Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Before Sunrise (Scene: the Alley)

Céline and Jesse meet on a train travelling to Vienna. Céline is a student at the Sorbonne and Jesse is an American traveller.

(Jesse and Céline have resumed walking outside. We see them approaching the top of some stairs, then continuing down a quiet street.)

Jesse: I mean, there's these breeds of monkeys, right, and all they do is have sex, like all the time, you know? And uh, they turn out to be, like the least violent, the most peaceful, the most happy, you know, so I mean, maybe fooling around is not so bad.
Céline: (Incredulously.) Are you talking about monkeys?
Jesse: Yes. I'm talking about monkeys.
Céline: Ah, I thought so, yeah.
Jesse: Why?
Céline: You know, I never heard this one, but it reminds me of, like this perfect, you know, male argument to justify them fooling around.
Jesse: No, no, no. Woman monkeys are fooling around, too. (Waves his hands to defend his point.) Everybody's fooling around.
Céline: Yeah, that's cute. (They laugh.) You know, I have this awful paranoid thought, that feminism was mostly invented by men, so they could, like, fool around a little more. You know, women, free your minds, free your bodies, sleep with me. We're all happy and free as long as I can fuck (makes a punching motion with her fist) as much as I want.
Jesse: Alright, alright, alright. But maybe, maybe there's some biological things at work here. I mean, if you had an island, right, and there were ninety-nine women on the island, and only one man, in a year, you'd have the possibility of ninety-nine babies. But if you have an island with ninety-nine men, and only one woman, in a year, you'd have the possibility of only one baby. So...
Céline: So. You know what?
Jesse: What?
Céline: On this island, you know, I think that there will only be, like maybe forty-three men left. Because they would kill each other, trying to fuck this poor woman, you know what I mean? And on the other island, there would be ninety-nine women, ninety-nine babies, and no more man, because they would have all gotten together, and eaten him alive.
Jesse: Oh yeah?
Céline: Yeah.
Jesse: (Smiling and nodding in mock agreement.) Yeah? Yeah? See...see, I think there's something to that. I think on some level, women don't mind the idea of destroying a man, you know. Like, I was once walking down the street with my ex-girlfriend, you know, right, and we just walked by these, like real four, kind of (twitches shoulders in a “tough guy” sort of motion) thuggy looking guys, next to a Camaro, you know, and one of 'em, sure enough, says, “Hey baby, nice ass.” You know, I mean. So, I'm like alright, “Hey, no big deal,” I'm not gonna get uptight about this, right?
Céline: Yeah, plus, there were four of them, right?
Jesse: Yeah, exactly, there's four of them, right, but she turns around and she says, (flips the bird to the air behind him.) “Fuck you, dickheads,” and I'm like, okay, wait a minute, here, right? They're not gonna come over here and kick her ass, you know what I mean? So who just got pushed to the front line on that one? You see what I'm saying? I mean, women say they hate it if you‘re all territorial and protective, but if it suits them, then they'll tell you you're being all unmanly, or wimpy, or uh…
Céline: You know what? I don't think women really want to destroy men, and if, even if they want to, they don't...they don't succeed. You know what I mean? I'm sure even, you know, men are destroying women, or are able...capable of destroying women, much more than women...Well, anyway, it‘s depressing, I mean you know what?
Jesse: What? You want to stop talking about this?

(Voices fade as they walk down an incline with their backs to the camera.)

Céline: Yeah. I really hate it. You know, men, women you know, it‘s, it‘s...there's no end to this, like, you know...
Jesse: It‘s like a skipping record, you know?Céline: Yeah.Jesse: Every couple's been having this conversation forever.
Céline: And nobody's come up with anything.

(The scene cuts to a belly dancer dancing to a percussionist, performing on a street corner as several people watch. Jesse and Céline approach, then Céline pulls Jesse closer to watch.)

Céline: I saw a documentary on that. It's a birth dance.
Jesse: A birth dance?
Céline: Yeah.

(They stop and watch for a little while, until it‘s over. They clap.)

Jesse: Should I give her some money?
Céline: Yeah.
Jesse: (Speaking with hesitation, as he puts money in the pot.) Everything that's interesting costs a little bit of money. I'm telling you. So, birth dance, huh? Looked a little bit like a mating dance to me.
Céline: No, but really. Women used this when giving birth. In some parts of the world, they still do it.
Jesse: Yeah?
Céline: Yeah. The woman in labor enters a tent, and the women of her tribe surround her, and dance, and they encourage the birthing woman to dance with them as...so as to make the birth less painful.
Jesse: Yeah...
Céline: When the baby is born, they all dance in celebration.
Jesse: Wow. I don't think my mom would've gone for that. (Puts a coin on his forearm, snatches it, and shows it to Céline, who ignores him.)
Céline: I like the idea of dancing as a common function in life, something everybody participates in.


Jesse: Yeah, I know. I heard about this old guy, who was watching some young people dance. And he said, how beautiful. They're trying to shake off their genitals, and become angels.
Céline: I like that (Smiles.)
Jesse: Alright. One question, though, back there. When the women are dancing, and being all spiritual, and stuff, right? Where are the men? Are we out food-gathering? Are we not invited? Y'all don't need us? What?
Céline: Men are lucky we don't bite off their head after mating. Certain insects do that, you know, like spiders, and stuff.
Jesse: Mm-hmm.
Céline: We, at least, let you live. What are you complaining about?
Jesse: Yes. See, you're officially kidding, but there's something to that, you know. You keep bringing stuff like that up.
Céline: What?
Jesse: Yeah.
Céline: No, no, no, wait a minute. Talking seriously here. I mean,...I, I always feel this pressure of being a strong and independent icon of womanhood, and without making...making it look my...my whole life is revolving around some guy. But loving someone, and being loved means so much to me. We always make fun of it and stuff. But isn't everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?
Jesse: Hmmm. Yeah, I don't know (They sit on a pile of skids in an alley they are walking through.) Sometimes I dream about being a good father and a good husband, and sometimes that feels really close.
Céline: Hmm.
Jesse: But then, other times, it seems silly. Like it would uh, ruin my whole life. And it‘s not just a uh, a fear of commitment, or that I'm incapable of caring, or loving, because I can. It's just that if I'm totally honest with myself, I think I'd rather die knowing that I was really good at something, that I had excelled in some way, you know, then that I had just been in a nice, caring relationship.
Céline: Yeah, but I had worked for this older man, and once he told me that he had spent all of his life thinking about his career and his work, and...he was fifty-two and it suddenly struck him that he had never really given anything of himself. His life was for no one, and nothing. He was almost crying saying that. You know, I believe if there's any kind of God, it wouldn't be in any of us. Not you, or me...but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. (Sigh.) I know, it‘s almost impossible to succeed, but...who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.

(They both stare for a while, and then half-sigh, half-laugh.)

I believe if there's any kind of God, it wouldn't be in any of us. Not you, or me...but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.  

The answer must be in the attempt.

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