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Film and video

     

The Earth is Blue (in progress)



Screenplay by

Jeremy Noble

INT. A SCHOOLROOM SOMEWHERE IN THE USA. APRIL 12, 1961 Ė DAY

There is an American flag and a poster of President Kennedy (President 20 Jan.1961 Ė Nov. 23 1963) A class of bored schoolchildren is reading aloud Julius Caesar, a play by William Shakespeare (1564 Ė 1616). A schoolboy is reading the part of Cassius, with a pronounced twang.

SCHOOLBOY
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves Ö

The speech continues.

EXT. BAIKONUR COSMODROME, REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN, USSR. APRIL 12, 1961 Ė DAY

Cosmonautís P.O.V through the visor of his helmet, as the platform he is standing on, rises to the top of the rocket. There are mechanical sounds all around, and the breathing of the man within the spacesuit.

SCHOOLBOY (V.O.)
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

INT. VOSTOK SPACE CAPSULE.

Cosmonautís P.O.V. as he listens to the voice link between the Control Room and the Vostok capsule.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 1 (V.O)
and counting seventeen, sixteen, fifteen ...

DOCTOR (V.O.)
Pulse 155.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 1 (V.O)
twelve, eleven, ten, nine ...

DOCTOR (V.O)
Pulse 157.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 2 (V.O)
Eight Eight Zero thousands pounds thrust

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 1 (V.O)
... five, four, three, two, one Ö Lift Off!

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 3 (V.O)
Time check nine hours seven minutes and thirteen seconds am Moscow time.

COSMONAUT
Letís go!

A bright flash of light illuminates the screen. A muffled roar can be heard.

INT. CONTROL ROOM, BAIKONUR COSMODROME

The Control Room is nothing more than a shed. The roof leaks, and there is a bucket set beneath the most persistent drip. There is nothing Ďspace ageí about any of the equipment Ė banks of instrument dials manned by technicians in white coats. Sergei Korolev, Chief Designer, stands with his hands gripped against a television screen.

KOROLEV
Fly my little baby.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 2
Boosters away.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 3
Time check nine hours nine minutes and twenty four seconds am Moscow time.


KOROLEV
Fly.

POPOVICH
Comrade Gagarin is carrying all of our hopes with him.

KOROLEV
Hopes? These arenít hopes, these are dreams.

POPOVICH

I saw you take the tablet.

KOROLEV
And?

POPOVICH

Itís against regulations.

KOROLEV
I wrote the regulations.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 2
Main rocket away.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 3
Time check nine hours twelve minutes and forty three seconds am Moscow time.

DOCTOR
Pulse 155.

COSMONAUT
Separation from the carrier rocket completed.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 3
Time check nine hours eighteen minutes and sixteen seconds am Moscow time.

KOROLEV
Ground to Swallow. Tell us what you see Yuri Alekseeich.

INT. VOSTOK.

GAGARIN
The earth is blue!

DOCTOR (V.O)
See if you can eat.

GAGARIN
My motherís cooking is better!

DOCTOR (V.O)
Can you drink?

GAGARIN
Something a little stronger would have been nice.

KOROLEV (V.O)

You canít drink and drive Yuri Alekseeich.

GAGARIN
Iím not driving, you are.

KOROLEV (V.O)
We were worried about the effects of weightlessness.

GAGARIN
Let me drive.

KOROLEV (V.O)
We canít, you know that.

GAGARIN
Afraid Iíll take a wrong turn? Not much traffic here!

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 1 (V.O)
Altitude three hundred twenty-seven thousand metres.

KOROLEV (V.O)
No man has ever been so high.

GAGARIN
Letís hope I donít have a fear of heights.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 2 (V.O)
Speed twenty-two thousand two hundred sixty kilometres per hour.

KOROLEV (V.O)
No man has ever been so fast.

GAGARIN (V.O)
Letís hope there isnít a red light anywhere.

POPOVICH (V.O)
Itís official! Weíre on the radio! Listen!

