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Synopsis: American Fulbright Scholar Steven Walsh arrives in communist Czechoslovakia in 1989. It is the eve of the Velvet Revolution. At first concerned only with his work, Steven becomes drawn into a nation's struggle for freedom.

The Magic Lantern

Written By

G. J. Martin

G. J. Martin

+1-551-689-8078

georgemartin9911@gmail.com

FADE IN:

INT./EXT. PRAGUE - RUZYNE AIRPORT - DAY

A KLM 737 approaches and lands on a runway at Ruzyne Airport near Prague. The sign on top of the terminal says “PRAHA”. Inside the plane a seated passenger, a young American named Steven Walsh, reads a Czech phrasebook. The plane taxies on the runway and stops. Steven walks down passenger steps to the tarmac with his carryon bag. He appears tired as he nears the end of a long trip.

SUPER:
August 1989

MONTAGE - RUZYNE AIRPORT TO CHARLES UNIVERSITY - DAY

Steven proceeds to passport control. His passport and visa are stamped by the customs officer.

Steven walks outside the terminal to a taxi. The taxi speeds off through the Bohemian countryside.

The taxi passes a Soviet military transport going in the other direction.

The taxi heads into Prague on a causeway. The Vltava River embankment is seen from inside the taxi.

Views of a factory with a communist hammer-and-sickle on the roof, a statue of Lenin, other communist icons.

A procession of demonstrators passes the taxi while it idles. Some are arrested by Czech police.

The taxi ascends the hill leading to the campus of Charles University.

Steven gets out of the taxi and walks into a building.

END MONTAGE:

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - SOCIAL SCIENCES FACULTY - DAY

Steven asks for directions at the security desk.

SUPER:
In 1989 Czechoslovakia had been under communist rule for more than 40 years.

He ascends a stairway and walks down a hallway, looking for a particular office.

SUPER:
In 1968 a reform government led by Alexander Dubcek tried to liberalize the regime during what came to known as the Prague Spring.

SUPER:
This led to an invasion by the Soviet Union, and the restoration of hardline communism.

He enters the outer office of the Dean of Social Sciences, where the secretary works at her desk.

[Note:
Dialog is in English unless otherwise specified.]

STEVEN:

Dobrý den. Good morning. I’m Steven Walsh, the Fulbright Scholar from America. I’m here to see Dr. Pavel Zeman of the Social Sciences Faculty.

The secretary escorts Steven into the dean’s inner office.

SECRETARY:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Dr. Zeman. This is Mr. Steven Walsh.

Dr. Pavel Zeman, a man in his late fifties, rises from his desk and walks over to Steven. They shake hands.

DR. ZEMAN

Mr. Walsh, welcome to Charles University.

STEVEN:

Thank you Dr. Zeman.

DR. ZEMAN

(in Czech, subtitled)

Klara, please ask Professor Čermak to join us.

(in English)

We’ve been expecting you. How was your trip?

STEVEN:

My trip was good. I flew from Philadelphia via Amsterdam.

DR. ZEMAN

You must be exhausted.

STEVEN:

I’m alright. I slept on the plane.

DR. ZEMAN

Young man, you come highly recommended.

Professor Viktor Čermak - a man in his early forties - enters the office and shakes hands with Steven.

DR. ZEMAN

(in Czech, subtitled)

Viktor, this is our Fulbright Scholar, Steven Walsh.

(in English)

Professor Čermak is one of our top economists.

STEVEN:

Dobrý den Professor Čermak.

ČERMAK

It’s a pleasure to meet you Steven. Tell me, how is my friend Tim Lyons at the University of Pennsylvania?

STEVEN:

Professor Lyons is well and he sends his regards.

ČERMAK

I knew Tim when we were at the London School of Economics in 1968.

DR. ZEMAN

You’ll be working with Professor Čermak during your year in Prague.

ČERMAK

Let’s have lunch in the dining hall. There are some students I want to you meet, what you would call undergraduates.

STEVEN:

Alright.

DR. ZEMAN

Spend today getting settled in. Explore the campus and the city. Orientation for foreign residents is tomorrow at 9AM.

Čermak and Steven walk toward the door.

DR. ZEMAN

We will be expecting great things from you Mr. Walsh.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - FACULTY DINING ROOM - DAY

Professor Čermak and Steven sit at a table eating.

ČERMAK

The economy here is in crisis. Industry can’t meet its goals. Some say better modeling and forecasting will help solve that. That's where you come in.

STEVEN:

I’ve got a lot of experience in modeling. Professor

ČERMAK

Please call me Viktor.

STEVEN:

Viktor, on the ride over here I saw protesters clashing with the police.

ČERMAK

(low voice)

It’s the anniversary of the day the Soviets came in 1968.

Three university students - two male, one female - enter the dining hall and walk toward the table.

ČERMAK

You understand that in addition to you research we’re asking you to mentor some of our students in your area of expertise.

STEVEN:

Understood, that was explained to me in Washington.

ČERMAK

I asked Milos, Jan, and Anna to join us. You’ll be working with them. This is Steven, our American Fulbright Scholar.

The three students sit down at the table.

STEVEN:

Dobrý den.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Good day to you. Where did you learn to speak Czech?

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Do you speak Slovak too?

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Is this your first time in Prague?

STEVEN:

Uh, dobrý den.

ČERMAK

(laughing lightly)

You’ll be learning our language soon enough Steve. [to the students] And I’d like your help with that. [to Steven] They all speak English, that’s why they were chosen to work with you.

STEVEN:

Let's get together tomorrow.

MILOS:

The Social Sciences Library, at four o’clock?

Steven, Jan and Anna nod. They all get up and exit the dining hall. Steven and Čermak walk outside the building together.

STEVEN:

Viktor, can I speak frankly?

ČERMAK

Go ahead Steve.

STEVEN:

You know I got pulled into this on short notice. The original Fulbright Scholar had a family emergency and couldn’t do the year in Prague.

ČERMAK

We know that.

STEVEN:

Professor Lyons recommended me to take his place. He said that no academic could pass on an assignment like this. I know he’s right, but ...

ČERMAK

But you have doubts.

STEVEN:

I didn’t have time to learn the language. Normally that’s required. And I’ve travelled abroad before. But this a communist country. Am I going to have the technology and data I need to do this job?

ČERMAK

We’ll do our best. But if half of what Tim told us about you is true then you're going to do fine with just an abacus.

STEVEN:

If you say so. Give me my IBM abacus.

ČERMAK

Take the rest of the day off Steve. Don’t forget, orientation for foreign residents tomorrow morning at nine.

EXT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - CAMPUS - DAY

Steven stands on a hill taking in a view of the city.

INT. UNIV. OF PENNSYLVANIA - PROFESSOR LYON’S OFFICE - DAY (FLASHBACK)

Steven meets with Professor Tim Lyons.

STEVEN:

Why me?

LYONS:

Because you're the only one I know of who’s qualified. When I heard the Fulbright Program needed a replacement scholar I immediately thought of you.

STEVEN:

Tim, these Fulbright people are idealists. You know I’m not out to save the world.

LYONS:

Nobody’s asking you to save the world Steve. Just do what you’re good at. I mean it, your work here has been so good it’s scary.

STEVEN:

My work here? I’m just slumming here until I can get a real job again. And now I’ve got one. In two weeks I’m joining the research group at Drexel Burnham.

LYONS:

You can always get a research job. You’ll never have another chance to be the first Fulbright Scholar ever in Czechoslovakia!

STEVEN:

You mean communist Czechoslovakia.

LYONS:

I don’t know anyone here who would turn down an opportunity like this. Do you know what this could mean for your career? When you come back you can write your own ticket, whatever you decide to do.

Lyons stands and walks over to Steve.

LYONS:

The Fulbright Program is interviewing candidates tomorrow in Washington. Are you going?

END FLASHBACK:

EXT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - CAMPUS - DAY

Steven turns and begins walking as the sun sets.

EXT. AN AMERICAN EAST COAST BEACH - DAY (FLASHBACK)

Steven and some friends relax outside a beach house.

DIANE:

Did you hear? Steve is headed to Czechoslovakia next week as a Fulbright Student.

STEVEN:

Fulbright Scholar. I’ll be working in an advisory role.

BOB:

Going behind the Iron Curtain like James Bond.

JENNIFER:

They’re tearing up Iron Curtain. The Poles and Hungarians just threw the communists out of power.

JIM:

And this time the Russians aren’t trying to stop it.

BOB:

Stay out of trouble over there Steve.

STEVEN:

It’s a business trip Bob. You stay out of trouble by sticking to business.

END FLASHBACK:

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - LECTURE HALL - DAY

Steven and about a dozen other scholars and advanced students from various countries sit in a lecture room. Dr. Petr Kovář addresses the group from the lecture podium. A young woman named Regina Jelínková stands to his left.

DR. KOVAR

I’m Dr. Petr Kovář, head of the foreign exchange program. You are all advanced students and scholars in various fields and from many different countries. As you begin your study and research here it is our responsibility to make sure your transition is successful. Miss Jelínková will now speak to you about that.

Regina steps to the podium, a picture of poise and professionalism.

REGINA:

Good morning. Bonjour. Guten morgen. Dobroye utro. My name is Regina and I’m an advanced student in the Languages Faculty. I’ve agreed to serve as your advisor on non-academic matters. Any questions or concerns please come to me. In the weeks ahead I’ll be meeting with each of you to help you get settled here and to insure your successful transition. Now follow me for a tour of this historic campus.

EXT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - CAMPUS - DAY

Regina leads the foreign residents on a tour of the campus.

REGINA:

This is the central campus, known as the Albertov. Charles University is one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1347 by Emperor Charles IV. It was modeled on the University of Paris.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - CLEMENTINUM - DAY

REGINA:

We’re standing in the baroque library hall of the Clementinum complex. The artwork on the ceiling is the work of Jan Hiebl.

EXT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - CAMPUS - DAY

The group stands outside a building which has a memorial plaque set in the wall.

REGINA:

This plaque on the wall of Hlávkova Dormitory commemorates Czech medical student Jan Opletal who was killed in 1939 demonstrating against the Nazi occupation of this country. Opletal and other Czech students who died resisting fascism are remembered every year on International Students' Day, November 17. This year will be the fiftieth anniversary.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - DINING HALL - DAY

After the tour the group has lunch. Steven sits at a table in the dining hall with several other foreign scholars. Directly across from Steven sits a young woman named Lena Rall. Lena leans forward to greet Steven.

LENA:

How do you do? Lena, University of Bonn, Mathematics.

STEVEN:

Hello Lena. Steven, University of Pennsylvania, Economics.

TOM:

Tom, Cambridge University, Art History.

MILA:

Mila, Sofia University, Bulgaria, Music.

MINH:

Minh, Vietnam National University, Physics. Except this past year I was studying at the Sorbonne.

STEVEN:

Does anyone here have a computer? Lena?

