"Bad Blood is the story of a Roman prince, Roberto Orsini, and the son of a pope, Cesare Borgia, who are about to settle their five-hundred year old vendetta in the city of Rock-n-Roll -Cleveland, Ohio, USA."
By the time I was putting the finishing touches on my mural for the production of the Reindeer Monologues set-mural at the Cleveland Public Theater (see The Reindeer Monologue Mural in the Murals page), my mind had been preparing for another project: writing a screenplay. I had entered my first English-language play, Death of a Mercenary (see it in his Writings page) in the International Student Playscript Competition (ISPC), and had just received news that it had made eigth-place in the finalist. When you take into considerations that over one-thousand entries from all over the world had entered the contest, making the finalist list was very rewarding news.
Professor Peter Thomson, Emeritus Professor of Drama at Exeter University in the U.K., who had written to give me the good news, had commented in his letter that my play was the type of work favored by Hollywood. This got me thinking. I have always loved the cinema, theater and acting, but I had never thought of writing specifically for films. I had written plays, but writing a screenplay was entirely different then writing for a live audience. Still, the challenge was too good to pass.
My last Spanish-language play presented in Puerto Rico was "Como en los días de Noé" (Like in the Days of Noah), a huge spectacle production with half a dozen set changes and a cast of 20. I wrote, produced, designed, directed, and acted in the production, which opened to an estimated audience of 600 people at the old temple of La Iglesia Fuente de Salvación Misionera, MI, in the summer of 76. I was only 17 and ambitious beyond my years.
Cover illustration for Death of a Mercenary, created by John Rivera-Resto, 1997.
However, I was going to turn forty in a couple of months and youthful ambition had faded over the years. But the thought of venturing into films rekindled some of that early spark. In truth, I had never prepared for the future because I didn't expect to live pass the age of thirty. I had no defined career goals when I started college -other than acquiring a diploma, nor did I find anything that excited my passion. Being a bohemian artist meant that I could drift from one project to the next doing only enough to survive and living for the moment.
A painter always carries within a way to make a living anywhere in the world. It is by no means an easy life, but if you are good and disciplined, you will find offers for your artistic services. In writing "Death of a Mercenary" (my first English-language play) I veered off the norm. Instead of doing something that was commissioned by someone else, I did something entirely for myself -and I had enjoyed it. It was a cleansing experience that helped me unload a lot baggage I had been carrying around for some years. Now that I had to contemplate a future, getting into filmmaking seem like an exciting way to start a new chapter in my life.
Pondering my future in 1998, a couple of months before my fortieth birthday.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my life had basically been preparing me for this moment. Not only did I have plenty of first-hand material for stories, but I also had gained experience and skills in many aspects of the business of film making. My theater background had been a great laboratory to learn and explore ideas, and my visual arts background had opened back doors into the world of independent films. So, I reasoned, why not go all the way? But instead of aiming only on writing a screenplay, why not also produce it and turn it into a film? This was ambitious thinking and it really took hold of me.
I had send copies of "Death of a Mercenary" to three independent producers: one in Los Angeles, one in Vancouver, and one in Germany. I picked them out of the blues because I had read somewhere that they were new and upcoming producers always on the lookout for new material. Google actually started on that same month (September 5, 1998) but still not available to the masses. Anyway, I never expected to have my play produced on the stage. But it had a good story -very cinematic. Yes I was aware it was a play, not a screenplay, but you will never get ripples on the water unless you throw a stone into the pool. Mailing the play was my throwing stone. If anyone bothered to read the play and it created a ripple, maybe they would want more and perhaps contact me. From there one, I would play it by ear.
I'm sure you are probably thinking my scheme was pretty nutty, but keep in mind that I was in Cleveland and not in L.A. NOTHING was happening in Cleveland at the time. I was in the middle of a desert without any prospects of rain. And as far as I knew, there were a ton of people with the same dream as far as you could throw a stone, but no one was getting anywhere after years of trying. I have no connections or guidance as to how to proceed. All I had going for me was my own ambition.
I didn't get a response from the producers in L.A. or Vancouver, but I did get a reply from Andreas Grünberg, of Grünberg Film GmbH in Germany (www.gruenbergfilm.de). He liked the material and wrote to ask if I could turn the play into a screenplay for them to see. However, my thinking had evolved. I reasoned that selling a screenplay would do little to bring me joy. You may get a small amount of money -which is quickly gone, but someone else gets to have all the fun. The fun for me would be "crafting" a film, actually doing it all: screenplay, filming and directing.
It was at this point that I decided to go my own way and write a screenplay for me to produce. The result was: Bad Blood. Before sitting down to write this screenplay, I took time out to do in-depth research into film production and marketing. Following my usual work pattern, I hit the books -and the trade magazines, the journals, the financial reports, in short: everything that was available to me to read, study, view, analyze, absorb, evaluate, and learn. For me, learning something new is also a big part of the fun.
