A friend found this digital copy of the AF pilot script on an old floppy disc he had lying around.
A great deal of planning went into writing a complex story to be told without words. At the time when the pilot aired, a very common reaction I used to get from viewers was that they enjoyed watching it, but how come I didn't bother to write a story? The people who made this comment were usually animation fans. Obviously, the fact that there was no dialogue meant to them that I hadn't done any writing. I felt it wasn't worth trying to tell them otherwise.
AEON FLUX - (C) Copyright 1990 Peter Chung
AEON FLUX episode 1--------------------
EXT. AT THE ENTRANCE OF A VAST CONCRETE FORTRESS. NIGHT.
Close up on a machine gun spitting bullets wildly. The flashes of gunfire are drawn as beautiful bursts of light and color. Aeon Flux stands gracefully atop a concrete wall firing away at the oncoming Breens whose own relentless shower of bullets whizzes past her, missing by bare inches, but never connecting. The Breen gunmen are hit and fall dead with unerring regularity on every spurt of gunfire from Aeon. We never see blood spew from their wounds; they twist and jerk almost comically as they're hit, then simply collapse.
When she's had enough of this game, she jumps down on the opposite side of the wall and runs into the great sprawling concrete and steel fortress which seems to have no boundaries. A series of Breen guards and killers attack her from behind every corner with an endless variety of strange weapons; with her superior agility, skill and firepower, Aeon easily prevails. She is impervious to harm. Heroic theme music swells up periodically throughout, perhaps clumsily at times.
INT. BREEN FORTRESS-- A LARGE EMPTY ROOM Aeon enters a huge, high-ceilinged room that's completely empty and brightly lit. The room has two doors, each on opposing walls. She starts walking across the room, but suddenly stops as she hears approaching footsteps from the door for which she was heading. She turns back toward the door she came from, but footsteps approach from that side as well. As she's exactly halfway between the two doors, she retreats as far away from both of them as she can, toward the center of one of the doorless walls. When she reaches it, she notices a narrow catwalk built into the top of the wall, a hundred feet up. The two ends of the catwalk disappear into openings in the corners at either end of the room.
Aeon fires her gun into one of the openings to see if the way is clear. After a beat, a lone Breen guard cautiously appears on the causeway, gun drawn. He looks down and sees Aeon directly below. Just as he starts shooting down at her, the two ground level doors slowly swing open at opposite sides of the room and more Breens start stepping in. Aeon pulls her grappling-hook gun from her belt. She aims and fires it at the guard above her. The hook shoots through the catwalk rails and hits him in the chest. He grabs it to pull it free, but he's immediately riddled by Aeon's machine gun fire and topples over the railing with the hook still in him. As he falls, his weight pulls Aeon, attached to the other end of the rope by her belt, up off the floor and above the heads of the oncoming Breens. As she's hoisted away, rising majestically, she faces her attackers with a machine gun in each hand, blazing nonstop, slaughtering them right and left. Heroic music almost drowns out the already deafening gun bursts.
By chance, a stray Breen bullet hits the rope, severing it, but Aeon's near enough to the catwalk that she grasps it with a blindingly quick overhand arm maneuver and acrobatically flips herself up onto it. The Breens hopelessly shoot after her, but she quickly disappears into one of the openings.
INT. BREEN FORTRESS-- AN EMPTY CORRIDORAeon follows the walkway into a dark and very narrow, but vertically elongated corridor the walls of which seem to rise up to infinity. A dim, flickering blue light emanates from a spot in one of the walls very high up, accompanied by the faint strains of lilting lounge music. She appears to recognize where she is and pulls out a blueprint of the fortress from a pocket. She traces a line with her finger of her passage thus far. Clipped to the blueprint is a photo of a group of men at a bizarre museum exhibit. One distinguished looking man in the foreground has a red circle drawn around his face. She looks back up at the flickering light as she replaces her blueprint. Without warning, the corridor lights up and the sound of running footsteps approaches from one end. Aeon turns and runs in the opposite direction.
INT. BREEN FORTRESS-- AT THE EDGE OF A CLIFFAfter a series of twists and bends in the corridor, Aeon ends up at the edge of a steep concrete cliff, facing a fifty meter gap and a cliff on the opposite side which leads deeper into the fortress' center.
Within the gap, hangs a swing consisting simply of a narrow platform suspended by thin wires which seem to disappear, like the walls, upward into infinity. The swing sways back and forth between the two cliffs in an erratic rhythm impossible to decipher, and does so far away enough from the edge of the cliff that Aeon would have to make a daring leap just to get on.
The cliff on the far side is both at a higher level and farther from the swing's central axis than the cliff where Aeon now stands, so that once on the swing, she would need to increase its momentum considerably to cross the gap.
Aeon hesitates repeatedly, allowing the swing to come and go while the sound of approaching Breens grows ever louder. She makes a wild leap and manages to get a grip on a wire to pull herself up onto the swing's platform.
ON THE SWING BETWEEN THE TWO CLIFFSShe bends her legs deep to push her weight into the forward arc, then stretches to pull the swing back as she builds up her momentum. Electrical sparks start to light up the wires Aeon grips in her gloved hands, as if the swinging motion were generating electricity. The faster she swings and the wider her arc gets, the stronger the current through the wires flows, until it crackles with enough violence to force Aeon to jump back off onto the cliff where she started.
BACK AT THE CLIFF'S EDGEClearly, swinging with the momentum needed to reach the opposite cliff would be lethal. Aeon shakes her smoking hands to revive them from their shock while following the swaying platform with her eyes to try again. She jumps, this time grabbing onto the platform instead of the wires.
