FANDOM


                            12 YEARS A SLAVE



                              Written by
                             John Ridley



                             CARD: 1841
                              FADE IN:


         1 INT. TOWNHOUSE/STUDY - DAY 1


          -EARLY APRIL, 1841-
          We are close on a PAIR OF BLACK HANDS as they open A
          FINELY WRAPPED PACKET OF VIOLIN STRINGS.
          WE CUT TO the hands stringing a VIOLIN. It's not a high
          end piece, but it is quite nice.
          WE CUT TO a wide shot of the study. Sitting in a chair
          with violin in hand is SOLOMON NORTHUP; a man in his late
          twenties. Everything about Solomon, his mien and manner,
          is distinguished. But he, too, seems a hardy individual.
          Someone who has known manual labor in his time.
          Solomon begins to lightly play his violin, as if testing
          the strings, their tuning. Satisfied, Solomon begins to
          play vigorously. As he does, we make a HARD CUT TO:



          INT. HOUSE/LIVING ROOM - EVENING
          We come in on a lively affair. A dinner party is being
          thrown within the confines of a fairly stately house. In
          attendance are EIGHT COUPLES. All are WHITE and all are
          FAIRLY YOUNG, in their early twenties. The men and women
          are dressed in very fine attire. We should get the sense
          that for the most part they are people of means.
          The furniture has been set aside in the living room. At
          the moment the couples are engaged in the dancing of a
          REEL.
          The music they are dancing to is being played by Solomon,
          having cut directly from the tune he was previously
          playing. He plays with a light determination, and in no
          way seems possessed with empty servitude.
          Solomon concludes the reel, and the dancers break into
          enthusiastic applause, which is followed by personal
          thanks and congratulations from all. It should be clear
          that despite their respective races there is much
          admiration and appreciation for Solomon's abilities.



          INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/BEDROOM - MORNING
          It is a Saturday morning. Clad in her finest attire is
          ANNE; Solomon's wife, a few years younger than he. We
          see also the Northup children: MARGARET who is eight, and
          ALONZO who is five. They are handsome, and well groomed
          kids. Anne straightens up the children. She finishes,


                         (CONTINUED)
         2.
                        3 CONTINUED: 3
          she rises up and stands behind them, almost as if
          preparing to pose for a portrait.
          They all wait a moment, then Solomon enters the foyer.
          He stands and looks admiringly at his family. ADMIRINGLY
          stressed. It isn't that he doesn't have love for them,
          he does as well. But in the moment, he truly admires his
          greatest accomplishment: a family that is healthy and
          well and provided for. He goes to his children, and
          hands each a coin, then goes to Anne. Gives her a kiss
          on the cheek. The children giggle at the sight.



          EXT. STREET - DAY
          Solomon and his family are out walking along the streets
          and groves of Saratoga.
          The streets are well populated this morning with many
          people out strolling. Most are WHITE, but there are
          BLACKS as well. They are FREED BLACKS who mingle fairly
          easily - though not always completely - with the whites.
          We see, too, a few BLACK SLAVES who travel with their
          WHITE MASTERS. These pairings are largely from the south
          and - despite the fact the blacks are slaves - they are
          not physically downtrodden, not field hands. They are
          well dressed and "leading apparently an easy life" -
          comparatively speaking - as they trail their masters.
          As they walk, Solomon and his family arrive to an
          intersection well-worn and muddied from horse and cart
          traffic. Solomon and his children easily jump across the
          muck. Anne stands at the lip of the puddle, calls for
          Solomon to help her across.
                         ANNE
          Solomon...
          Solomon, turning back to his wife with a broad smile
          waving her forward:
                         SOLOMON
          Come, Anne. Jump.
          The children, now smiling as well, egg their mother on.
                         ALONZO MARGARET
          Jump. You can make it. I've done it. You can make
          it.


                         ANNE
          I will not ruin my dress. Catch
          me!
          Solomon moves close, holds out his arms. Yet, there's
          still just a bit of mischievousness in his eyes. Anne
          gives her husband a lightly stern look to which Solomon
          replies.


                         (CONTINUED)
         3.


                         SOLOMON
          I will catch you, Anne.
                         (BEAT)
          I will.
          Again, lightly stern:
                         ANNE
          You will.
          And with that Anne takes the leap. Solomon catches her,
          swings her around grandly and sets her down lightly to
          the delighted applause of the children. That done,
          Solomon takes Anne's hand and leads her on.
          As Solomon and his family make their way, among the
          slaves on the street, we see one in particular; JASPER.
          As he trails his MASTER he can't help but note Solomon
          and his family as they enter A STORE. His intrigue of
          this most handsome and harmonious group should be
          obvious.
          With his Master occupied, Jasper moves slyly toward the
          STORE. Frozen on the spot, Jasper looks on admiringly.
          Suddenly a voice barks out-
          A VOICE (O.S.)
          Jasper! Come on!


          INT. STORE - LATER
          We are inside the store of MR. CEPHAS PARKER; a white man
          and a supplier of general goods. Solomon greets him
                         WITH:
                         SOLOMON
          Mr. Parker.
                         PARKER
          Mr. Northup. Mrs. Northup.
          With money in hand the Northup children move quickly
          about the store looking for items to purchase.


                         CONTINUED:


          Anne looks over some silks and fabrics. Parker suggests
                         TO SOLOMON:
                         PARKER (CONT'D)
          A new cravat, Solomon? Pure silk
          by way of the French.
                         SOLOMON
          We are in need of a fresh carry
          all for the Mrs's travels.
                         PARKER
          A year's passed? Off to Sandy
          Hill?
                         ANNE
          I am.
          Using a long pole, Mr. Parker fetches down a CARRY ALL
          from an upper shelf.
                         PARKER
          Something to suit your style, but
          sturdy enough for the forty miles
          round trip.
          Handing the Bag to Anne, she is immediately taken by it.
                         ANNE
          It's beautiful.
                         SOLOMON
                         (CAUTIOUSLY)
          At what price?
                         ANNE
          We will take it. Children, come
          see what your father has just
          purchased for me.
          As the children run over - chattering excitedly about the
          new gift - they RUN PAST JASPER who has quietly entered
          the store.
          At the checkout counter sits a portrait of WILLIAM HENRY
          HARRISON, the edges draped in black crepe. Before the
          book sits a LEDGER. Mr. Parker asks of Solomon:
                         PARKER
          If you would sign our condolence
          book. My hope is to find a way to
          forward it to the Widow Harrison.
          Sad days for the nation.
                         SOLOMON
          Yes, certainly. Poor Mrs. Harris
          and her children. I hope brighter
          times ahead.


                         (CONTINUED)
         4A.
                        5 CONTINUED: (2) 5
          Jasper looks scared, timid. It's as though he'd like to
          engage, but is unsure of as to how. Noting Jasper, Parker
                         SAYS:
                         PARKER
          A moment, sir, and you will be
          assisted.
                         SOLOMON
          If we could discuss the price...





                         (CONTINUED)
         5.
                        5 CONTINUED: (3) 5
                         PARKER
          Forgive me, Mrs. Northup. A
          customer waits. Welcome, sir.
          To Jasper, with good nature:
                         SOLOMON
          Shop well, but mind your wallet.
                         PARKER
          Ignore the gentleman's nonsense.
          Now, may I interest you in a new
          cravat? Pure silk by way of the--
          Before Parker can finish, the door opens. It's Jasper's
          Master, FITZGERALD. He's stern, clearly displeased.
                         FITZGERALD
          Jasper!
                         (TO PARKER)
          My regrets for the intrusion.
                         SOLOMON
          No intrusion.
          Fitzgerald looks to Solomon. It is a cold glare as
          though he wasn't speaking to, and has no interest in a
          response from a black man. Looking back to Parker:
                         FITZGERALD
          Good day, sir.


                        6 6
          INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/DINING ROOM - EVENING
          Anne, busy in the kitchen, puts the final touches to the
          meal, which is just about to begin. Solomon, in the
          meanwhile, sits at the head of the table reading from a
          NEWSPAPER. He reads to his children solemn news of the
          funeral arrangements for the recently deceased President
          Harrison.
                         SOLOMON
          "Thus has passed away from earth
          our late President."
          Solomon starts from the top of the article.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          "During the morning, from sunrise,
          the heavy bells had been pealing
          forth their slow and solemn toll
          while the minute guns announced
          that soon the grave would receive
          its trust. Our city as well as
          our entire nation has been called
          to weep over the fall of a great
          and good man. One who was by the
          wishes of a large majority of our
                         (MORE) (CONTINUED)
         5A.
                        6 CONTINUED: 6
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          people raised to fill the highest
          place of trust within their gift.
          William Henry Harrison."
          A long moment of quiet, the family continuing to eat.
          Then, from Margaret:
                         MARGARET
          Will you read it again?
                         ANNE
          Not just now, darling.
          Anne enters the dining room and places a large chicken at
          the center of the table. As she takes a seat, all heads
          are bowed.
                         MARGARET
          For food that stays our hunger,
          For rest that brings us ease,
          For homes where memories linger,
          We give our thanks for these.
                         ALL
          Amen.
                         SOLOMON
          Margaret, that was wonderful.
                         MARGARET
          Thank you, Papa.
                         SOLOMON
          Alonzo, do you have something to
          say?
                         ALONZO
          Yes, I helped Momma make this.
                         ANNE
          Yes, and you were such a good
          help. Especially making the gravy.
                         MARGARET
          Papa, I would very much like to
          learn how to play the violin.
          Could you teach me?
                         ALONZO
          Me too!
                         MARGARET
          Yes, but I asked Papa first.
                         SOLOMON
          Both of you, calm down. We will
          have our first lesson after this
          wonderful dinner. And on that
          note, let's start eating.
                         (CONTINUED)
         5B.
                        6 CONTINUED: (2) 6
          The family all tuck in to their meal. The scene is one of
          warmth and happiness.
         6.



         7 INT. NORTHUP HOUSE - NIGHT 7
          Solomon and Anne have fun and difficulty putting the
          unruly children to bed. They are tucked in, and each
          given a kiss good night. As Margaret lays down to sleep,
          Anne blows out the candle darkening the room.
          Silhouetted in the doorway, Solomon takes Anne in his
          arms, holds her tightly as they both luxuriate in the
          simple, beautiful gift that is their children.


                        7A 7A 
          INT. NORTHUP HOUSE - NIGHT
          Now alone together, we see Anne and Solomon wrapped in
          each other's arms. Beyond being physically close,
          emotionally close, they are just so very comfortable with
          one another. They are the very representation of a
          couple who are made for each other.


          They look at each other for a prolonged time.
                         SOLOMON 
                         (COMICALLY FORLORN) 
          Three weeks. Two days. 
                         ANNE 
          It is the custom. I wonder what 
          you'll do without me? 
                         SOLOMON 
          I won't stay idle. 
          SOLOMON's eyes lower. 
                         ANNE 
          Darling, it's good money. 
                         SOLOMON 
          If only I didn't have to share 
          your cooking with other people. 
          ANNE holds his gaze. 
                         ANNE 
          You don't. 
          They kiss. 


                        8 OMIT 8
         7.



         9 EXT. NORTHUP HOUSE - MORNING 9
          We are just outside the Northup house. A CARRIAGE waits
          with a DRIVER. Anne and the children are dressed for
          travel - Anne sporting HER NEW CARRY ALL. The Driver
          loads bags into the carriage.
          For her parting gift, Anne gives her husband a kiss.
                         SOLOMON
          Travel safely.
                         ANNE
          Stay safely.
          Anne and the children loaded up, the Driver chides the
          horse and the carriage heads off. Solomon waves a hearty
          good bye to his wife and children.


                        10 10
          EXT. PARK - DAY
          Solomon is now out for a stroll. He passes two men - two
          in particular - who stand outside conversing with MR.
          MOON himself: MERRILL BROWN and ABRAM HAMILTON. Brown
          is about 40, with a countenance indicating shrewdness and
          intelligence. Hamilton is closer to 25, a man of fair
          complexion and light eyes. Both are finely, if perhaps a
          bit garishly, dressed. Hamilton, as Solomon describes
          him, slightly effeminate.
          Moon, spotting Solomon:
          MR. MOON
          Call the Devil's name... There he
          is now. Mr. Northup...! I have
          two gentlemen who should make your
          acquaintance. Messrs. Brown and
          Hamilton.
                         BROWN
          Sir.
          MR. MOON
          Mr. Northup, these two gentlemen
          were inquiring about distinguished
          individuals, and I was just this
          very moment telling them that
          Solomon Northup is an expert
          player on the violin.
                         HAMILTON
          He was indeed.
                         SOLOMON
          Mr. Moon is being overly gracious.




                         (CONTINUED)
          8.
                        10 CONTINUED: 10
                         BROWN
          Taking into consideration his
          graciousness and your modesty, may
          we trouble you for a moment of
          your time to converse, sir?


                        11 11
          EXT. PARK/PAVILION - LATER
          We make a jump to a green space. Solomon, Brown and
          Hamilton are sitting at a bench.
                         SOLOMON
          A circus?
                         HAMILTON
          That is our usual employee. The
          company currently in the city of
          Washington.
                         BROWN
          Circus too constricting a word to
          describe the talented and merry
          band with which we travel. It is
          a spectacle unlike most have ever
          witnessed. Creatures from the
          darkest Africa as yet unseen by
          civilized man. Acrobats from the
          Orient able to contort themselves
          in the most confounding manners.
                         HAMILTON
          And I myself in aide of Mr. Brown;
          an internationally renowned
          practitioner in the art of
          prestidigitation.
                         BROWN
          We are on our way thither to
          rejoin the company having left for
          a short time to make a small
          profit from our own exhibitions.
                         HAMILTON
          The reason for our inquiry with
          Mr. Moon...
                         BROWN
          Yes. We had just a devil of a
          time in procuring music for our
                         (MORE)





                         (CONTINUED)
          9.
                        11 CONTINUED: 11
                         BROWN (CONT'D)
          entertainments. Men of true
          talent seemingly in short supply.
                         SOLOMON
          Thank you sir...
                         BROWN
          If we could persuade you to
          accompany us as far as New York...
          We would give you one dollar for
          each day's service and three
          dollars for every night played at
          our performances. In addition we
          would provide sufficient pay for
          the expenses of your return from
          New York here to Saratoga.
                         SOLOMON
          You understand this is all very
          sudden.
                         HAMILTON
          Consider it an opportunity to see
                         THE COUNTRY--
                         SOLOMON
          It's intriguing...
                         HAMILTON
          If there is any way in which you
          would give consideration to the
          offer...
          Solomon gives the whole deal one last consideration.
                         SOLOMON
          The payment offered is enticement
          enough, as is my desire to visit
          the metropolis.
                         HAMILTON
          We are delighted, sir. So
          delighted. Though we would add
          that our travel plans--
                         BROWN
          We would like to depart with
          haste.





                         (CONTINUED)
         10.
                        11 CONTINUED: (2) 11
                         SOLOMON
          As luck would have it, my wife and
          children are traveling. I will
          write her of our plans.
                         BROWN
          Excellent! I would beg you
          collect yourself, then we may
          proceed.


                        12 12
          INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/BEDROOM - LATER
          Back in his house, we see Solomon packing: putting some
          clothes in a travel case, and collecting his violin as
          well.


         13 INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/STUDY - LATER 13
          Solomon sits down to write a letter; pen poised over
          paper with already a few lines written. But Solomon
          thinks better of it. WITH LITTLE THOUGHT HE TEARS THE
          PAPER AND SETS IT ASIDE. WE SHOULD GET THE SENSE THAT
          THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE BY LETTER
          IS LOST ON SOLOMON. THIS FACT WILL HAVE GREAT WEIGHT IN
          THE NEAR FUTURE.


                        14 14
          EXT. SOLOMON'S HOUSE/INT. COVERED CARRIAGE - LATER
          Solomon enters the buggy, carpet bag in hand. Brown and
          Hamilton are waiting. They ride in a covered carriage
          led by a pair of "noble" horses.
                         HAMILTON
          No letter to post?
                         SOLOMON
          No need. My return will coincide
          with my family's.
                         BROWN
          We're off then.


                        15 15
          INT. PUB - EVENING


          -MID TO LATE APRIL, 1841-
          We find ourselves in a roadside pub. It serves the
          purpose of drinking and diversion, and little more. As
          Solomon plays his violin, Brown and Hamilton perform a
          decent, paired magic routine before a SPARSE AUDIENCE NOT
          OF "SELECT CHARACTER."
         11.



         16 INT. PUB - LATER 16
          After the show, the pub now fairly empty, Solomon,
          Hamilton and Brown sit down to eat. Hamilton and Brown
          drink, but again Solomon abstains. Though Solomon
          remains cool, Hamilton and Brown put up a great show of
          being disappointed as Hamilton counts out what little
          money was collected.
                         HAMILTON
          Not an additional tip from a one
          of them. They expect to be
          entertained for nothing.
                         BROWN
          And not satisfied a bit despite
          giving them more than what they
          paid for.
                         SOLOMON
          It's the national mood. There's
          too much grief to make room for
          frivolity.
                         HAMILTON
          My sincerest apologies, Solomon.
          You were promised opportunity, and
          you were given none.
                         BROWN
          The opportunity is with the
          circus. A two man show poorly
          promoted, what were we to expect?
          But the circus bills itself.
                         HAMILTON
          True.
                         BROWN
          I have told you of the circus with
          which we are connected. Creatures
          from the darkest of Africa.
          Acrobats from the Orient who--
                         SOLOMON
          You have described it, yes.
                         BROWN
          Yes. We need to return
          immediately to Washington.
          Solomon...I believe us familiar
          enough now, but forgive me if I am
          bold...would you consider making
          the trip with us?
          Solomon gives a bit of a laugh at the idea.




                         (CONTINUED)
         12.
                        16 CONTINUED: 16
                         HAMILTON
          Entertaining at pubs and inns has
          it's place, but a man of your
          skills deserves better.
                         BROWN
          Hear, hear.
                         HAMILTON
          And more importantly you would
          build your own name and following.
          The circus tends to attract those
          with the highest of reputations.
          An introduction here and there
          could amount to a lifetime of
          reward. Now would be the time.
          With your family away, an
          opportunity presents itself.
                         BROWN
          Said as fellow artists as well as
          businessmen. Well worth the
          effort at least.
                         SOLOMON
          You present a flattering
          representation. As my family will
          be traveling back shortly, perhaps
          I might commit only to one trial
          engagement.


                         HAMILTON
          Oh, very good, sir. Very good. I
          cannot recall being so excited.
                         BROWN
          There is a practical concern. If
          you are to continue on with us you
          should obtain your free papers.
                         SOLOMON
          Not necessary.
                         BROWN
          Here in New York, no. But we will
          be entering slave states and as a
          matter of precaution... It's to
          all our benefit we should not have
          to come to account for your well
          being.
                         HAMILTON
          Six shillings worth of effort
          could well save much trouble
          later.




                         (CONTINUED)
         12A.
                        16 CONTINUED: (2) 16
                         BROWN
          We'll go to the Customs House in
          the morning, then travel on. Good
          business all around.
         13.



                        17 OMIT 17


         18 EXT. WASHINGTON - DAY 18
          The city is a swarm of people. At the moment the populace
          is displaying both sorrow and anticipation. Sorrow for
          the loss of the President. Many are dressed in black,
          and black crepe hangs nearly everywhere. Black armbands
          are frequently seen, and the occasional American Flag
          hung at half mast. As well, there are portraits of
          Harrison at varying locations.
          Having arrived in Washington, Solomon, Hamilton and Brown
          RIDE ONWARD IN THEIR CARRIAGE.


                        19 19
          INT. GADSBY HOTEL/DINNING ROOM - EVENING
          A decent though crowded, boisterous and smoke-filled
          joint. Very lively. Solomon, Hamilton and Brown are
          among several parties drinking in the hotel's bar. As
          with seemingly everywhere in the city black crepes
          accessorize the background. Brown counts out $43.00 IN
          COIN on the tabletop. Solomon is astonished by the
          amount.
                         BROWN
          Forty-three dollars. All to you.
                         SOLOMON
          That...it's far more than my wages
          amount to.
                         BROWN
          Consider the remainder an advance
          from the circus. I cannot tell
          you...I honestly wish you had seen
          the expression of our director
          when I described your abilities.
          He was fairly overcome with
          excitement.
                         HAMILTON
          You should have invited him to sup
          with us.
                         BROWN
          I did. I did, but so many
          preparations before the company is
          to depart.
                         SOLOMON
                         GENTLEMEN--
                         BROWN
          Tomorrow we shall prepare for our
          Washington debut. But tonight, our
          thoughts are with the great man
                         (MORE) (CONTINUED)
         13A.
                        19 CONTINUED: 19
                         BROWN (CONT'D)
          for whom this city prepared solemn
          memorial. He has passed from the
          praise of men to receive the
          plaudit of his heavenly father. A
          fine man has passed. Let us
          remember him with a drink.





                         (CONTINUED)
         14.
                        19 CONTINUED: (2) 19
          Both Hamilton and Brown hold up their tankards to drink.
          Solomon, a bit reluctantly, does the same.
                         HAMILTON
          Cheers.
                         BROWN
          Another. Our departed President
          deserves all the salutation we can
          imbibe.
          Hamilton and Brown drink again, and Solomon does as well.


                        20 20
                         OMIT


                        21 OMIT 21


         22 EXT. ALLEY - LATER 22
          WE MAKE A HARD CUT to Solomon outside of the Pub, in an
          alley, with Brown and Hamilton in silhouette, back-lit by
          the street lights. He is violently ill, hunched over and
          retching horribly.
                         HAMILTON
          That's all right Solomon. No
          shame in it. No shame at all.
         15.



         A23 INT. GADSBY HOTEL - STAIRCASE A23
          Hamilton and Brown help Solomon to lumber up the spiral
          staircase, passing the occasional bemused guest.


         23 INT. GADSBY HOTEL/SOLOMON'S ROOM - NIGHT 23
          Hamilton is placing a spittoon near Solomon's bed, where
          a prone and reeling Solomon lays. Hamilton sits on the
          bed. As he strokes Solomon's sweaty face, Hamilton
          speaks sweetly.
                         HAMILTON
          I'm afraid that Brown and I
          haven't brought you much luck.
          But rough waters bring smooth
          sailing. Eventually they do.
                         SOLOMON
          ....So...so sorry...
                         HAMILTON
          Shhh. We won't hear it. We
          won't.
                         BROWN
          Let him sleep.
                         HAMILTON
          Hmm. A good night's sleep. And
          tomorrow...tomorrow you will feel
          as well and refreshed as though
          the earth were new again.
          Hamilton lingers a bit too long and a bit too close to
          Solomon for Brown's taste. With more than a bit of
                         SIGNIFICATION:
                         BROWN
          Hamilton! Nothing more we can do
          for him.
                         HAMILTON
          Such is the pity.
          Displaying an odd sort of disappointment, Hamilton slinks
          away from the bed. He crosses to, and BLOWS OUT A
          CANDLE. The room goes dark with a blackness more than
          night. Brown and Hamilton exit. Solomon lays in the
          dark and moans. His sounds becoming MORE AND MORE
          DISTRESSED.


