A wide angle shot looks down upon men net fishing from the shore of a river. Beyond this river lie a broad island and another river, and beyond the far river in the distance we see the thick, dark rainforests of the island called Atlantis. A fleet of large curraghs is crossing over. Each is paddled by thirty men. Some are landing on the flat island between the two rivers, some are being portaged upside down across it over the men's heads, and some are already in the shallower water of the near river. The men are bare to the waists, and wear white loincoths whose ends hang to their knees in front and behind. One of them walks behind with a stack of folded white togas.
Bendigeidfran's voice (out of frame, very near): "Well, they've crossed over Mon. I wonder what they want."
The camera moves forward slightly until Bendigeidfran is in frame. We see him from behind, slightly to his left. He sits on a rock overlooking a tidal flat. He wears his wizard's robe but not the hat, and is surrounded by his retinue. Most of the people near him reach only to his waist. Manawyddan is here, in his brimless hat and robe. In a closeup, we see that one of the courtiers looks exactly like Pwyll. It is his son, Pryderi. Bran beckons to Pryderi, who is out of frame on his left.
Bran: "Pryderi, come and sit near me. The sight of you is a comfort since your gallant father died." Then he speaks more loudly, looking up. "Everyone go down and meet those ships when they arrive." Bran leans over to speak confidentially to Pryderi. "I suppose this means I have to put that hat on."
We see from below on the shore, the largest of the arriving ships as it docks. A triangular wooden shield is raised over the prow, held upside down as a sign of peace. A good design to be painted on the shield is the hieroglyph for 'ruler', for these people knew the Hamites of Aeolia. From behind, we see the heads of Bran's men on the shore with the first arriving vessel approaching them in the background. From the beach we look up at Bran standing on the rock. His hat is in his hand.
Bran (shouting): "Welcome. I am Bendigeidfran son of Llyr, High King on the Island of the Mighty. Who comes to our shore?"
We see the ship as before, from behind the heads of Bran's men.
Voice from the main ship (shouting): "Partholon, king of... High King on the Fourth Island of Atlantis." There is a slightly resentful emphasis on the last word. The Atlans have accents identical to the modern Irish accent.
Bran's voice (shouting, out of frame): "What does he want?"
Voice from the main ship (shouts): "He has business with you!"
Bran's voice (shouts): "What sort of business?"
During all this time the ship has been approaching the shore.
Voice from the main ship: "An alliance!"
Bran's voice: "What sort of alliance?"
Voice from the main ship: "He seeks your sister's hand in marriage!"
From behind Bran's shoulder, we see the first Atlan ship land on the beach. Bran's men help to pull it ashore. The Atlans, who are all men, wear white togas. They all wear their straight dark hair long, with the locks around the face tied back and cut short so that the ends stick straight up on top of the head. We see the king, in a purple toga, stand and disembark with two of his advisors.
An establishing shot shows an encampment of bleached beehive shaped leather tents near a cliff overlooking the river, and a long banqueting tent. The meadow is bathed in bright sunlight.
Inside the tent we see Partholon take off his toga in a single graceful gesture. He is almost naked in his purple loincloth. A closeup shows two of Bronwen's ladies in waiting catching each other's eyes and trying not to giggle.
A wider angle shot shows more of the tent's interior. Partholon glances at the giggling ladies in waiting and sits beside Bronwen, Bran’s sister, at a banquet table. Bronwen is softly pretty and sweet faced, with particularly large eyes. Manawyddan is on Bronwen's right side and Bran is on Partholon's left. A leisurely conversation is taking place. Bronwen is polite and becomingly reserved toward Partholon. She is trying to conceal her trepidation, since the Atlans are very different from the people on her island.
Bran: "I hear you've come from the west."
Partholon: "Our people have a colony there. We had departed from the Summer Lands south of Lleuaaniais, and were on our way west across the ocean when a current brought us north. Our home is Attica, on the inland sea." Bran looks blank.
Bran: "Never heard of it." Partholon's eyes flicker. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you. My mistake."
Partholon: "Quite all right."
Bran (confidentially): "We're a bit poky around here." Partholon smiles in a sudden liking for him.
Partholon: "Attica is on the eastern peninsula, near Ionia." Bran still looks blank, and there is an uncomfortable pause as the two men realize they have very little in common. "And you, where do you come from?"
