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Sins of the Fathers

We look upward at Math on his throne.

Math: "Well, Gwydion. Tell me more about these strange beasts."

We look slightly down from Math's point of view at Gwydion, standing facing the king.

Gwydion: "They're a kind never before seen in these parts– rather like boars, but tame. Some believe they're a gift to Pryderi from Arawn. Would it be your pleasure to obtain a few specimens?"

We return to a closeup of Math.

Math: "Certainly it would. But no tricks, Gwydion. I know you well."

From Math's point of view we see Gwydion bow.

We see Pryderi sitting on his throne at the castle in Arberth. His self confident, direct, hearty manner has not changed, although he is a trifle older. He is still like his father –impulsive, valiant, forthright, honest.

Pryderi: "These beasts have been paid for with my people's tithes by mutual consent, upon condition that they be bred to twice their number before any one of them is sold or given away. Would you have me break covenant with my subjects?"

We see Gwydion from Pryderi's point of view.

Gwydion: "Of course not, lord. But would they object to exchanging a few for more valuable animals?"

We return to Pryderi.

Pryderi: "I'll convene a counsel and abide by its wishes."

We next see Pryderi with his men in the courtyard at Arberth, accepting twelve black Arabian horses and twelve sleek black racing hounds with white chests. The saddles and bridles of the horses are of gold, and so are the collars and leashes of the dogs. These animals are radically different from those we see at any other time. We are used to exclusively seeing shaggy ponies, and hounds bred from wolves.

We see Gwydion and Gilfaethwy on horseback, returning home along the high road. They are surrounded by mounted men. Then we look back at some of their men who are walking behind herding two dozen pigs. They are passed by a shepherd and his sheep going the other way. After this we return to Gwydion and Gilfaethwy, seen exactly as before.

Gwydion: "We'd better hurry. The horses and dogs will last only twenty-four hours."

Gilfaethwy looks at him with a surprise that turns into a mischievous smile, and Gwydion returns it in self satisfied glee.

Gilfaethwy: "What are they really?"

Gwydion: "Mushrooms."

They both laugh.

From a hall, we see several ladies in waiting being pushed out of a room in Math's castle. They put up a strong resistance but are forced out the door, which is then audibly bolted. There is pandemonium inside the room. We hear two men's voices and a woman's screams.

We see Math on his throne from about fifteen feet away. A messenger stands before him, his back to the camera, holding a silver birch branch.

Math: "Why are Pryderi's men attacking us?"

Messenger: "Lord, I do not know. I have only a message from Pryderi challenging Gwydion to single combat. He says that he will not endanger the people of either land if Gwydion will give him satisfaction."

Math: "But Gwydion is a wizard. We know Pryderi's impulsive, but he must know better."

Messenger: "He insists, your majesty."

Math: "Pryderi is a very brave man."

We see Math and Gwydion strolling alone in another room of the castle.

Math: "So you tricked him."

Gwydion: "Yes, lord."

Math: "And you think you'll be excused because you're my sister's son."

Gwydion: "No, no–"

Math (interrupts): "You have taken a life, Gwydion. He is dead." He starts speaking to himself. "The son of Pwyll. The flower of manhood in all Cymru."

Gwydion (murmurs): "Yes, lord."

Math: "So you could get those."

There follows a tracking shot through an ivy framed window to the twenty-four pigs penned outside in the cobblestoned courtyard.

Gwydion and Gilfaethwy are walking up the path into the palace.

Gwydion: "I don't know why he called us. I thought I was in disgrace."

Gilfaethwy: "Maybe he's forgiven you."

In the doorway to the throne room, we see them being ushered in. Then we see the room in all its glory, from the wall opposite the throne. This time there is a second throne beside Math's, identical to his own. Gwion sits there, richly dressed. Butter would not melt in her mouth. The vast room is full of courtiers, all silent and utterly still. You could hear a pin drop. Gwydion and Glifaethwy walk into frame and stop in front of the thrones. The camera is behind them.

Math (coldly): "Gwydion son of Don, and Gilfaethwy son of Don. I believe you are acquainted with our new queen."