                        24 24
          INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - DAWN






                         (CONTINUED)
         16.
                        24 CONTINUED: 24
          Solomon stirs, then slowly awakes to his new
          circumstances. He finds himself in a nearly lightless
          room about twelve feet square with walls of solid
          masonry. There is a thick and well-locked door, a small
          window covered with iron bars and a shutter. The only
          furniture is a wood stool and an old fashioned, dirty box
          stove. As Solomon rises he sees that his HANDS are
          CUFFED - the chain running to a bolt in the ground - and
          his LEGS IN IRONS. At first Solomon is incredulous. But
          that emotion is replaced first by fury and then panic.
          He begins to pull on the chains, fight against them. He
          does so with increasing desperation. Solomon flails
          about, the sounds of the steel chains whipping and
          beating against the masonry. He grunts and screams
          without regard as the cuffs and irons bite into his
          flesh, but he cannot pull himself free.
          After several minutes of intense effort, Solomon tires,
          slows, then finally he collapses. And in this collapsed
          state he remains.


                        25 25
          INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - MORNING
          Solomon again awakens. He hears sounds beyond the
          door...footsteps. Eventually the door opens. Enter
          JAMES BURCH - who runs the slave pen - and EBENEZER
          RADBURN who works as a turnkey and overseer.
          As the door opens, this is the first light to seep into
          the otherwise near-black room. The shine is painful to
          Solomon's eyes. With no salutation whatsoever, Burch
                         ASKS:
                         BURCH
          Well, my boy, how yah feel now?
          Solomon rises up as best he can. With all the resolve he
          can put together he states what he considers to be fact:
                         SOLOMON
          I am Solomon Northup. I am a free
          man; a resident of Saratoga, New
          York. The residence also of my
          wife and children who are equally
          free. I have papers. You have no
          right whatsoever to detain me--
                         BURCH
          Yah not any--
                         SOLOMON
          And I promise you - I promise -
          upon my liberation I will have
          satisfaction for this wrong.
                         BURCH
          Resolve this. Produce your
          papers.
                         (CONTINUED)
         17.
                        25 CONTINUED: 25
          With confidence Solomon goes to the pocket of his
          trousers. He searches one, then the other, but they are
          empty. He feels quickly about himself, but clearly his
          papers have been lifted. Solomon's confidence shifts,
          but to resolve rather than fear. Papers or none, he will
          not be easily cowed. Still, Burch asserts:
                         BURCH (CONT'D)
          Yah no free man. And yah ain't
          from Saratoga. Yah from Georgia.
          A moment. Not a word spoken among the trio, but Solomon
          and Burch do some serious eye fucking, neither man
          yielding. Burch says again:
                         BURCH (CONT'D)
          Yah ain't a free man. Yah nuthin'
          but a Georgia runaway.
          Burch waits for Solomon to acquiesce. Solomon does not
          in any way. Both men exchange a long and daring stare.
          The two are clearly at an intellectual stand off. Burch,
          leans to Radburn, SAYS SOMETHING WHICH WE CANNOT
          DISTINGUISH.
          Radburn walks off-camera and returns with a pair of
          "instruments:" a PADDLE - the flattened portion, which is
          about the size in circumference of two open hands, and
          bored with a small auger in numerous places. He also
          carries a WHIP. A cat-o-nine tails; a large rope of many
          strands. The strands unraveled and a knot tied at the
          extremity of each. Burch says again:
                         BURCH (CONT'D)
          Yah a runaway nigger from Georgia.
          Solomon stands with a quiet stoicism. He will say
          nothing of the kind.
          As that is the case, Solomon is seized by both men. He is
          pulled over the bench, face downward, shirt still on his
          back. Radburn then STEPS ON HIS CHAINS, holding Solomon
          down in a bent position.
          With no preamble, Burch begins to beat Solomon about the
          back with the paddle. Burch strikes him wordlessly - no
          taunting, no sneering. Solomon screaming against each
          blow. His back immediately SWELLING WITH WELTS AND
          BRUISES.
          This beating continues on and on and on until quite
          literally Burch WEARS HIMSELF OUT with the effort.
          Dripping in sweat and panting:





                         (CONTINUED)
         18.
                        25 CONTINUED: (2) 25
                         BURCH (CONT'D)
          Yah still insist yah a free man?
                         SOLOMON
          ...I...I insist...
          Burch regrets hearing this. Not from sympathy, but
          rather because he's nearly too tired to go back to
          beating Solomon. Yet, as if returning to work, Burch
          returns to pummeling Solomon. Burch punctuates the blows
                         WITH:
                         BURCH
          Yah a slave. Yah a Georgia slave!
          Burch continues to strike, and strike... This time until
          the paddle SNAPS IN HALF. Burch then GRABS THE WHIP.
          Hardly missing a stroke, he whips Solomon relentlessly,
          the flails cutting into Solomon's back. Again, Burch's
          arm tires before Solomon "breaks."
                         BURCH (CONT'D)
          Are yah slave?
                         SOLOMON
          ...No...
          Burch goes back to whipping and whipping, and whipping...
          SOLOMON'S BACK IS NOW TORN OPEN WITH LACERATIONS AND
          OOZING WITH BLOOD. Finally Burch can whip no more. He
          pours sweat and sucks air, leaving himself just enough
          energy to take up his instruments and EXIT. Radburn
          lingers for a moment. He takes the irons off Solomon's
          legs. Opens the window some. As he makes these
          gestures, in a patronizing and confidential manner, one
          wrought with poor sincerity::
                         RADBURN
          I seen a good many of the black
          kind just where yah're. Sick.
          Make me sick. Often times the
          situation was resolved, and I
          think; what was all the beatin'
          and abuse for? Things end as they
          should, and the violence was for
          naught. So why cause trouble when
          they ain't no cause for it? Be of
          a cooperative nature, and things
          don't need be particularly
          unpleasant.
                         (BEAT)
          Or, yah can carry on like yah
          been, and I fear yah won't live to
          see Sunday next.
          With that thought, Radburn exits. Solomon rests. But to
          rest seems like giving in to defeat. He begins pulling



                         (CONTINUED)
         19.
                        25 CONTINUED: (3) 25
          on his chains. But for all his struggling, the chain
          loosens none. Solomon calls out:
                         SOLOMON
          Help me! Someone help me!
          If anyone at all hears him, they do not respond. Solomon
          continues his plaintive cry for assistance.


                        26 26
          EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - CONTINUOUS
          Beginning with a TIGHT SHOT on the shuttered, barred
          window of Burch's dungeon - Solomon's cries barely eking
          beyond the space - THE CAMERA PULLS BACK from the
          building, onto the city until clearly visible is the
          Nation's capital. It's icon's of freedom - the WHITE
          HOUSE, the CAPITOL BUILDING - fairly mocking Solomon's
          captivity. Simultaneously, barren at the early hour and
          cluttered with litter and the remains of previous day's
          procession, the city is a bleak and forboding sight.


                        27 27
          INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - DAY
          IT IS DAY NOW. The door to the yard is thrown open. The
          harsh white light floods all over Solomon.


                        28 OMITTED 28





                         (CONTINUED)
         20.
                        28 CONTINUED: 28




         29 MOVED TO SC. A32 29
         21.



         30 EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/YARD - DAY 30
          It is a yard just beyond Burch's. The yard is hemmed in
          by a brick wall. In the yard are two men, and a boy.
          The oldest is CLEMENS RAY a man of about 25 years of age.
          He is well educated. JOHN WILLIAMS is about 20 years
          old. He is born and bred a slave, is lacking in
          education, and overwhelmed with fear of the situation.
          Finally there is a child about 10 years of age who
          answers to the name of Randall.
          Solomon, Clemens Ray, John and Randall ALL STAND NAKED.
          Though they try to cover their privates a bit, they are
          all aware of the uselessness of modesty. Radburn is
          present. He has before him A COUPLE OF BUCKETS OF COLD
          WATER. He throws water on the naked men.
                         RADBURN
          Go on. Warsh up.
          The men, soaking in humility as well as water, begin to
          scrub with A SINGLE BAR OF HARSH SOAP passed among them.
                         RADBURN (CONT'D)
          The boy, too. Get him clean.
          Solomon takes some soap and rubs it over Randall.
                         RADBURN (CONT'D)
          Scrub now. Git 'em clean.
          Solomon scrubs harder. Randall - clearly cold and
          uncomfortable - appeals to Solomon.
                         RANDALL
          Do you know when my Mama will
          come?
                         RADBURN
          Hush him up!
          Seeing Solomon has no answer for him, Randall begins to
          cry.
                         RANDALL
          Mama ..! Mama! Is she going to
          come?
          Doing all he can to spare the child from a certain
                         BEATING:
                         SOLOMON
          Quiet, please.
          Randall is becoming nearly inconsolable.
                         RANDALL
          Mama!


                         (CONTINUED)
         21A.
                        30 CONTINUED: 30



          Saying anything to keep the boy quiet:
                         SOLOMON
          Your mother will come, I swear she
          will, but you must be silent.
          Please. Be silent!
          On the seeming strength of Solomon's promise, Randall
          goes silent. Solomon looks to Radburn, who just throws
          water on the soapy men.
         22.



                        31 OMITTED 31


         A32 INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - EVENING A32
          Radburn brings food in to Solomon; a shriveled piece of
          meat and some water. Just barely enough to sustain
          Solomon. Radburn also has a SHIRT.
                         RADBURN
          That old thing of yours is just
          rags and tatters. Need something
          proper to wear.
          Solomon doesn't move for the clothing.
                         RADBURN (CONT'D)
          Go'won. Put it on.
          With slow defiance, Solomon does as instructed. He
          removes what remains of his old shirt - the one he was
          wearing when first kidnapped - and puts on the one
          Radburn brought him. The shirt's ill-fitting and dirty.
          Despite that, Radburn says:
                         RADBURN (CONT'D)
          There. Tha's fine. Tha's fine.
          Got no gratitude?
                         SOLOMON
          ...Thank you...
                         RADBURN
          Yah keep bein' proper, yah'll see
          how things work out.
          Radburn starts to take the old shirt.
                         SOLOMON
          No! It was from my wife.
                         RADBURN
          Rags and tatters. Rags and
          tatters.
          Taking the shirt, the "rags and tatters" as he calls
          them, Radburn exits, locking the door behind him.
          Solomon sits with the plate of food before him. He
          pushes the plate away rather than eat.


                        32 32
          EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/YARD - DAY
          Sitting together out in the yard are Clemens Ray, John
          and Solomon. Over time they have drawn trustworthy
          enough to speak with one another. At the moment Solomon
          is still trying to apply reason to the situation.



                         (CONTINUED)
         22A.
                        32 CONTINUED: 32
          Randall wanders about in the background. As usual, he
          calls out for his "Mama." By now, however, his calls
          should feel like little more than background noise.
                         SOLOMON
          This can't stand. It is a crime.
          I believe now someone lay in wait
          for me. My drink was altered...
          We are free men. They have...they
          have no right to hold us.
          Solomon waits for a response from the others. They give
          none.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          We need a sympathetic ear. If we
          have an opportunity to explain our
                         SITUATION--
                         CLEMENS
          Who in your estimation is that
          sympathetic ear?
                         SOLOMON
          The two men I journeyed with. I'm
          certain they're making inquires at
          this very moment.
                         CLEMENS
          I would be just as certain they
          are counting the money paid for
          delivering you to this place.
                         SOLOMON
          They were not kidnappers. They
          were artists. Fellow performers.
                         CLEMENS
          You know that? You know for
          certain who they were?





                         (CONTINUED)
         23.
                        32 CONTINUED: (2) 32
          The fact is, Solomon can't say for certain.
                         CLEMENS (CONT'D)
          How I reckon the situation:
          whatever past we had...well,
          that's done now. The reality to
          come is us being transported
          southward. New Orleans if I were
          to venture. After we arrive,
          we'll be put to market. Beyond
          that... Well, once in a slave
          state I suppose there's only one
          outcome.
                         JOHN
          No.
                         CLEMENS
          I don't say that to give you empty
          agitation, John...
                         JOHN
          For y'all. For y'all they ain't
          nothin' but that! But John was'n
          kidnapped. John bein' hold as
          debt, tha's all. Massa pay his
          debt, and John be redeemed--
                         CLEMENS
          Boy, our masters will not come for
          us.
          John is nearly beside himself with panic.
                         JOHN
          Now John's...John's sorry for
          y'all, but tha's how it be. Where
          y'all goin', yah goin' witout
          John. Massa take care of me.
          Massa take care.
                         RANDALL
          Mama!
          All three men turn and look. At the moment Randall
          doesn't call out emptily. At the door to the yard is
          Burch along with two women. One in her late twenties;
          ELIZA. She is "arrayed in silk, with rings upon her
          fingers, and golden ornaments suspended from her ears."
          Though a slave, Eliza was a mistress and has - to this
          point - lived well. This is reflected in her airs and
          her speech. The other is a little girl, light in skin
          color, of about seven or eight. This is EMILY, Randall's
          half sister.
          As she enters the yard Eliza squeals with high delight,
          then breaks into tears of both sorrow and joy. Clearly
          this is mother and child being reunited.


                         (CONTINUED)
         24.
                        32 CONTINUED: (3) 32
          As Burch locks the yard door, Eliza clutches Randall.
          She is overcome with emotion.
                         ELIZA
          My darling. My sweet, sweet baby.


                        33 33
          INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - EVENING
          Later in the evening. Solomon now shares his space with
          Eliza and her children. As the children rest, Eliza
          drops into a lament as if pleading her case to Solomon
          who lends a sympathetic ear.



          Both slyly, and with a bit of aggrandizement:
                         ELIZA
          When I say I had my master's
          favor, you understand. Above even
          his own wife, I had it. Do you
          know that he built a house for me?
          Built it on the sole condition
          that I reside there with him. The
          added promise in time I would be
          emancipated. And for nine years
          he blessed me with every comfort
          and luxury in life.
          Displaying the finery she still wears:
                         ELIZA (CONT'D)
          Silks and jewels and even servants
          to wait upon us. Such was our
          life, and the life of this
          beautiful girl I bore for him.
          But Master Berry's daughter...she
          always looked at me with an unkind
          nature. She hated Emily no matter
          she and Emily were flesh of flesh.
          As Master Berry's health failed,
          she gained power in the household.
          Eventually, I was brought to the
          city on the false pretense of our
          free papers being executed. If I
          had known what waited; to be sent
          south? I swear I would not have
          come here alive.





                         (CONTINUED)
         25.
                        33 CONTINUED: 33
          Eliza turns to her children:
                         ELIZA (CONT'D)
          My poor, poor babies.


         34 INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - NIGHT 34
          It's the deep of night, all are sleeping. A KEY TURNS IN
          THE LOCK AND THE DOOR OPENS. Burch enters with Radburn
          beside him. Both carry LANTERNS with them. Hardly
          giving Solomon and Eliza a moment to rouse themselves,
                         BURCH DEMANDS:
                         BURCH
          Come on. Get yer blankets. Get
          up.
          Sensing that things will not end well:
                         ELIZA
          No, please don't...
                         BURCH
          I don't want to hear yer talk.
          Get in the yard.
                         ELIZA
          Please...
                         RADBURN
          Ain't no need for all that.
          Putting hand to Randall's head.
                         RADBURN (CONT'D)
          Jus takin' a li'l trip, tha's all.
          Don't want to frighten the
          chil'ren none over a li'l boat
          ride, do yah?
          Eliza gives a shake of her head to the negative.
                         RADBURN (CONT'D)
          Alright then. Git yerselves up.


                        35 35
          EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/YARD - NIGHT
          We now have Solomon, Clemens, John, Eliza and the
          children. They are being cuffed together. As John is
          cuffed, he pulls back. Scared. He beings in
                         DESPERATION:
                         JOHN
          John's massa gunna pay his debt.
          John's massa gunna come for him.


                         (CONTINUED)
         26-28.
                        35 CONTINUED: 35
          Not wanting to hear any of this talk, Burch strikes John
          several times in the head with a sap-like instrument.
          Weakened, but again:
                         JOHN (CONT'D)
          John's massa gunna--
          Burch again strikes John until he's quiet. Curiously,
          Emily and Randall don't even flinch. Why would they?
          They are quite used to seeing this kind of violence.
                         BURCH
          Not a word out of none a yah. Not
          a word.
          Burch and Radburn begin driving the shackled slaves from
          the yard.


                        A36 A36
          EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/INT. WAGON/FLAT BED - LATER
          The slaves are lead to a flat bed of the horse and
          carriage. They are made to lay down side-by-side. We stay
          with them as some sort of cloth is flung over them,
          obscuring and blacking out their view.
          At that moment, the screen is BLACKENED and we hear the
          sound of the cart moving in haste.


                        36 36
          EXT. WASHINGTON, D.C. DOCK - NIGHT
          Led by Burch, the group of slaves arrive to a dock. They
          are taken quickly up a gangplank and onto the steamboat
          ORLEANS as the CAPTAIN, CREW and a MULATTO WOMAN WATCH,
          but do not interfere.


                        37 37
          INT. ORLEANS/HOLD - CONTINUOUS
          The slaves are hustled down one at a time into a dark,
          dank hold among barrels and boxes of freight...and RATS.
          Burch comes around and "checks" the chains; makes sure
          they are all secure and locked.
          Satisfied, he heads up out of the hold. Radburn follows.
          Alone in the dark in the hold, John cries, as does Eliza.
          Solomon stares down Burch for as long as he can, as if
          wishing bad things. As if wanting to exact some measure
          of revenge. But the greater insult is that Burch and
          Radburn, engaged in conversation, take no notice of
          Solomon whatsoever. He is that insignificant to them.
          That fact, that reality, makes Solomon boil with a rage
          he cannot express in words.


                        38 38
                         OMIT
         26-28A.



         38A INT. STEAMBOAT - NIGHT 38A 
          We are now in the engine room of the steamboat, pistons 
          pumping, black oily cogs turning, the power and the 
          rhythm are both aggressive and hypnotic. A shovel comes 
          into view, feeding the furnace. 


         38B EXT. SEA - DUSK/DAWN 38B 
          The steamboat is en route between Washington and Norfolk. 
          We tilt up from the violent water foam to the powering 
          paddles of the boat. 


         39 MOVED TO 43A 39 
         29.



                        40 OMIT 40 


                        41 OMIT 41


                        42 OMIT 42


         43 INT. ORLEANS/HOLD - LATER - NIGHT 43 
          Down in the hold the slaves eat, pray. The MULATTO WOMAN
          moves among them, catching ELIZA's eye.
                         MULATTO WOMAN
          Cheer up and don't be so cast
          down.


          Clemens Ray and Solomon watch as the Mulatto Woman
          returns to top deck, the trapdoor locked firmly behind 
          her. Clemens Ray turns to Solomon with a deadpan stern 
          expression. 
                         CLEMENS RAY 
          If you want to survive, do and say 
          as little as possible. Tell no 
          one who you really are and tell no 
          one that you can read and write. 





                         (CONTINUED)
          30.
                        43 CONTINUED: 43
          Clemens Ray turns away from Solomon, eyes lost into the 
          distance. 
          CLEMENS RAY (CONT'D) 
                         (SLOWLY) 
          Unless you want to be a dead 
          nigger. 
          Solomon's face is one of a confused despair. 


         43A EXT. NORFOLK/PORT - DAY 43A 
          We see a flat overhead view of the port of Norfolk. 
          Sardines are laid out to dry in rows, glittering in the 
          day's sun as if like silver pennies. A chain of slaves 
          enter the frame and are led one by one on to the docked 
          vessel. 
          MORE SLAVES - about 15 in all, of various genders and 
          ages - are brought on board. Chief among them is ROBERT 
          who fights viciously with his captors. "With all haste" 
          is shoved down into the hold. 
          Having taken their cargo as far as they care or need to, 
          Burch and Radburn depart. They do so without a word 
          spoken to Solomon or the others. 
          With this new and sizable batch of slaves on board, the 
          crew again CASTS OFF, and the Orleans makes its way 
          again. 


         44 INT. ORLEANS/GALLEY 44
          Solomon is back cleaning in the galley. As he cleans, he
          again watches Robert prep food. Robert's skill with a
          knife is not lost on Solomon.


         45 INT. HOLD - LATER - DAY 45 
          The hold is packed tighter now. 
          Muzzle covering his face, Robert is shackled with his 
          hands tied behind his back. Solomon and Clemens Ray look 
          on. 
          A sailor descends the staircase and takes off Robert's 
          muzzle, shooting him a forbidding look. He leaves. 





                         (CONTINUED)
          31.
                        45 CONTINUED: 45
                         CUT TO: 
          Solomon, Clemens Ray and Robert, now in mid-conversation. 
                         ROBERT 
          I say we fight. 
          Robert delivers this in a hushed voice. 
                         SOLOMON 
          The crew is fairly small. If it 
          were well planned, I believe 
          they could be strong armed. 
                         CLEMENS RAY 
          Three can't stand against a whole 
          crew. The rest here are niggers, 
          born and bred slaves. Niggers 
          ain't got the stomach for a fight, 
          not a damn one. 
                         ROBERT 
          All I know, we get where we 
          travelling we'll wish we'd died 
          trying. 
                         CLEMENS RAY 
          Survival is not about certain 
          death, it is about keeping your 
          head down. 
          Solomon looks at Clemens Ray, agitated -- his voice now 
          raised above the previous whispers. Grits his teeth. 
                         SOLOMON 
          Days ago I was with my family, in 
          my home. Now you tell me all is 
          lost. "Tell no one who I really 
          am" if I want to survive. I don't 
          want to survive, I want to live. 


                        46 OMIT 46 


                        47 OMIT 47 


         47A EXT. SEA - DAY 47A 
          The steamboat paddles pound the water, filling the whole 
          frame. The vessel ploughs on south. 
         32.



                        48 OMIT 48 


         48A INT. HOLD - NIGHT 48A 
          The slaves are asleep. 
          A Sailor descends the ladder approaching Eliza. He bends 
          down and attempts to wake the daughter by caressing her 
          face. 
          Solomon rouses, and looks across to witness the scene. 
          From his vantage point, we see Eliza stand to interrupt 
          the Sailor. The Sailor looks at Eliza, Eliza looks back 
          at him. Knowingly she leads him off into a corner of the 
          hold. 
          As she does so, Eliza passes Robert who jumps up to stand 
          between Eliza and the Sailor. Stretching out a firm hand 
          to the sailor's shoulder, Robert's look says "No you 
          don't." 
          Clemens Ray is awake now, watching. 
          There is an odd moment of stillness between the Sailor 
          and Robert, an impasse. 
          We focus on the Sailor's face. Slowly, a greasy smile 
          erupts upon it. Back now to Robert's face, a look of 
          incomprehension. 
          Robert looks down. We follow his gaze to the knife that 
          has already been jabbed unseen between Robert's ribs. 
          The sailor withdraws the bloody blade. 
          A wide shot of the two men. Robert collapses to the 
          floor like a sack of potatoes. 
          Clemens Ray and Solomon react. Complete horror. 



                        49 OMIT 49 



                        50 OMIT 50 
         33.



         51 EXT. ORLEANS/DECK - DAY 51 
          We are back up on the deck of the ship. SOLOMON AND 
          CLEMENS RAY dump ROBERT's body over the side of the ship. 
          Solomon watches as the body churns for a moment in the
          wake of the vessel... then sinks beneath the water. 
          Clemens Ray, with no sentimentality:
                         CLEMENS RAY 
          Better off. Better than us. 


