The Tragedy of Pigeon Point
Draft 11a 3-30-01
With the exception of a few scenes the film is to be shot in black and
white. The camera movements are smooth and fluid while the color sequences
all have a hand held look to them. Most of the action takes place at and
around the Pigeon Point lighthouse: a tall, white washed tower seated on a
wind-swept promontory. The beach surrounding the lighthouse is studded with
The echoing of footsteps on metal is heard. Fade to CU of ELLIOT‚s feet
climbing a wrought-iron spiral staircase. Fade to black. ELLIOT is a young
man, about twenty years old. His clothes are dark and childish in
Fade to LS of ELLIOT climbing the stairs. We move with him, peering through
the railing. ELLIOT carries a small striped suitcase at his side. Fade to
black. A bright light reflecting off and refracting through the giant
fresnel lens of the Pigeon Point lighthouse momentarily breaks the darkness.
Return to blackness. Titles fade up: "The Tragedy of Pigeon Point."
Fade to black. POV up through many flights of spiraling stairs to ELLIOT,
still climbing. In the lighthouse entryway, BILL stands looking up towards
ELLIOT. BILL is in his mid fifties. He wears the uniform of a State Parks
Elliot? I‚m going out.
He pauses, waiting for a response then puts on his hat and exits the
lighthouse. ELLIOT sinks into the recessed nook of the third story window.
He removes a picture book from his suitcase and opens it. Instead of
reading, however, he looks up and out to the sea. His view of the long
coastline is interrupted only by the frame of the window.
The entryway of the lighthouse, night. BILL enters, walks again to the
center of the lighthouse and peers up.
It's getting to be a bit nippy outside. Well, I‚m headed off to bed. Say,
if you ever need anything you know where I'll be.
He turns and leaves. ELLIOT is in his window with his picture book. He
looks down after BILL. The shutting of the door reverberates through the
lighthouse. From the exterior of the lighthouse ELLIOT can be seen
silhouetted in the window. Faintly, from far out to sea, a woman‚s voice
can be heard singing what sounds like a children‚s lullaby.
Hey non nony, nony, hey nony∑
[Hamlet. IV, 3, 165]
Fade to black.
Fade up on the exterior of the lighthouse. ELLIOT site reading on the
wrought iron deck that encircles the top of the lighthouse. He glances up
from his book and out to the ocean. After a beat he turns and looks
directly at the camera.
I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse myself of such things
that it were better my mother had not born me:
Cut to ELLIOT running on a treadmill in a large gym. Weight machines and
stationary bikes line the walls. The change of location brings with it a
shift into color - blaring color, as though the saturation level has been
turned up too high. ELLIOT is flanked by a young man his same age. The two
of them wear matching running suits: ELLIOT‚s is a ruby red, his friend‚s a
brilliant yellow. The other man speaks earnestly to ELLIOT as he runs but
we cannot hear him. ELLIOT is again starring directly out at the audience.
Without hesitation he continues with his monologue.
I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I
have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act
ELLIOT is now in the passenger seat of a flashy red convertible driven by
the man who ran beside him at the gym. Two women accompany them in back.
While the mood of the others in the car is light and giddy, ELLIOT‚s is dark
What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are
arrant knaves all,
Cut back to the exterior of the lighthouse. The image is again black and
white. It is now nearly dusk.
Believe none of us.
[Hamlet. III, 1, 122-130]
ELLIOT breaks his gaze with the camera and looks off to sea. In the
distance, quietly as though it has been there through the entirety of the
proceeding scene, the song can be heard again.
Hey non nony, nony, hey nony∑
[Hamlet. IV, 3, 165]
The camera follows ELLIOT‚s gaze out past the rocks to the ocean.
Evening. ELLIOT walks down the spiral stairs, suitcase in hand. BILL
enters the base of the lighthouse, apparently on his way up to find ELLIOT.
Each is uncomfortable by the confrontation.
Oh. What was it I was going to tell you? Oh yes, yes: in case you weren't
already aware, tomorrow is tour day. So it might perhaps be best if you
kept out of the way.
Yes. Yes, I think that will be fine. Don't you?
Good. Have a pleasant night then.
BILL exits through the front door. ELLIOT shakes off the discomfort of the
interchange and curls up for the night in his window.
