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War Horse Movie Script

Writer(s) : Lee Hall, Richard Curtis

Genres : Drama, War

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                                  WAR HORSE

                                  Written by

                         Lee Hall & Richard Curtis

          EXT. DEVON, ENGLAND. A SUMMER'S DAY, 1912.
          The bucolic magnificence of the Devon countryside. We fly
          low over the high, thick hedges untouched for hundreds of
          years. The thick verdant countryside in all its splendor,
          ancient woodlands, fields of corn, and finally a paddock in a
          typical Devonshire dale.
          We come to rest beside three farmers standing over a pregnant
          mare. The mare is in distress - she is about to give birth.
          The farmers calm the mare and tend to her gently with
          assurance and authority.
          We pull back to see, ALBERT, a fifteen-year-old farm boy,
          watching the whole drama with delight from the paddock gate.
           Come on, easy, girl. Easy, girl.
          The men hold the mare firmly, but clearly this is a difficult
                          FARMER 2
           This is a stubborn one, huh?
                          FARMER 3
           There we go. Who's a clever girl?
          Moments later - the summer's sun glints off the wet, sticky
          hide of the foal (JOEY) - red hide, four white socks and a
          distinctive white cross on its forehead.
          Soon the creature is attempting its first clumsy steps. It is
          both awesome and comical to see the new born creature
          struggle to his feet, but eventually, he succeeds.
          Title: WAR HORSE
          We follow Joey's progress over the course of his first year.
          His initial fearfulness, his connection with his mother, the
          intimacy of their relationship.
          As Joey gets strong they run together, frolicking gayly in
          the last dregs of summer. Albert looking on. Joey notices him
          at the fence and they share a moment of connection.
          Spring: flowers are beginning to sprout by the hedgerows. Our
          boy Albert runs into the field. He takes an apple from his
          pocket - he holds it out tentatively. Joey approaches Albert
          with suspicion. Albert gently encourages him.
          His mother paws the ground and neighs at Joey. He turns and
          runs over the field at her beck and call.
          Albert tosses the apple to himself, ruefully - watches in awe
          as Joey races away with his mother.
          He is a magnificent one year old. His distinctive red coat
          gleaming, now it is clear that he is half thoroughbred. He
          runs quickly around the field enjoying his own power and
          Later - the three farmers open the gate and come into the
          field. Both Joey and his mother instinctively canter over to
          the two men, expecting food. The three men gently greet the
          horses and pet them, then we see one man has a noose made of
          a rope. He slips it round Mum's neck. She pulls back, Joey is
          shaken and bewildered but before he knows what's happening
          the second farmer is trying to get a similar rope around his
          neck. Joey balks and pushes the farmer aside, distressed to
          see his mother tethered. The farmer grabs Joey again and
          struggles with him, enlisting the help of the second farmer.
          With some effort they get the rope around his neck and calm
          him down.
                          FARMER 2
           Easy does it. Easy does it. Come on,
           steady does it.
          Unused to being tethered Joey pulls at the rope but the
          farmers are solid and firm. They gently lead Joey and his
          mother across the field to the gate and out into the road.
          The whole road becomes overtaken by a flock of sheep on their
          way to the market. In the distance we hear the bustle of
          Market Day.
          The farmers lead Joey and his mother through the chaos of the
          market and into an auction pen. They find themselves amongst
          a hoard of pigs, sheep and cows. Joey is agog at all of these
          creatures and all this life he had no idea existed.
          The farmers lead the horses into a stall to await the
          auction. Joey is bewildered by all the noise - buttressed
          against a couple of mules and a cow. He is uncomfortable in
          this tight space.
          An AUCTION WORKER holds a clipboard out for the lead farmer.
                          AUCTION MAN 1
           Mornin', pop. Put your mark here.
           Good luck.
          EXT. JOEY'S PEN. THE SAME.
          Two men approach the pen.
                          AUCTION MAN 2
           Get the colt...
          One man grabs Joey and pulls him out of the pen. Suddenly
          there is a look of horror on his face. His terrified mother
          realises they are being separated. Joey panics and
          desperately tries to get back to his mother, he rises up
          throwing the man who is leading him aside. Joey is out of
          control. The man regains control of Joey.
                          AUCTION MAN 3
           Whoa! Whoa!
          He pulls Joey away from his mother, who lets out a heart-
          rending cry, paws the ground, and crashes her foreleg against
          the fence. Joey remains disoriented in the midst of the
          market day chaos.
           AUCTION MAN 3 (CONT'D)
          The auction ring is full of people of all shapes and sizes.
          There is a sense of celebration and busyness about market
          We concentrate on two men - Ted Narracott (DAD), in his
          forties, clearly both the cares of the world and alcohol have
          worn him down before his time, and SI EASTON, his more solid
          friend, both working farmers. Just behind Si is his 15 year
          old son, ANDREW. Ted has a drink in his hand. They all look
          at Joey bridling against the men who are trying to hold him.
           Now that's a beauty.
                          SI EASTON
           Forget it, Ted. He's half
           thoroughbred and not got a day's
           work in him.
           (points to a plow horse next to
           Now, there... There's your ticket.
          In contrast to Joey, the solid and bulky plow horse stands
          like a rock. But Dad remains fixated on Joey.
           But look at him, Si. Look at that creature.
          Indeed, Joey is magnificent, his power clearly emerging
          because of his upset.
                          SI EASTON
           Don't be daft. You need something
           solid to plow a field.
           (fixed on Joey)
           Yeah, but he's something else, that one.
          The AUCTIONEER announces the start of the auction...
           Alright gentlemen - settle down - settle
           down - horses on my right - men with money
           in their pockets on my left - it's the
           perfect combination. Is Fred Goddard here?
          FRED shouts his reply from the crowd.
           YES! I's here.
           Good - more money than sense. Dave Hill?
           I'm here. Yes!
           Bugger off, you tight bastard - you've been
           coming here for 20 years - never bought so
           much as a pork scratching.
          The crowd are loving all this.
          Dad notices a figure across the ring, LYONS, clearly a man of
          money. You can see something light up in Dad's eyes - a
          combination of dislike and alcohol.
          Joey is led into the auction pen.
                          AUCTIONEER (CONT'D)
           Okay - first up today - a gorgeous young
           horse - prettiest thing I've seen since my
           wife on our wedding day. Let's get going,
           shall we? Who wants this wonderful creature.
          But no-one bids.
           One guinea.
           One guinea, one guinea, one
           I thought you needed a plow horse, Mister
           Any advance on one guinea? Any
           advance on one guinea?
          Joey is still trying to get back to his mother. A voice from
          the crowd pipes up:
           Two guineas.
                          SI EASTON
           Ted Narracott - it's completely the wrong
          Lyons whispers to his son, DAVID, 15, next to him. David eyes
          Joey skeptically.
           Si Easton - I'm not gonna let that
           bastard see me off.
           Five guineas.
                          SI EASTON
           Oh for the love of...!
          Joey is straining to get to his mother, the men are pulling
          him back.
           Greedy sod thinks he can just buy anybody.
                          SI EASTON
           Stop it - he's your landlord - you
           can't be picking fights with him.
          Lyons looks over. There is now tension in the crowd as they
          sense a Battle Royal for the horse.
           Ten guineas.
          He smirks at Dad.
                          SI EASTON
           You haven't got the money. Let's go
           home - let's have a pint.
           Eleven guineas, sir, from as good a man as
           any in this town.
          They all look at Lyons in his suit and bowler hat.
           Do I hear twelve guineas? Twelve guineas?
                          SI EASTON
           That's top price for a workin'
           animal. Ted! Save it for the shire!
           There are big days and there are
           small days. Which will it be?
           Do I hear any advance on eleven guineas?
          All eyes are on Lyons and his son - David is 15, smartly
                          DAVID LYONS
           Just let him go, dad, I don't care
           for him, he's too... jumpy.
          Lyons isn't listening to David; he's looking hard at Ted.
           Shall we say - twenty five?
          The crowd gasps. This is clearly personal.
                          SI EASTON
           Well, he's got you there. Nice try, Ted.
           You were great, Mr N. Gave him a run
           for his money.
          But when he looks at Ted, Ted's eyes are locked into the eyes
          of his rival.
           Going, going...
           Thirty. Thirty guineas!
          Total silence. He stares hard at Lyons. Who simply smiles,
          raises an eyebrow, tips his hat and walks away. It dawns on
          Dad that he's won the auction. He breaks into a sweat.
           Thirty guineas. Thirty guineas. Going
           going gone - to Mister Ted Narracott.
          He bangs his gavel. It's a done deal.
                          SI EASTON
           What have you done, Ted? What have you done?
          Dad doesn't acknowledge Si.
          Moments later - Ted stands staring at Joey, who looks back.
          Ted holds his reins numbly, accepts his receipt from the
          auction man in a kind of daze.
          Suddenly, Lyons appears at Dad's shoulder.
           Quite a beast, there. But what you gonna do
           with him - on a working farm? I hope you
           got the rent, Ted. I'll be around for it
           when it comes due.
          Dad does not acknowledge Lyons. Lyons smiles and walks away
          with son David, and his cronies. Si shakes his head at Dad.
                          SI EASTON
           You're a fool, Ted. And our Rosie'll
           never forgive you.
          MRS. NARRACOTT kneels in her garden, digging up some carrots,
          when she sees Ted returning.
          Dad walks down the hedged lane as the sun sets pulling Joey
          with him, his bad leg always moving slightly to the side.
          Mrs. Narracott looks in horror and bewilderment at Joey and
          then at Dad. She is a good-looking, intelligent woman, but
          clearly her life is always hard.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           What have you done?
          Dad stands shamefaced as Albert - the boy we have already met
          - runs out of the house to join them.
           That's Mooney's colt!
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           You were supposed to buy a plow horse.
           You bought him?
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           What'd you pay for him?
          Albert is totally taken by the horse.
           MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
           How much, Ted Narracott?
           I won't tell you a lie - though I would love
           to. Thirty guineas.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Thirty guineas!
          She is stunned. She looks at Ted - and he just nods.
           MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
           He's not worth ten! Are you out of your
           mind? What about the rent?
           He's a strong one, Rosie. Look at
           the way he holds his head!
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           How the hell are we gonna pull anything with
           that? Ted - you have to take him back. You
           have to take him back right now now.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           You have to get down on your knees and beg
           for our money back.
          Joey bridles at the raised voices but Albert takes the rope
          and tries to calm him.
           No. No, please don't take him back.
          Suddenly we see Dad's dejection. He is a man lost.
           We can't take him back till he's broken in.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           And how are you gonna train a horse with
           that leg?
           I'll train him.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           No, you stay out of this, Albie. You don't
           know nothing about horses.
           Please, Mum. Please let me. I can do it.
           We have to keep him. We've no choice.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Right. Well... you've got one month to
           break him in or I'm taking him back myself.
           (She turns to the house,
           but then...)
           How did you get to thirty - what other fool
           bid you up that high?
           It was Lyons.
          Mrs. Narracott turns back towards the house, then stops,
          dazed, speaking almost to herself.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           We're gonna lose everything. After all we've
           been through - we're gonna lose it all.
          She turns back to the others - the weight of the mistake
          heavy on their shoulders - but Albert quickly steps forward.
           Don't worry, Mum - I'll raise him - and I'll
           raise him good.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Well, you better. Go on - get started. See
           if a child can undo what your fool of a
           father's done to this family of ours.
          Mrs. Narracott storms into the house. Albert immediately
          goes to stroke Joey but the nervous horse draws back
          uncomfortably. Dad leads him off, drunk and bewildered,
          across the yard to the barn.
          EXT. STABLES. LATER.
          Albert loads some oats into a bucket and approaches Joey in
          the field.
           Right. Let's make a start then.
          As Albert approaches, Joey nervously runs in circles, then
          stops on a dime, looking at Albert suspiciously.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           It's oats. Very tasty, that is. It's
           beef and gravy to us!
          Albert squats down. He shows the food. Joey catches the
          scent on the air, but still hesitates and shies away.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Come on...
          This time, Albert takes a new tact, almost turning his body
          fully away from Joey, but keeping the bucket extended.
          Albert slowly backs towards Joey, speaking gently all the
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           I bet you're missing your mother.
           Look at you... first time without
           your mum. First time away from home.
           But you're not alone, are you. In
           fact. Cos I'm `ere...
          Feeling safer, Joey moves toward the bucket of oats and
          starts to eat.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           It's alright. It's alright.
          Albert reaches out his hand and touches Joey. And with a
          slight start, the horse relaxes into Albert's hand, feeling
          safe with the boy.
          Albert stares at the distinctive white cross on Joey's
          forehead. Joey calms.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           I'm gonna call you Joey. Understand? Joey.
           That's you. And I'm Albert. It's alright,
           You're mine now. You're mine.
          Albert strokes Joey's forehead. Joey lifts his head and the
          two stare at each other in close proximity.
          Dad, with a hangover, hobbles off to work the fields. As he
          reaches the gate, HAROLD the goose snaps at his heels. Dad
          dismisses him with a stare and heads for the stables.
          The training episode: Albert walks Joey around the yard on
          the rope. It all seems to be going well. Mum looks on. Albert
          is clearly proud of his progress.
          Albert's friend, Andrew Easton, sits on a rock with an apple
          in hand to watch the training.
          Albert sets Joey in a spot and tells him to wait.
           Whoa. I want you to stay there,
           Joey. Stay. That's it. Good boy.
           That's it, you've got it.
          Of course when Albert walks away, Joey follows.
          A game of "Grandma's footsteps" ensues as Albert patiently
          places Joey then walks away.
           Hey, look at him, Albie. He's
           playing "Grandma's Footsteps."
          Albert patiently leads Joey back to his starting position.
           Right, come on, Joey. Back you go.
           Come on. Back you go.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           You're all right. That's it. Good
           boy. Right. You've gotta stay
           there, understand?
          Albert walks away again.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           That's it. Good boy. You've got it.
           Good boy.
          Finally Joey stays put. Andrew smiles, impressed.
           Good boy. Good.
                          (TO ALBERT)
           Now call him. Whistle.
           Come now, Joey. Come on.
          Albert whistles like an owl. Joey stands completely still.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           You can come now, Joey.
          He whistles again. Joey remains still.
           Don't think he fancies your owls.
          Albert walks back to Joey, frustrated.
           No, I read it in a story. It's how
           the Indians used to summon their
          He gently strokes Joey's nose.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Now, Joey, when I whistle, you've
           gotta come, understand?
           My dad had a dog who stayed when you
           called him. He used to run up
           behind you when you weren't
           looking, and uh...
           He's not a dog. He's just puzzling
           it through.
          Albert runs further away than before and whistles. After a
          moment, Joey trots over to him. Andrew smiles broadly.
           Brilliant. Look at you.
          With the basis established, Albert begins to train Joey to
          react to the owl whistle without his prompting. It's not all
          easy going - sometimes Albert makes progress, sometimes not.
          QUICK MONTAGE - Mrs. Narracott fills a bucket at the pump,
          then promptly spills it when Joey trots past her in response
          to an owl whistle. She calls off, frustrated.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
          Dad heads out to the fields with a rake on his shoulder.
          There's an owl call and Joey trots past him in the
          background. Dad sees Albert welcome Joey by the haystacks,
          stroking his nose affectionately. Dad walks on, his
          expression inscrutable.
          Joey trots up a path, pursuing another owl call. After
          several more calls, he still can't spot Albert, until he
          cranes his neck up and sees Albert sitting in a nearby tree.
          Albert laughs.
          Lyons is there with his son, David, and his unlikable
          cronies. He holds a meager handful of cash. Dad and Mum look
          chastened. The mood is sombre.
           There's only fifteen here.
           The rest will come.
           You know by rights I could take this farm
           back today, don't you? And I'm a great
           believer in my rights.
           It will come.
           If you drank less beer and bought fewer
           horses you might be able to look your
           landlord in the eye, Narracott.
          Lyons begins loading up his ledger into his bag.
           I said I'll pay you. We got to plant the
           bottom field.
           Bottom field's rock hard. Only stones down
           No, we're going to plow it. Just give me
           `til the autumn. I'll pay every penny I owe
           you. With interest.