My goal was not to just write a screenplay, my goal was end up with a product -a film, that would make money to fund other projects. I could care less about festivals and awards. I was too old to start at the bottom of the ladder. My only recourse was to "build my own ladder" and pass over the thousands of independent film makers still trying to land one of their projects on one of the pretentious film festivals. I considered that if you could find success at the box office, the festivals and awards would follow.
"DreamsVcom" logo by John Rivera-Resto, 2001. Dreams Visual Communication Studio is the proper name, but the abbreviation of the wording in the logo nicely reveals the underlining theme of personal dreams becoming a reality.
After two year of study and preparation, I was ready to write (Please read my journal: "Errol Flynn to DreamsVcom" in his Writings page for a detail narrative of those two years). Based on my research, I narrowed the theme, genre, and subject matter of the film to the one I felt was the most marketable. I made sure there was also a "ready market" -a target audience, that would be receptive to this kind of film. And, I capitalized on my strong suits as an artist: a visual flair, a multi-cultural background, and an overriding precept of business needs over art choices.
The screenplay would have enough universal appeal to play in mainstream houses, but it had to include three main objectives: swords, Hispanics, and Cesare Borgia. These three elements were key to locking in the target audience that would, for lack of a better term, pay for the film and turn in a profit. All the numbers and marketing details were included in a "Confidental Information Overview" that I prepared for potential investors of the project (Note, anyone interested in viewing a copy, please write a request).
"Pope Alexander VI welcomes Cesare Borgia at the Vatican." Promotional image for Bad Blood by John Rivera-Resto, 2001.
What follows now is a synopsis of the screenplay, and a few scenes. I gave myself five years to realize this project. The entire film was storyboarded (see "Bad Blood's Storyboards" in His Writings page menu), and a great deal of pre-production work and designs were completed. A 2001 potential cast great actors were assembled in anticipation of the production. Unfortunately, funding fell through in the last minute due to issues beyond my control. And, after two other promising attempts to attract new backers, the project was abandoned at the five-year term limit. New hopes of a renewal were slashed due to a life threatening illness that disrupted my ambitions for years.
Now, as of 2020, I'm back in top shape and concentrating on doing theater. But the urge to revive the film project one more time is beginning to gain strength. While Bad Blood is a contemporary tale set in a large American city, key flashback scenes in its storyline take place in 15-century Rome. I had filed away the original pre-production designs, and seeing them again after such a long time felt great. Examples of the set and costume designs can also be seen in His Writings page menu.
I had even turned some scenes into animatics -videos made from the storyboards with music, voice, and narration. They were created as an additional marketing element in the promotional material for investors. These short videos were very simple but really conveyed the feel of the film. A great deal of advancement in digital technology had taken place between 2001, when the screenplay was written, to this present day in 2020. These developments would make the production of this film even more feasible. But for now you have to make due with just reading the screenplay. I hope you enjoy the following scenes and viewing the introduction video and the animatics. To read the entire screenplay, please send a request. Enjoy.
Synopsis Bad Blood is a suspenseful Hitchcock-style psychological action/martial arts thriller. At the heart of the story is a tale about a father's love for his daughter, which cannot die, even as she does.
In trying to find a cure for the syphilis ravishing his body, Cesare Borgia murdered Roberto Orsini's daughter and, in doing so, discovered one of God's secret -life everlasting! To avenge his daughter's brutal killing, Roberto Orsini had to do the unthinkable -defy the laws of heaven, because the son of the pope was above the law.
Ruthless, bitter and corrosive feelings of unfulfilled revenge fuel his hatred and the bad blood between the Borgia and the Orsini has turned from crimson red to odious black. But it has taken Roberto Orsini five hundred years of patient, painful, and cold determination to find a way to kill Cesare Borgia. And today, at long last, he has returned to settle the score.
Video introduction to Bad Blood
Scenes from Bad Blood's Screenplay
Scenes 1 and 2 Animatic
Scenes 3 to 5 CHICAGO HOSPITAL FOR THE CRIMINALLY INSANE
INT. CORRIDOR - DAYTIME
We HEAR footsteps; we SEE the TRENCH COATS of two walking figures: one coat is a STYLISH DARK TAILORED PIECE; the other, worn-out and dun-coloured. The corridor is well lit and trafficked by hospital staff.
DOCTOR VALIATHAN (tall handsome Hindu) reads from a file as he walks. Next to him is police detective ROBERT SINI (Italian, greying, unkempt, fit) from the Chicago Police Department.
DR. VALIATHAN I called you as soon as I was told. He's been here for little more than week.
AN ARMED SECURITY GUARD is posted in a guard station at the end of the corridor before a set of doors marked: "RESTRICTED AREA. AUTHORISED PERSONNEL ONLY". VALIATHAN and SINI flash ID's and push through the doors after the guard releases the lock mechanism from his station.
