Le Café en revue Berlin Scenario / August 10, 2014
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Berlin Scenario / August 10, 2014

par Matt Porterfield
Capture d’écran 2015-11-03 à 11.27.42

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Cet article fait partie d’un cycle

We are glad to publish some working documents that led to the direction of Matt Porterfield’s short film Take What You Can Carry. Today, we give you an insight into the writing phase of the making of this film with the final version of its screenplay, as written by director Matt Porterfield. The french translation is available here.


1A Dawn. An der Austbahn. Lilly and Anna Sophie share a bike. They’ve been out all night. Anna Sophie pedals. Lilly rides in back. Two friends ride beside them.

1B Lilly and Anna Sophie ride down Kleine Rosenthaler Strasse. The bike stops and they say goodbye.

2A Lilly enters Bastien’s apartment. Once inside, she takes off her shoes. She enters the kitchen and pours a glass of water. She hangs her bag on a chair and begins undressing on her way to the bathroom.

2B In the bathroom, Lilly looks in the mirror. She is a little drunk and smoky, her makeup still on. She washes her face with big, careless splashes of water.

2C In the bedroom, she pulls off the rest of her clothes and leaves them in a pile on the floor. She crawls into bed with Bastien. She wakes him and they make love.

2D Insert shot of window:

Here, the sounds of the world beyond the frame (of the building, the courtyard, the street) become foregrounded – not through the mix, they were always there, but it should be in this moment when the audience and the characters become aware of listening.

3A Ellipsis. The SOUND OF MUSIC breaks the scene.

Bastien plays guitar. After a few bars, he stops.

From the bed, Lilly watches him enter the room. She tries to get him back in bed with her, but he exits.

Lilly gets up and selects one of his shirts from a wardrobe hanger next to the bed. She puts it on.

Lilly walks into the kitchen.

3B Bastien is seated at the table. He’s picked up the guitar again and is singing. Lilly walks behind his chair and puts her arms around him. He stops singing but continues with the chords.

B :You come and go as you please.
L :Well, think about it for a minute. Isn’t that how you want it ?
B : “I think about living with you sometimes.”
L : “Really ?”

Bastien returns to the song. Lilly walks away and begins to examine a suitcase on the floor.

3C Lilly takes things from the large suitcase and places them into a smaller bag. She pulls a yellow bathing suit out and puts it in the bag. She finds a pair of shorts and puts them on. She finds a shirt to replace the one of Bastien’s that she’s wearing. Bastien watches her.

The PHONE RINGS. Bastien puts the guitar down and answers.

He stands, goes out on the balcony to take the call.

3D Lilly enters the kitchen. She finds a letter on the counter addressed to her and opens it.

She reads the letter aloud:

Dearest Lilly, 
Finally the end of June and now only nine more days before I move into the new apartment at “Stadium Place” with my new address. Then I can renew my subscription to the “Washington Post” which I really enjoyed reading each morning and had to discontinue when I left Aberdeen. I don’t think I wrote you that “we” had the great celebration of the “Dedication” with all the important politicals and a collection of ministers of all faiths (except Catholic) last Wednesday at the formal opening – with a nice lunch to follow. Your Mom took me and I behaved properly until I got tired (very soon) of clapping at the introduction and closure of these speeches and speakers, and just closed my eyes as if I were a 91 year-old sound asleep – even though I heard every word. And I’ll be 92 next week.


I met a few of my new neighbors who are just as I am, eager to get on with the moving in. For my assigned moving day it will be 7/9/14, 1PM 4PM. Mark will move my stuff from Aberdeen then and we (your Mom, your Dad, and me) will gradually remove these…

She flips to another page. Insert shot of letter:

…19 shopping bags of clothes, medications, personal hygiene, writing papers, and “important” (to me) documents in the following days to 302 Stadium Place after this long stay here at Stella’s. In the meantime of 9 days, I’ll try to continue to convince my very worried and concerned daughter that I am eating everything she gets for me to “keep my strength up”. And I visit my Aigburth friends here each night out on the Rocking Chair Porch and listen to the gossip.

Lilly, I love thinking of you visiting around in Berlin on your bicycle and of course that means many prayers for your health and safety each night.

4A Dressing room. Lilly sits in the window smoking a cigarette while her friend recites lines in the mirror.

4B In a white studio at Heimathafen, Lilly and her company workshop a version of Gob Squad’s “Dancing About”:

Gob Squad’s “Dancing About”

Gob Squad’s “Dancing About”

5 The fountain at Singerstrasse.

Reveal Lilly with Ada (15 mos). The baby is just learning to walk. Lilly guides her over to a blanket. She puts a hat on Ada. She puts sunscreen on herself, but can’t rub it in.

6A In the bathroom of Ada’s family home, Lilly hangs their wet suits and towels while Ada’s mother, Angela, packs things for a weekend in the country. She asks Lilly to check on her middle child, Milena.

