animation script by Anikó J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird [return
An excerpt from the following script first appeared
in this Literary
Potpourri anthology in early 2003. Then the script itself was published in Newtopia Magazine (7/2003 issue) and was later selected (2/2004)
as one of the 68 Notable Online Short Stories of 2003 (from over
600 nominations) in storySouth's Million Writers Award for Fiction.
It was also an eighth finalist (top 206, from over 1200 entries) in
the 2007 FilmMakers Magazine American Gem contest.
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Elevator pitch: Animation inspired by a
tilted cross, a unique deck of cards, and a pocket-sized bottle of
Cinematic genre: Adventure/drama.
though this European nation has existed for more than a thousand years,
over 70% of the country "vanished" after World War I. Today, the
exiles' great-great-great-grandkids still think in Magyar.
Animation script by
Anikó J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird
© Anikó J. Bartos &
Alan C. Baird
HotTip [at] Gmail.com
EXT. MOUNTAIN PASS - DAY
A graceful DOE bounds into view, then quickly vanishes
into the deeply-shadowed recesses of this hilltop
canyon. She's closely pursued by a bearded HORSEMAN,
who reins in his mount to scan the horizon for his
prey. Slowly, he becomes entranced by the view beyond:
a verdant plain stretches as far as the eye can see,
shimmering gold in the afternoon sun.
Url! Jung'f guvf?!
Seven groups of RIDERS gallop to his side and their
gazes follow his outstretched arm. One by one, each
face breaks into a smile.
The horsemen ride down into the valley and set up
OVER LONG PASSAGES OF TIME
...these temporary dwellings gradually morph into
EXT. VERDANT PLAIN - ANOTHER DAY
A handsome YOUTH saunters between the rows of houses,
which have now become much more numerous. He enters a
building that prominently displays a wooden cross.
INT. MONASTERY - CONTINUOUS
Several MONKS turn toward the blond youth and beckon
him over to the altar... where he notices a glittering
crown, topped with a slightly-leaning golden cross.
ZOOM IN ON THE CROSS, THEN ZOOM OUT
The crown is now upon the handsome youth's head, in the
midst of a coronation ritual. This religious ceremony
takes place inside a large cathedral, replete with
pomp, circumstance, and the requisite CLERGYMEN.
(orating in that
Jr Zntlne snpr n terng qrfgval...
EXT. CASTLE AT THE RIVER'S BEND - EVENING
A dark-haired, well-dressed NOBLEMAN approaches the
castle on foot, and stops to rinse his hands in a
cistern of water. After he removes his ornate gold
ring, a RAVEN swoops down to seize the bright piece of
jewelry with its beak and strut around the cistern's
Fb lbh guvax vg tbrf orggre jvgu
oynpx srnguref, ru?!
...of the raven with its newfound ring. The bird's
outline gradually becomes inanimate, two-dimensional,
and we see that it's now printed on the first page of
an ornately-bound leather book, which rests comfortably
in the nobleman's hands, many years later. His eyes
shine with the remembrance of that long-ago evening by
EXT. EMBASSY COMPOUND - MORNING
A red/white/green, horizontally-striped flag SNAPS in
the breeze outside this stately gray building. Another
flag, red/white/red, flutters next door... and this
second color scheme is duplicated on the flapping
pennants of a nearby open car, which is speeding
southward. A young ARCHDUKE in the back seat GIGGLES
when he spills a few drops of champagne upon his
...a *much* wider angle - we can actually see the
borders of this country from impossibly high in the
sky, and it is colored red/white/red, top-to-bottom,
just like its flag. Stretching along the eastern
border is another country, colored red/white/green.
Surprisingly, we can still make out the progress of the
red/white/red open car. After crossing its southern
border, this car becomes the target of GUNSHOTS.
BREAKNECK ZOOM IN, ON THE CAR
...to find the young archduke's bemedaled sash in a
bloody mess. Assassination is never pretty.
ZOOM OUT AGAIN
...to view huge cannons, BOOMING in the north.
Marching ARMIES dressed in saucy pointed helmets salute
their leader, and the well-known outlined map of Europe
becomes an angry black-and-red volcano. The volcano
...on a SOLDIER who tries to see what's happening, from
the safe confines of his red/white/green country. He
puts down his rifle and cranes his neck to get a better
...moving north and west to the Eiffel Tower, then to
the Paris suburb of Versailles, and finally into the
Trianon, located on the south forty of Louie's opulent
INT. TRIANON - LATE, LATE, LATE AT NIGHT
What's this? A meat hook impales the familiar shape of
that red/white/green country. The supporting cable
contains a weight-scale meter, which reads 100.
