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TYPEE - In the Valley of the Shadow of Death - A Filmscript 2. The Secret Melville

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The South Pacific, 1842. These are powder-keg times, and in the midst of French Imperial gun boat diplomacy, Redburn has had enough of the sea. He draws a reluctant Toby into an adventure, and in the process loses something more valuable to him than his own life.

For a fun guide on how to read a screenplay, see this: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/blog/513/entry-14722-dont-panic-–-or-how-to-read-a-screenplay/

 

For a guide to understanding Polynesian Mythology and Cosmology, see this: http://www.gayauthors.org/story/ac-benus/moby-dick/9

Copyright © 2017 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.

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Redburn is not happy on the Dolly, for he fears that the captain – contrary to promises – will keep the sailors on the ship too long. He persuades Toby, who reluctantly agrees, to jump ship. They are warned by Jim that on the nearby island may be headhunters: the Typee.
In order not to be found by search parties they go inland and finally strand in a village. On the way there Redburn hurts his foot and is unable to walk further properly.
The natives are very hospitable and give them food and shelter, but they are closely guarded.
Mow-Mow is the only one who is very suspicious of the newcomers.
Redburn learns that the family structure of the Typee is not what he is used to. It often happens that a family consists of two men and a woman in a relationship. The relationship between Redburn and Toby is acceptable in this setting.
Life is idyllic, but Redburn’s foot needs more medical attention than the local “doctor” can offer. Toby gets permission to leave and search for a doctor, but gets in a fight with Happar – a neighbouring tribe – and he returns badly wounded. After Toby recovered a bit he goes to investigate and tells Redburn to stay behind. We later learn that he is kidnapped and that Mow-Mow is behind that plot.
When Toby doesn’t return it becomes clear to Redburn, that in fact he is a prisoner and the Typee want him to stay and become one of them. The ultimate sign of that will be that Redburn will get tattooed, as the natives all are, beginning with the face. Redburn however doesn’t want to be tattooed.
Kori-Kori, once his guard, becomes more like a partner to Redburn, and together with Faaua, Kori-Kori’s girl, they have a bond.
Redburn sees proof that the normally gentle natives really are headhunters, which fortifies his resolve that he must escape.
Mehevi, the head of the Typee, senses that Mow-Mow has a negative attitude towards Redburn and declares Redburn “taboo”, meaning that he is not to be harmed by the Typee.
Biding his time, Redburn tries to fit in the community.
Maheyo, his host, recognizes that Redburn is unhappy and needs to leave to look for Toby and sympathizes with Redburn.
When there is a call that a longboat is at the shore, in a dramatic finale where Mow-Mow urges Redburn to leave, at last Redburn is able to flee, although the attachment to Maheyo, Kori-Kori and Faaua makes the departure an emotional one.
It stays to the interpretation of the reader whether these last events would have taken place anyway, or whether Manu Atu, the idol of the Typee, heard his prayers.

 

A lot happens in Typee. The red thread in the story is the love between Redburn and Toby and their conviction they are meant to be together. After Toby leaves and doesn’t return, the Typee around Redburn think Toby betrayed Redburn. Redburn has no such doubts. His escape is both for his own sake and to be able to search for his beloved.

 

After Toby is gone Redburn remembers a conversation with Toby, which I think is the pivot of the story as presented here.
Redburn regrets having been so insistent for them to jump ship, while Toby points out what good they would have missed if they wouldn’t have.
After quoting the well-known Corinthian love-text, started by Redburn and finished by Toby, Redburn says: “Too bad men don’t say ‘I love you.’”
Toby’s reaction: “No. Men don’t say ‘I love you’ – they don’t have to.”

 

Typee is full of adventure and it is easy to understand that the theme of a “civilized” person living among “headhunting natives” made Melville’s novel a success in it’s day.
The unveiling of the Secret Melville in the way done in this Typee gives the reader an extra dimension that readers in Victorian times did miss (or could very well miss).

 

Great script, AC !