         51A EXT. NEW ORLEANS HARBOUR - DAY 51A 
          Solomon's POV from the back of the steamship of Robert's 
          corpse slipping gracefully into the water. 


         52 EXT. NEW ORLEANS/PORT - DAY 52


          -MID MAY, 1841-
          A white male, fairly smart, with broad shoulders, stands
                         AND BELLOWS-
                         RAY
          Clemens...! Clemens Ray!
          We are in the port of New Orleans, one of the busiest in
          the young nation.
          On the dock itself there is a bustle of activity as goods
          are loaded and unloaded from a various ships. It's a bit
          of controlled chaos as a VARIETY OF LANGUAGES are spoken
          and shouted while slaves are shuttled from the Orleans to
          a holding pen. Solomon, and all the slaves are
          overwhelmed by all that is happening around them.
          Two men - among many - are awaiting the arrival of the
          Orleans. They are JONUS RAY - Clemens Ray's master - and
          DAVIS who is the solicitor of Mr. Ray. They both look
          like they mean business. The moment the gangplank is
          laid, Ray yells for Clemens.
          Clemens, seeing his master, is nearly crazy with delight.
          He is, uncharacteristically beside himself. Ironically,
          his master now represents "freedom."





                         (CONTINUED)
         34.
                        52 CONTINUED: 52
                         CLEMENS
          ...My master... Master Ray, sir!
          Master Ray!
          Clemens pulls on his chain. As he does so, Several other
          slaves collapse in his effort to reach his master, like
          dominos.
                         RAY
          Who is in charge of this vessel?
                         CAPTAIN
          I am the Captain.
                         RAY
          I am Mr. Jonus Ray. My solicitor
          has documentation verifying that
          the Negro named Clemens Ray is my
          property.
          As he reads PAPERS handed to him by Davis:
                         CAPTAIN
          I know nothing of--
                         RAY
          You are ordered by court to return
          that property immediately, or face
          charges of thievery.
                         CAPTAIN
          My duty is to transport goods. I
          am not responsible for their
          origin.
                         RAY
          Remove these contraptions!
          To his mate:
                         CAPTAIN
          Free him!
          Biddee does as ordered. Once free, Clemens hugs and sobs
          over his master as would a lost and then found child.
                         RAY
          It's all well, now, Clemens. You
          will return home with me.
          (to the Captain)
          Consider this notice and warning.





                         (CONTINUED)
         35.
                        52 CONTINUED: (2) 52
          Ray, Davis and Clemens head away. Solomon seems both
          desperate and hopeful of some aid from Clemens and Ray.
          But there is none forthcoming. Ray and Clemens continue
          on - Clemens not so much as even looking back in
          Solomon's direction. Solomon stands and watches as they
          fade into the environs and are gone from sight.


                        53 53
          EXT. NEW ORLEANS/PORT - LATER
          Hours later. The slaves sit off on one side of the dock,
          baking in the sun, awaiting their fate.
          THEOPHILUS FREEMAN - a tall, thin-faced man with light
          complexion and a little bent - moves along the deck
          calling out names from a list. The slaves STAND as they
          are called.
                         FREEMAN
          Oren. John. Lethe. Eliza.
          Randall. Emily. Platt... Platt!
          Solomon does not respond. Freeman looks around. He
          spots Solomon.
                         FREEMAN (CONT'D)
          Captain, who shipped that nigger?
                         CAPTAIN
          Burch.
          Freeman steps to Solomon. He gives him a looking over.
                         FREEMAN
          Stand up.
          Solomon does as told.
                         FREEMAN (CONT'D)
          You fit the description given.
          Why didn't you answer when called?
                         SOLOMON
          My name is not Platt. My name is--
          Freeman strikes Solomon hard across the face.
                         FREEMAN
          Your name is Platt, and I will
          teach you your name so that you
          don't forget.
          (to the Captain)
          Shackle my niggers. Get them to
          my cart.
         36.



         54 I/E. CART - LATER 54
          Solomon is carted off along with the rest of "Burch's
          stock:" Eliza and her children, John and Solomon.
          As they move off from the port in a make-shift cart, it
          opens up to the frenzic, busy port.
          For the first time Solomon sees true and severe slavery.
          These are not visiting servants, such as Jasper was back
          in Saratoga. These are humans held in strict bondage -
          herded like cattle, chained together as if in a "chain
          gang." Slaves are evident not merely by the color of
          their skin. The residue and accessories of slavery are
          everywhere. Blacks almost universally display scars -
          THICK AND HEAVY DEAD TISSUE FROM LACERATIONS LEFT
          UNTREATED - brands, and are often missing limbs. Blacks
          are held in all types of shackles, from simple chains to
          elaborate bindings, to neck collars that are spiked.
          Some are muzzled or forced to wear bits. One slave is
          attacked by a dog and the slave owner. The dog pulls and
          tears at the slave's clothes. THESE IMAGES SHOULD BE A
          CONSTANT AND CONTINUAL CANVAS TO THE PIECE. EVER
          PRESENT, BUT NOT REALLY COMMENTED ON AS THEY ARE THE
          NORM. They should be a reminder that not only are people
          being oppressed, but that there is an entire system of
          oppression in place.


                        55 55
          EXT. FREEMAN'S SLAVE PEN - LATER
          "Burch's stock:" arrive at Freeman's slave pen. They are
          led in by Freeman and his house slave CAPE - a mulatto.
          The yard is enclosed by plank, standing upright, with
          ends sharpened instead of brick walls as with Burch's.
          Including Burch's group there are about 30 SLAVES in the
          pen.
          Solomon and the others look around and see nothing but
          downtrodden and despondent faces. Three men sit next to
          each other with muzzles and quietly stare back at this
          new batch of arrivals. One attempts to speak, but all
          that comes out is a muffled, unintelligible sound.


                        56 56
          EXT. FREEMAN'S SLAVE PEN - LATER
          The slaves are in various states of undress, men and
          women alike. They clean themselves, scrubbing with soap
          and water. Women wash their hair. Men shave, skin is
          oiled. Freeman walks among them, inspecting them as they
          primp themselves.


                        57 57
          INT. FREEMAN'S SLAVE PEN - LATER
          The slaves are given new clothes by Cape. The men are
          given hat, coat, shirt, pants and shoes. The women


                         (CONTINUED)
         37.
                        57 CONTINUED: 57
          frocks of calico and handkerchiefs to bind about their
          heads.


         58 INT. FREEMAN'S/GREAT ROOM - LATER 58
          It's an odd, ironic scene. The slaves are in a large and
          fairly ornate room within Freeman's house. CAPE PLAYS A
          PAINFUL TUNE ON A FIDDLE - background music - as Freeman
          tries to line up A SMALL GROUP OF THE SLAVES, he becomes
          less patient, jittery and nervous, knowing that his
          livelihood is at stake, he wants his slaves to make a
          good impression. Sometimes his patience gets the better
          of him, and his hands move freely in direction of the
          slaves.
          The business has the air of an etiquette class, though
          what Freeman is trying to do is coach the slaves into
          being more "sellable." He works with them in groups of
          five or so.
                         FREEMAN
          Tallest to smallest, understand?
          Are you taller than her? Then
          you'd go before her. Do it.
          Move.
          (to the group)
          Keep your heads up. A sense of
          direction; that's how you look
          smart. None of those saucer eyes.
          Rid yourself of that smile. Look
          like a goddamn grinnin' monkey.
          Put the least thought in your
          head. C'mon, now. Think of
          somethin'.
          Weary of Cape's playing, Solomon moves to Cape. He asks:
                         SOLOMON
          Can you play a reel?
                         CAPE
                         (DISMISSIVE)
          Nah. I don't know no reel.
                         SOLOMON
          If I may...?
          Cape looks to Freeman:
                         FREEMAN
          He sick of your caterwaulin'. Let
          him play, boy. Let's see what he
          can do.
          Cape reluctantly hands the fiddle over to Solomon.
          Solomon tunes it a bit, then begins to play. His fingers
          stiff at first, he takes a moment to warm up. But as he
          warms up he is, despite the circumstances, masterful.
                         (CONTINUED)
         38.
                        58 CONTINUED: 58
          THE SLAVES ALL CLAP ALONG. SOME DANCE ALONG. All admire
          his work. Freeman chief among them.
                         FREEMAN (CONT'D)
          Keep on. Keep on.
          Solomon continues to play.
                         FREEMAN (CONT'D)
          A damn sight better than you,
          Cape. A damn sight better.
          Cape looks bitter as Solomon plays on.


                        59 59
          INT. FREEMAN'S/GREAT ROOM - DAY
          We come in on an odd sort of sight; A JUMBLE OF ACTIVITY.
          CUSTOMERS have come to see Freeman's lot - the room all
          gussied up with flowers. Freeman moves among them,
          displaying them as a rancher would prize chattel.
          Freeman makes the slaves hold their heads up - "look
          smart" as he previously admonished them. They are made
          to walk briskly back and forth while customers feel their
          hands and arms and bodies, turn them about and ask what
          skills they possess. The Customers routinely make the
          slaves open their mouths and show their teeth.
          At times a MALE or FEMALE SLAVE are taken off to the
          side, stripped and inspected more minutely.
          One of them, John, is stripped and inspected.
          Cape, as he's done previously, plays his fiddle.
          A buyer - WILLIAM FORD; a man of middle age, and an
          attractive nature in his tone of voice - consults a list
          he's drawn up and asks of Freeman:
                         FORD
          What is the price for the ones
          Platt and Eliza?
                         FREEMAN
          A thousand for Platt; he is a
          nigger of talent. Seven hundred
          for Eliza. My fairest price.
                         FORD
          You will accept a note?
                         FREEMAN
          As always, from you, Mr. Ford.
          Eliza is beside herself as it seems she is about to be
          separated from her family. She begs of Ford:




                         (CONTINUED)
         39.
                        59 CONTINUED: 59
                         ELIZA
          Please, sir... Please don't
          divide my family. Don't take me
          unless you take my children as
          well.
                         FREEMAN
          Eliza, quiet!
                         ELIZA
          You will have the most faithful
          slave in me, sir. The most
          faithful slave that has ever
          lived, but I beg that you do not
          separate us.
          A BUYER interrupts the skirmish and approaches Freeman
          and delivers coolly, eyeing Randall-
                         BUYER
          Your price for the child?
                         FREEMAN
          You see how fit the boy is. Like
          ripe fruit. He will grow into a
          fine beast.
          Randall is made to run, and jump by FREEMAN - exhibiting
          his activity and his condition.
                         FREEMAN (CONT'D)
          Six hundred, and that's fair and
          final.
                         BUYER
          Done.
          He reaches into his waistcoat and retrieves his wallet,
          counting out six hundred dollars, placing them into the
          already extended hand of Freeman.
          Ford sees the distress and panic in Eliza; it visibly
          touches him. He now tries to buy EMILY to console her.
                         FORD
          How much for the little girl? You
          have no need for her. One so
          young will bring you no profit.
                         FREEMAN
          I will not sell the girl. There's
          heaps 'n piles of money to be made
          off her. She is a beauty. One of
          the regular bloods. None of your
          thick-lipped, bullet headed,
          cotton picking niggers.




                         (CONTINUED)
         39A.
                        59 CONTINUED: (2) 59
                         FORD
          Her child, man. For God's sake,
          are you not sentimental in the
          least?
                         FREEMAN
          My sentimentality stretches the
          length of a coin. Do you want the
          lot, Mr. Ford, or do you pass on
          them all?
                         FORD
          I will take the ones Platt and
          Eliza.
          Eliza grips her children tight.
                         ELIZA
          I will not go without my children.
          You will not take them from me.





                         (CONTINUED)
         40.
                        59 CONTINUED: (3) 59
          As if to prove her wrong, Freeman puts a foot to Eliza
          and harshly kicks her away from Emily.
                         ELIZA (CONT'D)
          Please, don't. No!
          Freeman, to Cape:
                         FREEMAN
          Take her out of here.
          Cape DROPS HIS FIDDLE, begins to pull Eliza away toward
          the door of the room, but her screaming and pleading do
          not abate. IT IS CLEARLY UNSETTLING TO THE OTHER BUYERS.
                         FREEMAN (CONT'D)
          Keep her quiet.
          Cape tries to muzzle her with his hand, but Eliza
          continues to scream for her children as Emily does for
          her mother.
                         EMILY
          Mama... Mama!
                         FREEMAN
                         (TO SOLOMON)
          Play something! Get the fiddle
          and play.
          As ordered, Solomon takes up Cape's fiddle and begins to
          play lightly.
                         FREEMAN (CONT'D)
          Play!
          Solomon plays harder and more loudly. Still, it is
          barely enough to drown out Eliza's cries. Freeman gets
          the other slaves to clap along with Solomon's playing.
          Emily frees herself and runs back, crying but endeavoring
          to be strong-
                         EMILY
          Don't cry, Mama. I will be a good
          girl. Don't cry. I will keep my
          head up and I will look smart. I
          will always look smart.
                         FREEMAN
          Make merry, all of you! Goddamn
          it, Cape! Keep her quiet or it's
          your damned hide I will take it
          out of!
          Cape pulls a rag, stuffs it in Eliza's mouth. Clamping
          both hands over her mouth, he hauls Eliza from the room
          by the head. IT IS AN UGLY, UGLY SCENE.
         40A.



         60 EXT. FORD PLANTATION - LATER 60
          Driven in a horse drawn wagon by Ford are Solomon and
          Eliza. Eliza is sullen to say the least. With the loss
          of her two children she has dropped into a depression she
          will not be able to pull out of.





                         (CONTINUED)
         41.
                        60 CONTINUED: 60
          They arrive to the FORD PLANTATION. The main house of
          the plantation - the GREAT HOUSE as they are commonly
          called - is sizable. Two stories high with a piazza in
          front. In the rear are also a log kitchen, poultry
          house, corncribs and several slave cabins. The
          plantation is described as "a green spot in the
          wilderness."
          With the arrival of Master Ford there is a flurry of
          activity - the "excitement" of a new delivery. MR.
          CHAPIN, a white overseer, instructs a slave named SAM.
                         CHAPIN
          Sam, call to the Mistress.
                         SAM
          Mistress! Mistress, they arrivn'.
          MISTRESS FORD EXITS the house - along with her attending
          slave, RACHEL, who is a cook AS WELL AS SAM'S WIFE - and
          travels to her husband, kisses him, then laughingly
                         INQUIRES:
          MRS. FORD
          Did you bring all those niggers?
          Two of them? You got two?
                         FORD
          Make me something to eat, dear.
          The day has taken it from me.
          MRS. FORD
          Let me get a look at them...
                         FORD
          Mr. Chapin--
          MRS. FORD
                         (RE: ELIZA)
          This one's cryin'. Why is this
          one cryin'?
                         FORD
          Separated from her children.
          MRS. FORD
          Oh, dear.
                         FORD
          It couldn't be helped.
          MRS. FORD
          Poor, poor woman.
                         FORD
          Mr. Chapin, tomorrow you will take
          these two up to the mill and start
          them workin'. For now make them
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         42.
                        60 CONTINUED: (2) 60
                         FORD (CONT'D)
          adequate; fix them a meal, and
          have them rest themselves.
                         CHAPIN
          Yes, sir.
          (to the slaves:)
          C'mon, now. C'mon. Don't dawdle.
          MRS. FORD
                         (TO ELIZA:)
          Something to eat and some rest;
          your children will soon enough be
          forgotten.


         A61A A61A 
          EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - DAY
          John Tibeats, stands before the slaves. Chapin hovers to 
          one side. 
                         TIBEATS 
          My name is John Tibeats, William 
          Ford's chief carpenter. You will 
          refer to me as Master. 
          Tibeats nods in Chapin's direction: 
                         TIBEATS (CONT'D) 
          Mister Chapin is the overseer on 
          this plantation. He is 
          responsible for all of Ford's 
          property. You too will refer to 
          him as Master. 
          This plantation covers many 
          hundreds of acres, and you will 
          traverse the Texas road between 
          the forest site and the sawmill in 
          double time. Any clever nigger on 
          that path that gets a little 
          lightfooted, I will remind him 
          that on one side men and 
          bloodhounds patrol the border and 
          on the other the bayou provides a 
          hard living, with alligators and 
          little to eat or drink that won't 
          kill you. No slave has escaped 
          here with his life. You're here 
          to work niggers, so let's 
          commence. 
          Tibeats begins to sing the song "Run Nigger, Run" 
          mockingly. 
          We cut to Solomon chopping logs and into the montage of 
          the slaves doing manual labor and arriving back to the 
          sawmill. 
          Lyrics for "Run Nigger, Run" 
                         (CONTINUED)
         42A.
         A61A CONTINUED: A61A
          Oh run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Nigger run nigger flew 
          Nigger tore his shirt in two 
          Run run the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Nigger run, run so fast 
          Stoved his head in a hornets nest 
          Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Nigger run through the field 
          Black slick coal and barley heel 
          Run nigger run the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Some folks say a nigger won't steal 
          I caught three in my corn field 
          One has a bushel? And one has a peck 
          One had a rope and it was hung around his neck 
          Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Oh nigger run and nigger flew 
          Why in the devil can't a white man chew 
          Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Hey Mr. Pattyroller don't catch me 
          Catch that nigger behind that tree 
          Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you? 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 
          Nigger run, run so fast 
          Stoved his head in a hornets nest 
          Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you 
          Run nigger run well you better get away 


         61 EXT. WOODS - DAY 61


          -END OF MAY THROUGH EARLY JUNE, 1841-
          We are in a wooded area. There is A GANG OF SLAVES
          chopping trees into timber. It is hard, laborious work
          made no more easy by the sweltering heat. Solomon is
          among them as well as Sam.


                        62 62
          EXT. WOODS - LATER
          The slaves now load the timber onto a horse drawn wagon.
          Again, hard work done under the ever present sun.
         42B.



         63 EXT. ROAD - LATER 63
          As Sam drives the wagon, the other slaves trudge along
          side by foot. We should get the sense the travel is long
          and tedious.


         64 EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - LATER 64
          It is a sizable work area on the edge of Indian Creek.
          There is much work being done, the slaves primarily
          employed in piling the timber and chopping it into
          lumber. As before, there is little doubt about the
          rigors of the job at hand.
          Working as a carpenter at the work area is JOHN TIBEATS.
          There are also various CUSTOMERS who move about placing
          orders.


                        65 65
          EXT. FORD PLANTATION - DAY


          -EARLY TO MID JUNE, 1841-
          It's Sunday morning. All of Ford's slaves are dressed
          with their "finest" clothes - brightly colored and as
          free as possible of defect. The slaves are gathered on





                         (CONTINUED)
         43.
                        65 CONTINUED: 65
          the lawn just beyond the piazza. Mistress Ford is
          present as well. As the slaves listen, Ford reads to
          them Scripture. His tone is of a man trying to preach by
          way of compassion.
                         FORD
          "But as touching the resurrection
          of the dead, have ye not read that
          which was spoken unto you by God,
          saying, I am the God of Abraham,
          and the God of Isaac, and the God
          of Jacob. God is not the God of
          the dead, but of the living. And
          when the multitude heard this,
          they were astonished at his
          doctrine. Then one of them, which
          was a lawyer, asked him a
          question, tempting him, and
          saying, Master, which is the
          great commandment in the law?
          Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt
          love the Lord thy God with all thy
          heart, and with all thy soul, and
          with all thy mind. This is the
          first and great commandment. And
          the second is like unto it, thou
          shalt love thy neighbor as
          thyself. On these two
          commandments hang all the law and
          the prophets."
          Despite the lightness with which Ford speaks and the hope
          in his words, ELIZA SITS OFF TO THE SIDE - SELF-SECLUDED
          A BIT - WEEPING GENTLY.
          We should be able to see in Mistress Ford's eyes that
          Eliza's constant crying is unsettling.


                        66 66
                         OMITTED


                        67 OMIT 67


                        68 OMITTED 68
         44.



                        69 OMIT 69


         70 EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - DAY 70


          -MID JUNE, 1841-
          The slaves have broken for lunch. They snack on smoked
          meat and drink water from gourds. As they lunch Solomon
          reads from Sam's Bible to the other slaves.
                         SOLOMON
          But he that is greatest among you,
          let him be as the younger; and he
          that is chief, as he that doth
          serve. For whether is greater, he
          that sitteth at meat, or he that
          serveth? Is not he that sitteth
          at meat? But I am among you as he
          that serveth.
          A white customer - WINSLOW - irate at the sight and sound
          of slaves reading Scripture, crosses over. He grabs the
          Bible.
                         WINSLOW
          From where did you thieve this?
                         SAM
          Suh, the book is my property.
          The White Customer has no interest in Sam's answer. With
          flailing hands he STARTS BEATING ON SAM. Solomon tries
          to stop him. That only makes the situation worse,
          Solomon now the target of the man's ire.
                         WINSLOW
          Take your hands from me!
          Ford comes running over.
                         FORD
          What is the commotion?
                         WINSLOW
          Your niggers are either brazen or
          rebellious. This one was readin'
          Scripture, and this one claims it
          to be his.
                         FORD
          It is. A gift from his Mistress.
                         WINSLOW
          You condone this?
                         FORD
          I encourage it. As a Christian I
          can do no less.
                         (CONTINUED)
         45.
                        70 CONTINUED: 70
                         WINSLOW
          You can do no worse, Ford. A
          slave that reads is dangerous.
          Winslow moves off. He yells back at Ford:
                         WINSLOW (CONT'D)
          And the man who would allow a
          slave to read is unfit to own
          niggers!
          Handing the Bible back to Sam, very matter of factly:
                         FORD
          Pay him no mind. The word of God
          applies to all. In that you may
          take comfort.


                        71 71
                         OMITTED


         72 EXT. ROAD - DAY 72
          Sam is at the reigns of the wagon carrying the timber to
          Ford's WORK AREA. Slaves trudge alongside, same as it
          ever was. Only...it's not quite the same. Sam brings
          the wagon to a halt. He, and the slaves look up the road
          ahead of them.
          Standing in the middle of the road is a group of
          CHICKASAWS INDIANS. They are in their "usual" dress of
          buckskin breeches and calico hunting shirts of fantastic
          colors, buttoned from belt to chin. They have with them
          DOGS and HORSES. They carry with them the carcass of a
          deer.
          The two groups stare at each other for a long moment.


                        73 73
          EXT. FIELD - DUSK/END OF DAY
          The groups of slaves and Chickasaws are now intermingled.
          They "break bread" - actually they work on the carcass of
          the deer which is now roasting over a large fire. As
          well the group share a smoke on a pipe.
          One of the Chickasaws is playing a tune on an "INDIAN
          FIDDLE." The Chickasaws perform a customary dance;
          trotting after each other, and giving utterance to a
          guttural, sing-song noise.
          The slaves enjoy the respite from work, Solomon
          particularly taken by the music...if not entirely
          enthralled by it.




                         (CONTINUED)
         46.
                        73 CONTINUED: 73
          After a bit, Solomon rights himself and heads from the
          group.


         74 EXT. RIVER BANK - CONTINUOUS 74
          Solomon arrives to some tall grass at the edge of the
          river. Lowering his trousers, SOLOMON SQUATS TO
          DEFECATE. As he does, he stares out toward the flowing
          waters of Indian Creek. After a few moments, as though a
          thought far greater than relieving himself has come to
          him, Solomon stands and replaces his pants.
          Oddly, Solomon stares out at the water as though he were
          a man possessed.