           How you going to plow it? Not with that
           fancy animal of yours?
           He'll do it.
           You'll not get that one in a harness, let
           alone pulling a plow. Even drunk on a
           Tuesday night, you know that. And I can't
           wait for the money - there's a war coming.
          Dad stands up from his chair, resolute.
           I promise you that field will be plowed.
           We'll plant it with turnips. And the money
           will be yours when harvest comes.
          Mrs. Narracott interjects, desperate.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Please, sir. Please.
          Lyons takes his time. He looks at them both - Ted and Rosie,
          almost beaten.
           Very well - if that fancy plows that field
           I'll give you till October to set things
          Lyons heads for the door, but Albert stands in his way.
           What if he doesn't?
           I'll take the horse on the day he fails.
                          LYONS (CONT'D)
           And I'll take your father's farm and give it
           to working men who can hold their pints and
           hold their heads high in decent company.
          Lyons tries to move past, but Albert grabs his arm.
           No, please. Sir, you can't do that.
           Now, now, now, lad. What - are you bladdered
           as well?! Ted Narracott - I got you down in
           my book!
          Albert knows he has to back down. Lyons walks past him and
          leaves with David and his cronies.
          Harold the goose attacks Lyons and his men. They quickly
          pile into his car and drive off.
          Ted stands in the kitchen immobile with upset.
          Dad throws open the stable door, jerks the harness from the
          wall, throws open Joey's stall and starts to lunge at the
          Albert runs in to try to stop him.
           You can't harness him.
           He's got to be collared.
          Dad starts to grapple with Joey desperately flailing in an
          attempt to get the harness onto Joey. Joey is completely
          confused and frightened.
           No, you can't. Look, you're scaring him,
           Dad. You're scaring him. He...
           He can't take a plow!
          Joey tries to push Dad out of the way, Dad frustrated by this
          hits Joey hard with the harness.
           He's got to plow!
           He won't be able to do it - he's too young -
           he's not even been backed yet....
          Joey rears up and kicks Dad. Who falls to the ground.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
          Albert grabs Joey's bridle. Joey wrestles with Albert.
           It's alright, boy. It's alright. It's
           alright. It's alright.
          Dad is mad with anger and frustration - and in pain. He
          staggers to his feet and leaves.
          Albert calms Joey down. Mrs. Narracott returns the harness
          to its hook.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           I knew this would happen soon as I laid eyes
           on him....
          But then she notices Dad has returned. He has a gun.
           MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
           Ted. No. Ted, no!
           He's worth nothing to me! If he won't take
           the collar, he's not worth a damn thing!
          He grabs the rifle, but Dad shoves him away.
           Move aside.
          Dad raises the rifle, but Albert wrestles for it again.
           Dad. Stop.
          Furious with frustration Dad throws Albert to the ground and
          takes aim at the horse.
          Mrs. Narracott quickly pulls the gun aside.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           You shoot that horse we have nothing.
          Dad whips the gun back towards Joey to find Albert standing
          between them - right in front of the gun's barrel. For a
          second we think Albert will be inadvertently shot.
           MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
          Dad pauses his finger just in time. Albert gently holds the
          barrel of the gun. Speaks calmly.
           You were right what you said, Dad. "He'll do
           it," you told Lyons, "He'll plow that
           field." And he will! You'll see. He'll show
           you. We'll show you. We'll get it done.
          Dad looks at him, frozen. Mrs. Narracott eases the gun away
          from him -
           Let go. Let go.
          - and hands it to Albert, telling him -
                          MUM (CONT'D)
           Go back to the house.
          As Albert leaves, Ted takes out his flask. But Rosie takes it
          from him gently. He doesn't resist.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Here, here. Some days are best forgotten.
           Today ain't one of them. Come on.
          They exit the stable together, leaving Joey in his stall.
          INT./ EXT. STABLES. DAWN.
          Albert walks towards the stables - enters. And talks to Joey
          as he prepares the harness.
           How are you today, Joey? I don't know much
           about life, boy, but I do know that there
           are big days and there are small days. And
           most days are small days, and, well, they
           don't matter much to anyone - but this -
           well, this is a big one. This is our big
           day. Well, it's cold out there. So I'm going
           to take this off -
           (he takes off his coat)
           Well, if it's tough for you - it should be
           tough for me, too...
          He is left in just a loose-fitting white shirt....
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Now, I'm gonna teach you how to plow
           and you're gonna learn. Is that
           understood? And then we can be
           together, which is how I believe
           things are meant to be.
          Joey instinctively balks, but Albert is stern with him.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Boy. Steady, boy. Here we go. Here
           we go.
          As he approaches Joey with the harness, Harold the goose
          enters the stable to watch.
          Albert approaches gently and slowly puts the harness over his
          own neck and shoulders to demonstrate -
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Easy, easy... Look at me, Joey. See?
           See? You've just gotta put your nose
          It is a moment between them. The horse looks Albert in the
          eye, then yields. Albert comforts him and show there is
          nothing to fear. Finally he gets the harness in place.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           That's it. See? You've got it.
           You've got it. Good boy. There...
          Harold honks his approval.
          Albert leads Joey out across the yard, through the broken
          It is a grey day as they walk across the plowed fields
          towards the huge lower field. They come to a rusty, primitive
          plow left in the grass. Albert looks around the field - it is
          overgrown, it seems to go on forever - even if Joey was a
          plow horse this would be a heavy task.
          Si Easton and Andrew stroll up the road to watch.
                          SI EASTON
           Too large, too rocky, matted with
           grass roots. Even a sturdy plow
           horse'd never manage it alone.
           Yet he will, I say.
                          SI EASTON
           You'd swear he'd sprout wings and
           fly if Albert had told you so.
           (smiling at his son:)
           It's a fine thing, loyal to your
           mate. Even if he is a bit barmy. A
           team of two might manage, given a
           month and good weather.
          They're interrupted by the honk of a horn as Lyons and David
          pull up in a car. Lyons and David get out. Their driver
          remains inside.
           Ted too squeamish to watch, is he?
                          SI EASTON
           `Course he's watching.
          Si nods in the direction of the house.
          Albert steadies Joey and starts to tie on the heavy plow. It
          just seems too big and bulky for Joey's sleek frame. Albert
          sets Joey right and fixes the plow.
          Lyons, David, Si, and Andrew walk towards Dad, who looks on
          anxiously from a nearby hedgerow. Lyons gestures at David to
          stay back and walks over to Ted alone. He stands beside him
          and begins to talk gently.
           Well, you've raised him up a true
           Narracott, Ted, picture of his
           father, he is: not a dollop of
           ordinary sense but that thick
           stubbornness that'll lead him to
           insist on the impossible.
          Down in the field, Albert continues to prep the plow.
                          LYONS (CONT'D)
           Wasn't a farmer in Devon didn't
           admire you, myself among `em,
           leaving your brothers that fine farm
           and setting yourself at this stoney
           patch of unpromising ground. You've
           fettle enough for twenty men, but
           with a gimpy leg and the drinking -
           for the pain, isn't it, that you
                          LYONS (CONT'D)
           - yeah, none of us could have
           anticipated an ending better than
           this. Makes me question the wisdom
           of the charity that urged me to rent
           you this place, not only looking at
           you, me old pal, but that pretty
           little wife of yours, thought you
           were a spark, she did.
          Ted hasn't acknowledged Lyons for a second; he's never taken
          his eyes off Albert. He simply stands and walks away as
                         LYONS CONCLUDES:
                          LYONS (CONT'D)
           And now your son's sinking into the
           selfsame bog that's swallowing you.
          Albert has been meticulously preparing everything,
          positioning Joey, checking the tethers, digging the rusty
          plow in the earth. He takes his position behind the plow,
          throwing the rear leather harness over his own neck.
           See Joey - I got the collar, too!
          Albert gently snaps the reins. Joey doesn't move, confused by
          the whole affair.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Come on, boy. Walk on. That's it. Walk on!
           Walk on, Joey. Come on, boy, walk on.
           You'd be better off startin' at the
           top of the hill and goin' down!
           Gravity's the only friend you're
           gonna have today, young lad.
           Walk on, Joey! Walk on! Come on,
           Joey, walk on. Walk on, boy.
          At the house, Mrs. Narracott opens an upstairs window to look
          on, anxiously. Ted, standing alone by the fence, only looks
          at Albert.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Walk on. Come on, walk on.
                          (TO HIMSELF:)
           It'll take the whip to move him.
          Just as Ted is saying this, Albert, as if hearing his father,
          takes a breath and then abruptly produces a whip. Joey's
          ears prick up. Albert, grimly determined, snaps the whip at
          Joey. Joey panics and bolts. The plow spins to its side,
          pulls Albert off his feet. Joey drags them all the way to
          the top of the hill, right by the farmhouse.
          Lyons, yelling, starts laughing and can't stop.
           Bravo! You've reached the top of the
           hill! Off you go again, boy! You'll
           make even better time comin' down!!
          He continues past Dad, laughing.
          INTERCUT - Mrs. Narracott looks on from the house. He
          glances back at her. Her face is full of angry concern for
          their son.
          Townsfolk begin arriving, climbing the hill to the lower
          Ted looks down, ashamed. Mrs. Narracott looks back at Albert,
          mortified, bruised, setting the plow right again.
          Mrs. Narracott moves away from the window, takes a seat, and
          picks up her knitting.
          Later - Albert has made no progress. Joey is moving, but
          only in a useless circle.
           Good boy. Good lad. Good lad. Now
           walk on. Good boy.
          More townsfolk clamor to the fence. Andrew calls out.
           Albie, we're all with ya!
          Albert tries to encourage him forward but Joey still isn't
          pulling sufficiently. The plow skips uselessly over the
          surface stones.
           Look look look! The plow hasn't even cut
          As Albert struggles with the plow, he sees Dad walking up the
          hill behind the spectators. He doesn't even turn to his son.
          Joey strains as Albert pushes with all his might. We sense
          the strain on the horse and the inappropriateness of the
          task. But Joey perseveres. The plow limps along.
           Do you know - I believe we can do
           it, Joey. I knew when I first saw
           you that you'd be the best of us.
           That's why he bought you. He knows
           you've all the courage he never had.
           I knew when I first saw you that
           you'd be the one who'd save us.
          The plow skips and Albert falls. Joey's legs buckle and he
          goes to his knees. Albert rushes to his side.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Whoa. Whoa.
          Lyons calls from the crowd as rain starts to fall.
           You've got no chance, lad. He'll not
           turn over half an acre. Give it up
           now. You've done well. You've tried
           hard. You're more of a man than your
          Albert examines the collar - he sees it is ripping into
          Joey's flesh. He grabs his shirt, tears a piece off it,
          tenderly folds it and puts it between Joey's shoulder and the
                          SI EASTON
           Come on now, Mr. Lyons, that's a bit
           rough, isn't it?
                          (A SHRUG:)
           Well, he'll destroy that horse.
          The crowd's beginning to disperse. One of Lyons' cronies
          holds his umbrella as he returns to his car. He passes Ted.
                          LYONS (CONT'D)
           I'll be over Thursday. Give you a
           day to close it up.
          Mrs. Narracott emerges from the house and heads to the fence -
          holding her knitting in the rain, ignoring the leaving
          crowds. A SYMPATHETIC NEIGHBOR hands her:
           Your wool.
           I'm sorry, Rosie.
          Lyons passes behind her, almost speaks, but then thinks
          better of it.
          As the rain intensifies, Albert digs his toe into the wet
          soil and notices how it has softened. Suddenly something
          flashes through Albert's mind. He leaps into action, runs
          through the rain to shout at Joey.
           Now, boy! You've got to do it, Joey.
           You don't know, so I'm gonna have to
           do the knowing for you when the rest
           of our lives depend on this! So get
           set to pull - and pull straight! And
           pull hard!
          He races back to the plow and sets himself.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Now, boy! Go!
          Joey pulls firmly and finally the inertia is broken - the
          rain has softened the earth.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Walk on, Joey! Walk on! That's it!
           Good boy, Joey! Good boy!
          Finally, the plow bites deep into the soil.
           Walk on! Walk on! Walk on! Walk
           on, Joey!
          At the fence, Mrs. Narracott looks on in amazement.
          Albert notices a large rock in their path. Andrew sees it,
                          ANDREW (CONT'D)
           Go around it!!
           Whoa, Joey! Whoa, Joey! Joey! Joey,
           whoa whoa whoa! Joey, stop! You'll
           break the blade -
          Albert hauls back on the reins, but Joey throws his flanks
          forward, straining and lurching until the plow blade splits
          the rock completely in half and now the plow moves more
          easily through the wet ground.
          The ground yields. Soon Albert and Joey are making great
          progress. The wet earth slipping open beneath them.
          Andrew is loving it, speaks in wonder.
           Will you look at you?
          Mrs. Narracott looks very happy, a smile breaking slowly
          across her face...
          The crowd begins to return. Lyons notices and looks out from
          his car - sees the plow digging through the field.
          Annoyed at the progress Albert's making, he gets out of his
          car and walks over to Mrs. Narracott. With great disdain he
           I'd not let a child of mine slip in
           the mud alongside a plow blade. He
           could lose a foot!
          Mrs. Narracott brandishes her knitting needles, backing him
                          ROSIE NARRACOTT
           You'll likelier lose an eye, Mr.
           Lyons, if you carry on prating at me
           how to manage my son! Or my plow, or
           my horse, or my field, or my farm!
          Dad sits nearby, watching this exchange with silent approval.
          Lyons stares at her, gape-mouthed, as she turns her attention
          back to Albert.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Come on, Albie! Push on through!
          The rain becomes torrential. Lyons turns towards the car -
          gestures, frustrated, to his driver, who runs forward with
          the umbrella to shield his boss from the rain. David remains
          on the running board, watching Albert plowing.
          The plow speeds through the earth. The boy and the horse are
          working as one. It is a moment of triumph.
           Get it done, Albie! Get it done!
          We pull back to see they have made only the smallest dent in
          the enormous field.
          As Lyons' car passes, Dad steps forward, takes in the scene,
          and almost smiles.
          The rain has abated. Albert, soaked to the skin, sits next
          to Joey. They are both covered in mud.
          Andrew, followed by Si Easton, charges through the gate up to
          Albert. They are lifting Albert up between them, laughing,
          Si Easton planting a kiss on Albert's muddy cheek, Andrew
          tousling his filthy hair, when Mrs. Narracott arrives with
          Ted. She helps Si and Andrew lift Albert and slings her
          son's arm over her shoulder, glowing with pride, crying,
           Oh, my pair of fools. My mighty
          As the others help Albert up, Ted tends to Joey. He looks
          over to his son and, after a moment, removes his cap and
          slightly bows his head.
          The others stagger away, supporting Albert, and Ted pats the
          horse and gently begins to unbuckle the harness.
          INT. STABLES. DAY.
          Albert washes Joey and tends the wounds and sores on his
          body. Rosie is putting antiseptic on Albert's wrists and
          shoulders. Joey bristles but is soothed by Albert's care.
           You're as battered and bloodied as he is.
           And where's Dad?
           Still in the bottom field.
           Stumbling about, I suppose.
           It's not the drink, Albert, that
           makes him stumble -
           He drinks, mum.
           Well, so might you if you'd been
           where he's been, seen what he's
           Well, he don't talk to me about it.
           He don't talk about it because he
           can't. There aren't words for some
           things. Come here...
          Rosie stalks over to a pile of broken equipment in a corner
          of the stables. She rummages until she finds a waterstained
          brown paper parcel tied with yarn. She brushes away some
          mouse turds.
                          ROSIE (CONT'D)
           The mice've been at it. Sit down.
          They sit together on a step. As she begins to untie the
          yarn, a change comes over her: her irritated determination
          gives way to sadness. Albert comes to her and kneels beside
          her as she gently opens the paper.
          Inside there's a red and tan pennant, knotted and fringed at
          both ends.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Here. It's his campaign pennant. He were
           Sergeant, Seventh Battalion, Imperial
          Then with great care she unfolds the sash to reveal two
          silver medals. The first, with the profile of Victoria, hangs
          from a red, blue and orange ribbon.