Bran (beginning slowly): "Well, I know we have relatives on the western peninsula. You've heard of the Fa?"
Partholon: "Yes, I have. The Happy People."
Bran: "We've been in the north a long time."
We see the tents from medium range. Two men, exactly identical in appearance, are walking toward the camera. One nods to everyone he passes. The other stares ahead of him angrily. The first is Nissien, the second Efnissien.
A man's voice (out of frame, in an undertone): "There go the twins, one as pleasant as the other is not."
Efnissien approaches a group of horses tethered near one of the tents. An Atlan ostler is grooming one of the horses.
Efnissien: "Whose horses are these?"
Ostler (with some pride): "They belong to Partholon, King of Atlantis. From the great inland sea, east of the Summer Lands."
Efnissien: "And what is he doing here?"
Ostler: "King Partholon is staying in Princess Bronwen's tent, lord."
Efnissien (in sudden anger): "Over my dead body! Get these horses out of here!" He pulls a couple of them roughly by the bridle, close to their mouths. The horses whinny. He yanks another horse's bridle, and it rears.
Ostler (struggling with Efnissien): "What are you doing? These are the king's horses!"
A closeup shows Partholon and his men with the tents in the background.
First Atlan warrior: "Lord, you have been disgraced on purpose."
Second Atlan warrior: "It's a deliberate insult."
Third Atlan warrior: "We must return to our ships."
Bran is seated in his tent, looking concerned.
Bran (genuinely disturbed): "Please tell your king that we deeply regret the insult that was done to him, and will do everything in our power to redress the wrong. He shall have horses for every one that was injured, if he will only call on me."
Voice of the first Atlan warrior (crisply, out of frame): "King Partholon expects you to deliver the horses yourself."
To the tune of 'Lord of the Dance', we see the Atlan visitors, all men, dancing in a queue with hands on their waists, fists clenched. Their dancing is the classic Irish dancing, but each is following the dancer directly in front, and they turn around as they jump. We see them from the side as the Faery enter facing us through the opposite side of the frame, also in a long queue of alternating men and women turning around as they jump. Their arms are raised in the classic Scottish highland dancing position, and their dancing is all 'turned out'. Then we see Bronwen and Partholon walking through a hole in a huge circular stone. They are emerging from it, moving toward the camera.
We begin the next shot with a closeup of a sprig of mistletoe tied to an oak branch by a crimson ribbon, and without a cut the camera moves down and back to show us Bronwen and Partholon standing directly underneath. Partholon is wrapped in his toga, with both arms free, and has a holly wreath in his dark hair. Bronwen wears a remarkable headdress– a very long white cylinder sewn to a white scarf that is tied to her head. Bronwen's little round face looks very pleased under the headdress, and her eyes keep rolling upward to make sure it is still there. An old woman comes forward and gives Bronwen a small bag of hazelnuts.
The camera pans across a meadow on which tents with the sides tied up have been raised over banqueting tables. There are cedar and ivy garlands, servers and dancers behind. A harpist and flutist provide music nearby –'Love is Teasing' to be precise. The newlyweds stroll through the party, accepting congratulations.
We see a group of three musicians sitting on rocks. They are the ones playing 'Love is Teasing'. The harpist has his feet on the ground, but the other two are sitting cross legged, a Faery woman playing a tin flute and, between the two, an Atlan playing pan pipes.
Partholon and Bronwen are greeted by Bran, who slaps Partholon on the back.
Bran (heartily): "So, you're a Prydaan now." Partholon's face freezes in a forced smile.
Partholon (with an effort): "And you're an Atlan."
Bran laughs at the cleverness of this rejoinder. Partholon smiles thinly. Bran holds up his finger.
Bran (in high spirits): "Good one, good one. That I am! You're learning, you're learning."
Partholon's smile fades.
Bran and Partholon are sitting together some distance from the festivities. Bran is finally wearing his hat.
Bran: "I'm having a present brought over for you, to prove my goodwill. It's a cauldron."
Partholon (not as surprised as one might expect): "Oh?"
Bran laughs, thinking Partholon assumes it to be an ordinary cauldron.
Bran: "It's called the cauldron of rebirth. I've never used the thing, but the maker told me that when the bodies of your dead are thrown into it they instantly emerge, fully alive and ready for war. There's only one difference. They have no souls."
