A SONG BEGINS, distant as a faded memory on an old Victrola:
Once I built a railroad, made it run... Made it race against
time...Once I built a railroad, now it's done...Brother, can
you spare a dime...
Opening credit sequence
plays against footage of the Great Depression, images
haunting and sepia-toned, defining an era. The bread
lines...the soup kitchens...the dust bowl refugees heading
west with their possessions on their backs and no hope in
their eyes...the strutting gangster royalty flaunting their
bootleg riches...an entire generation of lost youth riding
the rials...the U.S. army troops raining truncheon blows on
the half-starved and forgotten veterans of World War One as
"Hooverville" is set afire in the very shadow of the nation's
All these faces, all these lives, in a world not really so
very long ago...
EXT. FIELD - DAY(SLOW MOTION)
...where cattails sway in the sepia-toned heat. A small scrap
of fabric is snagged in the nettles, fluttering languidly...
COLOR BLEEDS SLOWLY IN as mosquitoes swarm and dragonflies
skitter, showing the fabric scrap to be pale yellow...
Suddenly, a MAN WITH A SHOTGUN comes crashing through the
cattails, wiping through frame and exiting...
...then ANOTHER MAN...and ANOTHER...armed with rifles,
plowing through the brush, exiting frame...
...and now comes KLAUS DETTERICK, a farmer one step above
shirt-tail poor, a double-barrel shotgun in the crook of his
arm. He pauses, horrified, seeing the scrap of cloth. He
pulls it loose, turns back, screaming something in anguish...
...and still more men come crashing into view, flooding by us
with dreamlike, slow-motion grace. ONE MAN is leading a team
of DOGS, trying to untangle the leads. DEPUTY ROB McGEE is
shouting for everybody to stay together...
...and under it all, we hear a sibilant, frightening whisper:
WHISPERING VOICE (V.O.)
You love your sister? You make any
noise, know what happens?
And off that horrible voice, we
INT. GEORGIA PINES NURSING HOME - MORNING(PRESENT DAY)
A CLOCK RADIO spews the morning weather report, abruptly
pulling us into the present with a prediction of rain. PAUL
EDGECOMB, late 70's/early 80's, wakes to another day...
INT. PAUL'S ROOM - MORNING
Paul stands at his bathroom mirror, meticulously buttoning
his shirt. He picks up a hairbrush, starts tidying his hair...
INT. CORRIDOR - MORNING
THE OLD AND INFIRM haunt these corridors like ghosts. A WOMAN
inches along on a walker. A MAN shuffles by with a rolling
I.V. stand. The floor is a limey, institutional green.
Paul comes into view, spry for his age, murmurs an occasional
INT. BREAKFAST ROOM - MORNING
DOZENS OF RETIREES are having breakfast, sipping weak coffee
or tea. Some chat and gossip, other are content to keep their
own company, some just stare slackly into space.
Paul enters, sees ELAINE CONNELLY sitting with a few other
ladies, sipping tea. She's 80, refined and elegant, his best
friend here. She gives him a good-morning smile. He gives her
a rakish wink in return, which makes her smiles all the more.
Paul reaches past the people at the counter and sneaks two
pieces of cold leftover toast off a serving plate. He tosses
Elaine another look--catch ya later--and exits.
INT. HALLWAY PAST KITCHEN - MORNING
Paul slips to the back door unnoticed. Identical red plastic
rain ponchos line the wall on pegs. He helps himself to one
and eases outside, making good his escape.
EXT. NURSING HOME - ESTABLISHING - MORNING
Nestled in a valley of wooded hills, a drizzly mist rolling
over the treetops.
Paul appears f.g., coming up the ridge in his borrowed
poncho. He looks back at the valley below, inhales deeply--
this is a man who loves his walks.