Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Pensée - Detailed Summary of Scenes

The following is a detailed summary of each scene. Full details for the storyboard preparation including dialogue, can be found in each Scene's individual post (see links below), one for each of the 16 scenes below. Note that some scenes will be in full 3d stop motion animation with character puppets and some will be 2d drawn animation on photo backgrounds. The Epilogue is purely text.

The screenplay itself in a future post should follow a standard format like the one shown here:-




I will also be posting a spreadsheet summary of each scene showing year the scene is set in, duration, number of frames, storyboard cells, characters in the scene etc.


The following gives more of a background of the feel and action and characters in the scenes. The full timeline, which gives journal entries, letters, quotes etc can be found here:-





1. Winter at Orchard House

2. A Story by the fireside

3. A Design for Life
May's Ideal French Life





After the opening credit the first scene is set in May and Ernst's beautiful yet humble apartment in Meudon, France. It is a bright spring day and the large windows are open to the garden. Ernst is in the armchair reading and May is standing at her easel painting the scene. Louisa's voiceover says that letters from May show how happy she is in her recent marriage and wonderful life in France. May and Ernst talk about how they'd love Louisa to come and visit. The scene changes to Louisa in Orchard house, dark, cold, more bleak and colourless in contrast to the bright Meudon apartment. Louisa narrates from her journal that despite being happy for her sister that she feels the contrast of their two lives.   


3. Orthodox Dreams 
May falls pregnant but prepares for the worst

August 1879, Meudon, France. It is early evening and May and Ernst are in their garden. May reclines on a blanket in the grass under the shade of a parasol on a balmy summer evening, she is obviously pregnant (six months). Ernst stands in front of her with the view of the rest of their garden, serenading her with his violin, she smiles up at him and camera pans out showing them admiring the view.

Louisa's narration talks about how good a man Ernst is, how happy May is with her art and life and the good news that May is expecting a baby in the autumn.

Ernst puts down his violin to put his hand out to help May up
and they embrace for a moment and he places his hand on her stomach warmly and they go hand and hand back into the house as the sun sets.

Although Louisa is happy and supportive of her sister there is still a wistful resentment of her current situation where she is trapped caring for her infirm parents and suffering from her own failing health, despite the freedom her wealth has brought her. She desperately wants to visit May.

The scene changes to inside the apartment where May is packing small chests of keepsakes and paintings for each of her loved ones to be sent in the event of her death, should she die in childbirth which was common in that era. She packs the chest for Louisa including a shawl which she caresses before putting in.

The scene changes to Louisa at her desk in her bedroom at Orchard House. She sits back in her chair with a sigh gazing out of the window and sighs. She rubs her leg and frowns at the pain she is feeling

4. Little Baby Nothing / Bright eyes 
Louisa is ill; Lulu is born; May becomes ill and dies

Louisa is sitting at the kitchen table of Orchard House. She opens a letter from Ernst with a letter knife. She jumps up and hurries to the bottom of the stairs shouting up to Anna 'its a girl!'.

Louisa at her writing desk, narrates that Lulu is 4 weeks old and doing well but that May has become ill and that she has a foreboding about this. Louisa explains how ill she feels herself and how fed up she is of being a 'prisoner to pain'. She is devastated she can't go to visit May and knows she will always regret it.


Scene changes to May ill in bed with a fever asking if Louy is here yet. Ernst mother holds the baby in one corner of the room and Ernst is on a chair next to the bed holding her hand. The light dims, May's hand goes limp and Ernst falls onto the bed with his head buried in his hands as May dies.



5. Tsunami 
Emerson tells Louisa of May's death

Emerson is in the parlour at Orchard house staring up at the picture of May. He has his hat in his hands and a powder of snow on the shoulders of his thick winter coat. Louisa enters the room slowly and he turns to her with tears in his eyes and a letter in his hands. He says 'my child I wish I could prepare you but alas, alas...'. Louisa thanks him for bringing the news and says she felt the truth before the news came. He leaves and she sits down heavily on the couch, head bowed over the letter. The camera goes to the picture of May on the wall and fades out.



6. Some Kind of Nothingness
As Louisa prepares the nursery a box of May's things arrive

The nursery in Anna's House which Louisa has moved to has been set up for Lulu. Louisa has learnt that May wanted her daughter to be brought up by Louisa in the US so they are preparing for her long awaited arrival. Everything is ready in the nursery. Louisa walks into the nursery which is bright, and white and sunny. She is carrying a doll and lays it in the pretty white crib. She goes to the chest that May packed for her in the event of her death and pulls out the shawl we saw May pack holding it in both hands and holding it against her cheek as tears run down her face. Louisa narrates how Lulu is a dear legacy from May.



