The Silmaril - part 3 - Screenplay based on Beren and Luthien

[Recap: Beren has avenged his father Barahir and fled the orcs. Elf King Finrod Felagund has sent his precious jewel (The Nauglamir) to Thingol, in an attempt to win favour for his allies Celegorm and Curufin. Thingol is unmoved; we have been introduced to his beautiful daughter, Luthien, and her suitor, Daeron...]

DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. GORGOROTH MOUNTAINS - DUSK
A vast mountain range covers the horizon before us, rising jagged and black against a murky cobalt sky. Winds send clouds of dust and mist HISSING down gullies.
Thunderclouds graze the peaks. Shafts of lightning jab at rocky slopes. There is a continuous low RUMBLE of thunder.
Melian (v.o.)
The price upon Beren's head grew until it far surpassed that on his father's. A mighty force of orcs was mustered to run him to ground, until Beren had no choice but to flee into the mountains.
EXT. PLAINS BEFORE GORGOROTH - DAY (FLASHBACK)
Beren rides hard on his horse.
He glances back.
EXT. PLAINS BEFORE GORGOROTH - DAY (FLASHBACK)
An army of orcs, of ridiculously large numbers, gallops in pursuit of Beren.
EXT. GORGOROTH MOUNTAINS - DUSK (FLASHBACK)
Beren climbs panting up a treacherous mountain slope.
EXT. GORGOROTH MOUNTAINS - NIGHT
A wind MOANS over the crags. Sheer slopes rise either side, walling us in.
Cold stars glimmer faintly high above, where the black rock blades scrape the sky.
Melian (v.o.)
No-one had ever crossed the dread Gorgoroth range. But somehow Beren found a way - and he came stumbling down into the land of Doriath, the Hidden Kingdom.
Beren GASPS noisily O.S. He SLIPS on a gravelly slope and crashes into view against a low boulder.
He is barely recognisable, a blooded face, short ragged beard, longer hair.
He is hemmed inside a long dark fissure. No obvious way to go except backwards. He leans exhausted on his arm.
Faint SINGING drifts on the wind. Beren looks up. One wall of the fissure has vanished, and now looks down over moonlit woods. Beren stares.
The SINGING sounds clearer. We see the distant figure of Luthien standing on a hilltop, bathed in moonbeams.
She is singing a beautiful Elven song.
Beren
(whispers)
Nightingale... Nightingale.
He rises and starts walking towards the distant apparition. He loses his footing at once and falls forward with a CRY.
He CRASHES down a slope. There is a SPLASH, and the rush of a rapid river.
We catch a brief glimpse of Luthien, in the distance, stopping her song to look round at the sound.
EXT. NELDORETH WOODS - MORNING
A sunlit glade. The air twinkles with BIRDSONG. Everything is still and calm to an unnatural degree.
Beren lies on the dewy grass.
He sits up and looks about in wonder.
He stands and begins to walk through the wood, as if in a dream.
The sound of SINGING drifts towards him. He wanders on, entranced.
He stops short. Up ahead, Luthien is singing and dancing in another glade. She is simply a beautiful dream - you would cry if you woke up. Her long raven hair swirls with her sinuous movements, and her gown - the colour of sapphires - billows like a blue flame.
Beren approaches, awe-struck.
As Luthien dances, she brushes leaves with her fingers, and they burst into bud or flower.
Under her feet, the grass shimmers. Lush flowers spring up.
Brightly-plumed birds flit around her, and SING as if to join in her own song.
Beren
(calls)
Nightingale!
He quickens his pace towards her, reaching out tentatively.
Luthien glances towards him, slips into the trees and is gone. The birds fly off and the strange magic ceases. The light dims as if at the touch of a switch.
Beren falls to his knees.
Beren
Don't go! Wait! Please!
Exhausted, he falls forward on his face.
FADE TO BLACK.
FADE IN TO:
EXT. NELDORETH WOODS, THE GLADE - DAY
Beren opens his eyes. He is lying on his back once more.
It seems almost an echo of his last awakening.
He sits up and looks about him.
Luthien is standing amidst the trees a few yards off, looking at him.
Beren
Don't run away. Don't.
Luthien
Why should I run? These are my woods.
Beren
I won't hurt you.
Luthien gives a light LAUGH, and begins to dance off out of the glade.
Beren
Stay! Tell me who you are.
Luthien
I don't even know your name, intruder.
Beren
It's Be-
Luthien
I never asked your name. What are you doing here? You are no Elf, I can see that. (Beat.) Are you one of the younger children?
Beren
Younger... You mean Men?
Luthien
How do you come to be in Doriath?
Beren
I was in the mountains. (Beat.) There was no way through. (Beat.) I must have starved.
