Last Christmas – Short Screenplay

Dies ist ein merkwürdiges kleines Drehbuch. Ich habe es im Rahmen meines Studiums geschrieben und daher ist es auf Englisch, aber eigentlich spielt es in Deutschland. Vielleicht sollte ich es mal übersetzen, aber jetzt erst einmal so wie es ist …

LAST CHRISTMAS

by

Patricia Bauer

BLACK

FADE IN on

The February edition of the „Spiegel“-Magazine.

The title theme states:

„DEPRESSION – The disease of the 21st century“

„Why the world is getting more and more sad.“

1. INT.  WAITING ROOM – DENTIST – DAY

CHRISTA, an elegant woman about 50, picks the magazines from the table.

With an amused smile on her face she flicks through the pages. Then she puts it back on the table. Her gaze wanders around and follows the sun rays that dance around the room to the window.

Down in the busy shopping street people are walking by, with bags, most of them stressed and hectic. Under her window is a marquise on which a little sparrow loudly chirps.

Christa takes a little booklet and a pencil out of her purse and starts to sketch the scene.

She is quite absorbed with the drawing as the dentist’s assistant enters.

ASSISTANT
Mrs. Jaeger?

She turns around.

2. INT. SURGERY

The dentist examines Christa’s mouth.

DENTIST
So, it was an early stage then?

CHRISTA
(with open mouth)
Yeah – well … sort of.

The dentist smiles encouragingly. She puts the tools away and two pads into Christa’s mouth. Then she turns around to fix an injection.

POV CHRISTA

Christa, in the dentist chair, catches the dentist’s hands, which prepare the injection, from the edge of her view.

Christa starts to mumble and mime, that she doesn’t want the injection.

DENTIST
No? But I’m going to have to get to the roots.

Christa intensifies her mumbling and gestures.

DENTIST
Are you sure?

Christa nods. She sighs, rolls her eyes, then smiles slightly. The dentist, still a bit unsure about this, puts the injection away as we cut to the title:

LAST CHRISTMAS

3. INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING

KATI, Christa’s daughter, sits on the couch watching a film on TV. She is 17 and looks almost like a woman.

Christa enters.

CHRISTA
Remember you wanted to help me buying a Christmas tree tomorrow morning.

Kati doesn’t look up.

KATI
Hmm.

CHRISTA
Do I have to throw you out of bed for that?

KATI
Hmm.

Christa shakes her head in despair and starts watering the plants. On some of them she removes dead leaves and little insects, that flock around the blossoms.

From time to time she stops and looks at the screen on tv. We only hear the noises from the film, but not actually see the pictures, just Christa getting caught up in them. She finished watering the plants while watching tv and spills a bit of water on the board. She notices it, stops watering the plants and just holds the pot in her hand.

Kati notices, that Christa is watching as well.

KATI
Almost finished anyway.

Christa with the pot of water still in her hands looks at the screen.

SCREEN

A woman gets knocked out with a baseball bat. In slow-motion she falls to the floor.

DISSOLVE TO BLACK

We hear someone breathing, then the noise of knocking on wood. A match is lit.

The woman discovers that she lies in a coffin.

MATCHCUT

4. INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

DREAM

Christa is in the coffin. She knocks on the wood of the coffin. Then she lights another match. The match sets of unnaturally much smoke. She can’t breathe anymore. Then the coffin starts shrinking. In the end the material clings around her chest. Then the telephone starts to ring. She wants to reach the telephone, but she can’t move. Breathing gets harder and harder. The telephone rings and rings. It doesn’t stop.

CU

She opens her eyes.

She finds herself in bed. The alarm clock rings. She looks at it. It shows 6 am. She switches it off.

Her husband HANS sleeps calmly beside her. He is a quite tall and well-built. Half-asleep he turns from one side to the other and puts his hand on her chest.

She puts his arm away and sits up. She still has trouble breathing. She gets up and opens the window. She looks outside. It is still dark. The street is quiet.

5. EXT. STREET – DAY

Christa and Kati along a small street street. The ground is dry. The little houses and front gardens are decorated with Christmas stuff. On one of the trees are little handmade and lovingly painted figures.

KATI
Look, we used to do that too.

Christa smiles glancing on the figures only for a second.

CHRISTA
Yeah … I wish it would snow though. I bet we get a green Christmas again …

She sighs visibly stressed out.

