SIMPORA

by Laurent Boulanger

Short Film
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(10 min) Luc restores paintings of the great masters. But when his right hand is damaged beyond repair, it's not just his passion for his work that's destroyed -- but his passion for life.

SIMPORA

By
Laurent Boulanger



INT. CHURCH  DAY

We enter the church. Inside 6 MEN are working at restoring the frescos on the walls and the ceiling. There is CLASSICAL MUSIC playing in the background. We move closer to a couple of men who are working on a wall at the far end of the church. LUC is in his early 50's and has an intense look on his face. GABRIEL is in his early 30's. Both men are working on a section of a large Madonna fresco.

Using his right hand, Luc immerses a brush into a jar of water that's standing on a trestle table, and then, he dips the tip of the bristles into a bottle filled with a yellowish liquid. He lifts the brush and applies gentle strokes along the curve where the Madonna's skin meets her nails. He stands back and looks at the result.

Gabriel stops what he is doing and turns to look at the work Luc has just done

GABRIEL
My God! Look at the colour coming up from underneath the varnish.

Luc lifts his left hand and holds a finger next to that of the Madonna.

LUC
It needs more orange.

GABRIEL
You get her skin tone by comparing her flesh with your own?

Luc continues to observe the finger of the Madonna without looking concerned over Gabriel's comment.

LUC
That was how Giotto painted.

Gabriel stares at his own hands. They are stained with grime.

GABRIEL
Why are your hands so clean?

Gabriel peers into Luc's pallet.

GABRIEL (CONT'D)
What are you using?

LUC
Simpora.

GABRIEL
What?

LUC
It's my own mixture.

GABRIEL
You're not using what the restorer told us to?

LUC
This gets better results.

GABRIEL
Does he know you're using this?

LUC
I'll tell him when I've finished.

Gabriel tosses his brush on his pallet and wipes his hands on a cloth.

GABRIEL
You are mad! He'll fire you.

Luc turns around, smiles at Gabriel, and returns to his work.

INT. OFFICE  DAY

Gabriel is sitting at a desk with two men dressed in shirts and ties. MAN 1 and MAN 2 look in their mid-50's to early 60's.

GABRIEL
He told me himself.

MAN 1
Thank you, Gabriel, but we know he's been using simpora for years.

GABRIEL
You do?

MAN 2
Look, Luc has worked on thousands of paintings and frescos. The man is a genius. His fingers never twitch, even if he's old enough to be your father.

Gabriel looks uncomfortable.

GABRIEL
But if you don't know what simpora is made from, how in the world do you let him use it on all the great masters?

MAN 1
Oh, believe me, we are angry that he refuses to reveal the recipe, but we can't afford to lose him.

GABRIEL
Then why can't I use my own recipe?

Man 1 and Man 2 look at one another as if Gsbriel is just a child who has told them he is about to commit a prank.

MAN 1
In twenty years maybe -- when your work rivals that of Luc.

Gabriel gives both men a firm look, and then he loosens up.

GABRIEL
Well, then, I guess I better get back to work.

INT. BUTCHER SHOP  DAY

Luc is at the counter while a WOMAN is weighing some goods. Behind them is the BUTCHER who is placing a slab of meat on a gavanised table.

WOMAN
That's six dollars seventy, sir.

Luc is fishing into his wallet.

Suddenly we hear a loud bang of bone and metal crushing.

Luc looks over the counter. The butcher is slamming a large butcher's knife over a slab of meat, over and over, the noise loud and deafening.

We see a close-up of the knife cutting into the meat.

INT. CHURCH  DAY

Luc and Gabriel are working on the Madonna. This time Luc's and Gabriel's pallets are next to one another.

Luc is restoring the skin tone on her arm. From the corner of his eye, he notices a strange bottle on Gabriel's pallet.  He is about to say something, but returns to his work instead.

Gabriel is restoring the Madonna's dress.

MALE VOICE (O.S.)
Hey, Luc! Telephone!

Luc turns around a little too quickly -- the edge of his smock catches the top of the strange bottle from Gabriel's pallet and knocks it over. Brush still in hand, Luc reaches over and catches the bottle before it hits the floor. Some of the content from the bottle splashes over his hand.

Luc SCREAMS and falls backwards.

5. INT. OFFICE  DAY

Man 1 and Man 2 are sitting with Gabriel. They both look angry but in control of their emotions.

MAN 1
What in the world did you have in that bottle?

GABRIEL
Well, my own recipe

MAN 2
Yes, we know, you've already told us that -- but what exactly was in the bottle?

GABRIEL
Undiluted acid with some lemon.

MAN 2
What kind of acid?

GABRIEL
Hydrochloric acid.

MAN 1
Are you out of your mind? The surgeons have told us that the deepest layers of his skin have been damaged!

INT. SURGERY  DAY

A clean pair of hands is removing a bandage from another hand.

GABRIEL (V.O.)
It was an accident -- he turned around without looking.

The white bandage is coming off little by little. The back of the hand, which is revealed from under the bandage, is red with edges brown like a bruised pear. The knuckles at the base of the digits have merged into a ridge that spans the width of the hand.

MAN 2 (V.O.)
Do you have any idea of the damage you have caused this company?