The following morning, a few cars pull up to Pigeon Point. BILL begins his
monologue, which overlaps the following action. A group of five tourists
follow BILL through the entryway to the ground floor of the lighthouse.
ELLIOT sits three floors up in his window reading.
The construction of this lighthouse finally began back in 1871, with the
inaugural lighting of the lamp following a year later. Funding wasn't
approved by congress until after a series of three fatal shipwrecks that
occurred just out past the point.
Hearing the tour approaching ELLIOT picks up his book and begins to climb
further up into the lighthouse. A young GIRL in the tour spots him climbing
the stairs above her.
I‚m sorry, what?
The GIRL points up.
Oh, that's just "the boy in the belfry." No no, not really. Actually I‚m
not quite sure who that is. He just showed up one day, said he wanted to be
"the lighthouse keeper‚s assistant." Unfortunately I had to tell him that
there really isn‚t a lighthouse keeper here anymore, only me. The
coastguard took over all the lighthouses a few years back and installed
their own electric beacons. Everything‚s automated ˆ and with good reason.
Hardly anyone uses lighthouses for navigation anymore. All modern boats are
equipped with sonar, satellites and electric tooth brushes. This lighthouse
is really just a landmark that the park service maintains for the sake of
nostalgia. But I told him that he could stay if he still wanted to. He
spends his time just sitting around the place, like me, and the old lamp up
there. He seems to have taken to it all right. It is kind of nice out here
sometimes. But I look forward to these tours on the weekend. I think it‚s
marvelous that you folks drive all the way out here to visit us. Shall we
head on up?
BILL‚s sharing of himself has made a few members of his tour uncomfortable.
Sensing this BILL begins to escort them up the stairs.
Watch your step now.
The tour group follows him. Fade to black.
Night. ELLIOT is curled up asleep in his window. Rain beats softly against
the glass. Gusting wind and heavy surf can be heard outside. A small
industrial lighting fixture mounted to the wall next to ELLIOT‚s window
begins to flicker. ELLIOT wakes up. The light goes out leaving him in the
dark. He glances out the window. Seeing only darkness he rushes outside to
BILL‚s nearby cottage. ELLIOT enters without knocking. The cottage is
rustic: a single room with an old wood burning stove, wooden paneling, and
the collected paraphernalia of a sea life. BILL is woken by the sound of
his door slamming shut.
Who goes there?
Me, Elliot. The light‚s gone out.
What? What's that?
I think the power went out. Sorry to wake you.
(Elliot gestures up)
The light's gone dark.
Oh. Well that's something isn't it. (chuckles) Go back to sleep Elliot.
If the power is not up again by morning I‚ll go in to town and check things
BILL rolls over and pulls the blankets up around his head, dismissing
ELLIOT. ELLIOT returns to his window and curls up to sleep.
Morning. The storm has cleared but power has not yet been restored to
Pigeon Point. A loud knocking is heard at the lighthouse door. ELLIOT
opens his eyes. He hesitates, waiting for BILL to respond. The knocking
comes again, louder still. After a moment ELLIOT slowly descends. The
knocking continues. Upon reaching the door he finds a scrawled note taped
to the glass. "Gone to town." He tears it down. On the other side of the
glass starring back at him he can now see the irate face of a very wet young
woman. RUE appears to be of about the same age as ELLIOT. She is dressed
in a seaman‚s yellow raincoat and pants, and does not appear to have
recently bathed. Hesitantly, ELLIOT opens the door. RUE speaks like an
The light's out.
(Bursting past him)
Your light is out!
RUE begins leaping up the stairs. ELLIOT again hesitates.
It‚s not my light.
ELLIOT moves slowly at first after her, then bounds up the stairs. He
reaches the lamp room at the very top of the lighthouse. At first RUE is
hidden from him by the giant lens that fills most of the room. He peers
into it and sees her face on the other side, distorted in the curved glass.
She is starring at the dark lamp.
What's wrong with it?
I don‚t really know. I think the power is out.
Well that's a dangerous thing, for a lighthouse not to have any light. What
kind of a lighthouse keeper are you to let the light go out?
I'm not... This is not my lighthouse.
