Surprise - The Abandoned "War Child" Movie
Whilst rummaging around the home attic for various
Tull historical items (at the ever polite push of the webmaster Dave),
Ian happened upon the original conceptual outline for the "War
Child: A Musical Fantasy." Believed to be the only existing copy,
it has now been "remastered" in pure QWERTY digital bit imagery
for those hardy souls interested in such time capsuled musings.
What follows is just a taste for now. Never fear, the whole sixty-something
page document will be posted overtime. Here are Ian's comments scribbled on
the front cover , the executive summary of the outline, and a cast of characters.
This is the surviving
copy of [the] synopsis written in '73/'74 around which the songs
for the album "War Child" were written. The synopsis itself
derived from the lyrical material on the "Passion Play" album.
It seems, of course, rather naive on re-reading it now, and the black comedy
elements seem to be missing the point and lurking only in memory. Still....
War Child - A Musical Fantasy - Conceptual Outline
Said Arthur Clark in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, "Behind
every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the rate by which
the dead outnumber the living." Since it is out of the question
to attempt a numerically faithful pictorial representation of beings
possibly existing in an after life, this will be a picture of the Heaven/Hell
inhabitants in qualitative rather than quantitative terms. God and Satan
are personified in stylised roles. Heaven and Hell, in the sense of being
societies, are represented as geographically (to say the least) opposed
sides of a small English town: While containing elements of black comedy,
the musical, and heavily stylised drama, the story has been contrived
to be in essence a morality play. But then again, it might be simply
a whimsical fantasy.
Most of the music has already been written and both the song lyrics
and dances are to take place of dialogue in a very real sense. All of
the points where these scenes occur have not necessarily been included
in the story synopsis. All the songs are sung by the character Peter
du Jour with the exception of one or two each by Satan and God. The dances
and mimes are the expressions of the girl (Evelyn), whose part is mostly
mute, but there will be a corps de ballet with soloist for one scene,
and the main characters will "dance" in other scenes.
STORY OUTLINE IN BRIEF
Our story deals with the short stay of a girl in the after life. On arrival
she is met by a guide named Peter du Jour who owes allegiance to neither Heaven
nor Hell, preferring to remain comfortably in the middle. The girl is judged
most fitting for and sent to Heaven. Straying from his middle path, Du Jour
has begun to work secretly for Satan and tricks the girl into helping him.
Her involvement is discovered and she is dismissed from Heaven and sent to
Hell. Du Jour feels guilt at having corrupted her, and making a deal with God,
begins to work for the forces of Good in an effort to obtain her freedom. However,
having "risen" to a position of responsibility working for Satan
himself, the girl prefers to remain in Hell and in turn uses Du Jour to help
Satan in his machinations. Realising he has been duped, Du Jour returns to
his disillusionment with the absolutes of Good and Evil. He regains the wilful
allegiance of the girl and engineers a violent conflict between the armies
of Heaven and Hell. Wishing to avoid all out aggression, both God and Satan
agree that there is no place in the after life for this foolish pair who seem
unable to make up their minds as to which side they are on. They are banished
to lives of reincarnation on Earth (which perhaps, after all, is the real Hell).
At the end of the story it is suggested that finally we all must choose which
path to follow, since to attempt to stray down the middle is ultimately the
least forgiveable sin.
MAIN CHARACTERS AND BACKGROUNDS
THE GIRL (EVELYN)
She is about 17 years old and unmarried. At the beginning of the story she
is pregnant. The father of her baby has no part in the story until the final
scenes. Information given in the film suggests that he is a successful professional
businessman in his late twenties and is politically ambitious. In Earth life,
the girl is possibly a student of ballet, her studies discontinued for a few
months while she bears the child. She has obviously made a difficult decision
as to whether or not to have the baby and in the final stages of pregnancy
is having doubts about having done the right thing. She is in a fairly emotional
state at the point where our story begins.