           And that is the Queen's South Africa
           Medal. Every man who fought in the
           Boer War got one of those. But
          She holds up the other medal, hanging from a red and black
                          ROSIE (CONT'D)
           That's the Distinguished Conduct
          She hands Albert the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He takes
          it, astonished.
           Not dad's?
           Well it ain't mine, dear. He got
           that after the fighting at
           Transvaal. After he'd been hurt, and
           he'd saved some other lads, and
           well... I don't know what else, he
           won't tell me either. But the first
           day he got home he just... tossed
           them out. First day he could walk,
           he threw `em straight in the
           dustbin, and wouldn't hear a word I
           said not to.
          Albert nods, looking at the medal and campaign pennant. She
          takes the medal back, puts it in the sash, and begins to wrap
          it again.
                          ROSIE (CONT'D)
           See, what you done today, you and
           Joey, you're chuffed up now, and so
           you should be, my splendid boy. It's
           good to be proud when you done
           something good. But what he done, in
           Africa, whatever it was, he takes no
           pride in it. Hard as it surely was,
           and however much pain it's cost him,
           he refuses to be proud of killing, I
          She returns the things in the footlocker, closes it.
           I'd be proud. If I'd gone off to
           war. If I'd gone and saved my
           mates, and -
           Well, whether or not you think you'd
           do the same thing as him... Think
           how brave he is for refusing to be
          She heads back to Albert, pennant in hand.
                          ROSIE (CONT'D)
           Oh, your dad makes mistakes. And he
           drinks to forget the mistakes that
           he's made - but he never gave up and
           he does that for us. And today, you
           showed the world it's all been worth
          As she leaves, she drapes the pennant over Albert's shoulder.
                          ROSIE (CONT'D)
           You keep looking after Joey and
           he'll always be looking after you.
          Albert looks again at the pennant.
           Sergeant, Seventh Battalion,
           Imperial Yeomanry.
           (amazed, to Joey:)
           You see this, Joey? It's been
           through an entire war.
          Albert holds the pennant in wonder.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           I'm not stealing it. I'll give it
           back to him, someday.
          EXT. FIELD. DAY.
          Early morning. Dad hobbling across the furrows, alone,
          planting the field by hand.
          Albert and Joey are now in a meadow. They trot past the field
          he plowed, now packed with a strong and sturdy crop, which
          Ted tends to.
          The sun is breaking through and Joey starts to run across the
          field and up a small incline. As both Joey and Albert gain
          confidence they pick up speed. Albert pushes Joey on, they
          are going faster and faster, Albert yells with the
          exhilaration of it all. Joey races flat out across the
          countryside. Albert hanging on for dear life.
          Albert and Joey pull up beside a sleek red car. It's Lyons'
          car, being driven by David Lyons, every inch the expensively-
          tailored rural gentry.
           Um, I'm the only boy that drives in
           the village. No one else drives but
                          YOUNG WOMAN
           Oh, yeah?
           That's right and this is my dad's
           car. You're lucky that you're in
           it. I'm not normally allowed to
           drive it `cause it's so -
          Albert urges Joey to go faster, till they're neck and neck
          beside the car, racing it. David Lyons looks to see Albert
          and Joey running alongside his car. He feigns disinterest.
          Albert glances at David, but he's much more interested in the
          very pretty young woman seated next to David, her hands
          trying to control her hair, flying in the wind. Forgetting
          himself momentarily, Albert stares at her, dazzled. The woman
          turns to David:
                          YOUNG WOMAN
           Is he a friend of yours?
          She smiles at Albert, encouraging him. David Lyons, annoyed,
          pushes the accelerator down, and the car edges ahead of Joey.
          But not for long. The sound of the acceleration and Albert's
          eagerness to impress the young woman make Joey go faster, and
          again he moves out ahead of the car. The young woman grins
          at Albert.
          Up ahead Albert sees that the wall alongside of which he's
          been racing turns the corner, presenting him and Joey with an
          obstacle. Albert encourages Joey to go faster.
           Come on, boy, let's show her how to
          They head right for the wall, but at the very last moment,
          Joey balks and comes to a dead standstill, sending Albert
          sailing over the wall.
          Back in the car, the girl gasps and covers her mouth,
          concerned. David says nothing, but allows himself a small
          On the other side of the wall, Albert stands a bit battered,
          but unfazed.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
 're clearly not gonna be a
          Thunder starts to rumble ominously in the background.
          Albert and Joey return, driving sheep before them. Angry
          storm clouds stretch to the horizon.
          As Albert leads Joey to the stable, lighting blasts across an
          angry sky. The rain is falling in torrents.
          Another crack of thunder - and a piece of wood in the roof
          gives way - water gushes in - Dad rushes to support the roof
          as the wind forces a window open.
          At that moment, the door suddenly swings open with the
          violence of the storm, smashing against the wall - Dad and
          Rosie turn - and there is Harold the goose, who scuttles in
          without his usual arrogance and hides himself in a corner.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           Shoo, Harold. Shoo, shoo, shoo!
          The thunder cracks again and...
          EXT. LOWER FIELD. DAY.
          Albert and Dad walk across the field. Mrs. Narracott digs
          through the mess. The entire crop is flat - ruined by the
          storms. The ground squelches beneath their feet.
          The whole field is a write off.
           We can try planting something else, or we
           could hire ourselves out to Uncle Bob.
          Dad doesn't answer. He shakes his head and limps away.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           How else we gonna pay Mr. Lyons'
          Ted doesn't turn around.
          Mrs. Narracott makes some coffee. Ted sits alone on a chair.
           MRS. NARRACOTT
           What we gonna do?
           I used to believe that God gave each man his
           fair portion of bad luck. I don't feel that
           any more. I've had more than my share.
           You'll stop loving me, Rose. And I won't
           blame you when you do.
           Well, I might hate you more - but I'll never
           love you less.
          Then somewhere in the distance, an unfamiliar sound...
          A motorbike rumbles along the lane at huge speed creating a
          cloud of dust as it goes. The noise of the motorbike is
          drawing attention from all over the valley. It can be heard
          fields away and everyone is drawn to this completely unheard
          of sound.
          The motorbike whizzes through the village. Heads turn in
                          MOTORBIKE RIDER
           It's war!
          The bike comes to a stop in the market place. The rider takes
          off his goggles.
          Men of the village start to flock around the machine, with
          great curiosity.
           We are at War with Germany. You hear?
           England is at war with Germany.
          Shock and amazement. The rider takes off his goggles:
           They're going to ring the bells at six
           o'clock - and then never ring them again
           until the war is over.
          Everyone across England knows that their lives are about to
          EXT. FARM YARD. DAY.
          Dawn rises over the farm.
          EXT. FARM YARD. DAWN.
          Albert races to the stables, excited with the campaign
          As Albert enters the stables, he calls out:
           Look smart, Joey lad, it's the Tavistock
          Albert opens the doors and stops dead. He looks at the empty
          EXT./ INT. KITCHEN / YARD. DAY.
          Albert runs out.
          He rushes into the kitchen. His mother stares out the window.
          She has been crying.
           What has he done with him?
          She says nothing, but her face gives everything away. Albert
          in a panic turns and runs out into the lane. Mrs. Narracott
          tears up again.
          The market square is full of military men. The Union Jack is
          flying up the flagpole. A group of girls has gathered to
          check out the army boys. Eager young men crowd a table
          staffed by recruiting officers:
                          RECRUITING OFFICER
           Last name first. First name, middle
           name, last.
          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS is in the square inspecting Joey,
          knowledgably. He is a handsome, attractive, modest, upper
          class man. Dad stands beside him. He checks Joey's teeth, his
          feet and finally, looks him straight in the eye.
           Take my word for it - finest horse
           in the parish. Goes like a racer,
           strong, decent, very fine.
          Captain Nicholls has immediately connected with Joey and puts
          him at his ease. SAM PERKINS, a tough sergeant, is physically
          inspecting Joey.
                          SAM PERKINS
           No curbs, no splints, good feet and
           teeth. He's as sound as a bell,
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           And how much are you charging, sir - for
           this strong, decent, and very fine animal?!
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I'll give you twenty and not a penny more.
           Twenty is no good to me, Captain. Thirty
           five and he's yours.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I don't even know how he rides.
           Oh, he rides... Splendidly. You'll
           be astonished. I promise you that.
           (his heart's in his
           throat, fighting back
           Finest horse in all of Devon. Finest
           horse I ever seen.
          Albert bursts into the square just in time to see Nicholls
          and Dad shake hands. Their business concluded.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Thank you.
          Albert races towards Joey. Ted grabs him. Albert fights to
          get free. He looks at his father in anger and betrayal.
           You can't! You can't, he's mine! I trained
          Albert is hysterical.
           You can't have him. He's my horse, sir.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I'm afraid it's too late, lad. I've just
           paid thirty guineas for him.
                          (TO TED:)
           Please, I'll get you money. I will,
           I'll get you money. I'll...I'll work
           for it! I'll work for it.
                          (TO NICHOLLS:)
           He won't obey anyone else. He won't
           be any good in the war, neither.
           He...he shies at every sound!
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I'm sorry.
          Albert snaps to attention.
           Well, if Joey's going, I'm going,
           too. I'm volunteering.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I see. What's your name, lad?
           Albert, sir.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           And how old are you, Albert?
           Nineteen, sir.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLS
           Is that the truth?
           No sir. But, but I look nineteen and
           I'm bigger than most nineteen-year-
           olds, sir! And I'm strong, sir! And
           I...I'm not afraid of anything.
                         NICHOLLS INTERJECTS:
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I don't doubt your qualifications,
           Albert, but the law is very clear
           about the proper age for soldiering,
           and your father's done what he had
           to do. You know that. Thirty guineas
           isn't nearly enough to purchase a
           horse as fine as your Joey, I know
           that. But it's all I've got. Will
           you lease him to me, Albert, to be
           my own mount?
           (he removes his cap,
           I promise you, man to man, that I'll
           look after him as closely as you've
           done, I'll respect him and all the
           care that you've taken with him. And
           if I can - I'll return him to your
          Albert looks at him. Although Nicholls speaks with authority
          he has a kindness which Albert recognizes.
           Now say goodbye.
          Albert kisses Joey.
           It's all right, boy...
          But at that moment, Sam Perkins pulls Joey away:
                          SAM PERKINS
           All right, turn it in, eh? That's enough.
           He's a horse, not a dog. Now, on your way.
                          (TO JOEY)
           Come on.
          Nicholls walks away into the crowd. The Sergeant pulls Joey,
          but Joey does not want to be separated from Albert. His
          reaction is implacable, reminiscent to the separation from
          his mother. Perkins leads Joey away. They disappear into the
          crowd and Rosie is suddenly there. Ted senses her silent
           Do you want to lose the farm, Rose?
           It's the way you did it.
           But we're at war.
           Aren't we just.
          She looks at Albert. Implacable. Forever.
          The recruits march through town under pennants and the
          strains of a familiar song("The Jolly Plowboy") - it is a
          song they all know, which means a lot to them - full of soul -
          a song of harvest or a Celtic hymn, something relating
          specifically to the lives they have led together. Everyone of
          every age - everyone in the village knows this song - it is
          Nicholls passes in his car and we see those they are leaving
          behind - cheering - a whole generation of young men is
          marching off to war. One girlfriend rushes up to kiss her
          leaving boyfriend.
          Albert watches Joey, then remembers the campaign pennant
          dangling from his pocket. He runs up to Joey -
          - and tucks the pennant into Joey's halter.
                          SAM PERKINS
           Here now, I've told you - sling your
          But Nicholls intervenes from his car.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Let him be, Perkins.
           This isn't the end. This isn't the
           end, my brother... I, Albert
           Narracott, solemnly swear we will be
           together again. Wherever you are, I
           will find you. And I will bring you
          And then they are past him, leaving him behind. As Perkins
          leads Joey across a stone bridge, Albert watches from the
          bank of the stream.
          Joey balks one last time -
                          SAM PERKINS
           Whoa. Steady, steady. Steady now,
           come on. Walk on! Walk on now,
           come on!
          - then Perkins leads him away, leaving Albert behind.
          The very last recruits leave the village - leaving the debris
          of this army's visit strewn on the square. Like the debris
          of a party you are already beginning to regret.
          Joey is handed off to a groom. Joey is amazed by the scale
          of the building. Each horse has a large stall and is being
          tended to assiduously. Joey looks around at the hundreds of
          men and horses around him and panics.
           Whoa whoa whoa. Easy easy...
          He bucks, throwing the groom to the ground, and gallops away.
          But Perkins cuts him off, grabs his halter, and jerks him
          back to attention.
                          SAM PERKINS
           Whoa whoa whoa, Joey! Stop muckin'
           about, you hear? Yer in the army
           now, son.
          He pushes him into his stall, next to Major Stewart's horse,
          a magnificent black stallion, TOPTHORN.
           SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
           Good boy, good boy. Steady
           steady... Easy. Relax. Easy easy,
           back up.
          Joey rears up in his stall.
           SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
           Joey - meet Topthorn. Topthorn - this is
           Joey. Sort out who's in charge between the
           two of you, you hear? If you want to fight,
           you get it over with - `cause once we're
           over there, you're gonna need everything
           you've got for Fritz!
          This is the first time that Joey has had to deal with another
          horse since his mother - the beginning of one of the most
          important relationships in his life.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Gently, Perkins. I don't want to sour him.
          Nicholls passes his gloves and crop to his bat boy who is
          there to assist him.
                          SAM PERKINS
           There'll be nothing gentle about the war,
           sir. And there'll be nothing gentle about
           this one either!
           SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
           I understand that, Sergeant, but I
           want him fit and shining. He's my
           SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
          Nicholls is joined by his friend LIEUTENANT CHARLIE WAVERLY.
          He is sweet and friendly - upper class but completely benign.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           Scares the living daylights out of me.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           Perkins. Glad he's on our side.
          They're both joined by a tall, confident officer, MAJOR JAMIE
          STEWART. He sizes up Joey.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Not bad. Not bad at all. Still not
           a patch on my Topthorn.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I wouldn't be so sure. I think he's got
           potential. He's certainly got the bit
           between his teeth.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           I actually think my Blenheim is faster than
           the pair of them.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Clear off!
          He suddenly turns from the joking into the efficient senior
          officer he is.
           All right, gentlemen, listen here.
           Everything tells us the same story, from
           Waterloo to Omdurman, from Pickett's Charge
           to the Battle of Mars La Tours - the first
           attack can and should be the decisive one.
                          SAM PERKINS
           Yes, sir!
                          MAJOR STEWART
           No excuses, no mistakes - every
           horse groomed and fit for
           presentation! I want a full practice
           charge tomorrow.
                          SAM PERKINS
          They leave.
          The whole regiment is gathered. Everybody is in their
          ceremonial uniform. It all has the feeling of the Changing of
          the Guard rather than anything related to a real battle. The
          day is hot, the plains are quiet and beautiful, the gathering
          is huge, there is a real sense of pride and anticipation.
          Captain Nicholls, resplendent in full uniform rides Joey out
          over the vast expanse of the plain. Both Nicholls and Joey
          are dressed up like something from the last century, out of
          the Boer War, even the Charge of the Light Brigade. Nicholls
          is proud and confident. They gather before hundreds of men
          and horses all lined up to be inspected. Charlie joins them,
          looking pretty good on Blenheim.
          Finally, Nicholls and Charlie reach Stewart and Topthorn
          waiting in position.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Thought you two had bottled out.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           As if.
          Nicholls looks at his friend tolerantly.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           All right, then, let's see what you
           two jokers are made of, shall we?
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           This is what quiet confidence looks like.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           I'll wait for you two at the Duke of York.
          Nicholls and Stewart and Charlie prepare themselves for the
          charge. Joey and Topthorn size up to one another.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Over to you, Captain Nicholls.
          Topthorn bristles at Joey. Everyone is highly charged. The
          competition between Stewart and Nicholls seems to have been
          absorbed between the horses. Topthorn and Joey square up for
          the practice charge like two athletes before a race.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
          Nicholls raises his sword. It glints in the summer air. It
          seems to hang there forever. Every man follows suit.