LENA:

Here, no. I brought my slide rule.

MINH:

The slide rule forces you to use your head Steven.

MILA:

At least we all get private rooms in the Foreign Residents Dormitory.

TOM:

It’s a nice place. But I’m a little past the point in my life of living in a dormitory.

STEVEN:

We all are Tom.

TOM:

They won’t let us get a place off campus?

LENA:

No, they’re keeping all their foreign eggs in one basket.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - SOCIAL SCIENCES LIBRARY - DAY

Steven has his first session with his Czechoslovak students.

STEVEN:

So none of you have access to a personal computer?

JAN:

There are computers here. But access is very limited.

STEVEN:

Everybody uses a computer where I come from. Here people are still using slide rules.

ANNA:

You’re in Absurdistan now Steve.

STEVEN:

We’ll just have to make do. Welcome to the exciting world of economic modeling. There will be some number crunching involved

MILOS:

Steve, before we get started we want to warn you about something. As a foreign resident from the West you should know they’re going to be watching you.

STEVEN:

Who’s going to be watching me?

JAN:

The StB.

ANNA:

That’s the Státní Bezpečnost, the State Security police.

STEVEN:

The Fulbright people warned me about that before I left the U.S. Look, I just do my work. I don’t get mixed up in the local politics.

JAN:

Did your people tell you that the StB has agents, how you say, embedded here among the students and faculty?

STEVEN:

Whatever. I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me. Now, let’s go over the syllabus.

INT./EXT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - NIGHT

In the lounge Lena and Minh explain to Steven how to use a slide rule.

MINH:

… and move the left index on the C scale.

Minh hands the slide rule back to Steven.

STEVEN:

OK, got it. What if I need to use an exponent?

Lena takes the slide rule.

LENA:

The best way is to work with the logarithms ...

DISSOLVE TO:

Steven uses the phone in the lounge. He writes on a notepad as he speaks.

STEVEN:

Giants over the Redskins 27-24 … Tampa Bay over Green Bay 23-21 … Cleveland over Pittsburg 51-0 … No, I can’t get any scores here unless I go to the American Embassy … Thanks Bob, talk to you next week.

DISSOLVE TO:

Steven works at his desk. The fire alarm goes off. Through the open door of his room he sees Minh and Tom walk past in the hallway.

STEVEN:

What’s going on?

MINH:

Fire drill.

STEVEN:

At ten o’clock at night? To hell with it.

Steven stays at his desk. Regina holds the door to the stairwell as the residents exit. She goes to Steven’s room.

REGINA:

Steven, on your feet. We’re having a fire drill!

STEVEN:

Yes ma'am.

Steven gets up and walks outside with Regina. He leaves an economic modeling book open to a page with a table printed on it. He leaves the door of his room partially open. Outside the residents chat while Regina paces slowly. Steven turns to Minh.

STEVEN:

(low voice)

This is freaking ridiculous.

The alarm ceases.

REGINA:

Drill over! Everyone back inside!

The group heads back inside. The door to Steven’s room is closed. Steven tries the knob and finds it locked. He uses his key to unlock it and walks inside. Steven notices that the book he left on his desk is turned to a different page. He flips back to the page with the table on it.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - DR. ZEMAN’S OFFICE - DAY

Steven and Professor Čermak sit at a table. Dr. Zeman sits at his desk wearing a new, finely tailored suit. Čermak hands some papers to Steven.

ČERMAK

This is fine Steve. You’re off to good start.

STEVEN:

I could do more with a computer.

ČERMAK

Sorry, I’m afraid that a computer is out of the question for now.

DR. ZEMAN

(in Czech, subtitled)

How is your Czech coming along?

STEVEN:

(in bad Czech, subtitled)

Um, started I course basic Doctor. And helpful students mine truly

ČERMAK

Steve, Czech is a challenging language for a native English speaker. To learn any new language you must be immersed it. Stop working so hard. Get outside the campus and see this city.

STEVEN:

Alright Viktor.

Dr. Zeman, Steven and Čermak stand up.

STEVEN:

That’s a fine suit Dr. Zeman.

DR. ZEMAN

I’m attending a reception this afternoon at the American Embassy for the new ambassador, Shirley Temple Black.

ČERMAK

It’s a big event here in Prague. Shirleyka is very popular in this country.

Steven and Čermak leave Dr. Zeman’s office.

INT./EXT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - DAY

Steven arrives back at the dormitory. Regina emerges from the front entrance as Steven approaches.

REGINA:

Steve! We were supposed to meet yesterday.

STEVEN:

Sorry Regina, I forgot.

REGINA:

You’re the only foreign resident I haven't sat down with yet.

STEVEN:

Can we meet later this morning?

REGINA:

Eleven o’clock, sharp.

Steven walks inside the dormitory lounge to find Lena, Mila, Minh and Tom reading and drinking coffee. He looks at the bulletin board.

MILA:

They posted the menu for next week.

STEVEN:

Let’s see, this week it was sausage and cabbage. Next week it’s cabbage and sausage.

MINH:

Its university food Steve.

TOM:

You could try talking to Regina.

LENA:

But I don’t know what she can do about the menu.

STEVEN:

I’ll mention it to her when we meet later.

INT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - MEETING ROOM - DAY

Steven and Regina sit at a table.

REGINA:

What I recommend is that you not take every meal at the university. Do you ever leave the campus?

STEVEN:

Of course I do.

REGINA:

The Malá Strana has cafes and restaurants that offer a greater variety of food. For an American they should be quite affordable.

STEVEN:

The Malá Strana, the Little Quarter.

REGINA:

Yes, in fact I’m going there now. Would you like to join me?

STEVEN:

How far is that? I have a meeting this afternoon.

REGINA:

About fifteen minutes.

STEVEN:

Alright.

INT. PRAGUE - CITY METRO - MOVING TRAIN CAR - DAY

Steven and Regina stand in a metro car as it approaches a stop in the Malá Strana.

REGINA:

This is it.

They exit the metro car.

INT. PRAGUE - A CAFE IN THE MALA STRANA - DAY

Steven and Regina dine at a table in the cafe.

REGINA:

How are your dumplings?

STEVEN:

Great. Thanks for showing me this place Regina.

REGINA:

This cafe is popular with foreigners. Steve, I’m responsible for your well-being while you’re here. That’s why when the fire alarm sounds you must follow the evacuation procedure.

STEVEN:

Yes, of course.

REGINA:

So you’re from Philadelphia?

STEVEN:

Now I am. Originally I’m from Connecticut. I also lived in New York for a few years.

REGINA:

New York City?

STEVEN:

Yes. I worked on Wall Street for the investment firm E.F. Hutton They were wiped out in the stock market crash in ‘87. That’s capitalism. So I decided to go back to graduate school.

REGINA:

How did you like it there, in New York?

STEVEN:

It was a great time. New York is exciting, always something to do, you can have a more interesting career. But the city has a lot of crime and corruption.

REGINA:

I would like to see New York.

STEVEN:

But you can’t.

REGINA:

It’s difficult. To travel to a non-socialist country you must have a very good reason. Next year I’m applying to the Foreign Service.

STEVEN:

So that means you’re a ...

REGINA:

A what?

STEVEN:

A communist.

REGINA:

I’m a candidate member of the party. There is no career in the Foreign Service without party membership.

A song plays over the cafe speakers, Nechte zvony znít (“Let the Bells Sound”) by Marta Kubišová. Regina’s attention is drawn to the music.

STEVEN:

What is it?

REGINA:

I ... I haven't heard this song in long time. This is Marta. Marta Kubišová.

STEVEN:

Catchy tune.

REGINA:

But you see, her music is banned.

STEVEN:

Should I cover my ears?

REGINA:

It’s alright, this cafe plays banned music sometimes.

STEVEN:

Why was she banned?

REGINA:

Her record company dropped her because, they said, she was setting a bad example for young people.

KUBISOVA (V.O.)

(in Czech, subtitled)

Only the bells know what you took from me

Only the bells know what comes next

STEVEN:

Really? This doesn't sound so bad. Something about bells. The bells know ...

REGINA:

After the crisis in 1968 she kept speaking out against the Soviets and singing protest songs.

Regina and Steven listen to the song as it is played.

KUBISOVA (V.O.)

(in Czech, subtitled)

Comes a great composer and poet

Who knows a hundred wild dreams

Let his song spread across the city

And I beg, let the bells sound

And I beg, let the bells sound

EXT. PRAGUE - A STREET IN THE MALA STRANA - DAY

After lunch Steven and Regina walk on the street.

STEVEN:

I have to tell you Regina, I’ve been to a few cities in the world but I’ve never seen a place like this. It’s like a fairy tale.

REGINA:

That’s what most people say about Prague their first time here. What other cities have you been to?

STEVEN:

In the U.S.? Most of the major ones. In Europe I’ve been to London, Paris, Rome.

REGINA:

Paris?

STEVEN:

In Paris I stayed in the Latin Quarter.

REGINA:

I want to see all these places.

STEVEN:

I hope you get into the Foreign Service. I’m afraid I have to get back to the campus.

REGINA:

But it’s Friday afternoon. Everyone’s left for the weekend. Let me show you around this district.

STEVEN:

I’d like to but I’m meeting with my students in half an hour. Thanks again Regina, I’m going to come back here.

REGINA:

A group of us are going to the Lanterna Magika theater tomorrow night. Would you like to come?

STEVEN:

Maybe.

Steven smiles politely and heads back to the Metro.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - SOCIAL SCIENCES LIBRARY - DAY

Steven wraps up a session with Milos, Jan and Anna.

STEVEN:

… and always consider the trade-off effect. You give up one benefit to gain another. That’s it for today. Enjoy your weekend.

Milos, Jan and Anna remain seated looking at Steven and out the window of the meeting room. Nobody else is around.

STEVEN:

That’s not too much homework, is it?

Milos leans forward.

MILOS:

Steve, what can you tell us about Poland and Hungary?

STEVEN:

Poland and Hungary? They're having free elections now. They overthrew the communists.

JAN:

Yes, we know. But how?

MILOS:

It’s not like we have no idea what’s going on. We just can’t get any real news from outside the country.

STEVEN:

I’m really not here to talk about ...

ANNA:

What really happened in China?

STEVEN:

You mean the protests? Tiananmen Square? It started last spring when the students there began demonstrating for democracy. They were joined by workers, ordinary citizens. Then the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev went to Beijing for a summit with the Chinese leaders. But they couldn’t give him the ceremony because by then there were a million people occupying the square.

ANNA:

And then they sent army in?

STEVEN:

The army cleared the square with infantry and tanks. Hundreds were killed. If you want to talk about this then let’s set aside some extra time.

EXT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - COURTYARD - NIGHT

Steven sits on a chair in the dormitory courtyard drinking a beer. Lena walks outside and sits down in another chair, wrapping a shawl around her shoulders.

