RAI cycling furiously, carrying the .22. He throws down the bike and runs up a vast grassy hillside, the rifle in his hands. He settles into the grass, and peers through the sight at some rabbits, as they run leaping into their burrows. He takes aim, but can’t keep up with them. Frustrated, he finally he has finger is on the trigger, and him. He begins to squeeze the himself to shoot. RAI’s hands breaks down, suddenly sobbing a rabbit in his sights. His the rabbit looks directly at trigger but he can’t bring shake. He drops the gun and his heart out. LATER: RAI sitting looking at the beauty of his world, really seeing it now for the first time. The trees sharply delineated against a deep blue sky. The wheeling birds and their calls. The evening light turning the scraggy shapes and sparse foliage into something transcendently beautiful. 180 EXT. FROGMORE DAY 180

Early Autumn. The land greener again. The light mellower. The taxi leaves ROMULUS at the foot of the track. He gets out slowly, still in the same shabby suit. Diminished. DRIVER You alright, Jack? ROMULUS Yes. Thank you. The taxi goes. ROMULUS stands staring around him at the familiar world. The curve of the road into the distance, the spread of paddocks, the low line of ancient hills. For a moment he receives the sun on his face. RAI, waiting, sees his father. ROMULUS looks up the track and sees RAI waiting for him. He raises his hand. RAI raises his slowly in reply. Gratitude on ROMULUS’s face. They start to walk towards each other. RAI is scared. He and ROMULUS eventually face each other. 181 INT. FROGMORE EVENING 181

RAI hurries past the brass band, gets in the car, and slams the door shut. On his face: the full weight of the sorrow and horror and grief of the loss of his father. The music continues outside... VACEK looks at him gently. 178 EXT. FROGMORE - DAY RAI has dragged the crucifix to the dam and raised it upright. He lets it fall with a big splash into the murky water. 178

The radio on. RAI makes dinner. The place is neat and tidy. ROMULUS comes out of the bedroom. He sits at the table and waits, looking around at the familiar room. RAI serves the food.



ROMULUS takes up the bread knife, feels the edge of the blade with his thumb. He nods to himself, makes the sign of the cross over the loaf. RAI is frightened. ROMULUS sees this. He knows he must not do this. JACK DAVEY Hi Ho Everybody! No-one responds. They break open their eggs and eat. 182 INT. FROGMORE - DAWN 182




ROMULUS and RAI standing side by side, having a pee break. RAI Why are we going to Sydney? ROMULUS We’re going to see Lydia. RAI does not question his father any further. He is accepting of whatever comes now. 186 INT/EXT. UTE - EVENING INTERCUT WITH FOLLOWING SCENE. The light shifting to long evening shadows and then to sunset, gold under an indigo sky. Eventually: RAI How did Mitru die? 186

It’s barely daylight. Only a first bird starting to sing. A hand shakes RAI awake. ROMULUS Raimond wake up, wake up. RAI stirs in his sleep. 183 EXT. FROGMORE - DAWN RAI, rubbing his eyes, comes out to see ROMULUS breaking the ice in the wash bowls. RAI What’s happening? ROMULUS We’re going to Sydney. RAI accepts this information. 184 EXT. UTE - DAWN The sun rises on a chilly morning. Perpetual gum trees towering above the white ute. Flocks of birds wheeling, scattering. RAI in the passenger seat, ROMULUS driving fast down the roads. A sense of urgency. RAI looks out at the world passing by. Distances, great granite boulders, crude fences, simple homesteads drifting on oceans of grasses. The daylight passing over the windscreen and over their faces. RAI and ROMULUS eating from a bag of basic rations: bread, cheese, hard boiled eggs. The UTE’s red tail lights and white headlights moving up the Hume, under the stars and moon. 184 183

Pause. ROMULUS looks at him squarely. ROMULUS He went to the Pioneers Tower. And he climbed to the top. 187 EXT. PIONEERS TOWER - AFTERNOON In RAI’s minds eye: MITRU hurrying up the spiral stairs, past the rubbish and graffiti. CUT TO: ROMULUS And then he jumped off. CUT TO: MITRU leaping lightly, almost casually, off the wall to his death CUT TO: RAI’s face. ROMULUS But do you know what he did first? RAI shakes his head. 187