KATI
Say, did you try the healer I told you about?

CHRISTA
No, why should I?

KATI
He’s really good.

CHRISTA
Kati, I don’t have any psychological problems like you do perhaps. This is a real disease.

Her daughter keeps her gaze on the ground.

They come to a busy cross road, stop and look to the other side of the street, where there is an empty space between the houses. Christa looks disappointed.

MATCHCUT

FLASHBACK (monochrome sepia)

Christa stands at the same corner, but in the place of her daughter this time. She is 10 years old and at the hand of her mother. The houses look different. Most of the newer houses aren’t there, replaced by ruins and empty spots. At the corner, that is now empty, is a Christmas tree fair with decoration of Christmas lights.

Christa and her mother enter the market. Christa curiously looks around.

CHRISTA’S POV

She admires all the electric lights around it and watches fascinated the hands of the sellers, who shorten trunks, exchange money with customers and chat with a cigarette in their mouths. As she gets dragged along by her mother, she enters a wood of trees. The trees are at least as high as she is. Her eyes are curiously wide open.

MATCHCUT

6. EXT. CHRISTMAS TREE FAIR – DAY

Her eyes are still wide open. They water a bit. The trees in front of her are now pine. Christa walks with her daughter through the fair.

CHRISTA
(disappointed)
There used to be a Christmas tree fair at that corner, I know it.

KATI
We walked just a couple of streets more …. it is not that far away.

CHRISTA
(frustrated)
Took time though.

A person on the market walks in front of the camera and covers the frame with his black coat.

BLACK

7. INT. CT SCAN MACHINE – DAY

FADE IN

on CU of Christa’s eyes.

Around her is darkness, but we can make out, that she lies in a tube. The „ceiling“ is very close to her face. She breathes slowly, but flat, as she if want to calm herself down. She seems to have trouble breathing. She opens her mouth. Finally she closes her eyes, as we

CUT TO:

BLACK

CUT TO:

Her eyelids move nervously as she tries to concentrate.

CUT TO:

BLACK

FADE IN on Christa’s POV

The blue sky. Some clouds are seen. The tail of an airplane parts the sky. We hear the gentle wind moving the grass and the noise of the airplane from a distance. The camera pans from one side to the other, as Christa would move her head and reveals that she lying on top of a small hill with nothing around her than grass and sky. Now her breath is calm and deep.

CUT TO a white wall.

The camera tracks back as a round door opens and Christa’s body lying on a bed appears.

8. INT. CT SCAN ROOM – CHARITÈ

The assistant comes into the room and frees her from the cables and the belts. As she sits up, we can see, that she is elegantly dressed as always, although her hair looks a bit messy after lying in the tube of the computer tomography machine. Her face looks tired. The assistant helps her to sit up.

MATCHCUT

9. INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Christa sits on the edge of the bed. She gets undressed for the night. Her husband lies on the bed in his pyjamas reading the science section of a magazine. He looks up.

HANS
Did they say anything to the ct scan yet?

CHRISTA
Not particularly. Why?

HANS
(teasing)
Just wanted to know if I can live with you happy ever after.

Christa smiles slightly.

CHRISTA
Didn’t you have plans to take a break after Christmas?

HANS
(serious again)
You know, I would never leave you alone if you need me.

He reaches over an gives her a hug. She stays stiff in his arms.

10. INT. KITCHEN – DAY

Christa prepares the food. She puts the goose into a big iron pan on the floor and puts hot fat over it. Then she attempt to put the pan into the oven. She has trouble lifting the pan. In the end she leaves it on the floor.

CHRISTA
Kati! Kati!

Nothing happens. She sighs. She leaves the pan on the floor and starts preparing potato salad and hors d’oeuvres.

11. INT. LIVING ROOM

Kati decorates the Christmas tree. Carefully she chooses the decoration from several boxes. Takes one, puts one aside.

Christa comes rushing in.

CHRISTA
Is the phone ringing?

Both look at the phone. It is not ringing.

12. INT. KITCHEN

Christa and Kati look at the goose on the floor. Kati lifts the goose easily and puts it in the oven. Christa sighs.

CHRISTA
Do you know, what is weird? The radiologist, he explained the patient before me everything, to me he just said Merry Christmas and that the Professor would get in touch with me.

