Across a Great Plain

Created by Nicholas Hulbert, The Pitch 2019

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Across a Great Plain follows Mose, a Swedish factory worker at the turn of the 20th century who flees to rural England after killing his supervisor following an industrial dispute. He's taken in by a farmer's family after he protects the daughters from harassment on their way to fetch water, and becomes romantically involved with, and then married to, Sophia, the eldest. Over time, the tensions between his Swedish, Lutheran cultural background and her High-Church Anglican one grow, coming to a head at the baptism of their first child, when Mose realises he truly has become a stranger in a foreign land. Across a Great Plain draws on two cinematic traditions to answer one central question: can Mose really ever settle into his new home? The film follows in the footsteps of post-Westerns, particularly 1992's Unforgiven and 1978's Days of Heaven, in its interest in travel as a form of incomplete redemption for past misdeeds. It will also draw heavily on Scandinavian film tradition and aesthetics, most of all in the spartan, domestic setting of 1987's Babette's Feast, and the colour palette and narrow, personal interest of conflicting religious cultures from 1982's Fanny och Alexander.

Biblical Connection

Across a Great Plain is an adaptation of Exodus 2:15-22. Mose's backstory comes from Exodus 2:11-12 and his character's reticence is informed by Exodus 4:10 ("I am not eloquent", KJV). The Christian cultural elements draw on my background as half Danish: my great-uncle was a vicar in the (Lutheran) Danish People's Church. Religious-cultural conflict as a central part of the narrative comes from evidence that the Midians worshipped the Jewish god as part of a larger pantheon - that is, Midian/England exists as a place intimately connected with, but not identical to, Mose(s)'s belief system. This story particularly benefits from its position as a Biblical adaptation: its relationship to the Bible reflects back on its central dramatic question. If the story is read as an adaptation of Exodus, we understand that Mose will never truly settle in, as he is destined to return to Egypt/Sweden in order to liberate his people. This highlights his personal tragedy, adding to the short for a Christian audience without putting undue stress on the narrative for viewers without Biblical familiarity. The pitch video was shot at St. Cuthbert's Church in Earl's Court, London, who have offered their full support if the project moves forwards.