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Film Treatment Extended: WALK IN THE DARKNESS

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Scene By Scene Treatment



1)      WE OPEN at an archaeological dig site in Ephesus Turkey, 1948 where  Professor Winston Daws had been searching for the find of a lifetime, a potentially world-changing discovery that has long eluded him.  Finally, though, Daws efforts unearth an ancient box, the contents of which remains a mystery when we CUT TO . . .


2)      . . . the PRESENT and Chief Inspector Danielle Barnea (a Jewish Julia Roberts) of Israels National Police arriving at another archaeological site.  This ones in the Judean Desert where a dozen American archaeologists have been inexplicably murdered.  Sovereignty over this particular stretch of land, though, is under dispute, claimed by the Palestinians as well who dispatch their own detective to the scene.


3)      He is Inspector Bayan Ben Kamal (Harrison Ford circa Raiders), who was born in the West Bank but raised in Detroit.  Kamal returned to his homeland, following the brutal murder of his family there six years before, to help train the fledgling Palestinian detective force and to live up to the legacy of his father, a hero from the early wars with Israel.  But he hasnt enjoyed much success with either pursuit, and giving Ben this assignment is akin to sacrificing him to the political vultures.  Unfortunately for his superiors, they have underestimated both Bens abilities as a detective and as a person.  He and Danielle couldnt like each other less when they first meet, but quickly develop a mutual respect for each others professional abilities.


4)      At the dig site, a Bedouin man who discovered the bodies insists the murdered archaeologists had recently discovered something in a nearby cave similar to the one where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  There are also strange impressions left in the ground, as if from heavy machinery, and other indications that the archaeologists were slain by professional assassins. 


5)      Before they can investigate further, though, Ben and Danielle are interrupted by her rival at Shin Bet (Israels FBI), Commander Moshe Baruch, who assumes jurisdiction and orders both of them to leave.  Danielle sides, and ends up leaving with, Ben, mostly because she witnessed  him lift a miniature video disc off the body of one of the dead camp guards.  Obviously someone was keeping a very close eye on the American archaeological teams progress, but who?  And what might the disc contain?


6)      Before he can arrange to view the disc, Ben is called to the bustling outdoor market in Jericho where a madman has taken a woman hostage with a sword.  The man claims that the devil has returned, that he seen his mark (the tattoo an upside down cross) again on the forearms of men sent to kill him.  Ben manages to disarm the man without hurting him and gives the incident no further heed.


7)      In Jerusalem, meanwhile, Danielles beloved superior Hershel Giott warns her to tread lightly in the coming weeks because he is grooming her for a major position in National Police upon his upcoming retirement.  Forcing confrontations with men like Moshe Baruch is not the way to achieve her goals, he warns, ordering her to abandon the investigation of the murdered American archaeologists.


8)      Pilfered video disc in hand, Ben seeks out his most trusted ally in Palestine:  Colonel Nabril al-Asi, head of the Palestinian secret service (Think Claude Rains Louie in Casablanca.) who has been holding court lately in Jerichos brand new Oasis Casino (An actual place!)  Al-Asi agrees to make some technological arrangements to help Ben view his stolen, hi-tech video disc and to secure permission for him to continue his investigation in the Judean Desert . . . just before the colonel collects his winnings.


9)       Time for an abrupt scene change to the Vatican and Gianni Lorenzo (Christopher Walken in vestments), commander of the Swiss Guard responsible for guarding the Pope.  But Lorenzo has clearly stretched the boundaries of his charge:  He addresses a subordinate who was in charge of the team that murdered the American archaeologists!  Unfortunately for him, the subordinate reports that he did not find the object hed been sent to retrievean ancient box identical to the one Winston Daws uncovered over fifty years before that is connected to a secret that must be protected at all costs!  Without giving everything away so early, its clear that Lorenzo was the original guardian of this secret, dispatched to protect it when the ancient box first surfaced in Ephesus in 1948.  And he is still utterly devoted to that charge which includes killing anyone who gets close to the truth:  Ben and Danielle now.