Toward the end of this speech Manawyddan enters to sit down beside Bran.
Manawyddan: "Bodies without souls. That's what war makes of men."
Partholon: "If you're going to fight a war you might as well win."
Manawyddan (thoughtfully): "A war that never ends until it has wrought total destruction. Nobody wins that kind of war. I pray we shall never have reason to see such a weapon in use."
There is a moment's silence.
"I have a question, brother."
Nobody speaks. The other two look at him intently.
"What happens if someone live is thrown into the cauldron?"
Bran: "He emerges without a soul."
Manawyddan: "What if someone deliberately throws himself into it? Sacrifices himself?" They think.
Partholon: "Who would ever do such a thing?" There is an uncomfortable silence.
Bran: "I got it from a giant who sought refuge from your country. He tried to make his home there, but the people were so afraid of him and his cauldron that they lit a fire around his house to roast him alive. He escaped and came to me."
Partholon: "I remember him well. Has he brought you trouble?"
Bran (trying to control his surprise): "None. He and his children are an asset to the country. I didn't know you'd met him. Can you tell me how it happened?"
Partholon: "He never did any harm. There was no cause for complaint. But I had to give the people their way, they were so discontented with his presence."
Bran looks disconcerted and somewhat repelled, but tries to hide it.
We see Bran walking not far from the festivities. Manawyddan joins him.
Manawyddan: "May I advise against your revealing a dangerous object to a man of such indecisive character, especially after what recently transpired with the horses?"
Bran: "I was rather surprised to hear that he permitted the poor giant's ordeal. But it's rather late to say anything now. I've already given him the cauldron." He is stirred to optimism. "This might just be the gift that establishes our lasting friendship." Bran gently punches Manawyddan's arm. "He's my brother in law now, and yours too."
Manawyddan (musingly): "How would the Volsungrs get hold of something like this?"
Bran: "The giant wasn't a Volsungr. He had white hair and wings, and his eyes glowed."
An extreme closeup lingers on Manawyddan's shocked face.
A wide angle shot shows Partholon's ships going back to their land. Next we see Bronwen in a room of Partholon's castle, obviously pregnant. She is walking over from the right side of the frame to a carved loveseat beneath an ivy laced window. The walls are of the small flat tightly packed grey stones we have seen before. Bronwen is wearing the traditional Atlan women's dress, consisting of a skirt, a bodice and a short sleeved blouse. There are two layers to the skirt, one reaching to the ankle, the other to the knee. Bronwen's dress is purple, a colour reserved for Atlan royalty. Her hair is styled in exactly the same way too, with a purple band in her hair. Bronwen has two ladies in waiting, the same who laughed at Partholon earlier. They wear exactly the same garments as she does, only white. One lady in waiting asks Bronwen a question, the other arranges her skirt. The young queen appears very content. She sits down on the loveseat.
We see two Atlan ladies in waiting from the waist up. They are folding clothes in another room of the castle.
First lady in waiting: "You can tell she's trying to hide what she thinks of us."
Second lady in waiting (contemptuously): "Oh, the dignified restraint bit. Because we're so ignorant. What a bunch of snobs."
First lady in waiting: "They won't even hear of the cities in the south. There's a whole world back there, and they couldn't care less."
Second lady in waiting (frowning and pouting): "And it's not from insecurity, either. Really. They just sit there like a bunch of wheat cakes, thinking they're the be all and end all."
The first lady in waiting casts a teasing glance at her. The second lady in waiting catches her smile rather sheepishly, and both subside into good natured giggles.
Second lady in waiting: "But really, you can't pierce their bubble. Have you seen them trying to be nice? It's as though we're poor things and they're doing us a favour, every time. Now I ask you, what do you think they say about us?"
First lady in waiting: "What?"
Second lady in waiting: "Nothing. Nothing at all. We're being driven crazy, and they're not giving us a second thought. It's just the way they are."
First lady in waiting (making a face in disgust): "This place is the middle of nowhere."
Next we see two ostlers tacking up their horses at the stables.
First ostler: "I think it's an outrage, myself."
Second ostler: "You know what they call their island? And we get stuck with 'Atlantis'. But there's no use changing the name. We'd only be playing a game they set up."
First ostler: "Ha! You should see what they call a drawing. A small child could do better."
