Gods & Monsters
written by Bill Condon
Some things you should know: at the films beginning, retired gay filmmaker James Whale (Ian McKellan) suffers a stroke. He forms a strong friendship with his (not-gay) gardener Clay Boone (Brendan Fraser); Clay agrees to let James draw his portrait (Whales other talent/passion besides film and men). Clay is sitting while James draws him in this scene. The fellow WWI soldier Barnett has been mentioned before in the movie; while in the trenches, he and Whale fell in love.Clay: Whew. This storm is getting worse.
James Whale: A perfect night for mystery and horror. The air itself is filled with monsters.
Clay: Thats from one of your movies, right?
Whale: Very good.
Clay: The only monsters are here.
Whale: (confused) Dont recall that one.
Clay: James Whale. This afternoon at the party when you said The only monsters are here--I was wondering which here that was.
Whale: I dont recall. Memories of the war perhaps. (Silence and then a revelation: a memory returning)
Whale: Barnett. Barnett on the wire.
Clay: Your friend.
Whale: Yes. He caught his one night coming back from reconnaissance. I wouldnt take him but McGill did. Just to give the laddy a taste. And they were nearly home when a maxim gun opened fire. (long pause) Barnetts body on this wire that was thick as briars. It was hanging there the next morning. It as only a hundred yards from the line. But too far......for anyone to fetch it......So we saw him every morning stand-to and every evening stand-to. Good morning, Barnett, we used to say to him. Hows old Barnett looking today? Well, he looks a little peaked. He looks a little plumper. And he hung there...(sighs deeply)...well, at least until we were relieved. We introduced him to the new unit before marching out. Speaking highly of his companionship. God, we were a witty lot. Laughing at our dead. Felling that it was our death too. But, I tell you, for each man who died, I thought: Better you than me, poor sod. (sigh) You know, a whole generation was wiped out by that war.
Clay: You survived it. Cant hurt you now. No good to dig it up.
Whale: Oh. Friend, its digging itself up. There is nothing in the here and now to take my mind off it. The parties--well, you were there. Reading--I cant, I-I cant concentrate. Theres no work, of course. And, uh, love and uh, painting. Drawing, I mean. Look.
(He tears the large sheets of paper from his pad, the one he has been working on and past portraits, revealing them to Clay. They are just scribbles, some entirely unrecognizable, some half-face forms. Clay stares, shocked)
Whale: Your portrait, Clayton. Its all gone for me now, all gone. Theyre nothing but the scribblings of an infant! Theres nothing. Nothing.
(Whale goes to the window and stares out into the pouring rain. Clay looks at him, downs his drink and stands. He removes his sweater shirt.)
Clay: You said you wanted to draw me like a statue.
(He takes off the towel he has been wearing ever since they were caught in the rain.)
(Whale, at the window still, touches the reflection.)
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