Arrthur Danin Adler | Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Arthur Danin Adler

Synopsis of a film currently halted in post-production.

Paul Richter is a quiet man, a loner with few friends. Over a period of time, he engages a casual friendship in a bar with Alec Zorn. The complete opposite of Paul, Alec is wealthy, charismatic, and manipulative. They have few things in common including an eerie resemblance to each other. One night, Alec brings Paul to his home – a luxurious setting filled with expensive décor and art. Feasting on champagne and exotic imagery, they indulge themselves in a party of games and role playing that changes quickly from fun to sinister confrontation. The conflict explodes in a fatal accident: Alec is killed. Believing that he murdered Alec, driven by panic and a strange sense of inner will, Paul recklessly disposes of the body and attempts to assume the identity of the other man.

Aided by his bizarre physical similarity to Alec, and Alec's obsession with recording every detail of his life in a video journal, Paul is able to carry the deception. His plan is to slowly alter the appearance of Alec's life until he can effectively discard the ruse. But the plan traps him. As he journeys through the day-to-day existence of his new persona, Paul uncovers an intricate web of relationships that Alec controls like a master puppeteer with threads that reach into the highest levels of business and government, and connect with a strange, disparate assortment of people. He discovers that this complex "game" serves only one purpose: Alec's pleasure. Like a spider, Alec lures and traps his victims, and then dissolves their lives.

In absorbing so much of the other man's life, Paul begins to realize that Alec's mind and personality have invaded his own. Day by day, he watches his identity fade. Day by day, he struggles to keep the power of the other personality from surging over him. Unable to hear his own voice, losing hold of his own memories, he frantically searches Alec's past to find a clue, a key that will lock away the "secret sharer" inside of him. He finds her – a woman, so emotionally maimed by Alec that she retreated into a sightless, soundless world. She represents the only instance of regret and guilt that Alec ever recorded.

Facing what he believes is his last shred of survival, Paul staves off the onslaught of Alec's persona and desperately tries to reach through the woman's psychic wounds, to bring her back to a world she can see and hear. Their painful voyage together, her revival, and finally her rejection of him consummate a sliver of hope for his escape and personal freedom.


Part of the screenplay source

In San Francisco, we didn't drive far. His house was up the hill on the edge of one of the few remaining industrial areas in the city. Actually it was a building, an old tool and die plant which he had completely rebuilt. The top floor, the loft, was his house. I felt good that night; a few drinks, an uneventful day, and now an adventure: to enter the citadel (always  military references, his flavor!), to step into the sanctum where he held court and dallied with so many people. Thick summer fog nestled on the city, but this hill poked through, a vista over the billowy gray blanket, glowing with orange streetlights and banded by the studded bridges. It was reassuring and quite beautiful. I felt good. So did Alec. He loved the taste of spontaneity in other people even though he planned his events, as he had designed this one; so casual as he ushered me into the building, at ease with himself, secretly excited at the entrée of a cultivated believer, someone who admired him and at the same time feared his finger-tipped sense of power and his unpredictability.

Inside Alec's castlekeep, with its high, disappearing ceilings and huge bay windows, the setting was  (forgive the banality) spectacular. The panoramic sweep of its interior was too much to capture in one view, or even three. And perched as it was on a hill, it claimed the thrill of a matching exterior view of the peninsula city and its ocean-bay, in all directions.  The decor and furnishings were expensive beyond any familiarity I had with the style and price of this way of clothing one's home. I remember once visiting some of the great homes in England, a treasured villa in Italy, even the pompously lavish home of a client in Malibu that looked like it had been first designed by the art director of Architectural Digest and then color-printed on to the beachfront. All of those ostentatious erections were static and distant. No one seemed to live there; the inhabitants were merely more privileged visitors. But this alcazar, this abode was Alec. The overpowering color of gray, lush, elegant gray that smelled like deep jasmine and tasted like fresh, thick cream. Polished stone, polished steel and glass, leathers and furs, ebony, velvet, tapestry carpets, bolted fabric, concealed lighting, cool and warm air rushes, plants: some alive, some painted and preserved, and art — sculpture and paintings, each integrated (not mounted) into its location, somehow merged, an inherent part of its placement as the Taliesin Dreamer would have it.

I stood, suspended, in this overwhelming space, holding the case of champagne as Alec trotted up a large, curved  white staircase, walked along the balcony which spanned three sides of the loft and disappeared into a room. (I can feel it now, grateful for the memory of an earlier moment before the stillness was lost to me, forever.) When he returned, the business uniform was gone in favor of black running clothes.  "My favorite color," he said as he poured champagne. "It makes me invisible."

We toasted his success of the evening (whatever that was) and we saluted the view, the fog, and a few other declarations which I didn't grasp. It was a sensuous, fine-tasting wine, and I jealously let it caress me, become possessive. Then we talked, he talked, segueing from topic to topic, carefully revealing  himself, describing what he did, where he'd been, facts he had never shared in all of our prior meetings. He knew that I was borderline breathless, an open mouth to an open brain as he poured in this free-flowing, spoken song about himself.  

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Arrthur Danin Adler | Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Arthur Danin Adler is a playwright, writer and the
founding Editor of Scene4. He is the author of Medea
directs the Talos Ensemble and produces for
Aemagefilms. More at Darcy-Kane. His latest book is
The Lyriana Nocturnes. For more of his commentary
and articles, check the Archives.

©2020 Arthur Danín Adler
©2020 Publication Scene4 Magazine


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