Based upon the novel
EXT. BANGKOK. NIGHT
A single headlamp in close up shines directly and brightly
out. Extreme noise and light.
Beyond its glare can be seen the outline of a motorized
tricycle ("tuk-tud") and its Thai driver.
A young man, Richard, sits in the back, his rucksack beside
him, swaying with the motion of the vehicle. He is worn and
They travel through nocturnal Bangkok: fleets of tuk-tuks,
taxis, road works, food vendors, dogs, tourists.
Music and credits.
EXT. KHAO SAN ROAD. NIGHT
The bright headlight comes to a halt.
Richard climbs down from the tuk-tuk
When you hit Bangkok, there's really only
one place to go. The street is busy, full
of Thai's and travelers.
Richard picks his way through the crowd, his rucksack on his
He absorbs the scene as he passes boarding houses and hotels,
and the shops and stalls selling food, clothes, pirated
tapes, jewelry, travel tickets, and international phone
calls. Restaurants are filled with western travelers watching
American films or European sport.
The Khao San Road is a decompression
chamber between east and west. It's where
you learn to breathe car fumes and
tropical air for the very first time, or
else carefully rearrange your memories
before you catch your flight home.
Richard is approached by a young male Thai Hustler who walks
backwards in front of him while making his pitch.
You need somewhere to stay?
I'll be OK, Thanks.
Richard politely ignores each of his subsequent offers.
What do you want? Sell your passport? Buy
passport? Airline tickets? You want silk?
I'll take you to the best silk place? You
get a suit in twenty-four hours. Diamonds?
You want to come with me, you get present
for your girlfriend. Maybe no girlfriend.
You want a girl, no problem. Good time.
Boy girl fucking no problem. You want to
drink some snake blood?
At this last one Richard stops and addresses the Hustler.
Richard walks on, the hustler fading out behind him.
You want designer clothes? I get you
Versache, Gucci, Armani, no problem. You
want a camera, all the best makes: Nikon,
Leica, Canon I can get you.
Yeah, it's all here: you an phone home,
meet up with strangers, split up with
your friends, watch Hollywood movies
while you sip Budweiser and eat a burger
or get some massage and green chicken
soup. You could be anywhere in the world
but you could only find it here. And what
do they want, all these people?
EXT. KHAO SAN ROAD. NIGHT./ INT. BARS AND SHOPS. NIGHT.
Various young travelers, male and female, in snapshot
exerpts, address their comments to the camera or each other.
Where you been?
Where you going?
I've been there.
It's a waste of time.
We just got back.
How much did it cost?
A complete rip off.
Too many people. There's a much better
place along the coast.
We're going exploring. We've read this
book. It tells us all the best places to
I know a place that everyone says is
I heard they built a big hotel there.
Some sort of sewage problem, apparently.
We're going anyway: all the rooms have
got air conditioning.
But for me it's all about finding out
something about a place, and something
about yourself. And when you get off the
beaten track, that's where you find out
what there is to find out.
Richard turns into one of the restaurants.
INT. RESTAURANT. NIGHT.
The restaurant extends deeply back away from the street.
Richard passes many diners not dissimilar to himself. Some
are talking, many are engrossed in the video entertainment.
At the back he reaches a reception desk where he drops his
A Thai female HOTEL RECEPTIONIST sits behind the desk. She
immediately shows Richard a "menu" of available rooms. The
menu offers a spread of prices for
Richard points to the cheapest combination and hands over
The Receptionist becomes aware that he is being started at.
A worn, disheveled man in his mid-thirties is standing at
the nearby bar, a bottle in his hand, studying Richard. This
Daffy says nothing but continues to stare and takes a drink.
Richard will not be stared down. Neither turns away.
The Receptionist passes over a key and smiles broadly.
Welcome to Thailand.
Richard turns to her.
INT SHOWER. NIGHT
In a small windowless shower room, Richard stands
motionless, eyes closed, facing with pleasure the spray of
INT. HOTEL CORRIDOR. NIGHT
The sound of the shower can be heard through a door marked
with a shower sign.
The sound stops and the door is opened. Richard emerges
with a towel wrapped around his waist, carrying his key and
He walks the short distance to his room. He puts the key in
the door but the lock is stiff and he has to fiddle with it,
bent over and dripping water on the floor.