The two men bow their heads nervously. Gwion appears made of stone.

"We have the testimony of various witnesses that you 'gentlemen' violated the person of a certain footbearer at this court shortly after your return from Dyfed. Is it in fact true that you raped this young woman whom you now see before you as your ruler?"

We look down at the culprits.

Gwydion and Gilfaethwy (nervously): "Yes, lord."

A closeup shows Math's unmoving face.

Math (with dangerous calm): "You like pigs, as I recall, do you not?" There is a silence. Then Math speaks in a terrible voice.


We again look down at the culprits.

Gwydion and Gilfaethwy (nervously): "Yes, lord."

We return to Math.

Math: "Very good. Then your punishment is most suitable. You have behaved like beasts of the forest, and BEASTS YOU SHALL BECOME!"

The camera pans left until Math is on the right side of the frame and Gwydion and Gilfaethwy are in the middle. We are looking down at them. Math points a finger at the two men, and his arm extends across the left side of the frame. In place of the two culprits, two wild pigs stand in the middle of the throne room.

Math: "As such you will remain until you have learned the error of your ways. And since you are such an inseparable pair, I have made you male and female. I thought Gwydion would like to be the female first. Later perhaps Gilfaethwy can try it. Go now, and return when you are ready to become human again."

The pigs scurry out of the throne room, and the horrified courtiers are relieved to see them go.

We see, from Math's point of view, two wild pigs looking up at him from the throne room floor.

Math's voice (from out of frame): "Not ready!"

The pigs turn into wolves. The wolves turn tail and flee.

We see, from the same point of view, two wolves. They turn into deer.

We see, from the same point of view, two deer. They turn into men, whom we recognize as Gwydion and Gilfaethwy, looking very dejected. Then we see Math in closeup.

Math: "Enough. I have a question for you, Gwydion. For some time I have been without a footbearer. As you know, if the holder of this title is female she must be an untouched maiden." He speaks pointedly. "To ensure good behaviour and to prevent abuses. The previous holder of this position was no longer qualified after receiving your attentions."

We see the inscrutable face of Gwion on her throne toward the end of this sentence. Then we return to a closeup of Math.

Math: "Can you suggest someone who may be suitable?"

We look down at Gwydion and Gilfaethwy. There is a pause, so humbled are the two reprobates. Gwydion makes two tiny gestures as if he wishes to speak, and when he does so it is hoarsely, as though his throat needs clearing.

Gwydion: "The Lady Ar-Aranrhod, your majesty?"

Math's voice (from out of frame): "You think that your sister would fulfil the requirement?"

Gwydion: "Yes, lord."

Math's voice (out of frame): "Remember that I am a wizard also, Gwydion. I am not sure that you have learned to speak the truth."

Gwydion becomes nervous.

"But like all of us, I am denied the privilege of reading another person's mind, and I will have to take your word that you believe this woman to be untouched."

We switch to a shot of Math seen from behind Gwydion's shoulder.

"You know the consequence if she is not? Every child she might have had is instantly born when she steps over my staff."

Gwydion (mumbling): "Yes, lord, I know."

We return to a closeup of Math.

Math (eyeing his victim with suspicion): "Well, if your judgement is wrong it is doubtless no fault of your own." There is a very slight but nevertheless unpleasant emphasis upon the last word, and perhaps a hint of sarcasm. Math addresses two of his courtiers in an undertone. "The divining staff, please." The two courtiers leave. Math speaks more clearly.

"Send for the Lady Aranrhod."

We see Aranrhod's back as we did Gwydion's and Gilfaethwy's, when they were first called by Math to answer for their crime. She is facing Math, who descends from his throne, and she also wears the hat and robe of a wizard. From the two aforementioned courtiers Math takes the divining staff and rests it across his knees. It is made of very dark carved wood. Math steps down to the floor of the throne room and holds the staff by one end with the other touching the floor.

Math (quietly): "Step over this staff, please, Lady Aranrhod."