KATI
Perhaps – Don’t know, don’t know anything about doctors anyway. –  Shall I help you with something else?

CHRISTA
No, it’s ok.

13. INT. LIVING ROOM – LATER IN THE DAY

Kati sits on the sofa and reads a book. The living room is tidy, the tree is decorated and the first Christmas presents are to be found under it.

Outside it starts snowing in big flakes. Kati looks up. Then she gets up and goes to the window.

POV

Outside everything gets slowly covered in white flakes.

14. INT. KITCHEN

Kati enters and taps Christa on the shoulder. She points at the window. Christa, who was busy with her pots and pans looks up and smiles bright.

15. INT. LIVING ROOM

Christa and Kati open the balcony door and go outside onto the

BALCONY

They look outside. The trees get slowly covered in snow. Kati starts to catch snowflakes with her tongue. Christa just stands there and enjoys the peace and the silence. She looks outside. The trees are slowly becoming white. Two children are outside with a sledge. She smiles.

She watches the snowflakes fall on the flower pots and the pine branches on the balcony. She watches them fall on the floor with the old plastic carpet. She opens her hand and lets the snowflakes fall on her hand. She watches them melt to little water drops.

The telephone rings.

She turns around and rushes into the living room leaving Kati alone on the balcony. Kati looks disappointed.

LIVING ROOM

Christa picks up the phone.

CHRISTA
Hello? – Oh, it’s you ….

16. INT. CHURCH – NIGHT

The church is packed. The people sing „Oh du froehliche“, which is the last song of the service. With the last chords of the song, the people start to leave the church. Christa, her husband Hans and Kati wait. They are right at the end of one row. After the rows cleared a bit, they get up and walk to the middle. Kati walks to the altar and the Christmas tree right next to it. Her parents first walk in the other direction, then they notice, what she is doing and follow her. She lights a candle, that she brought, on the candles of the Christmas tree.

Christa stands beside her. She looks at the figures of Jesus, Maria and Joseph, neatly decorated with moss and flowers.

CU CHRISTA’S POV

She looks at every detail, admires the flowers and the moss around them. A hand comes into frame and starts to arrange the flowers and the figures. As the camera dollies out, it reveals, that the hand belongs to an old man, who decorates the church. Very slowly and carefully he handles the figures. The church is empty. The tree is still plain. A ladder leans beside it on the wall. An older woman comes into the door with flowers and Christmas decoration in her hands.

BACK TO SCENE

CHRISTA
I wish I had the energy to do that.

Kati turns to her.

KATI
We can go.

Christa looks up, then they walk out of the church.

17. EXT. TRAIN STATION – DAY

Christa and Hans walk past the board with departure times of the trains. They hold hands. Hans carries a small suitcase.

They  walk up the stairs to the platforms.

HANS
You don’t really take that seriously, do you?

CHRISTA
(very serious)
Look, what she gave me.

Christa pulls a part of a yellow press newspaper out of her pocket. The headline of the article states:

„Miracle healer in our city“

Beside the article is big picture of MARKUS, the healer.

HANS
But I’m sure if it would be in the „Spiegel“ you would believe it.

CHRISTA
Oh, shut up!

Hans smiles slightly.

HANS
Why does Kati think you need some superhero to save you?

Christa doesn’t answer.

They reach the platform as the train comes into the station. The noise of the train is so loud, that it drowns out the rest of the conversation.

CONDUCTOR
Coming in on platform 4 IC „Emil Nolde“

to Westerland/Sylt.

Hans and Christa hug and he gets into the train. The doors close. The train leaves. Christa stays behind on the platform.

18. INT. BEDROOM – DAY

Kati sits on the bed, the phone on her ear. Christa comes in, still in her coat and shoes.

KATI
Yeah, well I guess, I see you Silvester then. Ok. Tschuess.

She puts the phone down and looks at her mother.

CHRISTA
You want to go out one new year’s eve?

KATI
Yeah, to some party with Markus.-

CHRISTA
You’re not going out with that charlatan. He’s thirteen years older than you and –

KATI
He’s my friend, not my boy-friend!

CHRISTA
He’s bad influence. Healing hands! – This is reality! Tell him, you are not going.

KATI
But it’s the millennium, Mutti …..

CHRISTA
I don’t care.

Kati exits the room and slams the door behind her.

Christa looks at the phone. Her eyes fill with tears.