STEVEN:

Evening Lena.

LENA:

Evening Steve. How was your day?

STEVEN:

Good. I had another session with my students this afternoon.

LENA:

How is it going with your Czech students?

STEVEN:

They’re incredible. I’m going to have to accelerate the curriculum. Lena, are you speaking Czech yet?

LENA:

I already speak Czech. I took a proficiency test before I came here. Are you going out with us tomorrow to the Lanterna Magika?

STEVEN:

Oh, that. I’d like to but I have work to do.

LENA:

You have work? On Saturday night?

Steven turns away from Lena.

LENA:

Steve, what’s the matter?

STEVEN:

(low voice)

They’re watching us, that’s what. The State Security police have an agent keeping an eye this foreign egg basket. And we both know who that is.

LENA:

(low voice)

So what if Regina is watching us? You do your work and I do mine and we both stay away from politics. I’m one of the first West Germans to work or study here in twenty years, you’re one of the first Americans. Of course they’re going to be keeping an eye on us.

STEVEN:

That’s what they told me in Washington before I left. And I figured it was just part of working overseas. But now that it's real it feels uncomfortable.

LENA:

Then come out with us tomorrow night and take your mind off of it.

Steven looks away again and scratches his head.

LENA:

Regina arranged this. It would be rude not to go.

STEVEN:

Alright, I’ll go! I’ll wear my good jacket.

INT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - STEVEN’S ROOM - NIGHT

Steven sleeps in his bed.

INT. DARK, GREY CHAMBER - NIGHT (DREAM SEQUENCE)

Steven stands in a dark, grey chamber as The International plays. The concrete walls have embedded, backlit portraits of Marx, Lenin, Brezhnev, etc, alternating with hammer-and-sickle and other communist icons. Steven turns to find Regina entering the chamber.

Regina wears a form-fitting latex long bodysuit in the olive color of a Czechoslovak military uniform, with insignia on the shoulders and tunic collar, a matching garrison cap, boots, a leather belt and a swagger stick. Her sleeve has a hammer-and-sickle armband. She faces Steven and smiles.

REGINA:

You will soon learn that life as you know it is over. Prepare for the final victory of world communism.

Regina walks past Steven.

END DREAM SEQUENCE

INT./EXT. PRAGUE - THE LANTERNA MAGIKA THEATER - NIGHT

A view of the outside of the building. Then a view of the vast subterranean theater inside with a full audience. Steven and Lena sit next to each other enjoying a multimedia spectacle along with Regina and the other foreign residents.

INT. PRAGUE - THE SLAVIA CAFE - NIGHT

After the show the group goes to a nearby cafe. At a table the group eats, and drinks shots of a Slovakian spirit. When the next round is poured Steve raises his glass to Lena, sitting opposite. She responds by doing the same.

EXT. PRAGUE - THE LEGION BRIDGE - NIGHT

Outside the cafe near the embankment Lena waves as a taxi drives off. Steven stands at the embankment looking at the other side of the river. Lena walks over to him.

LENA:

No more room in the taxi Steve.

STEVEN:

That’s alright Lena. I like to take a walk after eating.

It is a clear night with Prague Castle illuminated on the hill across the river.

STEVEN:

Maybe I’ll walk over to Prague Castle tonight.

LENA:

That’s where the president of the republic lives.

Steven and Lena begin walking across the Legion Bridge. There are few others around.

STEVEN:

What was that we were drinking?

LENA:

A Slovakian spirit I think.

LENA:

Feel better now?

STEVEN:

I do. It was fun evening. I guess we can thank Regina for that.

LENA:

Do you really think she’s a State Security agent?

STEVEN:

I really don’t know. She told me she was in the Communist Party.

As Steven and Lena walk on the stone bridge a Czech couple passes them while speaking in their own language.

STEVEN:

Sounds like they're talking about the weather.

LENA:

They’re saying what a fine evening it is.

STEVEN:

I’m still trying to learn the language here.

LENA:

You never had to learn another language before?

STEVEN:

Not to the point where I could work in it. How did you learn to speak Czech?

LENA:

My mother is Czech, from Northern Bohemia. After the war the family resettled in Germany.

STEVEN:

Did you grow up speaking Czech?

LENA:

Czech, and German.

STEVEN:

Then just speak Czech to me. Immersion. I’ll learn faster.

LENA:

(in English)

Repeat after me ...

(in Czech, subtitled)

The River Vltava flows through Prague.

Steven repeats the phrase in Czech.

LENA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

The Legion Bridge crosses the Vltava.

Steven repeats the phrase.

LENA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

We are crossing the Legion Bridge.

Steven repeats the phrase. Near the middle of the bridge Steven and Lena stop walking and turn to each other. Prague Castle is visible in the background.

LENA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

I see the castle on the other side.

Steven repeats the phrase.

LENA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Nobody is watching us now.

Steven repeats the phrase. He and Lena look at each other for a moment. Then Steven puts his hand on Lena’s shoulder, gently pulls her closer, and kisses her on the lips. Lena puts her arms around Steven's neck and Steven puts his arms around Lena’s waist. They kiss intensely.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - TENNIS COURT - DAY

Steven and Minh finish a game of tennis at the university’s indoor court.

MINH:

Game!

They walk off the court.

MINH:

I was watching the NBA finals at the American bar in Paris a few months ago. You know, Michael Jordan, the top scoring player?

STEVEN:

That’s right. But good luck trying to get those games here.

INT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - SECOND FLOOR - DAY

Steven and Minh go back to the dormitory. Minh goes to his room. Tom greets Steven in the hallway.

TOM:

Care for a drink Steve?

STEVEN:

What’ve you got?

TOM:

(lowers his voice)

Scotch, and entertainment.

Steven and Tom go into Tom’s room. Tom pours a glass of scotch for himself and for Steven. They begin drinking.

TOM:

Can you keep a secret? I mean it, don’t mention this to anybody.

Steven nods. Tom unlocks and opens his suitcase. He pulls out a shortwave radio and turns it on. After a moment the transmission is audible.

BBC ANNOUNCER (V.O.)

Hurricane Hugo has passed through the Caribbean and is expected to reach the southeastern United States coast tomorrow. You're listening to BBC World Service. In other world news, Vietnam announced today that it has withdrawn the last of its troops in Cambodia ...

Steven enjoys hearing this uncensored broadcast.

STEVEN:

Can you get Voice of America?

TOM:

I think so. The Czechs aren’t jamming Western broadcasts anymore.

EXT. PRAGUE - A STREET IN THE MALA STRANA - DAY

Steven and Lena stroll the Malá Strana district together.

STEVEN:

This city gets real quiet on weekends.

LENA:

Everybody goes out to their country houses. How are your students treating you?

STEVEN:

They want to know everything that’s happening in the world. It is the same in your faculty?

LENA:

It’s the same all over.

STEVEN:

I thought the kids here would be like Young Pioneers wearing hammers and sickles on the their arms. No, it’s a hotbed of dissent! It feels like something’s going to explode.

LENA:

It’s Gorbachev. The students see him making the Soviet system more liberal but the leaders here are still hardline.

STEVEN:

Gorbachev, yeah. Reagan, Thatcher, the Pope ...

LENA:

Have you heard about this underground group called the Student Ribbon? They’re students who work with the dissidents.

STEVEN:

The Student Ribbon? Never heard of it.

Steven and Lena turn a corner and find themselves on a street littered with abandoned East German Trabant cars.

LENA:

These are East German Trabants. They drive here and seek asylum inside the West German embassy, over there. There are thousands of them camped inside the compound.

Lena points to the embassy. They look down an alley separated from the embassy compound by an eight foot high brick wall. Then a Trabant drives past them and stops in the street near the alley. A young East German couple exits the car, grabs their bags, and runs down the alley to the wall of the embassy compound. The man climbs on top of the wall and the woman passes him their bags.

STEVEN:

Tell them they left engine running.

LENA:

(in German)

Hey! You left the engine running!

The man responds in German.

LENA:

He said take it.

Steven and Lena watch as the man pulls the woman to the top of the wall. Two Czech policemen arrive on the scene. One of them grabs the woman’s leg and tries to pull her back down. The man manages to pull her over with him into the compound. Steven and Lena turn to look at the Trabant.

INT./EXT. CZECHOSLOVAKIAN ROAD - A TRABANT CAR - DAY

Steven drives the Trabant while Lena studies the map in her Michelin Guide. The Trabant gives them a bumpy ride.

STEVEN:

It’s like driving a lawnmower.

LENA:

Turn here.

EXT. BOHEMIAN COUNTRYSIDE - NEAR A LAKE - DAY

In a verdant setting Lena poses with her arm against a tree while Steven snaps a Polaroid. Steven looks at the picture and shows it to Lena before slipping it into his wallet.

STEVEN:

I’m going to keep this one.

Steven and Lena find a spot to recline beside the lake.

STEVEN:

You think we can get a room at that lodge?

LENA:

No work to do tonight?

STEVEN:

Not on Saturday. It’s beautiful here.

INT. BOHEMIAN COUNTRYSIDE - A LODGE - DAY

Steven and Lena lie in bed in one of the guestrooms. Lena sleeps while Steven lies awake, facing up.

INT. NEW YORK - E.F. HUTTON OFFICE - DAY (FLASHBACK)

Steven and his colleagues at the firm watch a television screen as the market closes on October 19, 1987. The closing bell sounds as the screen shows the DOW Index down 508 points for the day.

OLDER FIRM EMPLOYEE

That’s it. We’re going under.

INT./EXT. NEW YORK - THE BROADWAY THEATER - NIGHT (FLASHBACK)

This scene begins with a view of Broadway at night. Then a view of the outside of The Broadway Theater, with a billboard in front announcing the musical Les Miserables. Inside the theater Steven and some friends sit in the audience. The cast performs Do You Hear the People Sing.

CHORUS:

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men?

It is the music of the people

Who will not be slaves again!

INT. NEW YORK - A RESTAURANT - NIGHT (FLASHBACK)

Steven and his friends sit at a table.

JENNIFER:

That was incredible.

JIM:

Your first time seeing Les Miserables?

JENNIFER:

For me, yeah.

BOB:

Me too.

DIANE:

How did you like it Steve?.

STEVEN:

How did I like Les Miserables? It's a great fantasy, for people like us.

JENNIFER:

A fantasy? How’s that?

STEVEN:

I mean most of us live mundane lives, nine to five jobs at a desk. None of us will ever stand on the barricades fighting the good fight for freedom and justice because we already have these things.

DIANE:

I can see you fighting on the barricades Steve!

STEVEN:

I fight my battles in the office. If you want to imagine for an evening what it's like fighting for some noble cause then you’ve got this show.

END FLASHBACK:

INT. BOHEMIAN COUNTRYSIDE - A LODGE - DAY

In bed in their guestroom Steven looks at Lena as she sleeps under his arm.