She steps over the staff, her back to the camera, and emits a stifled cry. Gwydion bends down swiftly through the right side of the frame to pick up an unidentifiable object which he hides in his cloak. Nobody else moves. Math hands the staff back to the two courtiers, who leave with it.

Math (gently): "Thank you, my dear. It is wisest to tell the truth, but there is no need to chastise you now. I hope you have been enjoying life at court."

Aranrhod nods and mumbles something polite.

In another room of the castle, from Gwydion's point of view we see Aranrhod turning fiercely toward him. It is the first time we see her face.

Aranrhod: "Where is it? Where is the child? I know you took it."

Gwydion's voice (out of frame): "It's a boy. Since you so kindly asked."

Aranrhod: "It was never meant to be. It is the child of sin. You and I both know it."

Gwydion's voice (out of frame): "And no one else."

Aranrhod: "I never want to see it. Take it away from me and raise it out of my sight."

We see Gwydion turning to leave.

Aranrhod's voice (out of frame): "And one more thing –no, two."

A closeup shows Aranrhod calm down with recognition of her own power.

"I'm a wizard too, you know. And I say this. He'll never have a name unless I name him, and he'll never bear arms unless I arm him. And that shall never be."

In a castle room, Gwydion and Gilfaethwy are relaxing in carved wooden chairs facing away from the camera toward a roaring fire. We see their chairs from behind, silhouetted by the fire, and cannot see their faces.

Gwydion: "Ironic, isn't it." This is not a question.

Gilfaethwy: "What?"

Gwydion: "Gwion's new position. Out of the frying pan into the fire."

Gilfaethwy: "What do you mean, Gwydion?"

Gwydion: "Well, she attained it by becoming Math's consort. I wonder how she enjoys it."

Gilfaethwy: "But Math's very old..."

Gwydion: "Precisely."

Gilfaethwy: "I think he was just making a point."

Gwydion: "Probably. It's one of those things we'll never know."

It is dusk. The camera tracks forward across a clearing toward a laughing group of children, most of them about nine or ten years old. They are dancing around a fire against the dark backdrop of the forest, which is showing its autumn colours. Recall the classic image of the dancing pixie or sprite in mid leap. Holding hands at head level, they form a circle around the fire, which casts them in silhouette. They are dancing to the tune of 'Dr. Faustus', which is sung very fast, and their dancing is all jumping.

The camera pans across the clearing to reveal other children. At the far end of the meadow some younger ones play tag. In front of them a wizard leads a queue of children as she plays her vertically held wooden flute. A closer shot shows her passing from centre frame through the left side, followed by nine jolly children of various sizes, younger than the others we have seen, all hopping and skipping, some swaying from side to side and some turning around. The children pass through the frame, no more than two at the same time. The last one is a little girl, the youngest, holding a rag doll and happily skipping a little off the beat.

Next we see a group of boys throw stones at an out-of-frame target. One boy has hair which is absolutely white, though he has the same dark eyes as all the Faery. He throws particularly well. His hair contrasts sharply with the dark hair of his playmates. A large, prominent vein runs vertically down the middle of his forehead. Throughout this scene we hear the song of the first children, accompanied by the wizard's flute.

"Hoity toity doodly doo
"A fiddle faddle ringty roo.
"Middle muddle rumpety tum
"And mumbly bumbly scrumpety rum.
"Bubbly scrubbly nibbly bib
"A wiggle wog and piggly squig.
"Flimsy wimsy jiggly jug
"And scribbly dribbly bibbly bug.
"Widdly squiddly flippety flop
"And twiddle twaddle drippety drop.
"Snuffly whuffly biddledy squee
"And whirly squirly fiddledy dee."

We see Aranrhod and Gwydion, out for an evening ride.

Aranrhod: "What an extraordinary child. Look how well he throws!"

Gwydion (musingly): "That aim will prove its worth one day." He feigns confusion "Which one?"

Aranrhod: "The one with hair like light. Isn't it amazing."

Gwydion: "I don't see."

Aranrhod: "That one." (She points past the camera and speaks wonderingly.) "Like light..."

Gwydion: "Which one?"

Aranrhod: "Light, light."