BACK ON THE SWINGHanging from the swing as from a trapeze, she quickly attains the necessary momentum. Ferocious bolts of electricity crackle along the wires without harm to Aeon. But from this lower body position, it is impossible to jump up onto the far cliff. In fact, due to the precise design of the swing's arc, when the swing is forced far enough to reach the far cliff, the platform runs straight into the higher wall of the gap's far side. A person standing atop the platform would easily hop off onto the opposite side, but anyone hanging from the platform would only slam into the cliff wall.
Aeon can't help but be a little amused by this farce and betrays it with an exasperated smile. She quickly moves her body against the flow of the swing to slow it down.
With Breens starting to appear at the cliff behind her, she looks down below into the vague darkness where no floor is visible. Hanging from the swing with one hand, she draws a gun from her belt and fires a single shot straight down. She sees a dim spark of impact and judges it against its delayed sound. She lifts her head up and studies the length of one of the wires which support her. She aims her gun at a point high along the wire, pauses, aims a little higher, and fires. The wire breaks, releasing the swing from its horizontal position, while the loose end drops smoothly toward the distant bottom to form a straight line down.
Breens arrive at the edge of the cliff unable to reach the now static swing and fire their guns at Aeon who slides down the wire head-first, using her steel-tipped boots to control her descent. At least one of the Breens makes a mad suicide leap to try to strike Aeon with his own plummeting body, but she easily avoids him.
A light comes on from the floor below and more Breens come into view firing away at Aeon diving down at them, her own guns blazing. As sparks fly in the friction between boots and wire, the familiar heroic theme music urges us to cheer her on.
By the time she reaches the bottom, all the Breens who'd been firing up at her lie dead in big heaps. The end of the wire she'd shot free hangs above the floor with just the right distance to allow her to execute a double-axle back layout with a full twist worthy of a gold medal. She hits the ground running and rushes straight toward camera, her gunfire flashing nonstop and finally filling the screen with its blinding light.
AEON FLUX episode 2-------------------
DYING MAN'S P.O.V. - Close-up of what looks like a tiny boat carrying a cute cartoon insect upon an endless shiny crimson ocean. The boat's shape slowly splits apart into two illogical divisions drifting slowly in opposite directions. The two pieces dissolve into their real forms, a hand and a torn shirt sticking up out of a vast pool of freshly spilled blood.
CUT TO: An extreme close-up of a man's eye staring wearily across the brilliant bloody surface. The eyelid droops slowly, then closes shut. Camera pulls back to reveal the hand and torn shirt of the previous shot drifting inches before the dead man's face, which lies sideways, half submerged.
WIDER - INT. BREEN FORTRESS The underground atrium is a huge, cavernous chamber with a strong industrial aspect, yet is curiously elegant with its massive concrete columns, vaulted arches, and intricate functional details. Tall, heaping mounds of hundreds of dead and dying Breens, as well as countless scattered individual corpses (both male and female), jut out like islands from the glossy red surface of an endless ocean of blood which covers the floor from wall to distant wall. Way off in the background, the tiny but unmistakable figure of Aeon Flux runs knee-deep in the thick fluid away from us , pausing occasionally to fire off spurts of bullets from her machine gun at unseen enemies all around her. We hear their off-screen cries of agony as they're presumably struck dead. They drop, making slow, heavy splashes which echo hauntingly throughout the scene.
These gruesome things are designed and drawn in clean, graphic shapes and lines with a deliberate avoidance of realism. The color, composition, and stylization of these images of violent death are prettified in a disturbing way. The bodies are pristine, unruffled, and as white as snow (drained of blood). On the soundtrack we continue to hear the brutally mechanical rat-tat-tat of Aeon Flux's machine gun fire fading in and out and the rousing heroic theme music which accompanies it -- both are treated with heavy reverb and perhaps some distortion to give them distance.
CLOSER ON A FEW SCATTERED BODIES.One of the bodies stirs, then rises up to a sitting position. It's a young Breen soldier, and he's barely alive. He drags himself toward another body lying face down in the blood a few feet away. He hunches over that body, his back facing us, and turns it over to look at the face. He freezes in that position for a while, then tilts his own face up to the ceiling so that his head droops backward, limp. His whole body rises and falls with each slow, deep breath he takes.
CLOSE-UP ON THE SURVIVORWe see him from the front with his neck arched back, breathing heavily. On the skin of his neck, there are thin green criss- crossing lines like a network of fine cracks.
FADE TO BLACK
AEON FLUX episode 3-------------------
INT. BREEN FORTRESS-- AT AN INTERSECTION
At an intricate intersection of several passageways-- including stairs leading up, others leading down, an elevator, corridors and a number of mysterious doors-- Aeon Flux slips silently into view from behind a corner which, at first, doesn't look like a place a person could appear from. As she steps cautiously out into the open, the camera trucks horizontally with her so that the perspective of the walls, doors, and stairs shifts, revealing new spatial relationships we hadn't inferred from the initial camera angle. She glances about in each direction to decide which passage she ought to take next. She presses up against a wall to be able to look through an opening set in an inaccessible corner.
Through the small opening, she sees two pairs of legs entangled in a struggle and she hears the sounds of two men fighting. She approaches closer and finds a way of getting to them.
