A Feature Film
THE TRIPLE ECHO
H. E. BATES
A Feature Film
THE TRIPLE ECHO
H. E. BATES
During WWII, a lonely woman welcomes a young deserter into her life and bed, and to conceal him on her farm dresses him as a woman, awakening hidden desires, but their idyll is shattered by the unwelcome interest of a boorish Military Policeman.
Herbert Ernest Bates CBE, better known as H. E. Bates, was an English author who wrote poetry, plays and essays, but is best known as a novelist and master short-story writer.
Bates wrote over 60 books. His novels, of which he wrote over twenty, like his short stories and autobiographies, are celebrated for their memorable characters and their rich, lyrical evocation of period and place, particularly English rural life in times gone by. Bates’ best-known works include The Jacaranda Tree, Love for Lydia, Dulcima, My Uncle Silas, Fair Stood The Wind For France.
Perhaps Bates’ most famous work, The Darling Buds of May, was made as a much-loved comedy-drama 20-episode TV series, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, David Jason and Pam Ferris, and first broadcast April 1991. A new major TV series based on the book has been commissioned by ITV and will star Bradley Walsh as Pop Larkin and Joanna Scanlan as Ma Larkin.
In 1972, a much acclaimed film of the novella was made, staring Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed, and directed by Academy Award winner Michael Apted
In 2020 Lookbook Ltd. optioned the Film & TV rights to The Triple Echo novella by H.E. Bates and own all rights to a recently completed original screenplay, which explores themes that are only hinted at in both the novella and the 1972 film version, but which are so relevant and prevalent today - i.e. the relationship between an older woman and a much younger man, and especially gender fluidity - set against a backdrop of wartime shortages, the daily grind of farm-life and countryside folklore.
The production budget is between $4M-$6M depending on cast (not including rebates), if we film, as currently planned, in Poland, which offers a cash rebate of 30% of budget including non-Polish above-the-line items. Post-production and CGI would be done in the UK.
The film will be made in the style of Terrence Malick: long languorous scenes, often dealing with the mundane and with extended silences, with glorious, lyrical and tenebrestic cinematography, supported by a contemplative orchestral score. See NOT MADE BY TERRENCE MALICK https://www.indiewire.com/2017/12/not-directed-by-terrence-malick-video-1201912234/
We plan to have an "A-List" cast for the 3 principal roles. In particular, the lead character, Alice, is a wonderful and complex role for an actor and our casting wish-list would include Renée Zellweger, Rachel Weisz, Marion Cotillard, Emilia Fox, Kate Winslet. and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with The Sergeant played by an actor such as Tom Hardy, Stephen Graham and Daniel Craig. Barton could be one of the current ‘rising stars‘ such as Charlie Plummer (Not Fade Away, All the Money in the World), Toby Regbo (The Last Kingdom, Reign), or an unknown.
We are currently in discussions with an award-winning director.
Alice is in her late 30s and lives on her isolated farmstead. She is a strong, capable woman who runs the farm on her own, while her husband is away as a prisoner of war. But Alice is lonely: apart from her sheepdog, she has no friends and, other than an occasional trip to the local village, sees no one.
One day, while out shooting the fox that has killed her chickens, she encounters Barton, a young farm boy, who is a very reluctant, conscripted soldier. They sense a bond and Barton regularly comes to the farm for his supper and helps Alice with the chores. Alice and Barton are both lonely, kindred spirits. They are drawn to each other and Alice gladly accepts Barton into her home and then to her bed.
Barton stays with Alice for all his leave and then decides to desert from the army. To hide him on the farm, Alice dresses him in her own clothes and tells people that he is her sister. Barton initially rails against adopting this disguise but gradually he comes to terms with it and eventually embraces it wholeheartedly, to the point of using makeup and painting his nails, and wearing Alice’s clothes even when he is safely hidden away in the farmhouse; while Alice is drawn to Barton’s new-found feminine persona far more readily than either of them could have expected.
Soldiers from the nearby barracks intrude into their idyll and one of them, a boorish and insistent Military Police Sergeant - a “Redcap” - takes a shine to Barton, who he believes is a woman.
The seasons change, as Barton and Alice work happily on the farm, but always on their guard, living in fear of discovery. Barton’s superstition that the hares Alice shoots bring bad luck, adds to the tension. Their mutual need and longing for human contact binds them together, and gradually they fall in love.
The “Redcap” Sergeant returns to the farm and, still believing Barton is a woman, asks him to go to the barracks Christmas dance and, extraordinarily, Barton agrees. Alice is both astonished that he wants to go and terrified of the likely consequences, but Barton is determined to go. At the barracks, the Sergeant, still thinking Barton is a woman, tries to get Barton drunk and have sex. When Barton refuses, The Sergeant tries to rape him, but then suddenly realises Barton is in fact a man. Barton smashes a rock on the Sergeant’s head, stunning him, and runs back to the farm. The next morning, the Sergeant and a troop of MPs come to arrest Barton. He runs off to hide in an abandoned underground cave-store, but then decides to face his captors, and goes back to the farm.
Just as the Sergeant is about to beat-up Barton, Alice, watching events unfold from an upstairs window, keeps her promise to Barton, that she’ll never “let him down”, and shoots him, then shoots the Sergeant and, finally, turns the gun on herself - the triple echoes bouncing off the hills.
Lookbook is based in London and was founded by David Japp in 2007 as a film & TV production company. It also provides media consultancy services and has acted for, amongst others, Academy Award winner Alexandre Desplat, Kismet Film Productions and documentary film producers Cardinal Releasing and Emperor Media.
David started his career at Paramount Pictures and Hemdale Films and became a senior executive in the music and entertainment industries, (including President of Warner Chappell France and CEO of Carlin Music), signing major artistes such as The Kinks, Elvis, Prince and Dolly Parton, and was also closely involved in several high-end film and theatre projects.