P:O.V. No.5 - Three Recent Short Fiction Films, IMMEDIATE DEPARTURE

An Outline of Immediate Departure

Richard Raskin

1. Hundreds of people streaming through the aisles of a supermarket in fast motion, and seen through the eyes of surveillance cameras placed at various spots in the store, give the impression of a human ant-hill. Now a camera is focused on a photo automat, showing people entering and leaving the booth in rapid succession. Next we are inside the booth, with a rapid succession of people posing before the camera, still in fast motion. Finally a Man seated in the booth is seen in real time; he gets up and leaves when his pictures have been taken.

2. Waiting outside the booth, the Man browses in the footwear department, killing time. A row of pictures has been fully processed in the photo automat and slides into place in the pick-up opening. The Man walks back to the booth, holding a package of shoe-laces in his hand, and picks up the row of pictures, showing a beautiful, dark-haired and sad looking woman. He looks around, hoping to catch a glimpse of her nearby.

3. He walks along the aisles in search of the woman in the photographs, and finally sees her leaving a telephone booth and carrying a plant, on the other side of the cash registers. As he leaves the store to catch up with her, he is stopped by a guard when he passes through the exit and an alarm goes off. As the Woman walks away, he is detained and asked to empty his pockets and remove his coat. A package of shoe-laces turns up and despite his claim that he intended to pay for them, the guard proceeds - in military fashion - to call security over his walky-talky and to demand to see identification. As the guard examines the ID and comments on the photo, the Man makes his getaway, desperately trying to find the Woman who has apparently headed down into the subway station just outside the store.

4. The Man runs down seemingly endless sets of stairs, then can't quite get the ticket machine to accept his ticket. He jumps over a barrier to the train platform and runs with all his might as a train enters the station - all of this to the beat of a drum played by an African musician in the subway station. Just as the doors are closing, he enters the train and is relieved to see the Woman there.

5. After she sits down, he finds a seat from which he can observe her. She is now reading a letter, then leans her head against the window of the car for a moment, and wipes away a tear. She leaves the train and he rushes out after her.

6. At the foot of a staircase and escalator leading up from the subway station, guards are checking the tickets of passengers. The Woman's are checked and she continues walking, carrying her plant. When the Man is stopped, she continues up an escalator. The Man, unable at first to produce a ticket, is asked for his identification, which he no longer has. Cut to the Woman, retrieving baggage from a locker in the railroad station, then back to the Man, desperately trying to conclude this encounter with the guard. He finally finds an unpunched ticket in his pocket, pays a fine and rushes up the stairs.

7. At the top of the stairs, the Man looks out into the enormous central lobby of the Gare de l'Est, filled with hundreds of people. He walks about, showing the photo to people working there and asking if they have seen the Woman. Cut to the Woman, who is making a telephone call, then back to the Man, showing the photo to a ticket-seller who has apparently recognized her. Meanwhile, she has left the phone booth and headed for her train, toward which the Man is now running. He sees the abandoned plant on the platform and enters the nearest car.

8. In the bathroom of the railroad car, the Man splashes water on his face and fixes his hair, then enters the compartment in which the Woman is sitting at a window seat, writing a letter. She doesn't even notice him, as he sits down across from her, at the opposite window seat, at the other side of the little table at which she is writing her letter. The train has pulled out of the station and is now passing through the countryside.

She turns her attention alternately to the letter she is writing and the landscape visible through the window, just as he alternates between observing her and looking through the window. She has a pained expression on her face as she continues writing and finally begins to cry. He reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a paper handkerchief, which he places on the little table in front of her. She reaches out for it and dries her eyes. She looks out the window. He observes her, then also looks out the window. When he turns to look at her again, she turns to look at him, for the very first time. After a brief moment of answering her gaze, he gets up from his seat and leaves the compartment. She watches him leave.

9. In the corridor between the compartments and a row of windows, the Man leans against a window and watches the countryside rush by. A closer shot shows him weaping as he continues looking through the window.