While he is doing so, the sound of footsteps climbing nearby
stairs can be heard.
There is the sound of a loud wolf-whistle.
Richard turns to the source of the whistle.
A beautiful European woman is smiling at him. This is
Francoise. She approaches and takes the key from his hand.
She turns the key in one direction, then the other, while
twisting the handle.
The door swings gently open. She stands back
Footsteps approach from the stairs.
Francoise is joined by a young man, ETIENNE, who catches up
with her. He nods at Richard as he takes her arm. They walk
away from Richard to the next door.
Eh - bonsoir.
The couple reach their door. They enter their room and the
door is closed behind them.
Alone in the corridor again, Richard contemplates their
I was traveling alone for two reasons.
First of all, being alone allows you more
opportunity to absorb your experiences on
a personal level. Secondly, and this I
felt acutely at that moment, there was no
one who wanted to go with me.
INT RESTAURANT. NIGHT
Richard is in the restaurant which is quiet now.
He is alone at a table eating and drinking. On a high shelf
several feet away a Hollywood action film, all gunshots,
car chases, and explosions, plays on the television.
Most of the tables around him are empty.
Richard is interrupted by the man he met earlier, Daffy, who
pulls up a chair beside him.
Look, I'm sorry to bother you but I
was wondering if you could help me
Help you out?
Yeah; just ten or fifteen dollars maybe.
I'm sorry, I don't think so.
I'm waiting on some money coming through.
It's just that at the moment, you know,
I'm short. They're going to chuck me out.
On the street in Bangkok, that's bad.
I'm really sorry but I just arrived; I'm
on a pretty tight budget myself. I just
can't afford it.
Just five dollars, please.
He leans in close to Richard.
I'll share something with you.
I'm sorry. I can't lend you any money.
Richard turns back to the video and his food.
Daffy approaches two young women sitting at a nearby table.
Excuse me, ladies, is there any chance you
could help me out. I'm down on my luck at
The two young women seem uncomfortable. Richard notices.
If you could see your way to lending me some cash -
He leans across and holds out a ten dollar note for Daffy.
Thank you, sir. Thank you. I promise I
will repay you.
Just take it, OK.
Daffy takes it.
Richard returns to the video as a big yellow explosion is
reflected on his face.
INT. RICHARD'S HOTEL ROOM. NIGHT.
Some light enters from the street through a small window.
Richard lies on his bed, watching the fan rotate above him.
He is listening to the sound of Etienne and Francoise
engaging in noisy sex. They reach the climax of their
activity and fall silent.
Richard just has time to enjoy the silence when a new
disturbance begins, this time from the next room in the
other direction. It is a man, Daffy, banging on the wall
just above Richard's head and shouting in time.
Have. You. Got. Anything. To. Smoke.
Have. You. Got. Anything. To. -
INT. HOTEL CORRIDOR. NIGHT.
Richard knocks sharply on the door of Daffy's room.
The door is opened immediately by Daffy, looking even worse
No, I don't have anything to smoke.
Daffy stares at him for a moment. Recognition dawns.
You. You're the guy that lent me the money.
Yeah, that's right. Now could you be quiet
so I can get some sleep.
Ten dollars. I'll find a way to pay you
back. How would you like to know About
somewhere special? The perfect beach.
Paradise. No one else knows about it.
That's got to be worth something. What do
Look I don't care about the money right
now: I just want some sleep. So if you
could be quiet -
Yea, OK. I will be, I will be, I promise.
Richard turns away.
He turns back.
Been nice knowing you.
He sticks his hand out.
Richard politely reciprocates.
They shake hands.
INT. EXT. RESTAURANT. DAY.
The restaurant fronts on to the street where a new day's
activity is beginning.
Richard watches this as he eats his breakfast.
He notices Etienne and Francoise sit down at the next table.
Did you sleep well?
Not too bad.
I hope our noise did not keep you awake.
Richard looks from one to the other.
The noise? Don't worry. You're on holiday.
She means your neighbor. The Scotsman
Oh, that noise! Yes, he certainly did.
We moved rooms because of him.
He tried to borrow money from us.
What idiot would lend him money? It would
He said if we lent him money h would tell
us about a secret beach.
It's on an island that no one get to.
But he has been there, off course.