Gwydion: "Yes, I see. I see that you have just named the son you swore would have no name. From now on he is Light, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Aranrhod turns to him in fury as he heads his horse away. We see his back riding away from the camera, Aranrhod in hot pursuit.

An establishing shot shows the dining hall of Aranrhod's castle. A banquet is in progress, with many guests and servers, and the camera pans slowly past a juggler in the foreground to view the diners against the far wall. A male juggler performs. He is in whiteface, and wears a costume made of diamond shaped patches with a hat like a Punch puppet. The program is finishing to appreciative applause. While the applause is still going on, a closer shot shows Gwydion at the middle table with Aranrhod and Gilfaethwy, all of them clapping and nodding. As the applause subsides a background noise can be heard, like the clash of distant battle.

Aranrhod speaks to Gwydion in a sardonic aside, still with a pleasant smile on her face and not turning to look at him as she speaks.

Aranrhod: "It's one of those strange situations. We all clap wildly because we're so glad the thing is finally over. Then it's declared a great success, and nobody is willing to admit that it was deathly boring."

Gwydion (in the same manner, still smiling and without looking at his sister): "My dear, I know we can always count on you to break the ice."

Aranrhod: "What's that sound?"

A closeup shows a messenger rushing in through the great open doorway from a hall outside. He is dishevelled and alarmed.

Messenger (as he rushes in): "Lord! We're under attack!"

A shot from the middle of the centre table shows the entire hall instantly filled with the clamour and activity of preparations for battle. The messenger rushes out the heavy doors in centre frame. Pages hurry forward with arms and armour and squires help their warriors to put them on. There is a general hubbub. We see Aranrhod rushing to be of assistance.

One of Gwydion's men: "Lady! Arm this young man! Quickly!"

He thrusts a young man at her, throws his arms and armour on the floor, and dashes away. Amid the confusion Aranrhod hastily helps prepare the young man for battle. The young man is wearing a peaked cap with ear flaps, and his hair is pulled up into the cap. The vein running down the middle of his forehead is now only faintly visible.

Gwydion (fully armed and breathless, in passing): "Have you finished with that one?"

Aranrhod (hastily): "Yes."

A closeup shows Gwydion, suddenly calm.

Gwydion: "Then I am finished too."

The men next to him glance at him, then begin to divest themselves of their arms. The sound in the distance has suddenly disappeared.

Gwydion (shouts): "There is no attack!"

In a wider shot the disarming men begin to assist the armed ones with some sort of explanation. At least half are confused, but all comply. Next we see Aranrhod in closeup.

Aranrhod (coldly): "What is the meaning of this?"

We see Gwydion in closeup.

Gwydion: "You have just armed your son, you who swore he would never bear arms unless you saw to it yourself."

In a wider angle shot, Light's hair is seen shining white as he divests himself of his armour amid the dark heads of his fellow warriors.

In another room of Aranrhod's castle, we see her in closeup turning fiercely on Gwydion.

Aranrhod: "He is an abomination!"

We see Gwydion in closeup.

Gwydion (calmly): "You're the abomination. Math's magic could never have brought into being something impossible. You made it possible, just as I did. But unlike me, you won't admit it."

We return to Aranrhod. During this conversation the camera cuts back and forth as each person speaks.

Aranrhod: "Ah, but I will. Even if it ruins me. And when I am ruined, no woman ever born will marry him. You can't trick me out of that. You know as well as I, they may let him have a name and arms, but no one will marry him."

Gwydion (defeated): "Yes, I know." There is a pause. "You're an unnatural mother."

Aranrhod: "Too true."

Gwydion (to himself): "I look at his beautiful face, and I cannot see evil there."

Aranrhod: "Evil is there all the same."

Gwydion: "But not in him."

Aranrhod (to herself): "I should have thought of that."

Gwydion: "If you do something bad, do it. Don't half do it and go back on it later."

Aranrhod (clearly): "If you do something bad, with every ounce of your strength and every breath in your body, work against what you have done." She continues more quietly. "And when I speak, no woman ever born will marry my son."