                        75 75
          EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - DAY
          Just beyond the WORK AREA Solomon speaks with Ford as
          Tibeats listens. Solomon is drawing in the dirt, making
          rough diagrams for Ford as he explains himself.
                         SOLOMON
          The creek is plenty deep enough to
          sail, even with a boat full of
          load. The distance from the WORK
          AREA to the point on the latter
          bayou is several miles by water
          fewer than land. It occurs to me
          that the expense of the
          transportation would be materially
                         DIMINISHED--
                         TIBEATS
          "Materially diminished?"
                         SOLOMON
          If we use the waterway.
                         TIBEATS
          It's a scheme. Plenty of
          engineers have schemed similarly.
          The passes are too tight.
                         SOLOMON
          I reckon them at more than twelve
          feet at their most narrow. Wide
          enough for a tub to traverse. A
          team of niggers can clear it out.
                         TIBEATS
          And you know what of transport and
          terra formin'?





                         (CONTINUED)
         47.
                        75 CONTINUED: 75
                         SOLOMON
          I labored repairing the Champlain
          canal, on the section over which
          William Van Nortwick was
          superintendent. With my earnings
          I hired several efficient hands to
          assist me, and I entered into
          contracts for the transportation
          of large rafts of timber from Lake
          Champlain to Troy.
                         FORD
                         (TO TIBEATS)
          I'll admit to being impressed even
          if you won't.
                         (TO SOLOMON)
          Collect a gang, see what good you
          can do.


                        76 76
          EXT. CREEK - DAY


          -END OF JUNE, 1841-
          WE HAVE A SERIES OF SCENES in which we see Solomon and a
          TEAM OF BLACKS working on the creek: CHOPPING TREES
          ALONG THE BANKS, widening out the shore... It's all just
          a trial for now. The work is diligent, but it is basic
          to this point. Still, under Solomon's direction, the
          slaves go at it like they've got something to prove. And
          rightly they do.
          Solomon also works on a narrow raft of twelve cribs with
          which he will transport the timber.
          Once this is constructed, HE PERSONALLY "SAILS" THEM UP
          THE CREEK WITH A TEST LOAD.


                        77 77
          EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - LATER
          Ford and a group of slaves wait along the river banks
          just beyond the WORK AREA. All are expectant in their
          manner. A long moment passes with no sign of Solomon.
          Then, from up river, we see Solomon's raft of lumber
          winding its way. SLAVES CHEER, and Ford literally
          applauds the effort. Tibeats looks pissed. He has just
          been shown up after all.


                        78 78
          EXT. FORD PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - DAY
          As we come into the scene, Ford is presenting Solomon
          with a fiddle. Not as grand as the one he previously
          owned in New York, but a fine instrument none the less.
          It is a gift of thanks for his hard work. Solomon's
          gratitude is easily expressed.


                         (CONTINUED)
         48.
                        78 CONTINUED: 78
                         SOLOMON
          My great thanks, Master Ford.
                         FORD
          My thanks to you, and it is the
          least of it. My hope is that it
          brings us both much joy over the
          years.
          Following the statement, Solomon's not sure how to react.
          He remains grateful, but the thought of "over the years"
          is just a reminder of the altered state in which he now
          finds himself.


                        79 79
          EXT. FORD PLANATION/SLAVE SHACK - EVENING


          -END OF JULY, 1841-
          The slaves eat. All tired from a days work they conduct
          themselves in silence. All except for Eliza who,
          SLIPPING INTO PERMANENT DEPRESSION, as always weeps. The
          sound of her sobbing edging him up - particularly after
          Master Ford's "over the years" observation. Solomon
                         FINALLY SNAPS:
                         SOLOMON
          Eliza. Eliza, stop!
          Solomon goes to her, grabs Eliza. She does not stop. As
          if to force the misery from her, Solomon SHAKES ELIZA
          VIOLENTLY.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          Stop it! Stop!
                         ELIZA
          It's all I have to keeps my loss
          present.
                         SOLOMON
          You let yourself be overcome by
          sorrow. You will drown in it.
                         ELIZA
          Have you stopped crying for your
          children? You make no sounds, but
          will you ever let them go in your
          heart?
                         SOLOMON
          ...They are as my flesh...





                         (CONTINUED)
         49.
                        79 CONTINUED: 79
                         ELIZA
          Then who is distressed? Do I
          upset the Mistress and the Master?
          Do you care less for my loss than
          their well being?
                         SOLOMON
          Master Ford is a decent man.
                         ELIZA
          He is a slaver.
                         SOLOMON
          Under the circumstances--
                         ELIZA
          Under the circumstances he is a
          slaver! Christian only in his
          proclamations. Separated me from
          my precious babies for lack of a
          few dollars. But you truckle at
                         HIS BOOT--
                         SOLOMON
          No...
                         ELIZA
          You luxuriate in his favor.
                         SOLOMON
          I survive. I will not fall into
          despair. Woeful and crushed;
          melancholy is the yolk I see most.
          I will offer up my talents to
          Master Ford. I will keep myself
          hearty until freedom is opportune.
                         ELIZA
          Ford is your opportunity. Do you
          think he does not know that you
          are more than you suggest? But he
          does nothing for you. Nothing.
          You are no better than prized
          livestock. Call for him. Call,
          tell him of your previous
          circumstances and see what it
          earns you...Solomon.
          Eliza uses Solomon's name quite pointedly as if to
          underscore his true self. Solomon get her meaning. Yet
          he says nothing. Again, pointedly:
                         ELIZA (CONT'D)
          So, you've settled into your role
          as Platt, then?
                         SOLOMON
                         (DEFENSIVE)
          My back is thick with scars from
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         50.
                        79 CONTINUED: (2) 79
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          protesting my freedom. Do not
                         ACCUSE ME--
                         ELIZA
          I accuse you of nothing. I cannot
          accuse. I too have done so many,
          many dishonorable things to
          survive. And for all of them I
          have ended up here... No better
          than if I had stood up for myself.
          Father, Lord and Savior forgive
          me... Forgive me. Oh, Solomon,
          let me weep for my children.
          FORD (V.O.)
          At the same time came the
          disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who
          is the greatest in the kingdom of
          heaven?


                        80 80
          EXT. FORD PLANTATION - MORNING


          -AUGUST, 1841-
          It's Sunday. The slaves are again gathered in the rose
          garden near the front of the house to hear the word of
          the Lord as read by Master Ford.
                         FORD
          And Jesus called a little child
          unto him, and set him in the midst
          of them, And said, Verily I say
          unto you, Except ye be converted,
          and become as little children, ye
          shall not enter into the kingdom
          of heaven.
          The phrase seems to trigger Eliza's tears. She begins to
          sob uncontrollably.
          Mrs. Ford turns to Rachel in a hushed whisper-
          MRS. FORD
          I cannot have that kind of
          depression about.
          Solomon, pretending not to have heard, slowly turns to
          Eliza with worry.
          Ford continues to preach over Eliza's keening.
                         FORD
          But whoso shall offend one of
          these little ones which believe in
          me, it were better for him that a
          millstone were hanged about his
          neck, and that he were drowned in
          the depth of the sea. Woe unto
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         50A.
                        80 CONTINUED: 80
                         FORD (CONT'D)
          the world because of offences!
          For it must needs be that offences
          come; but woe to that man by whom
          the offence cometh!
                         BLACK
         51.



         81 EXT. FORD PLANTATION - DAY 81


          -JANUARY, 1842-
          Seasons have passed. It is winter now, and very grey out
          along the bayou. Ford and Tibeats - who we have seen
          working around the WORK AREA - stand with Solomon,
          Tibeats giving Solomon an inspection. Ford carries much
          lament.
                         TIBEATS
          Raise yer shirt.
          Solomon does as instructed. Tibeats looks at Solomon's
          back, at the scars from lashings he bears.
                         TIBEATS (CONT'D)
          Troublesome.
                         FORD
          He's a good carpenter and quick-
          witted.
                         TIBEATS
          I am familiar with his cleverness.
                         FORD
          You won't find a nigger more
          humble.
                         TIBEATS
          Ain't found a nigger yet I cain't
          humble.
          Tibeats heads off. Solomon, highly curious over the
          preceding.
                         SOLOMON
          Sir, have I done something wrong?
                         FORD
          Not your concern, Platt. I say
          with much...shame I have compiled
          debts. I have long preached
          austerity, but find myself
          hypocritical in that regard.
          You'll be in the ownership of Mr.
          Tibeats. You are his now. Serve
          him as you'd serve me.
                         SOLOMON
          Sir.
                         FORD
          And your faithfulness will not be
          forgotten.




                         (CONTINUED)
         52.
                        81 CONTINUED: 81
                         SOLOMON
          Yes, sir.
                         FORD
          Pride and want have been my sin.
          Loss of you is but one of my
          punishments.


                        82 82
          EXT. FORD PLANATION - DAY


          -END OF JANUARY, 1842- [OVER ONE DAY]
          We see Solomon working as a carpenter, helping to erect a
          Weaving House that stands off to the side of the
          plantation's Great House.
          At the moment Solomon is nailing on siding. Tibeats
          arrives and is immediately dissatisfied with the work.
                         TIBEATS
          Make them boards flush.
                         SOLOMON
          They are, sir.
                         TIBEATS
          They is no such thing.
          Solomon runs his hands over the boards.
                         SOLOMON
          As smooth to the touch as a
          yearling's coat.
                         TIBEATS
          Callin' me a liar, boy?
                         SOLOMON
          Only a matter of perspective, sir.
          From where you stand you may see
          differently. But the hands are
          not mistaken. I ask only that you
          employ all your senses before
          rendering judgement.
          What's Tibeats to do when faced with fact? All he can do
          is spew invectives.
                         TIBEATS
          You are a brute. You are a dog,
          and no better for followin'
          instruction.
                         SOLOMON
          I'll do as ordered, sir.




                         (CONTINUED)
         53.
                        82 CONTINUED: 82
                         TIBEATS
          Then you'll be up at daybreak.
          You will procure a keg of nails
          from Chapin and commence puttin'
          on clapboards.
          Tibeats wheels away. Solomon goes back to his work.
          After a few moments Solomon notices a bit of commotion in
          the drive of the great house. It involves an
          inconsolable Eliza who is being herded by Sam onto a cart
          DRIVEN BY A WHITE MAN. Mistress Ford and Rachel watch.
          Solomon can only watch as the last connection to his days
          as a free man is driven away to a location unknown.


                        83 83
          EXT. WEAVING HOUSE - MORNING
          It is day break. As ordered, Solomon is up and working.
          Chapin is rolling a keg of nails off a handcart for
          Solomon.
                         CHAPIN
          If Tibeats prefers a different
          size, I will endeavor to furnish
          them, but you may use those until
          further directed.
                         SOLOMON
          Yes, sir.


                        84 84
          EXT. WEAVING HOUSE - LATER
          As the day gets on to mid-morning, the sun already baking
          in the sky, Tibeats makes his way over to Solomon. Even
          before arriving to Solomon his mien is one of
          belligerence; out of sorts and something less than sober.
                         TIBEATS
          I thought I told yah ta commence
          ta puttin' on clapboards this
          morn'.





                         (CONTINUED)
         54.
                        84 CONTINUED: 84
                         SOLOMON
          Yes, master. I am about it. I
          have begun on the other side of
          the house.
          Tibeats walks around to look over Solomon's work. He is
          picayune, as if purposefully looking for fault.
                         TIBEATS
          Didn't I tell yah last night to
          get a keg of nails of Chapin?
                         SOLOMON
          And so I did; and Chapin said he
          would get another size for you, if
          you wanted them when he came back
          from the field.
          Tibeats walks to the keg and kicks it. Moving toward
          Solomon "with a great passion:"
                         TIBEATS
          Goddamn yah! I thought yah knowed
          somethin'!
          Solomon, perhaps inspired by his moment with Eliza, is in
          no mood for Tibeats.
                         SOLOMON
          I did as instructed. If there's
          something wrong, then its wrong
          with your instructions.
                         TIBEATS
          Yah black bastard! Yah goddman
          black bastard!
          In an inconsolable rage, Tibeats runs off to the piazza
          to fetch a whip.
          Solomon looks around. He is alone other than Rachel and
          Mistress Ford who, shocked by that which she witnesses,
          runs out to the field to fetch Chapin. Solomon's
          instinct is to run, but he stands his ground as Tibeats
          marches back whip in hand.
                         TIBEATS (CONT'D)
          Strip yer clothes!
          Solomon does no such thing.
                         TIBEATS (CONT'D)
          Strip!
                         SOLOMON
          I will not.
          With "concentrated vengeance," Tibeats springs for
          Solomon, seizing him by the throat with one hand and
                         (CONTINUED)
         55.
                        84 CONTINUED: (2) 84
          raising the whip with the other. Before he can strike
          the blow, however, Solomon catches Tibeats by the collar
          of his coat and pulls him in close. Reaching down,
          Solomon grabs Tibeats by the ankle and pushes him back
          with the other hand. Tibeats tumbles to the ground. A
          violent struggle takes place as Solomon puts a foot to
          Tibeats throat, and then in a frenzy of madness snatches
          the whip from Tibeats and begins to strike him with the
          handle again and again and again.
                         TIBEATS
          Yew will not live ta see another
          day, nigger! This is yer last, I
          swear it!
          Solomon ignores the threats, continues to beat Tibeats.
          Blow after blow falling fast and heavy on Tibeats's
          wriggling form. The stiff stock of the whip wraps around
          Tibeats's cringing body until Solomon's arm aches.
          Tibeats's cries of vengeance turn to yelps for help and
          then pleas for mercy:
                         TIBEATS (CONT'D)
          Murder! It's murder! Lord, God,
          help me. God be merciful!
          And then suddenly, Tibeats shrieks-
                         TIBEATS (CONT'D)
          Papa I'm sorry!
          Chapin comes RIDING IN FROM THE FIELD fast and hard.
          Solomon strikes Tibeats a blow or two more, then delivers
          a well-directed kick that sends Tibeats rolling over the
          ground.
                         CHAPIN
          What is the matter?
          Tibeats struggles up and tries to present an air of
          dignity and control while he keeps a demonic eye on
                         SOLOMON:
                         SOLOMON
          Master Tibeats wants to whip me
          for using the nails you gave me.
                         CHAPIN
          What's the matter with the nails?
          With a mix of shame, anger and embarrassment, Tibeats
          says, as if being exposed-
                         TIBEATS
          They're...they're too large.
                         CHAPIN
          I am overseer here. I told Platt
          to use them, and
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         56.
                        84 CONTINUED: (3) 84
                         CHAPIN (CONT'D)
          I shall furnish such nails as I
          please. Do you understand that,
          Mr. Tibeats?
          Tibeats answer is in the grinding of his teeth and the
          shaking of his fist.
                         TIBEATS
          This ain't done by half. I will
          have flesh, and I will have all of
          it.
          Tibeats moves off toward, and then INTO THE HOUSE.
          Chapin follows. A long moment, Solomon stands alone. He
          looks around, not sure what to do; to stay or to flee.
          Anxiety mounts on his features.
          A moment more, and Tibeats EXITS the house. He saddles
          his horse and rides off to beat the devil. Or, worse, to
          fetch him.
          Chapin comes running back out of the house. He is
          visibly excited, and when he speaks he is quite earnest.
          Though he tries to project reasoned emotions he gives off
          an air of impending trouble.
                         CHAPIN
          Do not stir. Do not attempt to
          leave the plantation on any
          account whatever. But if you run
          there is no protecting you.
                         SOLOMON
                         SIR--
                         CHAPIN
          If you run, Platt, there is no
          protecting you. Rachel...!
          Chapin runs off to join Rachel. The two converse at a
          distance from Solomon, then they head off for the log
          kitchen.
          Solomon is now very much alone, and he waits for what is
          to come. AND WE WAIT WITH HIM. And we wait, and we
          continue to wait... Moment by moment, the dread of the
          unexpected mounts.
          Solomon's eyes begin to well. He has beaten a white man,
          and he knows that death awaits him.
          A SLIGHT PRAYER TO THE HEAVENS BEGINS TO FORM IN HIS
          THROAT, but he is too choked up to fully speak it.





                         (CONTINUED)
         57.
                        84 CONTINUED: (4) 84
          Chapin has now returned to the piazza. He stands and
          watches, but does not move to Solomon.
          Solomon waits, and waits...
          WE HEAR THE SOUND OF DISTANT HOOFS which grow louder and
          louder in the manner of rolling thunder. It's Tibeats.
          He returns with two accomplices; RAMSAY and COOK. They
          carry with them large whips and a coil of rope.
                         TIBEATS
          Tha's the one. Tha's him.
          Dismounting, they move with menace that is tinged with
          perverse pleasure and wordless malevolence. Solomon
          tries to fight back, but he is strong armed and tied by
          TIBEATS - his wrists, and then ankles bound in the same
          manner. In the meantime the other two have slipped a
          cord within Solomon's elbows, running it across his back
          and tying it firmly. Solomon is then dragged toward a
          peach tree. A lynching is in store. The naked horror of
          it intensely palpable.
          Solomon looks toward the piazza, but Chapin is now gone.
          Tears of fear flow down Solomon's cheeks. He is on the
          verge of panic; a man heading toward his own execution,
          he begins to struggle and fight.
          A rope goes around Solomon's neck, then is tossed over
          the branch of the tree. The trio begin to hoist Solomon.
          He gasps and gags as spittle flies from his mouth and the
          life is choked from him.
          With suddenness, Chapin comes from the house brandishing
          a pistol in each hand - Colt Paterson .36 caliber
          "Holster" pistols with 9" barrels. Chapin moves with
          determination toward the lynch mob. He is sharp and
          matter of fact. With the guns in hand, he really doesn't
          need to be much more demonstrative.
                         CHAPIN
          Gentlemen... Whoever moves that
          nigger another foot from where he
          stands is a dead man. I am
          overseer of this plantation seven
          years, and in the absence of
          William Ford, my duty is to
          protect his interests. Ford holds
          a mortgage on Platt of four
          hundred dollars. If you hang him,
          he loses his debt. Until that is
          canceled you have no claim to his
          life.
          Directing his attention to Ramsay and Cook:





                         (CONTINUED)
         58.
                        84 CONTINUED: (5) 84
                         CHAPIN (CONT'D)
          As for you two, if you have any
          regard for your own safety...I
          say, begone!
          Ramsay and Cook don't need to be told twice. The pistols
          Chapin's gripping make the situation real clear. Without
          further word, they mount their horses and ride away.
          Tibeats remains, and his anger with him.
                         TIBEATS
          Yah got no cause. Platt is mine,
          and mine ta do with as I please.
          Yah touch my property, I will 'ave
          yah strung up as well.
          Tibeats mounts up and departs. There is a surreal moment
          as Chapin's not sure what to do about Solomon. He
          chooses to do nothing. Solomon is left dangling by the
          neck from the tree as Chapin calls to Sam in the
                         DISTANCE:
                         CHAPIN
          Sam! Get the mule. You must ride
          to Master Ford. Tell him to come
          here at once without a single
          moment's delay. Tell him they are
          trying to murder Platt. Hurry,
          boy. Bring him back if you must
          kill the mule to do so!
                         SAM
          Yes, suh!
          Sam mounts up and rides off, the mule demonstrating much
          speed.


                        85 85
          EXT. FORD PLANATION - LATER
          HOURS HAVE PASSED. The sun is now at its apex. The sight
          and smell of the red rose bush is more than vivid as
          Solomon remains tied and dangling exactly where he was
          left. The scene is both tranquil and horrific. Life on
          the plantation continues. The OTHER SLAVES work in the
          field. CHILDREN make their way playfully in the yard.
          It should all underscore the fact that a black, hanging
          even partially from a tree, is nothing unusual in this
          time and space.





                         (CONTINUED)
         59.
                        85 CONTINUED: 85
          Chapin walks back and forth with the pistols in his
          hands. Clearly he fears Tibeats returning with more and
          better assistance. And yet, he does nothing to alleviate
          Solomon's suffering. He heeds Tibeats words, and as
          though caught up in the middle of nothing more than a
          property dispute, he offers no further aid.
          Solomon's head lolls to one side. He looks toward the
          sun. The bright light flares off the leaves and branches
          of the tree from which Solomon hangs. The glare in
          Solomon's eyes offering him more pain than solace, but he
          cannot help but look upward. As he does, his eyes
          flutter between life and lifelessness...


                        86 86
                         OMIT


         87 EXT. FORD PLANATION - LATER 87
          Solomon continues to hang. By now he is drenched in
          sweat, and nearly delirious with dehydration. His lips
          dry and parched. He may not die from hanging, but he may
          very well expire before the day is over.
          Eventually Rachel comes over - timidly, and as though she
          were acting contrary to orders - and offers a drink of
          water from a tin cup, pouring it in Solomon's mouth for
          him. She then takes a small hand towel and dabs at the
          water which clings to his lips. Rachel then retreats,
          and leaves Solomon to hang.


                        88 88
          EXT. FORD PLANATION - EVENING
          The sun is just now arching for the horizon. Solomon
          remains, as though his torture will not end. Ford,
          trailed by Sam, finally comes riding up. He dismounts,
          and moves swiftly over to Solomon. With great heartache:
                         FORD
          Platt... My poor Platt.
          Ford produces a blade and cuts Solomon loose. Solomon
          attempts to carry himself, but he cannot. He falls to
          the ground and passes out.


                        89 89
          INT. FORD PLANATION/GREAT HOUSE - NIGHT
          As we come into the scene, Solomon lays on a blanket on
          the floor. Eventually, his eyes flutter, then open. He
          is in the foyer of the Ford house. As he gets his
          bearings, he looks around the interior. THE SPACE IS
          HANDSOME, AND WELL DECORATED. It is sharp contrast to
          the bleak surroundings, shacks and dungeons Solomon has
          largely been accustom to during his time of slavery. It
          will be the "first and last time such a sumptuous resting
          place was granted" during his twelve years of bondage.
                         (CONTINUED)
         60.
                        89 CONTINUED: 89
          Solomon doesn't have much chance to luxuriate in his
          surroundings. He hears a DOG BARKING just outside, and
          is unnerved. Has Tibeats returned to finish what he
          started?
          From a study, Master Ford appears with a gun in hand. He
          goes to the door, opens it and looks outside. He can see
          nothing. Satisfied, Ford crosses back over to Solomon.
          He is frank with Solomon regarding the situation.
                         FORD
          I believe Tibeats is skulkin'
          about the premises somewhere. He
          wants you dead, and he will
          attempt to have you so. It's no
          longer safe for you here. And I
          don't believe you will remain
          passive if Tibeats attacks. I
          have transferred my debt to Edwin
          Epps. He will take charge of you.
                         SOLOMON
          (desperate, urgent)
          Master Ford, you must know; I am
          not a slave.
                         FORD
          I cannot hear that.
                         SOLOMON
          Before I came to you I was a
          freeman.
                         FORD
          I am trying to save your life!
          And...I have a debt to be mindful
          of. That, now, is to Edwin Epps.
          He is a hard man. Prides himself
          on being a "nigger breaker." But
          truthfully I could find no others
          who would have you. You've made a
          reputation of yourself. Whatever
          your circumstances, you are an
          exceptional nigger, Platt. I fear
          no good will come of it.