10)  Despite her superiors warning, Danielle decides to pursue her investigation of the murdered American archaeologists.  She arrives shortly after Ben and is denied access until Ben tells the Israeli authorities she is here to work as a liaison with the Palestinian government.  At that point Bens not even sure why he does it.  Perhaps because he knows Danielle can reveal the existence of the video disc he stole the day before.  But more likely because there is an attraction between them that defies explanation and transcends culture


11)  Commander Moshe Baruch of Shin Bet can no longer stop Ben and Danielle from making a more thorough inspection of the site, including the cave where something was discovered shortly before the mass murders.  Their inspection, though, yields nothing other than rocks and a single phone number written in Arabic amongst one of the dead camp guards possessions. The rocks, strangely, are all numbered, and Danielle steals one on the chance it might be important.


12)  Danielle takes the rock to be analyzed by forensics specialist Ari Rosen, a colorful wheelchair-bound veteran of Israels many wars, who lives in a house decorated through and through with memorabilia of the many cases he has solved.


13)  Meanwhile, Ben traces the phone number to, of all places, a radical Jewish settlement led by a rabbi named Mordecai Lev (who does not believe Palestinians belong anywhere in biblical Israel including the West Bank) and finds Lev upon a picturesque hilltop with a striking view into Israelwhich shouldnt matter to the rabbi since he is blind!  Lev admits the camp guards were being paid by him to film all the goings-on at the dig site.  The rabbi claims the one disc he has not seen, the one Ben found in the dead guards pocket, will show why the American archaeologists had to die and reveal a secret that has been kept at all costs from his militant sect whose faith is based entirely on the coming of the Messiah.  Lev tells Ben about another archaeological team, under the leadership of Winston Daws (Scene #1) that was wiped out in identical fashion in 1948.  How he knows so much remains a mystery.  But Ben, he insists, is now in grave danger too and Lev says he is the only person who can save him.


14)  Danielles forensics expert Ari Rosen surprises her with the news that the rock she provided from the Judean Desert dig site seems to have come from the Texas Panhandle!  Could this mean that the American archaeologists were actually bringing something into the desert instead of taking it out, or is there another explanation? 


15)  Ben pays a visit to Father Mike, the priest who presides over Jerichos single, dilapidated Catholic church. Their discussion is more practical than theological, but leaves us with the feeling that, after all he has been through, Ben is a man who has lost his faith.  Becoming a hero like his father is the only way he can see of getting it back, but things just havent worked out that way since his return to Palestine. 


16)  Ben is walking home from his visit with Father Mike when he is assaulted by a pair of men intent on killing him.  He manages to defeat them and is struck by the tattoo each of them wears on their forearm:  that of an upside red cross Ben recalls from a description provided by the madman he disarmed in Jerichos market!  If his life is in danger, though, so is Danielles!


17)  Danielle arrives home at her apartment and is just opening the door when Ben tackles her to the floor.  Danielle is shocked to say the least and finds herself skeptical over Bens insistence that her life is in dangerthat is until he points out a shiny substance coating the doorknob.  One sniff tells Danielle the substance is a transdermal poison that would have been fatal had she turned the knob.  The bond between them is irrevocably established now, as they begin to realize they have only each other to rely on.  Suddenly the cultural divides between them dont seem as great.  A common pursuit, and common danger, have thrust them together in an intense and emotionally-charged way.


18)  They hide out in Bens apartment where their obvious attraction almost turns passionate.  Theyre both able to resist at the last moment, though, clearly afraid and apprehensive over where this might be going.  Ben and Danielle are on the verge of yielding to temptation again the next morning, when Colonel al-Asi calls Ben to tell him he has deciphered the miniature video disc.  