INT. AN OBSERVATION ROOM
DR. ZUCKERMANN, the hospital director (Eastern European), and two aides -DR. KIM (Korean female) and DR. HAYES (southern gentleman)- have been waiting. They wear WHITE LAB OVERCOATS.
DR. ZUCKERMANN(enthusiastically shaking Valiathan's hand)Dr. Valiathan! This is such an honour. I wish we had prior notice of your visit. DR. VALIATHANThere's not much time, doctor. This is Captain Sini. Where is the patient? DR. ZUCKERMANNAh, yes, of course.(moving to an observation window)See for yourself.
INT. A PADDED CELL
SIMON, strapped in a STRAIGHTJACKET, sits quietly on a COT while slowly rocking back and forth. His gaze is distant; his face holds no expression. His once clean-shaven face is now covered with a week's growth.
DR. ZUCKERMANNI've never seen anything like it. Everyone is afraid of him -and with good reason! DR. VALIATHANWhat happened? DR. KIMHe was taken unconscious to the ER after a beating that would have killed most men. He woke up during treatment and actually bit off a piece of an Orderly's arm. They had to stun him - repeatedly. DR. ZUCKERMANNHe was removed to this facility. So far, we haven't been able to get anything out of him. DR. VALIATHANAny tests? DR. HAYES(clearing his throat)Needles keep breaking. It takes four or five guys just to keep him still for a second. DR. VALIATHAN(soberly nodding his head)Hmm. Anything else? DR. ZUCKERMANN(after exchanging glances with his aides)There’s not a mark on him! And... he refuses to eat. We don't know what else to do. Doctor Kim thought... (pause, he nods at Dr. Kim to tell the story) DR. KIMI was searching through the files when I came across a case similar to this one. Fifteen years ago a young woman was struck by a car. She survived in spite of severe injuries and had to be restrained because of her violent behaviour. She refused to eat, and, after several weeks without food, she died. But, you know all this. You wrote the report. DR. ZUCKERMANN Naturally, I decided to get in contact with you immediately and had Dr. Hayes call the University. DOCTOR HAYESI was hoping you could provide us with clues from the autopsy. DR. VALIATHANThere was no autopsy. The body decomposed within hours of her death.
DR. ZUCKERMANN and his AIDES look on with expressions of puzzlement and repulsion. A beat.
DR. VALIATHAN(returning to the case at hand)According to the police report, no form of ID was found. The vehicle he was driving was stolen. DR. ZUCKERMANN(brightening)Wait! In one of the small pockets of his jacket... I was going to show you. There's a name on the back.
DR. ZUCKERMAN hands over a BUSINESS CARD. DR. VALIATHAN looks at the card. Next, he hands it over to SINI. Sini looks at the front of the card and turns it over to read the name. After a moment, he glances through the window to look at the man in the padded cell.
SINI(as if to himself)Simon.
Scene 6 to 10 CHICAGO HOSPITAL FOR THE CRIMINALLY INSANE
INT. CORRIDOR - LATER THAT NIGHT
We HEAR footsteps. The corridor is deserted with most of the lights turned off. SINI walks to the guard station. An opened BOX OF DONUTS with a card that reads, "compliments from the staff" is on top of the station counter. The SECURITY GUARD, powdered in donut crumbs, is in a deep drug induced sleep. Sini reaches over and presses an access button. He goes through the same doors he had crossed earlier that day taking the box of donuts with him.
INT. STAIR WAY
On the way down to Simon's cell SINI drops the box of donuts into a trashcan.
INT. SIMON'S CELL
Simon is lying on his cot sleeping. He continues to be confined in a straightjacket. He wakes and listens sensing an intruder. He turns his head toward the cell's entrance. Then we hear footsteps.
INT. OUTSIDE SIMON'S CELL
SINI goes to the CELL DOOR and inserts a KEY in the DOOR LOCK.
INT. SIMON'S CELL
The cell's door opens. Light coming through the opened door creates distorted shadows in the room. SIMON sits and remains motionless as SINI enters carrying A CHAIR with him. SIMON follows the movement with feral eyes.
SINI places the chair in front of Simon and sits facing him. With unconcerned poise, SINI lights A CIGARETTE, inhales and lets out a cloud of smoke. Calmly, he stares at Simon; SIMON stares back.
A BEAT. Suddenly with unnatural speed, SIMON'S HEAD lunges at SINI, neck inhumanly extended, teeth glaring and canine. With equal speed SINI reacts to the attack by placing his hand on Simon's forehead stopping him cold.
Slowly, SIMON returns to his original position and studies SINI with renewed interest. SINI takes another puff from his cigarette calmly taking Simon's scrutiny.
SIMON(voice even and guttural)Who are you? SINII'm one of you. SIMON(eyes squint followed by a sneer)You are like us, but you are not one of us.
A beat. SINI remains silent.
SIMON(now bewildered)Why are you here? SINII came to free you.
