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UNDER THE FALLS


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To Read JAMES FENIMORE COOPER'S TALE ... Under The Falls

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[INTERIOR GLEN FALLS CAVES - FISSURE - TWILIGHT

The irregular opening of medium blue sky is obscured by the black silhouetted forms of Hawkeye, Cora and then the others entering.]

HEYWARD: Where do we go from here?

HAWKEYE: We don't.

HEYWARD: I don't understand!

HAWKEYE: This is it, as far as we can go ... If we're lucky, they'll be figurin' we can't have come this way and must've beached our canoes and headed cross land. If we're very lucky, they'll figure we went over the falls.

HEYWARD: Then what?

HAWKEYE: Then we take the south rim down the mountain and it's 12 miles cross country to Fort Edward.

HEYWARD: And if we're unlucky?

HAWKEYE: You will have to forego the pleasure of hangin' me.

[ REVERSE: WIDE

Hawkeye helps Cora; Heyward, the Ranger. Chingachgook carries Alice, down the rockface into a cave. We hear a distant ROAR reverberating off the walls.

ANOTHER ANGLE: THE WALLS

are scooped out, bone-like hollows eroded by tumbling water. At an earlier time the formation was part of the falls.

HAWKEYE & CORA

reach the irregular floor of the chamber. The ROAR is louder.

WIDEN TO REVEAL

a curtain of falling water. They're behind the cataract, probably a third of the way down its height. Light through the water stikes them with a silver luminescence. They're exhausted. The others join them. They almost have to shout to be heard.

CHINGACHGOOK

followed by Uncas, takes stock of their supplies. They check their powder. They have almost none. Uncas shares his with Hawkeye. The Redcoat's cartridge case is soaked, the paper cartridges a soggy mess. Heyward has none. The Ranger has two left. In Mohican, Chingachgook decides some things. Hawkeye and Uncas nod. Heyward approaches Hawkeye.]

HEYWARD: Any powder?

HAWKEYE: [crossing to Cora] Only one or two loads.

[CORA

is soaked to the bones. Hawkeye strips off his buckskin hunting shirt and wrings it out. Cora turns her back, strips off her white blouse and puts on the faster-drying chamois.]

CORA: Are we safe?

HAWKEYE: Maybe ...

CORA: Our father? Did you see my father?

[EXTREME CLOSE UP: HAWKEYE

The look on his face tells it all]

CORA: Tell me!

[TWO SHOT

Hawkeye takes Cora away from the group and turns her by her shoulders and whispers to her. We don't hear what he says. Cora drops to her knees and places her hands over her eyes and face like a little girl trying to make something bad go away.

HAWKEYE

Leads her to a depression, his arm around her shoulders, her face covered and she cries softly into his shoulder.

EXTREME CLOSE UP: CORA

says into Hawkeye's ear, after she looks O.S. ...]

CORA: Say nothing to Alice ...!

[Hawkeye nods.]

[ALICE

stands in the chamber not far from the wall of water, fascinated with its shimmer. She's oblivious to all the events and everything going on around her ...

HEYWARD

sees Cora & Hawkeye together and turns away.

GROUP

Uncas watches Alice. The wounded Ranger has fallen asleep. The Redcoat is exhausted. Hawkeye & Cora against the wall.

CUT TO

EXTERIOR RIVER BANK - RIVER FALLS ARE IN MIST & RED SKY - TWILIGHT

A landscape with mist rearlit by the red light of the sun that's already behind the mountains. The blues are turning purple and the greens are turning black and the white highlights of the foaming water are going rose. Reflecting the darkening sky, where the surface isn't broken, the water is fast-moving metal ... SUDDENLY: a shaved head and muscled back stands into the foreground. It moves down the shore away from camera. He's followed by other Huron warriors. They're two hundred yards away from Glen Falls island.

HURON

looks at the island of rock & trees and tilts his head curiously ... Cut to ...