Now we see an angry group of about twenty citizens in the courtyard of Partholon's castle. The tall stone walls are visible behind them. Houses with sod roofs are visible through the gateway, built into a hillside for warmth. Men and women in togas are shouting up beyond the camera.
Troublemaker: "We need a king who will stand up for our rights!"
Voice in the crowd: "Not one who takes insults from his in-laws!"
There is a smattering of laughter amid the general murmur of discontent.
A distant voice: "Send her home!" A housewife, rather excited by the events, turns to her neighbour in the crowd and their eyes meet.
Another voice: "...stand with dignity."
Other voices: "Listen to him! That's right!"
Inside his castle Partholon is pacing the floor.
Advisor (timidly): "It might be wise not to show too much affection–"
Partholon (interrupting irritably): "Yes, I know. But what's to be done about her? She can't just disappear because people don't want her."
We see Bronwen being shoved roughly through the doorway into one of the castle kitchens, where smoked meat hangs over a firepit. She holds a basket full of raw meat.
Cook's voice (out of frame): "And mind you don't burn it, or I'll have your hide."
Next we see the castle butcher with blood still on his hands, cuffing Bronwen on the ears into a corner. We see him first from one side as she backs into the corner, then from behind, as she cowers against it, partly obscured.
To a soft orchestrated rendition of 'Love is Teasing' we see Bronwen washing earthenware dishes in a wooden tub that sits on a rough table. Her face contorts with tears she is trying to hold back. A swallow is on the table in front of her. She looks furtively over her shoulder, takes out a broad leaf from her waistband with a small wooden cylinder and some string, rolls up the leaf and places it in the cylinder which she ties under the bird's wing. Then she picks up the bird, and the camera tracks beside her as she walks to the ivy framed window and releases it. We see a closeup of her upturned, hopeful little face, dirty and streaked with tears. As the music ends we see the bird framed by the window fly into the blue sky, and the camera zooms through to follow it.
The music continues uninterrupted as we see Bran sitting at a large table with his advisors in the council chamber of his castle at Gwynfryn. Seven representatives from different areas are seated around the tables. One is a giant, with red-gold hair and a bushy beard to match. The giant has a beige linen peaked cap made from two squares sewn together, with right angle cuts at the temples. He wears a sleeved shirt to mid thigh, a wide belt, thick trouser-like brown leggings and soft knee-high boots secured by criss crossed thongs. He and Bran are the only ones not sitting cross legged on their chairs.
From Bran's point of view we see Bronwen's swallow fly through the ivy framed window. It alights on Bran's shoulder, then lands on the table between his hands. The man next to him notices something under the bird's wing. It is Bronwen's leaf, in its wooden cylinder. The man takes out the leaf and hands it to Bran. A closeup shows Bran's face, deathly serious as he contemplates the meaning of this sign.
We see Bran, surrounded by his most trusted warriors, angrily pacing the floor of his throne room. All the men are wearing leather armour, and Bran is wearing a leather baldric from which hangs a scabbard. In the scabbard is the black sword of Arthur, made from a vein of iron ore, the only iron weapon belonging to these Neolithic people.
Bran (to one of his warriors): "Send warrants to all hundred and fifty-four districts in all sixty cantrevs. I want every ablebodied man on the island conscripted." He turns to another one of the warriors. "Get as many as you can from the colonies on the other two islands."
He raises his voice, addressing everyone.
"We're going to Atlantis, and we're bringing her back!"
We see seven men in the throne room from Bran's point of view. They are facing him, awaiting orders. The camera zooms slowly in on a young man in a brimless hat and wizard's robe. His name is Caswallon.
Bran: "You seven stay here to guard the island. Caswallon, mark you this–"
Caswallon clearly shows resentment at these words. Then the camera cuts to Bran, in centre frame on a magnificent dark wood throne. A very young man is standing at Bran's left. He wears the black robe and 'mortar board' hat of a wizard's apprentice.
"My son Caradoc will act as king in my place. I don't want any trouble. Regard him as you would me."
As Bran speaks we see first his face, and then the faces of the seven men, each in turn, in a sideways tracking shot.
Partholon sits crosslegged on his throne, as magnificent as Bran's. Bronwen stands before him, poorly dressed and with ashes on her torn dress, which once was white. We see Partholon in centre frame from behind Bronwen's back.
Partholon: "What is this island of trees which has been seen coming from your home?"