          Topthorn and Joey glance at each other, ready to charge.
          Every sword is pointed directly ahead at arm's length.
          A roar goes up from the men and a deafening pounding of
          hooves breaks the silence. The huge line of horses start
          running straight ahead of them. Joey and Topthorn run off at
          top speed. Dust and earth rise up behind them.
          Bugles, the deafening thunder of hooves. It is exhilarating.
          We see the scale of the operation, we enjoy the speed and the
          splendor of the mass of men and horses. The soldiers shout in
          glee and excitement. Each man pushes his horse to out-run
          those around him, Nicholls and Stewart seem locked in mortal
          Nicholls smiles at Stewart, confidently.
          Topthorn starts to pull away, ahead of all the other horses
          in the line. Nicholls pushes Joey on. Topthorn seems too
          strong, Joey will never catch them. Nicholls is determined
          not to be beaten.
           Come on, Joey. I know you've got
           it. Come on, boy! Come on!
          He pushes Joey on. Joey digs in and finds hidden strength and
          speed. He starts to catch up with Topthorn and draws along
          side. Nicholls and Stewart exchange tense looks.
           Come on, boy!
          Stewart is amazed and pushes Topthorn harder.
          Now both riders are going at their top speed. They are neck
          and neck - they fight for every inch of advantage, every
          fibre of their being invested in the race. Nicholls pushes
          Joey on and Joey pulls away. Joey inches forward till he is
          almost a length ahead of Topthorn. The effort is enormous.
          Nicholls looks back at Stewart, very happy. Stewart's
          frustration shows. He knows he is beaten.
          Then suddenly they race over the line. Nicholls spears a ring
          decorated with a blue ribbon and pulls Joey to a halt. They
          have crossed the enemy line. Nicholls is ecstatic. Topthorn
          comes to Joey's side.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Whoa. Whoa.
          Nicholls laughs, grinning.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Nice of you to turn up.
          The horses are nose to nose, snorting, we sense the heat, the
          exertion. Topthorn and Joey are brought together by the
          effort. We sense Topthorn's newly minted respect for Joey.
          And Joey is no soft touch - he slightly holds his head up in
          victory, letting Topthorn know that he knows he won.
          The other horses come charging in. There is a real sense of
          achievement and congratulation amongst the regiment.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           He's got speed...I'll give him that. But
           has he got stamina?
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           He has everything.
          The two men enjoy the moment of rivalry and the exhilaration
          of it all. The two horses, face to face rub against each
          other for the first time. A bond has been formed...
          Stewart enters. A phonograph plays "Roses of Picardy." The
          walls are decorated with etchings of famous battles, and a
          large map of Western Europe that depicts how the English
          troops are crossing the channel to confront the Germans near
          Belgium. Nicholls is writing a letter - though actually at
          this moment, he is making a little pencil drawing of Joey to
          enclose with it.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           What are you up to?
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I'm writing a letter.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           With a picture in it?
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           It's to the boy who owned Joey. I want to
           show him how wonderful he's looking.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Before we take him away across the Channel
           to face a million Germans guns.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Yes. Before that...
                          MAJOR STEWART
           4 a.m. start tomorrow - travelling with the
           Dragoon Guards and the Royals. Transport
           detachment - they'll need to be at the docks
           at 5 am. Check all kit. Battle orders: no
           polishing - buttons, helmet buckles, stirrup
           irons - let `em all go dull. I want nothing
           to flash in the sun and give us away.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Of course.
          As Stewart leaves, he passes Charlie. He casually
          acknowledges him.
                          MAJOR STEWART
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
          Charlie checks his new cap in the mirror.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           What do you think of the cap?
          He shows the bright red lining to Nicholls.
           Silk lining. I quite like it.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           I'm not sure it's going to make a lot of
           difference to the Germans.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           Oh, I don't know about that. Think about it -
           you're a Boche, just working out which of
           two chaps to shoot - and you thought - "Good
           Lord - one of them really is wearing a very
           stylish cap indeed!" You might shoot the
           other one instead.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Or, alternatively, think - "I fancy that
           cap" and kill you first of all.
          Pause. Charlie removes the cap.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           Hadn't thought of that.
          Nicholls returns to his sketch.
          Three hundred horses and their charges in a slow march in the
          middle of the most pristine French countryside.
          TITLE: FRANCE - 1914, QUI�VRECHAIN
          EXT. ROAD. DAY.
          Nicholls and Stewart and Charlie ride on a smooth road past a
          series of posts screened with cloth. They're silhouetted
          against the setting sun.
          EXT. ROAD. DAY.
          The regiment are tense and nervous as they gingerly make
          their way along the country road. Topthorn and Joey sense
          the grim change of atmosphere.
          They are in woodland above a plain stretching for miles. A
          small table has been taken out for Stewart and his officers.
          SERGEANT MAJOR SINGH - a turbaned Indian with a magnificent
          moustache dressed in ceremonial garb - explains the lines of
          battle on a map.
           SGT. MAJOR SINGH
           That is our target - the German 11th
           Division - at the moment bivouacked three
           miles to the east of the Menin Road. We have
           been watching them and they have pitched
           tents for the night and lit cooking fires.
           Knock them out - and we could slide in
           behind the German lines and come at them
           from the South at Geluveld.
                          MAJOR STEWART
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           SGT. MAJOR SINGH
           About six hundred. Infantry.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Twice our size...
                          MAJOR STEWART
           In regiments of horse and men, the
           advantage is ours.
           SGT. MAJOR SINGH
           And we have surprise on our side.
           But the sooner we move, the better -
           we have no assurance they'll still
           be there tomorrow morning.
          Our officers just have a second to take in the news. The day
          has suddenly arrived. The day they have worked for, for so
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Right. Good. So - today it is.
           Charlie - tell the men.
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           Salisbury formation?
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Salisbury formation. We'll charge
           through them and secure the ground
           SGT. MAJOR SINGH
           The grass to the left is taller than
           we are - it's perfect cover.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Excellent work, Sergeant Major.
           Time spent on reconnaissance is
           rarely wasted.
          As Stewart departs:
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Thank you, Singh.
                          (CALLING AFTER)
          Nicholls catches up to Stewart, concerned.
           They have no idea we're coming.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Not having scruples, are you, Jim?
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           No. I understand the surprise is
           everything. But if it must be done,
           let's do it quickly.
          Nicholls notices Charlie nervously attending his horse.
           Are you alright, Charlie?
                          CHARLIE WAVERLY
           Never been better. Literally, never
          We worry for him - he is afraid.
          Stewart rides through the lines astride Topthorn.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Prepare to mount! Mount!
          As the cry is echoed throughout the regiment, Nicholls
          accepts Joey from an attending soldier.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Thank you, Standley.
                          (TO JOEY)
           Hey, Joey. My bonny boy. You're
           all right, aren't you, Joey? Hey?
          Nicholls takes the red campaign pennant from his pocket and
          threads it through Joey's reins.
          Minutes later - Stewart addresses the men.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Gentleman. It is an honour to ride
           beside you. Make the Kaiser rue the
           day he dared to cross swords with
           us. Let every man make himself, his
           King, his country, and his fallen
           comrades proud! Be brave. Fear
           God. Honor the King!
           (in unison shout)
           Fear God. Honor the King!
          Cut to an elegant field of tall grass, waving in the gentle
          breeze. Then suddenly three hundred men seem to rise out of
          it. They are in fact our soldiers, mounting their horses -
          but the horses are invisible in the height of the grass.
          Stewart gives a signal. We see the intense anticipation on
          his face. He takes out his sabre.
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Draw swords!
          The men draw their sabres in silence. The birds chirping,
          Then Nicholls just turns to his two friends and almost
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
           Good luck, my friends.
          He pats Joey's side. And then...
                          MAJOR STEWART
           Forward, to walk! Walk...march!
          The regiment begins moving through the field.
           Forward to canter! Canter...march!
          The men start to float over the grass - swept along by their
          invisible horses, until...
          Suddenly they emerge from the tall grass - the immense power
          of the galloping horses - silence explodes into a violent
          crashing of hooves. The noise is immense, swords are flying
          in the air. Hundreds of horses racing towards the German
          On the German side, TWO SOLDIERS wake to the sound of
          hoofbeats. They pull their tent flap aside to find the
          invincible charge coming towards them. The Germans are
          totally unprepared. We see them scramble back towards tents,
          rush towards their guns - one man pulling up his trousers
          rushes for cover. One German drops some dirty dishes into a
          wash pot, screaming:
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
          Topthorn and Joey race each other like a rerun of their
          practice on Salisbury Plain. The swords and uniforms glint in
          the sun, the German troops look terrified - some run in
          panic, others prepare to stand their ground.
                          CAPTAIN NICHOLLS
          The British head in for the kill, the men scream battle cries
          with sheer exhilaration.
          We see the horses at close quarters running with all their
          might. Nicholls and Stewart yell as they approach the enemy.
          The surprise attack is a huge success. The first row of
          unprepared Germans are falling...
          The regiment sweeps through the encampment, cutting down
          soldiers and driving the rest in a panicked retreat to the
          tree line.
          But then we see, in the shadows of the forest behind the
                         CAMP --
          A machine gun. No, a line of machine guns - at least twenty
          guns, sandbagged apart - the logical, new, modern defence of
          a garrison. In an instant, the fleeing Germans have manned
          the guns. All now firing.
          The noise of the blast of bullets drowns out everything else.
          A score of men and horses are suddenly on the ground, it
          happens almost so quickly Joey and Topthorn don't realize
          anything's wrong and find themselves racing straight towards
          the guns. The bullets keep coming, now suddenly half of the
          regiment are on the ground.
          Horse after horse races past the guns into the woods...all of
          them now riderless.
          Nicholls watches helplessly as one of the barrels swings
          towards him. His face goes slack as he realizes he is about
          to die.
          A moment later, Joey runs on - we pan up to see he is running
          on riderless - he has not realized that Nicholls is gone. The
          bullets whizz around his head, but he still runs directly
          ahead. We would always know him by the red pennant Nicholls
          tied on his saddle.
          Joey is now running through the German lines. No one bothers
          to attack him as the German's concentrate their efforts on
          the cavalry behind him. The line of machine guns fire as one,
          decimating the horses and their riders.
          Joey leaps and dances nimbly through the German ranks, but
          suddenly rears up in the confusion, surrounded by Germans.
          Near him, surviving English officers are hauled from their
          Stewart wheels back around on Topthorn, sabre in hand. But
          he, too, is quickly surrounded by several Germans with their
          rifles trained on him. A furious GERMAN OFFICER storms over,
          speaks perfect English:
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           What? Did you think that a garrison
           on open ground would go undefended?
           Look at yourself! Who do you think
           you are?!!
          Stewart looks at the Officer - at the guns that surround him -
          and throws down his sabre, stabbing it into the ground. The
          Germans take Stewart from Topthorn.
          Around them, the fields are littered with dead soldiers and
          Topthorn appears disoriented and frightened. Suddenly, he
          rears up and bolts from his new German handler, galloping
          over to Joey. The horses briefly nuzzle, but both rear up
          again as they are separated and led past a young German
          soldier, GUNTHER.
          He zeroes in on them, the finest horses.
          A slightly more JUNIOR OFFICER approaches the outraged senior
           What do we do with the horses?
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           If they're injured, shoot them.
           And the others, sir?
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           The others you round up and take to
           base camp - they will pull guns.
                          THIRD OFFICER
           You'll never get fancy horses like
           these to pull guns.
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           Then shoot them also.
          Gunther, the young private, now standing behind them,
           Sir - perhaps we could use some of
           them with the ambulances - to get
           the injured men off the field.
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           Will they take the harness?
           I'd like to try, sir.
          The officers move away - that's enough talk about horses...
          CUT ON - Gunther is now with Joey and Topthorn. Near a wooden
          ambulance - which is like a giant wagon to carry humans. He
          is with MICHAEL, a very young soldier, his brother - possibly
          as young as 14.
          Gunther lifts a heavy pulling harness - and tries to get
          Topthorn into it.
           It won't work - they're cavalry
           Let's try.
           You won't get the harness on.
           Come on, Michael.
          Topthorn balks violently.
                          GUNTHER (CONT'D)
           Whoa, whoa. Easy, now, easy now,
           Englishman... Whoa, whoa, whoa.
           Easy now, easy.
           Gunther! It's hopeless - we can't
           help them.
          And suddenly Joey moves up and presents himself, with his
          strange self assurance and self sacrifice. And instinct for
          He sniffs the harness and places his head through it, which
          helps to calm Topthorn enough that Gunther can slip the
          collar onto the big black horse. Gunther turns to Joey,
           Well, well, look at you. Whoever
           taught you this has just saved your
          Gunther spots the red ribbon in Joey's saddle, removes it,
          folds it, and places it in his pocket.
          Later - Gunther and Michael are returning from the
          battlefield with Topthorn and Joey, pulling an ambulance with
          British and German wounded. Amongst the wounded, we see a
          hand gripping a battered, silk lined hat. It is Waverly,
          wounded but alive.
          Si Easton lets himself in through the gate. Ted pulls up
          turnips from their three acre crop.
          Rosie, just across a furrow, is also engaged in the harvest.
          It's hard work. Si holds a parcel.
                          SI EASTON
           Hello the farm!
           (looking up, wiping her
           Hello, Si Easton!
          Albert passes carrying a crate laden with turnips, but pulls
          up short when he hears:
                          SI EASTON
           I was at the post office and while I
           was there, Mrs. Allen said a parcel
           had come for Albert, from the, from
           the, from over there - and I thought
           I could go up that way in the
           morning. And - here it is.
           Well, who'd be sending me a parcel
           over there?
           Well, open it and see.
          Albert opens the parcel and pulls out a leather sketchbook...
           It's a sketchbook...
           (gasp of realization)
           That's Captain Nicholls' sketchbook!
           See that? That's a picture of Joey!
           It's a picture of Joey. Well, I
           And there's a letter...
           Well, go on then, go on.
           All right.
           "Dear Albert Narracott.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Captain Nicholls, who died...Captain
           Nicholls, who died in action today
           left you this. Yours, Sergeant Sam
          Si Easton drops his head guiltily. Rosie catches this.
           You weren't to know it was bad news.
           He was riding Joey when he died.
           You don't know that he was riding
           "In action," it says.
          Everybody falls silent. Albert goes to the fence and looks
          down at the sketches of Joey. Rosie looks at her son, her
          heart breaking for him. Dad returns to the harvest without a
          word. Albert looks off to the horizon and - over there.
          CLOSE -- A step stool.
          Michael mounts the stool next to Joey and Topthorn, removes
          their harnesses and carries them across the road.
          Michael slips and falls into the mud. Gunther dashes over
          and pulls him up just before a military convoy pulls into the
          camp, running over the tack.
          The BASE CAMP OFFICER appears on a motorbike.
           Gentlemen! We move forward to the
           frontline tonight. Full marching
           orders. Get moving!
          As the soldiers hop to their orders, the officer turns to -
           Schroeder! Schroeder!
          Both Michael and Gunther turn to him. But it's Gunther the
          Officer wants to talk to.
           No, not you - you. Come.
          Gunther picks up the dropped harnesses as he approaches.
           I'm keeping you here. You are best
           with the horses and we need to move
           the camp quickly if the enemy
           continue to push through from the
           They're pushing through?
           I'm told. We will move later when we
           find where the horses are needed
           Yes, sir. Perhaps I can keep my
           brother here with me, he's also very
           good with horses.
           Oh no no. Not necessary.
                          (TO MICHAEL)
           Get moving. We leave tonight.
          He walks away. Gunther is stricken by the news, but Michael
          is excited. As he leads Joey past his brother:
           It's all right, Gunther.
          Gunther can't really speak. Michael is just a boy.
          Soldiers are lifting up their equipment - gathering - moving
          in the same direction.
          In a quiet tent, a few last soldiers are packing. And there
          are Gunther and Michael, packing together.
           You are not going. I'll tell them
           you are only fourteen, that you're a
           Father signed me in. He knew my age
           -and so do they.