IN A LARGE HALLShe climbs over a few architectural obstacles, peers around a column and finds herself in a low-ceilinged but expansive hall. In the center of the hall, a big, athletic man in dark glasses and a tight black leotard (like a Batman costume without the hooded cape) clutches a metal briefcase while wrestling with an equally big, muscular Breen officer. Their clothes are torn and they seem tired as if they've been fighting a long time. Scattered all around them lie several dead men, half of them in the black leotards, the other half in Breen uniforms. Alongside the bodies are various kinds of guns and, strewn across the floor, countless empty bullet shells. Dents, cracks, and bullet holes pockmark the floor and walls. Aeon stays hidden and just watches the men fight.
The Breen punches the man in black (the spy), dazing him enough to snatch the briefcase away from him. He starts running away with it, but the spy soon recovers and tackles him to the ground. The briefcase falls out of the Breen's arms and the spy picks it up. They go on struggling on the floor. All this action is presented from Aeon's P.O.V..
Cut back to Aeon, now ready to jump in.
When the briefcase falls loose on the floor again, she runs in and snatches it up. The two men, startled, stop fighting and turn toward her. They both stare at her in wild-eyed anger. The man in black emits a battle cry, flexes his muscles impressively,waves his arms in a martial arts attack gesture, and rushes at her. Aeon draws her machine gun from her belt and shoots him about a hundred times. The Breen officer bursts into uncontrollable fits of laughter as if he'd never seen anything so funny. Aeon walks up to him and kicks him in the face to shut him up. She turns away shaking her head in disgust. She sees a stairway leading up at the end of the hall and runs for it, the briefcase under her arm.
The Breen officer recovers from the kick, massages his sore neck, and stands up. He looks around at the men lying dead on the floor. We see a series of close-ups of their skin-- arms, hands, faces and necks-- all are marked with very fine green criss-crossing lines just beneath the surface, giving them the appear- of being cracked. He looks at his own forearms and sees the green lines appearing on his own skin. He picks up a pistol from the floor and removes the empty clip. He finds a single unspent bullet on the belt of one of the bodies and loads it into the gun. He runs off in the direction Aeon went.
INT. BREEN FORTRESS-- A LANDING AT THE TOP OF A SLOPEAeon has reached the end of another passageway. The path she followed slopes up, then levels off at a small landing bound on two sides by thick armored doors with complicated locks, and on a third by a huge rotating fan. She looks, frustrated, at the two impenetrable doors, then through the fan blades. Just behind the fan is a second fan rotating in the same direction, but at a slightly faster speed.
Beyond the second fan is a ledge which runs along the outside wall of the fortress. The ledge leads into a dark opening in the side of another wall which rises seemingly into infinity as it dissolves into the black sky above. At the topmost point visible by Aeon from her vantage point behind the twin fans, she sees a window emitting a flickering blue light-- her target.
It's impossible to cross through the fan blades as long as they're turning, especially carrying a briefcase. Aeon kneels to the floor and opens the briefcase. She's surprised to find nothing but an opaque white plastic bottle very snugly protected by a foam rubber lining which fills the briefcase. She removes the bottle, opens the wide cap, and looks inside. She sniffs it cautiously. Out of the corner of her eye, she notices a movement. From the landing, Aeon can see in the distance behind her, down at the bottom of the slope, the Breen officer coming after her with his gun drawn.
ON THE SLOPE LEADING UP TO THE LANDINGCut closer to the Breen. He walks weakly, rubbing his chest as if troubled by some deep internal pain. The green lines on his arms and neck are more prominent now. From his point of view, Aeon ducks out of sight behind the edge of the landing. As far as he knows, she hasn't seen him approach. He creeps up on his belly to catch her from behind.
ON THE LANDINGCut back to Aeon. She carelessly swings the open bottle in a downward stroke, splattering the purple fluid it contained all over the wall and floor. She pulls the pin from one of her grenades (taken from a pocket) and drops it into the wide mouthed bottle, and twists the cap shut. The Breen officer reaches the top of the slope and aims his gun squarely at Aeon's back. He has a clear shot, but his hand wavers from the pain in his body. He fires and misses. Aeon turns around and tosses the bottle over his head. It rolls down the slope to the bottom. The Breen turns and slides back down to go after it.
ON THE SLOPE BELOW THE LANDINGAt the bottom, just as he's an arm's length away from the bottle, he collapses suddenly, shivering with imminent death. Close up on his face, with the bottle just inches away. There are droplets of purple liquid on the floor where the bottle landed and rolled. He stretches out his tongue desperately to try licking them, but he's paralyzed by the disease which grips his entire body now.
THE BREEN OFFICER'S P.O.V.--ONE CONTINUOUS TAKE. We see the bottle lying on the floor. Our vision is blurred by deliriously dancing semitransparent hexagonal spots. The dancing spots become denser and denser as they slow down to a barely perceptible crawl. We hear voices-- distant and muffled behind a thickening wall of white noise-- children's voices chanting in some incomprehensible language. We see the bottle, a vague blurry vision of it, slowly begin to expand as if being inflated like a rubber ball in ultra slow motion. It dissolves into a fish, a big helpless fish that swells inexorably as it lies on the dry, cold concrete floor, just waiting to explode. Tears fall from the fish's eye, and its gills and scales open from the swelling. For two subliminal flash-frames, we see the bottle in mid-explosion (like in a high speed photo), the screen goes to black and a thunderous explosion booms.