It‚s not? Who's is it?
It‚s Bill‚s lighthouse. I just live here.
In the lighthouse? Where do you sleep?
In my window, on the third floor. I like it there. Why, where do you
Out on my boat. It's on the beach. You can see it down there stuck between
the rocks. There is a big hole in the side of it.
>From the storm?
No, I could have handled the storm if I could have seen where the rocks
That's ok. It's not your lighthouse. I'm Rue, captain of the clipper ship
RUE offers her hand and ELLIOT accepts it
Well I'm happy to meet you Elliot. Come with me, you can help find some
wood to fix my boat.
RUE disappears down the stairs. ELLIOT doesn‚t hesitate this time but
scampers right along after her.
Exterior - a large strip of rocky beach below the lighthouse. ELLIOT and
RUE emerge onto the bank above the beach. RUE is out in front with a saw
and bucket of nails. ELLIOT trails slightly behind, arms full of wood.
RUE‚s "boat" is a small two-person dinghy. It has been painted both inside
and out. Wild brush strokes makeup abstract female figures. Violently
painted lines cover the women's bodies which appear disturbingly like
self-inflicted cuts. The name 'PHELIA is written wildly on its stern. The
boat is currently lodged between two large rocks with a hole in its side.
It appears as though even with a watertight hull the rowboat would hardly be
sea worthy. In the back of the boat is a small trunk; two foils are lashed
to its side. A pair of worn paddles rest across the seat.
This is my boat. I think first off we're going to have to move her off the
rocks. There's rope in the trunk.
ELLIOT opens the trunk. Inside is a collection of paints and brushes, two
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, an apple and a coil of rope. ELLIOT
picks up the rope exposing a snapshot of RUE with two friends. The trio are
dressed in outfits far more appropriate to their age then RUE‚s present rain
gear. They appear to be at a bar with other young people, having a good
time. During RUE's speech she and ELLIOT drag the boat off the rocks.
She may not be much to look at right now but she'll be all right once were
through with her. Last night‚s storm was terrible, the swells were twenty
feet above the deck. I couldn‚t see the rocks Œtill we were almost upon
them. I cried, "All hands! Pull hard to starboard." But it was too late
and we were pounded into the rocks. All right, you ever caulked a hull
Afternoon. BILL pulls up in front of the lighthouse in an aging ford
pickup. He walks out to the edge of the grassy bank above ELLIOT and RUE.
They have nearly finished repairing the boat.
(Shouting down to them)
Hey Elliot! It sounds as though we won't have power for a while still,
possibly not Œtil tomorrow.
(He turns as if to go back inside then looks back)
Hey, I‚m about to head up to Duart‚s for a drink, can I pick you up anything
ELLIOT shakes his head no.
Well, alright I'll just see you later then.
BILL heads back towards the lighthouse. ELLIOT sits inside the boat which
is now shored up on the sandy beach. RUE kneels beside it hammering.
Is he your Dad?
No, he's Bill.
(ELLIOT unties one of the foils and picks it up)
What‚s this for?
ELLIOT grins at RUE. She drops her hammer and grabs the foil.
We were attacked once not too long ago, just north of Drake‚s Bay. The
scoundrels were after my trunk, but I fought them off single handed. Here,
you be the pirate captain, her name was Gerda. Now you have to try and
With a flick of her wrist RUE challenges ELLIOT to a duel. After only a
moment she has him pinned with her sword.
Now walk the plank! But I cut off your leg so you have to hop.
ELLIOT leaps into the sand. He makes gurgling noises as he feigns drowning.
Ha! If I ever catch you again you'll be walking with a peg for a leg.
She returns the foil to ELLIOT and goes back to her hammering.
Why were they after your trunk?
Buried treasure. Gold doubloons and rubies mostly. What do you do up at
(Sliding the foil through his belt)
I‚m the keeper‚s first assistant.
What does that mean?
It means it's my job to trim the lamp wicks, and fill up the oil barrels.
If it's foggy in the morning I light the boiler for the fog horn, and every
day the lens has to be polished. Then when its dark I get my turn at watch.
Have you ever seen a ship wreck?
Oh yeah. A few years ago the Hellespont ran aground here, on its way from
Australia. The fog was so thick the captain couldn‚t see the stars to
navigate. He ran his ship into the rocks just like you, right out there.
