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Death's Symphony
by Hannah Morley

Rated: PG   Genre: Drama   User Review: **
This is a short scene written for my A-level film coursework. Lazarus is a depressive alcoholic, desperate for something good to come into his life and save him from himself. There's a new neighbour, and eventually they find their lives intertwining in a way they could never have imagined on their first meeting (which is what this scene is).

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


A man, LAZARUS, regards the moon dubiously, leaning on his
window sill, staring up at the sky. He holds a glass of
vodka in one hand. The room around him is the size of an
average council flat living room. To his right is a standing
lamp with a bowl-like shade which pushes the warm
golden-yellow light up against the wall. The lamp stands
next to an over-sized flat screen television which stares
blankly at the dark leather sofa opposite it. Only this half
of the room can be seen.

Lazarus doesn't care for his appearance; his clothes are too
big and his hair, though not long, is unkempt. His shirt is
too big and swamps his slender frame, hanging away from him
where he is bent over to lean on the window sill; the
sleeves are not buttoned up, revealing his wrists and adding
to the aura of either laziness or low self-esteem. His jeans
are also too loose, held up by a belt.

He sets the glass down on the window sill and drums his
fingers on the window sill of his apartment and still stares
at the moon. His reflection is seen in the window, seeming
to stare at a space just above his head back into the small,
cheap apartment.

His eyes focus on his reflection, looking at his pale blue
eyes dulled with boredom and his whole, slouched demeanour
screaming apathy at the slumbering town outside. Only the
occasional passing car breaks the silence that smothers the
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
I dream of going up there one day,
escaping the life of high-rise
flats and minimum wage. Of course,
it won't happen, I never went to
space school or whatever it is.
He pushes a hand through his blonde hair, brushing it back
out of his face and runs it over a week's worth of stubble
that coats the lower half of his face, the bristles only a
shade darker than the hair on his head.

He lifts the glass to his lips, tipping back the clear
liquid easily. He sighs, his breath clinging to the window
in a foggy patch of condensation that disappears almost as
quickly as it appears.


                       LAZARUS (V.O)
So I'm wasting my life in a glass,
or more often a bottle of vodka.
I'm the definition of failure. A
once successful, classically
trained pianist and composer,
turned local museum night guard
and alcoholic.
Standing straight, Lazarus pats his pockets, looking for his
cigarettes. Finding them, he screws a cigarette between his
lips and lights it with a garish, bright yellow lighter. He
opens the window to let the smoke out and leans back on the
sill, watching the smoke snake across the glass and escape.

A pale moth flutters into the room, twirling about the air
around him as though dancing for him, a private show
exclusively for him. It flaps around his head. He puts the
glass down on the sill and half-heartedly swats it away,
lazily brushing his hand through the air. He withdraws from
the window, leaving it open. Flopping onto the sofa, he
watches the moth follow him. Its wings twitch restlessly as
it darts from one surface to another, between the sofa and
the television screen.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
I should probably let that moth
out, while I'm sober enough to do
it. Enough have died in here.
Mostly in that lamp, over there.
The small, dark figures of the dead moths can be seen
clearly as Lazarus gets up, moving across the room. The
bottle of vodka can be seen on the floor by the corner of
the sofa, next to an overflowing ashtray. It is little more
than half full.

He finds a dry glass in the small kitchen, and perches on
the edge of the sofa with it, ignoring the cigarette burning
between his fingers, waiting for the moth to settle long
enough for him to catch it and release it outside. The
cigarette burns to the butt, going out and he drops it near
the ashtray without looking. As the moth finally becomes
still, sitting in the middle of the television screen,
Lazarus gets up with a little too much zeal and promptly
crashes to the floor swearing, face down on the worn carpet.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
That happens a lot.


Lazarus struggles up again, only to see that the moth has
flown away to the other side of the room again. As we follow
Lazarus to face the moth, a piano can now be seen sitting in
the corner of the room. It is clean and well cared for,
though somehow understated, even in the small room. It sits
in the dark, covered in tattered scores and CDs. A cheap
stereo system sits to the left of the piano.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
Maybe not quite sober enough after
He picks up a score from the piano to slide under the glass
for when he traps the moth, so he can take it back to the
window and give it the freedom it deserves.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
That piano is, sadly, the greatest
passion in my life right now.
Yeah, I know. What a loser. I'm
still concentrating on that moth.
Look at me...
      (self - mocking)
Just chasing a moth. Why not just
let it die with the others?
Lazarus eventually catches the moth in the glass against the
wall between the TV and the lamp. He grins triumphantly like
a child winning a race. Sliding the paper under the glass,
he traps the moth inside the glass.