AEON FLUX episode 4-------------------
EXT. BREEN FORTRESSOpen on a close-up of the metal briefcase unfolded with the two halves open flat at 180 degrees laid across the space between the twin giant fans, wedged tightly under the tips of the fan blades to keep them from turning. The briefcase starts to be scraped loose by the force which drives the fans. Abruptly, it gives, and is mangled by the rapid rotation of the blades. Camera pans along the ledge running past the fan on the outside wall of the fortress. We see Aeon Flux creeping along the ledge, headed for the dark hole in the side of the wall perpendicular to the wall with the fan. She enters the hole and disappears; the camera tilts up the height of the wall she's entered, and rests on the lone window at the top from which flickers the blue light and from which we once again hear the strains of lilting lounge music.
INT. BREEN FORTRESS -- AN EMPTY CORRIDORIn a wide corridor, Aeon appears from around a corner and steps up to a large elevator door. She presses the "up" button. She checks her blueprint again and scrutinizes the photo of the man with the face circled in red. When the elevator doors open, she draws her gun and points it inside, ready for any possible threat. The elevator is empty; she steps into it; the doors close.
INSIDE THE RISING ELEVATORThe interior is L-shaped. There are two doors: the one from which Aeon entered, and one on the opposite end of the elevator, around the 90 degree bend in the center. Each door isn't visible from the position of the other. Also, it is furnished like somebody's living room. A couch, armchairs, and a low table are built sunken into the carpeted floor; shelves and decorations are built into the walls.
After rising only two floors, the elevator stops, a bell rings, and the doors start to open. Aeon quickly jumps behind a chair and crouches on the floor. A man dressed in a black suit and an elegant looking woman in a Breen uniform enter. He notices that the button for the top floor is already lit, but pushes it anyway. The woman doesn't notice. The moment the doors reclose, she takes his arm in hers and they sit down on the couch. The man is Trevor Goodchild (while his identity is never explained, he conducts himself with the bearing of an important leader-- perhaps a politician or a powerful businessman).
Trevor leans closer to the woman and tenderly nibbles on her ear- lobe. As he does so, he catches sight of Aeon crouching behind the chair, looking up at him. She frowns and stretches her head out toward him defiantly. Trevor continues nibbling and stares back, narrowing his eyes to tense slits while the Breen woman moans in pleasure. Aeon eases her expression, then gently runs her tongue slowly along her upper lip.
The elevator bell rings again. Aeon crouches back out of sight. Trevor and the woman don't stir from their embrace. The doors open. From the door on Trevor's side, a small squad of Breens enters. Aeon skillfully exits the elevator from the opposite door without being seen. The Breens fill up the space around Trevor who still nibbles on the woman's earlobe. No one looks at anyone else and the doors close.
INT. BREEN FORTRESS-- ANOTHER HALLWAYWe watch with Aeon the continuing upward progress of the elevator as displayed on a lighted indicator on the wall. She's now only several floors away from the top, and in yet another empty hall. One side of the hall opens out to a wide mezzanine overlooking a long drop down to a massive maze of all manner of industrial fix- tures: ducts, engines, giant fluid tanks, etc. The mezzanine is partly supported by a series of columns that rise straight through a number of mezzanines still farther up. One of these columns intersects with a thick horizontal beam which crosses the width of the ceiling above. Aeon walks to that column, bends down to touch the floor at its base, finds a lever built into the floor, tugs on the lever, and watches as a panel swings open from the front of the column. The column is a hollow shaft with a ladder built into its inner wall. Aeon steps inside and starts climbing up. The front of the column swings shut automatically.
INT. LARGE BATHROOM In a clean, white, spacious bathroom, a young man with only a towel wrapped around his waist kneels on the floor, scrubbing the back of a young woman with long black hair who sits up in a sunken tub. On the wall opposite the tub, there are shelves which hold about a dozen plastic bottles like the one which was in the metal briefcase earlier. Standing over the sink along that same wall, Trevor Goodchild fills a syringe with the purple liquid like that which the bottle contained. He is dressed now in just a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and his black suit trousers.
INT. BREEN FORTRESS-- INSIDE THE HOLLOW COLUMNAeon reaches the top of the ladder. The top end of the vertical shaft ends in the floor of a horizontal tunnel that's very narrow but tall enough to allow a person to walk through standing up. The tunnel appears to be designed for use by maintenance workers, as it is lined with pipes, ducts and wires. Small pieces of wire, stray nuts and bolts and other such debris occasionally litter the floor of the tunnel. As Aeon walks down the tunnel, the sound of the lilting lounge music gradually gets clearer.
She reaches the end of the tunnel, where she finds that another metal ladder has been built into the wall and leads up to a hatchdoor in the tunnel's ceiling. Behind her, at about shoulder height, a bundled cord of wires hangs loosely fastened to the wall by a small, rusted iron bracket. The bracket is itself held in place by a single nail driven through one of its two nail holes. The second nail has come loose and lies on the floor directly under the bracket. Aeon pivots within the narrow space to face the ladder. Her right foot steps on the nail on the floor. She lifts her left foot up onto the bottom rung of the ladder. The pressure thus exerted on her right foot causes it to slide back a little. When she lifts it up, we see that the nail has gotten stuck in the thick rubber heel of her right boot. As she climbs the ladder, she steps on the narrow rungs using the balls of her feet. The bottoms of her heels never touch the rungs and so she never notices the nail.
EXT. BREEN FORTRESS-- THE HATCHDOOR ON THE ROOF. NIGHT.We are on a flat roof of the Breen fortress, high above the dark, barren landscape. There are no signs of life outside the lights blinking on the concrete perimeter. An iron hatch opens in the foreground and Aeon emerges from it. Perpendicular to this roof's edge, a wall continues to rise higher by an extra floor. In that wall is a single window which emits a flickering blue light. The sound of lilting lounge music is very clear.