19)  Ben takes Danielle with him to view the disc in the security center of the Oasis Casino, further establishing their forbidden bond.  Al-Asi, for his part, devilishly approves, clearly with his own agenda in mind.  The disc he has deciphered answers some of their questions, while raising new and larger ones.  Indeed, the disc portrays the Americans drilling deep into the ground with heavy equipment (Accounting for the deep impressions in the ground Ben and Danielle found when they first arrived on the scene see Scene #4).  Apparently, they were not archaeologists at all, but geologists!  And instead of searching for long-lost finds, they were searching for something else entirely in the West Bank.  But what?  The disc shows something else as well, though:  An American emerging from the cave with an ancient box in his hands, an ancient box identical to the one found by Professor Winston Daws in Ephesus a half century before (See Scene #1)! Apparently, one or two real archaeologists were brought along by the American geologists for cover, and those archaeologists happened to stumble upon one of the most important finds in history that ultimately cost the entire team their lives.


20)  Then were back with Gianno Lorenzo, commander of the Vaticans Swiss guard, as he pushes his predecessors wheelchair through the vast Vatican gardens.  Lorenzo ruminates on his own failings, pledging to write the wrong that he confesses was his fault for not completing his mission in 1948.  Not surprisingly, Lorenzo too wears a tattoo of an upside down red cross on his forearm.  He tells his predecessor that the attempt to eliminate Ben and Danielle has failed and he intends to travel to Israel to personally lead the team that will repair all the damage that has been done.


21)  Meanwhile, the tattoo on the arms of his would-be killers the night before leads Ben to realize that the madman in the square whom he disarmed was actually telling the truth and might be able to help him.  The mans name is Abid Rahman.  Ben visits him in jail and asks to hear the story about the first time he saw the devilthe man with the tattoo of an upside down cross.


22)  A FLASHBACK SEQUENCE to the year 1948 follows in which Rahman as a boy guides a stone-faced stranger into the desert.  The stranger is holding the ancient box  we remember from Ephesus and the Judean Desert.  The stranger is the younger Gianni Lorenzo who, after killing Winston Daws and all but one of his team members (Keep that in mind!), couldnt bring himself to destroy the box.  So he had the younger Rahman guide him deep into the desert and buried the box in a place he never thought it would be found:  the site of the dig in the Judean Desert where the Americans were murdered


23)  Back in Jerusalem, Danielles forensics expert Ari Rosen shocks her with the revelation that the Americans had found oil in the West Bank (explaining why the rocks found at the dig site were almost identical to those from the oil-rich Texas Panhandle in Scene #14), a find potentially larger than any other in the Middle East!  The implications, while staggering, dont explain why the Americans were executed, because the reasons for that lie instead with the contents of the ancient box.


24)  Ben then joins Danielle in paying another visit to the blind rabbi, Mordecai Lev.  Ben has known all along that Lev knows more than hes said already (in Scene #13) and Lev finally tells him the shocking story:  That the ancient box contains a manuscript written by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus that could change civilization forever.  Winston Daws had brought along a young Jewish scholar to translate his find, a scholar who survived but was blinded in the attack by Gianni Lorenzos men.  Yes, Lev was there that day in 1948, explaining why he is so obsessed with recovering the manuscript he only partially translated back then.  He tells Ben that Josephus manuscript seemed to indicate that Jesus survived the crucifixion and was taken to a doctor who treated his wounds!  Another dead body was laid in the tomb to replace that of Jesus!  Ever since, Lev has been thirsting for revenge against the soldiers of the church who maimed him.  And what better vengeance than to reveal to the world that the Resurrection never happened?  But the blind rabbi clearly has more nefarious means in place for achieving his ends:  Ben and Danielle have just left when Commander Moshe Baruch arrives for a meeting!  Obviously he and the rabbi are somehow implicated together in this plot, but how exactly?