Gwydion: "Hurting him is wrong, and you know it."

Aranrhod: "That's the evil of it. Nothing I can do now is right."

An establishing shot shows a banquet not yet in session. Guests are milling around greeting one another. A closeup shows Gwydion in conversation with the middle aged host. Light is beside Gwydion. He is fully grown, the vein on his forehead completely faded. Gwydion and the host are seen in profile, with Light partly obscured.

Gwydion: "My nephew, Light."

Host: "Welcome, Light."

Gwydion: "I don't see your daughter here tonight."

Host: "She's on a visit this week."

We see Gwydion, without Light, in front of a landowner's stone castle, speaking with the landowner and his wife. The three people are in the foreground.

Landowner: "Unfortunately, she's away at the moment."

Gwydion: "I just saw the girl behind your castle."

Landowner's wife (gently but pointedly): "Gwydion, we're sorry."

We see Gwydion with hat and robe, in a sunlit meadow. The sky behind is misty. Gwydion crouches and picks a snowdrop. Next we see his face in extreme closeup with his hand moving upward into the frame, holding up the flower bud by its stem before his eyes. His expression is one of cold scrutiny. Then we see, from his point of view looking down, Gwydion's fingers prying open the little bud, forcing it before its time. As if we were in his hands, we see Gwydion's face looming large above us as he works. His face displays the cruelty of cold scientific interest.

We see Gwydion bringing a bushel basket of white flower petals to the top of a hill. At first the hilltop obscures the bottom half of him, as we are on the hilltop fifteen feet away and he is walking up to it, toward the camera.

Gwydion: "No woman ever born. So be it."

He turns the basket upside down and throws it behind him. Then he mutters some unintelligible words under his breath, raising his hands over the petals. A wind starts up, blowing the petals in a spiral. From behind him we see the spiral gradually take the form of a beautiful young maiden with long dark hair.

"Blodeuwedd, child of flowers, all that is young and sweet and fragrant, I give you life."

In a closer shot we look up at the maiden, who is looking directly at the camera.

Blodeuwedd: "Who are you?"

Gwydion's voice (from out of frame): "I am called Gwydion. Your husband is my nephew."

A harp and woodwind play the tune of 'Lady Dysie' as we see a banquet table where Blodeuwedd is seated between Light and a handsome stranger. We see Blodeuwedd at the table, looking beyond the camera. Her gaze is unguardedly flirtatious. Then we see the stranger, sitting on the other side of the table, and he is directing a burning gaze beyond the camera, obviously toward her.

The music ends, and as the diners clap we see the harpist and flutist leave, to be replaced by a stand up comic. He is gangly, whiny and dour, a nerdy deadpan comedian in the style of Emo Phillips. He turns out his feet carefully, looking very uncomfortable with his knobby knees. His voice tends to break suddenly in the middle of sentences, turning into a squeak. When he has painstakingly taken his position, a ripple of gentle laughter fills the room. He waits for it to subside, pretending to take offence.

Comic: "I should tell you before I start...that I'm very sensitive about being considered a source of humour by other people."

Before he finishes this sentence we switch to a shot of Blodeuwedd, seen as before, laughing with childish openness.

Comic's voice (from out of frame): "And I've had about as much as I can take from all of you this evening."

Before the sentence is finished we switch again to the stranger, seen as before, still fixing his gaze beyond the camera. Then we switch back to Blodeuwedd, who is blushing at him as she laughs.

Comic's voice (from out of frame, in a sudden outburst): "You know, I never wanted to be a Faery."

The voice calms down and resumes its whiny tone. As the flirtation continues the voice becomes fainter, drifting into the background.

"My mother tried to cheer me up. 'Think of all the silly hats you can wear,' she told me."

To the tune of 'Lady Dysie' we see the stranger and Blodeuwedd riding along the high road. Blodeuwedd is sitting behind the stranger, arms clasped around his waist. It is twilight, and the sky is full of gathering clouds. The horse is breaking into full run, and she looks back fearfully.