EXT. PRAGUE - WEST GERMAN EMBASSY COMPOUND - NIGHT

This scene begins with a view of the abandoned Trabants on the street outside the embassy. Within the embassy compound thousands of East Germans camp outside, including the couple who climbed over the wall. On the balcony above the compound an official addresses the crowd with a megaphone.

EMBASSY OFFICIAL

(in German, subtitled)

Federal Republic Foreign Minister Genscher is here with an announcement.

Genscher takes the megaphone.

FOREIGN MINISTER GENSCHER

(in German, subtitled)

I have come to you in order to inform you that today your departure ...

Genscher words are immediately drowned out by load cheering from the crowd below him. The East German couple cheers and embraces each other. Some in the crowd cry with relief.

INT. PRAGUE - CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION - NIGHT

East Germans, including the couple who climbed the wall, board their train. A Sky News crew reports the events.

BRITISH REPORTER

The first group of East Germans here in Prague is boarding a train bound for West Germany. For weeks they have been taking refuge in the West German Embassy. Their departure was arranged just this evening.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - SOCIAL SCIENCES LIBRARY - NIGHT

Steven wraps up a late day session with Milos, Jan and Anna. He hands some papers to Anna.

STEVEN:

Nice work Anna. Milos, Jan, we’ll go over your models next time.

JAN:

Steve, we need your help to settle an argument.

Milos pulls a copy of The Times of London out of his bag and puts it on the conference room table.

MILOS:

We have a copy of the London Times. There is this one article ...

Anna points to an article on the front page and shows it to Steven.

ANNA:

Here. Soviet Union declares “Sinatra Doctrine” for satellite countries, like in song My Way.

MILOS:

Frank Sinatra, tough guy. Friends with gangsters.

STEVEN:

This is an interview with a Soviet official. They’re asking what the Soviet policy is for Poland and Hungary now that they're not communist anymore. He said that like Sinatra sang this song called “My Way”, these countries are now free to go “their way”.

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

See, I told you!

MILOS:

She was right.

JAN:

It’s almost six o’clock. Want to come with us to the tavern?

EXT. PRAGUE - A STREET NEAR THE CAMPUS - NIGHT

Steven, Milos, Jan and Anna stand at an intersection waiting for a convoy of Soviet armored carriers to pass.

ANNA:

They usually move at night to avoid arousing the public.

MILOS:

It’s been like this since 1968.

INT. PRAGUE - A TAVERN - NIGHT

Steven, Milos, Jan and Anna sit at a table with food and a large pitcher of beer.

STEVEN:

Do you remember the invasion in 1968?

MILOS:

I wasn’t born yet.

ANNA:

I was three months old.

MILOS:

My parents talked about that time, about how excited they were because of what Dubcek was doing.

JAN:

Dubcek promised a more human socialism than what we had before. Liberal reforms. No censorship, freedom to travel.

ANNA:

Then these three unreformed Stalinists in parliament sent a message to Moscow pleading for “immediate assistance” before Dubcek went too far. That’s when the Russians invaded.

MILOS:

In some places they set up barricades to try to block the tanks. People were being killed.

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Remember Sergei?

(in English)

Last year we had a visiting professor from the University of Moscow. Nice man, we took him to this tavern. Then Sergei told us that in 1968 he was part of the Soviet Army that took Prague, serving in a tank crew.

EXT. PRAGUE - A NEIGHBORHOOD SQUARE - DAY (FLASHBACK)

A Soviet tank idles in the middle of a square. People stand around it. The commander and an enlisted soldier, Sergei, emerge from the turret. Sergei remains on the tank while the officer climbs down to the street. He tries to converse with the crowd. It immediately becomes a shouting match.

ANNA (V.O.)

When they reached the city they stopped to ask for directions. His commander climbed out of the tank and down into the street with the crowd. They had been told that they were liberators and that we would welcome them. Instead the Russian officer was mobbed. He said “We came to help!” He said that socialism needed time and that great things would come. But the people kept shouting “Go home!”.

The Soviet officer climbs onto the tank and shouts.

ANNA (V.O.)

He gave up and climbed back onto his tank. He shouted “Which way to Old Town Square?” “That way!” the people told him. But they were pointing in the wrong direction.

JAN (V.O.)

They were pointing toward Russia.

The Soviets climb back onto the turret and drive off.

END FLASHBACK:

INT. PRAGUE - A TAVERN - NIGHT

MILOS:

My parents were at home listening to Radio Prague at the time.

INT PRAGUE - MILOS PARENTS’ HOME - DAY (FLASHBACK)

A young Czech couple listens to a radio.

MILOS (V.O.)

The announcer was condemning the invasion but telling Czechs to stay calm, not to resist. He went on for hours. Then the station went silent.

INT./EXT. PRAGUE - RADIO STATION - DAY (FLASHBACK)

Outside the Radio Prague building Czech resisters stand behind barricades as a Soviet tank burns. Soviet troops ascend the steps past the barricade and the dead bodies of the Czech defenders. The soldiers break into the studio and order the staff out at gunpoint.

MILOS (V.O.)

Outside the Radio Prague building students were fighting the tanks with Molotov cocktails. The Russians ended up charging the station. They overwhelmed the defenders and killed most of them. The announcer was appealing to the outside world for help until the moment the Russians stormed in.

END FLASHBACK:

INT. PRAGUE - A TAVERN - NIGHT

STEVEN:

I’ve seen pictures of the invasion. It’s amazing. People fighting tanks with bricks and stones.

ANNA:

You know why, don’t you? They thought the Western countries were coming to our aid.

JAN:

There was an American army right across the border in Bavaria.

MILOS:

Sergei told us that if America had sent in only one division the Russians would have retreated back to Bratislava. The Czech lands would now be part of the West.

ANNA:

But the Americans never came.

EXT. PRAGUE - A STREET NEAR THE CAMPUS - NIGHT

Steven, Milos, Jan and Anna walk back to the university from the tavern.

STEVEN:

Don’t get me wrong. I admire the courage of the ones who resist, like the writer Vaclav Havel. But what makes them think they can take on the communist regime? It’s like David vs. Goliath.

ANNA:

Didn’t David win that fight?

STEVEN:

You know, I never hear Čermak talking about that time. But he lived through it!

MILOS:

Be careful discussing this history with Professor Čermak.

JAN:

He knows Vaclav Havel.

STEVEN:

Čermak knows Havel?

JAN:

They were in prison together.

STEVEN:

Prison? Čermak was in prison?

ANNA:

When Čermak returned from the West in 1969 he got involved in the protests against the occupation. He was arrested by the StB.

JAN:

He signed a confession and a promise never to engage in anti-state activities again, for a light sentence.

INT./EXT. PRAGUE - NARODNI AVENUE - DAY

Steven and Lena walk on Narodni Avenue along with Regina, Tom, Mila and Minh.

STEVEN:

Where are we going?

LENA:

The Maj Department Store.

STEVEN:

I still say it’s too early for winter clothes.

REGINA:

Trust me, it’s going to get cold soon.

From a distance they hear noise from a demonstration.

STEVEN:

That sounds like it’s coming from Wenceslas Square.

REGINA:

Their demonstrating. Today is our national day, October 28.

Inside the store Steven picks up a dark wool coat. He walks over to the ladies section where Lena gets gloves and a scarf. Nearby Regina holds two casual jackets, identical except that one is dark grey and the other light grey.

REGINA:

I’m trying to decide which color.

STEVEN:

Doesn’t it come in red?

Lena points to the light grey jacket and Regina nods in agreement. The group proceeds to the checkout counter. They all head outside into the street.

REGINA:

I’m going to meet Dr. Kovář.

Regina walks away as Steven’s attention is drawn to the sounds of the demonstration. Lena grabs his arm and they walk away along with the other foreign residents.

INT. PRAGUE - A TEA HOUSE - DAY

Regina enters a tea house and finds Dr. Kovář and his wife seated at a small table drinking tea from a samovar. This scene is entirely in Czech with subtitles.

REGINA:

Good day Petr, Tereza.

DR. KOVAR

Good day, Regina. Please join us.

TEREZA KOVAR:

Good to see you again Regina.

DR. KOVAR

Regina, I’ve got some news. Your application for full party membership has been passed on to the Central Committee. We might have an answer at the next district party meeting.

REGINA:

Thank you for sponsoring me Petr.

TEREZA KOVAR:

Petr says you’re joining the Foreign Service next year.

REGINA:

If I’m accepted.

DR. KOVAR

I have no doubt that you’ll be accepted. Political reliability is what matters at this point and your credentials are impeccable.

TEREZA KOVAR:

Aren’t you happy?

REGINA:

Of course I am. But why must political reliability matter more than ability?

TEREZA KOVAR:

That’s what many young people ask.

DR. KOVAR

Regina, if ability was all that mattered then you wouldn’t need my help at all. But you understand the way things are for now.

REGINA:

About the Students' Day rally, I’ve heard that it might turn into another political demonstration.

DR. KOVAR

You should definitely go. The Students' Day rally is for all students, Communist and non-party members alike.

REGINA:

What if they start demonstrating?

DR. KOVAR

Use your common sense.

INT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - SECOND FLOOR - NIGHT

Steven works at his desk as Tom enters his room.

TOM:

Steven, you need to hear this.

Steven and Tom go into Tom’s room and Tom closes the door. Tom turns up the volume on his radio.

BBC ANNOUNCER:

More on the breaking news from Berlin. The politburo of the German Democratic Republic has announced that its citizens are now free to leave the country through any checkpoint along its border. Thousands of East Germans have been crossing into West Berlin at several points along the wall, and are being greeted with cheers by West Germans on the other side.

STEVEN:

They opened the Wall? People are moving freely into the West?

TOM:

That’s what they’re saying. Of course the Czechs have a blackout on news from East Germany.

BBC ANNOUNCER:

East and West Germans are celebrating together on the streets of Berlin, toasting one another with champagne.

STEVEN:

I’ve got to tell Lena about this.

TOM:

Tell her you heard it from a friend back in the USA.

Steven goes to Lena’s room. He finds Lena and Mila talking.

STEVEN:

You heard about Berlin?

LENA:

Yeah, I was just on the phone with my sister. It’s wide open now, no restrictions.

STEVEN:

The students are sure to be asking about this once the news gets out.

MILA:

I was telling Lena she should go to Berlin and see for herself.

STEVEN:

I’ll go if you go. Our visas let us leave and re-enter the country.

INT. PRAGUE - CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION - DAY

Steven and Lena walk toward and board the train to Berlin.

INT. TRAIN FROM PRAGUE TO BERLIN - DAY

Steven and Lena sit in coach as the train moves.

LENA:

We’re taking the train into Hauptbahnhof Station.

STEVEN:

In the Eastern sector.

LENA:

Right. From there we walk to the Brandenburg Gate checkpoint, where we can cross over to the West.