It was ridiculous; all this at three
o'clock in the morning.
It would be nice though, if there was a
place like that. You know, that no one
could get to.
Of course, but look; all these people. If
that place existed, they'd all be there.
INT. TRAVEL AGENT'S. DAY
On a large board are details, photographs and prices of
various standard excursions. A Thai TRAVEL AGENT reels them
off at great speed.
Nakhon - Pathom - Phra Ptahom Chedi -
Damnoen Sadual floating market - eight
hundred baht. Kanchanburi - Erwan national
Park Phrathat Cave, huang Khamin Falls -
six hundred baht. Nam Tok, hellfire Pass,
Three Pagodas, Sai Yok National Park -
fifteen hundred baht. Bang Pa In Royal
Palace, Ayatthaya, Wat Phra Manhathat,
Wat Raburna - one thousand baht. What do
Richard studies the board but is not excited.
Twenty Marlboro light, please.
Instantly the Travel Agent produces the packet of cigarettes
from a shelf and lays them on the counter.
EXT. KHAO SAN ROAD. DAY.
Richard lights up and looks around.
He looks through the tapes at a stall.
INT. HOTEL CORRIDOR. DAY
Richard walks along the corridor towards his room, his new
tape playing on his walkman.
On his door, a folded sheet of paper is attached with a pin.
Richard lifts it off and unfolds it.
It is a detailed and carefully drawn map of a cluster of
islands. Some are named. One is unnamed. On it, some features
are marked; hills, forest, river and a letter X.
In the corner it reads "X = beach".
Richard switches his Walkman off.
He studies the map then walks to Daffy's door and knocks.
Richard twists the handle and pushes gently. The door opens.
INT DAFFY'S ROOM. DAY.
The room is dim, be even so the blood can be seen sprayed
and smeared around the walls, sheets and floor.
There is no sign of Daffy.
Richard treads carefully, avoiding the pools of blood on the
He reaches the other side of the room. There, wedged in the
narrow gap between bed and wall, is Daffy's corpse. His
wrists have been cut.
Richard studies the map again.
You hope and you dream, but you never
believe that something's going to happen
for you, not like it does in the movies.
And when it does, you sort of expect it
to feel different. More visceral. More
real. Like IMAX maybe. I was waiting for
it to hit me, but it didn't. And just for
the record, I never did get my ten
Richard switches his walkman back on.
INT. POLICE STATION. DAY.
In an office, two policemen, one in UNIFORM and the other
a DETECTIVE, stand over Richard while he signs a statement.
The police didn't want to waste any time
on it. They were just pissed off because
he was traveling on a false passport, name
of Mr. Daffy Duck, birthplace Ruritania,
which kind of fucked up all the paperwork.
They pulled everyone in from the hotel,
but all they wanted form me was a
statement saying I found him and it looked
like he cut his wrists. No problem.
The detective studies Richard's passport.
What are you doing in Thailand? Tourist?
You go to Patpong? See smoke from pussy,
ping pong ball from pussy, razor blade
from pussy; bird from pussy.
I don't think so.
Why not? Thai girls best in the world.
Thai food best in the world. Thai dope
best in the world.
I wouldn't know anything about that, sir.
INT. POLICE STATION CORRIDOR. DAY
The door of the office opens and Richard walks out.
Lined up in the corridor, slouching against the walls, are
several other travelers from the hotel. At the front of the
queue are Francoise and Etienne.
The officer beckons Etienne into the office and closes the
Richard and Francoise acknowledge each other with a smile.
INT. RICHARD'S HOTEL ROOM. DAY.
Richard is seated at the top of his bed, addressing his
speech out of shot while he holds the map.
OK, this island may not actually exist.
And even if it does, we might not be able
to get there. But look at it like this:
what else is there to do around here?
Richard is alone.
So what do you think? Are you going to
come or not. I'd be thrilled if you'd join
me, you and your…you and your boyfriend.
INT. HOTEL CORRIDOR. DAY
Richard knocks on his neighbors' door.
Etienne opens it.
Hi. You want to take a hike? I mean a trip.
A journey. With your girlfriend and me. I
mean the two of you, and me. It's a secret
island. Paradise. You know the kind of
thing I'm talking about.
Francoise appears behind Etienne.
Hi there. Here, take a look.
He shows Etienne the map.