          The process of packing is their way of coping with the shock.
          Gunther is folding one of Michael's shirts. Michael takes it
                          MICHAEL (CONT'D)
           Mother obviously never taught you
           how to fold a shirt.
           Of course she did. I just wasn't
           listening. But you need to listen
           now! I promised her, I made her a
           solemn promise, that you would be
           safe with me. With me, Michael!!
          He leans close to Michael, talking in almost a whisper.
                          GUNTHER (CONT'D)
           They'll never make a head count.
           There are too many of us. You can
           stay here - slip underneath the bed -
           until they move out.
           Then what?
          Michael carries on with his packing.
                          MICHAEL (CONT'D)
           Gunther, it will be fine. And when
           all the machines break down and they
           call up the horses, I'll see you at
           the front. We'll be together again.
          And now the case is packed. Gunther heads to the tent
                          MICHAEL (CONT'D)
          Looking round, the tent is now empty. The moment to leave has
          come. Gunther pulls the red pennant from his pocket and
          follows Michael out of the tent to where the soldiers are
          lining up in the road.
           I'm giving this to you. For luck.
          Gunther ties the pennant to the back of Michael's pack as he
          forms up.
                          GUNTHER (CONT'D)
           To keep you safe.
          Michael smiles at him and begins to march. Marching towards
          Ypres, on the Western Front.
           Im schnellschritt! Marsch...links!
           Zwei, drei, vier!
          We settle on young Michael - in line - he passes Gunther. He
          remains eager. But it is goodbye. These soldiers moving into
          the darkness and towards death. Gunther looks on - tears in
          his eyes. The two horses are uneasy - sensing tension.
          A few minutes later - Gunther grabs a saddle and throws it
          onto Joey's back.
          Back to the soldiers.
          Suddenly we see the galloping legs of two horses. They whip
          past the back of the line of marching soldiers. It's clear
          what is happening - Gunther is on Topthorn - and has hold of
          Joey, on a loose rope, galloping beside him.
          Gunther, galloping along the line of soldiers, spots what he
          is looking for, a red pennant unfurled and flapping in the
          wind, tied onto Michael's pack. Gunther speeds toward him.
          This was his plan all along. And in an instant he is beside
          him and without Michael ever realizing, he suddenly finds his
          arms and legs akimbo, as he is yanked out of the line and
          dragged along the ground, desperately close to Joey's
          pounding hooves.
          Michael looks at the soldiers beside him - he looks at the
          skyline of violence ahead...but before he can decide, he
          feels his brother's arm - pulling him upwards. And now, the
          two of them are fully on Topthorn.
          They leave a jumble of soldiers in their wake as the officers
          try to restore order.
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           Get back in line! Line!
          EXT. WOODS. LATER.
          Michael now rides Joey, following Gunther on Topthorn. The
          brothers look at each other - can't believe what they have
          done - Michael is following his brother, swept along, doesn't
          know if it is right.
          And Michael and Joey and Gunther and Topthorn charge on to
          They spot a lonely house and burst past a line with some
          drying clothes.
          As they ride, they grab civilian shirts and jackets and
          trousers, the clothes pegs pinging off and falling to the
          And on they ride - though all too soon day starts to break in
          the far distance. They see a very dilapidated windmill. They
          aim for it as the sun begins to seriously break over the
          INT. / EXT. WINDMILL. DAWN.
          They reach the windmill. It feels very unused. The machinery
          of the windmill creaks in the dawn. The brothers untether the
          horses, careful now that it is light outside.
           I'm hungry. Did you bring food?
           I'm sorry.
          Michael fingers the pennant on Joey's reins. Then...
           Will Father be ashamed?
           He will pretend to be. Maybe at
           first he will be. But in the end, he
           will be glad.
           And us? What about us?
          Gunther looks at him - but doesn't reply. As Michael removes
                         JOEY'S SADDLE:
                          MICHAEL (CONT'D)
           I was ready to go. I was proud to
           (after a beat, in a very
                          SMALL VOICE)
           I wanted to go.
          Later - They sit in silence, waiting for sleep.
                          MICHAEL (CONT'D)
           The food in Italy is good.
           What about the women?
           Not as good as the food.
           Because...they've eaten too much of
           the food?
           You are too young for war. And
           you're too young for women!
          Gunther laughingly pushes him over.
           I don't feel so young. Not anymore.
                          MICHAEL (CONT'D)
                          MICHAEL (CONT'D)
           Go to sleep - we have a big night of
           riding ahead. Goodnight, Michael.
          He jokingly strokes Michael's cheek. Michael swats him away,
          but as he settles in the hay:
           Night night, Gunther.
          EXT. WINDMILL. DUSK.
          Gunther and Michael sleep. Suddenly something awakens Joey.
          He stirs and then rises. Hear the sound of engines and see
          lights through the slats sweeping across Joey's face.
          Michael and Gunther are stirring in their sleep as we hear a
          car and several motorcycles approaching. Head-lamps filter
          through the cracks in the windmill walls stabbing the
          brothers awake.
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           Hei! In die windm�hle!
          The boys spring up, speaking in terrified whispers.
           Go, go, go...
          They race up a nearby ladder, but Michael stumbles against a
          table, upsetting some gear. It clatters loudly. They cower
          as they hear boots tromping up the steps outside. Then the
          windmill doors are thrown open, pinning them in the bright
          headlights of the vehicles.
          As they're marched out, we see what they see: A German car -
          two motorcycles. Six Germans, including the officer who was
          in charge of them.
           Yes, sir.
           A mistake?
          He's offering an excuse, but -
           A promise.
          The officer accepts this grimly, nods.
          As the boys are taken away, he lights a cigarette.
          Through the turning arms of the windmill, we glimpse the
          double execution. Four rifles fire - flashes of the soldiers
          shooting - the bodies on the ground.
          Complete stillness in the empty countryside.
          There are Joey and Topthorn, still waiting.
          And then suddenly - the doors of the windmill creak. The two
          horses turn, immensely aware of the break in the silence. The
          door opens a little - and we see, reflected in Joey's eye, a
          very delicate, beautiful, thirteen-year-old country girl
          She stares at the horses. They stare straight back at her.
          And she walks straight out again, closing the big door behind
          her. Joey and Topthorn settle for a moment.
          Time transition - Joey and Topthorn are in a slightly
          different place - and the door opens again. It is the same
          little girl - but this time she comes in carrying two buckets
          full of water.
          INT. / EXT. FARMHOUSE / FARM. DAY.
          A small humble farmhouse - and round it, small fields,
          planted with different fruit crops. We see an old man
          (GRANDFATHER), burdened with a basket of berries heading back
          towards the farmhouse.
          distance the STORM OF WAR is in the sky.
          He enters the kitchen - which is rough, but full of the
          paraphernalia of jam-making - jars, sieves, pectin, sugar.
          Emilie is at the sink, washing berries.
          He heads towards the side-board, dumps the two bags and lifts
          the first handful of fruits on to the counter.
          She empties her clean berries into a bowl. Notes the
          explosions outside.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           It's closer today.
           The wind plays tricks with the noise
           - it's moving away from us.
           I can hear it, Grandp�re, and there
           is no wind. You shouldn't lie to me.
           Here. There is no wind here. But
           over there - a wind so strong it
           will lift you off the ground...
           You lie about everything. You say
           you aren't worried but it's clear
           you are. I know the war is
           approaching but you say, "Oh, it's
           just a trick of the wind."
          He retrieves a bottle of medicine from the mantle.
           Did I say that?
           You started lying when Mama and Papa
           went away.
          She pours a load of sugar into a bowl with the fruit.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           They're dead. But you won't say so.
           Do you think I'll die if you tell me
           the truth?
           The truth is -
          He feeds her a spoonful of the medicine.
                          GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
           - you should speak to your elders
           with respect.
          She sticks her wet finger in the sugar and sucks it to help
          with the taste of the medicine.
           If you tell me the truth about the
           war, I will tell you the truth about
           the big horses I've been keeping in
           the windmill.
           (standing, putting his
           hands on his hips)
           Now - who is the one telling lies!
          Grandfather looks stunned as he paces in front of JOEY AND
          TOPTHORN - who stand in the small courtyard outside the
           In the windmill?
           Yes. They were standing in the
           windmill waiting for Don Quixote.
           This is Fran�ois (Joey) and this is
           Claude (Topthorn).
           I named them after two boys who
           broke my heart last Summer.
           They must belong to someone. Horses
           like this don't just appear from a
           Yes - I know, Grandp�re. They are
           not unicorns - so I will be fair and
           wait -- one day.
           Emilie... Emilie...
           And if no one comes to get them by
           night-time, then they belong to me.
           Emilie. Look at me. You cannot
           Mother used to tell me how my bones
           would give way with the slightest
           bump or fall.
           Yes. That's right. So it is
          She kisses his cheek --
                          GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
           Good girl.
          -- but then calmly leads the horses back to the windmill.
           It will only be settled when I
           decide which one to ride first.
           But it's - Over my dead body!
           At least I won't have long to wait.
          That is the end of the conversation as far as she is
          EXT. FARM HOUSE. DAY.
          Emilie is with the horses in the little stable at the end of
          the courtyard - a bit away from the farm house - she is
          feeding them out of a bucket - not very nice gruel.... WE
          SEE THAT SHE IS HESITANT WITH THEM - that she has spent no
          time around horses.
                          (TO JOEY)
           I was in love with a boy called
           Fran�ois - who had your lovely eyes.
                          (TO CLAUDE)
           Unfortunately he was in love with a
           girl called Marie, who had your
           teeth. She fell for a boy called
           Claude - who broke my heart. And who
           I intend to marry one day.
          Grandfather watches Emilie from inside the house as he makes
           EMILIE (O.S.)
           Eyes on me. No talking.
          Outside, Emilie has fashioned two jumps. The big one for Joey
          and a little demonstration obstacle for herself. She leads
          Joey to a starting point about 30 yards in front of some
          crates supporting a stick about four feet off the ground.
          The red pennant hangs from the stick. Joey stands quietly as
          Emilie hobbles to the big jump, making a jumping gesture with
          her hand.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           Today we learn to jump. Did you know
           the French cleared one meter eighty-
           five at the Paris Olympics to win
           the gold medal? Today we will beat
           that record.
          Grandfather chuckles. Emilie indicates the larger barrier.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           This is your jump. When I call
  very brave and leap over
          She claps, but Joey doesn't move.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           Leap over it! Watch me.
          She turns to her demonstration jump and easily steps over her
          six-inch high barrier.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           And now it's your --
          She turns to find Joey already stepping over her mini-jump,
          stopping in front of her. He's only interested in the apple
          in her hand. She takes a bite herself.
                          JUMP TO:
          Emilie returns Joey to the starting line and runs back behind
          the big jump. From behind her back she produces three big
          carrots dripping soil. Joey's ears perk and he takes off
          quickly but at the last moment veers right and passes between
          the two jumps.
          INT. FARMHOUSE. DAY.
          Grandfather is watching through the window as he prepares his
          strawberry jams. He laughs and goes back to work.
          BACK TO FIELD
          Aware she's being watched, she slings the carrots over her
          shoulder, frustrated.
                          JUMP TO:
          EXT. BARN. LATER.
          Joey slowly emerges from the barn with Emilie out in front
          leading him with one hand. In the other hand, she carries a
          small wooden step ladder.
           He doesn't think we can do it. But
           we will show him, won't we?
          Emilie unfolds the ladder beside Joey and shakily starts
          climbing to the top of it.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           (Her voice shaking)
           No need to be afraid.
           (Emilie looking down at
           how far off the ground
                          SHE IS)
           You are...very tall.
          Before she can swing her leg over Joey's back -
           You'll kill yourself.
          Emilie turns, and there, blocking the hurdle, now standing
          hands on hips, is Grandfather.
           Only if you get in my way to make me
           Oh please, come off the ladd--
          A SOUND from far down the road. Grandfather looks. Emilie
          turns to look too. Two trucks led by a German motorcycle are
          approaching the farm.
                          GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
           Find somewhere to hide them. And do
           it quickly!!!
          As Emilie races off with the horses, Grandfather pushes over
          the jumps and jams the pennant into his pocket.
          The bikes arrive first, just missing Emilie as she leads the
          horses behind the house.
          The trucks arrive, pull round - one of the soldiers in the
          front jumps out and opens the back.
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           Halt! Und aussteigen!
          The people - 20 of them, all seeming to be poor French
          peasants, mainly women, move out of the truck. As they walk
          past, they avoid the eye of the Grandfather, who approaches
          the soldiers.
           My name is Bonnard - this is my
           land. Why are you here?
           Food for the soldiers at the front.
           Everyone must give their share.
          And suddenly we see what is going to happen - the 20 peasants
          spread out and move through the field - with either bags, or
          using the aprons they wear - picking all the fruits - at just
          the moment all the work has brought forth fruit - and the new
          year's crop is ready.
          Raspberries, black-currants, gooseberries. In a few minutes,
          everything he lives by will be gone.
          Watching from his car and calmly smoking a cigar is BRANDT,
          the officer in charge of the unit.
          Cut to the fields - the aprons and baskets are getting full.
          They move through the rows of fruit like a plague of locusts.
          Back to the Grandfather - and out of the house comes Emilie.
           They are taking everything. Where
           are the horses?
           What horses?
          The sound of jars breaking draws Grandfather and Emilie into
          the kitchen, where the Germans continue to raid their other
          One German picks up waterbath canner -- inspecting it.
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           What is it?
           Leave it if you don't know what it's
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           A pot is a pot. We'll find some use
           for it. Sir, where's the livestock?
          Brandt sits quietly, casually using his finger to scoop jam
          from an open jar.
           I make jam. We have no animals.
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           But there's fresh hay in your barn.
          Emilie enters, overhearing.
           We use it to replace the mattress
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           Her grandfather?
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           Where are her parents?
                          (BREAKING IN)
           They're dead. They died.
          The German nods and is about to take his leave, putting the
          pot back where he found it, when a clumping noise from
          somewhere in the house begins.
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           What is that?
           The wind. It plays tricks in the
          Brandt licks his finger and tests:
           There is no wind.
           An old house creaks.
                          (TO EMILIE)
           Go - close the shutters.
          Emilie runs out of the room. The soldier picks up the
          medicine bottle.
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           She's sickly, no?
           If you or any of your friends harm
           her, as old as I am, I will kill
          The soldier looks shocked and then begins to laugh. He slaps
          the medicine flask into Grandfather's chest.
                          GERMAN SOLDIER
           You know, I was going to give you
           back your pot. But now I'm going to
           keep it. For soup.
          He slings the huge pot he had put back up on his shoulder and
          leaves the house with the other soldiers.
           We will be back in the new season.
          As the Germans leave, we cut to the upstairs bedroom where
          Emilie lies curled up on the bed - and there, standing on
          either side of the bed - are the two horses. They look huge
          in the tiny room.
          The sound of shells exploding. A huge bombardment somewhere
          in the deep distance. But much closer than before. The
          distant, malicious giants of war growl.
          It is like a lightning storm on the horizon.
          The kitchen has been emptied. The war has finally come to
          them - and we can see it on Emilie's face.
           Tell me what happened to them. To my
           mother and father.
          Grandfather doesn't respond.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           You said you would tell me how they
           died. On my birthday. And tomorrow's
           my birthday! They died fighting,
           didn't they? But when the soldiers
                          COME -
          She finally turns to face him.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           - you do nothing. You are a coward,
           aren't you?
           Yes. Yes. It was your parents who
           were brave. I make jams.
           And you've never done a brave thing
           in your life?
          He eases himself into a chair and shrugs.
           Maybe there are different ways to be
           brave. Did you know the French have
           the best carrier pigeons? And this
           could be the difference in the war -
           our messages getting through.
           I don't want to hear about the
           They are released at the front and
           told to go home - this is all they
           know. But to get there they must
           fly over a war. Can you imagine
           such a thing? Here you are flying
           over so much pain and terror - and
           you know you can never look down.
           You have to look forward or you'll
           never get home. I ask you - what
           could be braver than that?
          Emilie sheds a single tear.
          INT. THE BARN. DAWN.