EXT. EAST AND WEST BERLIN - BRANDENBURG GATE AREA - DAY

This scene begins with a Google Earth style view of Northern Europe. The view zooms in to Berlin, then to the city center, then to the Pariser Platz in the Eastern Sector. Steven and Lena walk across the Pariser Platz toward the Brandenburg Gate border checkpoint, show their passports to the border guard, and cross into the Western sector.

The atmosphere is festive with East Germans being welcomed by West Berliners. Television crews report from the scene. A West Berliner welcomes Steven and Lena with plastic toasting flutes of champagne. They take the drinks.

Steven and Lena walk along a street running parallel to the wall. In the distance a crane lifts a large concrete slab. Several men with sledge hammers bang on the concrete wall. One hammering German hands Steven a piece of the wall.

The wall stands about nine feet high with a wide surface upon which a number of Germans stand and sit. Steven makes a brief running start to jump and get hold of the top of the wall, and lifts himself up. He then pulls Lena up to the top of the wall and they both begin taking photographs.

One the other side on the ground stand about six East German border guards conversing amicably with the Germans on the wall surface. Steven gives his camera to a German man and puts his arm around Lena as the man takes their picture.

INT. WEST BERLIN - A TAVERN - NIGHT

After sightseeing Steven and Lena have a drink in a tavern. They notice a man sitting near them.

STEVEN:

Ask him if he’s from the East.

LENA:

(in German)

Are you from the East? What made them finally open the Wall?

The man replies in German.

LENA:

He says he’s from the Eastern side. The uprising began ten weeks ago.

The man speaks in German.

LENA:

He says the government was in crisis. Many people were fleeing the country, especially young people. Opposition groups formed and demonstrations against the government kept getting bigger.

The man speaks in German.

LENA:

The situation was out of control. The communists couldn’t stop it.

The man speaks in German.

LENA:

People gathered at the border checkpoints and demanded to be allowed to cross into the West. Finally the government gave in.

EXT. WEST BERLIN - MARKET - DAY

At a fruit stand Steven buys a bag of oranges and Lena two bunches of bananas. They proceed to a newsstand. Lena picks up a West German newspaper.

STEVEN:

What is it?

LENA:

There's been a revolution in Bulgaria. They’ve overthrown the communist government.

STEVEN:

Find out as much as you can so we can tell Mila. We can’t take any newspapers back to Prague, just what we can cram into our heads.

INT./EXT. TRAIN FROM BERLIN TO PRAGUE - DAY

On the trip back to Prague Steven and Lena sit in coach.

CONDUCTOR:

(in German, subtitled)

Czech border, five minutes. Have passports and visas ready.

The train stops at the border checkpoint. Steven and Lena get up, disembark and toss their newspapers into trash bins before getting on line at the checkpoint.

INT. PRAGUE - CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION - DAY

Steven and Lena’s train pulls into Prague Station. A sign on the platform says “PRAHA”.

EXT. PRAGUE - A CITY STREET - DAY

Steven and Lena walk on the street with their backpacks toward the campus. Church bells ring from a distance.

STEVEN:

My faculty is having a reception on Tuesday. Do you want to go?

LENA:

What time?

STEVEN:

Four o’clock.

LENA:

I think I can make it.

The church bells sound more loudly.

STEVEN:

We’ve been hearing church bells ever since we got off the Metro.

As Steven and Lena approach an intersection they see a procession of parishioners led by several Catholic clergy. A priest at the head of the procession carries a pole with an iconic portrait mounted on top. It is a portrait of a saintly woman with the name Anežka at the base.

LENA:

That’s a Czech saint, Agnes of Bohemia. Today she is being canonized.

INT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - LOUNGE - DAY

Steven and Lena arrive at the dormitory with Mila, Tom, Minh and Regina in the lounge. Steven and Lena place their backpacks on a table. Steven pulls out his piece of the Berlin Wall and puts it on the table. They take out their oranges and bananas and share them with the others. Steven hands oranges to Regina and Mila.

STEVEN:

Mila, we found out about the revolution in your country.

MILA:

What’s happening there?

While Mila peels her orange Steven and Lena begin explaining the Bulgarian revolution to her.

LENA:

The uprising in Sofia began two days ago ...

EXT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - CAMPUS - DAY

Steven walks outside on the campus with Milos, Jan and Lena.

STEVEN:

I can tell you that everything you’ve been hearing is true. Berlin is wide open and they’re taking the wall apart.

MILOS:

You say that in East Germany the people were demonstrating? The demonstrations kept getting bigger and bigger?

STEVEN:

Right, the government was overwhelmed so they surrendered to the people. We found out as much as we could while we were in Berlin. I have another way of getting news from the outside world. I can’t talk about it, but when I know more so will you.

ANNA:

We appreciate it Steve.

STEVEN:

Now you can share this with your colleagues in the Student Union.

ANNA:

The Student Union? Milos and Jan are in the Student Union. I mean, the official one.

STEVEN:

And the unofficial?

Anna turns the inside of her jacket lapel out to reveal a white ribbon pinned to it.

ANNA:

Students in contact with the dissidents formed a new group, the Student Ribbon, or Stuha.

JAN:

Anna’s friends are working for freedom and rights. And the StB knows who their leaders are.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - FACULTY LOUNGE - DAY

Steven and Lena arrive at a semi-formal reception of the Social Sciences faculty. They greet Dr. Zeman and Čermak.

STEVEN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Dr. Zeman, Professor Čermak, this is Lena Rall. She’s a visiting scholar from the University of Bonn, with the Mathematics Faculty.

DR. ZEMAN

(in Czech, subtitled)

Pleased to meet you Miss Rall. Welcome to our faculty.

Čermak speaks with Steven alone.

ČERMAK

Steven, your models are being reviewed by the State Planning Commission. They should get back to us in a week or two.

STEVEN:

Thanks Viktor. I’d like to talk to you and Dr. Zeman about where we’re going with this research.

ČERMAK

We can get together Friday.

STEVEN:

Is ten o’clock good? It has to be in the morning because that Students' Day ceremony is in the afternoon.

ČERMAK

Very well, ten o’clock.

Meanwhile Lena converses with Dr. Zeman and a couple of other Social Science faculty members.

DR. ZEMAN

Miss Rall tells us that you journeyed to Berlin this weekend.

STEVEN:

We sure did. They were literally tearing down the wall when we got there. We brought back a piece of it and some fresh fruit.

LENA:

When we got back to Prague we ran into a procession of the faithful for Saint Agnes.

STEVEN:

Who was Agnes of Bohemia?

ČERMAK

Anezka was a princess who lived seven hundred years ago.

FACULTY MEMBER:

She refused an arranged marriage. She gave up the life of a princess for a life of prayer. She founded a hospital and dedicated herself to helping the poor and the sick.

Dr. ZEMAN

Anezka was considered a saintly person. But her canonization by the Roman Catholic Church wasn’t announced until a few months ago.

STEVEN:

Anezka had to wait seven hundred years to be canonized?

ČERMAK

That’s right. For seven hundred years we all waited. The legend in this country says that when Anezka finally becomes a saint a miracle will happen in the Czech lands.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - SOCIAL SCIENCES FACULTY - DAY

Professor Čermak and Dr. Zeman sit in the latter’s office while Steven stands. This scene is entirely in Czech with subtitles until Steven leaves the office.

ČERMAK

Of course we’ll let you know as soon as we hear from the Commission about your models.

STEVEN:

Viktor, with all respect to you and Dr. Zeman, the problem in this country isn’t the economic models.

ČERMAK

Then what is the problem?

STEVEN:

It’s this state-planned economy. The best models can’t fix a bad system. Even the Russians understand that now.

DR. ZEMAN

What do you propose?

STEVEN:

We direct our research toward market reforms, decentralization.

ČERMAK

Thank you Steven. We’ll take it under advisement.

STEVEN:

There’s a lot published about this in the West if we can just get …

DR. ZEMAN

Mr. Walsh, you’re coming dangerously close to ideas that can be considered subversive and anti-socialist.

STEVEN:

Considered subversive and anti- socialist by whom?

ČERMAK

The Ministry of Education approves all research at Charles University.

STEVEN:

But perestroika is official policy in this country. Nothing I’m saying subverts that policy.

ČERMAK

Let the government worry about perestroika. You just do the work you came here to do.

Steven closes his briefcase.

STEVEN:

Absurdistan!

Steven walks out of Dr. Zeman’s office. Čermak follows Steven into the hallway. They stop and face each other. This conversation is in English.

ČERMAK

Dr. Zeman and I have been fighting for academic freedom for twenty years! You think we don’t know what needs to be done here?

STEVEN:

So my research is subject to the commissars in the Education Ministry?

ČERMAK

That’s the way it is for now. And you knew that before you came here.

STEVEN:

Sorry Viktor. Maybe I was a little hotheaded in there.

ČERMAK

Don’t worry about it Steve. It’s Students' Day!

Čermak smiles and parts ways with Steven.

EXT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - CAMPUS - DAY

The Students' Day rally is underway in the Albertov with thousands in attendance. There are many banners and Czech flags. The foreign residents - Steven, Lena, Mila, Tom, Minh - stand among the students listening to a speaker at the podium. Regina is there wearing her light grey jacket.

SPEAKER:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Who if not us? When if not now?

Milos, Jan and Anna spot Steven in the crown and walk over. Anna wears her white ribbon on the outside of her jacket.

Milos

Steven!

STEVEN:

Hi Milos, Jan, Anna.

JAN:

The speeches are almost over.

STEVEN:

It’s to remember the students who resisted the Nazis in 1939. But I keep hearing “Now”, “Now is the time”.

LENA:

They’re talking about the economic situation, artistic freedom, political change.

MILOS:

The ceremony ends with a procession to the Vysehrad Cemetery to lay a wreath for the Czech martyrs.

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Tell him.

ANNA:

After the ceremony some of us are going on toward the city center, to the Statue of Saint Wenceslas.

JAN:

We’ll be lighting candles and laying flowers there.

LENA:

Are you going to occupy the square?

MILOS:

No. There might be some speeches like what we’re hearing now. But then everyone’s going home.

JAN:

Come with us Steve.

STEVEN:

Let’s go along Lena. After that we can hit one of the jazz clubs.

MILOS:

One moment Steve. After the wreath laying our demonstration is no longer authorized. Anything can happen, we might meet the police. I just wanted to warn you.

STEVEN:

You’re only stopping at Wenceslas Square. It’s not like you’re going to stay there.

LENA:

He’s right. It could be dangerous.

STEVEN:

Since when is it dangerous to walk downtown?

LENA:

If the police are there you could be arrested. You’ll lose your visa and be deported.

STEVEN:

I know these students. They’re not looking for trouble.

LENA:

It’s their thing, Steve. It’s not for us. Don’t go.

STEVEN:

They invited me. It would be rude not to go. But don’t worry. If I see any police I’ll turn around.