INT. CONTROL ROOM

RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT
This is Radio Moscow. The Tass News Agency announces that the first
cosmonaut in the world is in space. The worldís first spaceship, Vostok, with a
man on board, was launched into orbit from the Soviet Union on 12 April 1961.
The pilot space-navigator of the satellite-spaceship Vostok is a citizen of the
USSR, Flight Major Yuri Gagarin. The launching of the multi-stage space rocket
was successful and, after attaining the first escape velocity 3 and the separation
of the last stage of the carrier rocket, the spaceship went into free flight on a
round-the-Earth orbit. According to the preliminary data, the period of revolution
of the satellite-spacecraft round the Earth is 89.1 min. The minimum distance
from the Earth at perigee is 175km and the maximum at apogee is 302km, and
the angle of inclination of the orbit plane to the Equator is 65 degrees 4 minutes.
The spacecraft with the navigator weighs 4,725kg, excluding the weight of the
final stage of the carrier rocket."

POPOVICH
Letís hope we donít need the other ones.

VOSKRESENSKIY
What other ones?

POPOVICH

One asked for help in rescuing a cosmonaut whoíd fallen to earth outside
Soviet territory.

VOSKRESINSKIY
And the other?

POPOVICH

Announced his death.

KOROLEV
Now heíll never die. [to Gagarin] Youíre going to be the most famous man in the
world!

A beat.
GAGARIN
I canít write anything.

DOCTOR
[Alarmed]: Whatís the matter?

GAGARIN (V.O.)
Iíve lost my pencil, the string broke, and the notebooks floating in front of my
face ... thatís better, I put it my pocket. No sketches by Leonardo!

KOROLEV
Is the camera working?

GAGARIN (V.O)
I think so.

KOROLEV
Check it.

GAGARIN (V.O)
Weíve beaten them, the Americans.

A beat.

GAGARIN (V.O)
I was just thinking how heís feeling.

KOROLEV
Who?

GAGARIN (V.O)
Whatever his name is whoís over there in training.

KOROLEV
Nobody remembers second Yuri Alekseeich.

GAGARIN (V.O)
Yes.

KOROLEV
Youíre going to be immortal Yuri Alekseeich. Yuri Gagarin. Like the Greeks.

GAGARIN (V.O)
Whatís that mean? Are they going to pay me more?

POPOVICH
Itís for you.
KOROLEV
Iím busy

POPOVICH
Itís Kruschev

KOROLEV
Youíve just been promoted Yuri, youíre now a major. Youíre going to have
everything Yuri Ė new apartment, car ... imagine it, girls, restaurants whatever
you want, itís yours.

A beat.
GAGARIN
Vodka?

KOROLEV
Litres of it, youíll be out cold!

GAGARIN
Good.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN
nine oí twelve and forty three seconds am Moscow time.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN
Retro rocket fired.

CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN
check ten hours fifteen minutes and eighteen seconds am Moscow time.

INT. VOSTOK

A bright purple light appears Ė friction with the atmosphere causing gas molecules to become ionized, creating the strange glow. Even within the craftís heat-shield protected cabin, and in his spacesuit, Gagarin feels the heat building up. The capsule rocks back and forth in all directions. Gagarin feels the G-force, building to 10 times normal gravity. He experiences the classic symptoms known to later fighter pilots. His vision blurs.

GAGARIN
Somethingís wrong, the cabinís spinning.

INT. CONTROL ROOM

POPOVICH
The cable trunkís failed to disconnect ... the moduleís still attached and dragging
Behind the cabin.

KOROLEV
We weighted it so that it would rotate to point the thickest part of the heat-shield
in the direction of flight to protect him from the heat of re-entry. With the
equipment module still attached, it wonít take up the correct attitude.

GAGARIN
I can work it out for myself ... Iím going to fry. Iíll be dogmeat, just like Laika.

KOROLEV
Stay calm!

GAGARIN
Thatís what happens when you fly too close to the sun. Like the Greeks.

KOROLEV:
Where is he?

