VULCANIA SCREENPLAY SYNOPSIS

 

As of April 12, 2016, we are seeking representation with this synopsis.

 

VULCANIA

 

A prequel to Walt Disney's classic 1954 motion picture version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; adapted from Pat Regan's 2013 novel Vulcanium (The Secret of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus).

 

An amicable inventor, wrongfully imprisoned and tortured for his secrets, escapes with a convict crew to an island where they build an advanced submarine. Their voyage of discovery becomes a struggle for freedom and a good man becomes a ship-sinking monster in the eyes of the world.

 

Aboard the prison ship MOIRA on the Indian Ocean in 1858, an inmate who stole food is fed to the sharks. Below decks, it's dog-eat-dog. MANU, a fierce Maori prisoner, protects a catatonic convict during their voyage to the island of RORAPANDI; otherwise, that man would have died.

Logged into Isolation as "NEMO", the mysterious invalid regains his memory. He is PRINCE RAKESH DAKKAR: nautical engineer and inventor of VULCANIUM, a new source of electrical energy. He was kidnapped and tortured by a clandestine nation of international military industrialists who wanted his discovery as a super weapon. After they murdered his wife and son, Dakkar leapt from a high window to end his own life. He survived in catatonia and was covertly shipped to Rorapandi, to live or die where the crimes against him would remain unknown.

Imprisoned, without reason to live, Nemo's sadness is so deep and profound that he wants to die. But after an attempted hanging and period of rumination, he finds the will to go on and begins exercising in his cell. An OLD CORPORAL sees a human being trying to save his own life and, though prohibited from communications, affords the inmate extra food and recreation time.

Weeks later, the prison COMMANDANT chokes to death at lunch, taking the secrets of Nemo's burned dossier with him. Not knowing whom the prisoner is and without apparent reason to hold him in Isolation, the new ACTING COMMANDANT releases Nemo to the prison's general population where he rejoins Manu, the friend who saved his life aboard the Moira.

By 1861, Nemo is planning an escape with powerful allies in the prison black market. Unknown at the time, his father (wealthy shipping magnate PRATAP DAKKAR) has sailed from Ceylon to rescue him in the lavishly refurbished corporate flagship, S.S. KORU: a former military ironclad converted for heavy cargo. Upon arrival at Rorapandi, Pratap is delayed by red tape and Nemo unknowingly steals his father's rescue ship. Twenty-four fugitives and three merchant seamen survive a cyclone at sea and take refuge on a volcanic island (VULCANIA), only to be trapped in the inner lagoon when an earthquake collapses the entrance.

Survival becomes paramount. Using materials found aboard ship and in cargo, the crew fabricates diving suits of Nemo's design to hunt and farm the lagoon. When they discover an underwater tunnel leading to the sea, a plan is born: build a submarine from the Koru's iron hull, power it with Vulcanium, and escape.

Produced in five years of difficult and dangerous labor, the submarine NAUTILUS begins a voyage of discovery, but chance sightings soon have the newspapers filled with wild stories about sea monsters. Captain Nemo discreetly returns to Ceylon, only to learn that hated nation has murdered his parents, destroyed their home, and still pursues him.

Nemo can go where none may follow, but still his enemies persist. For months, he peacefully and productively explores the sea: salvaging treasure, inadvertently inspiring JOHN PHILIP HOLLAND, seeking MARK TWAIN as an emissary, adopting a pet seal (ESMERALDA), and learning to surf, among other things. Then, Nautilus is ambushed by a mercenary warship sent by his foe. A crewman dies and Nemo is forced to sink the attacker.

The combat leaves Nemo affected with guilt and remorse, but the crew wants revenge for their fallen shipmate. Nautilus stalks and sinks the nitrate ship GOLDEN ARROW, but that only fuels Nemo's angst. He suffers from PTSD. Friends try to help but Nemo is becoming colder; darker and more distant.

In the months that follow, the crew of the Nautilus discovers the BLACK GROTTO and farms the fertile underwater plains of the sunken island CRESPO. But all the while, Nemo remains a haunted man, looking over his shoulder for the next warship on the horizon.

Then, one night while cruising serenely at depth, Nautilus is rocked by a distant explosion and surfaces to investigate. Apparently, the crew of a nitrate ship has accidentally destroyed their own vessel. Nemo knows "the monster" will be blamed. But the truth is, they made their own monster and this time it killed them.

At that moment, the warship U.S.S. ABRAHAM LINCOLN appears from beyond the burning wreckage. Nemo has no quarrel with the Americans. Nautilus turns to depart as the Lincoln fires; a long shot strikes the submarine, killing Nemo's friend Manu.

For the first time in righteous anger, Nemo wields the Nautilus as a weapon. But he breaks at the moment of truth because, even though they'd fired on him, Nemo knows the men behind those guns are not the real enemy, and he is still not a killer at heart. Nautilus veers to starboard at the last instant, raking the Lincoln to disable rather than destroy, and sending three men overboard as "the monster" disappears into the night.

Morning finds Nautilus surfaced in fog with vents and hatches open. The crew gathers around Manu's body lying in state in the Grand Salon. Nemo knows this was not his fault. If he has become a monster, men far more evil have made him one. For whatever happens next, he is not to blame. The First Mate affirms the crew's fidelity. "We understand sir. And we're with you." They bow their heads in silence.

Thus, the origins of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus are shown to vindicate an erroneously vilified and oft-maligned literary icon; giving audiences a more positive outlook on the characters and events portrayed in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, for all the benefits such might have.

Pat Regan

 

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2016, Pat Regan, "All Rights Reserved."

 

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