The Merchant Doctor crouches in front of the curtain of bottles and
MAKES A SKIN CUP with the soles of his feet, then leans back to pluck,
hardly looking, certain bottles, which he uncorks and mixes in the bowl
he'd made with his feet. This mixture he uses to anoint the burned
skin. Next he finds green-black PASTE - ground Peacock Bone - and
BEGINS TO RUB IT on to the Pilot's rib cage. All the while he us
humming and chanting. The bottles continue to jingle.
6*.EXT. ITALIAN HILL ROAD. EARLY 1945. DAY.
The sand gives way to trees, the jingling bottles to distant church
bells, as A CONVOY OF TWENTY TRUCKS - Red Cross vehicles and some
supply vehicles - snakes along a bumpy hill road. The war in Italy is
largely over and the Allies are moving up the country, the wounded and
supply lines slowly following.
7*.INT. RED CROSS TRUCK. DAY.
A young CANADIAN NURSE, HANA, sits in a truck full of patients. Hana
pays special care to the PATIENT lying in the stretcher alongside her.
This is the PILOT - now known as THE ENGLISH PATIENT. A web of scars
covers the Patient's face and body. They have the quality of a livid
tattoo, magenta and green-black. The hair has largely gone and the
effect is curious, lassoing his features, the strong nose, the eyes
liquid. It's a warrior's face. But he has no physical strength. He
coughs violently as the trucks shudders along the road.
8*.EXT. ITALIAN HILL ROAD. DAY.
A JEEP pulls out of the line and approaches the Red Cross truck
containing Hana and the Patient. The horn blows and Hana looks out to
see it contains her best friend, JAN. TWO YOUNG SOLDIERS sit up front,
one driving, both grinning. Jan signals for Hana's attention.