EXTERIOR FOREST ABOVE CANYON & FALLS - GREY WOLF - TWILIGHT

watches the Hurons below make their way towards the edge of the falls.

OVER HIS SHOULDER: THREE MORE WOLVES

join him, moving frenetically, uneasily ... The leader of the pack looks up & howls as his eyes go white reflecting the new moon.

INTERIOR GLEN FALLS CAVE - HAWKEYE -NIGHT

hears the distant howl. He's now lit silver blue by the moonlight through the falling water. Hawkeye knows it means Hurons are out there. He exchanges worried glances with Uncas & Chingachgook.

UNCAS

immediately starts up the right acclivity to one fissure, and Chingachgook moves carefully to the first fissure. Hawkeye follows.

HAWKEYE

His countenance gives way momentarily. All his experience seems of no avail. He touches the side of Cora's face. Grabs Killdeer and follows Chingachgook.

ALICE

sensing new danger, slips away on her own.

CORA

crosses to the Ranger who's semi-conscious, feverish and getting delirious. She can't do a thing except hold his hand and think of her father. Cut to ...

INTERIOR SOUTH FISSURE - HAWKEYE & CHINGACHGOOK

below the edge, listen & wait, testing the environment with all their senses ...

NORTH FISSURE - UNCAS

against one wall, has his ear cocked, monitoring, facing away from the sky ...

ALICE

looks at the sky through the fissure. She sees the starfields and feels silver moonlight pull her forward. She starts out onto the island, oblivious, unaware she'll expose them. Suddenly ...

UNCAS

yanks her down next to him. He pulls her head into his chest, looking out over the edge, his tomahawk in front of him, his musket near his right hand. There is no sign she was seen.

UNCAS & ALICE

He relaxes, looks at her and puts his finger to his lips telling her to be silent. Languorously, she lies back, closes her eyes and lays a hand on his shoulder, palm up, as if he were a prince in a romantic fantasy. Uncas tries to restrain her.

ALICE'S

eyes slowly open. Oblivion disappears. It's replaced with escalating fear. She holds onto Uncas with desperation. Her fingers claw his shoulders. She buries her face in his chest.]

ALICE: Uncas ...

[Her body shudders. Her terror's total. He tries to restrain and calm her. She won't let him. Then her mouth seeks his and in the passion of despair and fear and wanting life, she holds him between her thighs. And Uncas is confused, but Alice whispers his name and he responds. He loves her in the half-light.

UNCAS

his hand buried in her hair irradiated by the moon, then she seems to reach some emotional climax and begins to cry softly, and Uncas stops making love to her and holds her. Then she's flooded with shame. He reaches for her. She jerks away. He reaches for her again and clutches her to him. And she breaks down. Then he turns her face to him, but her expression has completely flattened.

WIDER ANGLE

She's not a lover to Uncas now. She's pitiful & stricken and he comforts her. Cut to ...

EXTERIOR RIVER - MAGUA - NIGHT

beaches a canoe on the bank. He and eight braves ease out. His war paint is fresh: green handprints on his chest and black and green on his face. Black plumes are affixed to his scalp-lock and his shawl is over his left shoulder. The right arm carrying his musket is exposed. Many scalps are tied to his tomahawk. He walks towards us approaching the island, two hundred yards away ... Cut to ...

INTERIOR SOUTH FISSURE - HAWKEYE - NIGHT

checks his powder horn. Nearly empty. He looks at Chingachgook. Cut to ...

INTERIOR GLEN FALLS ISLAND, CAVE - CORA - NIGHT

with the Ranger, looks up. Hawkeye enters. The look on his face. Then hers. They've been discovered. Now they're backed into a hole in the ground with no powder and no way out. Cut to ...

INTERIOR GLEN FALLS, CAVE - HAWKEYE & CHINGACHGOOK - NIGHT

Chingachgook talks to him in Mohican. Momentarily the anger and frustration is seen on Hawkeye's face. All his experience & craft has been to no avail. He looks at Cora. Back to Chingachgook. Chingachgook states something terse in Mohican. Hawkeye agrees. Heyward's confused. He doesn't know what they're talking about. Cora has understood Chingachgook's intent perfectly.]