Next we see, from inside the entrance hall of the stranger's castle, the doors being rammed open by men in Faery armour, who enter with the log they have been using for the purpose. There must be twenty of them in all. Then from the doorway we look inward into the room to see the men arrest the stranger, two of them roughly grabbing his shoulders. Next we see Light, also in armour, clearly addressing the stranger.

Light (through his teeth): "I let you into my hall. I gave you food. I gave you shelter. And this is how you repay my hospitality! Die!"

We see the terrified stranger, held on both sides by Light's warriors.

Stranger: "Have mercy! I never took her! She followed me!"

In another room of the castle, Light and the stranger are sitting alone at a table.

Stranger: "That's the whole of it. I never touched your wife. What was I to do? Leave her outside in the cold?"

Light (tiredly, his head in his hands): "You did right. I'm sorry."

Stranger (gently): "Women are deceitful. It's hard for us men."

Blodeuwedd and Gwydion are seen from the waist up as they ride back to Light's castle. Two armed men are visible riding behind them.

Gwydion: "How could you betray your husband?"

Blodeuwedd: "I betrayed no one."

Gwydion is about to speak when she interrupts angrily.

"I made him no promise. I was created his wife already."

They ride on in silence, her anger mounting.

Blodeuwedd (bursts out): "Did it ever occur to you that I may not have wanted him?" Another silence. "That's what I was made for, wasn't it! To be his wife! To be something to somebody else!"

She takes a few moments to calm herself.

"'I give you life.' Those were your words, I believe?"

Gwydion (coldly): "The same."

Blodeuwedd: "It seems you were mistaken. No one can give life."

Gwydion: "But–"

Blodeuwedd: "This body is your doing. But you did not give me life. What do you think you are, Gwydion?"

There is a miserable silence, except for the mournful clip clop of the horses' hooves.

"I came into this world through you. That is all. You did not make me. You do not own me."

We return to the conversation between Light and the stranger. The scene is exactly as it was before.

Light (tiredly): "I'm supposed to challenge you. My wife was found in your house."

Stranger: "We men have to band together against such conniving women. Meet me at Arduthwy. You can throw your spear at my heart from the required distance without touching the skin."

Light: "How?"

Stranger: "There's a stone at Arduthwy as thick as two walls. I'll stand behind it. Throw your spear, fulfil your obligation, no one will be harmed. Let's go talk to your second."

Light smiles faintly. The stranger takes his hand in the grip used for arm wrestling, but as a gesture of camaraderie.

We look up into the sky at storm clouds ominously gathering. Then we see Light climbing a hill at Arduthwy, moving left across the frame toward the hilltop which is in centre frame. It is a bleak, high place, lightly dusted with snow. The standing stone is not in frame. The clouds above are threatening, a wind is gathering, and flashes of lightning are seen in the distance.

Light carries a spear, and is followed by Gilfaethwy. Both are seen from about fifty feet away on top of the hill, and the camera looks up at them. The gathering storm drowns out Light's voice as he calls out his challenge and pauses to hear the response. A clap of thunder fills the air as he lifts the spear.

A closeup shows the spear in his hand. It moves in slow motion forming an arc. At the top of the arc it turns from wood and flint to gold in a flash of light as a thunderclap rends the air. In slow motion it goes straight through the standing stone by the stream.

From the camera's previous position fifty feet away, we see Light and Gilfaethwy wonderingly walking in through the right side of the frame to look at what has happened. They walk around the near side of the stone, so they're still in view of the camera. Then we see from their point of view the stranger's second standing dumbfounded over a dead body. The spear, still gold, has pierced the stranger's heart.

From a distance we see the seconds leave together, walking down from the summit toward the right of the frame. Then we see Light from about ten feet away, sitting forlornly against the standing stone. The tune of 'Love is Teasing' begins very softly. He looks up. It has begun to snow. He sits there as snow gathers around him, looking toward the upper right of the frame, as the camera zooms out to a wide angle. The music swells as a ray of white light pierces the dark clouds. Light's shining hair and sad face are bathed in its glory.

back to introduction for next sequence

photo of Arduthwy courtesy of Trevor Whincup
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