This screenplay is a drama with the following elements:
Based on a true story
A buddy film
Strong male/female leads
A satisfying twist at the end
Locations: tax-favorable states or Alberta, Canada
R rating (or can be edited for PG-13)
Budget est. less than $7,000,000
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyrighted May 4, 2014 by MICHAEL LANCE RITTER (USA)
No portion of this work can be performed, published, reproduced, sold or distributed by any means, or quoted or published in any medium, including any web site, without the prior written consent of Michael Lance Ritter. WGA Registry 1718322, U.S. Copyright #1-1410521141
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It was read by a VP of Development at United Artists. She wrote, "Your drama has the potential to be an epic film; proceed to development." A Novafilmhouse executive wrote, "It's an extremely compelling drama deserving production."
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau moves inexorably to his day of reckoning in a life of peril, adventure, love and prejudice.
The 1865 opening sequence has him nearly killed in a saloon. We return to 1805 to the Lewis & Clark Expedition fort where Sacagawea is birthing him.
At age two after the expedition Clark gets permission to raise him as a son, but while there his wife constantly rejects him because he’s half Indian.
At age 18 he falls for elite Michelle, but her father ends their romance because Baptiste is Indian. She’s sent away and Clark arranges for him to go with Duke Wilhelm to Germany. While there he experiences palace life but also racism, violence and a tragic love affair. He returns to St. Louis an educated, broken man, and retreats to the wilderness.
A novice, he nearly dies in torrid heat but is saved by trapper Jim Beckwourth, who becomes his trail buddy. They carouse and trap beaver together. Rublette, his vicious main antagonist, first confronts him at a trappers' Rendezvous. Their confrontations haunt the story. He once said, "Squaw man, stay awake or it'll be me slittin' your throat."
He often longs for Michelle but their contact has ended, so he leads extreme expeditions. The 1846 Mexican War begins, taking him to California. Unknown to him, Michelle and her son Jacob are there. She finally says, "Oh come here you, I have no more questions." Their passion explodes.
They become a family and he becomes a post-war magistrate/sheriff and tries to stop Indian slavery by ranchers, causing great conflict. Allowed to only partially succeed in his effort, he, Michelle and Jacob enter the gold rush and settle down. His angst from prejudice gets erased but the good times don’t last. His beloved Michelle dies in his arms and he's devastated.
After recovering from her death his day of reckoning arrives. He's in a saloon with Beckwourth when Rublette enters with two men. A brutal fight ensues and Baptiste finally kills his nemesis.
He, Beckwourth and Jacob head for the Montana gold rush. They're excited and joking as they reach a river on horseback. He looks to his rear with a tense face, as he's uncertain about what lies ahead. But he still says "Boys, let's go for it!" And they leap in.
A Postscript briefly explains that he drowned in that river in 1866 and is buried in Oregon. Beckwourth dies the same year and has a Sierra pass named after him. Wilhelm never saw Baptiste again and never became the king. He died in 1860. Clark fought for Indians all his life and died in 1838.
The script is relevant for these times. Its subtle historical themes peek at war, greed and racism in the West. But it's a biopic drama that's edgy, realistic, humorous, with a love story and violence. It can be edited to PG-13.
Audiences will love this powerful American saga!
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