Thomas Wictor

Night Raid: Screenplay for a short war movie

Night Raid: Screenplay for a short war movie

I’m very critical of movies. Might as well put my money where my mouth is. Here’s a screenplay for a short war movie titled Night Raid. I wrote it this morning. It’s my first-ever screenplay.

Night Raid

FADE IN

1. EXT. THE WESTERN FRONT. TITLE READS “1917” – NIGHT

We see the devastated, shell-pocked landscape, a few shattered tree trunks poking from the earth in the distance. Coils of barbed wire on stanchions are in the foreground. A whistling roar gathers, and an explosion throws earth and debris in all directions.

ROLL CREDITS AND THEME MUSIC AS SHELLS FALL.

CUT TO:

2. INT. DARK BUNKER UNDERGROUND.

The sounds of the explosions are muted, but showers of dirt fall on the two rows of soldiers sitting on benches, leaning back against the wooden boards that form the walls. All smoke pipes, cigars, or cigarettes. The camera pans past their faces. Most are men in their thirties, with heavy mustaches. They wear soft caps and scarves, and the collars of their uniforms are turned up. Kerosene lamps provide dim light.

Dugout

After two minutes the explosions are no longer heard.

          BÖSCH (In German with English subtitles)
I do believe the rain has stopped.

          HABER (Subtitled)
They ran out of shells. That means the war is over.

          KEMPF (Subtitled)
The next war starts as soon as the mules bring up a fresh batch of pears.

          HABER (Subtitled)
No, this time I’m absolutely positive. They’ve given up.

          WAHNER (Subtitled)
Tommy feels terrible about the way he’s smashed our trees and lawn. He’s sending over gardeners to fix what he’s wrecked.

          FRUEHAUF (Subtitled)
We can’t allow that. British gardens are awful. Jungles of roses, like a prostitute’s hallucination. I prefer things the way they are now.

Corporal Rasmussen pokes his head through the dugout entrance.

          CORPORAL RASMUSSEN (Subtitled)
Lieutenant’s coming!

Rasmussen disappears.

          KEMPF (Subtitled)
Good news, men. We all get a change of underwear.

          ROTHSTEIN (Subtitled)
Baum, you change with Haber; Haber, you change with Lang; Lang, you change with Schmidt Two—

          SCHMIDT TWO (Subtitled)
I’m not changing with Lang! Something’s wrong with him. Have you ever shared a rifle pit with him?

          LANG (Subtitled)
I have a nervous stomach!

          SCHMIDT TWO (Subtitled)
It’s not your stomach that’s the problem. In fact I’d rather be inside your stomach than anywhere near the outside of your body, especially anywhere behind you.

          FRUEHAUF (Subtitled)
That’s what they make gas masks for.

         SCHMIDT TWO (Subtitled)
I was ready to take off my gas mask the last time Lang and I got stuck in a shell hole. Phosgene couldn’t be any worse than Lang.

Corporal Rasmussen enters the dugout with Lieutenant Althaus.

          CORPORAL RASMUSSEN (Subtitled)
Attention!

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
At ease, men. Don’t get up.

          CORPORAL RASMUSSEN (Subtitled)
A stool for the lieutenant.

The men pass a three-legged stool from the back of the dugout. Lieutenent Althaus sits on it and tilts back his steel helmet.

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
Well, boys, you’ve done it. I told you this would happen, but you didn’t listen. Now we’re all in the shithouse.

         HABER (Subtitled)
What did we do, Sir?

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
They’re sending an assault battalion tomorrow to break up this little arrangement you have with Tommy.

Storm_Troop

The men groan and curse. Lieutenant Althaus holds up his hands.

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
I told you they’d do this! You have nobody to blame but yourselves. You’re here to fight, not figure out ways to not fight! Yes, I know, I know: What did Tommy ever do to you? But you can’t personalize it like that. Your fatherland is at war, and it’s your duty to fight.

          SCHMIDT TWO (Subtitled)
Fight who, Sir? They’re just guys like us. They even look like us. If there were a couple of them sitting in here, you wouldn’t be able to tell British from German.

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
I know. Look, I’ve been to London. I speak English. I like the British. But it’s obvious that you and Tommy have some kind of unspoken truce. The last three—three—raids we made, there was nobody in their front lines. Now, I’m not accusing anybody of anything, but this sector has had no casualties in months, so headquarters has asked that an assault battalion be sent tomorrow for a full-scale night raid.

          VOICE FROM THE BACK (Subtitled)
Which battalion is it, Sir?

