TITLES UNFOLD IN BLACKNESS as we are lulled by the distant
flute-like sounds of a recorder. Overall the effect is
mournful and haunting, elegant and serene ...
... and we CRASH TO:
EXT - BARENTS SEA - NIGHT
... a storm of inconceivable force and violence. Merciless
arctic winds whip the sea in a frenzy of thirty-foot swells.
This is the last place in God's creation that any human
being should be. And yet ...
...the prow of a three-masted ship rises massively before
us, looming from the darkness and chaos. it crashes upward
through a swell and slams back down again, plunging nose-
first into the trough. The sails on the forward mast are
still deployed. It's insane; in this weather they should be
stowed (as is already the case with masts 2 and 3).
Hurtling toward us. Rising and falling. Thundering through
the swells. And as she sweeps past CAMERA within a seeming
hairbreadth, we PAN with the ship and find ourselves ...
EXT - SHIP - NIGHT
... aboard the "Alexander Nevsky," along for the ride whether
we like it or not. There are men all around us, dark
screaming FIGURES glimpsed and half-glimpsed, heavy oilskin
clothes flapping in the gale. A GROUP OF MEN are in a life-
or-death tug of war
PULL, YOU BASTARDS! PULL!
Riiiiippp! All eyes turn skyward as the uppermost sail tears
loose, the heavy canvas shredding away in huge billowing
tatters. The jib-arm wrenches free and plummets toward us,
trailing rope and fabric. The men dive aside as the jib
smashes into the deck like an exploding bomb. Splintered
shards of wood cartwheel through the air like shrapnel.
Walton catches a glancing blow to the head and slams face-
down on the pitching deck.
GRIGORI, the first mate, scrambles to Walton's aid. Walton
shoves him off, pushes painfully to his knees. LIGHTNING
throws his face into a stark relief map of pain and fury:
blood is streaming from his hairline, freezing in his eyes,
staining his teeth. He gazes up at the mainsail, still
intact and straining against the wind. We hear a huge CRACK!
The base of the mast is starting to give.
Cut the damn rigging free before we lose the
Long-handled axes are grabbed from their mounts. Frantic men
begin hacking at the ropes. Walton snatches an axe from a
passing crewman and elbows his way to the front. He attacks
a guy-rope with primal fury, CAMERA rising and falling with
the motion of his axe. Suddenly, a chilling cry from high
THE CROW'S NEST (MAST #2)
The LOOKOUT is lashed to the mast by means of a safety rope
knotted at the chest. He points ahead.
WALTON and the others spin to look as A PANORAMIC SHOT OF
THE BARENTS SEA reveals a magnificent vista of storming
fury. The ship is heading into an enormous field of icebergs
dotting the ocean like boulders in a quarry, The Nevsky is
plying these waters like a man running pell-mell through a
An iceberg passes massively and unexpectedly in the
foreground, rumbling within yards of the camera, wiping us
into darkness ...
EXT - NEVSKY - NIGHT
... and we wipe from darkness as a flapping piece of canvas
billows away to reveal 'Walton and the crew, gazing in
breathless horror as an iceberg looms from the gale before
them like a ghostly white mountain. Walton finds his voice:
HARD TO PORT!
THE PILOT fights to turn the wheel. Men rush to his aid,
throw their backs into it, straining to the limit. The wheel
is grudging, fighting them every inch of the way.
PUSH IN on Walton and the crew:
It's going to ram us.
It wouldn't dare.
THE CROW'S NEST (MAST #2)
The lookout fumbles under his coat, grabs the rosary around
his neck, clutches the crucifix tightly in both hands. Face
white with terror. Breath coming in ragged gasps.
Crashing through the swells. Rising and falling. Tilting the
world and the audience on its ear. iceberg looming. For a
brief moment we seem to be veering past. But then we swing
back in a final, churning, vertiginous plunge...
... and smack the ice.
VARIOUS QUICK-CUT ANGLES
God just hit the ship with an anvil. Mast #1 snaps at the
base with a thunderous CRACK and begins to topple in a
symphony of shattering wood and tangled rigging ...
The lookout on mast #2 is vaulted through the railing of the
crow's nest, screaming through the air, arms and legs
windmilling as he plummets head-first toward the deck below
... And is jerked to an abrupt stop by the safety line around
his chest, We hear another horrible CRACK ... the sound of
his back breaking ...
Men are sliding, tumbling, screaming. Mast #1 completes its
fall, slamming massively to the deck,. shattering a section
of the gunwale to splinters. Utter panic. Total chaos. .
Sheer mortal terror. And as the sequence builds to a final
brain-splitting crescendo of sound and fury, we
SMASH CUT TO:
ARCTIC - TWILIGHT
Total, stunning silence.
A glittering wasteland of ice. Breathlessly cold. Even the
sun seems frozen, barely hanging on the horizon. Pellets of
snow scour the permafrost like broken glass, driven by a
desolate arctic wind. It's as if Hell had erupted through
the floor of the Earth in the form of ice. Nothing could
survive here. Nothing.
SLOW PAN reveals a distant ship frozen in the ice, tilted at
a permanent list. Silent. We see no signs of life.
"The Arctic, 1839.
VARIOUS LINGERING ANGLES provide ominous detail-shots of the