          Grandfather enters the barn, strokes Topthorn's nose as he
          passes. He sweeps aside a rug from the barn floor, to reveal
          a trap door. Then, he opens it.
          Now from out of the trap door, he lifts a big ungainly
          object, covered in another rug.
          Emilie comes down the stairs as Grandfather waits proudly by
          the stove. She stops when she sees the OBJECT COVERED BY THE
           What is that?
           A present.
          Emilie moves toward the object that is covered.
           I hope you have not bought me a
           disgusting dress that I then have to
           wear like last year.
           It was disgusting?
           Yes. I looked like an ugly nun.
          Then she stops herself and turns to Grandfather with a
          parental rebuke.
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           Give me your hand.
           (she takes it in hers)
           Grandp�re, we have no money. When
           the war is over, then you can buy me
           jewels and carriages.
          The grandfather smiles and gives Emily a hug.
           Anything you say, my sweet one.
           Anything-you-say! You are, of
           course, the boss. It's just an old
           thing I found - don't worry yourself
           - leave it, I'll put it back.
          He leaves the room. Now Emilie is alone and she can't help it
          when she brings her eyes back to the object covered by the
          rug. She looks back over her shoulder to make sure she's not
          being watched and then lifts one corner of the rug. Her face
          explodes with a gorgeous smile. She pulls off the rug that
          is covering the big thing is a gorgeous old saddle.
          She runs her hand along the saddle -- can hardly believe it.
          Grandfather helps to swing Emilie up and into the saddle.
          All at once, the Grandfather's charity evaporates.
           It was your mother's. I hid it, so
           as not to encourage you. Emilie, I
           want you to ride very slowly, very
           carefully. And promise me you won't
           go far --
           Of course. Okay, I promise.
           To the top of the hill and straight
           back again.
           I promise.
          Emilie unties her hair and tosses the red pennant to
          Grandfather, releasing her hair to spill down her back and
                          EMILIE (CONT'D)
           My hero.
          She sets off on Joey - and quickly spurs him to a gallop.
          She rides - past the windmill - and then over the top of a
          nearby hill - she speeds over it and out of sight.
          Back to the hill - a sudden change of mood. An empty shot. No
          movement, no returning girl.
                          GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
          Cut again to the top of the hill, then back to the
          Grandfather, very worried.
                          GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
          Topthorn suddenly rears up - and charges off following,
          sensing danger. Grandfather starts to run in the direction of
          the hill.
          Topthorn charging over the brow of the hill.
          The Grandfather running - out of breath.
          He hears an indistinct scream from Emilie!
          He reaches the top of the hill - comes over the brow - and
          there is not the fallen body of Emilie, which he has been
          fearing, but a brutal line of German soldiers - and
          motorbikes. It is like a line of Indians in a Western -
          total, alien fear.
          And there amongst them is Emilie, astride a panicked Joey,
          surrounded by soldiers. Another one holds Topthorn, who bucks
          and rears, but to no avail. Grandfather starts down the hill
          towards his granddaughter.
          The Germans are moving through the horses they have gathered.
          Emilie, unhorsed, tries to get to Joey, who is being roughly
          led away by a German soldier.
           No! Let go of me! No!
          Grandfather grabs her. She is screaming. He tries to calm her
          down. Joey is tied up as is Topthorn. Emilie is kicking and
          screaming - but also desperately short of breath.
           She is my granddaughter! Emilie,
           stop! Don't hurt her, please!
           Don't hurt her.
          A soldier roughly shoves Emilie at him.
          Brandt approaches. Emilie screams at him, in tears.
           You don't need them! There are so
           many others!
          Emilie is still sobbing. Grandfather hugs her - in horror
          that she is now struggling so hard for breath.
           Please, take the bigger one and
           leave the smaller one. You are
           breaking my granddaughter's heart.
           The war has taken everything from
                          (CALLING AFTER)
           What will happen to them?
           They will pull artillery until they
                          DIE -
           - or until the war is over.
           It will never be over!
           You have your answer then.
          The motorbikes start up and drive off. The Grandfather
          hugging tiny Emilie as she coughs.
          The Germans disappear up the lane leaving the old man and the
          child bereft in the bitter cold.
          Two grooms trail Brandt, leading Joey and Topthorn toward a
          makeshift corral.
           Heiglemann - these are yours.
           Yes, sir.
           They look strong - should last a
           month or two.
          FRIEDRICH is an unprepossessing, chubby man. He marvels at
           You are beautiful.
          But then he looks to the other horses penned nearby, haggard
          and weak. He turns to Joey.
                          FRIEDRICH (CONT'D)
           It's a pity they found you.
          He takes the leads of the pair of them. He sighs...
                          FRIEDRICH (CONT'D)
           Such a pity...
          In a strange way, there are many humans Joey meets, but also
          just one, the spirit of goodness and consideration for
          animals, joined by little echoes throughout the film.
          And then they go over a ridge - and we suddenly see the
          explanation of Friedrich's comment. The road they can see
          below them is the main through road of the area - and it is a
          scene of horse horror - huge, massive guns and cannons and
          artillery being dragged by teams of horses that are in a
          terrible condition.
          For Joey and Topthorn, this is a moment like when soldiers
          arrived to liberate the prisoners who had been kept in Changi
          prison by the Japanese during World War 2. They have never
          seen horses in this condition. You can see in their eyes the
          confusion. This is a whole different world, where horses can
          turn into creatures that look like this.
          And it is also a vision of their future. This may be the
          moment the mighty Topthorn begins to lose hope. For Joey it
          is another level of knowledge - another mighty thing he will
          fight through - because he always fights through.
          Friedrich leads Joey and Topthorn in the wake of THE HUGE
          MORSER - an elaborate 15 ton monstrosity with a six inch
          bore. It takes a team of six horses to haul it with a dozen
          men pushing from behind.
                          ARTILLERY OFFICER
           Pull together!
          A soldier calls from the front of the heavy cannon - pulled
          by a particularly wretched group of horses.
                          ARTILLERY SOLDIER
           Halt! Halt! Stop!
          Lower down the hill, Friedrich waves down the rest of the
           Stop! Stop!
          At the front of the Morser, one of the lead horses collapses -
          he will never get up again.
          Brandt steps up, pulls a revolver out of his pocket and
          shoots the horse dead. It has come to this.
          Joey, Topthorn, and all the other horses are spooked by the
          pistol shot.
          Brandt shouts to Friedrich from the road.
           Heiglemann, bring up another one!
                          ARTILLERY OFFICER
           Heiglemann, bring up another horse!
           That one!
          Friedrich begins leading Joey up the hill, but --
                          BRANDT (CONT'D)
           No, no. The big black one!
          Friedrich hauls Topthorn, hesitantly, while Joey watches.
          As he reaches Brandt:
           He's a good horse, sir. But if you
           move him up to the heavy gun, he
           will be no use at all. Prince is
           already losing condition. His leg,
           You have given them names?
           Yes, sir.
           You should never give a name to
           anything you are certain to lose.
           His leg is not good enough, sir.
           Private, you will do as you are
                          (CALLING OFF)
           Hook him up.
          Friedrich has no choice but as he starts to lead Topthorn,
          Joey rears up and escapes his groom. He gallops up the hill
          to the gun - offering himself up to save Topthorn. It is his
          "Tale of Two Cities" moment - giving up his life to save his
          friend. He bucks and rears. Friedrich turns to Brandt.
           As you see, sir, this one is
          Brandt takes up Friedrich, and Joey's, offer -
           Hook him up.
          As Joey is hooked to the gun, he looks back to Friedrich who
          leads Topthorn back down the hill.
          The convoy struggles up the hill. Joey feels the dead weight
          of the gun. These are several tons of cast iron - almost
          dwarfing the horses. Friedrich notices. Together, this grim
          circus struggles along the pot-holed country road in the
          Joey leads the team up the incline. Each step is an immense
          effort. The going, over rough scree, is very tough indeed. It
          is very difficult for Joey to get a foothold on the loose
          ground, but his experience in Dartmoor comes into play and
          although he almost loses his balance several times he stays
          upright and hauls the cannon - Fitzcarraldo-like - over the
          We follow his progress step by step. Friedrich watches
          anxiously. Soldiers strain at the sides of the gun. One
          throws boards under the wheels to aid in traction. As they
          reach the top of the hill it almost seems the effort is too
          much, the cannon always in danger of rolling back. Joey
          finally staggers over the top - it feels as though the
          tethers are going to snap with the strain - but at last the
          cannon reaches the peak, the crest of the hill.
          Soldiers scurry around the giant gun, preparing it.
           Halt! Halt! Take the horses away!
                          ARTILLERY OFFICER
          Friedrich observes with Topthorn as a giant shell is carried
          to the gun's breech.
           And load!
          The men wrestle it into place -
           Back! Case!
          - and secure it.
          The barrel of the giant gun ratchets upward.
          The shell explodes from the barrel. And then from another.
          And another. For the first time we see the big picture - the
          line of assembled cannons of which they were just one tiny
          Each gun recoils violently as they shoot their shells into
          oblivion - as soon as one shell is fired another is loaded -
          the noise is deafening - the line seemingly endless - an
          obscene production line of death. This is what the horses
          have been feeding - this massive merciless thing.
          Smoke wafts from the guns as we see the explosions in the
          distance. The sound of the explosions takes us to -
          Explosions light the dirty faces of British boys in uniform,
          one after the next. Each light fading out before the next
          great blast illuminates another anonymous face -then another -
          and then another - and then ALBERT. Hold on him for extra
          moments before he fades completely.
          TITLE: FRANCE - 1918, THE SOMME
          With the barrage lifted, the British soldiers that are
          huddled in a low sub-trench, are ordered back on the line.
          Andrew Easton is with Albert and he's shaken and terrified. A
          far cry from the happy young boy we knew.
          A gruff sergeant (SERGEANT MARTIN) walks the trench with a
          bucket and each soldier puts in their valuables and personal
          belongings. One a lighter, some money, etc.
                          SERGEANT MARTIN
           Valuables in the bucket, lads. If
           you live, you'll get them back. If
           you live, you'll get them back.
           Good lads.
          Albert and Andrew move down the trench in a line of soldiers
          who are given ammo belts and grenades.
          Albert gets his grenades and walks further along the
          trenches. We follow him in real time as he passes a bunch of
          soldiers who are kneeling in the ankle deep water, a PADRE is
          giving them communion. The deafening noise of shelling all
           Maybe it's a drill, Albie. Maybe
           it's a drill like last time.
          We keep following Albert's progress in real time - further on
          there is a post box where they all put their final letters
          home in identical green envelopes. We see Albert's letter
          addressed to "Ted and Rose Narracott" in Devon. He posts it
          in a battered metal post box.
          An officer approaches:
           Love letter?
           That's my business.
          It is David - Lyon's son - now in charge of this small group
          of men. Still arrogant - looking older than Albert in his
          uniform - and clearly enjoying his superior rank.
           I hear you and your mate were doing
           bird imitations again. You gonna
           write a letter to your horse?
          Albert ignores him. Andrew can't help but giggle.
                          DAVID (CONT'D)
           After you find your horse, I've lost
           my needle in a haystack, and I could
           use some help.
          David takes up a bucket and walks down the line of soldiers.
                          DAVID (CONT'D)
           Anything valuable. Anyone who comes
           back gets to share it out.
                          (TO ANDREW)
           Stay here.
          Albert follows David down the trench.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Remember that day me and Joey raced
           you in your car?
           I remember you somersaulting through
           the air.
           Who was that girl you were with?
           There was a girl?
          Albert nods.
           There was. Don't you remember?
           It was just some girl, I suppose. I
           don't recall which one. I do
           remember you falling on your bum in
           a ditch.
          Andrew laughs amiably. David points to him, smirking.
                          DAVID (CONT'D)
           You see? Always entertaining,
           Narracott, I'll give you that.
          As David walks on, Andrew smiles at Albert.
           You did that? You fell on your bum?
          Albert leaves without answering. Andrew keeps smiling until
          a large shell explodes nearby. Troops surge towards their
          ladders as officers scream indistinct orders.
          Now David leads his troop through the trenches to the front
          line where they stop, lean against the enemy-side wall
          nervously and wait - each man in private contemplation.
          Sergeant Martin moves along the lines, pushing men forward.
                          SERGEANT MARTIN
           Be ready! Be ready! Let's go, men,
           get ready to go! Get ready to move
           out! Stay in position!
          David calls out from atop a trench ladder.
           Hold your nerve, boys. Remember,
           it's not far to go. There's a way
           (he moves down the line)
           Run fast, keep your wits about you,
           keep your eyes open and God and the
           King will keep an eye on you.
           Company will fix bayonets! Fix
          The echo of `fix bayonets' goes down the line - and every man
          fixes the brutal shining bayonet to the end of his gun.
          Then Albert turns to Andrew.
           You know what it reminds me of out
           That bloody impossible lower field
           the day me and Joey plowed it. Best
           day of my life that was and you were
           And this here is the worst day of my
           life, about to begin, and you're
           here cheering me on. Us two, always.
           And him.
          He nods at David Lyons, who gives instructions to another
           Once you're in no man's land, go to
           the flanks. Stay on the flanks.
           Yes, sir.
          David turns to Albert and Andrew.
           Come on, boys, come on. To the
                          (TO ANDREW)
           Stick close to the gentry, that's
           our ticket, yeah? We have the pluck
           but they have the luck.
          They both smile. And then the fear takes over again. Andrew
          particularly feels as though he is on the very edge now.
          David urges them forward.
           You, too, Narracott.
                          (TO ANDREW)
           And you, too.
          Andrew and Albert pass by the bucket. They throw some
          valuables in. But a moment later, Albert goes back to the
          bucket and pulls something out - a worn piece of paper - he
          unfolds it - it is the little sketch that Captain Nicholls
          drew of Joey the night before they left for France. He slips
          it inside his shirt, next to his heart.
                          DAVID (CONT'D)
           Come on, on your ladders, boy. On
           your ladders. In you go, in you go.
           That's it.
          Andrew turns towards a ladder. As fate and placement would
          have it - he is first in line. He puts his foot on the
          ladder, when suddenly the Sergeant stops him.
                          SERGEANT MARTIN
           Listen to your sergeant!
          He pulls Andrew aside, speaking so that everyone can hear.
           If anybody turns back, if any one of
           our boys come running towards you -
           you take this rifle and you shoot
           them dead. Do you understand?
           Yes, sir!
          The sergeant pushes in on Andrew, private and intense.
           Do you understand me? Do you
           understand what I'm telling you,
           son? You take this rifle and you
           shoot them dead. Understand?
          Andrew looks ready to cry, but manages to nod. Albert turns
          to him, only to be pushed back by the sergeant.
                          SERGEANT (CONT'D)
           Up there, son. Up your ladder. Up
           your ladder to your work!
          Albert looks nervously back at Albert, comforting.
           It's good. Andrew, it's good.
           Andrew! Nobody's retreating today.
           Andrew! Andrew! Nobody. Is
           retreating. Today.
          The COMMANDER arrives, checks the time on his AIDE's watch,
          mounts his ladder and blows a whistle to signal the charge.
          A BAGPIPER plays as the men go over the top.
          David now heads up the ladder first. Gun fire overhead,
          Albert steels himself, then hauls himself over the top,
          followed by the next man and the next.
          Immediately machine gun fire whistles past, we hear the
          screams of the first men who are shot. We follow Albert.
          We are him. His vision. His experience. The ground is
          blasted, there are bodies all around him. He tries to run but
          his feet sink into the mud. Bullets fly past him. Felled men
          are screaming at his feet in fear and agony. Albert staggers
          forward. David is now right by him. They run together. Albert
          looks round and suddenly, David is hit. He falls to the
          ground, screaming.
           I'm shot! No!
          Albert instinctively goes to help. Bullets shower all around
                          DAVID (CONT'D)
           Just leave me. Leave me!
          Albert grabs him and drags him onwards with him - David
          screaming at the pain - Albert grimly determined. Shells
          explode around them as they stumble on. Other men are
          running and falling. Albert sees cover in a huge shell-hole
          so dives into it for a moment's reprieve from the gun fire.
