Thursday, September 5, 2013

Earth Survives; movie outline

    Earth Survives
          Outline for an animated movie

          It’s an animated nature documentary in three acts:
1.     Lizard Lords. The dinosaurs doing their dinosaur thing.
2.     Bad Star. The asteroid hits.
3.     Inheritors. The birds and mammals take over.
Voice-over narrates scenes; science facts, documentary style.
          Each part has a flight scene, over the same landscape, in three different conditions (lush, devastated, recovering) and by three different critters (pterodactyl, fly, bird.)

Act 1. Lizard Lords.
          Start with Earth-from-space; we see the continents in the K-T arrangement. We zoom in on scenes: dinosaurs eating, fighting, mating, migrating. Sauropods, carnosaurs, triceratops, pterodactyls, ichthyosaurs.
          Carnosaurs have birdlike motions, tape-stretched birdcalls, possibly colorful feathers. (White belly, blue back, red-streaked tiger-mask face?)
          T Rex as feathered, smart group hunters, using tiny arms as semaphors. Witness violent group-kills. (But older, bigger T.Rex steals their kill.)
          A scavenging T. Rex kicks over a carcass, tiny mammals scurry, T. Rex stomps them like they’re vermin. Vermin mammals have scruffy black hair, red eyes, snaggle teeth, bald tails, bad attitude.
          Birds swooping around sauropod scat like flies around dung. (Scale-shift shot; close-in focus on flies, focus out to birds.)
          Flight scene, starting from hilltop overlooking a dinosaur-filled valley, a pteranodon’s milk-run flight. The scenery is lush, calm, majestic.
          Last scene; early pre-morning, crescent moon in sky, carnosaur sneaking up on prey. Over its shoulder we see a star moving in the sky. Zoom out to earth-from-space, see star as asteroid homing in…

Act 2. Bad Star.
Start with Earth from space, zoom out to asteroid belt, focus on one pitted, crated heap of rubble. Another asteroid slams into it, lots of pieces fly in all directions. We track one of those pieces over kiloyears; it falls into an Earth-crossing orbit. It crosses Earth orbit once, twice, ten times…
Space is big, Earth is small, there’s only a one in a million chance of collision. But after a million years, came that one in a million chance.
The film never shows the impact directly; no beings see it and live; instead we see the impact indirectly, through second-hand effects, and even those deadly enough.
          We see an early morning scene, far from ground zero, repeating the last scene of Act 1; early pre-morning, crescent moon in sky, carnosaur sneaking up on prey. Over its shoulder we see a star moving in the sky.
The star falls from sky, past horizon, vanishes. The narrator counts down to impact from ten, starting loud but ending with a whisper: “TEN, NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN, Six, Five, four, three, two, one, impact .”
“Three seconds pass…”
“Light floods the landscape, like a Sun risen too early. But it is not the Sun. It is the Moon.” The light-echo off the Moon of the fires of impact turns the Moon briefly sun-bright, then it dims from brilliant white to sullen red.
The carnosaur resumes stalking. Then: “Again an early sunrise. And again… it is not the Sun.”
We see the carnosaur (from above and in front of the beast) as it lifts its head to look up at the looming firewall. Then the carnosaur turns and runs.
The narrator notes that the blast is supersonic, so it approaches in complete silence. We hear birdcall and bugcall and breeze. The sauropod glances stupidly at the onrushing firewall, gulps down one last mouthful of shrubbery, ahhh
… then the blast hits. Sound level 11. We briefly see sauropod bones through its flesh like an X-ray, then the dinosaur disintegrates and its bones fly off separately.
Earth from space; enormous fire-column spews secondary meteorites; secondary impacts, continents ablaze. Ground shots of firestorms; a sauropod falls, a small mammal fries.
Half a world away the Deccan traps erupt. Ground shots.
Kilometer-high tsumanis. A mixed flock of birds and pterodactyls try to outclimb the wave. Most are overcome, a few birds survive, then land to survey horrific damage.
Earth from space shot; we see dust and darkness spread worldwide. Ground shots of plants dying, then herbivores, the carnivores.
Flight scene; a fly, caught in a violent freezing windstorm, over disaster-scape. The same scenery as in the pterodactyl flight in Act 1, but this time devastated. The fly barely survives the flight, lands on pterodactyl corpse, rubs its fly hands and starts to nibble.
Final scene: a starving T. Rex lies down to die, but is rudely woken by a swarm of mammals. Flailing under the horde of vermin, the dinosaur lets out a cry halfway between an enraged roar and a scream of “NOOOOOOOOO!” Then the T.Rex falls, and the mammals squeak as they rush in to feast.
(Music note; this scene starts with tragic pity for the dinosaur, horror and disgust at the appearance of the mammals, then triumph as the mammals swarm in. I call this the “fickle audience effect”.)

Act 3. Inheritors.

          Earth from space: the dust settles. Continents are brown. A look at the astrobleme. Zoom in to ground level. Time lapse of barren land sprouting weeds.
          Vermin mammal crawls out of hole. He’s scrawny and famished. He eats some leaves. He sees, on the other side of a dinosaur path, a ripe fruit. But he is instinctively afraid of crossing a dinosaur path. He crawls across, and is beset by nightmare images of attacking dinosaurs; each in turn proves to be wind-rustle, weed-sway, fly-buzz. A pterandon swoops in; whoosh, it’s gone. A velociraptor pounces, whoosh, it’s gone. A T.Rex charges; whoosh, it’s gone.
          We zoom out from the mammal, and see it in a valley full of dinosaurs; then whoosh, the dinosaurs disappear.
          We see the mammal standing on his hind legs, sniffing the air. The narrator announces, “No dinosaurs. None at all.” (Some notes from Also Spracht Zarathustra on the soundtrack.) He drums the ground, softly, then loudly; then squeals out a “yisssss!” Jumps, hops, chitters, rolls around, rushes towards the fruit – then slows down to a calm pace. Narrator, “He has all the time in the world.”
          Next morning: “It’s good to wake in warm sun, with food at hand, and all your enemies dead. Only one thing is missing.” The mammal sniffs the air, then sits up, chittering with excitement. Narrator, “A female!” He rushes through the weeds, and  disturbs a bird resting there.
          The bird flies up, and we track it, leaving the mammal below. These birds have white bellies, blue backs, and red beaks, similar to the T. Rexes. The bird, and its flock, circle the hilltop the mammal is climbing. We see him crest the hill, and encounter the female, also cresting the hill. They approach each other, and the flock flies off.
          We track the flock over the same landscape as the pterodactyl and fly flights. This time the landscape is recovering. No big trees, a lot of grass and weeds, bushes, saplings; less green and more colors. Other birds, bugs, and herds of small mammals.
          The birds alight on a pterodactyl skull. Lead birds starts singing; a territorial claim, the narrator explains.
          We zoom out to space, hearing the bird-song all the while. We see the astrobleme while the narrator intones:
          “What slew the mighty lizard lords?
          A mountain falling from the sky
          And all that lived were vermin hordes
          The ancestors of you and I.”

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