25)  While Danielle rushes back to Jerusalem, Ben is summoned to a meeting with Colonel al-Asi at the Oasis Casino.  While checking slot machines, al-Asi informs Ben that the upside-down red cross is the mark of the Knights Templars, an elite order of papal soldiers whose origins date back a thousand years.  Al-Asi has also been researching the Daws expedition of 1948 and uncovered a number of photographs, including one of the entire group surrounding Daws whos wearing a camera around his neck.  Ben asks al-Asi to look into any still-living relatives of Daws and then heads back to the dig site where he is certain the ancient box that can prove the greatest event in human history never happened must still be.


26)  Danielle reaches National Police headquarters and heads for the office of her aged superior, Hershel Giott, to brief him on what has happened.  But she finds her arch nemesis Moshe Baruch there instead.  Baruch was just appointed commissioner of the department after Giott suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.  Hes not about to listen to anything Danielle has to say, especially since he is somehow involved in whatever was really going on in the Judean Desert.  In their exchange, though, Baruch reveals more than he had meant to, leading Danielle to conclude he and Rabbi Mordecai Lev have joined forces to somehow drive the Palestinian people out of the West Bank once and for all!  Baruch insists that if Danielle acts against his wishes, she does so at her own peril.  Either she cooperates, thereby betraying Ben Kamal, or she will pay a terrible price.  Danielle refuses and leaves Baruchs office at her own peril. 


27)  The Judean Desert is where we find Ben next:  returning to the crime scene which is now deserted save for a pair of army guards Ben incapacitates.  He climbs up to the cave where the Americans recovered the ancient box containing Josephus manuscript and begins to dig holes with a small shovel he brought along, believing the token archaeologist members of the team must have reburied the find for safekeeping. 


28)  From Baruchs office, Danielle returns to Ari Rosen in an attempt to figure out what Moshe Baruch and Rabbi Mordecai Lev are really up to in the Judean Desert.  Rosen uncovers the fact that the West Banks primary water supply runs right through the very spot where the oil has been discovered.  The connection is too striking to be a coincidence, and Danielle seems to figure out exactly whats going on before she leaves to find Ben.


29)  Back in the Judean Desert cave, night has fallen and, working with a flashlight, Ben finally uncovers the ancient box . . . just as Commander Moshe Baruch arrives on the scene with a team of Israeli police  He demands that Ben hand it over.  But Ben refuses and a confrontation seems inevitable.  That is until Colonel al-Asi arrives with his own gunmen and a court order signed by an Israeli judge affirming that this stretch of land is actually Palestinian territory.  Baruch has no choice but to vacate the premises.


30)  After Baruch is gone, Ben and al-Asi open the box but are gravely disappointed by what they find.  The box contains nothing but dust and debris, the years and the elements having finally taken their toll on the ancient papyrus.  But all is not lost, for al-Asi informs Ben that Professor Winston Daws only relative is a sister who is right here in the West Bank, working as a United Nations teacher in a Palestinian refugee camp!


31)  Danielle is on her way to find Ben to share what she has uncovered when she is ambushsed by the Knights Templars.  A chase through the markets of Jerusalems famed Arab market ensues, staged amidst the kiosks, pushcarts, whole fish, ceramic waterpipes, oriental rugs, and trinkets that dominate the cluttered street.  Danielles determined efforts, though, are not enough to keep her from being captured.


32)  At that time, Ben is paying a visit to the sister of archaeologist Winston Daws in the squalid confines of a Palestinian refugee camp.  Strangely, she is not surprised to see him, was even expecting and hoping for it.  Without prodding, she produces a set of snapshots that were mailed by her brother only hours before his death.  She explains that she had been carrying them around ever since hearing about the murders of the American archaeologists.  Obviously the same force was also responsible for her brothers eath, and she hands the snapshots over to Ben in the hope justice can finally be done.  What is it that makes people kill for these? she asks Ben.  The pictures, though not in great shape themselves, will help him answer that question by capturing the whole of the missing manuscript Rabbi Mordecai Lev never finished translating.