It's a map. The dead guy left it for me;
I think it's the place he tried to sell
you. It's going to be just fucking great.
You want to come? I'd be thrilled if...
Francoise and Etienne are looking at him.
I realized that I had absolutely no idea
of how I was going to get there.
EXT. RAILWAY/THAI COUNTRYSIDE. NIGHT.
A train travels at night alongside fields.
INT. TRAIN. NIGHT
Richard is awake. Opposite him, Etienne and Francoise are
slumped together in sleep.
Etienne, however, and I have to hand it
to the guy, was fucking great. He
organized the whole thing: tickets,
timetables, best route, the whole damn
EXT. SEA. DAY.
The bow of a passenger ferry crashes through a wave.
EXT. BOAT DAY.
The decks are crowded with travelers and their packs. Amongst
them are Richard, Francoise, and Etienne. Maps and guidebooks
are being studied by many. The noise of the engines and the
wind deters conversation.
Thanks to him we hit the final stop on
the tourist trail inside twenty-four
hours, where, Etienne assured me, we would
hire what he called a "local fisherman" to
take us on the last stage of our journey.
INT EXT. TRUCK. DAY
Inside back of a covered, converted pick-up, four people are
seated down each side, amongst them Richard, Francoise, and
Behind them as they bump along, can be seen the dusty red
road bordered with dense green shrubs.
The truck stops.
EXT. ROAD. DAY.
Richard unloads the final of the three rucksacks from the
roof of the truck, passing it down to Etienne who stands at
the back with Francoise.
The truck pulls away, revealing as sign, "Seashell
EXT. BUNGALOW. DAY.
A simple wooden shack on stilts, one of several standing in
a line at the edge of the beach. There is a small porch to
INT. BUNGALOW. DAY
A spartan room: bed, mosquito nets, chair, cupboard, fan.
Richard dumps his rucksack.
Ext. SEA/BEACH. DAY.
A long inflatable tube is towed past by a motorboat, its
passengers whooping with delight.
As it passes, Francoise is revealed, standing in the water,
looking in towards the shore. She begins to walk in.
On the beach there are sunbathers, games of beach volley
ball, and vendors selling food and sunglasses.
This was just the kind of place I didn't
want to hang around. Not that it's lacking
in comfort. Quite the opposite. It's got
everything. Everything you could possibly
need to make you feel at home. And what's
the point of that.
On the beach Francoise picks up a towel.
EXT. BEACH RESTAURANT. DAY.
The restaurant fronts on to the beach. At the back there is
Richard sits alone at a table with a drink, watching the
scene on the beach, including Francoise.
Etienne pulls up a chair and sits down.
Francoise will join them as the dialogue proceeds.
It's arranged. Tomorrow morning. Eight
There is one problem.
Etienne opens the map on the table.
He will not take us to the island. It's
in the National Park and it is forbidden
to go there. But we are allowed to travel
to this one to stay for one night.
That's the wrong one.
I know that.
Francoise sits down with a drink.
So from there to there?
We leave our rucksacks on this island and
then we swim.
You can swim?
Yes, of course I can swim. How far do you
think it is?
One or two kilometers.
Oh. Great. Not far at all. I don't like
to be negative, but do you think we should
let someone know where we're going?
We're going to swim "one or two
kilometers" across open sea, from one
uninhabited island to another. Something
goes wrong. What then?
Have you told someone?
I think it's a bad idea to tell anyone.
Richard, it's secret. That's the whole
Yeah, OK. Forget it. We won't tell anyone.
Richard picks up the map
EXT. BUNGALOW. DAY
Richard sits on his veranda, under cover. Beyond him is a
He hears two sets of footsteps rushing up the stairs of the
next door bungalow. Two men, Americans, Zeph and Sammy, try
to open their door but cannot.
Fuck, I knew we locked it. We should have
left it unlocked.
Sammy addresses Richard
We lost our key.
Where did you lose it?
On the beach. Or in the water.
The truth is we don't know.
You try reception?
Closed. Back later. We hope.
It's a disaster, to which there is only
one sensible, considered, appropriate,
and timely response.
EXT. BUNGALOW. NIGHT.