An officious little FUNCTIONARY with a huge nose
approaches the meat hook. He brandishes a much-too-big
cutlass, and obviously fancies himself quite the
Fbbbbbbbbbb... jr'yy grnpu lbh gur
vaf naq bhgf bs qvcybznpl.
As he delicately slices a small piece from the
red/white/green map's left side, its weight-scale now
indicates 98, and a tiny drop of red liquid runs down
the side of the meat-hook-impaled map.
The functionary grabs the portion he's carved off, and
throws it to a slavering DOG over in the shadows. The
pooch is oddly colored - red/white/red, top to bottom.
The functionary now begins to relish his bloody little
task, and steps up to the map with enthusiasm. When he
severs a sizable chunk from the top, his weight-scale
shows 79 and the red liquid flows down freely, all over
the map. He tosses this newest filet negligently over
to several smaller DOGS, waiting hungrily in another
SLASH! Another incision appears near the map's bottom,
and the weight-scale hovers near 60. This wedge sparks
a fight among an unruly PACK of canines. Blood spurts
all over them.
One last gash butchers a huge area from the right side,
dropping the weight-scale below 29. The functionary is
now smeared with red, and he's grinning fiendishly as
he hands over the territory to a PIT BULL. This dog is
also colored strangely: blue head, yellow midsection,
and red hindquarters.
INT. CSABA'S HILLSIDE COTTAGE - CONTINUOUS
CSABA awakes and peers outside his window into the town
square, a kilometer below his aerie. As the sun rises
over the horizon, a red/white/green flag begins to go
up, but it is quickly pulled down and a blue/yellow/red
flag is raised in its place.
...moving north inside the fluid map of Europe. A
slick-haired POLITICIAN, pencil-thin moustache,
finishes buttoning his brown shirt and starts to HAMMER
in his workshop. He's building a swastika, and when
it's completed, he gives it a vigorous spin. The four-
limbed symbol just coughs out a few abortive "PUTT-
PUTT" sounds, but on the next try, it BURBLES like an
underpowered lawn mower.
IT SEEMS LIKE ONLY MOMENTS LATER
...that ARMIES are marching and saluting again, but
this time they're spewing the infamous "Heil."
Europe's outlined map becomes another savage black-and-
red volcano, which, of course, EXPLODES with a second
EXT. EUROPE - A FEW YEARS FURTHER ALONG
A bald Yank GENERAL, a fat Limey CIGAR-SMOKER, a husky
Rooskie DICTATOR and an aloof Gallic MEGALOMANIAC each
grab a leg of the swastika, which has PUTT-PUTTED into
silence. They make a wish, and SNAP it apart. The
dictator takes his piece and strolls serenely back
east, across the map of Europe. His footsteps leave a
spreading crimson trail wherever he passes.
Some vermilion inevitably oozes southward to the
dismembered red/white/green country... its vibrant
colors begin to fade, gradually becoming a washed-out
EXT. RED/WHITE/GREEN COUNTRY'S BORDER - MORNING
ÁRPÁD crosses the border with his ten-year-old son
JENŐ, who carries a book. Árpád shivers when he looks
up at the blue/yellow/red flag under which they now
INT. CSABA'S HILLSIDE COTTAGE - AN HOUR LATER
Csaba gazes out the window of his aerie, as before.
That blue/yellow/red flag is still flying in the town
square, and Csaba's young son, KÁROLY, looks at his
father with concern. Csaba's eyes fill easily with
tears, especially when his glance strays toward the
rough pine coffin in his back room. The body inside is
that of a 30-year-old woman.
Fur'f ng crnpr abj.
Árpád walks in and embraces Csaba, while Jenő distracts
Cousin Károly with his book, which features colorful
photos. Likewise, Árpád pulls out a round, pocket-
sized bottle of spirits to distract Csaba, who shrugs
INT. CSABA'S HILLSIDE COTTAGE - AN HOUR LATER
The bottle's label prominently features a red cross on
a white background, and now it's nearly empty. The two
men intently play a game of cards, while the two boys
pass their time with a pile of photo books. Jenő looks
over at the cards visible in his father's hand.