As the crowd at the Albertov begins to leave Anna holds up her hand with the “V” for victory sign.

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

To victory!

Lena turns to Regina.

LENA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Men are like, I’ll do whatever I want to do whenever i want ...

REGINA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Don’t worry Lena. It’s Students' Day. The police aren’t going to do anything.

EXT. PRAGUE - A BOULEVARD ALONG THE VLTAVA RIVER - NIGHT

An enormous procession makes its way along the embankment of the Vltava River from the university area toward the center of Prague. The marchers chant slogans and carry banners and Czechoslovak flags.

In a cafe near the boulevard Chicago Tribune reporter Patty Bellandini speaks on the phone with her editor.

BELLANDINI (V.O.)

In Prague thousands of students from the university are marching toward the city center. Their numbers are increasing as other Prague citizens leave their trams and cafes to join them. There are professionals, shoppers, young and older couples and high school students joining the march. Traffic is stopped all along the boulevard and the adjoining streets. The cars and tram drivers are flashing their lights and honking and ringing their bells in support of the marchers … yes, I said in support. Everywhere people are cheering them from the sidewalks.

Bellandini appears in the cafe speaking on the phone.

BELLANDINI:

That’s all for now. This is for the morning edition. I’ll give you my final report in an hour or two.

Bellandini hands the phone to another reporter.

BELLANDINI:

Here Terry.

MACNEIL:

Hello. Terry MacNeil, Los Angeles Times ...

Bellandini leaves the cafe to rejoin the demonstration. Steven walks alongside Milos, Jan and Anna about ten to fifteen rows from the head of the column. Regina walks several rows behind them.

DEMONSTRATORS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Free-dom! Free-dom! Free-dom! Free-dom!

Bellandini approaches the part of the procession where Steve walks with his students.

BELLANDINI:

Excuse me. Do any of you speak English?

STEVEN:

I’m American.

BELLANDINI:

Hello. I’m Patty Bellandini of the Chicago Tribune.

STEVEN:

Steven Walsh. Fulbright Scholar, resident at Charles University.

BELLANDINI:

Have you been with this march from the beginning?

STEVEN:

Yes, I'm with some students I’ve been working with. We started at the university with the Students' Day rally, and then the students decided to go all the way to Wenceslas Square.

BELLANDINI:

And then what?

STEVEN:

Light candles, lay flowers, maybe some more speeches, and then everyone goes home for the weekend. They say they don’t want to occupy the square.

DEMONSTRATOR:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Dinosaurs out, your time is up!

ONE DEMONSTRATOR

(in Czech, subtitled)

Havel to the castle!

ALL DEMONSTRATORS

(in Czech, subtitled)

Havel to the castle! Havel to the castle! Havel to the castle! Havel to the castle!

STEVEN:

They’re saying “Havel to the castle”. That means “Havel for president”.

BELLANDINI:

That’s Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright?

STEVEN:

Right. Jakeš and Husák rule in the castle now. They’re the dinosaurs.

ONE DEMONSTRATOR

(in Czech, subtitled)

Jakeš to the trash!

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Where is Havel? Why isn’t he marching us today?

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

He’s at his country house writing plays.

STEVEN:

It seems Havel isn't with us on this march and they’re disappointed about that.

BELLANDINI:

Thank you Steven.

Bellandini leaves Steven.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

It looks like we’re turning at Národní Avenue.

The procession turns right onto Národní Avenue. As they do they see people waving and cheering from the Slavia Cafe. Further along at the New Stage Theater actors and crew members gather at the windows to wave and cheer.

INT. PRAGUE - NEW STAGE THEATER - GALLERY - NIGHT

In the gallery adjacent to the theater actors and actresses in nineteenth century period costumes along with theater crew gather at the windows to cheer the procession. One of them is a young actor named Michal Sokol.

MICHAL:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Look! The students are on marching on Narodni Avenue!

EXT. PRAGUE - NARODNI AVENUE AND VICINITY - NIGHT

As the procession moves up Narodni Avenue a contingent of police in riot gear deploy on the street ahead of them and around them at the intersections. Most of the police carry truncheons. Two armored personnel carriers arrive with mesh wire frames mounted on the front fenders. The sound of voices over a police radio is constant.

The marchers stop in front of the police line. Steven, Milos, Jan, Anna and Regina halt with the procession. The lead cohort of marchers stands in front of the Maj Department Store with outside decorations of winter holiday scenes, including a country house and a cheery snowman.

Demonstrators on the front line begin placing and lighting their candles on the street between themselves and police. Milos, Jan and Anna step forward to do the same. They along with Steven and Regina behind them watch as a couple of young women walk up to the police and offer them carnations.

Student leaders at the front tell everyone to sit down. Behind the rows of police the commander stands next to his squad car holding a microphone. He uses the car’s public address system to communicate with the demonstrators.

POLICE COMMANDER

(in Czech, subtitled)

People, this is an unauthorized demonstration. You must disperse.

STEVEN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

State Security?

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

No, Public Security. Regular police. Any StB agents here are in the same predicament we’re in.

STEVEN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Does the StB have agents marching with us?

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Probably.

Steven turns and looks at Regina.

STEVEN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Is this what you expected?

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

No.

Regina gets up, walks over and sits down behind Steven.

REGINA:

Steven ...

STEVEN:

Hi Regina.

REGINA:

… we should get away from here while we still can.

Steven points with his thumb toward Milos, Jan and Anna.

STEVEN:

They’re not leaving.

Back near the embankment additional police form a barrier separating the demonstrators on Narodni Avenue from those behind them. An elevated view shows several thousand demonstrators cordoned off by the police.

INTERCUT BETWEEN NARODNI AVENUE AND THE NEW STAGE THEATER

Michal and other theater cast and crew view this police cordon with concern.

DISSOLVE TO:

On Narodni Avenue the police commander repeats the order to disperse.

POLICE COMMANDER

(in Czech, subtitled)

People, I say again, disperse now.

One of the demonstrators stands and begins singing.

ONE DEMONSTRATOR

(singing in Czech, subtitled)

We shall overcome,

The other demonstrators stand and begin singing.

ALL DEMONSTRATORS

(singing in Czech, subtitled)

We shall overcome, we shall overcome someday

Here in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome someday

Steven listens to the tune with a sense of recognition.

ONE DEMONSTRATOR

(shouting in English)

We'll walk hand in hand!

Steven joins the demonstrators in singing the English words.

ALL DEMONSTRATORS

(singing in English)

We'll walk hand in hand, we'll walk hand in hand, we'll walk hand in hand ...

(singing in Czech)

… someday

Here in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome someday

The demonstrators all sit down again.

DISSOLVE TO:

One of the demonstrators stands up and walks forward.

DEMONSTRATOR:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Listen to me everybody! We can take them! There are more of us!

This causes murmuring among the crowd. Milos, Anna and some others rise to their feet.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

No! No violence!

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

You! Sit down!

The agitator, then Milos and Anna, sit down again.

DISSOLVE TO:

POLICE COMMANDER

(in Czech, subtitled)

People, you are not taking the square. We’re not going to have what happened in China.

The demonstrators rise to their feet again and respond with whooping and whistling. Some make a “V” for victory sign.

ONE DEMONSTRATOR

(in Czech, subtitled)

Jakeš’ Gestapo!

MANY DEMONSTRATORS

Ge-sta-po! Ge-sta-po! Ge-sta-po! Ge-sta-po!

POLICE COMMANDER

(in Czech, subtitled)

We are not the Gestapo!

The demonstrators answer with louder jeering, whooping and whistling. One of them holds up a ringing alarm clock.

DEMONSTRATOR:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Your time is up!

The police commander signals to a policeman in the squad car to play a tape over the public address system. The sound of growling dogs is heard from the speakers. The demonstrators respond by holding up their keys and jingling them. The thousands of jingling keys sound like so many bells ringing. The faces of the riot police show their agitation.

DEMONSTRATOR:

(in Czech, subtitled)

You hear that?

DEMONSTRATOR:

(in Czech, subtitled)

The bell tolls for you!

The police begin to advance on the crowd. They step over the candles that had been placed on ground. Men and women raise their hands to the police to show they are unarmed.

DEMONSTRATOR:

(in Czech, subtitled)

We have bare hands!

The police use their truncheons to beat the front rows of demonstrators, some sitting, some standing, on the shoulders and head. This sight of bloodied heads alarms the crowd. They back away from the advance in increasing panic and start screaming. One of the carriers with the wire mesh fenders moves within the cordoned area, forcing demonstrators to run back into the crowd.

The line of police approaches Milos, Anna, Jan, Steven and Regina. Steven and Jan move back, as does Regina from her position. Milos and Anna struggle with the advancing police. Milos is struck on his head and falls to ground. After resisting an advancing policeman Anna is beaten to the ground. Another policeman kicks Anna in her left shoulder causing her to roll over.

Back in the rear of the cordon Patty Bellandini and Terry MacNeil try to escape the mayhem. They show their passports to the policemen who are blocking them.

BELLANDINI:

Patty Bellandini, Chicago Tribune. This is Terry MacNeil of the Los Angeles Times.

MACNEIL:

We are accredited journalists with United States passports!

BELLANDINI:

Let us go!

Instead of allowing them to pass a policeman on the line strikes Bellandini on the head with his truncheon. When MacNeil tries to come to her aid two uniformed policemen directed by a plainclothes officer drag them both to the entrance of a nearby building. Again they both hold up their passports to try to appeal to the policemen.

MACNEIL:

United States passports! See?

MacNeil and Bellandini are both beaten by police truncheons in the building entrance.

In the theater gallery Michal and the other actors and crew are distraught as they view the police terror on the street below. They see about a half dozen demonstrators breaking free of the cordon and running toward the theater.

ACTRESS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Look! Some of them have broken out and they’re headed this way!

Michel turns and runs out of the gallery to the stairway, followed by a member of the stage crew. They run down the stairs to the first floor and down another flight of stairs to the ground floor. They run down passageways leading to the locked door of a service entrance. The demonstrators who broke out are heard banging on the door. Michel opens the door, lets them in and closes the door behind them.

Bellandini and MacNeil are still being beaten in the building entrance when the plainclothes officer notices their U.S. passports lying on the ground. He orders the two policemen to cease the beatings and leave. Two other policemen without truncheons arrive to guard the Americans.

The police advance compresses the cordon. Steven and Jan are pushed back within an increasingly packed crowd.

STEVEN:

Why aren’t we moving back to the embankment?

JAN:

The police must be blocking us at the other end.

Steven and Jan become separated by the crowd surge.

STEVEN:

Jan? Jan?

Steven is pushed by the surge and pressed by bodies on all four sides. The pressing increases until Steven nears the point of asphyxiation. He groans and then passes out, still upright as there is no room to fall to the ground.

