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The Oppression

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I'm currently in the process of writing a screenplay based in occupied France and would appreciate it if you'd give me your feedback! It's turned out to be more of a messy cross between a novel and a film script, but it should be relatively easy to read nonetheless. I don't know a great deal about World War 2, so I apologise if there are any historical inaccuracies.

ALEXANDRE leaves a house and wanders out into a bustling street, observing crowds of people as they go about their business under a dreary, glum overcast. He sighs as he notices a stern looking man in Wehrmacht uniform, casually leaning against the wall of a shop while tightly grasping his Gewehr 43 rifle. The town truly seems to be absolutely packed with energetic life, and after coming to a realization of this, Alexandre’s mouth curves into a smile.

ALEXANDRE: Ah, I sense this shall be a good day.

Alexandre proceeds to stroll across the street, taking a right turn on the next road before approaching a strangely enthusiastic moustached man. He extends his arm, and Alexandre shakes it, nodding in a friendly manner.

ALEXANDRE: Francis, it is good to see you again! Comment allez-vous?

FRANCIS smirks, giving Alexandre another ridiculously enthusiastic nod.

FRANCIS: I’m doing well my friend; it’s a pleasure to see you again! My, it’s been a while…

The pair cease remaining stationary, and begin a leisurely walk across the town’s grandiose plaza.

ALEXANDRE: Indeed it has! How’s the wife?

FRANCIS: Well, if I’m honest Alex…

Francis quickly glances around the area, scanning it in a cautious manner.

FRANCIS: The German bâtards have been making family life extremely difficult… We can hardly even visit the park without being harassed by the imbeciles.

Alexandre releases a heavy sigh of breath, nodding slowly.

ALEXANDRE: We've all been subject to unjust Fritz love my friend, I just hope the allies will succeed in their mission to liberate us and ultimately win this god-forsaken war.

FRANCIS: I hope so too. I'm unsure of how much longer I'll be able to tolerate hostility from the fascist Third Reich.

The two continue walking, before noticing a Wehrmacht patrol group which they carefully avoid. The soldiers seem to be completely and utterly fixated on marching ahead, and their polished boots make a distinctive clunking sound as they slam into the muddy ground.

Francis shakes his head and groans, turning to Alexandre.

FRANCIS: You can't walk five metres without finding yourself face-to-face with a German scumbag!

Alexandre slowly raises his index finger to his lips, emitting a quiet “shush” sound from them.

ALEXANDRE: Be careful what you say, Francis. I'm willing to bet a large amount of the populace here co-operate with them. We don't want some horribly manipulated loyalist informing the entire Heer of our attitude towards their occupation.

FRANCIS: Oui, you make a fair case. I shall try to be more discreet in the future.

ALEXANDRE: Good, I'm glad to hear that. I don't want you to be thrown into some worn German cell and left to rot.

Alexandre wipes his eyes along the street in a paranoid manner, clearly afraid of someone listening in.

ALEXANDRE: I think it's best I head home now, and I suggest you do the same. I fear someone may have heard our little conversation.

A pair of German soldiers become visible at the end of the street. Alexandre gazes at them for a moment, before hastily scurrying away in the opposite direction.

Francis remains on the pavement, still staring at the Wehrmacht pair. They look towards him, and he quickly swivels around on his heel and walks away.

The screen transitions to what appears to be a German military camp, filled with disciplined soldiers going about their business. A particularly aggressive looking soldier with an Unterfeldwebel insignia on his shoulder approaches a brown truck with a squad of his fellow comrades following closely behind.

The Unterfeldwebel quickly turns to his troops, standing straight with a tremendous look of authority about him.

UNTERFELDWEBEL STEINER: We have received reports that resistance activity is present at the nearby farmland, and so we have been ordered by the higher commandants to commence an immediate investigation!

UNTERFELDWEBEL STEINER's voice is extremely raspy, and his eyes seem to be burning with a lust to unleash fury on the enemy.