Still sitting, SINI drops the cigarette and steps on it. Then he pulls out a SMALL WOODEN BOX from the inside pocket of his coat and opens it.
Inside the box is A METALLIC DART like the ones fired from miniature crossbows.
INT. OUTSIDE SIMON'S CELL - MINUTES LATER
SINI places the chair against the hallway's wall and closes the cell door. Then he calmly walks away and seems to disappear in the light at the end of the hallway.
INT. SIMON'S CELL
SIMON is lying on the floor, eyes wide-open in an expression of surprise, dark foam coming out of his mouth. He is dead.
Scenes 6 and 10 Animatic
Scenes 95 to 99
CESARE'S CLEVELAND LAIR - THE PRESENT
CESARE raises the dagger above his head. THE CHANTING grows louder.
Cut to: OLIVERO, scared beneath the bravado.
Cut to: CESARE, giving her a smile of compassion that becomes a sneer of determination. Then, HIS EYES register a presence.
THE ELEVATOR is coming up. CESARE turns around to face it. THE GATE of the elevator uplifts revealing SINI.
With unhurried steps, SINI moves forward a few paces. He has been carrying A METAL CASE, which now he places atop an old assembly table. SINI opens the metal case and calmly proceeds to put together a compound bow.
Everyone stares at this lone figure entering the lair. CESARE moves forward to the edge of the platform for a better look. MICHELOTTO looks at Cesare awaiting his instructions. With a slight gesture, CESARE, his curiosity aroused, signals him to wait.
THE COMPOUND BOW assembled, SINI adjusts a QUIVER OF ARROWS to his side. The arrows have aluminum metal shafts.
SINI moves forward to a lighted area beneath one of the old hanging lamps. His face is turned down as he lights a cigarette.
Cut to: SINI looks up and his face becomes visible.
Cut to: CESARE studies Sini's face sensing familiarity.
Cut to: SINI glares back at Cesare, eyes cold with hatred.
Cut to: CESARE'S face as recognition dawns on him.
We HEAR the sound of three riders dismounting on a cobbled courtyard and attendants rushing to secure the mounts.
THE CASTLE GUARD(Surprised by the unexpected arrival)Il Duca! Il Duca è ritornato![The Duke! The Duke has returned!]
We SEE the background behind Cesare become a blur and then replaced by another setting. And, while our gaze is focused on Cesare's face, we SEE it transform into the face of CESARE BORGIA -identical to Cesar Borja in every respect except for the LONG HAIR now framing his face, partially shadowed under a hood that covers his head.
ROME 1500 A.C.
INT. CORRIDOR FROM CASTLE SAN ANGELO TO THE VATICAN - DUSK
CESARE stops in the middle of the dark corridor, listening.
MICHELOTTO and SIMON flank him. They are all dressed ‘a la jinete’ style, their BRIGANDINES covered in black cloth, Cesare’s is velvet. They are armed with SWORDS and wear SPANISH-STYLE DAGGERS -strapped diagonally behind their backs.
CESARE pushes the hood away. He hears the sounds of reveling and smiles. Then he continues walking down the corridor followed by his men. With a practice move he removes his cloak and flings it back at Simon without missing a stride.
COURTYARD - THE VATICAN
AN ORGY is taking place in an opened courtyard between the wall of CASTLE SAN ANGELO and the BORGIA COMPOUND at the VATICAN. This huge rectangular cobblestone courtyard is enclosed by a Romanesque arch loggia on the sides, a massive castle wall on one end and another stone wall with a large set of doors that lead to the Vatican. A solid stone stairway against the Vatican wall leads to the upper galleries of the loggia and its corridors. From an elevated dais platform build against the castle wall, a main central door and two smaller lateral service gates provide access to and from the castle. Facing the courtyard on the castle wall is a giant medieval fresco of The Last Judgment painted directly above the main central doors.
Illuminated by STANDING TORCHES and CANDELABRAS, a banquet with food and drink in abundance is luxuriously arranged on two opposite rows of LOW TABLES. From these, REVELLERS laying on pillows and cushions eat with unrestrained abandon.
THE REVELLERS, the Borgia guests and Rome's more prominent COURTESANS, laugh, dine and frolic before the amused eyes of Pope Alexander VI.
Facing the revellers atop at the centre of the dais, dressed in white robes with red cloak and cap edged with white fur, sits on a throne-like chair attended by a succession of servants, sits Pope ALEXANDER VI. He is having a great time throwing gold coins to those who provide him with the most amusement while exchanging good humour remarks with A STRANGER that stands next to him.
THE STRANGER is dress in the long robes of a Venetian ambassador.
Lying next to the pope on comfortable TURKISH CUSHIONS, spellbound with youthful love in the company of her beautiful husband, the young and charming Alfonzo de Aragon, is the pope's beloved daughter LUCREZIA -sister of Cesare. Seating on the opposite side, surrounded by a several courtly admirers, is the intoxicating JEANNE de FOIX -one of Cesare’s most trusted agents.