Were there any survivors?
Uh-huh. The crew were hanging on to broken up pieces of their ship to keep
from drowning. I swam out and saved two of them.
Were there sharks?
Huge ones, the size of whales. I took a plank from the sinking ship and
knocked one on the head to keep it from eating the first mate.
Wow! Well, I think we're finished. She‚s all patched up. Now it's up to
you to go and see that the lamp up there is lit again so I won‚t end up back
on these rocks tonight.
But I can‚t do that.
That's Bill's job. I told you I‚m just his assistant, and anyway he says
only the people in town can get it back on.
But Elliot, I have to set sail!
I've been stuck on shore too long already. I have cargo to deliver thirty
leagues south of here. Couldn't you go find them?
Well I‚d go myself but I don‚t know how to get there.
Its just up the road.
But I only have my boat.
You could drive my car.
But I can‚t drive silly, can you?
Oh. Well how about if you drive and I go with you.
Well, that might be alright.
ELLIOT motions for her to follow him as he turns to go. They are both
visibly apprehensive. Together they walk towards the lighthouse.
Shift to color. ELLIOT and RUE reach the red convertible, which is parked a
hundred yards or so down the road from the lighthouse. They get in. The
sun shade on the passenger side is down. RUE catches her reflection in the
vanity mirror. Uncomfortable by what she sees, she flips it up.
Is this your Dad‚s car?
No, it‚s mine.
This is? Wow. Pretty snazzy. And it‚s a∑ what do you call the ones with
the roof that comes off.
Elliot starts the car and pulls away. They drive inland, out of the country
and into the hills.
Do you know where we‚re going?
Yes, well... (he nods his head "yes")
The begin to head down a steep hill towards Silicon Valley. They enter the
urban space of the city. ELLIOT stops the car in front of a Pacific Gas and
Electric branch office.
What are we doing here?
You wanted to come.
No I didn‚t. There‚s not even anyone here, where are they?
Where are who?
ELLIOT turns off the engine.
Them. The people. The ones you‚ve been talking about. That can light the
lamp so I can leave and get my cargo delivered on time silly.
I guess they‚re in there.
What? There? No, never mind, forget it. Let go light the lamp ourselves?
I‚m not playing right now, not anymore.
That lamp, in the lighthouse, runs on electricity. You were up there with
But you went on and on about∑
Yes, after you said that you fight off pirates to protect your treasure.
No, you don‚t. I saw the inside of your trunk, there‚s nothing in it but
paints and sandwiches.
Well that‚s my treasure. Oh, alright, whatever Mr. "I spend my days
trimming wicks and filling oil barrels."
Fair enough, I read picture books sitting in the window of a hundred year
old lighthouse. What do you do with your time?
What about the pirates?
I paint and I paddle.
Why do you think. Why do you? Why do you hide yourself out in that
lighthouse? Are you happier there, do you feel safe?
I'm all right. I'm better.
But it's not quite the life of a "keeper‚s first assistant?" (ELLIOT
shrugs) So why did you stop? And why did you drive us to fuckin‚ PG&E?
You were the one that wanted us to leave and come out here. How was I...
What was I supposed to do?
Keep pretending, playing with me. Why did you stop?
You didn‚t give me any choice. How could I keep pretending that I "live the
life of a Wickie."
A "wickie," its what they used to call lighthouse keepers. Forget it.
Whatever, lets just go back.
We messed it up. It's messed up now.
I don't understand.
What your paintings are of?
All over your boat, why‚d you paint those horrible things?
Oh, fuck you. They‚re not horrible. Fuck off! Because they‚re in my head, I
don‚t know. I‚d hate to see what‚s in yours.
How did they get into your head?
I said I don‚t know.
What are you out on that rowboat.
God, you are an asshole. Probably the same reasons your read in the
lighthouse Elliot. Why don‚t you dress like you‚re twenty two, or however
old you are? No, I want you to really explain this to me. You‚re not ten!
Thank you, I know I‚m not ten.