81. ROMULUS observes intensely: the perfect object of his betrayed affections. RAI watches his father’s face.


ROMULUS He buried a knife in the ground. Blade up. So that he would land on it. CUT TO: The knife blade sticking up from the dusty ground. CUT TO: ROMULUS bangs his fist to his forehead, his face under-lit by the dashboard lights. The UTE speeds up, ROMULUS focused intently on the fine white lines of the road leading him on. RAI stares out of the window into the dark. 188 INT/EXT. UTE - DAWN RAI wakes to find the car making its way through Sydney dawn traffic. He rubs his eyes, sits up, startled to find himself in the city. 191 189 INT/EXT. SYDNEY SUBURB - DAWN 189 The dusty ute motors slowly along a quiet suburban street, and pulls up near a small bungalow set in a nice little garden. ROMULUS turns the engine off. It ticks as it cools. RAI looks at ROMULUS. What will he do now? ROMULUS checks his watch. He reaches behind the seats and brings out an object covered with a sheet. He unwraps it. It is the .22 rifle. RAI stares at it, stares at his father. ROMULUS It’s too early. We’ll wait for a more suitable hour. They watch and wait as the light of a beautiful clear morning slowly occupies the street. People starting to head out to work. 190 EXT. SYDNEY SUBURB - MORNING The front door of the bungalow suddenly opens, and Lydia and her Husband appear. ROMULUS leans forward instantly. RAI looks again at the gun. They’re both young, in their early twenties. She is strikingly beautiful. 190 192 188

The HUSBAND is a good-looking young man setting off for work. She calls him back for something, gives him something. He kisses her on the cheek, walks down the path towards the parked car. ROMULUS’s hand moves towards the gun and picks it up. RAI tenses, his hand goes to the door-handle. But at the last minute the HUSBAND turns away from the car, and walks in the opposite direction along the street. ROMULUS still holds the gun, but his hands are shaking. He stares at LYDIA who stands in the garden for a moment, picking a few dead-heads off the flowers. She pauses to breathe in the morning air. Then she looks directly at ROMULUS in the car. He cannot take his eyes from her. The gun is still in his shivering hands. Then she simply turns and goes back into the house, and shuts the door. INT. UTE - MORNING He and RAI sit together in silence. ROMULUS tries to say something, but can’t. Then RAI reaches over and takes the gun from his father. He puts it out of reach. ROMULUS allows him to do this. They sit in silence, staring through the dusty windscreen at the ordinary world which seems now so out of reach. Eventually: RAI Do you think Muti loved us? ROMULUS looks at RAI. Suddenly he is sobbing, an awful, animal sound. He cannot stop. It pours out of him, the loss, the pain. RAI holds on to his hand for dear life. INT/EXT. UTE - DAY 192 191

The long drive home. Images of the landscape flow fluently over the clear, newly washed glass of the windscreen, and in the wing mirrors. RAI looks across to check on his father’s state. ROMULUS’s face is sober, clearer now. CUT TO:




EXT. HUME - SUNSET High, stony countryside. Both ROMULUS and RAI exhausted. ROMULUS sees RAI looking at a long line of precipitous cliffs...


ROMULUS holding his cupped hands over the heat of the engine. ROMULUS Remember? Remember? FLASHBACK to the beginning of the film.

ROMULUS makes a decision, pulls off the HUME and parks near the edge of the cliffs. He turns off the headlights. Exhaustion. Darkness. 194 EXT. CLIFF EDGE - DAWN 194

The great old fashioned bulb swinging like a bell of light across the screen. A younger man’s hand cupping something. A young boy watching this great mystery. Another swing of the pendulum of light. The man’s fist opening, showing a handful of bees stirring in his hand. PRESENT TIME: ROMULUS shakes the handful of bees, offering his fist to RAI to blow for good luck. ROMULUS For luck. Make a wish. FLASHBACK:

A freezing cold dawn up here. Everything covered in thick frost. ROMULUS stands poised on the edge of the crumbly cliff, looking at the dawn world around and below him, much of it still cast in darkness and shadow. He stares up at the first birds swooping above him, calling. He looks up at them. Then he looks back at his son sleeping in the car. And then out again. 195 INT. UTE - DAWN RAI wakes up in the car. He sees his father’s not there. Panicked, RAI gets out of the Ute and runs to the edge of the cliff. No sign. RAI Papi! Papi! Then he hears an odd, cooing sound. ROMULUS Over here! He sees his father crouched down, on his knees, in the frosty grass, collecting apparently dead bees and holding them gently in his palm, making the sound. RAI’s face: is this more madness? CUT TO: 196 EXT. CLIFF EDGE - DAWN ROMULUS looks up with a glint of triumph in his eye. ROMULUS Start the engine! 197 EXT. UTE - DAWN The engine sputters into life. The bonnet up. RAI comes round to see: 197 196 195

The young boy blows on the fist PRESENT: RAI blows on his father’s fist. ROMULUS with a strong, confident cast of the hand frees them, blurring and mixing, into the new sunlight of a fine bush dawn. THE END