ope
Alec Rossiter
Screenwriter





            AESOP -- opening sequence

            Feature screenplay -- Fantasy/romance/biography


            
Aesop finds his voice in an epic journey from slave to sage,
               but can he find his love?

               This how Aesop's life begins:


               
Copyright -- Alec Rossiter.




               EXT. PHRYGIA - NIGHT

A full moon looks over mountains cradling within its wooded
hills an ancient land.

A modest habitation twinkles by the light of small fires.

A human howl accompanies an urgent movement of people
across the rugged terrain.

They carry an aggravated body towards a simple dwelling.

Unwieldy they enter through a break in its frayed stone
cladding.



INT. DWELLING - NIGHT

Deep painful breaths fill a dark recess.



EXT. PAMUKKALLE - NIGHT

Contours of dour expressions wash through a cold heavy mist
- glazed eyes.

The beat of a distant drum becomes clearer.

A column of shrouded figures condenses into a foggy
distance.



INT. DWELLING - NIGHT

Partial light scatters awkward shadows across a collection
of human form.

An arching body squeals in discomfort.



EXT. PAMUKKALLE - NIGHT

The purposeful beat of drums.

Mail clad Phrygian Warriors hold torches in two lines
forming an entrance - an anonymous column of people is
ingested through this neck.

A GALLI PRIEST stands as gatekeeper - androgenous
appearance, long hair, and wearing women's garb.

He takes a bowl of grain from a participant and passes it
behind him - then looks to the sky.

GALLI PRIEST
(Proclaiming)
Rain!

The participant steps into an adjacent spring of water and
the priest plunges their entire body in.

GALLI PRIEST (CONT'D)
Bare fruit.

They come out of the water and are handed back a bowl from
the priest now filled with smoldering poppy seed.

GALLI PRIEST (CONT'D)
Planted seed. Raise to
mountains.
Cybele.

The participant inhales the smoke rising from the bowl.

PARTICIPANT
(Repeating)
Cybele.

The participant continues onwards and a bowl of grapes is
handed to the priest from the next devotee in line. The
priest looks to the sky.

GALLI PRIEST
Rain...

Beyond this entrance participants are absorbed into a crowd
floating across a landscape of shallow spring pools held
within gleaming white rock cascades - a natural wonder.

Steam rises from the pools meeting the smoke of the crowds
smoldering poppy bowls - the congregation gazes toward a
rock shelf acting as a stage.

The edges of the stage are guarded by warriors and lit by a
ring of torches. On stage musicians play cithaeron,
helicon, lyre and harps to the beat of drums.

Women convulse on surrounding rock shelves which form a
natural amphitheater - they wear crowns of reeds and wave
branches around them. Goats and sheep also litter these
disorderly perches.

An abrupt pounding of drums signals the end to music -
warriors clash their shields and spears. Dancers fall to
the ground and the musicians on stage move aside.

The GALLI HIGH PRIEST claws onto stage followed by an
entourage of GALLI PRIESTS. The crowd humbles in their
presence.

The priest is old and frail but announces with surprising
might.

GALLI HIGH PRIEST
We, priests of the sacred rites
harrow your ground and fill your
hollow sky. Employ these
spectacular visions or fool
futile existence.

Mother of nature come to us from
your mount and inhabit our
lands... rocks and trees guard
your kingdom, sow far, root deep.

Water us as you give air to
breath. From your caves bring
forth animals to protect you from
the fiercest of creatures...
deliver life and we yield at your
feet.

Our mother.

Cybele.

CROWD
(Repeating)
Cybele

Music introduces Lions pulling a chariot that seats CYBELE
on a throne, her arms rest on lions heads. Her dress holds
a voluptuous figure offering vast bust. She wears a
battlemented crown.

Cybele is followed by FEMALE ATTENDENTS dressed in animal
hides and bearing fruit. They take from Cybele a
cornucopia and toss its contents into the intoxicated
audience.

Some attendants carry an enormous vessel of pomegranates to
Cybelle's side - others dance around Cybele striking
tambourines punctuating her delivery.

CYBELE
(Pronouncing)
This yoke of lions bring me as
they draw radiant sun over our
land; peaks of mountains, the
crown of my nest, hold my sky and
pierce passing clouds to quench
our soils; reach seed planted in
all corners of my bed.
 