No, no stop. I think I know why, and I think you know too, and I think you
know why I paint. I scare my self sometimes too. But what I still don‚t
get is why you won‚t keep pretending. I was having fun with you. We were
both doing great, no? So lets go sailing around the ocean for a while, and
then I‚ll take you back and we can help Bill man the lighthouse. It could
ELLIOT starts the car. He throws it into first.
What are you doing? Stop, I‚m not through.
ELLIOT hits the gas hard. The car speeds away.
The image is black and white once again. The convertible races back to the
front of the lighthouse. ELLIOT is out first. He attempts to put the top
up on the car but abandons it quickly and heads quickly towards the
lighthouse. RUE gets out of the car and begins to follow him.
Leave Rue. Go back to your boat.
ELLIOT enters the lighthouse. RUE stands dumbfounded at the entrance for a
moment, then runs towards the beach. ELLIOT begins to climb the stairs of
the Lighthouse. RUE struggles with her boat. She pulls hard on the rope,
trying to haul it off its shoring. ELLIOT continues up the stairs. RUE
screams at the boat in frustration. With a final tug the boat tips off its
supports and slides past her towards the sea. ELIOT climbs further still.
RUE shoves hard from the back of the boat towards the waves. Under her
breath she mumbles a few words of her song. Affected by the strain of her
exertion the words sound more like a march than a lullaby.
Hey non nony, nony∑
Cut to the lighthouse interior. ELLIOT slumps into his familiar place at the
Cut back to the sea. RUE‚s boat hits the edge of the water she gasps with
delight. She jumps into the back of her boat and grabs a paddle. She
paddles violently at the water. Her boat soars over the coming waves.
Slowly she is succeeding at making her way out to sea.
Cut to ELLIOT in window. He looks out to the sea and RUE. He turns to the
camera, and begins to speak.
I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth∑ and indeed it
goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems
to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy the air, look you∑
this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to
me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is
a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties∑ in action how like an
angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon
of animals- and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights
Cut to RUE and boat.
nor women either,
[Hamlet. II, 3, 295-309]
RUE is now far out past the breaking waves. The lighthouse is now just a
small figure on the cliffs behind her. She sings her song happily now. Her
mood is rising. Between the boards that make up her boat‚s repaired hull a
drop of water begins to push its way in.
Cut to lighthouse interior. ELLIOT begins to play again. He jumps up from
his window enraged.
Come on sir. [Hamlet. V, 2, 277]
ELLIOT unsheathes the foil from his belt and motions for his unseen opponent
to advance. On the second floor landing he begins to fight a duel. Almost
at once he scores a hit.
One. [Hamlet. V, 2, 279]
ELLIOT proudly backs away from his enemy. He pauses and motions him forward
with his hand.
Come. [Hamlet. V, 2, 287]
Cut to the ocean. RUE paddles on, singing. A small pool of water has begun
to collect in the bow of her boat. The leak has grown so that there is now a
small rivulet of water running from the crack.
Cut to the lighthouse interior. ELLIOT lunges.
Another hit. What say you.
[Hamlet. V, 2, 288]
He steps back and again surveys his opponent.
Come for the third∑ You do but dally. I pray you pass with your best
violence. [Hamlet. V, 2, 301-302]
ELLIOT launches himself into the fray. After a moment of aggression he
shifts to defense. He is forced back quickly toward the stairs leading
down. He attempts footing beyond the edge of the landing and careens
backwards down the stairs. He lands at the base of the lighthouse, his own
foil stuck through his chest. ELLIOT stares down at himself in surprise.
O, I am dead.
Cut to the sea. RUE paddles on, ignoring the fact that she is now up to her
ankles in water. The paint on her boat‚s interior has begun to run from
contact with the seawater. The pool about her feet is turning a milky
white. She continues to sing, now with greater ferocity and pleasure than
Cut to ELLIOT, lying at the base of the stairs.
I am dead, thou livest.
(He stares once again at the camera)
Report me and my cause aright to the unsatisfied. [Hamlet. V, 2, 342-344]
Cut to RUE, paddling far out on the horizon.
Things standing thus unknown shall I leave behind me.
Cut back to ELLIOT.
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain to tell my story.
[Hamlet. V, 2, 350-354]
Fade to black. A moment of darkness.
The rest is silence. [Hamlet. V, 2, 363]