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On 10/26/2015 12:47 AM, J.HunterDunn said:

Redburn is not happy on the Dolly, for he fears that the captain – contrary to promises – will keep the sailors on the ship too long. He persuades Toby, who reluctantly agrees, to jump ship. They are warned by Jim that on the nearby island may be headhunters: the Typee.

In order not to be found by search parties they go inland and finally strand in a village. On the way there Redburn hurts his foot and is unable to walk further properly.

The natives are very hospitable and give them food and shelter, but they are closely guarded.

Mow-Mow is the only one who is very suspicious of the newcomers.

Redburn learns that the family structure of the Typee is not what he is used to. It often happens that a family consists of two men and a woman in a relationship. The relationship between Redburn and Toby is acceptable in this setting.

Life is idyllic, but Redburn’s foot needs more medical attention than the local “doctor” can offer. Toby gets permission to leave and search for a doctor, but gets in a fight with Happar – a neighbouring tribe – and he returns badly wounded. After Toby recovered a bit he goes to investigate and tells Redburn to stay behind. We later learn that he is kidnapped and that Mow-Mow is behind that plot.

When Toby doesn’t return it becomes clear to Redburn, that in fact he is a prisoner and the Typee want him to stay and become one of them. The ultimate sign of that will be that Redburn will get tattooed, as the natives all are, beginning with the face. Redburn however doesn’t want to be tattooed.

Kori-Kori, once his guard, becomes more like a partner to Redburn, and together with Faaua, Kori-Kori’s girl, they have a bond.

Redburn sees proof that the normally gentle natives really are headhunters, which fortifies his resolve that he must escape.

Mehevi, the head of the Typee, senses that Mow-Mow has a negative attitude towards Redburn and declares Redburn “taboo”, meaning that he is not to be harmed by the Typee.

Biding his time, Redburn tries to fit in the community.

Maheyo, his host, recognizes that Redburn is unhappy and needs to leave to look for Toby and sympathizes with Redburn.

When there is a call that a longboat is at the shore, in a dramatic finale where Mow-Mow urges Redburn to leave, at last Redburn is able to flee, although the attachment to Maheyo, Kori-Kori and Faaua makes the departure an emotional one.

It stays to the interpretation of the reader whether these last events would have taken place anyway, or whether Manu Atu, the idol of the Typee, heard his prayers.

 

A lot happens in Typee. The red thread in the story is the love between Redburn and Toby and their conviction they are meant to be together. After Toby leaves and doesn’t return, the Typee around Redburn think Toby betrayed Redburn. Redburn has no such doubts. His escape is both for his own sake and to be able to search for his beloved.

 

After Toby is gone Redburn remembers a conversation with Toby, which I think is the pivot of the story as presented here.

Redburn regrets having been so insistent for them to jump ship, while Toby points out what good they would have missed if they wouldn’t have.

After quoting the well-known Corinthian love-text, started by Redburn and finished by Toby, Redburn says: “Too bad men don’t say ‘I love you.’”

Toby’s reaction: “No. Men don’t say ‘I love you’ – they don’t have to.”

 

Typee is full of adventure and it is easy to understand that the theme of a “civilized” person living among “headhunting natives” made Melville’s novel a success in it’s day.

The unveiling of the Secret Melville in the way done in this Typee gives the reader an extra dimension that readers in Victorian times did miss (or could very well miss).

 

Great script, AC !

Thank you, Peter. Typee was Melville's first book, and such a success, he became a household name overnight.

 

Many modern critics, and people of Polynesian descent, like to relegate Melville to 'racist' status, but I think that is both misinformed and sad. Typee is the only one of the author's manuscripts to have survived in a large chunk. Oddly enough, this was only found in the early 1980s during a barn cleanout. It seems Melville has given this section of the book to 'a dear' friend, and it stayed on his family farm the entire time. This MS is fascinating, not the least of which for the careful editing it shows Melville doing with words like 'heathen' and 'savage,' mostly crossing them out, and only using them in moments where irony shines through.

 

Thank for a complete review, and a completely delightful one too!

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