Select Page

Sunset Over Katharl Screenplay Adaptation

Sunset Over Katharl Screenplay Adaptation

Sunset Over Katharl Screenplay Background

This is the screenplay adaptation I wrote for my previously published short story, Sunset Over Katharl. As with the original story, this was conceived as coursework for the Open University’s A363 Advanced Creative Writing course. Our brief was to adapt our previously submitted story into either a short film, radio or stage script and document the challenges we faced doing it.

In my case, I was happy enough with the content of the original story but felt that much of the exposition came from Alyria’s internal monologue. Rather than deal with tawdry voice-overs, I created the new character of Rana, handmaiden to the noble Volghanis family, to interact with Alyria, enabling both setting information and characterisation to occur through dialogue. There were a few changes to action and dialogue to accommodate this new character but the story itself remains much the same. Given the medium of film and not being quite so confined to Alyria’s PoV, I added a few extra scenes, notably additional information at the end, and an exchange between Rana and Marvell.

With special thanks to John August for creating the Scrippets plugin that I have used to reproduce the script on this blog, the below is the finished screenplay for Sunset Over Katharl.

 

Sunset Over Katharl Screenplay

FADE IN:

 

EXT. KATHARL – DAY.

The warm mid-afternoon sun shines over the near golden-coloured roads and houses of the port city of Katharl. The majestic Spire of the Empire towers over the otherwise low-rise buildings that sprawl outward to the high standing city walls. To three sides, patches of grass and palm trees fade into desert, while to the south, the deep blue ocean stretches into the horizon.

EXT. KATHARL STREETS. DAY.

RANA, early twenties, handmaiden to the Family Volghanis, jogs through the bustling streets. She wears the passed-down clothing of the wealthy; a once-elegant dress with a silver lining now frayed at the edges and discoloured in places. Rana is hesitant to run, but carries a look of concern. Her eyes shoot looks at, and beyond, nearly every passer-by.

As she reaches the harbour, Rana pauses and lets out a sigh of relief. She smiles and begins walking slowly toward ALYRIA VOLGHANIS, 13, wearing pristine, decadent clothing.

Alyria is sat on high walls, looking down at the harbour area beneath her where dockworkers carry cargo to and from waiting ships. She watches a MAN, of around twenty years, unloading cargo from a ship. He is a muscular, well-toned man and his body glimmers as the sun catches the sweat on his body.

Rana reaches Alyria and sits down next to her.

RANA

You were supposed to wait for me after your lessons, m’lady.

Alyria continues to stare down at the man.

ALYRIA

I know, Rana.

Rana watches Alyria for a moment, and then looks down to the harbour area. Spying the man, she rolls her eyes and lets out a frustrated laugh.

RANA

I am glad to see that you value my head so highly.

Alyria turns and looks at Rana in confusion.

ALYRIA

I’m sorry?

RANA

Pay no heed, m’lady. So... the Lady Alyria Volghanis has a fancy for a ship’s hand?

ALYRIA

I do not!

RANA

(chuckling)

Then, pray tell, why would the young lady be in such a hurry to loiter around the harbour?

ALYRIA

It is peaceful here. Father never allows me to visit. He keeps saying that sailors only want one thing.

Rana smiles knowingly.

RANA

Your father is very astute at times.

ALYRIA

What... thing is it that they want?

RANA

I fear that your father would not be best pleased with me were we to have that conversation.

ALYRIA

But you are employed to serve me, are you not?

RANA

I am, m’lady, yes.

ALYRIA

Then why can you not answer me?

Rana hesitates.

RANA

Because I am employed to serve, not to educate. You, perhaps, would be better asking your tutor?

Alyria shrugs and returns to gazing upon the man below.

ALYRIA

He is handsome though, isn’t he?

Rana takes another look and shrugs an agreement.

RANA

Yes, he is.

Alyria turns to address Rana.

ALYRIA

Why do you not have a husband, Rana?

RANA

I am sworn to your family, m’lady.

ALYRIA

And so you cannot marry?