7. There by the grace of god  
Louisa goes to wait for Lulu at the wharf

A more hopeful and happy brighter scene. Louisa has sent Mrs Giles, a nurse to Europe to fetch Lulu back. This has been postponed by Lulu's father and Lulu is now 10 months old. Louisa goes to the dock at Boston Wharf to wait for the boat, scanning the crowd for babies wondering if each one is hers. She finally sees the captain holding a baby, wrapped in white and coloured from the sun with blonde hair and she knows it is Lulu. Mrs Giles and Ernst younger sister Sophie are both there looking very dishevelled and tired from the trip. They approach each other and the captain hands Lulu to Louisa who is unable to talk. Lulu looks up at Louisa and says 'Marmee!' and raises her arms and Louisa holds her to her and the camera pans out and they are lost in the crowd.


8. You stole the sun from my heart 
Lulu's first birthday; Bronson and Lulu in the garden

Lulu is sat on the study floor in front of a warm fire and at the foot of a table piled high with gifts, dolls and books spill out onto the floor and she is wearing one of her gifts, a rose crown. she is engrossed with a picture book by Caldecott, pointing her finger at each animal, kissing the characters and 'prattling' to herself. she is blonde haired and blue eyes but has her fathers features. She toddles over to the wall where May's picture hangs and looks up at it,. Louisa is standing at the doorway unseen by Lulu , watching her. lulu has  a white rose dangling in her little hand. she steadies herself against the wall and holds the rose up saying 'Mum! Mum!' at the picture. Louisa narrates ' a happy day for her and a sad one for us

Lulu's grandfather, Bronson, takes Lulu's hand and walks her into the garden, stooping to talk to her and pointing things out. Louisa watches from inside the house and narrates that sh eis a happy little thing who 'comes like sunshine into our sad hearts' and that she truly feels like a mother, never tiring of looking at May's baby.


9. Together Stronger 
Lulu's second birthday,teething;  gifts for poor

Louisa kneels down with skirts spread out around her in front of Lulu, holding the tops of her arms to give her two kisses then Lulu runs off with a squeal of joy to go and find her birthday presents - a new chair decked with ribbons, and a doll's carriage tied with pink ; toys, pictures, flowers, and a cake, with a red and a blue candle burning gayly. "

Some weeks later Lulu is sitting on the floor, legs splayed out and wailing at the top of her voice. Louisa scoops her up off the floor to cuddle her on her lap and read her a story but soon looks tired.

Louisa narrates

"Lulu's teeth trouble her ; but in my arms she seems to find comfort, for I tell stories by the dozen ; and lambs, piggies, and " tats " soothe her little woes. Wish I were stronger, so that I might take all the care of her. We seem to understand each other, but my nerves make me impatient, and noise wears upon me. "

Anna comes in to pick up Lulu as Louisa sinks back into the chair, pale, and sighs with relief and a weak smile.


10. Your Love Alone is Not Enough  
Louisa spanks lulu, new years day 1884 (Lulu is 4)

Its Christmas time and the house is full of wreaths and christmas tree and decoration. Louisa walks in and Lulu runs to meet her in a pretty blue dress. They go to the study where Bronson is laid on a couch, he's had a stroke. Louisa narrates:
"Lulu ran to meet me, I felt as if I could bear anything with this little sunbeam to light up the world for me. Poor father dumb and helpless, sleeps most of the time, wait to see if he will rally, little hope."

New years day and Lulu is lying on her front on the floor reading a book. Louisa comes in and realise that the book is covered in crayons and Lulu has been colouring all over it...


 "New Year s Day is made memorable by my solemnly spanking my child. Miss C. and others assure me it is the only way to cure her wilful-ness. I doubt it ; but knowing that mothers are usually too tender and blind, I correct my dear in the old-fashioned way. She proudly says, " Do it, do it ! " and when it is done is heartbroken at the idea of Aunt Wee- wee s giving her pain. Her bewilderment was pathetic, and the effect, as I expected, a failure. Love is better ; but also endless patience. "


11. Autumnsong 
Lulu skating on Walden Pond; Lulu's library

This is the autumn of Louisa's life as well as the season. Louisa reads Lulu's library stories to Lulu in front of the fire.