This crowd surge throws Regina against the wall of a building. She also feels a crush that makes breathing difficult. But the building has marble work protruding from the wall with a base that offers enough footing for Regina to raise herself a couple of feet above the crowd. This allows her to breath and also gives her a view of the crowd surging around her. Regina sees Steven about ten feet away but unreachable through the crush of bodies. She sees him being pressed and tries to call him through the noise.

REGINA:

(shouting)

Steven!

Steven does not respond.

REGINA:

(shouting in Czech, subtitled)

Steven! Turn sideways and move with the flow!

Again Steven does not respond.

REGINA:

(shouting in English)

Steven, turn sideways!

Next to Steven a demonstrator has heard Regina.

DEMONSTRATOR:

(in Czech, subtitled)

She says turn him.

With some difficulty the demonstrators manage to turn Steven to the side. Steven regains consciousness and gasps. Regina sees this, then moves herself sideways along the wall. Cars are parked in front of the building. Regina moves with the crowd until she has a chance to crawl under one of the cars. Looking forward she sees a young man hiding under the next car looking back at her.

During this violent crackdown the police commander repeats the order to disperse through the public address system.

Jan moves with the crowd as it is pushed by the police to the entrance of an arcade. People run into the arcade to escape the advancing police. Looking down the passageway Jan sees a dozen policemen on each side beating people with truncheons as they run through. At the other end of the arcade men wearing military fatigues with red berets, and wielding truncheons, deploy to catch and beat people as they emerge from the police gauntlet. A young woman runs the gauntlet with her hands up. She takes blows to her shoulders before being struck on the head with a truncheon.

POLICEMAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Bitch!

Jan begins running through the arcade. About halfway through he takes a hard blow on the neck from a truncheon.

POLICEMAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Motherfucker!

Jan stumbles but then rights himself and continues running until he reaches the other end of the arcade. Before he can catch his breath he is pulled aside by two Red Berets. They pin him to a wall and hold him there. Then they force him into a personnel carrier along with other demonstrators. The carrier drives off.

At the building entrance where Bellandini and MacNeil lie injured on the floor an ambulance arrives. The American reporters are put into the ambulance, and driven away.

The crowd surge pushes Steven to the arcade entrance. He sees people being beaten as they run through the police gauntlet. Behind him a few feet away other police are closing the cordon and beating people to the ground. With no other options Steven starts running through the arcade, taking blows from the truncheons on his shoulders and neck. A hard blow lands on his right shoulder.

POLICEMAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Take that swine!

The blow causes Steven to reel forward and bump into a young man running alongside him. That man and another young man - a teenage boy wearing a khaki jacket - grab Steven by the arms and support him as they move forward until he can right himself. The three of them emerge from the arcade. Two Red Berets grab and start beating the man Steven bumped into. Steven sees this. The khaki jacket teen grabs his arm.

KHAKI JACKET TEEN

(in Czech)

Go, run!

The two of them run away from the arcade down a dark side street. They turn a corner but find a red beret patrol approaching on that street. They turn and run the other way but then stop. At a loss, the two of them hear a “psst” from the entrance to an apartment building. They turn to find a middle aged lady looking through a partially opened door and waving them in. They walk inside the building.

INT. PRAGUE - APARTMENT IN THE CITY CENTER - NIGHT

The lady leads Steven and the teenager down the hallway to her apartment. Inside is a vestibule separated from the living room by a curtain. There Steven and the teenager remove their shoes. Beyond the curtain the living room is jammed with over thirty other people standing and sitting. They are mostly university and high school students. Many are injured. One girl of about sixteen sits and sobs as another teenager puts a compress on her head.

MIDDLE AGED LADY

(in Czech, subtitled)

Silence.

She dims the light. From the street can be heard the sound of boots on the pavement and real growling dogs.

INT./EXT. PRAGUE - NARODNI AVENUE - NIGHT

Back on Narodni Avenue the crowd has been cleared. Two policemen walk past the car that Regina hides under but do not notice her or the man hiding under the next car. The boots of the policemen are shown from Regina’s point of view. The policemen walk back toward the squad car where the commander communicates with headquarters.

Regina sees a chance to get away and signals to the man by pointing to the street. They emerge from under the cars. Regina’s light grey jacket has noticeable oil stains. They flee together. At an intersection they see red berets coming toward them, so they turn onto a side street and hide in an alley until they pass.

INT. PRAGUE - PUBLIC SECURITY POLICE HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT

Jan waits in the holding area of police headquarters along with other arrested demonstrators. A policeman approaches. This scene is entirely in Czech with subtitles.

POLICEMAN:

Come with me.

The policeman leads Jan down a passageway to the office of Inspector Řezník, a man in his forties. Řezník sits at his desk. Standing to his left with his arms folded and dour expression is an older police inspector named Krupička.

ŘEZNÍK

Have a seat. Your identification please.

Jan takes the seat in front of the inspector and hands him his identification. Řezník takes the ID and offers Jan a cigarette. Jan takes the cigarette and a light from Řezník. The inspector looks at Jan’s identification.

ŘEZNÍK

Jan Sedlak, third year student at Charles University. Born March 7, 1968 in Bratislava. Are you alright? Would you like some aspirin?

JAN:

They gave me aspirin in the holding area.

ŘEZNÍK

You look like a hockey player Jan.

JAN:

I was until I twisted my ankle.

ŘEZNÍK

They say Slovaks are the best men on the ice.

JAN:

It’s true. I didn’t get your name.

ŘEZNÍK

Inspector Řezník, Public Security. This is my colleague Krupička.

KRUPIČKA

What were you doing on Narodni Avenue this evening?

JAN:

I was out for a walk.

KRUPIČKA

Really? Out for a walk! With a few thousand of your drunken hooligan friends who thought they could

JAN:

It was a peaceful demonstration!

KRUPIČKA

Maybe we’ll hand you over to the StB and you tell them some jokes.

Řezník gestures to Krupička with his hand to silence him.

ŘEZNÍK

Please Jan, I only found out about this an hour ago. I need your help. Tell me, were you at the Students' Day ceremony?

JAN:

Yes.

ŘEZNÍK

What happened?

JAN:

We went to Vysehrad Cemetery to lay a wreath at the tomb of the martyrs.

ŘEZNÍK

And then?

Jan shrugs.

ŘEZNÍK

Whose idea was it to march to Wenceslas Square?

JAN:

Nobody’s idea. We all just started walking toward the city center.

ŘEZNÍK

So it was spontaneous.

JAN:

That’s right, spontaneous.

KRUPIČKA

Have you been in contact with any foreigners?

JAN:

I’m the foreigner here.

ŘEZNÍK

He means foreigners from outside the Czechoslovak Federation.

JAN:

We had a visiting scholar from Russia at the university last year.

ŘEZNÍK

What student organizations do you belong to?

JAN:

I’m a member of the Student Union.

ŘEZNÍK

What do you know about a group that calls itself the Student Ribbon?

JAN:

Not much.

ŘEZNÍK

Do you know the names of anyone involved with this group?

JAN:

No.

Řezník sighs and sits back in his chair.

ŘEZNÍK

You’ll be paying a fine for disturbing the peace. See the duty sergeant on your way out.

INT. PRAGUE - APARTMENT IN THE CITY CENTER - NIGHT

The middle aged lady walks into her building and her flat. The people taking refuge there are more relaxed as most of them watch the television.

MIDDLE AGED LADY

(in Czech, subtitled)

It’s still very dangerous outside. After midnight you can start leaving through the back door, in small groups.

INT./EXT. PRAGUE - A HOSPITAL AND VICINITY - NIGHT

A man in a suit walks into a hospital trauma center. He shows his identification to the receptionist. It says “United States Department of State” / “Richard T. Exner”. A few minutes later Exner escorts a bandaged Patty Bellandini out of the hospital.

EXNER:

That other reporter, Taylor McNeil, contacted us after he was released from the hospital. He told us about you.

BELLANDINI:

How is Taylor?

EXNER:

He’ll be alright. He’s resting at the embassy.

Exner helps Bellandini into his car, gets in and drives off.

EXNER:

We’re issuing a protest about this tomorrow. You can stay at the embassy tonight Patty.

BELLANDINI:

Just drop me off at my hotel.

EXNER:

Are you sure?

BELLANDINI:

It’s alright, I’m leaving for Warsaw on Sunday.

EXNER:

Do you know of any other Americans here in Prague?

BELLANDINI:

I met one who was marching with the students. His name … Steven Walsh. Said he was a Fulbright Scholar.

EXNER:

Oh yes, the Fulbright. You say he was in the demonstration?

BELLANDINI:

Yes. He knew the language and seemed very well informed.

EXNER:

We should have his contact info.

EXT. PRAGUE - APARTMENT IN THE CITY CENTER - NIGHT

Steven emerges from the back door of the lady’s apartment building into a courtyard. He runs to the gate and looks out onto the street. He then signals to others in the building to come out. The khaki jacketed teenage boy and two teenage girls run out and head through the gate.

Steven leads the teenagers at a hurried pace until they reach the intersection where he had turned around earlier. Steven signals to the others to halt and wait while he checks around the corner to see if that street is safe. He looks ahead carefully and then signals to the teenagers to come along. The four of them run down the dark street.

INT./EXT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - NIGHT

Steven arrives back at the dormitory. From outside he looks in the window and sees Regina talking to Mila and holding a hot drink. He heads for the back entrance, walks up the stairs to the third floor, and knocks on Lena’s door. Lena opens the door in her nightgown and embraces Steven.

EXT. PRAGUE - NARODNI AVENUE AND VICINITY - DAY

Dawn breaks over Prague with a view of the city skyline. Narodni Avenue is viewed from the perspective of candles and flowers being placed in various locations on the street and in the arcade.

INT. FOREIGN RESIDENTS DORMITORY - DAY

Regina, looking worn, sits in the lounge drinking coffee. Steven, also looking worn, enters the lounge with his cup and pours himself coffee. Regina does not notice Steven until he walks by her.

REGINA:

Steve! When did you get back?

STEVEN:

Around two in the morning. Running from the police, a new experience. How about you?

REGINA:

I hid under a car.

STEVEN:

You were right Regina. We should have left while we could.

REGINA:

I saw you in the crowd, when the people were panicking. I ...

The phone in the lounge rings. Regina gets up to answer it.

REGINA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Foreign Residents Dormitory.

(in English)

Yes, he’s here now. Steve, it’s for you.

Regina hands Steven the receiver.

STEVEN:

Steven Walsh.

INT. PRAGUE - AMERICAN EMBASSY - EXNER’S OFFICE - DAY

EXNER:

Hello Steven, I’m Richard Exner, Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy. I called to see if you were alright.

INTERCUT BETWEEN STEVEN AND EXNER

STEVEN:

I’m OK I guess. You heard what happened last night?

EXNER:

Yes I did. Do you plan to remain in this country?

STEVEN:

For the time being, yes.

EXNER:

Do you have time to talk?