Aeon crawls out onto the roof on hands and knees to avoid being seen by anyone who might be inside the window. As she crawls, we can see, by her upturned soles, that the nail is still embedded in her bootheel. She stops just under the window, raises her head, and looks inside. Cut to reverse angle close-up of Aeon looking into the flickering blue light.
AEON FLUX episode 5-------------------
VISUAL NOTEEpisode five is shot entirely as one continuous take with no cuts. The camera starts at a position looking over Aeon's shoulder as she observes the action taking place through the win- dow of the top floor of the fortress. It will then zoom into the scene, moving inexorably toward a fixed point on the far side of the room. The zoom will progress on an accelerating curve: slow at first and faster toward the end. As time passes, we see a smaller and smaller portion of the room; whereas we start by being able to see the characters as full figures, by the end of the scene, the camera's field is so narrow that we see only parts of them move into and out of frame. Some of the time, the frame will be empty while sounds of off-screen activity clue us in on what we are missing visually.
INT. ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE BREEN FORTRESSWe begin our zoom-in with a wide shot of the entire room. It's a dimly lit and rather sparsely furnished bedroom. Nonetheless, those furnishings are lavish if somewhat conservative. In the center of the room, the Breen woman (seen earlier in the elevator) sits, dressed in a bathrobe, on a plush recliner which is connected by an electrical cord to an outlet set in the floor. The back of the chair undulates slowly, massaging the woman, who holds a remote control in her hand. It emits a low grinding hum.
She watches a large-screen television which is the source of both the blue flickering light and the lilting lounge music. On the screen is a glitzy looking man with big hair playing a grand piano while abstract shapes move around in the background. The whole image is keyed in shades of blue.
Off to the right side, and against the farthest wall, there's a big bed with its covers in disarray on top of which lies the motionless figure of the man circled in red in Aeon's photo. His upper body hangs limply down over the front edge of the bed.
On the left side of the scene, a heavy curtain hangs from wall to wall, obscuring everything which may be behind it.
In the foreground is a kind of bar on wheels on which sits numerous liquor bottles, a glass dome containing cheese and crackers, plates, glasses, and utensils.
Off screen from the right, we hear the sound of a door creaking open, and light spills into the room. We also hear, faintly, the sound of water splashing and a woman's playful giggling. The door recloses, cutting off the sounds. Footsteps approach and Trevor Goodchild enters, looking as he did in the previous episode. He slips the syringe with the purple fluid into his trouser pocket while he steps up to the wine cart. The woman in the chair, meanwhile, doesn't react in any way to Trevor's entrance.
He stops in front of the wine cart, facing camera. At this point, the camera has moved in close enough so that we see him only from the shoulders down. We still see clearly everything happening on the large-screen television as well as most of the undulating woman. He lifts up his left hand which has an adhesive strip bandage wrapped around its middle finger. With his right hand, he removes the bandage and discards it onto the cart. He parts his fingers and we see that he has a half-healed cut along the distal surface of the skin between the knuckle and first joint. He extends the little finger of his right hand. Its nail has been sharpened to a razor-like edge and hardened with a glossy enamel. He uses it to reopen the miniature wound by accurately retracing the cut line. No blood appears. He taps gently on the knuckle with his right hand. A tiny crab-like creature crawls out of the wound. (The creature looks like a cross between a crab and a spider-- probably a product of genetic engineering, and not like any existing species) He drops the crab into a tall glass. He lifts the left hand up and stretches the wound to look inside. He picks up a small butter knife and digs it gingerly into the wound and scoops out a small cluster of slimy eggs. He takes a cracker from the cart, spreads the eggs onto it, and lifts it up to his mouth (off screen). We hear the sound of crunching and chewing. He reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a flat silver container (like a cigarette case). He flips it open. It's filled with special three-tabbed adhesive bandages (like the one he peeled off earlier). He attaches one to his finger and we see that it's designed to fit over the wound exactly.
While all of the above is taking place in the foreground, the program on the television behind him changes to what looks like a news report. Accordingly, the color of the flickering light changes from blue to green and the music changes to an urgent, strumming, newsy sound. In reaction, the Breen woman turns a dial on her remote control and her chair-massager undulates faster.
On the screen, a stereotypical symbol of the globe appears, followed by a close-up of a man in suit and tie. He bows his head in greeting; a graphic emblem of a skull fills the screen; then it cuts to shots of dead Breen bodies. We recognize them as the ones killed by Aeon in previous episodes: outside, at the entrance of the fortress, in the big empty room with the two doors, at the edge of the cliff, at the bottom of the cliff, in the underground atrium, etc. The news camera shows only the upper part of the piles of bodies, and never the blood on the floor. We get close-ups of the bodies, showing the green criss-crossing lines under their skin, now quite prominent. A small group of workers dressed in masks and protective clothing appear to analyze the bodies. Next, we see Breen civilians, mostly women and children, crying and consoling each other. Without narration (there is never any dialogue), a series of graphic diagrams and medical film clips explains: a simplified healthy human silhouette is touched by a tiny speck; the speck is enlarged into a macro-lens image of Trevor's crab-like creature ; microscopic images show healthy cells being destroyed by viruses; the healthy human silhouette starts to be filled with green crisscrossing lines; the human silhouette dies. The screen shows more shots of the piles of bodies.