Christa turns around, attempts to go after her daughter, then decides differently, picks up the phone and begins to dial.

CHRISTA
Hello. Could I speak to Professor Seidel, please? Hmmm. The second, you say? Ok, thank you.

She puts the phone down and stares at the little night table beside her bed, totally in thought. On the table are pictures of her and Hans from a holiday 10 years ago. They look happy and in love. She stares at them, tears constantly running down her cheeks.

19. INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

Christa sits alone at the table. On the table are still the remains of the dinner with Kati. Streamers are decorating the table and the Christmas tree. She stands up and starts to clean up the table.

A little later is still some of the food left on the table. She puts a record on. A waltz of Johann Strauß is heard. She starts dancing around the table. While dancing she picks up one of the crackers on the table and puts it in her mouth. Then she pretends to have a partner in her arms. As she turns quicker and quicker.

MATCHCUT

INT. BALLROOM – NIGHT

She is about 20 years old and dances to the same waltz as before, but this time in the arms of a handsome man about her age. They dance in perfect harmony with each other and obviously enjoy it a lot. Around them are other couples, amongst them Christa’s parents. All are dressed in 50ies evening dresses, the colours of the whole picture seem to be slightly faded. Because Christa and her partner – dancing beautifully and enthusiastically – take up more and more room, the other couple make space. More and more stop dancing and watch Christa and her partner. At the end of the waltz, Christa and her partner are alone on the dance floor. They stop, sweat on the forehead, and look around astonished, then look at each other, smile.

BACK TO SCENE

CU on Christa’s face

She smiles.

She turns the tv on. She has a glass of sparkling wine in her hand. On the tv, they count down the last ten seconds of the old year. She counts out loud with them.

CHRISTA
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Prosit Neujahr.

She drinks a sip of her wine and attempts to go onto the balcony as the telephone rings.

She picks it up.

KATI (V.O.)
(from the other end of the phone)
Prosit Neujahr, Mutti!

Christa smiles.

20. INT. BEDROOM – DAY

Christa hangs up the phone and walk into the

CORRIDOR

Her expression looks worried. The small suitcase of her husband stands right in the middle of the corridor. She stops as Hans almost the same instance comes out of the living room. They meet at the suitcase. He looks at her serious face, then at his suitcase.

HANS
Oh, sorry.

He hurries to pick up the suitcase. She doesn’t move. He looks at her again, the suitcase in his hand.

CHRISTA
I’m due in the hospital tomorrow.

21. INT. SURGERY ROOM – CHARITE – DAY

Christa lies on the surgery table. She looks around the room as the doctor next to her reads out loud a piece of paper, stating, what can happen during the surgery. She doesn’t move her head, just looks with her eyes. She sees the white walls and the white door leading to the other room, the metal tables with the metal instruments on them and the white cold light above her. Her gaze stops at the shaded windows.

The doctor is finished reading out the paper. He gets a pen from one of the tables and hands her the pen and the paper.

DOCTOR
Would you please sign here?

Christa looks at the paper. Slowly she takes the paper and the pen and signs it. Then she gives it back to the doctor.

A LITTLE LATER

Christa still lies on the surgery table. The nurses and the doctor are busy putting cables on her body and a tube in her mouth. Then the doctor injects a needle in her arm. Slowly the fluid drops from the plastic bag into the tube, that leads to the needle. Drip, drip, drip, drip. Slowly Christa closes her eyes.

FADE TO:

BLACK

FADE IN

CU of Christa’s face

The tube is in her mouth. Her eyes are closed. She gets a cramp and starts to choke. A gloved hand loosens up her jar around the tube. It has to work quite violently. Christa’s front teeth crack in the process.

FADE TO:

BLACK

FADE IN

22. INT. HOSPITAL BEDROOM – DAY

CHRISTA’S POV

Slowly she half-opens her eyes. The light comes brightly through her eyelids. Quickly she closes her eyes, then tries again. She blinks. Everything is still blurred, as she finally opened her eyes fully. After a beat it gets sharp. Everything bright and vibrant, all colours are very clear and vivid. She turns her head slowly to one side. The window comes in sight. It is a bright cold day outside. On the rooftops of the houses is still a bit of snow left, which sparkles in the sun. On one of the roof sits a swarm of jackdaws. Some of them circle around the top, then sit down as others start off for a round. Christa smiles and greets then with a slight nod. Then she slowly turns her head to the other side. On the table next to her bed is a bunch of flowers. They look wild and colourful. She just observes the details of the flowers. One leaf of a tulip is almost falling off. The stalks of the marguerites are curvy and uneven. Underneath the flowers stands a card, which Christa can read without moving her head too much. It’s reads:

Hope you get well soon. All the best in the world wish you your comrades from the rowing club.