Trees, crops, and all vegetation.
I suckle flocks as my arms
harvest your crops.

Make fertile this realm and I
shall hand those faithful morsels
flowers, renew life as seasons
replace fare with hunger...

An attendant squeezes the juice of a pomegranate into
Cybele's mouth.

Enter SABAZIOS mounted on horseback - in one hand he holds
a staff in the other a vessel from which he pours wine into
his mouth.

SABAZIOS
(Drunk)
These wondrous vines, may there
fruits froth syrup, fill the
valleys so divine a taste to
entertain moonless nights.

CYBELE
For your profit poisons us with
lacklass desire, these fruits not
wrought to stain fields with
blind men.

As your casks empties so soil
turns to dust unable to hold
roots strong enough to cradle
young. Your clumsy limbs knock
rocks from their setting, they
fall freeing beasts unto land
condemned by eternal darkness.

Sabazios draws closer to Cybele gulping at his wine.

SABAZIOS
Oh, the sweet taste fuels passion
as delicate blooms decorate
exposed terrain.
(Looks Cybele up and down)
I shall take this flower and
plant its seed to bear more the
same.

CYBELE
(Resisting)
Leave this flower, shall plant
its own. These springs I warm not
for your loins; your cheeks swell
like those of snakes.

SABAZIOS
Thy plant shall blossom...

The Galli Priests enter stage with whips, decorated by
knuckle bones, thrashing Cybele's attendees from their
positions.

The musicians amplify. The priests throw their whips
across Cybele and tie her down. Serpents emerge from
behind her throne, they wrap themselves around her body.

CYBELE
These beasts shall not offend me.

Sabazios draws closer.

Women in the crowd dance in frenzy.

In one of the water pools a troop of these women gather in
a cluster holding bright flowers.

Below corners of the surrounding rock amphitheatre are
caverns filled with ecstatic bodies.

Sabazios draws closer to Cybele.

The crowd aghast.

[From above] The troop of women move in unison to open a
ring with the flowers above their heads.

In the surrounding caves waters look milky as white gowns
float on the surface off bodies orgastically writhing over
one another.

The music builds to a climax.



INT. DWELLING - NIGHT

Dark silence broken by the sore ache of a woman's voice.

Clasping limbs. Painful movements.



EXT. PAMUKKALLE - NIGHT

CYBELE sits alone on her thrown with pregnant belly.

CYBELE
My divine body holds another...
Oh, adoration of life, as living
is subject to death, never dying
yet reproducing itself in a new
form, unlike but the same...

Her attendees rush on stage and kneel surrounding her
nether body.



INT. DWELLING - NIGHT

Bodies rile. Painful shrieks.

We see more clearly that these forms attend to the
tormented woman giving birth.



EXT. PAMUKKALLE - NIGHT

Attendees dance around CYBELE as she enacts a birth.

CYBELE
Give me strength of mountains,
those that defy passing... Bear
me this wonder. As we have
united tear our bodies as lands
are split by seas. Embrace your
divine earth...



INT. CHANTEY - NIGHT

Bodies clamber to hold the expectant body. Breaths become
harder, the AIDES murmur encouragement as one is clasped by
the women. A final clinch and deep breath is taken by all.

A baby is delivered - silence.

AIDE 1
(Murmerring)
Mother you bare... [BEAT]

AIDE 2
...silence..?

AIDE 3
(Confused)
...this child does not cry...

AIDE 4
...well...well..?



EXT. PAMUKKALLE - NIGHT

A fresh faced man ATTIS leans upon a tree. Around its
trunk he gapes at CYBELE upon her throne.

CYBELE
As moons have passed, this sweet
pip in my eye has swollen, my
breast no longer nurses a
guiltless babe, his sight has
grown wide but his flight too
feeble to seek beyond my waters

ATTIS
(Feeble)
Oh Mother!
The comfort of your soft bosom;
upon this pillow I weep lust...

CYBELE
YOU commemorate my divinity?
The holy perpetuation of these
lands? To be worshipped yet
spiritless?

As man as his father his hands
strong enough to carry my supreme
load yet they suffocate me with
demands.

A serpent slithers up the tree. Attis begs at his mothers
knee.

ATTIS
I lean upon you as this tree
holds me...

CYBELE
Your heavy needs, for my arms
hold these lands not your
primitive whim.

The GALLI HIGH PRIEST enters with a large blade in hand.