During the above montage, the chair's undulating motions grad- ually intensify, so that, by the end, the woman is bouncing up and down pretty fast and the grinding noise is quite strong. Trevor turns around and walks away from camera, toward the woman. He quickly reaches down and shuts off the massaging action. He caresses her hair and lifts her head up to face him. She jerks back with fear, shoving him away. She jumps out of the chair, but he grabs her arm. She breaks free, he follows her off-screen to the left, and for a while, the scene is empty. (All of this action takes place within a very tight frame-- only parts of heads, shoulders, arms and hands move in and out of the scene-- but with strong enough body language that we can still read what is happening.) Very urgent, throbbing T.V."news" music continues playing throughout.
We hear the door off-screen to our right open. Its light spills into the room. Footsteps approach; a woman with long black hair and a towel wrapped around her walks through scene from right to left. After a beat, Trevor re-enters into scene from the left. He peels away his shirt to reveal a small "O" shaped raised bump on his shoulder, showing it in the direction of the women. He reaches out and pulls the robed woman's arm into frame. The second woman's hand lifts the arm from below at the same time. He removes her robe and holds her bare shoulder up toward himself in a firm grip. With his other hand, he brings in the syringe filled with purple liquid. He gently pierces the skin, then lowers the arm and needle down out of frame. As the woman is brought down, her face enters from above, twisted in a wince of pain. Slowly, we watch as her mouth, for that is all we finally see, transform from pain to an expression of indestructible ecstasy.
AEON FLUX episode 6-------------------
EXT. BREEN FORTRESS ROOFFrom a high angle, we see Aeon from the front, crouched on her hands and knees atop a flat concrete roof, leaning out into an abutting higher wall, spying into the window at the top of the fortress. The ground below is dark and far away. The camera slowly pulls back to include the distant horizon, where the first glow of dawn bathes the lower sky in deep lavender while transparent wisps of orange clouds brush against the mountaintops. CLOSER ON AEON AT THE WINDOW'S EDGEHer nose is just about pressed against the window. She's staring intently, frowning, thinking. The throbbing T.V. music and flickering green light are suddenly cut off. She lowers her head and closes her eyes. Hold on her sitting still for a quiet moment. Then, in a series of quick, dynamic cuts, she stretches her arms, unholsters her machine gun, pulls a fresh clip of ammo from her belt, holds it in her mouth while she yanks out the old one and tosses it away, then slides in the full one and gives it a final slam home with the heel of her hand. She extends her left foot out and places it on the narrow ledge just below the window. With her gun held tight and ready against her shoulder, she swings her right knee off the roof and brings her right foot down onto the ledge.
LOW ANGLE CLOSE UP ON THE LEDGE The nail which is still embedded in Aeon's boot-heel is driven deep into her foot.
WIDER ON THE WINDOW AND LEDGEAeon's entire body stiffens from the sudden pain. She loses her balance and falls from the ledge. She makes no sound. No one is there to see her plummeting through the thin air.
The camera follows Aeon's descent. She's hunched over, grabbing onto her foot with both hands. Her face is twisted in pain, it seems, more from the nail in her foot than from her imminent death. She struggles to pull out the nail.
EXT. LONG SHOT ON THE BREEN FORTRESS, INCLUDING ITS BASEThe fortress looms tall, its height rising beyond the frame.We're on natural ground, a rocky slope surrounded by low, sparse vegetation. Between us and the fortress, stand small concrete bunkers and a few steel-beam towers carrying power lines. Along the wall of the fortress, the tiny but unmistakable figure of Aeon Flux drops straight down into scene, then out of view behind some vague structures. We hear a distant, flat thud.
INT. MISSION CONTROLIn an irregularly shaped room that is taller than it is wide, and divided into several levels containing tight cubicles, six or seven operators sit at electronic consoles, monitoring and channeling information which is displayed on a variety of scanners, scopes, and screens. The interior design and the appearance of the operators tell us that this is not in the fortress, and that they are not Breens.
CLOSER ON AN ELECTRONIC CONSOLETo one side of an operator's equipment, there's a bank of buttons with numbers on them. One of them, bearing the number AF-6, lights up in red and blinks with a pulsing alarm sound. The operator turns to it, rubs his forehead thoughtfully, and shakes his head slowly.
INT. AN INSTITUTIONAL CORRIDORThe camera trucks forward through a cold, gray corridor constructed of steel beams and panels, much like the interior of a battleship. We stop at a door bearing the number AF-6. Quick dissolve to:
INT. ROOM AF-6The room is tall and narrow, with a loft and a big window at the end opposite the door. The window looks out over a canyon; out- side, it is daylight. In one wall, hanging inside an open closet, we see a large collection of outfits, each identical to the one worn by Aeon. On the floor, in the corner, lying on shelves, we see an amazing array of guns, knives, explosives and other weaponry, as well as electronic gadgets of all kinds. A display case holds a small collection of medals, trophies, and a curious variety of exotic artifacts, like mini-treasures gathered from around the world. On the wall above it, hangs a large national flag. A high-quality still camera mounted on a tripod stands on the floor, pointing toward the bed. On the floor beside the bed, there's a metal storage box. Spilling over the edge of the box are handcuffs, leather thongs, rope, and a large, fluffy white feather.
INT. MISSION CONTROL-- CLOSE-UP ON CONSOLEThe operator reaches for the blinking button, and presses it firmly. It stops blinking.
INT. ROOM AF-6A thick steel plate slides down in front of the window, blocking it off completely. A small nozzle appears from the center of the ceiling, and as it slowly rotates, it shoots flames on everything.