          He sits in still terror for a moment.
           You'll be all right here. You'll be
           safe. Someone'll come for ya.
           Albert. Albert, listen...
           It's all right. It's all right.
           We're Devon boys, yeah?
          David looks at Albert as though seeing him for the first
          Albert races onward.
          Back at the trench, Andrew waits - terrified - and then, back
          out of the mist step two men - heading back towards him. Then
          a third. They suddenly catch sight of Andrew waiting there
          with his gun pointed towards them. They slow down - in the
          terror of the assault, they had forgotten that death was
          waiting for them if they turned back.
          Time seems to slow down - Andrew shifts his gun from pointing
          at one - to the other - we see their individual faces. They
          are all just boys really.
          And suddenly, instinct hits Andrew - he charges up the
          ladder, and forward, firing - past the three men, towards the
          enemy. He chooses his death instead of theirs. A sudden
          barrage of machine gun fire all around him.
          Cut back to Albert, who makes his way to the edge of the
          shell hole. Bullets whizz inches from his head. He looks over
          to see a German machine gun position to his right. Bullets
          whizz past forcing him to duck.
          Andrew charges past other soldiers, ignoring their warnings.
                          RANDOM SOLDIER
           Get down!
          Albert continues forward to dive into another shell hole,
          nearer to the German line. He scrambles from shell hole to
          shell hole. Now he's very close to the machine gun position.
          Albert takes a grenade, fumbles with the pin as his hands
          tremble. He finally gets the pin out and he hurls the
          grenade at the machine gunner. We see the explosion and the
          machine gun stop. Albert sprints over the top again and makes
          it all the way into the German trench.
          Albert runs through the trench, which seems curiously empty.
          Albert swings round as he sees the startling face of a gas-
          masked German holding a rifle on him.
          Albert readies his bayonet but the man is dead, slumped
          backwards against the side of the trench still upright.
          Albert spins round, his bayonetted rifle in front of him,
          ready for action, but there is only the ghostly sight of dead
          German soldiers.
          Albert is alone, everyone else is dead. All the dead wear
          gas masks.
          More British soldiers drop into the trench, among them
          Andrew. He stumbles in the mud, drops his rifle, recovers
          it, and races through the trench.
          He glimpses Albert ahead of him, stalking through the mist.
          Andrew breaks into a smile and rushes forward, prompting
          Albert to whirl with his rifle raised.
          Albert pauses just in time. Then he collapses against the
          side of the trench, overwhelmed.
                          ANDREW (CONT'D)
          Andrew grabs Albert and holds him up, embracing him. Albert
          can barely whisper:
           We made it. We made it.
          A moment later, the pair of them hurry through the trenches.
          Albert spots more comrades around a corner and calls ahead to
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Andrew, this way out!
          Suddenly ANOTHER SOLDIER leaps from a trench branch between
          them, shouting in panic.
           Gas! Gas! Gas!
          An instant later, a gas cloud blasts through the trench.
          Andrew and Albert look in horror. It spreads towards them,
          too powerful to avoid. Andrew is closest, turns to Albert
          with a helpless -
          - before he takes the full power of it. An instant later, the
          white, deadly cloud encompasses Albert, too...
          Close on hooves and boots, slogging through muddy water,
          several inches deep.
          Friedrich is walking along, leading Topthorn and Joey.
          Topthorn is limping.
          Something is wrong - Topthorn seems to be failing - he coughs
          badly, breathes strangely. Friedrich stops to check on him.
          An officer notices.
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           Hey, there's no stopping here. Keep
           them moving.
           Sir, there's something wrong. This
           one needs to rest.
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           There's no rest for them. Move them
           along. Move them along!
          Instead, Friedrich leads the horses under the cover of a low
          bridge for a brief respite. A moment later, Topthorn
           Please, please, please. Stay on
           your feet. No, please. No no no...
          Friedrich tries to help Topthorn valiantly struggling to get
          up but finally sinks to the ground again. This time he lies
          semi-conscious. He is dying.
                          FRIEDRICH (CONT'D)
           Please please... Stay on your feet.
          Joey deeply upset nuzzles his nose into Topthorn but the life
          drains out him. Friedrich is in panic at Topthorn's quick
                          FRIEDRICH (CONT'D)
           Come on. Please please...
          Friedrich continues to stroke Topthorn's head. Joey pushes
          Topthorn as if to stop him falling into unconsciousness. For
          a moment we think Topthorn will come round but he slips away
          and all life leaves his body. Friedrich solemnly strokes the
          horse, knowing all is lost.
          Joey does not understand. He pulls at Topthorn's reins, as if
          trying to pull him upright. Topthorn's body is inert, his
          head falls to the earth. Joey will not give up, he pulls at
          him desperately not understanding that Topthorn has died.
          Suddenly, Friedrich looks around. Chaos - all the German
          soldiers stream back past their position, scrambling to get
          their guns and helmets. An officer charges down the bank next
          to the bridge, screaming orders at Friedrich.
                          GERMAN OFFICER
           They're coming! Leave it, private!
          Friedrich tries to pull Joey away to safety but Joey will not
          leave Topthorn's body. Friedrich pulls at Joey, but Joey is
          too lost in his grief to care about or even notice the
           Leave it! Come with me!
           Go to hell!
          The officer nods to two other soldiers who pull Friedrich to
          safety. As he's dragged away, he screams at Joey:
                          FRIEDRICH (CONT'D)
           Run. Run! Run! Run!
          But this is all background noise to Joey's profound refusal
          to accept Topthorn is dead. He paws at the ground next to
          Topthorn, a horse standing over his best friend in a field,
          and he will never leave him.
          And then suddenly - from around a blind turn in the
          streambed, a huge, remorseless tank turns, heading right for
          Joey. He bolts, galloping down the streambed, until he
          reaches a barbed wire barrier - a dead end. He attempts to
          run up the banks, but they're blocked, as well. He rears up,
          but the tank keeps advancing.
          The tank is about to crush Joey. He has left it too late. He
          is about to die.
          But then, counter-intuitively, he runs straight towards the
          tank and...leaps over it - a leap he learnt from Emilie. Then
          scrambles up and over it and leaps down behind.
          Joey keeps on running. He is wild, frightened.
          Joey is free - in countryside - but there is blood pouring
          from his leg, clearly torn by his encounter with the tank. He
          runs on - it is becoming night - suddenly there are
          explosions to the left of him - this fast, elegant creature
          simply runs through the gaps between explosions.
          But as he charges on - the sky lights up in the direction he
          is heading. He is suddenly in the thick of battle. A shell
          explodes next to him, and he leaps entirely over a trench.
          Another explosion sends him leaping, but not far enough - he
          finds himself crashing downwards, and into a trench - and he
          races through it - and finds himself charging towards a
          German company. Both sides are equally startled - Joey
          charging through a thin trench lined with German soldiers -
          the soldiers, finding a live horse careering through them.
          In desperation, Joey scrambles out of the trench - and once
          again, rushes away from the fighting...
          But now it is very dark indeed - he is stumbling as he runs -
          there is blood mixed with the mud on his legs.
          Now it is total night - fog - confusion - he jumps again. And
          now everywhere there are potholes - the land is massively
          uneven - shells are exploding all around. And suddenly sees
          in front of him barbed wire. He crashes through it - more -
          he bursts through again - now dragging barriers behind him -
          the barriers tangle, pulling him up short - he flips and
          lands amongst even more barbed wire.
          He pulls and turns to release himself but it is impossible.
          The more he pulls, the more firmly he is trapped. He rises
          up, wild, magnificent, a beast fighting for his life.
          He is completely trapped. He cannot move. He cannot see. He
          is in pain. He falls. It feels like an end.
           GEORDIE SOLDIER (O.S.)
           Stand to, stand to -
          A young soldier, a Geordie, is on look-out duty. He looks
          through a periscope. He alerts his colleague in his thick,
          northern, Newcastle accent.
           There's something moving.
           What the hell is it?
                          GEORDIE SOLDIER
           It looks like a cow.
          He passes the periscope to the second soldier.
           What the hell would a cow be doing out
          We see what he sees - nothing but morning mist on the surreal
          landscape - and something strange. It is Joey in the distance
                          SOLDIER 2
           That definitely isn't a cow.
           (handing over periscope)
           Well, what is it?
          We see an almost identical scene of several German soldiers
          looking out at Joey just as the British soldiers had done.
                          SECOND GERMAN
           It can't be a horse. Nothing alive could be
           out there.
                          THIRD GERMAN
           It isn't a horse. It isn't a horse.
          The first German looks through his periscope. We see what he
          sees - Joey in the mist:
                          SECOND GERMAN
           Yes - it's a horse.
          The second German looks through the periscope, stunned.
                          THIRD GERMAN
           It's a horse.
          A third German (PETER) lowers his binoculars.
           Yeah, it's a horse.
          Now all the soldiers are gathering to look out at Joey. A
          CAPTAIN now has the periscope.
                          BRITISH CAPTAIN
           Well, bugger me. It's a horse.
                          GEORDIE SOLDIER
           Lads, we should call him.
                          BRITISH SOLDIER
           How do you call a horse?
          The Geordie starts clicking his tongue, followed by all of
          his comrades. They all try to attract Joey's attention with
          tongue clicks.
          The Germans hear the clicks and respond with a chorus of
          Now both sides are whistling. Even the captain joins in.
          Joey tries to rise, but remains entangled. He whinnies in
          Peter lowers his binoculars.
           He's caught on the wire.
                          GEORDIE SOLDIER
           Oh sod it...
          Geordie climbs up the side of the trench, and waves a white
          handkerchief tied to the end of his bayonet.
                          BRITISH CAPTAIN
           What do you think you're doing? Get
           back, do you hear me? Corporal,
           that's an order! Get back!
          Geordie, not receiving fire, is emboldened to stand up.
                          BRITISH SOLDIER
           Listen to him, sir. We can't leave him.
          He waves the handkerchief to clearly signal he is no threat.
          The Germans look at the young soldier making his way over No
          Man's Land.
           What's he doing?
                          SECOND GERMAN
           It's a trap.
           No, I don't think so. I think he's
           trying to help.
          The second German cocks his rifle and starts to take aim.
                          THIRD GERMAN
           Scare him back into his hole.
          The second German takes a shot aimed over the Geordie's
          The Geordie crouches for cover, waving his handkerchief more
           It's a white flag, ent it? You see
           the white flag!? I'm just after
           tending to this here horse, is all!
          The Georgie marshals his courage and stands again, waving the
                          BRITISH CAPTAIN
           Get back, you stupid git!
          There's no fire from the German trenches. Muttering to
          himself, the Geordie marches forward towards Joey:
           The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not
           want, he leadeth me into green
           pastures, he lay me down beside the
           still waters...
          The Geordie walks very slowly across the mud - there are
          bodies - the ground squelches beneath his feet. He waves his
          handkerchief as he walks. He crosses a narrow bridge that
          spans a flooded bomb crater.
          Joey, lying on his side, wrapped head to toe in barbed wire,
          covered in mud, watches Geordie approach. When Geordie gets
          too close, Joey freaks out and begins thrashing about. Joey
          whinnies a high scream of pain, because wire is cutting into
          his hide in several places, and as he thrashes it cuts him
          deeper. Particularly worrisome is a strand that's wrapped
          around his head, crossing right over his eye, threatening to
          slash it. The Geordie calls out in a soothing voice:
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           Poor beastie. Poor babbie. It's
           alright. It's alright. Don't buck
           and wriggle so, you're only
           shredding yourself.
          Joey calms a little, still moving his head up and down.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           You'll blind yourself.
          He reaches Joey and surveys the formidable tangle of wire in
          which Joey's bundled. The Geordie soothes and at the same
          time gingerly tests other strands, trying to figure out where
          to begin.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           Bugger me worthless - I didn't think
           to bring gloves or something to cut
                          THE -
          He stabs his hand on one of the barbs.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           OW! DAMN! OW!!
          There's a noise behind him, and the Geordie turns around to
          see the Peter (the German from the trench) standing several
          feet away, holding some wire cutters.
           I thought perhaps you might need
          He holds out the wire cutters. The Geordie, still
          frightened, stares stupidly at them.
                          PETER (CONT'D)
           For the barbed wire?
           Yeah, yeah I... Ummm, thanks.
           Cheers. Cheers...
          He reaches out and takes the proffered cutters.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
          He returns to Joey, nervous about turning his back. He tries
          to figure out where to begin cutting. He lifts a long strand
          of wire that wraps around Joey's neck, stretches across his
          shoulder and torso and around one of his front legs. He puts
          the wire in the crux of the cutters and is preparing to snip
          when Peter steps closer to him.
           That...That's a very long strand.
           When you cut it, it's going to
           release this -
          He points to a wire wrapped around the wire the Geordie's
          lifting. Then he points to two other wires, similarly
                          PETER (CONT'D)
           - and this, and this, and they'll
           coil back rather violently, which
           I'm afraid will only wound the poor
           fellow further.
          The Geordie nods.
           You speak good English.
           I speak English well.
           (re: the cutters)
           May I?
          The Geordie hands them over and Peter surveys the wires.
                          PETER (CONT'D)
           What if we cut his head free first?
           So he won't try to stand up and
           blind himself? And then -
           Pity you didn't bring a second pair.
           Then I could cut the wire here -
          He points to one of the wires entangled with the strand he'd
          been prepared to cut.
          Peter stands and shouts in the direction of his trench.
          All at once one, two, three, six pairs of cutters come
          soaring through the air and splash into the watery crater.
          Moments later - Peter and the Geordie kneel beside Joey, each
          with a pair of cutters.
          Joey is calming down again.
          The Geordie positions himself across Joey's body so that when
          he's cut the wire, it won't coil back and cut Joey. Peter
          positions himself to be able to cut the two wires in quick
          succession, holding the first wire to stop it from springing
          Joey's completely still now.
          Peter points between Joey's eyes.
                          PETER (CONT'D)
           His blind spot. The cutters won't
           frighten him. If you could cut
           here, holding this wire -
          He points to wires that intersect the wire that crosses
          Joey's eye. Then he points to the wire across Joey's eye.
                          PETER (CONT'D)
           I could -
           Say no more, I'm right behind you.
          As they reposition themselves, the Geordie says to Joey:
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           And you understand what's happening,
           do you not, O Best Beloved? That you
           must lay so very nice and still.
           There's a lad, you're a remarkable
           horse, you are, helping us help you.
           There's a lad. There's a remarkable
          The Geordie looks into Joey's huge eye as he and Peter get to
          work on their cutting. Joey returns his gaze.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           So how's things in yonder trench?
           Delightful. We read, we knit
           sweaters, and we train our rats to
           perform circus tricks.
           Well, if ever you need any more
           rats, we can always send ours over.
           `Cause we've more than we need,
           strictly speaking. Besides, they
           scare off all the pretty girls.
           Our girls aren't afraid of rats.
           Big strapping German girls, eh? Kind
           what gives robust massages?
          They laugh.
           Every Thursday! And they bring rum
           cake on your birthday.
          Both men smile at this while Joey is completely still; they
          work quickly, in concert, cutting the horse's head free of
          the wire.
          Joey raises his head, gives it a shake, neighs and then stirs
          a little. The two soldiers smile at one another. Then they
          set about cutting the rest of the wire; it's much easier now.
          The Geordie cuts through the last wire binding Joey's legs.
          The two soldiers help as the horse staggers upright.
           Look at that horse! Look at the
           muscles he's got, them long legs.
           They're made for running, horses.
           Runnin' away from danger.
           Running away is all they have.
           Yet we taught `em opposite. Running
           into the fray.
           War horse.
           Yeah. War horse. And there he is.
           What a strange beast you've become.
          The Geordie grabs hold of Joey's halter, though Joey shows no
          sign of running.
          Joey is finally free.
          The two men look at each other.
           And now?
           I take him back with me, yeah?
           Since I supplied the cutters, the
           horse is mine. This is fair, no?
           In a pig's eye. He's English, plain
           to see.
           Oh, you mean because he's so filthy?
           Because he's so smart. And you're
           none too clean yourself.
           We could box. And the winner gets
           the horse.
