1EXT. LATE 1942. THE SAHARA DESERT. DAY.
SILENCE. THE DESERT seen from the air. An ocean of dunes for mile
after mile. The late sun turns the sand every color from crimson to
An old AEROPLANE is flying over the Sahara. Its shadow swims over the
contours of sand.
A woman's voice begins to sing unaccompanied on the track. Szerelem,
szerelem, she cries, in a haunting lament for her loved one.
INSIDE the aeroplane are two figures. One, A WOMAN, seems to be
asleep. Her pale head rests against the side of the cockpit. THE
PILOT, a man, wears goggles and a leather helmet. He is singing, too,
but we can't hear him or the plane or anything save the singer's
The plane shudders over a ridge. Beneath it A SUDDEN CLUSTER OF MEN
AND MACHINES, camouflage nets draped over the sprawl of gasoline tanks
and armored vehicles. An OFFICER, GERMAN, focuses his field glasses.
The glasses pick out the MARKINGS on the plane. They are English. An
ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN swivels furiously.
Shocking bursts of GUNFIRE. Explosions rock the plane, which lurches
violently. THE WOMAN SLUMPS FORWARD, slamming her head against the
instruments. The pilot grabs her, pulls her back, but she's not
conscious. The fuel tank above their heads is punctured. It sprays
them both, then EXPLODES.
THE MAN FALLS OUT OF THE SKY, clinging to his dead lover. The are both
ON FIRE. She is wrapped in a parachute silk and it burns fiercely. He
looks up to see the flames licking at his own parachute as it carries
them slowly to earth. Even his helmet is on fire, but the man makes no
sound as the flames erase all that matters - his name, his past, his
face, his lover...
2EXT. THE DESERT. 1942. DAY.
THE PILOT HAS BEEN RESCUED BY BEDOUIN TRIBESMEN. Behind them the
wreckage of the plane, still smoking, the Arabs picking over it. A
SILVER THIMBLE glints in the sun, is retrieved. Another man comes
across A LARGE LEATHER-BOUND BOOK and takes it over to the Pilot. The
Pilot is charred. His helmet has melted into his head. He's oblivious
to this, cares only about the woman who crashed with him. He twists
frantically to find her. Two men pick him up and carry him across to a
litter where they carefully wrap him in blankets.
3EXT. THE DESERT. DUSK.
The Pilot is being carried across the desert. A mask covers his face.
His view of the world is through the slats of reed. He glimpses
camels, fierce low sun, the men who carry him.
4EXT. AN OASIS. DUSK.
The Pilot sees a man squat down beside him, takes a date from a sack
and begin to chew it. Carefully, the Bedouin eases the mask from the
Pilot's face, leaving bandages of cloth and oil, but revealing a mouth.
He stops chewing and passes the pulped date into the Pilot's mouth.
Mouth to mouth.
4a*.EXT. DESERT. DAWN.
THE CARAVANSERAI CROSSES THE DESERT, silhouetted against the dunes.
5EXT. AN OASIS. NIGHT.
The SOUND OF GLASS, of tiny chimes. A music of glass.
AN ARAB HEAD APPEARS ON A MOVING TABLE IN THE DESERT. It floats in
darkness, shimmering from the light of a fire. The image develops to
reveal a man carrying a giant wooden yoke from which hang DOZENS OF
SMALL GLASS BOTTLES, on different lengths of string and wire. He could
be an angel.
The man approaches the litter which carries the Pilot. He's still in
the protective reed mask, wrapped in blankets. The MERCHANT DOCTOR
stands over the burned body and sinks sticks either side of him deep
into the sand, then moves away, free of the yoke, which balances in the
support of the two crutches. He puts some liquid in the Pilot's
tongue, whose eyes almost instantly begin to roll. Then he slowly sets
about peeling away the layers of oiled cloth which protect the Pilot's