CUT TO:EXT. LONG SHOT AT BASE OF BREEN FORTRESSThis is the same shot used earlier when Aeon hit the ground. Here, the sun still hasn't risen. In the spot where we saw Aeon land, there's a sudden silent flash of light, and a plume of smoke rises into the air.
CUT TO BLACKFrom the edges of the black frame, a glowing outline of Aeon Flux animates inward, until a full figure of her body fills the screen. It continues to glow and transform itself into a god-like being. It opens its eyes and brilliant beams of multicolored light shoot out from them and illuminate the cosmic void. It turns toward camera, and as the beams hit us head-on, we see rapidly-flashing images of strange new worlds within the light.
EXT. THE NATION OF BREENICAThe camera is close up on a giant, very stylized (part cubist, part surreal) statue of the man who was circled in red in Aeon's photo. A laser cutter mounted on the end of a crane arm slices off the face of the statue, leaving a rather interesting abstract sculpture.
EXT. THE MIDDLE OF A COSMIC OCEAN SURFACEWe pan across endless water and stop at a complex metal structure which juts straight out of the surface. The clouds swirl, then form a perfect funnel, which unfurls majestically, revealing the god-like form of Aeon Flux. She floats down and lights upon the metal structure. She stretches herself on her back on top of it, and we see that it's designed to support her in a comfortable supine posture with her ankles held up in padded braces exposing the soles of her feet to the sky. While she is lounging back thus, a pure blue figure of a man rises up out of the ocean, kneeling on a small platform which carries him like an elevator. The elevator stops when the man's face reaches the level of Aeon's feet. His face vaguely resembles that of Trevor Goodchild, though his coloring and hair are different. He opens his mouth and extends his tongue, which is tipped with long, soft fibrils. He tenderly proceeds to lick the upturned soles of AeonFlux's feet. She closes her eyes and moans in sexual bliss.
INT. BREEN HOSPITALIn a very modern aseptic office, several children stand in a line with their sleeves rolled up, exposing their shoulders. At the head of the line, a doctor inoculates one of the children with a syringe filled with purple fluid. On the wall behind them, a large poster depicts a cartoon of the familiar crab-like creature with its eyes crossed shut and its tongue hanging out while a giant cartoon syringe filled with purple liquid impales it.
EXT. THE COSMIC OCEANHold on a medium shot of the god-like Aeon Flux still enjoying the attention of the blue man's magical tongue.
INT. A BOOKSTORE SOMETIME IN THE FUTUREPan across the interior of a small bookstore to a teenaged boy crouching in front of a low shelf, studying the contents of a magazine rack. Close-up on the magazine covers as he reaches down and picks one out. The cover photo is of Aeon Flux, sitting on her bed, wearing black leather underwear, her bare foot laid across her knee, tickling the sole with a big, white, fluffy feather. Her eyes are closed and her face is tense with a look of sexual bliss.
Cut to a close-up of the store counter, where a young woman puts down the book she'd been reading and turns to the boy, who enters and lays the magazine down on the counter. While the woman turns back around to type into her cash register, the boy hurriedly lays down two bills, takes the magazine, and walks away.
Extreme close-up on the money shows us that they bear the portrait of Trevor Goodchild.
EXT. THE COSMIC OCEANLong shot of Aeon having her feet licked. The sky changes colors; the ocean flows in slow, gentle waves; Aeon's pleasure and the licking of the blue man's tongue remain eternal.
― Peter Chung, Wednesday, 1 November 2017 07:28 (two years ago) link
― the late great, Wednesday, 1 November 2017 07:59 (two years ago) link
Wow, thanks for sharing this with us!
― Dwayne, Wednesday, 1 November 2017 14:53 (two years ago) link
I've just finished the script and my rewatch of the pilot. It was interesting seeing what was altered. The "swing scene" in particular was probably the biggest change from script to screen. The shot of Aeon blazing her way through large groups of Breen soldiers above her on either side is one of my favourite visuals from the pilot so it's difficult to imagine the pilot without that small moment. But it does lack the extreme swing situation she finds herself in, in the script. Was that intended as an additional layer of parody; mocking fiction where the "heroes" find themselves in very unlikely situations while on a mission?
― Dwayne, Wednesday, 1 November 2017 18:44 (two years ago) link
Both the swing scene, which was cut mainly for length, and the large room with two doors with soldiers entering and falling in a pile, are scenes from my dreams. The swing is a dream I used to have as a child, recurring during moments of fever and once under the influence of ether. Ether was used as an anesthetic by my dentist while I was living in Kenya as a child in the 60s. Incredible now to think that they were giving a powerful hallucinogen to young children.
― Peter Chung, Saturday, 4 November 2017 04:40 (two years ago) link
Thank you for continuing to post these Peter, I've read them all and would read more if you post.
Are there any unmade Aeon scripts that you're able to release?
― J.P. McDevitt, Monday, 13 November 2017 07:10 (two years ago) link
And thank you for reading. I ask my students to read an episode script before I show them the episode, but they generally don't. Artists who work in animation are often the type who don't like to read.
I'm posting these partly in response to the discussion here about the importance of text to my process.As you can see, my scripts are very specific and will include descriptions of the visual treatment of individual scenes. I write them this way to keep me focused on the original intent of each moment. That can get lost during the visualization, which brings up its own set of questions, which can become distractions.
I will try to find the scripts of the second season LTV shorts. I am curious myself to read them again.
― Peter Chung, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 21:20 (two years ago) link
I am holding onto all the unmade Aeon material for now. There is still the chance that some day they will get made, so I'd rather they be seen as intended, not read.