POPOVICH
Africa

KOROLEV
Yuri Alekseich, listen, weíll sort it out Ö

GAGARIN
No! fuck it, I can fly it myself! Iím the only one up here. Iíve opened the
envelope, Iím going to punch in the numbers.

KOROLEV
No! I forbid you!

TECHNICIAN
Weíve lost contact with him.

KOROLEV
No, thatís not it.

POPOVICH
30 degrees per second thatís G force 10. Itís spinning out of control, he wonít be
able to stand the G force for more than Ö

DOCTOR
Ten minutes at the most.

KOROLEV
For Godís Yuri, listen to me, I know youíre there.

GAGARIN
I don't see any gods up here. Why donít I just keep going Ö flying forever
sounds okay to me

DOCTOR
Heís losing it.

KOROLEV
Yurik, be sensible.

GAGARIN
Youíre the one whoís been talking about Mars, and Venus ...

KOROLEV
That was down here!

GAGARIN
Well, from up here it looks much more possible. Isnít that what weíre
meant to do, explorers, perish in glory. So much for the gods.

KOROLEV
You will be! Yuri you will be!

GAGARIN
No thanks.... How far do you think I could get in ten days?

KOROLEV
[to the doctor] Why ten?

DOCTOR
We gave him ten days of food and water in case the retro rocket failed to fire.

INT. VOSTOK

Gagarin is on his own. He fights the effects of the G force, tensing his body to force blood back
to his head. His vision clears. At the same time the wires attaching the still-trailing equipment module snap off. As the G-forces subside Vostok enters the lower atmosphere, falling towards Earth.
CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN 3
Time check ten hours fifty five minutes and zero seconds am Moscow time.

At a height of 23,000 feet (7,000 meters), the main parachute blossoms above the Vostok, and seconds later the side hatch shoots off from the cabin, as planned. Two more seconds pass and Gagarinís ejection seat fires and he flies into the open air. Looking down, he sees a river (the Volga). Separating from his seat, Gagarin sees his own parachute open, slowing him to a more gentle descent.

POPOVICH
Heís on his way down.

KOROLOV?
Whereís he going to land?

POPOVICH
Somewhere near Saratov.

KOROLEV
Weíre in the history books.

VOSKRESINSKIY
No. If we want to claim a record the rules say that the pilot has to land with his
craft.

KOROLEV
Whoís going to tell them that he hasnít?

VOSKRESENSKIY
We canít hide it from them.

KOROLEV
Heís landing on Soviet territory; in the middle of nowhere;

VOSKRESENSKIY
Theyíll disqualify him.

KOROLEV
Not if they donít know, and theyíre not going to.


CONTROL ROOM TECHNICIAN
Total orbital flight revolution, eighty-nine minutes thirty-four seconds

As Gagarin descends, we see in montage for several minutes the historical consequences of manís first flight into space: the newspapers around the world announcing the news, Gagarin being feted in Moscow, Manchester, WashingtonÖ, the panic of the Americans, and Kennedyís speech when he announces the decision to go to the moon.

Gagarinís P.O.V. as he descends, the earth coming closer and closer. At the moment of impact, however, we are not in Saratov, in 1961 but Ö

Cut To:

EXT. BALCONY OF A PRESIDENTIAL SUITE IN A HOTEL IN THE CRIMEA IN 1965

Gagarinís P.O.V looking into the deep blue of a swimming pool.

WOMAN (V.O)
I bet you like looking at stars.

GAGARIN:
I was looking down.

EXT. On Gagarin, from below the balcony. He is no longer the handsome hero of Soviet iconography. He is overweight, haggard, unshaven and very drunk. Think of Elvis towards the end, and you have Gagarin.

Gagarinís P.O.V. as he turns to look inside the room. It is not looking as ĎPresidentialí as it was when he first arrived. The remains of a room-service breakfast, a room-service lunch and a room-service dinner are losing their freshness on three trolleys. A naked woman is lying in a massive bed; she is not Gagarinís wife.

 



© 2005 Jeremy Noble