CYBELE (CONT'D)
The male deity is no companion, a
creature of heavenly origin has
turned away from celestial life.
Sacrifice this holy marriage for
it bore me no maiden able to
cultivate oneself as I shall.
Bring another from my own cast.

The warriors clash their spears and shields in time with
drums beating.

On surrounding rock shelves men hang blades over rams
heads. A bull falls on its knees.

Women shake in derangement.

The Galli high priest wields his blade toward petrified
Attis.

The crowd mesmerised.

CYBELE (CONT'D)
He has stretched on the earth to
induce cleaving earthly objects.
A member so lewd not worthy of my
fruit. Judges of retribution defy
the natural process, geld this
child of wrath.

Attis yells as he is held by priests from behind. The high
priest raises the blade over Attis' groin.

The crowd turns away.

The beating of drums reach climax then cease. Dancers fall
to the ground.

CHOP. The heads of the rams are struck of as is the bulls.

CYBELE (CONT'D)
I will resurrect these sacred
animals. They shall be re-born.

GALLI PRIESTS
(Exalt)
CYBELE!

The bulls head is held aloft. Blood fills the water pools.



EXT. RIVERSIDE - NIGHT

A stream tumbles through woodland, water rolling over
pebbles picked out by moonlight.

A figure moves along the bank side, it steps around pockets
of warm springs that lift moist air. The sound of tired
heavy breath competes with the gushing water.

A CLOAKED WOMAN who carries a baby parcelled in blanket.



EXT. PAMUKKALLE - NIGHT

The CLOAKED WOMAN follows the widening stream that joins
the pools of Pamukkalle. She sees the ceremony unfolding
ahead.

The warriors warding its fringe are distracted by the
performance and have left gaps in their guard. She charges
through and forces her way into the captivated crowd. The
warriors make chase. She heads toward the stage pushing
through the crowd.

GALLI HIGH PRIEST
...morcels, praise here to
Cybele...

MOTHER
(Yelling)
Bless this child!

Bless this child!

Bless this child..!

GALLI HIGH PRIEST
Bring us yield, make creatures
ample...
(Distracted)
Hush worshippers, what is this?
May only our Gods have power to
address you and you shall tribute
them...

MOTHER lifts baby in the air.

MOTHER
Bless this child!

Bless this child..!

GALLI HIGH PRIEST
(Angry)
SILENCE!

How dare this infidel suspend our
sacred ceremony...

The warriors take hold of her.

MOTHER
...this child I bought. A storm
wrought my body to bring this
mystery --- a miracle. My
precious infant.

HIGH PRIEST
(Mocking)
Yes, yes we have already seen the
birth of the divine child Attis,
it is his fertile mother Cybele
who gives life to all being, even
these pests!

The crowd amused.

MOTHER
My child -- he sheds tears but
does not cry. He came from me
living, his heart beats yet he
does not utter a sound. Quite
alive but not wailing in fright
of this ugly crowd.

Another priest comes from behind the high priest and speaks
in his ear. The crowd stir.

MOTHER (CONT'D)
I bring this marvel to be blessed
by the Gods. Give him a voice,
cure his silence. How can I feed
if he cannot howl thine milk? For
when he wakes how shall I?

The high priest points fiercely with a riled old finger.

HIGH PRIEST
Bring that germ! For it is not
possible one so unworthy has
halted the command of Cybele.

A warrior plucks the naked baby from its blanket. The
crowd cheer.

MOTHER
Bless this child!

She is restrained by warriors as the baby is carried aloft
toward the stage.

GALLI HIGH PRIEST
This old crone holds this
message: Our god Cybele is
enraged. A babe delivered in one
arm yet in the other arm?

Her empty impure hand brings us
no fruit, no toils of labour, not
any riches as a token to Cybele's
power... Great anger has taken
this child's voice and only
through us priests of the sacred
rites will this child be able to
speak in honour. Cease this
women, our forfeit to Cybele!

Punish her sins and pardon us
meek, let not one rotten seed
throw a plague across all our
lands...

The struggling mother is carried away by warriors; the
crowd jeering.

The baby is handed to a priest on stage.

GALLI HIGH PRIEST (CONT'D)
Bless this child!

The baby is lifted into the air; the crowd cheers. In the
babies eyes we see reflections of the torches that line the
stage...


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