― Peter Chung, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 21:30 (two years ago) link
Do you see this as one complete 12 hour movie, or is it more appropriate to view it in episodes?
― J.P. McDevitt, Saturday, 25 November 2017 06:08 (two years ago) link
(But feel free to bring us six 2-hour episodes in the future!)
I planned it with the understanding that the segments would be seen in 2 minute increments. When the 6th episode was finished, the producers of Liquid TV decided to air the final installment in a 12 minute block. The format requirement was a very valuable limitation and the experience taught me a lot. First was the need to grab the audience's attention right away. Also, I needed to make sure the episodes could stand up to repeated viewings. Liquid TV was an anthology show, which meant that it would be inevitable that viewers would compare and rate the different segments. Their interest would rise and fall depending on how much they liked what they were seeing at every moment. I though a lot about how to hold their interest, which is (as I teach my students) the first skill a director needs to master. It doesn't matter how meaningful your film is in the end if the viewer can't be bothered to watch until the end. Aeon steps on a nail in episode 4. Two weeks later, in episode 6, she feels its effect. Is it a contrived method for keeping you in suspense? Sure, but it works, and to be honest, everything in an animated film is a contrivance. Just do it in a way to make it seem natural.
― Peter Chung, Saturday, 25 November 2017 21:18 (two years ago) link
Some notes on viewing last night, my first in perhaps over 15+ years and likely my first of the "director's cut" if you made any changes to this for the DVD. (Haven't listened to the commentary yet.)
- Really nice DVD set first of all, glad I delayed the gratification of owning it for 11 years. I rented it at the time just for the commentaries.
- Moves much faster than I had in my memory and what I imagined from the screenplay. Especially struck with how little time was spent lingering on any particular shot (specifically the hallucination shots and the foot licking come to mind). Was this completely conscious and desired, or was it partly a time constraint?
- Definitely calls for repeat viewings, for multiple reasons. 1) The plot itself, and the gaps that need to be filled in by the viewer. "Were we witnessing third-hand a long-planned internal government takeover (making Aeon's mission irrelevant)?" 2) Simply taking in dense visual detail that goes by so quickly. 3) "Let's figure out what the bug in the finger and the crackers is all about, and whether it 'means' anything."
- The dying [couple?] had legitimate emotional weight, and that isn't something I ever got from this when I watched as a teenager or read the screenplay.
- While I understood from the screenplay that the purple stuff in the briefcase was the antidote, I don't think I would have put that together otherwise on just one viewing.
When I talk about wanting to fill in the plot or examine visual detail, is that part of what you feel good about for encouraging multiple viewings, or would repeated viewings ideally (for you) be more about "meaning" or something else?
Do you think that pausing or skipping around is okay, or do you feel the work should be viewed as a linear motion picture the way you constructed it every time?
― J.P. McDevitt, Sunday, 26 November 2017 05:39 (two years ago) link
Watching "War" as the first episode of the new season (which it wasn't according to Wikipedia's airing order, but is listed first on the DVD) was nice because it made it feel like a purposeful subversion of season 1, in addition to action movies and most stories in general. Aeon is once again mowing down thousands, and is put into a tight spot that of course she'll escape. But nope - she's done, much earlier in the narrative than we thought was possible. I wonder if it was initially intended as S2E1 and/or if the DVD ordering was intentional?
― J.P. McDevitt, Sunday, 26 November 2017 11:08 (two years ago) link
In scriptwriting there's a rule of thumb that X pages of text translates to Y minutes of screen time. Does that hold true for something like AF? The script doesn't seem to have many directions in terms of timing -- is that decided on during the storyboard process?
― Philip Nunez, Sunday, 26 November 2017 16:53 (two years ago) link
"War" killing off Aeon right away btw reminds me of Lynch's smashed television at the beginning of Fire Walk With Me.
― J.P. McDevitt, Sunday, 26 November 2017 23:14 (two years ago) link
Something that I found interesting about the pilot is that Aeon isn't a total free agent. Instead she's working as part of a paramilitary organization, which has handlers that push the button on their fallen operatives (and their bedrooms, apparently) to cover their tracks.
If the first two parts of the pilot are about how TV depicts violence, it seems to me that the later parts have a lot to say about sex. Towards the end, we see this boy who looks about 13-14 buying the magazine with Aeon on the cover, from what looks like a whole row of niche fetish magazines (Foozwak = food play?). I always thought that was... pretty f'ing weird. And though the scene communicates plot-related information (Aeon is into feet, Trevor's successful enough to get his face on the money), I've wondered if there isn't more going on here.
If the pilot had to be done "fetishy" because you couldn't show someone going down on Aeon in a TV show, that's in itself an interesting comment on what is and isn't allowed on TV. In Saturday morning cartoons, foot tickling is often used as a metaphor for sex; and while I'm not personally aroused by feet, I've heard of people acquiring a foot fetish from the cartoons they watched as a kid (so much for not corrupting youth). If we think of fetishes as a sublimation of sexuality, then Mr. Blue Vein supplicating himself before Aeon makes a certain kind of sense. And if Aeon is using fetish shoots to fund her espionage, this seems like a handy metaphor for slipping "objectionable" material into the mainstream media. I'm not saying the pilot is definitively about TV Standards & Practices, but that's what jumps out at me.
― Blair Gilbreath, Friday, 22 February 2019 20:53 (ten months ago) link
That, and the blue guy as a Trevor-substitute.
― Blair Gilbreath, Friday, 22 February 2019 21:43 (ten months ago) link