Luthien
What do you mean?
Beren
Well. I am dead, aren't I?
Luthien looks at him critically.
Luthien
I have seen deader.
BEREn
Then - where am I?
Luthien
Wait here.
She disappears into the trees. Beren leaps up and tries to follow.
Beren
No! Don't leave me again!
But she is already nowhere to be seen. Beren slumps dejectedly against a tree.
EXT. NELDORETH WOODS, THE GLADE - DAY.
Beren is dozing against his tree.
Luthien (o.s)
Surprise, intruder.
Luthien steps into the glade, and offers Beren a goblet of some drink. He takes it and sips. It is amazingly reviving.
Beren
Thankyou. I thought -
Luthien
Ssshh.

She offers him a kind of bread. Beren eats. It's clearly food-of-the-gods.
Beren
Perhaps then I am not dead. But if so...
Pause. Beren looks around bemused.
Luthien
Luthien.
Beren looks at her quizzically.
Luthien
My name is Luthien. You asked.
Beren
It should be Nightingale. I heard you sing.
Luthien
Nightingale. Tinuviel, in our speech. I like that. Thankyou, mortal.
Beren
Mine is Beren.
Luthien
I know the name! There are songs. Beren, truly? The great terror of the orcs?
Beren LAUGHS softly to himself.
Beren
Ha! No, impossible. In some dream, perhaps. I forget what is real and what isn't.
Pause. Then, despairingly:
Is this real?
Luthien
You are in Doriath. In the land of the starlight Elves. The realm of King Thingol.
Beren stares at her, awed.
Luthien (cont'd)
I am his daughter.
Beren chokes on his food. He swallows some more drink quickly to disguise it.
Luthien (cont'd)
My father does not take kindly to strangers. But I will let you stay here awhile, if you wish.
Beren just looks at her. Gradually her beauty is paralysing his mind.
Luthien (Cont'd)
It will be all right. I can hide you.
Beren now cannot speak. He is smitten.
Luthien (Cont'd)
You must have had a terrible journey. You should rest a long while.
With the most hesitant fingers in history, Beren brushes her shoulder. As Luthien looks back into his eyes, we realise that she is gone too...
Luthien (Cont'd)
And I am curious to know... (Beat). I have never seen one like you before.
Beren gently covers her hand with his. Their eyes lock for a long moment.
We move up and away from them, through the treetops to the sky.
DISSOLVE TO:
INT. MENEGROTH, MELIAN'S CHAPEL - DAY
Melian stands at her Divination Pool, in the calm sanctuary of her chapel.
She gazes into the waters. Her reflection shimmers dimly on the surface.
Luthien's reflection appears behind.
Luthien
You're divining. I can come back.
Melian
What a high-and-mighty word for something so vague.
She turns, and her fingers brush the water, gently disrupting it.
Luthien
I thought your vision was divine, mother.
Melian
Hardly. And not even the Valar see everything.
Luthien
(Beat). It's alright, this can wait.
Melian
No, this can wait. What can I do for you my love?
Luthien
I just wanted to ask you... when you met my father, how did you know you loved each other?
Melian
We knew.
Luthien
But you know a lot of things, mother.
Melian
Luthien, sometimes you don't need to be a seer. Like now. Who is it?
Luthien
I'd rather not... That is, I am not certain I even know myself yet.
Melian
A certain poet has been writing about you.
Luthien is taken off guard for a second.
Luthien
Oh... truly?
Melian
(smiling encouragingly)
In fact he asked me if he could meet you tonight.
Luthien
Mother. Did it feel right, to be in love with father?
Melian
Why do you ask that?
Luthien
Well. The two of your are so different. He is an Elf and you are a Maia. He will always be a lesser creature than you are.
Melian
What strangeness you speak. How could that make a difference?
Luthien
It was not difficult, then?
Melian
What if it was? What if I said it was the hardest task imaginable?
Luthien
What do you mean?
Melian
Never mind. Remember one thing only. There are many powers in the world. Evil, and good. Suppose I told you that evil would always triumph. Would that mean you should turn away from what you know to be right? Or should you not rather follow your love, to whatever end?
A pause.
Luthien
Thankyou, Mother.
Luthien gently embraces Melian.
Melian turns back to her pool.
Melian
But you have nothing to worry about. Daeron is a fine choice. The two of you would be happy.
Luthien's eyes flicker with unease as she makes a hasty exit.
Melian turns and pensively stares after her. She's much more aware than she lets on.
EXT. MENEGROTH, PALACE PARKS - NIGHT
Stars glimmer down on a still lake. Soft lights gleam in the darkness. Across the water, by the lake shore, we can see two figures distantly. Luthien and Daeron. They TALK in soft voices.