Bronwen (looking at him steadily): "It is the fleet of my brother Bendigeidfran, come to deliver me from the treatment I have received in your castle."
Partholon: "What is the mountain moving beside it?"
Bronwen: "That is my brother. Doubtless he is coming to save me."
Partholon: "What is the high ridge near the mountaintop?"
Bronwen: "That is his frown, as he thinks of how you have used me."
A wide angle shot shows Bran's army approaching in dugout ships with soldiers in full battle dress, the flint tips of their wooden spears sticking up like so many needles all over the decks. The giant king in full armour is wading beside them using his spear as a staff. He carries a harp strapped upon his back. It looks very small. Since about a thousand men are coming over, the ships should fill up the screen. Giants in the background are wading into the water, clubs over their shoulders. They all have reddish blond hair. They wear the same kind of armour as the Faery, but with soft knee high boots secured by criss crossed thongs, and with fur hats which circle their heads.
In another wide angle shot from far above, we survey a sea of humanity stretching out into the distant hills, Bran's huge army moving along a high road through the forested country from obscure origins near the right side at the top of the frame, and moving out through the left side at the bottom of the frame. We do not see the beginning or end of the human sea. There are about a hundred giants in the background, with clubs over their shoulders.
Then we see individual members of the same army crossing a stream between two crags by walking on Bran's enormous outstretched body. The warriors are wearing heavy sealskin cloaks with the seal heads intact as hoods. Everyone wears a helmet underneath.
Next we see a large earthenware cauldron sitting on a campfire in centre frame with warriors passing behind it in single file, in at the right side of the frame, moving to the left and out. Each warrior approaches with his spear held vertically, point upward. He dips his spear tip into the cauldron and leaves with the spear carefully held as before, for it is now poisoned.
A medium range shot shows a messenger from Partholon flanked by two escorts, against the backdrop of the dark rainforest. The messenger holds a silver birch branch. He touches the branch to his forehead and pauses for permission to speak.
Messenger: "Partholon, King of Atlantis, bids welcome to his brother in law Bendigeidfran, and hopes that the brother of his beloved wife has not been hearing evil lies about him, that he should visit his kinsman without prior greeting. The king is deeply remorseful for the treatment which his own bride has received in this land, and wishes to make amends. Doubtless your majesty will be delighted to hear that Partholon is about to bestow the kingship of his country upon his son and heir Gwern, your nephew and son of our cherished queen, your sister."
Bran's voice (out of frame): "Why can't you just give it to me?"
The messenger looks nervous, takes a deep breath and resumes.
Messenger: "The king invites Bendigeidfran to witness the ceremony in his new council house and provides the escort which you see before you."
During the last sentence we see Partholon ordering finishing touches on the construction of the council house, a large single structure made of timber in a forest clearing. Before the end of the sentence the image returns to the messenger talking. The messenger bows.
We see Efnissien walking into Partholon's council house with an Atlan warrior who wears leather shin guards and a leather tunic under his toga, and who carries in his arm a leather helmet that would cover the whole head.
From their point of view we see the interior of the council house, with a fire pit in the middle and a dais at the far end taken up by a giant earthenware cauldron. This is the cauldron of rebirth. Sacks are hung suspended from the low rafters in the shadows all along the walls of the single room inside.
As the two men enter the council house, the camera tracks alongside them. They reach the first sack. Efnissien is nearer to it.
Efnissien: "What's in this sack?"
Atlan warrior: "Meal, lord." Efnissien, with one hand, wrings the neck of the Atlan warrior concealed inside the sack, who utters a muffled cry. The man beside him looks uneasy as they walk to the next sack.
Efnissien (smiling unpleasantly): "Meal in this one too?"
Atlan warrior: "Yes, lord."
Efnissien performs the same operation as before on this sack also. The two proceed to the next sack.
A much wider angle shot, from outside the council house, shows both men walking out. Efnissien is smiling grimly. The Atlan looks uncomfortable. They take polite leave of each other, though we can't hear what they say, and Efnissien walks toward the camera, briefly making a movement of brushing off his hands.
Efnissien (as he passes close by the camera, mutters under his breath): "Traitors!"
We see the Atlan warrior in a medium shot inside the council house. He has returned to remove the evidence, and is splitting open one of the sacks to reveal a dead, fully armed warrior with a spear and shield, lying as if in a hammock.