RANA

Perhaps, one day, but not until my time in your family’s service is finished.

Alyria’s gaze returns to the man below who continues to transport cargo to and from the docked ship.

ALYRIA

Do you think I might, one day, be able to marry him?

Rana turns her head back towards the streets. Among the myriad of people, she spies a couple dressed in the clothing of the wealthy. The lady is pretty and not much older than Alyria but her husband is significantly older, overweight and not particularly attractive.

RANA

(resigned)

I do not think that is for me to answer, m’lady.

(pause)

Come now, I think we should get you home before your father returns.

Alyria sighs.

ALYRIA

Very well.

Rana takes Alyria’s hand and the two begin walking through the streets.

Alyria notices a THIN MAN struggling to carry a loaded cart over the cobbled streets. The man’s head is branded with a sigil resembling a bird of prey over a star.

ALYRIA

Why are they always so thin?

RANA

I’m sorry, m’lady?

ALYRIA

The servants. Why are they always so thin?

Rana flashes a quick look of confusion which turns to realisation upon spotting the slave.

RANA

I do not know.

ALYRIA

Do you remember the one we had? He would work from dawn to dusk every day. He was always thin.

Rana’s eyes look away from Alyria.

ALYRIA (CONT’D)

They must surely be paid well. Do you know what came of the one we had?

RANA

No.

(beat)

M’lady.

Alyria shrugs.

ALYRIA

I suppose he must have moved.

Rana looks down at Alyria while biting gently on her bottom lip. She strokes Alyria’s hand with her thumb.

RANA

(Unconvincing)

Yes, I suppose he must have.

 

INT. VOLGHANIS HOUSE, LIVING ROOM. DAY.

The Volghanis House is naturally quite dark. Although there is daylight outside, little light manages to creep through the small living room windows. Instead, a log fire and several candles provide the light. There is the typical decoration of the upper class, including the sigil of the Family Volghanis displayed on a banner over the fireplace.

Alyria is seated in a comfortable chair perusing a book, with a look of boredom on her face. Rana sits on a wooden stool, sewing, occasionally glancing up to check on Alyria.

MARVELL VOLGHANIS, late thirties, father of Alyria, enters the room. He is adorned with ceremonial body armour and an oversized broadsword, both far too impractical for combat. He wears a tabard bearing the sigil of the Family Volghanis.

ALYRIA

Father!

Alyria tosses her book to the side and runs to greet her father.

MARVELL

My princess. Have you had a good day?

ALYRIA

Yes, father.

Marvell places his sword on to a table before taking his daughter in his arms.

MARVELL

What have you done?

ALYRIA

Lessons, of course, and then we went to the harbour.

Marvell frowns.

MARVELL

(off Rana)

The harbour?

Rana tenses and drops her head. She continues to sew, but slower.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

(off Alyria)

And what were you doing at the harbour?

ALYRIA

Just... sightseeing, father. I find it so peaceful there.

Marvell fakes a smile.

MARVELL

It sounds like you’ve had a good day.

Marvell snaps his fingers. Rana ceases her sewing and fetches a goblet and some wine while Marvell removes his breastplate.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

Now, Alyria, how about you change into something more appropriate for dinner?

ALYRIA

Of course, father.

Alyria curtsies and exits the room. Rana pours some wine and then takes a step backward. She waits with her hands behind her back and her head looking at the floor.

MARVELL

I have told you how I feel about these... excursions.

RANA

Yes, m’lord. I am sorry.

MARVELL

Why did you take her there?

RANA

I didn...

(pause)

I did not think, m’lord. It was a beautiful day and I thought that she would benefit from some exercise and fresh air.

MARVELL

I quite agree that exercise is good for the girl, but not there. You know that.

RANA

Yes, m’lord. I will not take her there again.

MARVELL

She will one day be married to another lord, so that our family will grow stronger. I cannot risk her virtue.

Marvell drinks some wine. Rana continues to stand. She’s afraid.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

You should know better than most how dangerous these streets can be.

RANA

Yes, m’lord. I will do better.