The card is signed with about fifteen women’s names.

The door of the room opens quietly. A nurse and her husband enter. The nurse notices Christa’s open eyes and nods to the husband in agreement. Then she leaves the room, closing the door behind her.

Christa looks into her husband’s face. He nervously smiles.

HANS
Are you ok?

Christa nods. Her husband notices the flowers and the card.

HANS
Shall I read that to you?

Christa smiles and nods again. She watches his hands as he sits down beside her bed and takes the card. He reads out loud the text on the card.

His voice fades over into the next scene.

23. INT. HOSPITAL LAB – DAY

CU

A glass filled with liquid, a red round tumour lies inside. Christa, in her night gown, leans half over half behind the glass and looks at the tumour, takes the glass in her hand and shakes it a bit. The tumour moves a bit, but stays round and solid. She looks up.

MIDSHOT

A doctor stands beside her.

CHRISTA
So the shape suggests, it was an early stage, then?

DOCTOR
Ehm, we’ll have to examine the tissue to say that for sure.

CHRISTA
Thank you.

She takes one more look on the glass, then turns around and carefully walks out of the door.

24. INT. CORRIDOR – CHARITE – DAY

Christa and her husband come out of an elevator. Then they walk along the large corridor. Christa is fully dressed, her husband carries her small bag.

HANS
And I knew, – you know when they transferred you to another room – The nurse told me that and I knew it had to be you.

Christa chuckles.

CHRISTA
You know I’m interested in what happens to me.

HANS
I know, just have to follow the trail of weird stories to find you.

Christa laughs out loud. She can’t hold onto herself any more.

They step out of the hospital door.

25. EXT. FRONT DOOR – CHARITE

This is again a beautiful day, cold and sunny. No cloud is in the sky. Christa stops on the stairs.

CHRISTA
Wait a sec.

Her husband stops too. He just stands there, not knowing what she is up to.

She breathes in the cold air, slow and deep. We can see the breath because of the cold.

Her hand slides over the bush next to her. Her fingers touch the leaves. She closes her eyes as she focuses on the touch of the leaves. As she opens her eyes again, she looks up in the blue sky. Her eyes fill with tears. She hears the chirp of a sparrow and looks into that direction. The sparrow sits on a fence. He looks cheeky in her direction and chirp very loud. She starts to smile, then to laugh, while still tears are running from her face. Her husband looks at her, concerned.

HANS
Everything ok?

She puts her arm around his waist.

CHRISTA
Yes, everything’s ok.

Hans puts his arm around her to lead her into the car.

26. INT. FOYER OF THE DELPHI CINEMA – DAY

Christa with Hans arm in arm stand in a cue to get tickets. Kati is behind them.

A homeless man, who is dressed like a clown, comes towards them. He carries a pot of marguerites. In silence he gives one flower to Christa. She takes it, then she notices, that wrapped around its stalk is a little piece of paper. It reads:

„Dare, what you never even allowed yourself thinking about.“

Kati touches Christa at the arm.

KATI
I think he wants some money.

The clown smiles. Christa searches for her purse.

HANS
I do, I do.

He gives the clown two coins. The clown bows in response.

The three step forward to buy their tickets.

27. INT. MARKUS‘ LIVING ROOM – DAY

Christa steps into the room. It looks very comfy. Carefully she stands near the door and looks around. There are colourful blankets over the two sofas and some hand-painted pictures on the walls. Markus stands in the middle of the room.

MARKUS
Do you want to have a cup of tea?

Christa nods, confused. Markus leaves.

Christa’s mobile phone starts to ring. She goes through her purse, finds it and answers it.

DOCTOR (V.O.)
Mrs. Jaeger?  – I just wanted to tell you,
that the tumour in your kidney was benign.

Surprised and a bit suspicious Christa looks at Markus who just enters the room with a tablet of tea and fruits. He smiles at her friendly as we

FADE OUT:

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