Daeron kisses her hand as we draw near.
DAERON
(just audible to us)
I must go, Luthien. Let the stars gaze on you longer. Their fires burn lower than mine.
He bows, and departs.
Luthien sits upon the marble steps by the lake. She looks over the water.
A figure emerges from the shadows. It is Beren. He sits beside her.
Beren
What was that about the stars?
Luthien
(stiffly)
Daeron is the greatest poet Doriath has ever known. You should not mock him.
Beren
I'm sorry. (Beat.)
Why do you keep meeting him?
Luthien
I have to be doing something, all these nights.
Beren
You are doing something. You're with me.
Luthien reacts; that is of course the point.
Beren (cont'd)
Your parents will not like being deceived.
Luthien
You cannot understand. Believe me when I say: my father must not know about us.
Beren
For how long?
Luthien
(sadly, half to herself)
Oh. Not very long, I suppose.
Beren
He will find out.
Luthien
But not yet. My love... (Double beat.)
We are not ready. We can never be ready. He would ask questions to which there are no answers.
Beren
What questions?
Luthien
You are a man. I am an Elf. I may live for ever, but you...
Beren
Let him ask them.
He draws her close and kisses her.
Beren (CONT'D)
I will not.
He kisses her again. Their kiss lingers.
We move off their kiss, to a shadowy place among the trees.
Daeron stands almost invisibly some distance off. His eyes gleam in the darkness like a cat's.
EXT. MENEGROTH - NIGHT
Stars twinkle in the sky over the hidden city.
EXT. GORGOROTH MOUNTAINS - NIGHT (DREAM)
A nightmare. Beren is on a rugged mountain slope, locked in desperate battle with a gigantic spider-monster.
Beren is armed only with a stave of wood. Bleeding and gasping, he dodges the stabbing legs and slashing fangs to strike the hideous thing in its clusters of eyes.
All is confusion, dread, fear.
INT. MENEGROTH, BEDROOM - NIGHT.
Beren lies in bed beside Luthien. He writhes, tosses and turns in the manner of someone gripped by a terrible dream.
EXT. GORGOROTH MOUNTAINS - NIGHT (DREAM)
Beren is still fighting the giant spider.
He hews it one, two, three times with his club, breaking some of its legs. It lunges at him one last time and he hammers it with a roundhouse blow, CRYING ALOUD.
The force of the blow knocks the spider off the precipice, and sends Beren skidding down a shallow gully.
EXT. GORGOROTH MOUNTAINS - NIGHT (DREAM)
Beren slithers to a halt at the foot of the shallow gully. It is very dark and shadowy down here.
Beren is exhausted. He is almost sobbing for breath.
Painfully he raises himself up on his arms. He crawls to his knees and looks about him.
His bloody face assumes a look of fear and dismay.
All about him hang vast white webs, like tattered sails.
To the left - webs. To the right - webs. RUSTLING sounds can be heard, hidden in the shadows.
Beren utters a scream of horror.
INT. MENEGROTH, BEDROOM - NIGHT.
Beren SCREAMS himself awake.
Luthien wakes with a start beside him. Instantly she begins soothing him by stroking his brow.
luthien
Hush. Hush, my love.
Beren slowly begins to calm down, breathing more steadily.
luthien (CONT'D)
What is it?
beren
The same again.
(Double Beat).
Gorgoroth. Those mountains. To tell the truth, I have barely slept since I passed through. The horror of it -
He screws his eyes shut.
luthien
Your soul is weary, Beren.
(Double Beat).
Listen to me.
Softly, Luthien begins to SING.
It is a most beautiful, haunting song, in her Elven language.
Beren listens, at first in surprise. Then it's clear that he's beginning to relax. No wonder - this is the most soothing lullaby, the most mesmerising music ever created.
Beren blinks, settling deeper into bed.
Luthien sings on.
EXT. MENEGROTH, ATOP A TOWER, NIGHT
OVER: Luthien's song still.
Daeron sits upon a stone seat overlooking the city.
On a tablet before him is a scroll of parchment, written with verse in the Sindarin Elven script.
SUBTITLE: "Of Luthien and Daeron".
Daeron is struggling to write the next line.
We see his face twitch and contort with pain.
OVER: Luthien's song reaches a peak of beauty.
Daeron tears the page before him into shreds. He tears up the rest of the pages too.
His shoulders shake with terrible SOBS.
INT. MENEGROTH, BEDROOM - NIGHT.
Luthien's song is coming to an end.
Beren is lying there totally insensible, sleeping the sleep of the blessed. A small smile is on his tranquil features.
Luthien smiles to herself and settles down herself, with her head on his shoulder.

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