PETER DU JOUR
A cocky, self assured young man of about 27. His 'employment' in the Heaven/Hell
situation is to meet recently departed souls from Earth life and bring them
emotionally secure to the registration office of the after life. In fact, his
flippant and irreverent attitude, and cryptic commentary do more to confuse
than enlighten the new arrivals. His other duties include short guided tours
He is aligned to neither the left hand (Evil) nor the righthand (Good) paths,
but is one of the few neutrals (newts) who live in 'City Centre'. Very much
his "own man", he makes what he can on the side by currying favours
from the economic and political hierarchy of both Left and Right, though as
the story progresses, he begins to secretly assist Satan in the cold war balance
of power which exists in the after life.
Personified in the story by G. Oddie of G. Oddie & Son Ltd. This is the
business corporation monopoly that economically and socially rules City Right
(Heaven). G. Oddie & Son deal mainly in the supply of those products which
are the necessities of "Life", i.e. food, clothing, spiritual and
cultural "entertainments". G. Oddie himself is a man of many moods
sometimes the benign avuncular figure who provides and cares for his "children":
sometimes, more like the jealous God Jehovah, he is given to militaristic reprisals
and vengeful outbursts against those "employees" who are letting
the firm down. His power and wealth are very much inherited he is of "higher
breeding". However, he occasionally appears somewhat emasculated by his
inability to control and has moments of doubt and inaction.
LUCIFER THE FALLEN ANGEL SATAN
Personified by Samuel Lucius Browne, known to all as Lucy, of Samuel L. Browne & Co.
This is the controlling business corporation of City Left (Hell). It deals
in luxury commodities of a trivial nature, but more importantly, in the supply
of domestic and industrial power, e.g. gas, coal, oil and electricity. Perhaps
also property investment, the building trade and certainly the provision of
lower quality entertainment strip clubs, cinemas, bars, brothels, etc.
Lucy's background is that he once worked for G. Oddie & Son Ltd. rose to
the position of a director, but was sacked for attempting to control the shareholding.
He then formed his own company and in direct competition with G. Oddie, has
now become equally powerful. There exists a stalemate between the two companies
but there is always a sense of impending and complete domination of one company
over the other. For the moment, however, both G. Oddie and Lucy are content
to bide their time in relatively gentlemanly competition rather than risk the
open offensive action which seems inevitable.
Lucy is, then, the epitome of a successful middle class businessman
of Northern English background. He is very much the self made man (and
aware of it). He is secretly of transvestite inclinations. All his employees
are aware of his dual sexualty and encourage him in subtle fashion, although
he is never sure whether or not they are teasing him.
Some of the other character roles in the story should be cast so that some
actors play two or more parts which might gain from that strengthened relationship.
It is divided broadly into two geographical areas City Left/Hell domain of
Samuel L. Browne & Co. and City Right/Heaven under the control of G. Oddie & Son
Ltd. A much smaller area known as City Centre (which is in fact the town square
of this small English town) is the neutral territory it consists of a few buildings
On the right of the City Centre square is a large building which houses
the offices and private apartment of Lucy on the left are the offices and
home of G. Oddie. Both buildings have a commanding view over City Centre
where much of the action takes place.
- The registration office, where new arrivals, or trainees sign in.
- The cinema, where the cinematic synopses of their lives are shown
for judgement to be passed on the mode of employment most befitting
- Some private houses, one of which is the domicile of Peter du Jour.
- The hostel for the temporary accommodation of newly arrived trainees.
- The office of the Overtaker, who arranges for the transfer of individual
souls to a mysteriously hinted at "further existence" above
and beyond the City (which turns out at the end of the story to be
a reincarnated life on Earth).
- The barracks of The Pipe Band, 4th Det., City Centre.
NOTE: As in the Liturgical plays of the early mediaeval theatre in Europe which
were performed in the churches of that time, the Left and Right are as seen by
the priest standing at the altar and facing the congregation Heaven being on
the Right and Hell on the Left.
The actual size of the City might be hinted at by the use of panoramic very long
shots of suburban dwellings stretching seemingly endlessly to the horizon. The
City Centre however, should remain as a small town setting rather than a great
metropolitan centre. A small English garden city "new" town would be
ideal with simply planned modern, rather than old, buildings. How much of the
City Centre's layout should be actually shown and how much should be suggested
by other means is obviously a financial as well as an artistic consideration