MARVELL

I hope you do. I take no joy in disciplining you but... you understand?

RANA

Of course, m’lord. You must do your duty.

Rana nods and turns around. She begins to peel away her dress exposing her back, which is scarred with whip marks.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. KATHARL STREETS. DAY.

Alyria exits a building and heads out on to the streets. She quickly glances around but does not see Rana, and smiles to herself before darting off in the direction of the harbour.

The streets are nearly deserted and very quiet. There are, however, a larger number of slaves pulling carts.

As Alyria reaches the end of the street that opens into the walls above the harbour she is stopped by a tall SOLDIER, early forties, clad in black leather armour. He grabs Alyria by the arm and pulls her to the side.

SOLDIER

You shun’t be ‘ere.

ALYRIA

Why ever not?

SOLDIER

Who are yer?

ALYRIA

Alyria Volghanis.

SOLDIER

Well, Alyria Volghanis, you best run ‘long ‘ome, you ‘ear?

Alyria frowns.

ALYRIA

My father is Marvell Volghanis, the High Comman.--

SOLDIER

I couldn’t gi’ a fuck if your father is the Emp’ror. You shun’t be ‘ere, now fuck off ‘ome.

Alyria gasps at the soldier’s tone and stands in shock. She slips the soldier’s grasp and tries to make a run toward the harbour. She sees a battalion of archers and soldiers lining up along the wall and in the far distance a number of ships.

Suddenly, the soldier grabs her and hoists her over his shoulder, carting her back down the street. She kicks and punches at him but he continues marching her away.

The soldier drops her down outside a tavern.

SOLDIER

Now, listen ‘ere.--

ALYRIA

No! You cannot do this to me!

The soldier scowls at Alyria.

SOLDIER

If you think yer fancy clothes and trinkets mean shit to me, then yer wrong.

MARVELL (O.S.)

Alyria!

Alyria smiles slyly upon hearing her father’s voice. She turns around and sees Marvell and Rana running towards her. Marvell is wearing much more practical armour than he had been seen in previously.

ALYRIA

(off Soldier)

Now you will be sorry.

Marvell and Rana reach Alyria.

ALYRIA (CONT’D)

Father! This man.--

MARVELL

Come with us, Alyria.

ALYRIA

But.--

RANA

Do as your father asks, m’lady.

Rana takes Alyria’s hand, almost pulling her away from the soldier.

 

INT. VOLGHANIS HOUSE, LIVING ROOM. DAY.

Rana leads Alyria to a chair and then steps backward. Marvell kneels in front of his daughter.

MARVELL

You are not to leave here. You are to stay with Rana. Do you understand?

ALYRIA

Of course, father. But why?

Marvell bows his head. He is troubled. Rana steps forward and places her hand on his shoulder. She smiles warmly at Alyria. Alyria expresses confusion and is becoming distressed.

ALYRIA (CONT’D)

Father?

Marvell takes a deep breath.

MARVELL

The city is about to be besieged.

ALYRIA

What? By whom? Why?

MARVELL

The Illenians.

ALYRIA

But they are our allies, are they not? We formed the Fourth Coalition against the Remani?

MARVELL

(smiling)

So you did learn something from all those classes?

Alyria nods, scared.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

Time ago, Katharl held the central strip of the continent from north to south. But we have declined. We no longer provide a wall between the Illenian and their enemies to the east.

(beat)

And so they seek our lands, feeling they are better in their hands than those of another.

Alyria looks at Rana who only shakes her head.

ALYRIA

But we can surely triumph, yes?

MARVELL

(Unconvincingly)

Gods willing.

ALYRIA

What... what if we should fail?

MARVELL

You will live, that I can promise. But...

A tear rolls down Marvell’s cheek. He struggles not to cry.

ALYRIA

But what, father?

MARVELL

Do not resist.

After a brief pause, a church bell sounds in the distance. Outside the doors shouting can be heard along with the movements of large numbers of people.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

I must go. Rana, take care of her.

RANA

Yes, m’lord. Of course.