The bandage is being removed completely. The clean pair of hands is turning the damaged hand over, checking it out. The fingers of the damaged hand look as if an animal had gnawed the skin away, eating the soft folds at the joints and leaving patches of normal skin like tiny islands.

MAN 1(V.O.)
We should be suing you.

INT. SHOP  DAY

Luc Is trying on a black leather glove. Other gloves are lying on the counter. The SHOPKEEPER is looking rather disgusted at the state of Luc's hand.

SHOPKEEPER
What about the alpaca or the sheep's wool?

Luc lifts his hand up and turns it slightly to the left.

LUC
This one feels more comfortable.

SHOPKEEPER
It's genuine leather.

LUC
Yes, I can see that. It was skin once -- maybe that's why it feels so right.

SHOPKEEPER
Designed and crafted in Italy, sir. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

LUC
Give me one.

SHOPKEEPER
I'm sorry, sir, but I can only sell you the pair.

Luc glares at the shopkeeper.

SHOPKEEPER (CONT'D)
Sir, you have to understand no one is going to buy the remaining glove.

LUC
Fine. I'll take both.

INT. OFFICE  DAY

Luc, Man 1 and Man 2 are sitting at the table.

MAN 1
The doctor has clearly instructed you not to use your hand for a whole two months.

LUC
It's all right. I'll keep the glove on when I mix the simpora.

MAN 2
Maybe we can get Gabriel to help you.

Man 1 gives a dirty look to Man 2.

MAN 2 (CONT'D)
What? It was only a suggestion.

LUC
It's all right. The boy didn't do it on purpose.

MAN 1
Are you sure you're ready to get back to work?

LUC
It's not a choice -- it's my life.

INT. ATELIER  DAY

Luc is standing in front of a bench with beakers and a pipette. He holds the pipette over one of the beakers, which is already half filled with liquid. With his gloved hand, he unscrews the release from the pipette. Liquid from the pipette trickles into the beaker. His hand is shaking. Frustrated, he throws the pipette across the room.

He opens a drawer beneath the bench and removes another pipette.

INT. CHURCH  DAY

Luc is standing in front of the Madonna he has yet to finish.  Gabriel is by his side.

Luc looks at his pallet. There's a small jar of yellowish liquid. He unscrews the lid and dips the brush slowly in it.

GABRIEL
Do you want me to do it?

Luc gives Gabriel a look of disapproval rather than a reply.

GABRIEL (CONT'D)
I'm sorry  I was only asking.

A MAN walks pass them.

MAN
Hey, Luc, welcome back!

Luc doesn't reply. He's concentrating on his work. Then, suddenly he removes his glove.

GABRIEL
Hey, you can't do that!  The doctor said you have to keep it while you're working.

LUC
I can't match the colours with that stupid thing covering my hand.

Luc brings his hand close to the Madonna's hand on the painting. But his damaged hand is red and orange from the extensive damage it has received. The colour of his hand is nothing like that of the painting.

Luc pulls the sleeve of his shirt up a bit, but the skin on his arm is too white to match the flesh on the painting. Finally, he places his damaged hand next to the Madonna's.

GABRIEL
This is never going to work.

LUC
Why don't you leave me alone? Haven't you done enough already?

Gabriel looks as if he's about to cry.

GABRIEL
I'm sorry  you know it was an accident.

Luc doesn't reply, so Gabriel, now clearly upset, walks away.

Luc dips his brush into simpora and paints. He works away, but all we see is the concentrated expression on his face. He is sweating, his eyes moving nervously from on side to the other. CLASSICAL MUSIC in the background is becoming dramatic.

Then, suddenly, he steps back to look at his work. We can't see what he has done. He just looks at the work like someone who's just given birth to a new born.

MAN 1 walks past Luc and looks over his shoulder. The expression on his face is one of sheer panic.

MAN 1
What in God's name have you done?!

Man 1 moves closer to the painting. He grabs Luc's sleeve and pushes it towards the painting.

MAN 1 (CONT'D)
Look at what you've done!

The colour of the Madonna's hand is the same as that of LUC, with all its blemishes in oranges and reds.

MAN 1 (CONT'D)
You've painted your own skin, your idiot!

Luc pulls back his hand from Man 1 and runs towards the exit of the church.

MAN 1 (CONT'D)
She's ruined! You've destroyed the painting!

INT. BUTCHER SHOP  DAY

Luc is at the counter. He removes his glove and places his damaged hand on the counter.

The Butcher is behind the counter, looking alarmed.

LUC
Cut it.

BUTCHER
Are you crazy?

LUC
If you don't cut it, I'll do it myself.

BUTCHER
You can't ask me to do that.

LUC
If I do it myself, I'll make a mess.

The butcher stands still for a few seconds, as if he is seriously considering what Luc has asked him to do. He finally backs away from the counter and shakes his head.

Without warning, Luc reaches beyond the grinding machine and grabs the large butcher's knife that lies at its base.

LUC (CONT'D)
Fine then, I'll do it myself.

LUC raises the knife.

We then see his hand on the counter.

Then the knife again.

He swings the knife hard towards the hand.

THE SCREEN TURNS BLACK.

There is a REPEATED LOUD SOUND of the knife hitting the hand and the counter top  this is the same sound we heard in the butcher shop earlier when the butcher was cutting a slab of meat.

END.

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