                        90 90
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/BACK PORCH - DAY


          -END OF JANUARY, 1842-
          From the back porch, we come into the scene on EDWIN
          EPPS; a repulsive and coarse man. His language gives
          speedy and unequivocal evidence that he has never enjoyed
          the advantages of an education.





                         (CONTINUED)
         61.
                        90 CONTINUED: 90
          Epps reads the Bible to his slaves, eight of them
          altogether. ABRAM; a tall, older slave of about sixty
          years. WILEY, who is forty eight. PHEBE, who is married
          to Wiley. BOB and HENRY who are Phebe's children, EDWARD
          and PATSEY. Patsey is young, just 23 years old...though
          in the era, 23 not as young as in the present day. She
          is the offspring of a "Guinea nigger," brought over to
          Cuba in a slave ship. She nearly brims with unconversant
          sexuality.
          MISTRESS EPPS, Epps's wife, is also present. She sits
          with, holds quite lovingly, some SLAVE CHILDREN. WITH
          THEM SHE IS VERY "MOTHERLY." We also see Epps's overseer
          TREACH. Treach constantly sports a LOADED PISTOL.
          Though Epps reads the word of the Lord, he lacks the tone
          of compassion with which Ford read.
                         EPPS
          "And that servant which knew his
          Lord's will...WHICH KNEW HIS
          LORD'S WILL and prepared not
          himself...PREPARED NOT HIMSELF,
          neither did according to his will,
          shall be beaten with many
          stripes..." D'ye hear that?
          "Stripes." That nigger that don't
          take care, that don't obey his
          lord - that's his master - d'ye
          see? - that 'ere nigger shall be
          beaten with many stripes. Now,
          "many" signifies a great many.
          Forty, a hundred, a hundred and
          fifty lashes... That's Scripter!


                        91 91
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY


          -AUGUST, 1842-
          WE START THE SCENE WITH A PAIR OF BLACK HANDS
          picking cotton ferociously. As we move out, we identify
          PATSEY, a 23 year old striking black woman. The camera
          moves out again to a wider shot. This reveals several
          lines of slaves picking cotton, with Patsey way out in
          the lead. 
          We cut to another pair of black hands. This time,
          revealing SOLOMON, clumsy and unskilled hands, picking
          cotton. A lash bears down on him.
          It is August, "cotton picking" season.
          We are looking out over a cotton field in full bloom. It
          presents a visual purity, like an immaculate expanse of
          light, new-fallen snow. The cotton grows from five to
          seven feet high, each stalk having a great many branches


                         (CONTINUED)
         62.
                        91 CONTINUED: 91
          shooting out in all directions and lapping each other
          above the water furrow.
          There is a slave to each side of the row. They have a
          sack around their necks that hangs to the ground, the
          mouth of the sack about breast high. Baskets are placed
          at the end of the furrows. Slaves dump their sacks of
          cotton in the baskets, then pick until their sacks are
          again filled.
                         EDWARDS
          Pick that cotton. Move along now.
          THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE SCENE IS NOTHING MORE THAN THE
          RUSTLE OF LABOR, THE MALE CICADAS BUGS "TYMBALS" IN THE
          HEAT and a SPIRITUAL SUNG BY THE SLAVES.
          Despite the heat, there is no stopping for water. The
          slaves are "driven" by Edward, who is himself "driven" by
          Treach.
                         TREACH
          C'mon. Drive dem niggers.
          Edward moves among the slaves, applying the whip to them
          without regard.
                         EDWARD
          Pick dat cotton. Move along now,
          hear?


                        92 92
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GIN HOUSE - EVENING
          The day's work is done. The slaves are now assembled in
          the gin house with their baskets of cotton which are
          being weighed by Treach. There is anxiety among the
          slave, the reason for which soon becomes apparent.
                         TREACH
          Two hundred forty pounds for Bob.
                         EPPS
          What yah got for James?
                         TREACH
          Two hundred ninety five pounds.
                         EPPS
          Tha's real good, boy. Tha's real
          good.
                         TREACH
          One hundred eighty two pounds for
          Platt.
          Epps does not look happy. Treach says again:



                         (CONTINUED)
         63.
                        92 CONTINUED: 92
                         TREACH (CONT'D)
          One hundred eighty two.
                         EPPS
          How much can even an average
          nigger pick a day?
                         TREACH
          Two hundred pounds.
                         EPPS
          This nigger ain't even average.
          Epps pulls Solomon aside.
                         TREACH
          Five hundred twelve pounds for
          Patsey.
                         EPPS
          Five hundred twelve. Yah men folk
          got no shame lettin' Patsey out
          pick yah? The day ain't yet come
          she swung lower than five hundred
          pounds. Queen of the fields, she
          is.
                         TREACH
          Two hundred six pou--
                         EPPS
          I ain't done, Treach. Ain't I
          owed a minute to luxuriate on the
          work Patsey done?
                         TREACH
          ...Sir...
                         EPPS
          Damned Queen. Born and bred to
          the field. A nigger among
          niggers, and God give 'er to me.
          A lesson in the rewards of
          righteous livin'. All be
          observant ta that. All!
                         (BEAT)
          Now, Treach. Now speak.
                         TREACH
          One hundred thirty eight pounds
          for Phebe.
                         EPPS
          Hit one forty five yesterday.
          Pull her out.
                         TREACH
          Two hundred six pounds for Wiley.


                         (CONTINUED)
         64.
                        92 CONTINUED: (2) 92
                         EPPS
          How much he pick yesterday?
                         TREACH
          Two hundred twenty nine pounds.
          Wiley is pulled from the line, huddled with Solomon.


                        93 93
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/YARD - EVENING
          In the distance, a flogging is going on. Solomon, Phebe,
          and Wiley are stripped, placed in a stockade and now
          being given a perfunctory whipping delivered by ANOTHER
          IDENTIFIED SLAVE.


                        94 94
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION - EVENING
          Evening, but the day is not yet done. Slaves attend
          their various evening chores; feeding livestock, doing
          laundry, cooking food. There is no respite from a
          slave's charge.


                        95 95
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
          A fire is kindled in the cabin. The slaves finally fix
          their own dinner of corn meal. Corn is ground in a small
          hand mill. The corn meal is mixed with a little water,
          placed in the fire and baked. When it is "done brown"
          the ashes are scraped off. Bacon is fried. As the
          slaves eat, Abram goes on in great length and with much
          emotion about General Jackson.
                         UNCLE ABRAM
          Hold my words: General Jackson
          will forever be immortalized. His
          bravery will be handed down to the
          last posterity. If ever there be
          a stain upon "raw militia," he
          done wiped away on the eight of
          January. I say da result a that
          day's battle is of 'mo importance
          to our grand nation than any
          occurrence 'fo or since. Great
          man. Great man in deed. We all
          need pray to Heavenly Father da
          General reign over us always.


                        96 96
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
          The slaves are sleeping. There is a loud commotion.
          Epps enters, drunkenly, forcing the slaves awake.





                         (CONTINUED)
         65.
                        96 CONTINUED: 96
                         EPPS
          Get up! Get up, we dance tonight!
          We will not waste the evenin' with
          yer laziness. Get up.


                        97 97
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/MAIN HOUSE - NIGHT
          Despite the lateness of the hour, the slaves are up and
          now fully dressed. They take up position in the middle
          of the floor. They wait, poised like actors. Solomon
          strikes up a tune; Henry joins in with a pan flute and
          the slaves dance. They do so very wearily. The whole of
          it certainly more torture than pleasure.
          Epps, whip in hand:
                         EPPS
          Where's yah merriment? Move yer
          feet.
          As the slaves twirl about Epps keeps an attentive eye on
          Patsey. It should be quite clear that his primary
          motivation for holding dances is so that he may view
          Patsey twirl about the floor.
          This fact is not lost on Mistress Epps. A few moments of
          Epps's lust on display is all that the Mistress can bear.
          Jealousy mounting, she snatches up a CARAFE. With all
          her might she throws it at Patsey. It hits Patsey square
          in the face. TOO THICK TO SHATTER, IT LEAVES HER BLOODY
          AND WRITHING ON THE FLOOR. The dancing, the music stop.
          The slaves, however, react as though it is not the first
          time they've seen as much from the Mistress.
          Mistress Epps, screaming like a hellion:
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Sell her!
                         EPPS
          C'mon, now. Wha's this?
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          You will sell the negress!
                         EPPS
          You're talkin' foolish. Sell
          little Pats? She pick with more
          vigor than any other nigger!
          Choose another ta go.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          No other. Sell her!
                         EPPS
          I will not!



                         (CONTINUED)
          66.
                        97 CONTINUED: 97
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          You will remove that black bitch
          from this property, 'er I'll take
          myself back to Cheneyville.
                         EPPS
          Back to that hog's trough where I
          found you? Oh, the idleness of
          that yarn washes over me. Do not
          set yourself up against Patsey, my
          dear. That's a wager on which you
          will not profit. Calm yerself.
          And settle for my affection,
          'cause my affection you got. Or,
          go. 'Cause I will rid myself of
          yah well before I do away with
          her!
          Mistress Epps stands irate, lost in fury and unable to
          even think of what to do. Eventually, optionless, she
          storms away.
          For a few beats there is only the sound of Patsey
          sobbing.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          That damned woman! I won't have
          my mood spoiled. I will not.
          Dance!
          Epps sends the whip in Solomon's direction. Solomon
          responds by playing.
          Treach literally drags the prone Patsey from the floor,
          blood still spilling from her face. The slaves, as
          ordered, return to dancing.


                        98 98
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION - MORNING


          -AUGUST, 1843-
          The sun has only just risen above the horizon. FROM THE
          GREAT HOUSE THE HORN IS BLOWN signaling the start of
          another day.


                        99 99
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY
          Slaves are in the field picking cotton. They accompany
          their work with a SPIRITUAL.


         100 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - LATER 100
          As the slaves make their way in from the field, the
          Mistress calls to Solomon. SHE HAS A PIECE OF PAPER IN
          HAND.


                         (CONTINUED)
          67.
                        100 CONTINUED: 100
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Platt...
                         SOLOMON
          Yes, Mistress.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Can you find your way to
          Bartholomew's?
                         SOLOMON
          I can, ma'am.
          Handing Solomon a sheet of paper.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          This is a list of goods and
          sundries. You will take it to be
          filled and return immediately.
          Tell Bartholomew to add it to our
          debt.
                         SOLOMON
          I will, Mistress.
          Solomon looks at the list. In a careless moment, Solomon
          reads quietly from it. He catches himself, but not
          before the Mistress notes his action. With high
                         INQUISITIVENESS:
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Where yah from, Platt?
                         SOLOMON
          I have told you.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Tell me again.
                         SOLOMON
          Washington.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Who were yah Master?
                         SOLOMON
          Master name of Freeman.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Was he a learned man?
                         SOLOMON
          I suppose so.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          He learn yah ta read?




                         (CONTINUED)
         68.
                        100 CONTINUED: (2) 100
                         SOLOMON
          A word here or there, but I have
          no understanding of the written
          text.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Don't trouble yer self with it.
          Same as the rest, Master bought
          yah to work. Tha's all. And any
          more'll earn yah a hun'red lashes.
          Having delivered her cool advice, Mistress heads back
          into the house.


                        A101 A101 
          EXT. ROAD - DAY
          Solomon walks along a well-worn path, shopping bag draped 
          over one shoulder. We see his feet. As the walk slowly 
          gathers pace, Solomon suddenly turns left into dense 
          foliage. His tread is now a full blown sprint, trees 
          flash past as Solomon attacks his way through the woods. 
          The sound of branches cracking underneath. His feet, 
          heartbeat and breath almost deafening. He is desperate. 
          The violence of his advance abruptly stops, there is 
          silence. We see in a clearance a posse of patrollers, 
          preparing for a lynching of two young men. Solomon's 
          eyes meet theirs. The two men look back at Solomon with 
          a look of fear as one of the patrollers checks the noose 
          around their neck. Suddenly the bloodhounds start 
          barking and the patrollers turn in the direction of 
          Solomon. Solomon's whole body shakes with anticipation. 
                         PATROLLER 
                         (AGGRESSIVELY) 
          Boy, where are you going? 
                         SOLOMON 
          (almost tripping over 
                         HIS WORDS) 
          To the store, Sir, to 
          Bartholomew's. I was sent there 
          by Mistress Epps. 
          The patroller reaches out for Solomon's free pass around 
          his neck, yanking him forward. He looks at it. 
                         PATROLLER 
          Get there and get there quick. 
          The patroller kicks Solomon hard, sending him on his way. 
          Solomon walks on, looking one more time at the two young 
          men; again there is a moment of connection. 
          Solomon turns. The two men are hoisted up, kicking and 
          spitting, behind his shoulder. 
          Solomon finds himself back on the trail walking towards 
          Bartholomew's, his face now full of shock and 
                         (CONTINUED)
          68A.
         A101 CONTINUED: A101
          trepidation. He walks, fighting to calm himself down. 
          We move behind him as he continues his journey, a lonely 
          figure. 


         101 INT. BARTHOLOMEW'S - LATER 101
          A general store in the township of Holmesville. Solomon
          stands at the counter as BARTHOLOMEW fills Mistress
          Epps's order. Among the items set before Solomon is a
          QUANTITY OF FOOLSCAP.
          The items are collected for Solomon and placed in a sack.
          Solomon giving little thought to them other than getting
          them back to the mistress.
          As he turns, he glimpses the regalia of slave restraints,
          of all different guises; chains, muzzles for sale.


                        102 102
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - LATER
          Solomon returns and delivers the items to the Mistress.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Any trouble?
                         SOLOMON
          No, ma'am. No trouble.


                        103 103
          OMIT - MOVED TO A105


         104 EXT. SHAW'S HOUSE - DAY 104


          -JULY, 1844-
          Sitting on the Grand house's Piazza, Patsey is having tea
          with MISTRESS HARRIET SHAW, WHO IS A BLACK WOMAN. Though
          once a slave, she is now comparatively refined though not
          wholly so. The table where they sit is adorned with
          white linens, and they are attended by a HOUSE NIGGER.
          It makes for a tranquil surreal scene.
          MASTER SHAW, A WHITE MAN, IS ON THE LAWN GROOMING A
          HORSE.
         69.



         A105 EXT. ROAD - DAY A105
          Solomon is running flat out along the road. Running as
          though his life depended on getting to his destination in
          beyond a timely manner.


         B105 EXT. SHAW'S HOUSE - DAY B105
          Still running, slick with sweat, Solomon comes upon the
          SHAW HOUSE.
          As Solomon arrives:
                         MASTER SHAW
          Platt Epps, good Sunday morning.
                         SOLOMON
          Good morning, Master Shaw. I've
          been sent by Master to retrieve
          Patsey. May I approach?
                         MASTER SHAW
          You may.
          Solomon makes his way over to the piazza.
                         SOLOMON
          Excuse me, Mistress Shaw.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          Nigger Platt.
                         SOLOMON
          My apologies. Patsey, Master
          wishes you to return.
                         PATSEY
          Sabbath day. I's free ta roam.
                         SOLOMON
          Understood. But the Master sent
          me running to fetch you, and said
          no time should be wasted.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          Drink tea?
                         SOLOMON
          Thank you, Mistress, but I don't
          dare.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          Would you knowed Massa Epps's
          consternation ta be any lessened
          wit your timely return? Sit. Sit
          and drink the tea that offered.



                         (CONTINUED)
         70.
         B105 CONTINUED: B105
          Solomon knows better, but he sits and the Mistress has
          tea poured for him.
          MISTRESS SHAW (CONT'D)
          What'n was Epps's concern?
                         SOLOMON
          ...I'd rather not say...
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          L'il gossip on the Sabbath be
          fine. All things in moderation.
          Solomon is not sure what to say. He struggles to be as
          diplomatic as possible.
                         SOLOMON
          As you are aware, Master Epps can
          be a man of a hard countenance.
          There are times when it is
          impossible to account for his
          logic. You know he has ill
          feelings toward your husband.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          He do.
                         SOLOMON
          Master Epps has somehow come to
          believe, as incorrectly as it may
          be, that Master Shaw is... That
          he is something of a lothario and
          an unprincipled man. A misguided
          belief born out of their mutual
          competition as planters, no doubt.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          No doubt...if not born outta truth
          itself.
          The Mistress waves to Shaw. Shaw, unsuspecting of the
          conversation, waves back.
                         SOLOMON
          I'm certain Patsey's well being is
          Master Epps's only concern.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          Nothin' Epps desire come outta
          concern.
                         SOLOMON
          I meant no disrespect.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          He ain't heard you.




                         (CONTINUED)
         71.
         B105 CONTINUED: (2) B105
                         SOLOMON
          I meant no disrespect to you,
          Mistress.
                         MISTRESS SHAW
          Ha! You worry for me? Got no
          cause to worry for my
          sensibilities. I ain't felt the
          end of a lash in 'mo years than I
          cain recall. Ain't worked a
          field, neither. Where one time I
          served, now I got others servin'
          me. The cost to my current
          existence be Massa Shaw
          broadcasting his affections, 'n me
          enjoyin' his pantomime of
          fidelity. If that what keep me
          from the cotton pickin' niggers,
          that what it be. A small and
          reasonable price to be paid 'fo
          sure.
          Looking toward Patsey, speaking with great empathy:
          MISTRESS SHAW (CONT'D)
          I knowed what it like to be the
          object of Massa's predilections
          and peculiarities. And I knowed
          they can get expressed with
          kindness or wit violence. A lusty
          visit in the night, or a
          visitation from the whip. And wit
          my experience, if'n I can give
          comfort, then comfort I give. And
          you take comfort, Patsey; the Good
          Lord will manage Epps. In His own
          time the Good Lord will manage dem
          all. Yes, Lordy, there's a day
          comin' that will burn as an oven.
          It comin' as sure as the Lord is
          just. When His will be done...the
          curse on the Pharos is a poor
          example of all that wait 'fo the
          plantation class.
          Mistress Shaw turns her head to the side, catching a
          slave's attention. As she does so, the slave, a YOUNG
          WOMAN, commences to pour tea.
          As if to punctuate her thought, the Mistress takes a sip
          of her tea.


                        105 105
          EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION - LATER
          Solomon and Patsey are returning from Shaw's. Waiting on
          the porch of the Great House, a drunk Epps beckons for
          Patsey, his lewd intentions obvious.


                         (CONTINUED)
          72.
                        105 CONTINUED: 105
                         EPPS
          Pats...! Patsey!
                         SOLOMON
          Do not look in his direction.
          Continue on.
          Epps does not care to be ignored. He lifts himself and
          moves toward the pair in a rage.
                         EPPS
          Patsey...!
          Solomon moves between Epps and Patsey, cutting Epps off
          as Patsey continues on. Playing up his "ignorance" of
                         THE SITUATION:
                         SOLOMON
          Found her, Master, and brought her
          back just as instructed.
                         EPPS
          What'd you jus now tell her?
          What'd you say to Pats?
                         SOLOMON
          No words were spoken. None of
          consequence.
                         EPPS
          Lie! Damned liar! Saw you
          talkin' with 'er. Tell me!
                         SOLOMON
          I cannot speak of what did not
          occur.
          Epps grabs Solomon.
                         EPPS
          I'll cut your black throat.
          Solomon pulls away from Epps, RIPPING HIS SHIRT IN THE
          PROCESS. Epps gives chase. Solomon begins to run around
          the large pig sty, easily keeping his distance. Epps,
          however is undeterred. He moves after Solomon as
          speedily as he can, which isn't very speedily at all.
          And quickly he tires. Epps is forced to bend over and
          suck air. Solomon maintains his distance, barely
          breathing hard. His breath returned to him, Epps starts
          up the chase again. Solomon runs on out of reach.
          Shortly, Epps again stops, gets his breath... And now in
          what should be quite comical, Epps again runs after
          Solomon. Again, Epps's vigor leaves him before he can
          even get close to the slave.
          Dropping down to the dirt, in a show of regret and piety:



                         (CONTINUED)
         73.
                        105 CONTINUED: (2) 105
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Platt... Platt, liquor filled me.
          I admit that it did, and I done
          over reacted. It's the Lord's
          day. Ain't nothin' Christian in
          us carryin' on like this. Help me
          ta my feet, and let us both pray
          to the Lord for forgiveness.
          Epps extends a hand to Solomon. Cautiously, Solomon
          moves close, but not too close. As Solomon draws within
          striking distance, Epps lunges for him. He chases
          Solomon on until he is again out of breath and once more
          drops down. And again offering a treaty:
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          I'm all done in, Platt. I have
          met my limitations, and I ain't
          equal to 'em. I concede to yah,
          but in the name of valor, help yer
          master to his feet.
          Solomon cautiously moves closer to help. Again he is
          attacked by Epps - this time by knife. Sort of. Epps is
          too drunk and tired to fully open the folding blade - and
          chased far around the field by Epps. ALL OF THE
          PRECEDING SHOULD BE MORE FUNNY THAN SHOCKING. A CHANGE
          OF PACE FROM THE OTHERWISE NECESSARY BLEAKNESS OF SLAVE
          LIFE.
          Mistress Epps comes running from the house to the pair.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          What? Wha's the fuss?
                         SOLOMON
          A misunderstanding is all. It
          began when I was sent to retrieve
          Patsey from where she'd taken
          sabbatical at Master Shaw's. Upon
          returning, Master Epps believed
          Patsey and me to be in
          conversation when we were not. I
          tried to explain, but it lead to
          all this.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          What is it? Ya cain't remain the
          Sabbath without her under your
          eye? Ya are a no-account bastard.
                         EPPS
          Hold a moment...
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          A filthy, godless heathen. My bed
          is too holy for yah ta share.



                         (CONTINUED)
          74.
                        105 CONTINUED: (3) 105
                         EPPS
          Wha's...wha's he been tellin' yah?
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Of yer misbegotten ways.
                         EPPS
          And he would know what of
          anythin'? I ain't even spoken
          with him today. Platt, yah lyin'
          nigger, have I? Have I?
          Discretion being the better part and all, Solomon remains
          silent.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          There; there's all the truth he
          got. Damned nigger. Damn yah.
          Epps pushes his way past the Mistress.


                        106 106
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY


          -AUGUST, 1844-
          With the sun yet again high in the sky the slaves are
          working the field picking cotton. As before THEY SING A
          SPIRITUAL, the only thing that distracts them from the
          tedium at hand.
          But there is no distracting from the heat. We see Henry
          begin to falter before it... And eventually collapse
          right in the dirt. Though the other slaves take note,
          none move to help him. None dare.
          From Treach rather matter of factly:
                         TREACH
          Get him water.
          Edward runs to fetch a gourd. He carries it to Henry,
          DUMPS THE WATER ON HIM, BUT DOES NOT ACTUALLY GIVE HENRY
          ANYTHING TO DRINK.
          Roused, Henry rights himself.
                         EDWARD
          Go'won. Git up.
          Unsteadily, Henry lifts himself and goes back to picking
          cotton. He joins in again with the spiritual, as if the
          song is all that can keep him going.