STEVEN:

If we’re going to talk let’s do it face to face.

EXNER:

I understand. Can you come by the embassy around two this afternoon?

STEVEN:

Two o’clock is good.

EXNER:

When you get here ask for me at the reception desk.

STEVEN:

OK.

Steven hangs up the phone.

STEVEN:

More coffee.

EXT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - SOCIAL SCIENCES FACULTY - DAY

Steven argues with two students guarding the front entrance to the Social Sciences faculty.

FIRST STUDENT:

(in Czech, subtitled)

No, you can’t come in.

SECOND STUDENT:

(in Czech, subtitled)

We’re occupying the Social Sciences faculty.

STEVEN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

I’m looking for three students, Milos Hruška, Anna Tesarova and Jan Sedlak. They were with me at the demonstration last night.

Jan emerges from the entrance and walks outside to Steven.

JAN:

Steve, are you OK?

STEVEN:

I got hit hard on the shoulder. It’s still sore.

JAN:

Milos and Anna were released from the hospital early this morning. They’re resting now.

STEVEN:

What happened to you?

JAN:

I was arrested and questioned by the police. Then they let me go.

STEVEN:

Did you tell them anything?

JAN:

No.

STEVEN:

What’s going on here? Or is that secret?

JAN:

The students are occupying all the faculties and we’re on strike as of today. At all the universities. The actors are striking too. Come by the Social Sciences Library Monday morning. Milos and Anna should be back by then.

Steven turns to leave.

JAN:

Steve, Čermak is with us.

INT. PRAGUE - AMERICAN EMBASSY - EXNER’S OFFICE - DAY

An embassy worker escorts Steven and Lena to Exner’s office.

EMBASSY GUIDE:

Mr. Exner, this is Steven Walsh.

EXNER:

Hello Steven. Thank you for taking the time to come by.

STEVEN:

You’re welcome Mr. Exner. This is Lena of the University of Bonn.

EXNER:

West German?

LENA:

Yes.

EXNER:

You should get in touch with your own embassy and make sure they know where you’re staying. The situation here is volatile.

LENA:

I already have.

EXNER:

I’d like to speak with Steven alone. Would you wait outside?

Lena exits Exner’s office.

EXNER:

I was talking to the reporter who interviewed you last night. She told me you were with the students’ demonstration.

STEVEN:

Some students I’ve been working with invited me to go with them. They said they were going to Wenceslas Square.

EXNER:

What happened?

STEVEN:

We were blocked by the police at Narodni Avenue. The standoff lasted about an hour. Then the police attacked, beating people with their truncheons. The crowd panicked and everyone was pushing so hard I couldn’t breathe. I must have passed out for a moment. We were being pushed into this arcade. It was the only way out and they were hitting us with their truncheons as we went through. At the other end there were these military guys with red berets, pulling people aside and beating them up some more. We ran but the red berets were all over the place. A lady let me hide in her apartment with over thirty other people until the streets were safe.

EXNER:

Shocking. We’ve already lodged a protest with the Foreign Ministry over the American journalists who were beaten.

STEVEN:

Protests won’t work with this regime.

EXNER:

There are very few Americans in Czechoslovakia right now. Maybe a dozen apart from embassy staff. You’re the only one who's in contact with the university students. Do you have any idea what they’re going to do next?

STEVEN:

The students are occupying the faculties and they’re going on strike. Maybe the professors too. And the theater people. They’re all committed to nonviolence.

EXNER:

In the last twenty-four hours there’ve been clear signs of an uprising in this country. That means an influx of American journalists and the embassy will have to deal with it. You can help by telling us what you see.

STEVEN:

You don’t expect me to spy on the students, do you?

EXNER:

Of course not. We just want your impressions of where this is all going. It’s one way we compile information for travel advisories and assistance to Americans already here. What you can tell us may end up saving lives.

STEVEN:

Are my impressions that important?

EXNER:

The ambassador is very concerned about this situation.

INT. PRAGUE - AMERICAN EMBASSY - AMB. BLACK’S OFFICE - DAY (FLASHBACK)

Amb. Black speaks on the phone as Exner listens. On the wall are portraits of President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker.

EXNER (V.O.)

Since she arrived she’s been talking to both the government and the opposition, and working to keep dissidents out of jail.

END FLASHBACK:

INT. PRAGUE - AMERICAN EMBASSY - EXNER’S OFFICE - DAY

EXNER:

Can we count on you Steve?

STEVEN:

Don’t call me at the university. I’ll contact you.

Steven opens the door to find Lena waiting outside.

EXNER:

Contact me in a couple of days.

INT. PRAGUE - NEW STAGE THEATER - DAY

The actor Michel, not in costume, stands on the stage with several other actors and students addressing a matinee audience. This audience consists of ordinary Prague citizens - professionals, workers, students, housewives and grandparents with young children, etc.

MICHAL:

(in Czech, subtitled)

You came here to see our Saturday matinee. Instead we told you about last night’s events as we witnessed them. You will all get your ticket money back. We ask only if you’ll stand with us, the actors and students united. Whatever your occupation, if you feel as we do that change must come now, then join us in a general strike!

The audience rises to its feet, applauding and cheering.

EXT. PRAGUE - NARODNI AVENUE - DAY

Steven and Lena walk up Narodni Avenue.

STEVEN:

This is where we met the police.

They stop and look at thousands of candles along with flowers placed in clusters on the avenue. The main cluster has several Czechs standing around it. There are smaller clusters around blood stains on the building walls and on the pavement. Steven looks into the arcade, which has a cluster near the entrance. Steven and Lena turn to see two young, unarmed Soviet Army soldiers walking up the avenue from the embankment.

LENA:

Russians.

The soldiers stop before the main cluster. They place their own candles on the ground, light them, stand as if at attention, remove their fur hats and bow their heads. The Czechs standing nearby applaud.

INT. CHARLES UNIVERSITY - SOCIAL SCIENCES LIBRARY - DAY

Steven enters the library, where about two dozen students have gathered. Many have injuries. Milos, his head bandaged, talks with Jan.

STEVEN:

Milos, good to see you.

MILOS:

Hello Steve. We’re waiting for Professor Čermak. He and other faculty were meeting with key dissidents this morning.

JAN:

They’re forming some kind of committee. Stick around, we might have some work for you at the Student Union.

MILOS:

They’re saying that a student was killed on Narodni Avenue.

JAN:

The government’s denying that.

Steven, Milos and Jan walk to a table where Anna sits, her arm in a sling, discussing the Student Ribbon with other students. Despite her injury she appears energetic.

STEVEN:

Anna!

ANNA:

Hello Steven.

Anna resumes speaking to the students. A young man of university age appears in the library.

YOUNG MAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Listen everyone! I‘m here to warn you not to go to Wenceslas Square. The army has taken position there with tanks!

This causes concerned murmuring among the students.

STUDENT:

(in Czech, subtitled)

I was in the square less than an hour ago. There’s no army there.

Steven, Milos, Jan and others in the library turn to find that the young man has disappeared.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Does anyone recognized that guy?

General head shaking as the young man seems to be unknown.

STEVEN:

What was that?

MILOS:

It looks like StB misinformation.

JAN:

The government really doesn’t want us taking over the square.

Professor Čermak arrives along with the actor Michal Sokol. They walk to where Steven, Milos and Jan are standing.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Good morning professor.

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

Milos, Jan, this is Michal Sokol. He’s an actor with the New Stage theater.

Michal shakes hands Milos and Jan. Steven greets Michal the way Americans often greet people, with a smile.

MICHAL:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Who’s the American?

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

Steven Walsh, resident scholar.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

He’s our teacher.

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Now we’re teaching him.

ČERMAK

Steven …

Čermak takes Steven aside, but Milos and Jan can still them.

ČERMAK

The students are on strike. You'll have to find something else to do for a while. Good time to catch up on your research.

STEVEN:

Jan said I might be able to help.

ČERMAK

Better yet, take your girlfriend to Vienna for a few days.

STEVEN:

We’re not going anywhere.

ČERMAK

You were at the demonstration. You know what the regime is capable of.

STEVEN:

That’s why I’m here Viktor.

ČERMAK

This isn’t the kind of college politics you’re used to. Everyone who stays at this meeting is crossing a line to a place where there’s no going back, it’s only win or die. I mean that literally. No matter how much you feel for our cause you can’t be with us there.

STEVEN:

He’s right.

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

The Strike Committee is preparing notices in English for the foreign press. Steven is our only native English speaker. We need him to proofread our translations.

ČERMAK

You understand that the police or the army could show up at any moment and arrest everyone here?

Steven nodes. The students and Čermak gather around the table, some seated and some standing. Steven sits in a chair by the wall next to Michal.

STEVEN:

You speak English?

MICHAL:

Yes.

STEVEN:

How did you know I was American?

MICHAL:

You were smiling for no reason.

Cermak addresses everyone gather in the meeting room.

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

There are meetings like going on in all the faculties of the university. You Social Sciences students should get behind the Student Strike Committee if you’re not already active. Milos ...

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

As of now all the students are on strike. The faculties too. The Student Strike Committee is calling for a general strike for the whole country a week from today.

JAN:

(in Czech, subtitled)

While our strike goes on students will perform volunteer work - at the hospitals, cleaning parks, that sort of thing - at least one day a week without pay.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

The people will see that though we are on strike we are not idle.

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

The leaders of the Student Ribbon are working with the Student Union in organizing the strike.

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

Over the weekend a group called the Civic Forum formed to direct public protests and to negotiate with the regime. Their headquarters is the Lanterna Magika theater. I was just over there representing this faculty. It’s being led by Vaclav Havel, Rita Klimova and other key dissidents.

The name Havel causes some murmuring among the students.

STUDENT:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Apart from the dissidents who does the Forum represent?

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

It’s a broad coalition, intellectuals, reform communists, conservative Catholics.

STUDENT:

(in Czech, subtitled)

What are the goals of the Civic Forum?

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

Broadly speaking the same as the students. An end to Communist Party rule, free elections, an investigation into the police attack on Friday night.

MILOS:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Will the Forum get behind a general strike?

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

The Forum might not go along with such a strike. They’re not as radical as the students.

STUDENT:

(in Czech, subtitled)

That’s because the Forum is from your generation, the ones from 1968 who thought that we could reform communism.

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

In that we were wrong.

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

We’re not reforming anything! We’re getting rid of this communist shit once and for all!

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

You’ve convinced me Anna. But how are you going to persuade the rest of the country? Nothing we say or do here in Prague matters if we don’t win over the people in the factories and villages. What is your father’s occupation?

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

He’s an plant manager in Ostrava.

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

Your family has a car and a country house?

ANNA:

(in Czech, subtitled)

Yes.

ČERMAK

(in Czech, subtitled)

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"The Magic Lantern Movie Script" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 30 Apr. 2017. <http://www.scripts.comscript/1120>.

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