• 5th Wall Press

Terrence Malick’s “Titanic”

This script was conceived by the authors upon mistakenly watching The Thin Red Line, believing it to be a normal WWII movie. Terrence Malick had no part in creating this script, other than his propensity to make Terrence Malick movies, which the authors admire and fear.




FADE IN:

EXTERIOR -- DAY -- THE TITANIC, DOCKSIDE.

The huge bulk of the Titanic dwarfs the scene. Rose exits her automobile, her back to the camera. She turns and her face, covered with grime, is framed by a huge picture hat. She stares, and we follow her gaze to a flock of hovering seagulls. Closeup of a particular gull. It seems different from the others, more thoughtful, even wistful.

INTERIOR -- DAY -- DOCKSIDE BAR.

Jack sits with others at a game of cards. We see his hand, large on the screen. Then the face of the queen of spades fills the screen. She seems knowing, as if she carries secrets of life and eternity.

Jack wins the hand, and tickets on the Titanic.

JACK (V.O.)

The great ship—why has fate chosen it to carry

my life? I only wanted money to buy exotic paints

for my pictures, but now I must travel like the

seagulls, over the sea. What lies there, and what

does it mean?

EXTERIOR -- DAY -- DECK OF THE TITANIC.

Jack sees Rose leaning on the guardrail, as if she is about to fling herself overboard.

JACK (V.O.)

I could see by the way she stood on the deck that she

was interested in art. Maybe someday, I could teach

her to spit. But would that be more falseness? I hate

the falseness of the world. Who is that she’s speaking

to—he looks like a liar.

Nick Nolte accosts Rose. He is stretching his arms apart as if to indicate great size. Rose looks numb.

EXTERIOR -- DAY -- A TROPICAL PARADISE

Island people, we don’t know what island, enjoy simple pleasures: mashing nuts, weaving fronds, making faces at each other, and scratching hideous sores. We see a lone seagull. Is it the same one Rose saw? We follow it to:

EXTERIOR -- DAY -- DECK OF THE TITANIC

Rose walks with Nick Nolte. One of her arms has been blown off by a grenade. Rose is sobbing.

NICK

Rose. You’re just not tough enough. You don’t

have the fiber.

ROSE

Have you ever had your arm blown off when

it was holding a puppy?

Nick looks pensive for several minutes (long enough for people to buy popcorn and use the restrooms).

NICK

I don’t know about that. But I designed this damn ship,

and had to eat tons of shit to do it. And I’ll be damned

if I let a lack of lifeboats prevent its leaving the dock on time.

ROSE

Sir, the passengers are thirsty.

NICK

I’ve arranged for a shipment of corkscrews;

they should be here soon. Hell, the time to start worrying

about passengers is when they stop bitching.

Jack enters the scene, swinging upside down from the rigging. His face is covered with grime. He looks pensive, thoughtful. He lands neatly on his feet next to them, bows to Rose.

JACK

(to Nick)

I’m twice the man you are.

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- DECK OF THE TITANIC.

An iceberg looms in the background. Jack and Rose chat on the deck.

JACK

I’m twice the man he is. In fact, I’m the

king of this whole area.

Rose looks thoughtful.

ROSE (V.O.)

I think I miss my arm. Yet, how can I think that?

What was my arm to me, but an extension of a false

and betraying shoulder? Was it really my own, or was

it always someone else’s arm? Why are there no trees

in the ocean?

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- THE TITANIC

The ship hits the iceberg.

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- ISLAND OF THE ISLAND PEOPLE

The island people are laughing: they sing about not being on the Titanic, but we don’t really know that, because we don’t bother to put in subtitles.

INTERIOR -- NIGHT -- CABIN ON THE TITANIC.

Nick Nolte confronts Jack.

NICK

You stole my necklace and . . .

He whips out a drawing of Rose swinging upside down.

NICK

. . . and you drew her upside down. Don’t you know

we’re engaged?

Meanwhile, outside the door of the cabin we see George Clooney, John Cusack, John Travolta, Woody Harrelson, John Savage, and the guy from Boogie Nights on patrol. Some of them seem lost. Others seem thoughtful, even pensive . . .

INTERIOR -- NIGHT -- A PASSAGEWAY IN THE TITANIC

The Titanic is sinking. Jack and Rose are slogging through a flooded passageway. Japanese passengers suddenly jump out at them from a cabin. They are shouting in Japanese, but we don’t know what they’re saying because we’re not going to bother to provide subtitles.

JACK

(to Japanese people)

Well, you started it.

EXTERIOR -- DAY -- UNDERWATER

Jack is swimming with happy islanders.

JACK (V.O.)

Am I swimming, or are only the happy islanders

swimming? Maybe I’m really shaving.

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- THE TITANIC

The Titanic continues to sink. We see rats, thoughtful, considering whether to leave the ship. Hours pass.

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- THE TITANIC

The Titanic continues to sink. Audience members try to see their watches by movie light. Cries of anguish are heard from those sporting Timex Indiglows.

TITANIC (V.O.)

Oh the futility of man’s hubris! I the great

ship could have told them that their overweening

pride was an insult to God. Is there a God? How

should I know? I’m only a ship . . .

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- THE TITANIC

The Titanic continues to sink, but seems no closer to the bottom. Nick Nolte, wearing Rose’s picture hat, is about to step into a lifeboat. Jack clings to the guardrail.

NICK

I’ll see that you get an academy award for

this. And the Purple Heart.

JACK

Why?

NICK

Because Rose lost an arm.

JACK

But why not give it to Rose?

NICK

Because she’s only a girl, and in this movie girls only

exist as pleasant memories and have nothing to say that

shows any brains at all.

JACK

Oh. Well then, thanks.

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- THE TITANIC

The Titanic continues to sink. Rose clings to a raft. The symbolic coconut of life sits beside her, sprouting the symbolic green shoot of life. Jack shivers in the water beside her. He looks blue, but fit.

ROSE (V.O.)

I wish I weren’t too cold to eat this coconut. I’m

really hungry.

JACK

You can’t open it with one arm anyway.

ROSE

You’re not supposed to answer me. That was a voice

over. But . . . I love you too, Jack.

The music swells. A cappella voices sing in an unknown language. The audience gathers its belongings, ready to flee. Rose remembers things. Sobbing is heard.

Forty minutes later, Rose is still remembering.

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- THE TITANIC

George Clooney yells down from the deck of the Titanic.

GEORGE

I think we can pump ‘er out. We’re like a family here,

and I know we can do it. You there, let’s start getting

those ship halves welded back together.

Sean Penn spits on George Clooney’s shoes and leaps into the water, shouting.

SEAN

Oh God, I can’t take it any more!

He throws a grenade into the ship as he falls.

EXTERIOR -- NIGHT -- THE TITANIC

Titanic continues to sink. Theater is empty.


END


Warren & Lana Brown

Tulsa, OK

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