MUSICIANS play a lively dance as a group of nude and semi-nude COURTESANS and their male companions play a sexual game at the centre of the gathering for the pleasure and excited amusement of the guests. DWARVES in colourful costumes keep score as the courtesans "ride" their male companions to determine the one with the most "virility". The magnificent and expansive tapestry placed over the courtyard for the comfort of the performers contains the Borgia's coat-of-arms.
CESARE, SIMON AND MICHELOTTO enter from the corridor into the landing atop the steps leading into the courtyard. The city of ROME can be seen through large windows in the background. They stop at the top at the landing and satisfied smiles survey the revelry taking place below at the other end of the courtyard. Then CESARE turns and descends the great steps followed by his two henchmen. At the bottom of the steps a surprised steward turns around and noticing the unexpected arrivals rapidly bows at Cesare. As the men walk by SIMON deposits CESARE’S CLOAK over the steward.
LUCREZIA BORGIA is the first to notice Cesare's approach. She gets to her feet and runs to him laughing with excitement. She is young and beautiful with a long mane of radiant blond hair. Except for having lighter colour hair, in every respect Lucrezia is a younger version of Veronica Deveney.
The music and the dancing stops and all eyes are focused on Cesare and his sister.
LUCREZIA(arms around him, kissing him)¡Cesare! ¡Cesare, por fin llegaste! SUBTITLES [Cesare! At last, you've arrived!] CESARE(laughing with delight and mischief)Mi bella Lucrezia. Veo que recibiste mi regalo. SUBTITLES[My beautiful Lucrezia. So, you received my gift.]
FLASHBACK shot of Lucrezia opening a GIFT BOX containing a GOLDEN DILDO.
LUCREZIANo seas maldito -sí lo recibí.(another hug)¡Es fabuloso!(Then, removing a locket from around her neck)Esto es para ti. SUBTITLES[You're such a devil -yes, I got it! It's fabulous! This is for you.]
CESARE opens the locket which reveals a lovely miniature portrait of Lucrezia. He smiles with delight. Pleased, LUCREZIA kisses his cheek and pulls him along into the gathering. THE LEAD SINGER turns to THE MUSICIANS and instruct them to play duke’s favourite song: “Donna, questa a la mia voglia” [Lady, this is my decision].
PAGES hurry to attend the Duke and his men. They remove Cesare’s SPURS and SWORD, another gives him a large two-handled bowl filled with wine. He drinks from it.
SIMON, having drained his cup in one huge gulp, looks with delight at the handsome youth attending him. With a satisfied laugh he puts his powerful arms around the boy’s shoulders, and takes off with him. No one takes any notice.
CESARE fills his mouth with wine one last time to spit it back into the bowl. As he lifts his lips from the bowl his eyes notices the stranger standing next his father now discretely moving back into the shadows. Then, CESARE goes to meet his father.
LUCREZIA(running to her father)¡Mira, papá, qué bien se ve! SUBTITLES[Look, father. Doesn't he look great?]
ALEXANDER beams with pride looking at his two offspring. LUCREZIA places Cesare's hand on his father's hand.
ALEXANDER(stifling a tear, kissing Cesare's hand)¡Hijo mío! ¡Bienvenido a casa! SUBTITLES[My son! Welcome home!] CESARE(embraces his father)La bendición, padre. SUBTITLES[Your blessing, father.] ALEXANDER¡Qué Dios te bendiga!(then, holding at arms length)Your sister is right, you look well. CESAREI am cured, father. ALEXANDER(examining his face closely)Yes! I can barely believe my eyes! When I learned that you were dying with the French malady, I almost pined with worry. It would have been my death to lose another son.(glancing at JEANNE)Then, when your beautiful herald arrived with the wonderful news of your recovery, I wept with joy.
ALEXANDER holds his son’s hands barely containing his joy. Then, rising from his chair, to testify, he makes the sign of the cross.
ALEXANDERSurely, it is a miracle!
THE REVELERS cross themselves filled with sincere spiritual wonder, while uttering "amen" and "milagro".
ALEXANDER(Sitting down)Now, tell us, how did it happen? CESAREI will do better than that, father; I will show you.
CESARE turns away and nods at Michelotto. MICHELOTTO grabs A TORCH and leads a group of men with crowbars to an area where a rectangular platform rises a couple of feet from the ground. Once in ancient Roman times when this part of the structure was originally built, this was the top of a cistern, now gone dry, which supplied the garrison stationed at castle.
Centered on top of the platform is an eight-foot by twelve foot SLAB OF STONE. On top of the slab, lit by candles, sits a statue of an angel, wings spread wide.
The men remove the statue. Then, laboriously using their crowbars, they slowly lift one side of the slab and insert wood rods to serve as rollers. Slowly, they push the heavy slab aside revealing a vertical shaft going deep into the empty reservoir.