Jub'f gur zna jvgu gur pebffobj,
Árpád is surprised, and disgustedly throws his cards
onto the table, face up. Jenő's hand covers his mouth,
eyes wide. Csaba, still very sad, manages a small
CHUCKLE. Árpád discreetly notices this welcome shift
in mood and CALLS to his son, with open arms. He
begins telling a story about two of the cards, starting
with the iconic man holding a crossbow:
EXT. FOREST - DAY
Rossini's "William Tell Overture" PLAYS quietly in the
background as the famed marksman, WILLIAM himself,
carefully peeks out from behind a tree. His young SON
peeks with him, and they both watch a sleek 12-point
BUCK graze contentedly, thirty meters away. When
William silently fits an arrow onto his crossbow, the
young boy's eyes go round, while he covers his mouth.
William smiles and aims.
After William pulls the crossbow trigger, his arrow
heads straight for the deer in (relatively) slow
motion. As it nears the target, we begin to notice a
small piece of cloth, entangled in the buck's
magnificent horns. The arrow embeds itself--TWANG!--in
a nearby tree, with the flapping piece of cloth impaled
upon it. The startled animal looks up and bounds away
gracefully, now free of the bothersome cloth.
William's son hugs his father's leg and gazes up
EXT. FOREST VILLAGE - 10 MINUTES LATER
William and his son walk hand-in-hand into the village,
where they're greeted warmly by several TOWNSPEOPLE.
Nearing the village square, they notice that some
SOLDIERS have just ripped down their flag (a white
cross with a red background) and thrown it onto the
The director of this activity is a fat man,
HERR GESZLER, who gives his own befeathered hat to some
of the soldiers and motions for them to raise it on the
flagpole. He ORDERS other soldiers to bow down and
remove their helmets in front of this new "flag."
Geszler then turns to the passing townsfolk and
COMMANDS them to do the same. Faced with his soldiers'
weapons, the frightened people hesitantly bow and
remove their hats.
Upon seeing this ridiculous tableau, William LAUGHS
heartily. Geszler quickly strides over to him, and
makes several attempts to grab the marksman's hat.
William easily fends off the fat man, but Geszler CALLS
OUT to his soldiers, who march in his direction.
William gauges their approach, then removes his hat and
tosses it high into the air. When it lands atop the
flagpole, covering Geszler's hat, the townspeople CHEER
and APPLAUD loudly.
Fb lbh guvax lbh pna qvfborl zr,
Geszler's eyes narrow, and he casually walks over to a
FRUIT VENDOR. Everyone becomes silent while he picks
up an apple, as if to eat it. Changing his mind, he
throws the apple to one soldier, and BARKS out an order
to the rest of his troops. They seize William's son
and drag him over to a huge oak tree, thirty meters
away, where they balance the apple on top of his head.
Geszler gestures toward the flagpole and mimes
obeisance, then points at the apple. Which will it be?
William's son SHOUTS reassurance to his father; his
eyes are full of confidence and adoration. William
stares uncertainly at his son, then, with hatred, at
Geszler. Reluctantly, the archer pulls two arrows from
his quiver: he fits one onto his crossbow, while the
other goes into his belt.
Rossini's overture becomes LOUDER in the background,
rising to its climax.
William aims carefully, shoots... and the apple is
split precisely in half.
ANGLE ON GESZLER
He's surprised by this incredible feat of marksmanship,
but he's even more astonished by the second arrow,
which is suddenly--TWANG!--embedded in his own chest.
ANGLE ON FLAG
The white cross on its red background is reverently
lifted off the ground by several townspeople.
BACK TO CSABA'S HILLSIDE COTTAGE - CONTINUOUS
The small round liquor bottle, with its red-cross-on-a-
white-background label, is now completely empty. The
two young boys stare with wonder at the playing-card
portraits of Geszler and Tell. Outside the window,
that blue/yellow/red flag still FLAPS in the town
Csaba appears to be even more depressed; Árpád gazes at
him, and then at young Károly, for a moment... then,
with sudden inspiration, he points to the wall
calendar. Half its days have already been marked with
"X," and Árpád lifts up the page, to point at the first
day of the next month.
Qb lbh guvax Xáebyl pbhyq ivfvg hf
sbe n pbhcyr bs jrrxf?
This interrupts Csaba's mournful reverie, and he stares
at Árpád, not really comprehending. Then, for a brief
moment, his eyes light up, and he SPEAKS a few words to
Károly. The young boy thinks for awhile, and then
points at one of the brilliant photos in Jenő's book.
Árpád looks at Jenő, and they both turn to nod at
EXT. ROAD TOWARD RED/WHITE/GREEN COUNTRY - 1 HOUR LATER
Károly happily clutches the book... and his free hand
is enfolded in Árpád's gentle grasp. Jenő holds his
father's other hand, and they all CHAT animatedly.
A worried FARMER overtakes them, and runs past.