                        107 107
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACKS - NIGHT


          -OCTOBER, 1844-


                         (CONTINUED)
          75.
                        107 CONTINUED: 107
          The slaves are asleep. Epps arrives, again without
          knocking, with his whip in hand. The slaves stir. Uncle
                         ABRAM ASKS:
                         UNCLE ABRAM
          We dance tonight, massa?
          Epps remains quietly focused on Patsey. And it's clear
          from her apprehensive expression just what it is he's
          come looking for. This time there is no escaping it. As
          if to acknowledge the badness to come, Phebe lightly
          cries.


                        108 108
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SMOKE HOUSE - NIGHT
          On top of a wood pile, in the back of the smoke house -
          Epps shoves Patsey. He stops, stands as if gathering his
          manhood, then he's all over Patsey. He is rough and
          clumsy. It looks like something between an awkward rape
          and a virgin attempting his first sexual encounter.
          Patsey does not respond in any way other than to
          continually turn her head from Epps, but otherwise remain
          as still as possible. If there is such a thing, she is
          vicious with her passive aggressiveness.
          Epps's frustration mounts until - as the Mistress Shaw
          had cautioned - he crosses the line from passion to
          violence. He begins slapping Patsey to get a response
          from her. When that fails, he punches her which only
          leads to him taking up his whip and lashing Patsey
          MERCILESSLY. Still, she gives him nothing. Beaten,
          Patsey sits in the dirt among the cotton, Epps deep
          breathing above her. The desire for sex now having left
          him.
          Epps heads from the field. Patsey is left where she is.


                        109 109
          INT. BARTHOLOMEW'S - DAY


          -NOVEMBER, 1844-
          As before, Solomon waits as Bartholomew fills Mistress
          Epps order. Among the items set before Solomon is
          another quantity of foolscap.


                        110 110
          EXT. ROAD - DAY
          Solomon is making his way back to the Epps plantation.
          He carries with him a sack filled with the goods from the
          store. As he walks, SOLOMON LOOKS AROUND CASUALLY. When
          he is certain he is alone, he sets down the sack, opens
          it and appropriates A SINGLE SHEET OF THE PAPER which he
          folds and places in his pocket. That done, he cinches up
          the sack and continues on his way.
         76.



                        111 OMIT 111


         112 INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - DAY 112
          Solomon takes the slip of paper and hides it within his
          fiddle. Perhaps the safest place he can think of. He
          acts as though he's hiding away found gold. In reality
          it's more than that. For Solomon the paper is a first
          step toward freedom.


                        113 113
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/MAIN HOUSE - NIGHT


          -DECEMBER, 1844-
          It's another night of Epps's forced revelry. Coming in
          quick from the previous scene, we go from Solomon holding
          his fiddle, to playing it as the slaves are again made to
          dance.
          Mistress Epps brings out a tray of freshly baked
          pastries. She sets them down on a table.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          A moment from the dancing. Come
          sample what I baked for y'all.
          The slaves, thankful for the rest as much as the food,
          file toward the tray reciting a chorus of "Thank you,
          Mistress." As Patsey moves toward the pastries:
          MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
          There'll be none for you, Patsey.
          Patsey merely turns away. Her non responsiveness,
          however, serves only to incite the Mistress. Screaming:
          MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
          Yah see that? Did yah see the
          look of insolence she give me?
                         EPPS
          Seen nothin' but her turn away.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Are you blind or ignorant? It was
          hot, hateful scorn. It filled
          that black face. Yah tell me yah
          did'n see it, then yah choose not
          to look, or yah sayin' I lie.
                         EPPS
          Whatever it was, it passed.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Is that how yah are with the
          niggers? Let every ill thought
          fester inside 'em. Look at 'em.
                         (MORE) (CONTINUED)
         77.
                        113 CONTINUED: 113
          MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
          They foul with it; foul with their
          hate. You let it be, it'll come
          back to us in the dark a night.
          Yah want that? Yah want them
          black animals to leave us gut like
          pigs in our own sleep?
          Epps isn't sure how to respond to the inchoate berating.
          It's an invitation for the Mistress to continue.
          MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
          You are manless. A damned eunuch
          if ever there was. And if yah
          won't stand for me, I'd pray you'd
          at least be a credit to yer own
          kind and beat every foul thought
          from 'em.
          Epps does nothing. The Mistress lets her anger loose.
          She moves quickly to Patsey, DRIVES HER NAILS INTO THE
          PATSEY'S FACE AND DRAWS THEM DOWN ACROSS HER FEATURES.
          FIVE DEEP AND BLOODY GASHES ARE LEFT IN PATSEY'S SKIN,
          the moment marked with appropriate screams. Patsey
          collapses on the floor, covering her bleeding face.
          MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
          Beat it from 'em!
          Thoroughly cuckolded by the Mistress's actions, Epps
          takes his whip and pulls Patsey out of the house. His
          intentions are plain.
          All the slaves remain silent. The Mistress, however,
          displaying high satisfaction, entreats the others:
          MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
          Eat. Fill yourselves. ...And
          then we dance.
          The slaves eat, but without a hint of levity.


                        114 114
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
          We come up on the slaves who lay sleeping. All except
          for Patsey. She rises from her bedding, goes to a corner
          of the cabin and removes something from a secretive
          location. She then moves over to Platt.
                         PATSEY
          Platt... Platt, you awake?
                         SOLOMON
          I am.
                         PATSEY
          I have a request; an act of
          kindness.


                         (CONTINUED)
          78.
                        114 CONTINUED: 114
          Patsey displays what she took from hiding. It is a
          LADY'S FINGER RING.
                         PATSEY (CONT'D)
          I secreted it from the Mistress.
                         SOLOMON
          Return it!
                         PATSEY
          It yours, Platt.
                         SOLOMON
          For what cause?
                         PATSEY
          All I ask: end my life. Take my
          body to the margin of the swamp--
          Solomon looks at Patsey as though she were insane.
                         SOLOMON
          No.
                         PATSEY
          Take me by the throat. Hold me
          low in the water until I's still
          'n without life. Bury me in a
          lonely place of dyin'.
                         SOLOMON
          No! I will do no such thing.
          The...the gory detail with which
                         YOU SPEAK--
                         PATSEY
          I thought on it long and hard.
                         SOLOMON
          It is melancholia, nothing more.
          How does such despair even come to
          you?
                         PATSEY
          How can you not know? I got no
          comfort in this life. If I cain't
          buy mercy from yah, I'll beg it.
                         SOLOMON
          There are others. Beg them.
                         PATSEY
          I'm begging you!
                         SOLOMON
          Why? Why would you consign me to
          damnation with such an un-Godly
          request?


                         (CONTINUED)
         79.
                        114 CONTINUED: (2) 114
                         PATSEY
          There is God here! God is
          merciful, and He forgive merciful
          acts. Won't be no hell for you.
          Do it. Do what I ain't got the
          strength ta do myself.
          Solomon says nothing. Clearly he's not about to do the
          deed. With nothing else to do, knowing she is damned
          with every breath she draws, Patsey crawls back to her
          spot on the floor and lays herself down.
                         BLACK


                        115 115
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY


          -JULY, 1846-
          Hard times on the planation. Where previously the field
          in bloom was a carpet of white, it is now patchy and
          under grown.
          The slaves move through the field picking not cotton, but
          rather COTTON WORMS from the plants. The cotton worms
          have dined on the cotton and nearly destroyed the crop.
          We see the cotton worms in extreme close-up, moving among
          and destroying the cotton crop.
          Epps is beside himself as he looks out over his ruined
          field.
                         EPPS
          It is a plague.
          TREACH (O.S.)
          Cotton worm.
                         EPPS
          A plague! It's damn Biblical.
          Two season God done sent a plague
          to smite me. I am near ruination.
          Why, Treach? What I done that God
          hate me so? Do I not preach His
          word?
          TREACH (O.S.)
          The whole Bayou sufferin'.
                         EPPS
          I don't care nothin' fer the damn
          Bayou. I'm sufferin'.
          Epps looks among his slaves at work, his enmity growing.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          It's that Godless lot. They
          brought this on me. I bring 'em
                         (MORE) (CONTINUED)
          80.
                        115 CONTINUED: 115
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          God's word, and heathens they are,
          they brung me God's scorn.
          Crazed, Epps runs into the field, taking himself from
          slave to slave delivering a whipping to all he can lay
          his hands on.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Damn you! Damn you all! Damn
          you!


                        116 116
                         RE-OMIT


         117 EXT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION - EVENING 117


          -OCTOBER, 1846-
          Henry, Bob, Uncle Abram and Solomon sit in the back of a
          cart. SOLOMON HAS HIS FIDDLE WITH HIM. Epps has
          delivered the men to JUDGE TURNER, a distinguished man
          and extensive planter whose large estate is situated on
          Bayou Salle within a few miles of the gulf. Epps and
          Turner stand off to one side engaged in bargaining as
          Henry, Bob, Uncle Abram and Solomon wait and watch.
          One of the slaves whisper under their breath.
                         EPPS' SLAVE
          I hear cutting cane is twice as
          hard as picking cotton.
                         BOB
          But at least we'll be away from
          Master Epps.
                         UNCLE ABRAM
          Boy, you two have no sense.
          Epps returns to his slaves and gives a parting
          salutation.
                         EPPS
          Yer Judge Turner's for the season.
          More if need be, until my crop
          return. Yah'll bring no
          disrespect to me, and yah'll bring
          no biblical plagues to him. Be
          decent, ere mark my words, I will
          deliver an ungodly whippin'.


                        118 118
          INT. SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT






                         (CONTINUED)
          81.
                        118 CONTINUED: 118
          Slaves are crammed into the shack - LITERALLY ON TOP OF
          EACH OTHER - as they try to sleep. Some lay, some sit
          up. Packed in like cattle, there is barely room to move
          let alone draw a deep, clean breath. There is a real
          risk of suffocating in the mass. Some cough and wheeze.
          A CHILD CRIES...
          Among them is Solomon who must believe at this point that
          his life has reached its very lowest point. The odds of
          survival are slight, let alone the chance of actually
          ever returning to his family. This clearly weighs on him
          as he struggles to find anything like comfortable space
          in the pen.


                        119 119
          EXT. CANE FIELDS - DAY
          An OVERSEER is explaining to the new slaves - SOLOMON
          AMONG THEM - how to cultivate cane. WITH A KNIFE IN HAND
          he demonstrates the process:
                         OVERSEER
          Draw the cane from the rick, cut
          the top and flags from the stalk,
          understand? Leave only that part
          which is sound and healthy. Cast
          off the rest...


                        120 120
          EXT. CANE FIELDS - DAY


          -NOVEMBER, 1846-
          ABOUT THIRTY SLAVES are working the field. They are
          divided into THREE GANGS. The first which draw the cane,
          the next lay the cane in the drill, the last then hoe the
          rows after.
          Solomon is among a gang that draws and cuts, and he moves
          with speed and skill. Certainly more so than he
          displayed picking cotton.
          Standing with his overseer, Judge Turner watches.


                        121 121
          INT. SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
          Again, the slaves have been herded into the shack and
          pressed together.
          As he tries to rest - sleep is nearly impossible -
          Solomon finds himself face to face with a woman, ANNA.
          She is awake. For a few beats she avoids eye contact
          with Solomon. She seems, like Solomon, to be
          unaccustomed to her surroundings and horribly frightened
          by them. Eventually her eyes meet Solomon's. She makes
          no sound, but great apprehension spills from her eyes.
          Whatever's next, whatever horror awaits, she can barely
          stand to face. Fear, proximity... They drive her hand
                         (CONTINUED)
         81A.
                        121 CONTINUED: 121
          to Solomon's. After a moment of seemingly reacquainting
          herself with genuine human contact, the woman TAKES





                         (CONTINUED)
         82.
                        121 CONTINUED: (2) 121
          SOLOMON'S HAND AND PRESSES IT TO HER BREAST. Solomon
          tries to jerk his hand away, but ANNA HOLDS IT IN PLACE.
          Manipulating Solomon's hand, she begins to massage her
          breast. Solomon takes no real pleasure in the act -
          really, neither does Anna. THERE SHOULD BE A TRUE SENSE
          ANNA IS JUST SO VERY, VERY DESPERATE FOR HUMAN CONTACT,
          FOR THE NEED TO FEEL ALIVE AND LIKE A PERSON RATHER THAN
          AN ANIMAL THAT EMOTIONALLY SHE IS WILLING TO ENGAGE
          SOLOMON.
          The need quickly compounds. Anna presses her lips to
          Solomon's. Eventually, SHE DIRECTS HIS HAND BENEATH HER
          DRESS AND BETWEEN HER LEGS. Solomon, with slightly more
          compassion than a guy making union wages, BEGINS TO
          MANIPULATE ANNA WITH HIS HAND. The act remains more
          perfunctory than passionate.
          We can see Anna moving toward climax and eventual
          release. But more - or substantially less - than joyous
          sex, it is really just a drug-like inoculation against
          reality. But the feeling quickly fades. All that
          remains, as with most chance encounters, is regret.
          And there is shame, too. This is put on display as Anna
          turns away from Solomon. As quickly as it began, it is
          as though the act had not happened at all.


                        122 122
                         OMIT


         123 EXT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - EVENING 123
          Solomon waits outside the house on the porch. A house
          servant - ZACHARY - approaches and admonishes Solomon.
                         ZACHARY
          Off the porch. Get off.
          Like a dog shooed away, Solomon steps down.
          Eventually Judge Turner exits the house and crosses to
          Solomon.
                         SOLOMON
          ...Sir...
                         JUDGE TURNER
          Platt is it? Have you cultivated
          cane previously?
                         SOLOMON
          No, sir, I have not.
                         JUDGE TURNER
          You take to it quite naturally.
          Are you educated?



                         (CONTINUED)
         83.
                        123 CONTINUED: 123
                         SOLOMON
          Niggers are hired to work, not to
          read and write.
          Turner gives that a bit of consideration as he gives
          Solomon a wary looking over.


                         JUDGE TURNER
          You play the fiddle?
                         SOLOMON
          I do.
                         JUDGE TURNER
          Willard Yarney, a planter up the
          bayou, celebrates his anniversary
          in a three week's time. I will
          hold out your name to him. What
          you earn is yours to keep.
                         SOLOMON
          Sir.
                         JUDGE TURNER
          Mind yourself, Platt.
                         SOLOMON


          Yes, sir.


         124 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - LATER (MOVED FROM 124) 124 
          Work over, the slaves congregate to eat.
          As Solomon eats, he takes note of the JUICE FROM SOME
          BERRIES ON HIS PLATE.


         125 EXT. TURNER'S PLANTATION - EVENING (MOVED FROM 125) 125 
          Solomon plays with a piece of cane, fashions it into some
          kind of writing tool, testing it in the mud. He then
          brushes over the dirt with his hand.
         84.



         126 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT (MOVED FROM 126) 126 
          Secreted away out near the edge of the bayou and sitting
          by a small fire, Solomon takes the slip of paper from his
          fiddle. It is yellowed, showing age, but still usable.
          Dipping the piece of cane - a quill - into the crushed
          berries, Solomon attempts to write a bit on the paper.
          The berry juice, too free-flowing, is unusable as ink.
          Solomon returns the paper to the fiddle. He has some
          scraps of food with him, which he snacks on.


                        A127 A127 
                         OMITTED


         A127A INT. SLAVE SHACK - DAY A127A 
          We see a sharp object scratching onto a surface. The 
          tool moves on to form another mark. The sound is 
          repetitive and almost unbearable. As we move out, we see 
          the names Anne, Margaret, Alonzo. They are engraved onto 
          the violin, in the hidden area where Solomon would rest 
          his chin. 
          Solomon looks at it for a moment, moving his fingertips 
          across the engraving. His face full of loss. 
          Sadly, he lifts his instrument under his chin and leaning 
          his head to the side as if to play. 


         127 INT. YARNEY'S HOUSE - EVENING 127
          A party has commenced at the noble home of one MR.
          YARNEY. A group of REVELERS have gathered and are on the
          dance floor, in fancy dress. Their faces are covered with
          a variation of decorative masks. The party is a feast of
          celebration. As entertainment, SOLOMON ACCOMPANIES A
          GROUP OF MUSICIANS, no more than three. And as he does
          so, they all play with jovial liveliness. Clearly a good
          time is being had by all.


                        128 128
          EXT. ROAD - NIGHT
          His playing done for the evening, Solomon is returning to
          Judge Turner's on foot. There is only the moonlight with
          which to light the way. As he walks, Solomon eats from a
          HEARTY CHUCK OF BREAD. Obviously part of his haul from
          the evening. Solomon again hears noises coming from the
          brush just up ahead of him. Solomon tears off some of
          the bread, kneels and holds it out before him.
                         SOLOMON
          C'mere. C'mon, boy.




                         (CONTINUED)
         85.
                        128 CONTINUED: 128
          This time, there is no dog. Instead, from the dark and
          the brush step TWO BLACK MEN. Solomon stands. He looks
          the men over - their clothes tatters and they themselves
          covered in dirt. It becomes quite clear they are not
          just slaves. A fact confirmed when they step menacingly
          toward Solomon, ONE WITH A SHIV IN HAND.
          At first it seems they want Solomon's food or money.
          Worse, THEY GO FOR HIS FIDDLE.
          Solomon has but a moment to brace himself before he is
          attacked, TAKING A CUT TO THE ARM. Solomon fights back,
          PICKING UP A PINE KNOT and striking his attacker over the
          head. That takes the fight out of him, and both men
          retreat back the way they came leaving Solomon be.


                        A129 A129
          EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT
          Outside of the slave shacks Solomon's wound tended by
          Uncle Abram. As he works on it:
                         UNCLE ABRAM
          Runaways I would expect. The
          Bayou full with 'em. They nothin'
          'mo dangerous than a nigger in
          flight.
                         SOLOMON
          They acted out of desperation.
                         UNCLE ABRAM
          Act outta lunacy. Heads fulla
          stories 'bout life up north. Yah
          ever been north, Platt?
                         SOLOMON
          ...No...
                         UNCLE ABRAM
          And never should yah be. I hope
          that yah never bear witness the
          sorry condition of the northern
          black. Got neither no purpose,
          nor direction. They jus...they
          jus fall about the streets in
          search of sustenance of both body
          and spirit.
                         SOLOMON
          You know this to be so?
                         UNCLE ABRAM
          Two of my massas tolt me.





                         (CONTINUED)
         86.
         A129 CONTINUED: A129




                        129 OMIT 129


         130 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT 130


          -FEBRUARY/MARCH, 1847-
          Alone out on the edge of the Bayou, Solomon is playing a
          low air on his violin WHILE SNACKING ON SCRAPS OF BACON.
          As he plays, something appears in the distance. From the
          edge of the bayou, coming forth like an apparition arisen
          from the earth, is CELESTE. She is a young woman of
          about 19 years of age and far whiter than most blacks.
          "IT REQUIRED CLOSE INSPECTION TO DISTINGUISH IN HER
          FEATURE THE SLIGHTEST TRACE OF AFRICAN BLOOD." Beyond
          that, she is pale and haggard, but still lovely.
          Dressed in a white gown, she emerges from the water.
          Draped on her dress, her period. A line in her skirt.
          It's very visible, but not shocking. A ribbon of red in
          her dress.
          Celeste moves to Solomon without fear or hesitation. As
          Solomon, startled, takes her in, Celeste says quite
                         PLAINLY:
                         CELESTE
          I am hungry. Give me food.
                         SOLOMON
          Who are you?
                         CELESTE
          I'm hungry.
          Solomon gives Celeste some of his food. Celeste,
          famished, devours it.
                         SOLOMON
          What is your name?
                         CELESTE
          My name is Celeste.
                         SOLOMON
          What are your circumstances?
                         CELESTE
          I belong ta Massa Carey, and 'ave
          been two days among da palmettoes.
          Celeste is sick and cain't work,
          and would rather die in the swamp
                         (MORE)




                         (CONTINUED)
          87.
                        130 CONTINUED: 130
                         CELESTE (CONT'D)
          than be whipped to death by the
          overseer. So I took myself away.
          Massa's dogs won't follow me. The
          patrollers 'ave tried to set dem
          on me. But dey a secret between
          dem and Celeste, and dey won't
          mind the devilish orders of the
          overseer.
          Celeste lifts her head from the food on which she gnaws.
                         CELESTE (CONT'D)
          Do you believe me?
                         SOLOMON
          Yes.
                         CELESTE
          Why?
                         SOLOMON
          There are some whose tracks the
          hounds will refuse to follow.
                         CELESTE
          Give me more food. I'm starvin'.
                         SOLOMON
          This is all my allowance for the
                         REST OF--
                         CELESTE
          Give it to me.
          Almost as if compelled, Solomon does as ordered. As she
          eats, Celeste aggrandizes herself:
                         CELESTE (CONT'D)
          Most slaves escape at night. The
          overseers are alert for such
          chicanes. But Celeste tricked dem
          'n alight in the middle of the day
          wit the sun up at its highest.
          The place of my concealment now
          deep in the swamp, not half a mile
          from Massa's plantation, and a
          world apart. A world a tall
          trees whose long arms make fo' a
          canopy so dense dey keep away even
          the beams of the sun. It twilight
          always in Celeste's world, even in
          the brightest day. I will live
          there, and I will live freely.
          The overseers are a cowardly lot.
          Dey will not go where their dogs
          show fear and where it always be
          night. Others will join me in the
          twilight, and we ain't gunna be
          slaves no 'mo forever.
                         (CONTINUED)
         88.
                        130 CONTINUED: (2) 130
          Solomon isn't sure what to say. Before he can say
                         ANYTHING:
                         CELESTE (CONT'D)
          Celeste will come to you again in
          the night. You will have food for
          her.
          Celeste departs the way she came; as though she were a
          vision.


                        131 131
          INT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION/FOOD STORAGE - NIGHT
          Solomon stealthfully makes his way into the storage shed.
          Dried and smoked meats are hung, and milled corn is
          about. Taking out a handkerchief, Solomon begins to load
          it with food. Not too much. Not so much his thievery
          will be readily noticed, but he does avail himself.


                        132 132
          EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT
          Solomon plays his violin, but plays it with an anxious
          nature as he waits.
          Then, as before, a figure appears in the distance. It is
          Celeste coming out of the night. She makes her way
          directly to Solomon. With no greeting, she says:
                         CELESTE
          I am hungry.
          Solomon gives Celeste the handkerchief he's filled. She
          opens it, and begins to devour the food. As she eats:
                         CELESTE (CONT'D)
          I was rude, and didn't even ask yo
          name.
                         SOLOMON
          Platt.
                         (BEAT)
          Solomon. Solomon is my true and
          free name.
                         CELESTE
          Was you free?
                         SOLOMON
          I was. I am.
          Solomon exposes his wrist, displays his tattoo as he
                         ANNOUNCES:
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          I remain free in my heart.



                         (CONTINUED)
          89.
                        132 CONTINUED: 132
          Giving a laugh as though it's the silliest thing she's
                         HEARD:
                         CELESTE
          Free heart means nothin if'n yo
          body gunna die a slave.
                         SOLOMON
          I will not.
                         CELESTE
          How? Celeste knows you ain't
          gunna run. Celeste knows it ain't
          your nature.
                         SOLOMON
          I have a plan. I have a letter.
                         CELESTE
          A letter? How'll yah mail da
          letter? Who yah trust to post it?
          A nigger that can read and write
          is a nigger that'll hang.
          There is a pause. Solomon can't answer this question. It
          is the glaring hole in his plan.
          Having finished eating:





                         (CONTINUED)
         90.
                        132 CONTINUED: (2) 132
                         CELESTE (CONT'D)
          Celeste will come again in de
          night. You will bring her 'mo
          food.
                         SOLOMON
          I risk discovery to take more.
                         CELESTE
          You will bring Celeste 'mo food.
          And with that Celeste again moves back into the darkness.