CESARE walks over the slab which rests diagonally between the rise of the pit and the cobblestone floor, to the edge of the exposed shaft. ALEXANDER and many others gather around to look down. CESARE grabs A TORCH from MICHELOTTO and drops it down the pit. At the bottom, sitting on the floor is an OLD GYPSY WOMAN whom Cesare has imprisoned.
ALEXANDERWho is she? CESAREAn old woman. The one who cured me. ALEXANDER¡Dios mio! ¡Una bruja!
Some pull away making the sign of the cross. CESARE shows his disdain for them with a low guttural laugh.
CESARENot a witch, father. A healer -a Gypsy. I was dying when don Michelotto brought her to me. The doctors of King Louis had done their worst. This woman gave me life -and more. LUCREZIAWhy then do you keep her so -buried alive?
THE GYPSY(louder, at Cesare)You have the secret -a beating heart, a maiden's blood- Let me go, or go to hell! CESAREYou first, old woman. I won't leave you alive to serve my enemies. Starve! ALEXANDERWhat secret? CESARESomething worth more than all the riches of the world: the secret of life everlasting. ALEXANDER(dismissive laugh)My son, all men will see eternity -someday. CESAREBut not before dying. ALEXANDERNo one lives forever. CESAREI will. And I want to share this gift with you, father. ALEXANDERCesare, this is blasphemy! Only God can grant immortality. CESARE(leaning closer, softly)But I know God's secret. It will make you strong and young again. It will give us the time we need to rule this land. Would you like to see this mystery?
ALEXANDER takes a moment to think it over. If his son has something, he wants it.
CESARE gives his father a slight bow.
CESARE(to Lucrezia)Help him to his seat. MICHELOTTOClear the space!
The REVELLERS return to their places. Everyone is in a state of nervous anticipation. MICHELOTTO beats three times on the cobblestone floor with the shaft of lance. Then, the huge wooden doors on the Vatican wall open and a procession of PRIESTS wearing grey hooded robes enters the courtyard from what seem to be an adjoining chapel. The lead priest swings an INCENSE BURNER from side to side. Another priest holds a STAFF crowned with a large GOLDEN CROSS. What come next are more priests carrying torches.
At the end of the procession, four priests carry A LITTER, which has legs extending from the bottom. Lying on this litter is a woman dressed in white robes. Completing the procession are ANGELO and LORENZ dressed in black and armed with daggers.
The priests place the litter at the centre of the gathering. The person lying on it is a young girl, ANNABELLA. Her head turns from side to side. It is obvious that she has been drugged.
ALEXANDER(sensing familiarity)And who is she? CESAREHer name is Annabella.
We HEAR gasps coming from the revellers as the girl's identity is revealed.
ALEXANDER(rising from his chair)Cesare, are you mad?! She is the daughter of Roberto Orsini.
CESAREShe is also the bride-to-be of Alfonso de Este. An alliance between The Orsini of Rome and the Duke of Ferrara will be unfortunate for our family. With her out of the way, we can weaken the Orsini by marrying Lucrezia to Alfonso.
ALEXANDERLucrezia is already married. CESARE(shrugs)She can be widowed.
Having overheard the exchange, ALFONZO DE ARAGON, Lucrezia’s young and beautiful husband turns ashen.
LUCREZIA(fearing for his life, her voice low and menacing)Touch him and I will kill myself!
ALEXANDER is about to speak but then thinks better of it as Cesare's political scheme begins to make a great deal of sense.
LUCREZIA(dismayed)Father! The pope waves her off and sits down. A REVELLERYour holiness, this is unwise. Harm this girl and there would be a vendetta with the Orsini. I beg you to reconsider -The Orsini are also my kinsman. CESARE(polite but seething inside)We respect your position. Don Michelotto, the gentleman is excused.
MICHELOTTO does as he is commanded. CESARE follows them with his eyes as they exit -and so does everyone else.
ALEXANDER(waves, annoyed by the interruption)We are all Borgias here. Get on with it!
A PRIEST brings a SILVER CHALICE to the audience, ceremoniously raises it above his head and begins to murmur as series of blessings.
Out of the corner of his eye CESARE sees DON MICHELOTTO’s return as he puts away the cord he just used to garrotte the unfortunate ‘witness’. The corners of Cesare’s lips curl into a pleased smile.
THE PRIEST extends the chalice to Cesare.
CESAREI will make a potion for you to drink like the potion I drank from the Gypsy.
CESARE pulls out his dagger and makes a cut on his wrist. The revellers gasp fascinated. Blood flows into the chalice.
CESAREMy blood, like the gypsy's, carries the power of the secret.
CESARE turns to the girl on the litter.
THE GYPSY(muttering)Bad soul, bad heart, bad blood. Offer the Angel of Death something better! A good heart beats with good blood, a good soul to satisfy Death! You can bribe Death, signori! You can bribe Death!