All three are stoned. A joint is passed around while Zeph
I smoke two joints in the morning, and I
smoke two joints at night, and I smoke
two joints in the afternoon, and then I
feel alright. I smoke two joints in time
of peace, and two in time of war. I smoke
two joints before I smoke two joints and
then I smoke some more. I can't remember
Perhaps you smoked too much dope.
Do you know the Kentucky friend mouse story?"
Woman bites chicken leg, turns out to be
a mouse. Or a rat. It's an urban myth.
Exactly. Always happened to someone else.
So there's an urban myth, well more of a
rural myth, going around here at the
moment. It's about a beach.
Yea. This beach is perfect. It's on an
island, right, hidden from the sea.
Imagine: pure white sand and enough dope
to smoke all day every day for the rest
of your life. Only a few know exactly
where it is and they won't tell anyone.
Of course no one's actually ever met any
of these people, only met someone who has.
You know what I mean. It's a Kentucky
I hadn't heard that one before. But it's
good. It's a good story.
A torch shines on them, jolting them into some sort of
reaction and a woman's voice calls out.
Hey, you! I got your key!
INT. BUNGALOW. DAY
Richard's rucksack is packed an by the door.
Richard is sitting copying Daffy's map on to another sheet
of paper. He finishes and writes a note on the copy.
He puts the original in his pack and lifts it.
EXT. BUNGALOW. DAY.
Richard hops over the fence to the veranda of Zeph and
He slips the folded copy under their door.
He looks around to check that he has not been seen.
EXT BEACH. DAY
Richard walks along a narrow wooden pontoon, his rucksack on
He stops about half way along at a small narrow wooden boat
with an outboard motor.
He looks down into it.
Etienne and Francoise walk past him along the pontoon without
stopping and disappear from view.
OK, let's face it. There is no such thing
as a local fisherman anymore. There really
isn't the demand for them. If you want to
catch fish you put down a hundred
kilometer drag net.
Richard walks away along the pontoon.
And if you want to go somewhere - you get
EXT. SEA.. DAY.
Richard, Francoise and Etienne sit at the back of a small
powerful motor launch which skims across the surface of the
sea with great noise and speed.
EXT. BEACH. DAY.
The motor launch idles gently as it drifts into the shallows
of a small deserted bay.
Richard Francoise, and Etienne jump from the boat into the
EXT. BEACH. NIGHT.
As the sun sets they sit in silence, each shoveling down
forkloads of noodles.
EXT. BEACH. NIGHT.
The only sounds are those of crickets and the waves gently
breaking on the shore.
Richard is lying asleep on the sand.
He is woken by someone rummaging through the rucksack beside
him. It is Francoise, removing clothes, books, souvenirs.
Eventually she finds her camera, a mini-tripod and a
She places them on an unfolded T-shirt on the sand.
Sshh. Etienne will be angry if I wake him.
He thinks I waste film taking photographs
of the sky.
Richard wakes up and works out what she is doing.
I think so too.
One night I will get the perfect
She presses the cable release.
Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six.
She lets the shutter close.
Take a look.
Richard leans over and squints down the viewfinder.
The sky is framed. Francoise leans into the frame.
Richard draws back.
You realize that in the eternity of space,
there is a planet, just like this one,
where you are photographing back towards
us. You're photographing yourself.
There are infinite worlds out there,
where anything that can happen does happen.
So on one you are rich, on another poor.
On one you are a murderer, on another the
Richard, you know something -
She hands him the cable release while she adjusts the camera.
That is just the kind of pretentious
bullshit that Englishmen and Americans
always say to French girls so that they
can sleep with them.
Sorry. I thought I was doing quite well.
It's just the sky, Richard.
She presses his thumb down on the cable release, her hand
Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept…
EXT. NIGHT. SKY.
Francoise voice fades away over an image of the night sky.
Time lapse: the sky rapidly changes to day.
When you develop an infatuation for
someone, you always find a reason to
believe that this is exactly the person
for you. It doesn't need to be a good
reason, a bad one will do just as well.
Taking photographs of the night sky, for
example: in the long run that's just the
kind of dumb irritating habit that would
cause you to split up. But at the time -
it's the charming eccentricity you've
been searching for all these years.
EXT. BEACH. DAY.
From a different beach they look towards their target: the
island. It is 1-2 kilometers away.