                        133 133
                         OMIT


                        134 OMIT 134


         135 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - EVENING 135
          Solomon is picking at the bark off a WHITE MAPLE.


         136 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - EVENING 136
          In a tin cup, over a fire, Solomon boils the white maple
          bark in just a bit of water.


         137 INT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION/SLAVES CABIN - NIGHT 137
          As others sleep, by the light of dying coals, Solomon
          uses the quill to test the boiled bark. The liquid holds
          as a form of ink. It is no?t ideal, but it is legible on
          the page. Armed with this, Solomon writes his letter.


                        138 138
          EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT
          Solomon sits with Celeste. He relates his news to her.
                         SOLOMON
          I have my letter.
                         CELESTE
          Yah has your freedom then?
                         SOLOMON
          All that remains is to contrive
          measures by which the letter can
          safely be deposited in the post
          office.
          When Celeste speaks she is quite melancholy.



                         (CONTINUED)
          91.
                        138 CONTINUED: 138
                         CELESTE
          I have resolved to return to my
          Massa.
          Solomon gives an unnerved look. This is not good news.
                         SOLOMON
          Is it more food you need?
                         CELESTE
          I live in fear.
                         SOLOMON
          None will come after you in the
          swamps.
                         CELESTE
          It ain't the patrollers I scared
          of... At all seasons the howling
          of wild animals can be heard at
          night along the border of the
          swamps. At first their calls were
          welcomin'. Dey too was free, 'n I
          thought dey greeted me like a
          sistah. Lately, dey cries have
          turned horrifyin'. They mean to
          kill Celeste.
                         SOLOMON
          The solitude plays tricks. It's
          your impression, nothing more. If
          you go back to your master you
          could face the same.
                         CELESTE
          My freedom been nothin' but a
          daydream. So was Celeste's
          thoughts of slaves conjoinin' in
          the bayou.
                         SOLOMON
          Better the loneliness. You have
          been free most of the summer.
          Return now and your master will
          make example of you.
                         CELESTE
          It is lonely dwellin' waiting for
          others who won't never come.





                         (CONTINUED)
         92.
                        138 CONTINUED: (2) 138
                         SOLOMON
          Go north. Make your way by
          night...
                         CELESTE
          It'll only be worse if'n Celeste
          don't go back of her own will.
                         SOLOMON
          You won't be caught. The dogs
          won't track you. You are...you
          are unique. Celeste...
                         CELESTE
          You got alternatives, Solomon.
                         SOLOMON
          To return is to die!
                         CELESTE
          Celeste got no one to write a
          letter to.
          As if to punctuate her resolve, without a word more
          Celeste departs toward the swamp. Solomon starts on into
          the swamp after her.
                         SOLOMON
          Celeste... Celeste!
          Solomon continues after Celeste, wading deeper into the
          dark night and murky waters.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          Celeste, I will guide you north!
          Wait, and I will take you.
          Celeste is too nimble. She outpaces Solomon, continues
          on and disappears into the night.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          Let me take you! Let me go with
          you!
          Solomon runs on, then splashes to a stop. He stumbles
          around disoriented, calling into the blackness:
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          Celeste...
          Nothing. No answer. Not a human one. There are sounds
          and echoes - some in the distance, some perhaps moving
          closer - which, moment by moment, become more and more
          frightening. Soon, Solomon realizes he is in quite
          literally over his head; the water first chest deep, then
          neck deep. With no way to orient himself, no means to
          guide him in the dark, Solomon's reserve begins to
          crumble. He thrashes in the water trying to find his way


                         (CONTINUED)
         93.
                        138 CONTINUED: (3) 138
          back to shore. No longer trying to save Celeste, Solomon
          calls to her - desperately - for assistance.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          Celeste! Come to me, Celeste!
          In that moment Solomon is quite certain he is nearly
          done; that he will not find land, nor aid and that this
          is his final moment. His panic should be that tangible.
          It is either force of will, or survival instinct...or
          maybe just pure luck that carries Solomon on until he
          reaches first muddy ground, then firm footing. Hauling
          himself onto the swamps edge, Solomon finally collapses
          in a drenched, worn heap. His life spared, but Celeste
          never to be seen again.
                         BLACK


                        139 139
          EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION - DAY


          -MAY/JUNE, 1847-
          We come up now outside of Master Epps's plantation. Epps
          stands in the drive. He's in surprisingly good spirits
          as Solomon, Uncle Abram, Henry and Bob trudge their way
          wearily toward Epps and his other slaves who are
          gathered.
          The cotton field is in full bloom, the crop fully
          returned.
                         EPPS
          A joyous day. A joyous day. Dark
          times is behind us. Clean livin'
          'n prayer done lifted the plague.
          Indicating to the cotton:
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          As thick 'n white as New England
          snow. 'N now my niggers is
          returned to me.
                         (TO SOLOMON)
          Heard Judge Turner gave you favor.
          Oh, did you beguile him, Platt,
          with your slick nigger ways?
          Well, yah won't stand idle, boy.
          Not on my land. Much work to do.
          Days of old long since, eh?
          Joyous! Joyous indeed!
          Throughout Epps's welcome, Solomon's focus is on Patsey
          who is lined up with the other slaves. SHE IS NOW MORE
          HAGGARD THAN WHEN WE LAST SAW HER. Her face and arms
          display many new scars. It's clear that in the
          intervening years she has quite literally been a whipping
          boy for Epps and the Mistress.
         94.



         140 EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/COTTON FIELD - DAY 140


          -JULY, 1847-
          The slaves are out working on the field. White hands
          appear, picking cotton: ARMSBY. He is wholly unskilled at
          picking cotton, and he puts little effort into the job.
          As we meet him he seems a decent sort if a little short
          on self-motivation. In anachronistic terminology, he'd
          be called a "slacker." He joins in with the slaves,
          singing a spiritual.


                        141 141
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GIN HOUSE - EVENING
          As Epps said, it is days of long since. The slaves are
          back to having their cotton weighed in the Gin House
                         EPPS
          Wiley...?
                         TREACH
          Two hundred sixty pounds.
                         EPPS
          Bob?
                         TREACH
          Three hundred forty pounds for
          Bob.
                         EPPS
          Patsey?
                         TREACH
          Five hundred twenty pounds.
                         EPPS
          Tha's a girl. Don't never let me
          down. Platt?
                         TREACH
          One hundred sixty pounds.
          Before Treach is even done announcing the weight, Epps
          has pulled Solomon aside to where Uncle Abram already
          awaits his fate.
                         EPPS
          Armsby?
                         TREACH
          Sixty four pounds.
          Epps speaks to Armsby sternly, but nothing of the manner
          in which he would address the slaves.



                         (CONTINUED)
          95.
                        141 CONTINUED: 141
                         EPPS
          A good days labor would average
          two hundred pounds.
                         ARMSBY
          Yes, sir.
                         EPPS
          I'm sure in time y'll develope as
          a picker, but it takes effort,
          boy. Put some damn effort into
          it.
                         ARMSBY
          Yes, sir.
          To Treach, regarding Solomon and Abram:
                         EPPS
          Take 'em out. Get to whippin'.
          No force is needed. The slaves understand the situation.
          They follow Treach out of the Gin house.


                        142 142
          EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
          We come in after the punishment has been dealt. Patsey
          tends to Uncle Abram's back as Armsby applies liniments
          to Solomon's. As he does, Armsby muses:
                         ARMSBY
          It's a tragedy. How does such
          come to pass? Working a field and
          picking cotton like a lowly hand.
          I'm of a damn sight better
          station. And my desires never
          lacked for a grandiose component,
          though I will admit they have at
          times been short on ingenuity.
          But only at times. I've worked as
          an overseer, you know.
                         SOLOMON
          I did not, sir.
                         ARMSBY
          Not "sir." Just Armsby. Not owed
          more than any other in the field.
          I worked plantations from
          Virginia, down into Alabama. I
          could manage easy a hundred slaves
          and have done so. But to toil in
          the field? Never thought that
          would come to pass. Never. But
          times are desperate. Where once I
          had said "no" to Epps and his
          merger offerings, I returned cap
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         96.
                        142 CONTINUED: 142
                         ARMSBY (CONT'D)
          in hand. ...Look at what I've
          become.
                         SOLOMON
          How did you arrive at such a
          place, if I may ask?
                         ARMSBY
          Ask. It's just conversation.
          From a pocket Armsby produces a flask.
                         ARMSBY (CONT'D)
          I became a little too dependant on
          the whisky, a little too
          undependable on the job. Before
          you say I'm just a sorry drunkard,
          let me state my case: As reliable
          employment as overseeing is, it's
          no easy chore on the spirit. I
          say no man of conscious can take
          the lash to another human day in,
          and day out without shredding at
          his own self. Takes him to a
          place where he either makes
          excuses within his mind to be
          unaffected... Or finds some way
          to trample his guilty sensations.
          Well, I trampled.
          Armsby takes a drink.
                         ARMSBY (CONT'D)
          And with frequency.
                         SOLOMON
          Where is your place of birth?
                         ARMSBY
          Maryland. Have you traveled
          there?
                         SOLOMON
          ...I cannot say that I have.
                         ARMSBY
          Fine country. More seasonal than
          the bayou. A deal less humid.
                         SOLOMON
          Why did you leave it?
                         ARMSBY
          To make my fortune, of course. I
          gave in to tales of wealth and
          prosperity that were the lore of
          the southern states: all that's
          needed being a patch of land and a
          few good growing seasons. Cotton,
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         97.
                        142 CONTINUED: (2) 142
                         ARMSBY (CONT'D)
          or tobacco. And then locating a
          proper bank in which to store your
          riches. But such profitable
          outcomes are reserved for the
          plantation masters. It's the lot
          of the rest of us to serve. So I
          settled on being an overseer, and
          failed as well at that. In the
          meantime my dreams gave way to
          reality. Now, I want nothing more
          than to earn a decent wage.
                         (BEAT)
          And get myself home.
          Armsby takes another drink and leans back.


                        143 143
          INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACKS - MORNING


          -AUGUST, 1847-
          We again hear the sound of the HORN BLOWING signaling the
          start of the work day for the slave.


         144 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY 144
          With the sun yet again high in the sky the slaves are
          working the field picking cotton. As before they sing a
          spiritual, the only thing that distracts them from the
          tedium at hand.
          But there is no distracting from the heat. We see Uncle
          Abram begin to falter and finally drop down to the
          ground.
          Treach calls to Edward:
                         TREACH
          Get him water.
          Edward runs to fetch water which he carries to Abram and
          DUMPS ON HIM...BUT ABRAM DOES NOT RISE. DOES NOT MOVE.
          At this point, the sounds of the singing from the others
          tapers off as they realize Abram isn't getting up.


                        145 145
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE CEMETERY - LATER
          We are beyond the main of the plantation, the cotton
          field in the background. We are at the slaves' cemetery,
          a mixture of crude crosses and unsettled ground.
          Solomon, Bob and Henry, now much visually older than when
          we first saw them, are digging a grave in the dirt. The
          uncovered body of Abram lays near. Having dug down an
          appropriate distance, the three men take the body and,
          very unceremoniously, place it into the ground. Holding
                         (CONTINUED)
         98.
                        145 CONTINUED: 145
          the shovel in his hands, and resting it by his feet, Bob
          tilts his head down and closes his eyes. The others do
          the same. Almost stutteringly, not really knowing what to
                         SAY--
                         BOB
          I just want to say something about
          Uncle Abram. He was a good man and
          he always looked out for us since
          we were little. God Bless him. God
          love him. And God keep him.
          That done, they begin to cover it with dirt. It is all
          the more of a funeral that Abram will receive.


                        146 146
                         OMIT


                        147 OMIT 147


         A148 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE CEMETERY - LATER A148
          A female voice appears out of the blackness and begins to
          sing solo, "Went down to the river Jordan." A response of
          "Oh Yeah" quickly follows. Again the singer continues,
          "where John baptized three."
          The same faces we have seen on Epps' plantation, but now
          filled with rapture, appear. It's as if the voices have
          created a new form of awakening and presence. It seems to
          transcend and translate in a strange way, joy. A joy
          which has un-yet been seen on screen. A joy which has
          been hidden, but a joy which is undoubtedly there. It's
          captivating, infectious.
          This should be a moving part of the film, which stirs the
          audience and, for a moment, relieves them of the
          seemingly chastising environment.
          The singer continues, "Well some say John was a Baptist,
          some say John was a Jew, but I say John was a preacher,
          because the Bible says so too, preach on Johnny." And
          with that, the rest of the congregation chant "I believe.
          Oh, I believe."


                        148 148
          INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/WOODS - NIGHT
          Solomon goes to RETRIEVE THE SMALL PACKAGE FROM UNDER A
          ROCK AT THE BASE OF A TREE. Solomon returns the letter to
          hiding. He takes the money with him and cautiously moves
          from the area.


                        149 149
                         OMIT
         99.



         150 INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/ARMSBY'S SHACK - LATER 150
          The door opens. Solomon enters. Armsby is surprised to
          see him. So much so, he isn't sure what greeting to
          give. Solomon gives a blunt introduction. Re: the
                         COINS:
                         SOLOMON
          The proceeds of my fiddling
          performances. A few picayunes,
          but all I have in the world. I
          promise them to you if you will do
          me the favor I require. But I beg
          you not to expose me if you cannot
          grant the request.
                         ARMSBY
          What do you ask?
                         SOLOMON
          First, your word, sir.
                         ARMSBY
          On my honor.
                         SOLOMON
          It is a simple enough request. I
          ask only that you deposit a letter
          in the Marksville post office.
          And that you keep the action an
          inviolable secret forever. The
          details of the letter are of no
          consequence. Even at that, there
          would be an imposition of much
          pain and suffering were it known I
          was the author. A patron is what
          I require, sir.
                         ARMSBY
          Where's the letter now?
                         SOLOMON
          ...It is not yet written. I will
          have it in a day. Two at most, my
          skill with composition as poor as
          it is.
          Armsby considers the request.
                         ARMSBY
          I will do it. And will accept
          whatever payment is offered.
          Solomon hesitates. In the moment, he's not so sure he
          can wholly give himself over to trust.





                         (CONTINUED)
         100.
                        150 CONTINUED: 150
                         ARMSBY (CONT'D)
          To assist you, I put my own self
          at risk. I will do so, but fair
          compensation is all I ask.
          Solomon hands over the money.
                         ARMSBY (CONT'D)
          Draw up your letter. We will meet
          again. In two days?
                         SOLOMON
          In two days. ...Thank you.
          Solomon exits.


                        151 151
          EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/COTTON FIELD - DAY
          Solomon and the slaves pick cotton. Armsby is
          conspicuously NOT laboring in the field. As Solomon
          works he is watched by Epps. Watched more than he
          normally is. For a moment it seems it might just be a
          matter of perspective; Solomon's unease over his actions.
          But soon Epps is joined by Armsby. The two men stand and
          talk, their looks locked toward Solomon.
          Whatever it is that is occurring between them continues
          for a long, long moment. But Epps makes no move toward
          Solomon. Solomon continues with his work.


                        152 152
          INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
          The slaves are at rest. Gripping his whip Epps enters,
          without so much as a knock at the door. For a moment
          there's curiosity; is he there for a dance, for
          Patsey...?
          Looking right to Solomon:
                         EPPS
          Get up.
          Solomon does. Epps heads back out into the dark. He
          says nothing, but his directive is clear: Follow me.


         153 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - CONTINUOUS 153
          Solomon comes out into the dark. Nearly hidden in the
          shadows is a bitter Epps. Despite the lack of light,
          Epps's malevolence is quite clear. His whip attached to
          his hip. As he speaks, he stokes himself with swigs from
          a FLASK.
          Epps puts his arm around Solomon, as if consoling a
          friend, and guides him into the woods.


                         (CONTINUED)
         100A.
                        153 CONTINUED: 153
                         EPPS
          Well, boy. I understand I've got
          a larned nigger that writes
                         (MORE)





                         (CONTINUED)
         101.
                        153 CONTINUED: (2) 153
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          letters and tries to get white
          fellows to mail 'em.
          Solomon, hardly missing a beat, plays this off.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Well, Armsby tol' me today the
          devil was among my niggers. That
          I had one that needed close
          watchin' or he would run away.
          When I axed him why, he said you
          come over to him and waked him up
          in the middle of the night and
          wanted him to carry a letter to
          Marksville. What have yah got to
          say to that?
                         SOLOMON
          All I have to say, master, is all
          that need be said. There is no
          truth in it.
                         EPPS
          You say.
                         SOLOMON
          How could I write a letter without
          ink or paper? There is nobody I
          want to write to 'cause I hain't
          got no friends living as I know
          of. That Armsby is a lying
          drunken fellow. You know this,
          just as you know that I am
          constant in truth. Now, master, I
          can see what that Armsby is after,
          plain enough. Didn't he want you
          to hire him for an overseer?
          A beat.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          That's it. He wants to make you
          believe we're all going to run
          away and then he thinks you'll
          hire an overseer to watch us. He
          believes you are soft soap. He's
          given to such talk. I believe
          he's just made this story out of
          whole cloth, 'cause he wants to
          get a situation. It's all a lie,
          master, you may depend on't. It's
          all a lie.
          For a tense moment we are unsure which way Epps'll go.
          Increasingly it become apparent that, shallow minded and
          equally soused, Solomon has been able to fold Epps's
          thoughts. In a low curse that clearly states his ill
          intentions.


                         (CONTINUED)
         102.
                        153 CONTINUED: (3) 153
          Revealed is a pocket knife, which all through the
          conversation, unknown to us the audience, was pushed up
          against Solomon's stomach. As Epps speaks, he closes it
          and taps it on Solomon's shoulder.
                         EPPS
          I'm damned. I'll be god... Were
          he not free and white, Platt.
          Were he not free and white.
          Epps heads off. Solomon is left to exhale a deep breath.


                        154 154
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/WOODS - NIGHT
          Having found a lonely spot, Solomon has struck a SMALL
          FIRE. He has in his hand his letter. With no ceremony,
          he casts the letter upon the flames and watches it burn.
          And with it, at this time, seems all chance of him ever
          being free. He stands and looks at it as if forever, as
          ashes descend into the night sky.
          FADE TO BLACK.


                        A155 A155
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - DAY


          -MARCH, 1852-
          The slaves are now employed working on an extension to
          the Great House. The slaves work under the direction of
          MR. SAMUEL BASS, a between forty and fifty years old, of
          light complexion and light hair. He is cool and self-
          possessed, fond of argument, but always speaking with
          extreme deliberation as well as a Canadian accent.


                        B155 B155
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - DAY
          As the slaves continue to work, there is a conversation
          going on between Epps and Bass. Bass much skilled in the
          art of sophistry, while Epps's arguments are fueled
          mostly by emotion alone. Though at first Epps does
          little more than joke his way around the facts.
          Solomon, working still, can't help but overhear as Epps
          offers Bass a drink, which Bass waves away.
                         EPPS
          Take it. You look unsettled.
                         BASS
          I'm well.
                         EPPS
          No shame in taking respite from
          the heat; drink, shade. It's
          ungodly for travelers. Hearty, or
          otherwise.
                         (CONTINUED)
         102A.
         B155 CONTINUED: B155
          Bass gives a laugh.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          I meant no joke.





                         (CONTINUED)
         103.
         B155 CONTINUED: (2) B155
                         BASS
          Your humor is inadvertent.
          Sensing perhaps Bass's laughter might be at his expense,
          Epps presses.
                         EPPS
          Then share what's funny. Or what
          ills you.
                         BASS
          I'm here to complete the work at
          hand. As requested, and as paid.
                         EPPS
          Something rubs you wrongly.
          Before I take further offense, I
          offer you the opportunity to speak
          on it.
                         BASS
          You ask plainly, I will tell you
          plainly. What I find amusing: You
          worry about my well being in the
          heat but, quite frankly, the
          condition of your laborers--
                         EPPS
          "The condition of my..." What in
          the hell are you--
                         BASS
          It is horrid. It's all wrong.
          All wrong, sir.
                         EPPS
          They ain't hired help. They're my
          slaves.
                         BASS
          You say that with pride.
                         EPPS
          I say it as fact.
                         BASS
          If the conversation concerns what
          is factual and what is not;
          there's no justice nor
          righteousness in slavery. I
          wouldn't own a slave if I was rich
          as Croesus, which I am not, as is
          perfectly well understood. More
          particularly among my creditors.
          There's another humbug: the credit
          system. Humbug, sir. No credit,
          no debt. Credit leads a man into
          temptation. Cash down is the only
          thing that will deliver him from
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         104.
         B155 CONTINUED: (3) B155
                         BASS (CONT'D)
          evil. But this question of
          slavery; what right have you to
          your niggers when you come down to
          the point?
                         EPPS
          What right? I bought 'em. I paid
          for 'em.
                         BASS
          Of course you did. The law says
          you have the right to hold a
          nigger, but begging the law's
          pardon...it lies. Is everything
          right because the law allows it?
          Suppose they'd pass a law taking
          away your liberty and making you a
          slave?
                         EPPS
          Ha!
                         BASS
          Suppose.
                         EPPS
          That ain't a supposable case.
                         BASS
          Because the law states that your
          liberties are undeniable? Because
          society deems it so? Laws change.
          Social systems crumble. Universal
          truths are constant. It is a
          fact, it is a plain fact that what
          is true and right is true and
          right for all. White and black
          alike.
                         EPPS
          Whoa, whoa, whoa. Yah compare me
          to a nigger, Bass? Yah might as
          well ask what the difference is
          between a white man and a baboon.
          Now, I seen one of them critters
          in Orleans that knowed just as
          much as any nigger I got. Yah'd
          call them fellers citizens, I
          s'pose?
                         BASS
          Look here; you can't laugh me down
          in that way. These niggers are
          human beings. If they are allowed
          to scale no higher than brute
          animals, you and men like you will
          have to answer for it. There's an
                         ILL--


                         (CONTINUED)
         105.
         B155 CONTINUED: (4) B155
                         EPPS
          Ahhh!
                         BASS
          A fearful ill, resting on this
                         NATION--
                         EPPS
          You betray yourself a foreigner!
                         BASS
          That will not go unpunished
          forever. There will be a
          reckoning yet.
                         EPPS
          You like to hear yourself talk,
          Bass, better than any man I know
          of. Yah'd argue that black was
          white, or white black if anybody
          would contradict you. A fine
          supposition if yah lived among
          Yankees in New England. But yah
          don't.
                         (POINTED)
          You most assuredly do not.