THE REVELLERS listens spellbound at the echo of the gypsy's words and gaze at Cesare's every move. CESARE cuts a few ribbons opening the front of Annabella's robe. A NECKLACE with a small medallion is exposed.
CESARE pulls the medallion from her and after a casual glance entwines it around the handle of his dagger. He lightly caresses the girl's skin with the dagger. The weapon is so sharp that small beads of blood trail the blade.
Then Cesare lifts the dagger a couple of feet above her chest and, holding it with both hands, prepares to strike. At that instant, we HEAR an explosion followed by an assault of war cries.
GUARDS(v.o.)The Orsini are storming the palace! To arms! To arms! ¡A las armas...!
THE REVELLERS get up in a panic. Cesare remains calm, almost immobile in the pandemonium. He sheaves his dagger and takes control of the situation.
CESARE(commanding but calm)¡Angelo, Lorenz, escolt la sua eminenza! SUBTITLES[Angelo, Lorenz, escort his Eminence!]
ANGELO and LORENZ, join the pope’s personal bodyguard and proceed to escort Alexander, Jeanne and Lucrezia to safety. They turn toward the main bronze doors leading into the castle. CESARE stops the CAPTAIN OF THE GUARDS from heading in that direction by placing his hand over the man’s shoulder.
Without saying a word, his strategic mind going over every possible calculation, Cesare directs them instead toward the wooden gates into the Vatican compound. No one questions; they act with blind obedience to his intuition.
LUCREZIA(grabbing hold of Cesare)¡Cesare, ven con nosotros! SUBTITLES[Cesare, please come with us!]
CESARE gives her a reassuring smile. LUCREZIA kisses him hard on the lips. LORENZ grabs a hold of Lucrezia and carries her away.
We HEAR sounds of more explosions and the clash of steel engaged in combat. CESARE calmly proceeds to put on HIS GLOVES. MICHELOTTO and SIMON stand next to their master, their daggers in hand.
The ORSINI MEN appear at the top of the stairway after making their way through the corridor. Some of the guests have joined the few palace guards in a desperate effort to stop the onslaught. The steps become a frantic scene of carnage as the two sides collide.
The frightened crowd huddled on the dais watching in horror the scene across the courtyard on the steps. In a panic, they overpower the guards by the bronze doors, removing the safety locks and opening them to flee into the safety of the castle. But to their misfortune, the Orsini's had already infiltrated that part of the castle and poured in once the doors that blocked their entry were released.
The Orsini slaughter servants, courtesans and priests indiscriminately. Most of the revellers are so inebriated that they fall easy pray to their swords. They go for Cesare but MICHELOTTO and SIMON have joined the fray and protect their master.
CESARE, with what seems as an unnatural disregard for his safety and the chaos around him, calmly and purposely works toward the litter, picks up ANNABELLA into his arms and carries her over to the pit.
ROBERTO ORSINI, surrounded by his own guard, comes forth at the top of the stairway. His men have opened a breech and are forcing their way down the steps. The Borgia forces can barely manage to contain them.
ORSINI(calling out but not being able to reach him)¡Cesare..! ¡Cesare!(He sees Cesare holding his daughter over the pit shaft)¡No, per Dio, Cesare! ¡Lasciarla andare! SUBTITLES[No! By God, Cesare! Let her go!]
CESARE extends his arms over the pit, turns and looks at Orsini, and lets her go.
Driven by pain and rage, ROBERTO ORSINI charges into the fray to get at Cesare, mowing his way down the steps.
CESARE observes the action from atop the stone slab. He reaches for his gloves tucked in his waist belt and calmly proceeds to wear them. At that moment, a company of SPANISH GUARDS lead by ANGELO and LORENZ arrive and the tide of the battle begins to turn as they begin to clear the Orsini men fighting on the dais area.
Aware of the turn of events, Roberto Orsini presses his attack and his men clear the way to the bottom of the steps. The Borgia forces give way and the survivors gather around Cesare to make their stand.
The Orsini make it in force to the bottom of the steps, where they stop for a few moments to catch their breath and redirect their attack. Then, shouting the Orsini battle cry, they launch a charge at the Borgia remnants around Cesare. But the Spanish Guards meet them with a charge of their own and savage hand to hand combat ensues.
ROBERTO ORSINI cuts his way toward Cesare. MICHELOTTO and SIMON confront him.
CESARE(at his men)¡No! ¡Él es mío!(at Orsini)-Siete mine. SUBTITLES[No! He's mine! -You're mine.]
MICHELOTTO and SIMON moves aside and ORSINI lunges sword-in-hand at Cesare with a roar.
CESARE expertly deflects Orsini's initial lunge with his blade and side steps his thrust. Similar attacks are deflected with dagger and glove. Sini swings his blade high drawing blood from Cesare's neck.