UNTERFELDWEBEL STEINER: We shall load into this truck and subtly approach the area from the East. From then on we will perform a full sweep of the area and detain or eliminate hostile contacts if necessary. Only fire if fired upon, and avoid killing them. Our superiors want them alive.

The Unterfeldwebel hauls himself into the passenger seat of the truck, seating himself snugly next to the driver. His soldiers climb into the back and do their best to make themselves comfortable on the wooden benches, although there's a sense of clear anxiety radiating among the group that makes that considerably difficult.

OBERSOLDAT VONNEGUT: So… eh... How are you guys d-doing?

The soldiers do not provide the Obersoldat with an answer, and simply glance at each other blankly, all gripping their weapons incredibly tightly. Each soldier seems to be shivering and sweating, waiting fearfully for their arrival. One soldier appears to be peculiarly calm and collected, simply staring out at the surrounding fields and foliage; there is a grotesque looking scar on his right cheek, implying he has seen combat before. The whining groan of the engine seems to amplify as they approach their destination.

OBERSOLDAT VONNEGUT: There's so much tension in this truck that you could slice it with a butter knife! Haha!

This time the soldiers burst out in ridiculous laughter, blatantly using it as a means of defense against their petrifying terror... The scarred soldier remaining silent as he continues to gaze out at the landscape.

As the soldiers stop laughing a transition is seen, and a large room with a table in its center is presented on the screen, a group of about a dozen people surrounding it. One of the men stands up before awkwardly clearing his throat.

LUCRECE: After months of unacceptable, unjust and absolutely disgusting fascist love, it is high time we make a stand! The innocent, fantastic people of our once great and prosperous land have been subject to harsh bullying from the idiot ruffians of the Third Reich for too long! I propose that we form a resistance force, one that will grant the wishes and prayers of the men, women and children of the entire country! I have gathered you all here today because each and every one of you possesses an undeniable fiery hate for the fascists, and I believe you would all make exceptional leaders! If we combine our power and inspire the people to take a stand and resist, we can liberate this land once and for all! Who’s with me?!

The attendants immediately stand up and erupt into a hearty cheer, clearly determined to combine arms and build a powerful army composed of courageous freedom fighters.

As the cheering comes to an end the screen transitions back to the Wehrmacht patrol group and dark, dreadful music begins to play. The camera pans in to the back of the truck and the terrified soldiers remain seated, sweat pouring out of every gland of their bodies. Shocked expressions seem to be permanently plastered onto their faces and the scarred soldier continues staring blankly out at the passing landscape. After a few moments, the Unterfeldwebel’s raspy, shrill banshee of a voice vibrates the entire truck.

UNTERFELDWEBEL STEINER: The barn is only a few thousand metres away now, so I suggest you eliminate your fears and prepare for combat! Remember the Fatherland and our success will be inevitable!

Each soldier seems frozen with uncanny terror, one of them muttering a nervous prayer as the truck begins to slow to a stop.

The engine’s ear-blistering roar comes to a sudden halt, and the Unterfeldwebel quietly pushes open the passenger seat door and sets his feet down on the damp French soil.

The camera pans out and reveals both the barn and the surrounding fields. The truck can be seen parked directly in the middle of a thriving corn field, the soldiers carefully dismounting it and gathering their equipment. The outside of the barn is completely desolate, and there is no sign of any resistance hostiles. The camera cuts to a worm’s eye view as the Wehrmacht soldiers organise themselves into a line in front of the bold Unterfeldwebel.

UNTERFELDWEBEL STEINER: You are to be as silent as possible throughout the entirety of this operation; we must remain unseen and hidden if our victory is to be guaranteed.

The soldiers silently acknowledge the Unterfeldwebel’s words, gripping their weapons like petrified small children clutching onto their teddy bears. As always, the scarred soldier remains peculiarly calm and unaffected by the crippling symptoms of fear.

After a few seconds the Unterfeldwebel quickly takes point and signals his team to follow, leading them across the treeline towards the eerie, seemingly empty barn. The soldiers move surprisingly swiftly, each of their movements possessing a strange deadly grace despite the overload of fear each one of them is experiencing.