Several other PEOPLE are also jogging in the same
direction, and one of the women SHOUTS a warning back
to Árpád. His once-smiling face is now filled with
concern, and he hurries the boys toward the border.
They cross into the red/white/green flag's territory,
after passing under the blue/yellow/red flag, at
precisely 5:59 p.m. Just as they leave, GUARDS on the
other side SLAM the gates and begin to NAIL them shut.
Árpád's face is very troubled, when he stares down at
INT. SWIMMING POOL STADIUM - 10 YEARS LATER
Árpád CHEERS wildly as two water polo PLAYERS break
away from their DEFENDERS and work together brilliantly
to score the winning goal, just before the final
BUZZER. The rest of the CROWD goes CRAZY, too. When
these two heroes emerge from the pool and take off
their red/white/green swim caps, they are revealed to
be--of course--Károly and Jenő.
EXT. CITY STREET - A HALF-HOUR LATER
Árpád walks with his arms around the two strapping
young men, who smile modestly at his extravagant
PRAISE. Suddenly, a tank RUMBLES around the corner,
followed by jogging SOLDIERS: they all wear uniforms
marked with a red flag. Outraged, Árpád walks over to
the troops and ARGUES vociferously. Two of them drag
him into an alley, while their comrades hold back the
Several SHOTS ring out.
INT. ÁRPÁD'S HOUSE - NEXT DAY
Jenő and his MOTHER comfort each other, both trying not
to look at the coffin in their back room. Károly
stands at the door with a suitcase, confused and grief-
stricken. When Jenő nods at him, Károly rushes over to
hug both of them. But Jenő's mother firmly leads
Károly back to the door. She picks up the suitcase,
puts it into his hand, and pats him on both shoulders.
INT. SWIMMING POOL STADIUM #2 - WEEKS LATER
This stadium is many times larger than the first one,
and Olympic posters, in several languages, cover the
walls. The CROWD is DEAFENING. Károly and his
teammates stand at one side of the pool, again wearing
the red/white/green swim caps. On the other side,
their OPPONENTS wear caps emblazoned with red flags...
just like the soldiers who were jogging with the tank.
Károly is extremely worried, but then someone SPEAKS
Gurl'yy arire or noyr gb orng HF.
It's Jenő! He pulls on his cap, ready to swim.
Károly, like the rest of the team, is overjoyed.
INT. POOL - AN HOUR LATER
The water is now slightly pink, instead of clear, and
rivulets of red are running into the pool from fresh
wounds on several red/white/green players. However,
this battered team is all smiles, because the
scoreboard shows they're in the lead, 3-0!
Károly and Jenő work their magic to score once more,
but an opposing player viciously PUNCHES Károly's face,
even as Károly SLAMS in the fourth goal. REFEREES
immediately stop the violent match and declare a
EXT. PASSENGER BOAT DOCK - SEVERAL DAYS LATER
Károly's new scar will certainly be impressive, but the
gold medal around his neck is even more impressive.
Jenő hugs him, and picks up a suitcase.
(one last try)
Ner lbh fher lbh jba'g pbzr onpx?
Károly shakes his head, gingerly tracing the outline of
his not-yet-healed scar. He then takes off his medal,
places it carefully into Jenő's hand, and pats him on
EXT. RED/WHITE/GREEN COUNTRY'S BORDER - WEEKS LATER
Jenő approaches the border he once crossed as a young
boy. That blue/yellow/red flag is still flying on the
far side, and the gate is still nailed shut. His face
drops with disappointment, and he starts to walk back.
After leaving the guards' sight, though, Jenő strikes
off through the forest. He soon comes upon a fence,
topped with barbed wire.
INT. CSABA'S HILLSIDE COTTAGE - MANY HOURS LATER
Csaba lies in bed, near the window of his aerie. He's
badly injured, with several scars on his face, and he
appears to be deathly ill. The blue/yellow/red flag
still dominates the town below.
Jenő walks in, pretty well sliced up with fresh wounds,
but he's glowing with happiness. Csaba's eyes also
sparkle, and the two men embrace warmly. Jenő rinses
out the compress on Csaba's head, while the older man
RAMBLES in his feverish haze. Jenő quietly slips
Károly's gold medal out of his pocket, and hangs it
near the window. As night falls, he continues sitting
by the older man's side, while listening to stories of
a glorious past.
CSABA'S FEVER DREAM - CONTINUOUS
Against the BUZZING of cicadas, and the unnatural SOUND
of an overinflated basketball that's bouncing much too
slowly, Csaba imagines himself to be young again, and
healthy, and strong.
And he's holding aloft the hope for a future where
justice will prevail... despite everything.
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