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
The Fifteenth.

More groans and curses.

           WAHNER (Subtitled)
Goddamn Bavarians and Württembergers! They’re insane! They don’t care if they live or die! So they’re going to come here with their double rations and all their special toys, blow the hell out of the place, and then leave, and we’ll be left here to get pasted when Tommy retaliates!

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
This is exactly what I said would happen, so everybody shut up! I’m getting curtain sermons every single day because of you. What if they transfer me and put in some lunatic as company commander? That’ll be your fault too.

A moment of sullen silence.

          FRUEHAUF (Subtitled)
What time is the show?

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
Zero three hundred hours. That’s when the artillery and trench-mortar barrage starts. At zero three hundred forty-five hours, four raiding parties will go through the wire at Sap Dora, Sap Michael, Sap Witch’s Cauldron, and Sap Blue. They’re going to destroy as many British dugouts as they can, take prisoners, capture machine guns and whatever other booty they can carry, and generally make Tommy hate us again.

          VOICE FROM THE BACK (Subtitled)
Are they going to have fire spitters?

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
Yes. A platoon of flamethrowers is attached.

The men mutter and sigh.

          LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
Any more questions? No? All right. We’re not taking part in the show, but we’ll sure get the audience reaction. Tommy will send over his own storm troops in appreciation, so it’s a genuine gala in the works, my boys. I’m sorry. That’s all.

British_storm_troops

Lieutenant Althaus stands.

          CORPORAL RASMUSSEN (Subtitled)
Attention!

           LIEUTENANT ALTHAUS (Subtitled)
No, don’t stand, men. At ease.

Corporal Rasmussen and Lieutenant Althaus leave. The soldiers in the dugout sit quietly for a few seconds. Slowly the camera pans to the back, stopping on two men with heavy mustaches and soft caps. They smoke pipes.

          VOICE FROM THE FRONT OF THE DUGOUT (Subtitled)
Ask them if they understood.

Braun is sitting next to the two men. He nods.

          BRAUN (In heavily accented English)
Did you understand what our lieutenant said to us?

          WRIGHT
Not a bloody word, mate.

           BRAUN
Tomorrow morning there is an attack. The Fifteenth Storm Battalion is sent here to make you fight us. They attack at three in the morning. Artillery and…and Minenwerfer first, and comes then the storm troops.

          HUGHES
Shit. Who’re these buggers, the Fifteenth Storm Battalion? Prussians?

          BRAUN
Oh, much worse than Prussians! Bavarians and Württembergers! Madmen. They bring, ah, wie sagt man… ah, fire throwers.

          WRIGHT
Bloody Flammenwerfer? Is that it?

          BRAUN
Yes. Flammenwerfer. But we don’t ask them. The officers, they do this.

M.1917_Wex

          HUGHES
Sure, mate. I know. Must tell the old man, though.

          WRIGHT
You know, after a show like that, they’re going to make us come over.

          BRAUN
Yes. We empty the first and second trenches, but we leave three machine guns for you to take. And we shoot to the sky and throw hand grenades into the communication trenches. Listen, now: Tomorrow morning you beware the storm battalion. They kill everyone.

          WRIGHT
No worries. We’ll pull back to the third line and drop mortar bombs on their heads if they keep coming.

          HUGHES
Time for us to go.

          BRAUN (In German with English subtitles)
Fruehauf, they need to leave. Can you take them to Sap Walrus when the coast is clear?

          FRUEHAUF (Subtitled)
I’ll go tell the corporal.

Fruehauf leaves the dugout. Braun stands, along with the two British soldiers.

          BRAUN
Our lieutenant says to us that the officers suspect an unspoken agreement is between us and the British.

Hughes and Wright laugh.

          HUGHES
Not fuckin’ unspoken enough. Getting caught in our own barrage and having to spend the night with you lot? Christ, somebody in here needs to sit on a bloody cork.

Fruehauf pokes his head inside the dugout.

          FRUEHAUF (In German with English subtitles)
All right! Nobody around! Hurry!

          BRAUN
Now you go! Quick!

Hughes and Wright move to the dugout entrance, where Fruehauf ushers them out of sight.

          LANG (In German with English subtitles)
So what did they say?

          BRAUN (Subtitled)
They said they didn’t like sharing a dugout with you any more than the rest of us do.

The men laugh, slapping Lang on the back and shoulders.

          LANG (Subtitled)
I have a nervous stomach! All of you go to hell!

THE END

Gas_mask


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