The soldiers eventually reach the end of the treeline after a couple of minutes of advancing, and their cover begins to run thin. The Unterfeldwebel gives the signal for them to stop with his hand, and he quietly whispers to his fireteam.

UNTERFELDWEBEL STEINER: I fear the enemy may be aware of our presence. The barn’s exterior seems empty and it’s possible that they’ve set up a nice little ambush for us. However, as we all know, they will surely be no match for the might of the German Wehrmacht! We will follow the barn’s Eastern wall and enter from behind.

The soldiers lower into crouching positions and resume their approach on the barn, using fragile hay bales as cover as they head towards the wall.

The camera then transitions to the resistance meeting seen a few minutes ago, and each attendee seems fearful. Everyone is now seated again, and no one utters a single word for a few moments. Lucrece then releases a loud whisper from his lips.

LUCRECE: My watchman has just reported that Fritz troops are converging on our position. It seems someone has been… unfaithful to our cause. Worry not, an RAF unit provided me and my men with a few weapons and a hefty quantity of ammo, though it is not enough for all of us. It will have to be shared out scarcely among the group, and I fear some of us will not be able to defend ourselves.

Lucrece stumbles over to a wooden crate in the corner of the room and slowly lifts open its lid, revealing a multitude of firearms and ammunition. He pulls out each gun and tosses them across the table, the other resistance members wildly climbing over it and hastily grabbing each weapon as quickly as they can. After the majority of the rebels have equipped themselves, Lucrece then slides ammo cartridges across the table and the rebels clamber over the table and snatch them in the same fashion as before. One man with an uncanny look of determination on his middle-aged face slides a sharp combat knife sporting a gut hook from his pocket, stroking and brandishing it in an almost sinister manner. Lucrece glances over at him and grins nervously.

LUCRECE: Fancy yourself some more personal combat, eh, my friend?

The man nods quickly, his lips curving into a sly yet noticeably nervous smile.

The clanking and clicking of assault rifles, pistols and machine guns being clumsily loaded echoes throughout the room for a couple of minutes and then a deathly silence befalls the resistance members. Awkward glances are exchanged across the room, and frightened gulps, grunts and moans are the only noises that can be heard. Each of them remains still for a while, all clearly frozen to the bone by their longing to survive. The temptation to flee and hide is overwhelming, a pungent odor of petrified sweat radiating about the room. Lucrece is the first to finally utter a word, his sense of responsibility and leadership having overcome his understandable fear.

LUCRECE: We shall remain here and fire upon the Germans when they stumble too close, allowing us to quickly eliminate them from above. Our advantageous position should render us able to destroy them without sustaining any casualties. I need three machinegunners to mount their weapons on the windows and fire at will. Another three of you will head downstairs and take up position behind cover, ready for them if they somehow manage to get inside. You three will exit through the back entrance and flee into the treeline, allowing you to flank them if this goes pear-shaped. And finally, you...

Lucrece extends his hand and points at the knife-wielding man who is now sharpening his combat knife, scraping it against the upper part of a damaged Lee-Enfield he clearly scavenged from the very bottom of the munitions crate.

LUCRECE: I want you by my side, as you're quite obviously a determined fighter. I'll move to the South wall of the farm and provide suppressive fire with my Sten. I'd like you, if you're courageous enough, to get a little up and close to the Germans if you... know what I mean.

The knife-wielding man chuckles loudly and enthusiastically nods his head; before marching towards Lucrece and bowing respectfully, knife held tightly in hand.

LUCRECE: Alright! Go, go, go! Let's take up positions before the Germans are breathing down our necks!

Each resistance member frantically rushes to their position, the urgency of the situation pressuring and forcing them onwards, the atmosphere thickening as pulse rates increase and sweat glands perspirate. It seems as if the body odor radiating around the unstable barn alone could successfully cripple the enemy's ranks without issue, and even the bravest of the group find themselves tightly held by the grasp of fear.