33)  Colonel al-Asi is thrilled with the discovery because it means it will be the Palestinians who have solved the mystery instead of the Israelis!  And that should be enough to propel Ben to the same hero status as his legendary father.  Only before he can celebrate, Ben is contacted by Gianni Lorenzo who demands the manuscript (which no longer exists) in exchange for Danielle Barnea.  Much to al-Asis disappointment, Ben forsakes his goal, the very reason why he returned to Palestine, and races off to turn over the photos and save Danielle at the Catholic church in Jericho, thereby isolating himself from his people just as she has already isolated herself from hers.


34)  At the church, before the Knights Templars arrive, Father Mike completes the translation that Rabbi Lev never had the opportunity to.  Working with a magnifying glass, he surprises Ben with the revelation that Lev had gotten it all wrong!


35)  Just as Father Mike finishes explaining the real translation to Ben (off screen), Gianni Lorenzo and his Knights Templars arrive with Danielle in tow.  Ben produces a few of the photographs Father Mike translated and explains to Lorenzo the actual tale they tell:  The prisoner brought to the doctor after the crucifixion wasnt Jesus at all: he was a common criminal taken there after the body of Jesus disappeared!  The doctors job was to replicate the wounds suffered by Jesus on the criminal as closely as possible, so his body could be laid in the tomb in place of Jesus!  In other words, the doctor was charged with inflicting wounds, instead of repairing them.  But the fact that Jesus body had vanished was discovered before the Roman guard could return with the body of the criminal and history followed just as we know it.  In point of fact, then, the manuscript that has cost so many lives actually proves the opposite of what the Vatican has thought for all these years, because the translation was never completed accurately!  But Ben warns Lorenzo that he will not receive the remainder of the photographs that can prove this, until Danielle is safely away.


36)  But Danielle has something else on her mind and proceeds to explain what she has figured out:  that Rabbi Mordecai Lev and Commander Moshe Baruch have joined in a plot to blow up the underground oil reservoirs, thereby poisoning the entire West Bank water supply!  With no water, how will the Palestinians survive?  The answer is they wont, unless Ben and Danielle can stop Lev before its too late.  And for that they need the help of the Knights Templars!  Ben refuses to hand over the remaining photographs to Lorenzo unless he agrees, which he does.


37)  The stage has been set for a climactic battle between two long-time enemies.  Ben, Danielle, and the Knights Templars return to the dig site in the Judean Desert to find armed guards everywhere.  The plan is for the Knights Templars to engage Levs forces long enough for Ben and Danielle to reach the cave (the same one in which the ancient box was found) that leads deep into the bowels of the desert where Rabbi Lev will undoubtedly place his charges. 


38)  Once inside the cave, Ben and Danielle follow a trail down into the endless sub-layers of the desert landscape.  It is there, deep underground in an ancient tomb populated by skeletons petrified into the walls, that Lev intends to trigger an explosion that will rupture the oil reservoir and destroy the West Banks water supply forever.  And the Rabbi is on the verge of doing just that when Ben and Danielle arrive. Danielle takes on the gunmen while Ben goes for the detonator.  The gunfire starts a chain reaction that collapses the walls, forcing Danielle to dodge skeletons as they crumble inward in eerie backdrop to the battle. Across the ancient tomb, Lev pushes the button just before Ben strips the detonator from his grasp.  Ben finds himself looking down in horror at the flashing red button when, suddenly, it dies out with no explosion having resulted.  A miracle?  Just maybe.  Lev tries to trigger the explosives manually but loses his footing and plunges to his death, as Ben and Danielle shoot the final gunmen.


39)  The next day Father Mike councils Ben that if a miracle did happen, it belongs to him and him alone.  His faith restored, his walk in the darkness over, Ben heads to a final meeting with Gianni Lorenzo at the Vatican residence in Jerusalem.  There, Ben produces the rest of Winston Daws photographs, but burns them instead of handing them over to punish Lorenzo for his evil.


40)  Danielle is waiting outside and they embrace, having learned that their love is indeed strong enough to overcome the prejudices between their peoples.  How far will it take them?  Well have to wait for the sequel to find out!


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