          The Geordie smiles.
           No, thanks, pet. Must be careful not
           to start a war.
           (patting his pockets:)
           Do you have a coin of any sort?
           Coin toss?
          He takes a coin from his pocket, hands it to the Geordie, who
          looks at it.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           All right, Fritz - you're on.
          He flips the coin back to Peter.
           My name is not Fritz - it is Peter.
           Peter - I'm Colin.
           You call it, Colin.
          Peter spins it in the air and lets it fall into the mud. They
          look down. Peter shakes his head, resigned.
           That's the face of my Kaiser and he does not
           look pleased with me. The horse is yours.
          They collect their helmets as snow begins to blow around
           Gone quiet, hasn't it?
                          PETER (CONT'D)
           But wait half an hour and we'll be shooting
           I'm a terrible shot, Pete, don't believe
           I'll ever hit the target.
          He hands back the cutters.
          He notices the Geordie has offered his hand, as well. A
          beat, then Peter shakes with him.
                          PETER (CONT'D)
           Cheerio, mate.
                          (RE JOEY:)
           You'll take good care of him, yes?
           I will.
           Our strange beast.
           And you take care of your own
           strange self.
          Peter tosses Geordie his cutters.
           Colin! A pair of German cutters - in memory
           of your handsome friend from Dusseldorf.
          Peter nods, and walks back to his trench. As he goes, the
          Geordie calls after him:
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           I'll use `em back in the garden in
           South Shields. You keep your head
           down, now, Pete me lad!
          As he walks away, Peter turns back briefly, calling:
           Remarkable! A remarkable horse!
          The Geordie leads Joey towards the British trenches.
          Joey is now in the trenches, splashing about in the ankle
          deep water. He seems enormous in this cramped labyrinth. He
          is led past the broken and wounded soldiers who look at him
          with amazement, dumbfounded. It is a surreal image. The horse
          where horses shouldn't be.
          As Joey makes his journey through the trenches soldiers
          excitedly gather to watch him come by, taking pleasure in the
          saving of this single life.
          We arrive at a section we recognise as the place from where
          Albert set off only the night before. Sergeant Martin is
          there - as one man helps a wounded soldier into a medical
          area. It is David, hobbling and looking shell-shocked.
          Another wounded soldier approaches, but Martin waves him on.
                          SERGEANT MARTIN
           We're full up. Move on.
          David is seated next to Albert, who now seems in worse
          condition. His eyes are bandaged and he's wheezing. Andrew
          is nowhere to be seen. As a MEDICAL OFFICER checks Albert:.
           The gas got him - we had to wait
           till morning.
          The medic moves to Sergeant Martin, looking stricken.
                          MEDICAL OFFICER
           This can't be all of us.
                          SERGEANT MARTIN
           This is all.
           (bellowing to the men)
           All walking wounded, away to the
           dressing station! Away to the
           dressing station!
          Joey is led into the hospital area beyond the trenches. The
          Geordie leads him through the snowy streets. Bandaged men
          strewn around, wounded soldiers waiting for attention.
          The waiting soldiers gather to view the strange spectacle of
          the horse.
          At one of the dressing areas, a NURSE tends to Albert's
          damaged eyes. Behind him, we see Joey pass in the street,
          but Albert doesn't know it.
          Joey limps, his foreleg clearly injured. The Geordie soldier
          stops outside a makeshift hospital. Joey looks frail and
          A DOCTOR storms over from his patients.
           What's this doing here?
           We need a vet, sir.
           There are no vets. We've scarcely
           any horses left.
           He's cut all over, but this leg
           here's got the worst of it.
          Geordie strokes Joey as the Doctor examines him.
           It's probably tetanus. It's no good.
           Please, sir -
          The Doctor heads back into the hospital, dismissive.
           I've all these men to take care of,
           corporal, you can see that, can't
           Please, sir, this horse can pull
           through anything.
          The doctor absorbs his earnest appeal.
          Elsewhere, a line of soldiers waiting for medical assistance
          are curious about what is going on. Blinded by gas, eyes
          bandaged, one of them turns toward the commotion. It is
           What is it?
                          AN ORDERLY
           It's a horse they found, wandering about in
           No Man's Land.
           (easing him back onto a
           Down you go.
           What kind of an horse?
                          AN ORDERLY
           Bloody miraculous kind of an horse,
           be my guess. Nothing makes it out
           of No Man's Land.
          Albert lies there, but can't let go of the thought:
           Miraculous horse...
          Joey stands - breathing very deeply. The Doctor touches his
          wounded leg.
          The men from all over the medical area gather around Joey
          concerned about their new hero's pain.
          The doctor looks at the Geordie and frowns shaking his head
           (to the doctor:)
           He was alive, y'see, sir, where
           nothing survives, so to me and me
           mates, to the men, sir, he's - Well,
           we have high hopes for him -
           You should shoot him now.
          The Geordie is broken hearted.
           Oh, but I can't.
           It'd be a mercy, lad, that leg's not
           going to mend.
          The Doctor sadly addresses a nearby Sergeant.
                          DOCTOR (CONT'D)
           Sergeant. Put him out of his misery.
          The doctor nods his head towards Joey. The sergeant, SERGEANT
          FRY, takes his gun from his holster, checks that it's loaded.
          He turns to some nearby NURSES, urging them away.
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Ladies, if you please.
          Total silence from the crowd who have gathered. They thought
          they were there to see something wonderful. And now they find
          that they've gathered for an execution - but can't take their
          eyes off it. The Sergeant waves them back.
           SERGEANT FRY (CONT'D)
           All right, back off. Back off.
          The Geordie is the last to step away from Joey. The sergeant
          draws breath - before he steps forward to take aim. Joey is
          totally still, sensing the atmosphere.
          The sergeant cocks his pistol.
          Suddenly there is a strange owl like whistle from fifty yards
          away. Joey looks around startled.
          The sergeant turns Joey's head back around, raises his pistol
          once more.
          Then, the whistle again. Even the doctor notices this time.
          Joey turns. Slowly, the crowd parts - another owl whistle -
          and we see Albert, his eyes bandaged - walking forward
          blindly - guided by the hands of the crowd.
          One soldier urges Albert gently.
           Go on. Do it again.
          One more whistle.
          And this time, Joey trots over to Albert. The horse nuzzles
          into him. Albert can't see Joey but he touches him.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           Hello, Joey. Hello boy. Where you
           been then, hey? Where in the world
           you been?
          He strokes Joey's mane. Joey responds, becoming very still.
          The Doctor approaches with the Geordie.
           (to the Geordie:)
           Do you know this man?
          The Geordie shakes his head, no. The Doctor speaks to Albert,
          gently; clearly he thinks he's dealing with a traumatized,
          possibly crazy soldier.
                          DOCTOR (CONT'D)
           What's your name?
          Albert, realizing he's being addressed, turns to the doctor.
           Narracott, Private Albert Narracott,
           This is a random horse, Narracott,
           and too badly injured.
           (to the orderly)
           Is this man in your care?
                          AN ORDERLY
           Yes, sir.
           He's not random at all, sir! He's my
           horse, I raised him, in Devon. Sir,
           look at his legs! He's got four
           white socks, he's brown all over -
           (points to his own
           - and he has a white mark here -
           like so...
          He makes the shape of a diamond with his hands. The doctor
          turns to the orderly.
           Take him back.
                          AN ORDERLY
           Come on, son.
           Wait! You can't see `cause of the
          The Geordie looks around, spots a bucket of water, grabs it
          and uses a rag to clean Joey's legs, revealing the socks. The
          Geordie looks at the doctor.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           Four white socks!
          The doctor takes a rag himself and wipes Joey's snout,
          revealing the white diamond mark.
          The Sergeant takes this in...and holsters his pistol.
                          SERGEANT FRY
           All right, break it up. Clear off,
           the lot of ya.
           You see, sir? He's not random at
          The doctor steps up to him.
           We will attend to your horse. Patch
           him up best we can. Treat him like
           the soldier he is.
           Thank you, sir.
          With one last amazed look at Albert and Joey, the doctor
          returns to the hospital area.
          Moments later - Albert, the Geordie, and Sergeant Fry all
          lead Joey through the snowy street together.
          Sergeant Fry strides into the middle of the throng of
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Gentlemen! Gentlemen! It falls on me to give
           you some important news. At eleven o'clock
           today, in two minutes time - the War will
           come to an end.
          Shock from the troops. Strangely muted. Not the explosion of
          emotion you might have expected.
          Albert enters, his eyes still red, but no longer bandaged.
           SERGEANT FRY (CONT'D)
           The King and Queen thank you for your
           service. We have been victorious - even if
           at a higher price than many of us might have
           SERGEANT FRY (CONT'D)
           When the bells ring out - and they will in a
           moment, for the first time for four years -
           let us remember our brothers fallen in the
           field. And thank God for the end of this
           struggle and victory.
          And, in the distance, the church bells ring.
          Joey stands tall, eating some hay, now healed.
          Complete change of atmosphere. Silence. Tension. Albert
          stands at attention with Sergeant Fry. A severe Major is
          behind his desk.
           I don't understand, sir.
                          MAJOR TOMPKINS
           Officers' horses only. All other
           horses are to be auctioned
                          SERGEANT FRY
           That is a complete and bloody outrage. It's
           the lad's horse, sir, from Devon. He raised
           him up from a pup, he did. Trained him
           right up to the day when the army came to
                          MAJOR TOMPKINS
           These aren't my orders, sergeant.
                          (TO ALBERT)
           You'll have to take him to market. That's
          INT. STABLES, DAY.
          Albert puts on a brave face as he collects Joey and leads him
          out of the stables in silence.
          As Albert comes out the men have gathered. There's a strange
          sense of optimism, for such a gloomy moment. The Geordie
          comes up to Albert and hands him a sheaf of pound notes.
           We've all clubbed together. It's everything
           we have. There's twenty-nine pounds there.
           Buy him back.
           Does the Major know?
           The Major put in ten.
          The Geordie flashes a sly wink.
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           Mum's the word where the Major's
           concerned. Your friend on the
           crutches over there -
          He turns to indicate David Lyons, who nods at Albert
                          GEORDIE (CONT'D)
           - even asked the Major to say that
           Joey was his, an officer's horse, so
           that he could go back with the
          Albert is amazed. He is about to show his gratitude when the
          sergeant major shouts:
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Come on, Narracott! Get a move on. We don't
           want to miss the show.
          Albert snaps to attention and begins to lead Joey out of the
          parade ground with the other horses.
          As they walk off, the sergeant silently adds some of his own
          money to the notes in Albert's hand.
          The intense bustle of the market. Farmers are gathered,
          bidding for horses.
           Seven pounds! Seven pounds there!
           Seven pounds! Eight pounds here!
          A groom leads Joey to the auction pen with other horses.
                          AUCTIONEER (CONT'D)
           Eight pounds! Ten pounds here! Any
           advance? Sold!
          Albert waits anxiously, the Geordie lad by his side, as Joey
          is led into the pen.
           You're alright. Nobody's gonna bid more than
           fifteen for a thoroughbred. They want work
          The auctioneer starts the bidding on Joey.
           Next one. We start at four pounds.
           Four pounds.
          The farmers seem disinterested, shaking of heads. The bidding
          starts. Five pounds, six, seven, now it goes slowly, eight,
          nine, ten. Albert looks pleased at how it's going. He feels
          the cash in his hand. It seems to stick on ten, then a new
          hand comes up at the back of the auction - it is a nasty
          looking moustached man.
                          THE BUTCHER
          Sergeant Fry scowls.
                          SERGEANT FRY
           It's the butcher from Cambrai. He's
           been bidding for the best all
           Eleven. Eleven pounds. Eleven pounds.
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Let me handle this, private.
           (he calls out) )
           Fifteen, and let that be an end to it.
          He looks daggers at the Butcher.
           Fifteen pounds.
           Sixteen pounds.
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Twenty of your English pounds. And let THAT
           be the end of it, my friend.
           Twenty pounds.
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Twenty Five.
           Twenty five pounds.
           Twenty Six.
           Twenty six pounds.
          The men are all looking very worried... There's not much
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Twenty seven.
           Twenty eight.
           Twenty eight pounds.
                          SERGEANT FRY
           Twenty nine.
           And thirty.
           Any advance at thirty pounds?
          Then, from the back, another, new French voice...
                          FINAL BIDDER
           One hundred pounds.
          He steps to the front of the crowd, and suddenly we see who
          it is. It is Emilie's Grandfather.
           And sir, if you bid against me, I will sell
           the coat on my back and bid to one hundred
           and ten. And if you bid against me again, I
           will sell my farm and bid to a thousand.
          Everyone looks at Albert who is devastated. Albert is
          reeling. He hears the auctioneer repeat the final amount and
          brings down his gavel.
           One hundred pounds. Going, going,
          The soldiers slowly disperse, leaving Albert to stare at
          Joey. It really is all over.
          The Grandfather finishes paying for Joey. Albert and the
          Geordie stand in front of the grandfather.
           Sir, I'll give you all your money.
           Everything you paid when we get back
           to England. I'll give you twice -
           You don't know anything about him.
           Oh, but you're wrong, sir, I know
           Yes, you found him! I heard you
           found a horse in the wire between
           the armies -
           No, I found him, he raised him -
          The Grandfather goes to Joey and takes his reins.
           When I heard about the miracle
           horse, I traveled three days because
           I knew whose horse it was. My
           granddaughter's. She saved his life!
           He was everything to her.
          He pauses, briefly, to collect himself.
           Where is your granddaughter?
           The war has taken everything from
           everyone. He is all that I have left
           of her.
          The Grandfather leads Joey away. Joey pulls, firmly but not
          wildly, on the rein the grandfather's holding. The
          grandfather lets go.
          He watches as Joey walks to Albert and nuzzles him. They have
          a moment together. The Grandfather watches carefully.
          Albert puts his face right near Joey - speaks gently.
           Don't be worried, boy, when I go. I
           won't worry over you none. Hey, I
           found you, didn't I, and you found
          Grandfather softens and begins to wonder about this soldier.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           And we'll both... we'll both know
           that we made it through. Now go on.
          He leads Joey back to the Grandfather.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           We're the lucky ones. Always have
           been. Lucky since the day I met you.
          He quietly hands over the reins.
                          ALBERT (CONT'D)
           God be with you, sir.
          The grandfather looks at Albert, then takes the regimental
          pennant from his pocket:
           Do you know what this is?
          Albert's amazed.
           It's my father's. It's his
           regimental pennant. How did you come
           by this, sir?
          Grandfather hands Albert the pennant.
           You may have this.
          Albert takes the pennant and looks at it, his eyes filling
          with tears.
           Thank you ever so much for this,
           (with a sigh)
           ... And this.
          He hands Albert Joey's reins. Albert turns to face him,
          almost mute with disbelief. He reaches for his money.
                          GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
           No no, not necessary. He belongs to
           you. That is, of course, what my
           little girl would have wanted. And
           she was the boss.
          Grandfather laughs, then turns and slowly walks away.
           What was her name?
           (turns back with a smile)
           Her name is Emilie.
          Albert gently embraces Joey.
          EXT. FIELD. DEVON. DUSK.
          Suddenly, we are back in the village in Devon, in the fold of
          the valley. Dusk light. A figure approaches, silhouetted
          against the setting sun.
          Mrs. Naracott gathers the harvest, then notices as the figure
          makes its way up the road to the farm.
          A man in uniform. On a magnificent horse. Mrs. Narracott
          meets them at the gate and we can finally see them clearly -
          Albert and Joey.
          Albert dismounts and removes his cap. An instant later, Mrs.
          Narracott is hugging him for all that her life is worth.
          Ted sees them and makes his way to the field gate...shaky.
          Albert approaches, and stops a slight distance away.
          Ted opens the gate to stand before his son. Albert slips
          something from his pocket and lets it unfurl in his hand -
          Ted's campaign pennant.
          Ted accepts it quietly, then offers his hand to Albert. They
          shake, as men. And then slowly embrace, as father and son.
          Mrs. Narracott joins them as Joey looks on - a small family
          and a beautiful horse, finally home.
                          THE END