The scene slowly fades out and the Wehrmacht squad are revealed taking cover behind the barn's Northern wall, seemingly listening out for any careless noises or disturbances that could give away the rebels' position.

The disciplined soldiers remain stationary for a moment, using their ears like discreet biological radars that are on the prowl for even the very slightest sign of enemy movement. For a few moments these radars detect nothing but the peaceful melodies of summer – The calm ripple of the French wind, the quiet whisper of tree leaves rustling and the chirping of ecstatic, oblivious birds. This natural tune hypnotizes each of them for a brief moment; bringing thoughts of their homes, their loved ones and all that they cherish to mind. Positive, meaningful memories flow through every crevice of their minds, carrying them to a state of what would have been euphoria if it were not for the devastating battle and impending doom ahead of them. Instead of intense happiness, these thoughts bombard them with fear, sorrow, despair, regret, and a powerful longing to survive and return to their families.

At last, the hypnosis is crushed by an unusually deafening sneeze that instantly provides them with the location of the French forces. In a matter of a few quick seconds, the squad assesses and analyses their environment with elite military accuracy and discovers that the sneeze came from the main barn, giving the implication that the enemy are planning an almost laughably obvious ambush. Opposite this main barn is a small stables which the soldiers assume is also sheltering a number of armed rebels. The Unterfeldwebel immediately formulates an advanced tactical plan and quietly relays it to his men.

UNTERFELDWEBEL STEINER: Atleast one enemy in the barn, more probably spread out on both floors - likely planning an ambush. Forces are undoubtably positioned in the stables opposite the barn and in covered areas surrounding it. We shall each throw in a smoke grenade and proceed to breach the area. Obersoldats will flank around the South entrance of the barn and I and the Obergefreiter will provide suppressive fire from here, the North entrance. On my mark we will execute the plan and proceed to deal with each of our enemies. Remember, high command would prefer us to keep as many alive as possible so only kill if necessary.

As the officer finishes his sentence the screen darkens to black and then reveals Lucrece and his foolhardy knife-wielding comrade at the South entrance, carefully hiding behind the walls and waiting for the enemy to execute their plan.

Lucrece's lungs expand and contract at lightning fast speed – Hyperventilation – A bi-product of his confused, frightened and shocked state of mind. The man accompanying him is clearly desperately attempting to contain his own dread by taking deep, steady breaths; an effort that is apparently working. He appears to be relatively well-composed and has apparently collected every shard of his apprehension. He turns to Lucrece.

PARRIS: Relax. I am certain God stands by our side and will provide us with his strength, willpower and ability we require. We will succeed, my friend. Worry not. Now please, Lucrece, tell me, where do you live?

Lucrece continues to frantically pant for a few moments before his breathing slows down dramatically, Parris' words having remedied his hyperventilation.

LUCRECE: I... I live in a small cottage near here, on the outskirts of the town.

PARRIS: Good... Good... Do you live with anyone?

Lucrece doesn't reply for a moment as he allows his breathing to return to normal. After a few seconds he slowly caresses his forehead with his sleeve, wiping off the sweat and tears that have amassed there.

LUCRECE: I have a lovely, caring wife. Her name is Caroline.

PARRIS: What does she look like? How's her personality?

LUCRECE: She's the kindest person I've ever met, and she completely seduced me with her fantastic charm and beauty. She's quirky and amusing, but she's always serious when she needs to be. She has long blonde hair, brown eyes and the voice of an angel. I love her with every fibre of my heart, and when she dies, I will also die. We met a few years ago, before the Nazis occupied the country, at the bakery in town. It sounds incredibly cliché but I firmly believe that it was love at first sight. I was in need of a snack and bought the last croissant that was available... She walked in shortly after as the baker packaged the croissant and I noticed she seemed frustrated. Of course, me being the ignorant young man I was, I set out to be the knight in shining armour and sought to save this damsel in distress. I offered her the croissant and she, because of her compassionate heart, politely declined it. I firmly insisted that she take it, she did, and delved into it right there and then. Come to think of it, she's quite the pig when it comes to eating and table manners.

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