                        155 155
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION - DAY
          It's the Sabbath. The slaves are left to themselves to
          do their own chores. At the moment the female slaves are
          washing their clothes in large cauldrons, slapping their
          clothes against washing boards and hanging them up to dry
          near to their living quarters behind the plantation. It
          is a sight of ritual. Missing from the field of labor is
          Patsey, for whom Epps hollers.
                         EPPS
          Patsey... Patsey!
          A drunk Epps asks of the slaves:
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Where is she? Where is Patsey?
          No one answers.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Talk, Damn you!
                         PHEBE
          We know nothin' of her, Massa.
                         EPPS
          The hell you don't! You know
          where she is! She run off, ain't
          she? She's escaped, and you
          miserable black dogs stand like
                         (MORE)
                         (CONTINUED)
         106.
                        155 CONTINUED: 155
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          the deef and dumb. Speak! Speak!
          Not a word spoken.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          My best cotton picking nigger! My
          best.
          A beat.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          I'd give yah all up for her.
          Where she gone?
          The slaves say nothing. There is nothing for them to
          say. They don't know where she is. Eventually Epps
          drops into true sorrow.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          She gone... My Pats gone.


                        156 156
          EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION - LATER
          Epps sits on the piazza looking quite forlorn. He looks
          up only to see PATSEY RETURNING TO THE PLANTATION. Epps
          steps up to greet her, with anger rather than relief.
          As they hear his angry voice, the slaves step around from
          where they are hanging their laundry to dry. Treach is
          near as well.
                         EPPS
          Run off. Run off, did you?
                         PATSEY
                         MASSA EPPS--
                         EPPS
          You miserable wench! Where you
          been?
                         PATSEY
          I been nowhere.
                         EPPS
          Lies to your misdeeds!
                         PATSEY
          The Sabbath day, Massa. I took me
          a walk to commune wit da Lord.
                         EPPS
          Bring the Lord into yer
          deceptions? Yah Godless...
          Shaw's. Comin' from Shaw's
          plantation weren't yah?



                         (CONTINUED)
         106A.
                        156 CONTINUED: 156
                         PATSEY
          ...No...





                         (CONTINUED)
         107.
                        156 CONTINUED: (2) 156
                         EPPS
          Yah took yerself ta pleasure Shaw.
          Yah gave baser passion to that
          unblushin' libertine!
          Solomon tries to intervene:
                         SOLOMON
                         MASTER EPPS--
                         EPPS
          Now yah speak? Now that yah want
          to add to 'er lies yah find yer
          tongue.
          Epps goes to strike Solomon, but Patsey pulls his arm
          back.
                         PATSEY
          Do not strike him. I went to
          Massa Shaw's plantation!
                         EPPS
          Yah admit it.
                         PATSEY
          Freely. And you know why.
          Patsey takes soap from the pocket of her dress.
                         PATSEY (CONT'D)
          I got this from Mistress Shaw.
          Mistress Epps won't even grant me
          no soap ta clean with. Stink so
          much I make myself gag. Five
          hundred pounds 'a cotton day in,
          day out. More than any man here.
          And 'fo that I will be clean; that
          all I ax. Dis here what I went to
          Shaw's 'fo.
                         EPPS
          You lie...
                         PATSEY
          The Lord knows that's all.
                         EPPS
          You lie!
                         PATSEY
          And you blind wit yer own
          covetousness. I don't lie, Massa.
          If you kill me, I'll stick ta
          that.
                         EPPS
          I'll learn you to go to Shaw's.
          Treach, go get some line.
                         (CONTINUED)
         108.
                        156 CONTINUED: (3) 156
          Treach runs quickly to the tool shed. In short order he
          returns with the rope in hand.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Strip her. Strike her bare 'n
          lash her to the post.
          Mistress Epps has now come from the Great House. She
          gazes on the scene with an air of heartless satisfaction.
          Now tied to the post, Epps stands behind Patsey with his
          whip.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Yah done this to yerself, Pats!
          Epps hoists the whip to strike, holds it high...but no
          matter his rage, Epps cannot bring himself to deliver the
          blow. He looks to Mistress Epps who now stands gloating
          and spurring him on.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          Do it! Strike the life from her.
          Epps again hoists the whip. It trembles in his hand
          ahead of the act... But he does not have it in him to
          deliver such a beating. Turning to Solomon, thrusting
          the whip at him:
                         EPPS
          Beat her.
          Solomon doesn't move. Epps shoves the whip into his
          hand.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Give her the whip. Give it all to
          her!
          Patsey, begging to Solomon:
                         PATSEY
          I'd rather it you, Platt.
                         EPPS
          Strike her, or yah'll get the
          same!





                         (CONTINUED)
         109.
                        156 CONTINUED: (4) 156
          Solomon takes a step back. He unfurls the whip... He
          begins to whip Patsey. Lash after lash, Patsey squirms
          before it. Epps eyes fill with tears, he is nearly too
          distraught to watch.
          But the Mistress... She is not satisfied with Solomon's
          half-hearted effort.
                         MISTRESS EPPS
          He pantomimes. There ain't barely
          a welt on her. That's what your
          niggers make of yah; a fool fer
          the takin'.
          Epps's grief is replaced by fury. EPPS GRABS THE PISTOL
          FROM TREACH'S HOLSTER and draws down on the slaves.
                         EPPS
          Yah will strike her. Yah will
          strike her until her flesh is rent
          and meat and blood flow equal, or
          I will kill every nigger in my
          sight!
          Solomon can't strike a blow, even if it means his life.
          But from the ground, from Patsey:
                         PATSEY
          Do it, Platt. Don't stop until I
          am dead.
          What else can he do? Solomon begins to whip, to truly
          whip Patsey. Her back welts, then tears... Patsey
          screams in agony. Solomon strikes again and again...
          After a full thirty lashes Solomon looks to Epps, who is
          not satisfied.
                         EPPS
          Until I say no more! I ain't said
          nothing!
          Solomon strikes another ten to fifteen times. By now, as
          promised, Patsey's back has been reduced to LITTLE MORE
          THAN TORN MEAT AND BLOOD.
          Finally, Solomon holds low the whip. He can and will do
          no more.
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Strike her! Strike her!
          Solomon will not. Epps takes up the whip and whips
          Patsey with "ten fold" greater force than he had. The
          painfully loud and angry curses of Epps load the air.
          Patsey by now is terribly lacerated, literally flayed.
          The lash wet with blood which flowed down her sides and
          dropped upon the ground. At length Patsey ceases
          struggling. Her head sinks listlessly on the ground.


                         (CONTINUED)
         110.
                        156 CONTINUED: (5) 156
          Her screams and supplications gradually decrease and die
          away into a low moan. It would seem that she was dying.
          Solomon, screaming at Epps:
                         SOLOMON
          Thou devil! Sooner or later,
          somewhere in the course of eternal
          justice thou shalt answer for this
          sin!
          Though Epps fronts rage, there should be underlying
          anguish for what he has done to his beloved Pats.
                         EPPS
          No sin! There is no sin! A man
          does how he pleases with his
          property. At the moment, Platt, I
          am of great pleasure. You be
          goddamn careful I don't come to
          wantin' to lightenin' my mood no
          further.
          By contrast to this horror, the field of cotton smiles in
          the warm sunlight. The birds chirp merrily amidst the
          foliage of the tress. Peace and happiness seems to reign
          everywhere.
          Everywhere else.
          Epps leaves Patsey to herself. He says not a word to the
          Mistress as he passes. The Mistress herself heads back
          into the house.
          Solomon unties Patsey, lifts her and takes her to the
          cabin.


                        157 157
          INT. CABIN - LATER
          Patsey is laid on some boards where she remains for a
          long time with eyes closed and groaning in agony. Phebe
          applies melted tallow to her wounds, and all try to
          assist and console her.
          In time Patsey opens her eyes. She looks to Solomon.
          She does not say a word. She just looks at him...and
          then her eyes close again.


                        158 158
          MOVED TO A155


         159 MOVED TO B155 159
         111.



         160 INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE/ADDITION - 160


                         EVENING
          -APRIL, 1852-
          Solomon and Bass are working together alone on the
          extension. From the amount of work that's been done on
          it, it should be obvious that days have now passed.
          Solomon makes a cautious approach to Bass. As casually
          as he can he inquires:
                         SOLOMON
          Master Bass, I want to ask you
          what part of the country you came
          from?
                         BASS
          No part of this land. I was born
          in Canada. Now guess where that
          is.
                         SOLOMON
          Oh, I know where Canada is. I
          have been there myself.
                         BASS
          Have you?
                         SOLOMON
          Montreal and Kingston and
          Queenston and a great many places.
          And I have been in York state,
          too. Buffalo and Rochester and
          Albany, and can tell you the names
          of the villages on the Erie canal
          and the Champlain canal.
          Bass gives Solomon a long and curious stare.
                         BASS
          Well traveled for a slave. How
          came you here?
                         SOLOMON
          Master Bass, if justice had been
          done I never would have been here.
                         BASS
          How's this? Tell me all about it.
                         SOLOMON
          I am afraid to tell you, though I
          don't believe you would tell
          Master Epps if I should.
                         BASS
          Every word you speak is a profound
          secret.
                         (CONTINUED)
         112-115.
                        160 CONTINUED: 160
          Solomon holds a moment. Hasn't he heard the same promise
          before? Prior to Solomon stating his case, WE FADE TO:


         161 INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION / ADDITION - DAY 161
          Hours have passed. Bass reflects on the story that Epps
          has told in the intervening.
                         BASS
          How many years all told?
                         SOLOMON
          Just nearly...just passed eleven.
                         BASS
          Your story is...it is amazing, and
          in no good way.
                         SOLOMON
          Do you believe, sir, in justice as
          you have said?
                         BASS
          I do.
                         SOLOMON
          That slavery is an evil that
          should befall none?
                         BASS
          I believe so.
                         SOLOMON
          If you truly do, I would ask...I
          would beg that you write my
          friends in the north, acquainting
          them with my situation and
          beseeching them to forward free
          papers, or take such steps as they
          might consider proper to secure my
          release.
          Bass looks at Solomon, holding his gaze for more than a
          prolonged beat.
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          My daughter Margaret is possibly
          now 19 and my son Alonzo, 16. I
          miss them so. It would be an
          unspeakable happiness to clasp my
          wife and my family again.
          Bass hands Solomon an end of a long plank of wood and
          looks over his shoulder, as if to camouflage the
          conversation by work. They both lift it toward the
          floorboards. Finally Bass speaks.



                         (CONTINUED)
          116.
                        161 CONTINUED: 161
                         BASS
          I have always forgone
          relationships and family. I did
          once have a sweetheart who I loved
          deeply.
          Bass points to a measuring tool, which Solomon
          immediately hands over.
                         BASS (CONT'D)
          But that was a long, long time
          ago. I've been traveling this
          country for the best part of
          twenty years. My freedom is
          everything. The fact that I can
          walk out of here tomorrow gives me
          most pleasure. I see the aching in
          your eyes, the pain of not being
          attached to your loved ones. My
          life doesn't mean much to anyone,
          but it seems your life means a lot
          to a lot of people. What you have
          just said to me scares me, and I
          must say, sir, I am afraid. Not
          just for you, but for me.
          They continue working, fixing the floorboards in unison.
          Solomon, slightly confused.
                         BASS (CONT'D)
          I will write your letter sir, for
          if I could bring freedom to you,
          it will be more than a pleasure.
          It will be a duty. Now, would you
          be so kind as to pass me those
          nails, sir.
          We pull back to reveal the two men dwarfed by the
          unfinished structure. They continue to work, as if the
          conversation had never occurred.


                        162 162
                         OMIT


                        163 OMIT 163


                        164 OMIT 164


         A165 EXT. SWAMP TBD A165
          Solomon walks a path he has walked a thousand times or
          more on his way back from Bartholomew's - sack familiarly
          slung over his right shoulder. Drearily he walks. His
          eyes acknowledge something we yet cannot see to his left.
          Almost simultaneously, his eyes retract back to the path


                         (CONTINUED)
         116A.
         A165 CONTINUED: A165
          towards Epps'. As he passes out of shot, the evidence of
          what he was looking at is revealed.
          FEET hang at the top right hand corner of the frame. A
          woman, who has been lynched.


                        165 165
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/ADDITION - DAY


          -SEPTEMBER, 1852-
                         SLOW DISSOLVE
          To a now virtually complete, half-painted white gazebo.
          Slaves continue to work on it. As they do so, Bass peels
          away from the structure to have an overview. He beckons
          Solomon toward him, out of earshot from the slaves who
          are continuing to work on the gazebo. As Solomon
          approaches, Bass shouts-
                         BASS
          And bring those markers!
          Solomon gathers a clutch of markers in his hands and
          approaches Bass.
                         BASS (CONT'D)
          No letter yet.
                         SOLOMON
          You are certain?
          Bass takes a marker from Solomon and slides it into the
          earth.
                         BASS
          I have inquired thoroughly. More
          than is safe for either of us.
          Bass takes another and pokes it into the ground,
          improvising a pathway towards the gazebo.
                         BASS (CONT'D)
          Solomon...I have a job or two on
          hand which will be completed
          shortly... The work here has
          grown sparse.





                         (CONTINUED)
         117.
                        165 CONTINUED: 165
          Bass doesn't need to spell things out for Solomon.
          Solomon's understanding of the finality of the situation
          should be very clear.
                         BASS (CONT'D)
          You must know, wherever I am I
          will press your cause.
                         SOLOMON
          Five months. On top of these
          years. No cause remains.
                         BASS
          If there is any chance...
                         SOLOMON
          Mr. Bass...
                         BASS
          I will continue to write your
                         PEOPLE--
                         SOLOMON
          Go home knowing you have tried.
          The weight of defeat should hang very heavily with both
          men. Nothing more to do, nothing more to say BASS TAKES
          SOLOMON'S HAND, GRIPS IT FIRMLY, BUT LOW AND
          SURREPTITIOUSLY knowing full well he cannot be seen
          making contact with a slave. But in the strength of
          their collective grip, in the emotion in which they hold
          each other's eyes, we should be able to easily see how
          greatly Bass wanted to be able to help Solomon. Equally,
          we can see the depth of regard Solomon has for Bass. The
          moment is made all the more powerful by the fact neither
          man can openly speak his regret or thanks. A moment
          longer, and then Bass releases his grip and makes his
          way marching toward the gazebo, pointing instructions.
          Solomon is left, markers in hand, alone.


                        166 166
                         OMIT


                        167 OMIT 167
         118.



         A168 EXT. ROAD BY EPPS' PLANTATION - EVENING A168
          Solomon sits on a secluded part of the road, fiddle in
          hand. He stares across the expanse. His eyes fixed on
          something that is a million miles away.
          Slowly Solomon tunes his fiddle, turning the tuning peg
          tighter and tighter. As the strings are taut, the sound
          is almost unbearable as Solomon tightens bit by bit, as
          if bones are being cracked one by one. Just beyond the
          breaking point of sound, there is a snap.
          He then repeats the action.
          Solomon holds the neck of the violin. Sliding his thumb
          and forefinger down the neck, he methodically cracks it
          at the base. He carefully snaps the neck and removes it
          from the body, then snaps it in two, placing it on the
          ground.
          He then starts on the body. Heaving it on the ground, it
          falls apart. Methodically he breaks the violin into small
          bits - silencing the instrument with a hushed display of
          violence, rather than aggressive. Seems almost to be, in
          an odd way, respectful.


                        168 168
          EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY


          -FEBRUARY, 1853-
          The Slaves are sewing the heavily plowed field, making
          their way in the trying soil. Solomon, too focused to
          note the arrival of two men by carriage: Parker and the
          SHERIFF.
          While the Sheriff makes his way to the field, Parker
          remains with the carriage. The Sheriff calls:
                         SHERIFF
          Platt...? Where is the boy called
          Platt?
                         SOLOMON
          ...Sir...
          The Sheriff crosses to him.
                         SHERIFF
          Your name is Platt, is it?
                         SOLOMON
          Yes, sir.
          Pointing off to the distance.
                         SHERIFF
          Do you know that man?


                         (CONTINUED)
         118A.
                        168 CONTINUED: 168
          Solomon looks toward the carriage. He has to shield his
          eyes from the sun. Recognition is slow coming to him.
          But when it does, it hits him as a rush.
                         SOLOMON
          Mr. Parker...?





                         (CONTINUED)
         119.
                        168 CONTINUED: (2) 168
          Solomon starts for Parker, but he is pulled back by the
          Sheriff who is keen to determine Solomon's true identity.
                         SHERIFF
          Say again?
                         SOLOMON
          Mr. Parker?
          As he does, Epps makes his way over.
                         SHERIFF
          That man received a letter
          compiling many accusations. You
          look me in the eye and on your
          life answer me truthfully: have
          you any other name than Platt?
                         SOLOMON
          Solomon Northup is my name.
                         EPPS
          Sheriff...
                         SHERIFF
          Have you a family?
                         EPPS
          What's all this?
                         SHERIFF
          It's official business.
                         EPPS
          My nigger, my business.
                         SHERIFF
          Your business waits.
                         (TO SOLOMON)
          Tell me of your family.
                         SOLOMON
          I have a wife and two children.
                         SHERIFF
          What were your children's names?
                         SOLOMON
          Margaret and Alonzo.
                         SHERIFF
          And your wife's name before her
          marriage?
                         SOLOMON
          Anne Hampton. I am who I say.
          Solomon pushes past the sheriff. As Solomon moves toward
          Parker, his pace quickens with each step until his
                         (CONTINUED)
         119A.
                        168 CONTINUED: (3) 168
          personal velocity has him nearly at a dead run. The two
          old friends make contact with each other, wrap each other
          in a long and emotional embrace. It if finally broken by
          Epps, who has moved over with the Sheriff.





                         (CONTINUED)
         120.
                        168 CONTINUED: (4) 168
                         EPPS
          Nah... You will unhand 'em.
          Platt is my nigger!
                         PARKER
          He is Solomon Northup.
                         EPPS
          You say...
                         PARKER
          He belongs to no man.
                         EPPS
          You say! You come here,
          unfamiliar to me, and make claims.
                         SHERIFF
          Not claims. I have no doubts.
          This is Solomon Northup, a
          resident of Saratoga Springs, NY.
                         EPPS
          To hell with that! My nigger, and
          I'll fight you for 'em!
                         PARKER
          As is your right. As it will be
          my pleasure to bankrupt you in the
          courts. Your decision.
          By this time, the slaves in the plantation have overcome
          their fear of penalty, and left their work and gathered
          in the yard as witnesses. They stand behind the cabin,
          out of sight of Epps.
          Mistress Epps also bears witness, standing on the veranda
          next to her house slave. Her face is of a strange mixed
          emotion.
          Epps looks to Solomon. Solomon icily, stoically holds
          his ground. He makes it quite clear in his countenance
          that nobody owns him. Sheriff, hand on his gun, is there
          to back Solomon up. Epps, with no other recourse than to
                         BACK DOWN:
                         EPPS
          You think this is the last you'll
          see of me, boy? It ain't.
                         (TO PARKER)
          Whatever paper you hold about his
          freedom, it don't mean naught. He
          is my nigger - and I will have my
          day in court, sir. As God as my
          witness, I will have my day in
          court. Take 'em!
          Epps calls to Bob-


                         (CONTINUED)
         120A.
                        168 CONTINUED: (5) 168
                         EPPS (CONT'D)
          Saddle my horse! And bring her up
          here.
          Epps walks back into the plantation.
          The trio starts for the carriage. Solomon is pulled back
          by the call of Patsey's voice:
                         PATSEY
          Platt...
          Disregarding Parker, Solomon crosses over to Patsey.
          Under the circumstances, neither really knows how to
          engage. Finally, suddenly, Patsey throws her arms around
          Solomon and they embrace.
          Epps, now mounted on his horse, witness the encounter.
          Kicking the stirrups hard into the sides of the horse, he
          rides off furiously.
          Calling from the carriage, mindful of Epps:
                         PARKER
          Solomon...if we know what's wise,
          we should depart.
          A moment longer Solomon and Patsey hold each other. They
          separate, Solomon heading back to the carriage. He and
          Parker alight. The Sheriff chides the horses and they





                         (CONTINUED)
         121.
                        168 CONTINUED: (6) 168
          start up. As they move on, Patsey sinks down to the
          ground, where she remains in a weary and half-reclining
          state, the other slaves around her.
          WE STAY WITH Solomon as he travels further and further
          from the slaves - who are diminished by distance.
          Solomon waves a hand to them, but the carriage rounds a
          bend and a thicket of trees hides them from his eyes
          forever more.
                         BLACK


                        A169 A169
          EXT. NORTHUP HOUSE - DAY


          -MARCH, 1853-
          We now see Solomon in front of a door. A door we have
          seen before at the very beginning of our story. Solomon,
          aged significantly since then, stands nervously,
          swallowing, and adjusting his attire. He breaths in and
          holds his breath. He blows out and closes his eyes. A
          tear falls from his cheek, but this is not the way he
          wants his family to see him. He gathers himself, and
          looks to his right. There stands Mr. Parker. He places
          his hand on Solomon's shoulder. He says gently-
                         PARKER
          Are you ready?
          Solomon swallows and nods.


                        169 169
          INT. NORTHUP HOUSE - LATER
          THE DOOR TO THE ROOM OPENS. Mr. Parker enters, Solomon
          behind. We first see Anne, in her finest attire; the
          Northup children: Alonzo, who is now seventeen and
          Margaret who is now twenty - SHE CARRIES WITH HER A
          BUNDLE. Also present is MARGARET'S HUSBAND. The family
          waits patiently, dutifully...but anxiously.
          Anne rises to greet him, but holds back. All around, the
          body language of the family is stiff and awkward. They
          are, after all - after twelve years - little more than
          familiar strangers.
                         SOLOMON
          I apologize for my appearance. I
          have had a difficult time of
          things these past many years.
          Solomon looks among his family; trying to recall them as
          much as they look to see familiarity within him. To his
                         CHILDREN:
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          Alonzo... Margaret, yes? You do
          not recognize me, do you? Do
                         (MORE) (CONTINUED)
         122.
                        169 CONTINUED: 169
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          you...do you even remember the
          last time we saw each other? I
          put you on a carriage with your
          mother...
          Margaret, tearing, hugs her father. Solomon almost
          breaks, but he keeps himself together. Looking to the
                         UNKNOWN MAN:
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          And who is this?
                         MARGARET
          He is my husband.
                         SOLOMON
          Husband?
                         MARGARET'S HUSBAND
          It is very good to meet you, sir.
                         SOLOMON
          We have much acquainting to do.
          Margaret rises, she presents her bundle to her father.
                         MARGARET
          And this is your grandson.
          Solomon Northup Staunton.
                         SOLOMON
          ...Solomon...
          The fact his grandson carries his name, is overwhelming.
          Solomon breaks down. Emotionally, physically... But
          ANNE IS THERE TO CATCH HIM. As she holds him, Solomon
          says to Anne with all his heart:
                         SOLOMON (CONT'D)
          Forgive me.
                         ANNE
          There is nothing to forgive.
          The pair, joined now by the whole family, hold on to each
          other for life...and one would think for all the rest of
          their lives.
                         FADE TO:
                         BLACK
                         CARD:
          Upon gaining his freedom, Solomon Northup located and
          attempted to seek legal justice against the men who
          kidnapped him. The case was tried in Washington, DC
          where blacks were prohibited by law from testifying


                         (CONTINUED)
         123.
                        169 CONTINUED: (2) 169
          against whites. The charges against the kidnappers were
          eventually dismissed.
          Northup spent the rest of his life working as an
          abolitionist, and with the Underground Railroad.
          Solomon Northup most likely died between 1863 and 1875.
          The exact date, place, and circumstances of his death
          remain unknown.
          - END -