Treatment

This is a 16-mm film of seven minutes in which no words are spoken. But for a few hand-tinted elements - the girl’s dress, the sax, sky at church - the color is black-and-white. The camera reports in the all-knowing third except in hand-held shots when it momentarily exposes the driver’s field of vision.

The bus rocks out of ruts and over creek rocks at predawn. The driver hasn’t picked up any children. He has the radio on and a cigarette lit. Isn’t paying attention to either. His headlights scan the road, and webs in the trees, as if they were searchlights. His mind is bent, as his posture and his face reveal. A girl dresses in purple in the dark. She feels along the wallpaper to the kitchen, fixes oatmeal, warms coffee to which she adds globs of honey. She makes a sandwich for lunch. She starts to eat out of the pot on the stove. Stops and gets a bowl from a high cabinet and sits at the table. She taps with her foot to a tune she hums only inside herself. When she goes back upstairs to comb her hair and make an irregular part, to tinkle she hears her parents. Their bedsprings. A shot of them under many covers. Apparently her mother has told her she is a love child. She understands, so her listening isn’t upsetting. She steals her younger brother’s room and leaves a bird she has folded from one sheet of paper on the nightstand. When she hears the bus shifting at the foot of the hill she grabs sweater and tablet and flies past the lunchsack on the banister. Their house isn’t beautiful but its shadows are. The driver greets her with Hey Princess. That look. She sits close to the rear. The driver climbs the hill and puts it is neutral under an elm stand. He jerks the handbrake. The camera is in back and shooting for-ward as he comes down the aisle - it is behind her. He looms larger than he is and walks as if the bus were in motion. The rape is explicit. The camera shoots out the back and side windows every few seconds to see if any-one, another vehicle, approaches. There are no more shots of the girl. The parents’ house is shown from the yard and from the foot of her window. Light breaks in the trees, a cool sun. You hear the bus grind, the children, as the bus fills and proceeds. Then a field of high grass, a white church. No roads leading there. No cars parked nearby. Slight quality of a different world. A saxophone is played. A full choir accompanies. A silent congregation: all stand, motionless. All adults. Pharoah Sanders stands in front of the choir stall in white robes. He plays with his eyes shut. He plays a curved soprano. His foot taps to an interior beat. Clearly he’s an Angel. With the horn he lures. Accuses. His solo has a timeless aura. The doors of the church blow open. The driver falls onto the aisle. He begins to squirm on his belly toward the Pharoah. It is a long journey. The Pharoah wails controllably. The choir sways, claps; the congregation keeps quiet, light breaks in the trees and indistinct voices of many children fill the nave as if they were boarding a bus.

Darren Angle