CESARE(at his men)¡Spada! SUBTITLES[Sword!]
CESARE manages to unbalance Orsini to the ground. LORENZ, who has finished dispatching an opponent, grabs a sword that lies on the floor.
LORENZ(as he hurls the sword)¡Cesar!
CESARE jumps and grabs the sword in time to parry Orsini's next attack upon his landing. Now evenly armed, both fighters move back and forth in a series of attack, parries and counter moves.
MICHELOTTO, SIMON, LORENZ and ANGELO, having cleared the hall of assailants, stand aside to watch in rapt attention.
CESARE and ORSINI fight expertly but Orsini is unbalanced by his rage. CESARE proves to be the better fighter by wounding Orsini and disarming him. Exhausted and bleeding, Orsini falls to his knees. Clutching his wound with one hand he beats at the ground with the other as he shrieks and cries with the realization of his utter defeat -his daughter’s murder, his men dead or about to be killed, and his own failure to avenge his their murderer.
CESAREOrsini, la vostra vita si è concluso. SUBTITLES[Orsini, your life has ended.] ORSINI(looking up, his hand pressed to his wound)Allora rendergli un' uccisione pulita. SUBTITLES[Then make it a clean kill.]
CESARE, who was about to trust his blade into Orsini, changes stance for a hacking blow to the neck -a clean kill. But at the moment his body is exposed, ORSINI moves his hand from the wound and, reaching behind his back for his dagger, cries out and lunges it into Cesare's abdomen burying it to the hilt.
CESARE staggers back and doubles over dropping his weapons. But then, in stunned amazement he realises that he cannot be killed like most men. He begins to laugh like a madman as he slowly pulls the dagger from his body as his body’s miraculous regenerative powers take effect.
ROBERT ORSINI and the others look as if he they had just seen Satan himself.
ORSINI(making the sign of the cross)¡Madre di Dio! ¡Il diavolo! SUBTITLES[Mother of God! The Devil!] CESAREVederli nel inferno. SUBTITLES[See you in hell.]
CESARE buries the dagger into Orsini. ORSINI cries out and falls into the pit laying face-up opposite but parallel to the body of his daughter.
CESARE gives them a final look and seals the pit by pushing alone the marble slab into place, initially on his own, then helped by his men.
INT. THE PIT
The lit torch that lies on the stone floor illuminates THE PIT. The bottom of pit is much wider than the shaft.
ORSINI lays on his back, eyes opened, his death near. The sound of his heartbeat echoes.
ANNABELLA(softly, alive but not able to move)Papa! papa!
There is ruffle of clothes as the GYPSY WOMAN picks up the torch and comes closer. She studies father and daughter for a few seconds.
GYPSY WOMANVivrà per alcune ore, voi ha soltanto momenti. Ci è un modo avenge la morte della vostra figlia -e la mia morte. SUBTITLES[She will live for a few hours, you have only moments. (a beat) There is a way to avenge your daughter's death -and my death.]
ORSINI cannot talk but his eyes open wide as if saying that he does not understand.
GYPSY WOMAN(to Annabella)Se tue odio è forte posso darvi la vita a vendetta di ricerca sul Borgia. Ma dovete fare un sacrificio grande; dovete prendere una decisione. SUBTITLES[If your hate is strong I can give you life to seek revenge upon the Borgia. But you must make a great sacrifice; you have to make a decision.] ANNABELLA(a harsh whisper)Farlo! SUBTITLES[Do it!]
Cut to: Close-up of ORSINI; wide-eye look, not understanding but sensing doom.
Cut to: The GYPSY WOMAN pulling out dagger from Orsini's body.
Cut to: BLOOD oozing from the corner of Orsini's mouth the moment the blade is pulled from him.
Cut to: The Gypsy woman's wrist as she makes a cut.
Cut to: BLOOD dripping down into Orsini's half opened mouth. Then again we HEAR the ruffle of skirts as the Gypsy woman moves to Annabella.
Cut to: ANNABELLA'S HAND as she grabs hold of her father's hand and squeezes.
ANNABELLATi amo, papa. SUBTITLES[I love you, papa.]
Cut to: Extreme close up of Orsini's eyes as comprehension and horror hit him.
Cut to: THE DAGGER coming down hard.
Cut to: Close-up of ORSINI'S FACE in profile, mouth gasping a few final breaths as we HEAR the sound of the blade ripping into flesh.
Cut to: Extreme close up of ORSINI as new blood drips into his mouth, his heart beat accelerates, and a tear slowly roll down his cheek. Finally, the Gypsy woman collapses on the floor.
FADE OUT on ROBERTO ORSINI.
FADE IN on SINI.
INT. THE LAIR. END FLASHBACK
CESARE(recognising him)Roberto Orsini.
There is a movement of alarm when the others hear the name.
CAST OF CHARACTERS This early ensemble of actors in 2001 will give you a good idea of what I had envisioned the characters to look like.
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