CORA: Yes. Go ahead.

HEYWARD: [explodes] What the bloody hell plan is this?

HAWKEYE: [to Cora] In this there is a chance. If I live, I can try to free you. If we don't go, there is no powder, there's too many of them. Though my heart would keep me here, in that there is no chance. None. I can do nothing. Do you understand?

CORA: Yes. I want you to go.

HEYWARD: Coward! Coward back at the fort. Coward here.

[Hawkeye uses discipline not to kill the man.]

CORA: You try. With all you have. To save yourself. If the worst happens, and only one of us survives, something of the other does, too ... [Cut to ...

INTERIOR NORTH FISSURE - UNCAS - NIGHT

Listens. Hears. Then he inches above cover to see ...

UNCAS' POV: THE RIVER & SIX WAR CANOES

of Hurons approach to assault the island carrying torches. Cut to ...

INTERIOR GLEN FALLS CAVE - CORA & HAWKEYE - NIGHT

She's holding him. In the rigid language of her body is the struggle to contain her fear.]

HAWKEYE: [very close] If they don't kill you, they may take you north up into Canada. A warrior may take you for a wife.

[CORA

turns aside. Hawkeye insists.]

HAWKEYE: [continues] Listen. Submit. You hear me? You're strong. You stay alive. I will find you ... no matter how far, how long it takes ...

CORA: [nods, low] ... never doubt what you are doing.

[RANGER

conscious now, arranges his crushed body to face the direction from which will come the attack as ...

HEYWARD

puts Alice, who's entered, behind him as ... Uncas hits the floor of the cave. Now the first glow from Huron torches starts to light the walls. They're coming ...

CHINGACHGOOK

has their weapons slung over his back. He says something in Mohican. Uncas spins looks at Alice: her expression's vacant.

HAWKEYE'S KNIFE

cuts a lock of Cora's hair. He folds it into his shirt. The orange light from Huron torches, now closer, plays on the wall behind her. We hear many Huron approach.

CHINGACHGOOK & UNCAS

now run out of the cave and throw themselves into the curtain of water. This is their exit.

HAWKEYE

engraves her image in his memory one last time and then sprints across the floor towards the water ...

WHAT HAWKEYE SEES: JAMMING AT THE WATERFALL

and then through it into ...

SUBJECTIVE CAMERA: UP

An awful crushing roar. We explode out the front of a white cataract a third of the way from the top and we fall down away from the world.

EXTERIOR GLEN FALLS - HAWKEYE - NIGHT

tumbles down the falls; rolling, tumbling through the white water; then through air; then back into cascading white water again, disappearing ...

THE RIVER BELOW - UNCAS & CHINGACHGOOK'S

bodies hit, disappear and don't surface. It looks unsurviveable.

HAWKEYE'S POV: FALLING

Sheets of water fall with us. The bottom races towards us at a hundred miles an hour ... Just before we hit ... Cut to ...

INTERIOR GLEN FALLS, CAVE - FLAMING TORCH - NIGHT

WIDEN. The cave is filled with Hurons. The Redcoat is dead in the corner. A group of braves moves away from the body of the Ranger.

HEYWARD'S

surrounded. The women are behind him. He slashes at one Huron with his sword and is clubbed down by a giant.

MAGUA

enters. His blanket, like a shawl, over his left shoulder, black plumes in his hair. He's imperturbable.

MAGUA'S HAND

reaches out and touches Cora's hair. Cora is frozen to the spot. His hand drops away from the hated Munros and as Magua turns to go, he says something low in Huron and the two women are jerked towards the fissures. Heyward is dragged by the arms. Cut to ...]

RESCUE

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To Read JAMES FENIMORE COOPER'S TALE ... Under The Falls

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