He watches for a moment as it beats against the sides of the
glass with all the strength of a falling feather. He walks
back to the window and releases the moth back into the
night. He returns now to leaning on the window sill again,
staring back at the moon.

He leans out of the window, poking his head out into the
night breeze. He pushes himself farther forward, enough to
be in danger of falling out and dropping four storeys onto
the cold and unforgiving concrete below.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
But maybe it would be for the
best. Falling down there. Not like
any one would care. No family or
friends to worry for me, no
romantic interest. Nope. I'm a
recluse. Go me.
He stares at the ground below. The street lights outside
cast ugly orange pools of light that blur into one another


down the street, though the community car park below is
barely illuminated, the lights broken.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
Music. That's what I need. Not
these fleeting suicidal thoughts.
He stands and picks up a remote, pointing it vaguely in the
direction of the stereo. His finger forces a button down,
and the stereo clicks into life, the green display greeting
him, though he didn't look. Piano music fills the room, soft
and lilting. He drops the remote again and returns to his
original glass, filling it with vodka from the bottle by the
sofa. He throws back the alcohol as if it's water and puts
the glass down, regarding it for a moment.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
I don't know why I bother using a
glass sometimes.
He lifts the bottle to his lips and drinks from it. He looks
over at his piano and moves to it, sitting on the stool,
hunched as he finishes drinking. He puts it on top of the
piano, sitting it on a CD.

He looks at the score he last played from, still sitting on
the music stand. He reaches over and turns the stereo off,
watching the green display turn off. He straightens his back
and begins to play, but not from the score; he is not
looking at the notes, but at a word at the top of the page.
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
For those of you that are not
classically inclined, I'm playing
Einaudi. Years alone with nothing
to do tend to lend themselves well
to just teaching yourself to play
anything you hear. Of course, I
have a job. Which... Oh. I'm late
He plays to the end of the piece and gets up. He stumbles a
little over to the phone and dials a number, waiting for the
other person to pick up.
      (faking an ill
Hi. I can't make it today, could
you sign me off sick?
He pauses while the other person on the phone talks. He
winces a little as he is berated.


I know, I'm sorry. I have a
Migraine. Not a hangover. Either
way I wouldn't be fit to work.
Just sign the form.
He manages to keep the false illness in his voice as he
persuades the person on the other end of the line to sign
him off sick. He sighs as he hangs up and soon wanders back
to the piano. He sits tiredly on the stool and gazes at the

The word on top of the paper becomes visible, in neat curly
writing; the name "Gabriel" can now be seen. He sighs and he
doesn't look as he reaches out for the bottle of vodka
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
Don't get me wrong, my job's okay.
Bearable anyway. But something was
telling me to stay home and when
you're half drunk and extremely
lazy, you tend to listen to those
thoughts. Anyways, you're probably
wondering why I'm staring at a bit
of paper with someone's name on?
Keep wondering. I'll tell you when
I'm ready.
He lifts the bottle to his lips once again, but a knock on
the door interrupts him. He lowers the bottle and glances at
the clock, which reads 22:21. He scowls at the numbers and
reluctantly gets up. He walks slowly to the door and opens
it. Beyond Lazarus, over his shoulder, is a woman. Her eyes
widen as she takes in his dishevelled appearance and the
bottle still in his hand. He stares for a moment, before
blinking. She is beautiful and he is captivated. She carries
an hourglass figure, enhanced by her close fitting clothes,
russet hair, and deep green eyes.
Umm... hi.
She begins to look a little uncomfortable now as he
continues to stare.
I just moved in next door, I
thought I'd come say hi, but it
looks like I came at a bad time.


She nods at the bottle in his hand and he snaps out of his
trance-like staring, apologising. He excuses himself and
puts the bottle in the kitchen, before returning to the
door. He extends a hand for her to shake, which she takes
Hi, sorry. I'm Lazarus. And
really, it's not a bad time, I was
                       LAZARUS (V.O)
... being pathetic?


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From Gary Hornbeek Date 1/20/2010 **
The dialogue is quite well at times, unfortunately not enough of it. WAY too specific. Let the director decide what color lighter he uses, how he dresses, the type of lamp in his room, etc. Remember, this is a screenplay, not a novel.

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