Richard, Etienne, and Francoise stand on the beach looking
towards it. Each is in their swimwear and a T-shirt, and
carries a plastic bag, inflated and tied, in which they
carry their valuables and some rations.
I don't know - I'm American.
We think in miles, not kilometers.
So how many miles do you think it is?
I have no idea but it looks like a long
If it's too far, then we'll drown. But if
we don’t try then we'll never know.
Richard wades into the water.
So, let's go.
You have to enjoy a moment like that. You
just don't know, you see; it may never
happen again. Once more.
SO, let's go.
I am such a fucking hero. "Let's go". I
felt like I'd waited all my life just to
say something like that. So I replayed it
a couple of times, taking it from
EXT. BEACH. DAY.
Multiple repeats of Richard's moment from various
perspectives and speeds.
So: let's go.
You have to enjoy a moment like that. You
just don't know, you see: it may never
happen again. Once more.
So: let's go.
He dives in and begins swimming.
EXT. SEA. DAY.
They are far out to sea now, several hundred meters from
Richard swims at the front, the other two about five meters
I think we're about half way.
A few strokes later.
Richard - I saw a fin!
They all stop and tread water.
A shark fin?
I don't know, just a fin. Over there.
About a hundred meters.
Well what the fuck do you expect me to do
Nothing. I just thought you ought to know.
Well to be honest, Etienne, I would rather
have not known about it.
A bit fucking late.
He starts swimming again.
A few strokes later he hears a short sharp scream from
Richard turns around. Francoise is gone. Her plastic bag
bobs on the surface. Etienne is frantic, hysterical.
She is gone!
Etienne submerges briefly and resurfaces.
She just went under the water. She was
pulled under. Oh God, I don't see her.
Was there a shark? Did you see a shark?
They both start looking down at their feet and circling
frantically in the water.
I don't know! I don't know! Oh God.
Suddenly Richard screams.
Francoise surfaces, pulling up his ankle.
She and Etienne laugh at Richard.
Very funny. You Europeans, you have such
a playful sense of humor. No wonder your
comedy has conquered the world.
He swims on.
What about Moliere?
He swims on without looking round.
EXT. BEACH. DAY.
One by one the three swimmers emerge from the sea and
collapse on the beach. They are absolutely exhausted and
lie there on the sand, unable to speak.
Eventually, they tear open their plastic bags, drink some
water and eat some chocolate.
Richard has a little water left in his bottle. He notices
Francoise and Etienne eyeing it enviously.
He holds the bottle out towards them, then snatches it back
and swigs down the last of the water.
EXT. FOREST. DAY.
Richard, Francoise, and Etienne walk through the forest
behind the beach.
EXT. FOREST. DAY
They scramble up a steep slope through dense foliage.
Richard, at the front, pauses to let the other two pass him,
then he follows.
EXT. TOP OF SLOPE/CLEARING. DAY.
Richard reaches the top of the slope and follows the other
two through a gap in the foliage.
He joins Etienne and Francoise who are standing in awe at
the edge of a large clearing filled with cannabis plants.
They smile and examine the plants.
Richard wanders a short distance away.
Something glinting on the ground catches Richard's eye. He
leans down and picks it up. It is an empty brass cartridge
from a rifle. Richard looks around.
Just ahead he sees the remains of an extinguished campfire,
and beyond that, protruding from the undergrowth, a pair of
male legs and beyond them, the butt of a rifle.
CLOSE IN on the nest in the undergrowth. The legs and gun
belong to a Farmer. He is asleep. His physique is strong
and his skin weathered.
Richard turns back to Etienne and Francoise. They are still
strolling amongst the plants.
Richard begins to back away.
The Farmer wakes.
He lifts his gun and stands up to look out over the dope
EXT. FIELD. DAY.
There is no one there.
EXT. FIELD. DAY.
The farmer looks around, sees nobody. His attention is
attracted by a whistle.
He looks over. A group of three more, similarly armed
Farmers emerge from the forest at the other side.
He waves at them. They beckon him across.
He sets off through the field.
EXT. AMONG PLANTS. DAY.
The three intruders continue to crawl along the ground
between the plants.
Suddenly Richard stops. The farmer's footsteps come closer.
His feet pass in the gap between Richard and Francoise. He
pauses. They lie frozen in place. He lights a cigarette and
drops the match. He moves on.
They breath again.