Inside the council house Partholon and his henchmen, with Gwern –who is still a boy– are standing beside each other receiving warriors from both armies who pass before them in single file expressing their congratulations. There are both men and women in the room. Bronwen is beaming with pride in her son, who has the shy, embarrassed pleasure of any well meaning young person during a rite of passage. He and his parents are the only people dressed in royal purple.
Bran's men are still wearing armour, but Bran and Manawyddan have replaced the helmets with their brimless hats and wear their robes over the armour for this occasion. Another wizard named Taliesin, whom we shall meet later, is doing likewise. Because it is warm in the room, the Atlans have thrown their togas onto the dais beside the cauldron. Each carries his helmet in the crook of his left arm as though this were a ritual, though we know the real reason for it.
First we see the whole room from the entrance. Then we see the receiving line from the Atlans' right side, facing them slightly more and Bran's people slightly less. A fire has been lit in the firepit. It is directly behind the Atlan receiving line, since the dais with the cauldron takes up a third of the room. We are far enough away to see the cauldron looming behind the fire which itself is behind the Atlans.
During the reception there is a moment when Efnissien directly faces Gwern, who is the second person nearest the camera, standing between his parents. In one swift motion, Efnissien lifts the boy above his head with both hands and hurls him into the fire. Screams rend the air. The boy immediately rolls out of frame, but he is blazing and cannot survive. We see Bronwen from the waist up as, with a shriek, she throws herself toward the fire.
In a wider angle shot, Bran quickly grabs her with one hand. He picks her up, one arm around her waist, holding her effortlessly in a horizontal position at his side. In the same moment he draws his sword, throws off his hat with an irritated gesture and kicks off an attacking Atlan. Every other man present has seized a spear as fast a possible, the Atlan warriors have put on their helmets, women have started screaming and running, and pandemonium has broken loose.
In a quick closeup Nissien, passing Efnissien, cries out to him in horror.
Nissien: "What have you done?"
A wide angle shot from above, half a mile away, shows the council house from afar in the forest. The two armies fill the clearing around it as well as every available space in the forest throughout the frame, the giants from Bran's army standing out very obviously. We see women fleeing in all directions through their ranks, and during the action which is to follow they run out all sides of the frame.
The armies stand peaceably at first, though all are fully decked out for battle. As they see what is happening in the clearing they begin to fight. The giants start swinging their clubs, flattening several Atlans with each blow.
We return to a position about twenty feet away from the council house. Some of the Atlan warriors run to the edge of the clearing to hack branches off trees with flint and wood axes. They throw the branches into the clearing, where they are protected by a ring of furiously fighting Atlans. Seven Atlan warriors carry the huge earthenware cauldron of rebirth out of the doorway and haul it onto the pile of branches. Another runs out of the council house with flaming branches from the bonfire inside and lights the branches.
Everyone who was in the council house runs out, Bran's warriors to one side of the clearing, Partholon's to the other. Seven of Bran's warriors carry blazing branches too, and set fire to the council house.
From above the forest half a mile away we see that the battle has been spreading outward from centre frame. Eventually everyone in the frame is fighting.
From ground level in the clearing the camera looks at the battle. Fighting warriors are silhouetted against the blazing council house behind. At their feet lie an increasing number of fallen bodies, some of them still twitching from the effects of poison. During the fighting, every once in a while a man keels over and falls when poison from a spearhead takes effect, and he writhes in a seizure for a while.
Atlan warriors surround their cauldron. They form a tight ring around it, fighting outward. Atlans from outside the ring begin to drag the bodies of their fellows toward it and throw them into the cauldron. They also throw spears into the cauldron.
The camera looks up at the horrible creatures which emerge one by one. They are nothing more or less than zombies staggering out of frame to the right and left, spears in hand. They appear as they did in life except that they are soulless and their eyes glow white.
At ground level we see Efnissien in closeup, hiding himself among the dead, pretending to be a corpse.
Efnissien (horrified, whispering): "This is too much!" Behind him the Atlans throw bodies into the cauldron, bodies which emerge as mindless monsters that vacantly walk out of frame to do battle. They are seen from below, emerging in centre screen and walking forward beside and past the camera. For a moment the backs of the Atlans immediately in front of the camera are all turned.