Lilly exits the bathroom and walks to Milena’s bedroom.

Finding it empty, she grabs Milena’s stuffed cat, Lucia,and walks into the kitchen.

6B In the kitchen, Lilly finds Milena standing at a small bureau in the corner of the room, examining a menagerie of handmade objects: boats, birds, miscellaneous creatures.

Lilly approaches and starts a conversation with Milena. She asks her the names of the animals and objects in German.

6C Insert close-up on bureau: Milena describes the treasures arranged there. Angela enters and hands Lilly the baby.

6D Angela walks to the kitchen and finishes filling two grocery bags with food for their trip. She asks Milena to go and get her backpack from the bedroom.

6E Milena runs to her room and Lilly carries Ada over to the couch across from the kitchen. She and Angela have a conversation.

6F Angela’s son, Louis, enters. He’s parked his car downstairs and has come to help with their bags. Milena enters with her backpack. Lilly hands Ada over to Angela.

When they are ready to leave, Lilly kisses Angela and the baby goodbye and sees them out the door. She shuts it and listens to the sound of their feet descending the stairs.

7A Lilly washes her hair.

When she finishes, she wraps herself in a towel, sits on the edge of the tub, and looks in the mirror. She sings a little song or makes faces in the mirror, something private, a performance for herself.

7B Lilly walks across the apartment and opens a window facing the yard. She sits on the window frame and looks at the apartment. Angela’s workspace, next to the window, catches Lilly’s eye. She looks at the photos and drawings pasted above her desk. She turns and looks out the window.

A woman crosses the garden below.

7C Abruptly, Lilly leaves the window, returns to the kitchen, grabs her bag and takes it to the bedroom.

8 Lilly sits on the bed. She pulls a notebook and pens from her bag and lays them out on the bed in front of her.

She begins a letter to her grandmother, reading it aloud to herself as she writes:

Dear Mom-mom,
I think of you often. I am writing from a café on Fredelstrasse.

Lilly crosses out the last sentence.

I am writing from Comenius Garten. You would love it. It’s a little wild, like our garden back home. The weather is sunny and soft. There are bees everywhere.

I found an apartment that suits me. It is bright with a bedroom overlooking a courtyard. I haven’t hung curtains yet, so the sun wakes me early each morning. But I’ve been going to bed early, so I don’t mind. And I’ve been taking lots of naps like you told me to.

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My neighbors are friendly. They keep their doors open. I peek inside their apartments when I walk up the stairs. My favorite part of this building is the stairs. We should learn to live more on staircases. But how?

I’m happy to hear that you are ready to move into your new apartment. Sorry I’m not there to help. I love moving into new places: all the cleaning, checking, trying out, changing, bending, unblocking, fitting, arranging, imagining, deciding. It’s much better than moving out and observing that all you’ve left behind is dust.

Tell me about the windows in your new place — what is the view?

Remember when we took that train trip across the country and spent three whole days just looking out the windows? We never stopped moving, even though we were perfectly still.

She stops, pulls « Almost Transparent Blue » from her bag. She opens it and begins reading aloud:

The houses and fields, they slowly come closer and then drop far away behind you. And that scenery and the stuff inside your head mix together. People waiting at bus stops and a drunk in formal dress staggering along, and an old woman with a cart piled full of oranges, and fields of flowers and harbors and power plants—you see them and then soon you can’t see them anymore, so they mix in your head with what you were thinking about before. That bus stop and the fields of flowers and the power plant all come together. And then slowly I mix them around, just the way I like, the things I see and the things I’m thinking, taking a long time and pulling out dreams and books I’ve read and memories, and finally I have people talking and singing and moving around. And then, every time, it gets like this huge sort of palace with lots of people getting together and doing lots of things.

9A Cut to: a group gathered on the roof of a building (or a park), as if for a party.

Characters from the film are assembled as well as people we’ve never seen before.

Then it’s really fun to finish and look inside, just like looking down at earth from above the clouds, because there’s everything there, everything in the world. All kinds of people talking different languages, and the pillars in the palace are made in lots of different styles, and food from everywhere in the world is all laid out. 
There’re all kinds of people. Blind men and beggars and cripples and clowns and dwarfs, generals with gold braid and soldiers smeared with blood, cannibals and men in drag and prima donnas and matadors and body-builders, and nomads praying in the desert—they’re all there and doing something. And I watch them. 
And while I’m enjoying myself like that, the car reaches where it’s going to, and while I carry out the luggage and put up the tent and change into my swimsuit and other people talk to me, you know, I’m really having a hard time trying to protect the palace I’ve made. When other people say Hey, the water’s nice here, not polluted, or something like that, it just knocks down my palace—

9B Lilly stands alone in frame.

“You understand, too, don’t you?”

CUT TO BLACK. CREDITS.

  • Capture d’écran 2015-11-03 à 11.28.28
  • Gob Squad’s “Dancing About”

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