Screenplay by Michael Schiffer
revised by Hossein Amini
based on the book by A.E. Mason
Through a veil of dust we see two lines of uniformed cavalry, stretched out across the parade ground. There's a tense silence except for the occasional flourish of hooves. A horseman steps out of each line.
LIEUTENANTS HARRY FEVERSHAM and JOHN DURRANCE face each other across the wide expanse. Already we feel the keen sense of competition between them. DURRANCE raises his sabre first. His horse sets off at a slow trot. His troops follow in perfect time. HARRY waits a moment, then raises his own sword. A sea of sabres rises up in response.
The two lines approach each other at a steady canter. A smile of anticipation lights up DURRANCE's face. He's a born soldier, enjoying himself. HARRY looks more nervous. He's not as easy as Durrance in the saddle. It's a skill he's acquired over the years rather than been born to.
DURRANCE seems to sense Harry's doubt. With a loud whoop he kicks his horse into a gallop and points his sabre forwards. His troops echo his war cry and descend on the opposing line at speed. HARRY checks his troops and responds. The two lines bear down on each other, hooves thundering, sabres pointed.
DURRANCE charges recklessly. His eyes are fixed on Harry all the time. HARRY holds his gaze, but doesn't look as sure of himself. He's thinking too much, trying too hard. His horse senses it and slows a fraction. The troops behind him lose their cohesion as they draw level.
DURRANCE sees the momentary lapse and waves his men on at full tilt. They pass through HARRY's troops in a perfect line, panicking their mounts, cheering triumphantly. HARRY's formation loses its shape. There's no doubt who's won the drill. DURRANCE wheels his horse around and grins at HARRY through the clouds of dust.
Moving through clouds of steam we see the CAVALRY OFFICERS washing themselves in wooden bathtubs. There's a din of voices, soldiers re-living the day's drill, those on Durrance's side still crowing over their victory.
...How many does that make it Harry?
It's not something I count.
How many Trench?
Trench can't count.
TRENCH grabs HARRY in a neck hold. He lets go as he spots another friend of theirs, LIEUTENANT CASTELTON, sitting in a bathtub, staring out. TRENCH sneaks up on CASTELTON, and ducks his head under the water. CASTELTON comes up, spluttering. He reaches for a bar of soap and hurls it after TRENCH.
INT. WILLOUGHBY's rooms/ barracks - day.
...Miss Willoughby, Miss Willoughby we're waiting.
The OFFICERS pour out of the barrack gates in full regimental unifom, a sea of gleaming red. We pick out HARRY, DURRANCE, TRENCH, WILLOUGHBY, and CASTELTON, laughing amongst themselves, taking turns to tease each other, inseperable.
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