Efnissien (screaming, as he runs away from the camera and hurls himself into the cauldron): "I have sinned! I have sinned! This must end! This must end!"
From twenty feet away, we see the cauldron explode.
A wide angle shot shows only one of Bran's dugout ships on the water, going home with all that remains of his army. We see him in the ship, lying with his head on Bronwen's lap. He is wrapped in furs. His last seven warriors kneel around him, including Pryderi and Manawyddan. Everyone is very concerned.
Bran (with calm determination): "My wound is poisoned, and my body will die of it. But I have enough magic to keep my head alive. Return to our island, and I'll tell you what to do. I will hold court as soon as we land, and Rhiannon will send us some of her birds. But do not open the great doors of the dining hall we enter, or you will be unable to remain there. If they are opened you must without delay take what is left of me to the mount of Gwynfryn. Bury me deep in the earth by my castle, facing Lleuaaniais. There, with my eyes toward our homeland, I will protect the Island of the Mighty for all time."
He pauses in reflection.
"I pray that I may serve her better in death than I did in life."
Bronwen (fondly): "You meant well. You could not have known...."
One of the warriors speaks. His name is Ynawg.
Ynawg: "You're a good man. We all know that."
There are murmurs of agreement from the others. A closeup shows Bran's face as he tries to raise his head. He is agitated. His eyes burn.
Bran: "A good man! What use is that! Do Partholon's people care what I intended?" His face contorts. "We wiped out the whole island!"
He calms down and his head sinks back onto Bronwen's lap.
"It's not enough that I meant no harm.... I wasn't good. I was decent. And decent isn't enough."
He pauses from weakness, then focusses his eyes on an unseen truth beyond the camera, with the insight of a dying man. There is wonder in his voice.
"As soon as something bad happens, there will always be one who gets it moving... and thousands of decent people fall right into the trap. Fair minded people who would never start such a thing.... They're all returning what they receive, and they're not always careful where it falls. So other decent people get hurt, and the evil passes through a multitude."
Bronwen's voice (softly, out of frame): "What can be done, then?"
The closeup of Bran's face has become extreme.
Bran: "There must be another who is more than good.... Someone who will stop it in its tracks, and give when everyone else takes."
He pauses again as the truth is revealed to him.
"That was supposed to be me! That was supposed to be me!"
He is exhausted. We see the misty shore of Atlantis from the ship.
Bronwen's voice (wistfully, out of frame): "They wanted to make an alliance."
We hear the gentle lapping of waves against the side of the ship.
An establishing shot shows that Bran is holding court in a vast hall where his seven surviving warriors feast on a sumptuous banquet. They are still in armour. There are no servers. Each of the large carved wood chairs has a sealskin cloak, complete with head, hung on the back of it. Some of Rhiannon's birds flutter overhead, and we hear their twittering. But there is something very strange about this hall, for only the warriors and their clothes and the golden birds have any colour. Everything else is white. For they are in the next world, though without Arawn's permission.
Bran's head is held by a chin rest above a white fur covering and, of course, without the despised hat. The rest of Bran's emaciated body is strapped in underneath the fur. A closer shot shows Bran being fed by the warriors next to him, Pryderi and a man named Glifieu. The diners use knives, forks and spoons made of bone. Bran seems in fine spirits. Glifieu has to stand up to feed him, and even then is reaching upward.
Glifieu (casually, as he feeds Bran): "Bit of a squirt, isn't he?"
Pryderi: "Yes, but don't let him hear. He's sensitive about it."
A closeup shows Manawyddan in profile, from his left. The feast is still in progress, but he has other thoughts on his mind. Manawyddan sits back, looking at something pensively, his chin in his left hand and his left elbow on the arm of his chair. A shot from behind his shoulder shows two enormous doors that take up most of the opposite wall. We return to seeing him in profile as the youngest of the warriors approaches him, coming through the right side of the frame. His name is Heilyn.
Heilyn: "Manawyddan, why so pensive?"
Manawyddan: "I'm wondering whether our king is being preserved with a gift from the fallen angels. If so, then no good can come of it."
Heilyn: "What evil could happen?"
Manawyddan: "The fallen angels have no love for us. And I suspect it was they who told my brother that we're forbidden to open those doors."
Heilyn (suddenly impetuous): "I will open the doors. Shame upon me if I live without knowing how the land has fared in my absence."