Lulu is skating on Walden Pond outside Orchard house. long shot of the pond (which is quite large like a lake). The camera zooms is as Lulu leaves the lake, takes off her skates and hangs them over her shoulder and goes running to the door of Orchard House. She storms in the door like a whirlwind, throwing down her skate and rushing through the door into the study. Lulu is sat writing at her desk. She sternly tells Lulu to go and hang her skate up properly and take her coat off. Lulu sulks off to do what she's told.

When she reappears Louisa is sat in front of the fire with a book. Lulu sits at Louisa's feel while Louisa reads a story that was written for 16 year old May and her playmates and later became part of Lulu's library as we see this book is titled in Louisa's hands.

Interval 
     Shadow Children exert (out of scope for this film at this stage)

12. Postcards from a young man - 8th August 1885
Louisa burns letters; crickets in the grass


Louisa stands at the fire, feeding letters into it one after another. She coughs and holds her hand to her head looking obviously ill and weak.

"Sorted old letters, and burned many. Not wise to keep for curious eyes to read and gossip lovers to print by and by."  Many of her mother's letters and journals were also destroyed on her mother's wish for the same reason

Louisa and Lulu at the cottage in Nonquit at the beach. 
"My poppet is a picture of health, vigor, and delightful naughtiness. She runs wild in this fine place with some twenty other children to play with, nice babies, well-bred, and with pleasant mammas for me to gossip with.

Lulu and Louisa laying in the grass, face down, heads propped up on elbows. close up of their faces.
"Lulu is very intelligent and droll..

Dialogue - Louisa "the crickets are hopping and singing in the grass with their mammas, 
Lulu  " No ; their Aunt Weedys." 

Louisa narrates : "Aunty is nearer than mother to the poor baby ; and it is very sweet to have it so, since it must be. "



13. From there to here / Everlasting - October 1885 

Louisberg square; Louisa very ill; Lulu and the tricycle


Louisa is ill in bed at Louisberg square. She suffered much from hoarseness, from nervousness and debility, and indigestion and sleeplessnessShe is writing a letter to Lulu and gazing at a vase of pansies on the windowsill.

 Father drove down very nicely. Pleased with his new room ; Lulu charmed with her big, sunny nursery and the play-house left for her; boys in clover; and Nan ready for the new sort of housekeeping. "

Bronson dies, he tells Louisa 'I am going up...come with me'. She responds 'I wish I could'.

"Sunday he seemed very low, and I was allowed to drive in and say "good-by." He knew me and smiled, and kissed "Weedy," as he calls me, and I thought the drowsiness and difficulty of breathing could not last long. But he revived, got up, and seemed so much as usual, I may be able to see him again. It is a great grief that I am not there as I was with Lizzie and Mother, but though much better, the shattered nerves won't bear much yet, and quiet is my only cure. "


As soon as I am able we will see about the tricycle if you let Susie curl your hair without any fuss. If not you will have to wait til you do. So be a good dear & look nice & keep the pretty Mama curls.   

Love to all Ah Wee


14. An anthem for a lost cause 
Bronson dies; Louisa dies

Lulu stands holding Anna's hand, the camera is at Lulu eye height and we see them from behind, watching a procession of people go in and out of Louisberg square to pay their respects to Bronson. Lulu looks up at Anna and grips her hand more tightly. 

In a letter to her aunt.. Louisa's voiceover for I want you to see how prettily my May-flower is blossoming into a fine off-shoot of the old plant. 


15. Everything Must Go 
Lulu's father takes her back - June 1889

Ernst, Lulu's father who had been in Brazil, insists on Lulu coming to Switzerland to live with him despite Anna's protests. Anna and John (her son) take Lulu by steamboat to Switzerland and stay with her, Ernest and his sister Sophia for nine months before returning to the US leaving Lulu with her father. Lulu was never to see Anna (who she was as fond of as a mother) again. Lulu inherited 1/4 of Louisa's wealth but Ernst protested the will saying that she should have received 1/2 sending derogatory letters to Anna which were a great upset to Lulu in later years. The outcome of this is unknown.


Epilogue - Hallelujah instrumental
16.Written epilogue Anna and John return Lulu to her father

Anna and John (Anna's son who is executor of Louisa's will after she legally adopted him) take Lulu to the home of her father in Zurich, Switzerland, they stay 9 months but after that Lulu never sees her again.

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