MARVELL

And Rana, I.--

Rana smiles at Marvell. She nods her head.

RANA

I know, m’lord. Thank you.

Marvell takes a sword and exits the room. Rana bolts the door behind him.

ALYRIA

I’ve never known my father to cry.

RANA

Everybody cries, m’lady.

ALYRIA

My father doesn’t. Even when my mother was returned to the heavens by fire... he did not cry.

Rana sits down by Alyria and places her arm around the young girl. She kisses her gently on the cheek.

ALYRIA (CONT’D)

I’ve never known a war.

RANA

No one should know a war. Sadly, it seems we all must.

ALYRIA

Have you known one?

RANA

Yes, when I was younger than you.

ALYRIA

And you were victorious?

Rana shakes her head.

RANA

No, m’lady.

ALYRIA

How did you survive?

RANA

Let us pray to the Gods that I will not have to show you that.

(pause)

Go to your room, m’lady. I shall be up shortly.

Alyria nods and exits. Rana walks over to a small cabinet and opens it, taking a dagger and a vial of liquid with her. She takes a deep breath and exits.

INT. VOLGHANIS HOUSE, ALYRIA’S ROOM. NIGHT.

Alyria is in bed with her blankets wrapped around her tightly. Rana sits beside her bed. The room is dark except for a single candle on the floor.

ALYRIA

Rana?

RANA

Yes, m’lady?

ALYRIA

Why are you here?

RANA

I ask your pardon, m’lady, but I.--

ALYRIA

I have heard my father beat you.

Rana sighs and shakes her head slightly.

ALYRIA (CONT’D)

Is it my fault?

Rana smiles and takes Alyria’s hand.

RANA

No, m’lady.

ALYRIA

Why do you stay? Why do you not run and save yourself?

RANA

Because you are my friend and friends do not leave friends in times of need.

ALYRIA

I’m scared.

Rana moves to sit on the bed with Alyria. She wraps her arms around the young girl and kisses her softly on the forehead.

RANA

I know.

ALYRIA

I hope we’re always friends, Rana.

RANA

Until the day I die, m’lady.

Rana holds Alyria to her chest as the young girl begins to sob. Rana gently strokes Alyria’s hair. She keeps her eyes firmly rooted on the door. Behind her, there is a sheath attached to the belt of her dress in which the dagger has been placed.

 

EXT. WALLS OF KATHARL. NIGHT.

Marvell stands on top of the city gates looking across the soon to be battlefield. Battalions of archers stand either side of him, stretching as far as the walls themselves. He looks down into the city and sees more battalions of soldiers, some moving trebuchets and ballistas into position.

In front of the city, the enemy moves into view. Row upon row of soldiers, archers and siege equipment. They carry torches.

Marvell turns and addresses his forces.

MARVELL

I do not need to tell you what our enemy seeks! They would take our city. They would take our women. They would take our children.

(pause)

And we shall not let them!

The soldiers cheer.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

For one thousand years, this city has stood. And with the Gods on our side, it shall stand for a thousand more! Take arms, brothers of Katharl! Tomorrow the scribes shall immortalise the names of our fallen in the blood of our enemies!

Another cheer goes up. Marvell draws his sword.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

Archers! Take aim.

The archers light their arrows and aim them towards the enemy who have commenced their charge to the city walls.

MARVELL (CONT’D)

Fire!

A volley of thousands of burning arrows is unleashed towards the enemy forces.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. DESERT SURROUNDING RUINS OF KATHARL. DAY.

In the modern era, a group of militants are engaged in combat with an opposing force. The walls of Katharl are long since decayed, with many holes and crumbled stonework. The Spire of the Empire is around half the size it used to be. The buildings surrounding it are but shells of their former selves.

As the militant forces fire their rifles, a fighter jet soars through the sky, dropping its payload just outside the ruins of the former city. The resulting explosion causes the remainder of the Spire of the Empire to crumble and fall on to the remnants of the city.

FADE OUT.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before the Dawn’s Light

Hidden Horror

Subscribe

Recent Tweets

Copyrighted Image