He steps forward boldly and pulls open the huge doors. It takes all his strength.
A scene of utter devastation meets the warriors' eyes, what used to be farmland now deserted and ravaged by war. It is of our world, but few colours are apparent in the desolate winter landscape. A woman approaches from the distance, slowly making her way through deep snow with the faltering step of one whose spirit is broken. She is ragged, dirty, and seems very old. Although she still has the characteristic sealskin cloak of her people, it is mangy in appearance. The woman comes up to the threshold, but does not cross it. She appeals to the men from her side. We see her from the warriors' point of view.
Woman (in wonder, looking past the camera at them): "Can my eyes be seeing truth? What manner of being are you?"
We see Heilyn in closeup.
Heilyn: "We are warriors from the Island of the Mighty. I am Heilyn. These are Pryderi, Manawyddan, Glifieu, Taliesin, Ynawg, and Gruddyeu. We have just returned from the war against King Partholon. We came with Queen Bronwen. She died of grief on the journey home, that two lands had been sacrificed for her sake."
We see the woman's face in closeup.
Woman (as in a dream): "The Island of the Mighty. I heard that name long ago. My mother told me of these warriors when I was a tiny child. You must be the same. You could be no one else. But that was eighty years ago."
In a medium shot from her point of view, the men look at each other in wonder.
Woman's voice (continuing from out of frame): "Of thousands, not one returned from that war. The earth has lain fallow since. Women and children starve and wander ragged on the high road. It is all the world I have ever known."
Heilyn: "What happened to Caradoc, son of Bendigeidfran, and the seven who were left with him on this island?"
We return to the woman's face in closeup.
Woman: "They were defeated by magic. Caswallon.... You know the name?"
There is a pause. We know the men must be nodding, since she is nodding also.
"But he's tried to be a good king, for all that, starting out with so few men in the land and trying to bring back prosperity against one disaster after another. It has been like this as far back as I remember. You cannot change it."
She turns and slowly makes her way back from where she came. Next we see Manawyddan in closeup.
Manawyddan: "Now that we've seen the truth, we can no longer pretend it does not exist. We have opened the door; we must pass through it. There's no going back."
We see Pryderi and Gruddyeu.
Pryderi: "We have to save this land. It's on our shoulders. We cannot pretend otherwise."
Gruddyeu: "That is the price of knowledge. Let us hold hands and walk through with our eyes open. We cannot stay now."
We see Taliesin with the other men fetching their sealskins behind him. In both hands he holds a bundle wrapped in Bran's fur blanket. It is the size of a small child.
Taliesin: "The head is without life now. Bendigeidfran is gone."
Taliesin holds the bundle in his left arm. It is all right for his left arm to be occupied, because he is at the far left of the line the men are making. We see the seven men's backs as they hold hands side by side in front of the huge doors with Rhiannon's birds above them. They take a deep breath, hold hands and walk together through the giant doorway. We cut in the middle of their step to finish it in a profile shot in the snow outside. Rhiannon's birds exit with them, fluttering overhead. Now they are in the wasteland, and the door has vanished behind them.
Taliesin (to Rhiannon's birds): "Find your mistress and tell her that we have returned."
Manawyddan: "We must go to Gwynfryn and bury our king, that the Island of the Mighty will rise again."
They follow the path by which the woman went, heads down, walking away from the camera into the distance.
From fifteen feet away we see the seven men journey on foot through a blizzard toward the right of the frame. They wear their sealskin cloaks with the seals' heads for hoods, and with these pulled up they look like seals. The snow is thigh deep now, and the wind against them. It is twilight.
Then we see them one evening beside a deep rectangular grave dug next to an ancient, ice covered oak. Behind them is part of a snow covered circle of land surrounding the oak. Snowbanks line a road behind the circle of land. The road is rimmed with the remains of houses ruined and scorched by fire. The stone wall of Bran's castle, now occupied by Caswallon, catches the light of the setting sun in the distance.
The seven are the only people there. Four of them are beside the grave, putting finishing touches to its digging with antler pickaxes. They discontinue as the other three men ascend from inside the tomb, obviously climbing unseen stairs up its side. Reverently they remain at the spot, deep in grief. All have bowed heads. The light changes and they become silhouetted against the sunset.
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photo of curragh courtesy The Coracle Society
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