Sneak Peek

FADE IN:

EXT. ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE –AFTERNOON

An eagle’s eye view, as emerald meadows roll toward a crystal lake that mirrors the summer sky.

VOLTAIRE (V.O.)
Dear Sir, You have it in your power– I implore you not to clip the wings of our writers so closely. Nor turn them into barnyard fowl, those who might become eagles.

Tender tree tops sway– RUSTLE.

SUPER– ENGLAND — 1733

Under the broad shade tree, reclines a debonair 40-year-old writer, philosopher, known best by his pen name, VOLTAIRE.

Voltaire’s face appears painted with a permanent smile.
He dips his quill and speaks as he composes.

VOLTAIRE
Reasonable liberty permits the mind to soar, slavery makes it creep.

A young horseman (29) ALEXANDER POPE, riding a CHESTNUT STALLION, circles the path around the lakeshore.

VOLTAIRE
Allowing a variety of literature will have produced two important things– profit and pleasure.

The YOUNG HORSEMAN dismounts and now reads over his shoulder.

Voltaire gently blows the ink on the paper and holds it closer for him to read.

The horsemen’s eyes skim the page as he shakes his head.

ALEX POPE
Nice words Monsieur Voltaire, but it is profit they take pleasure in. Keep the profit line– just take out the other gibberish.

Their grins are contagious.

ALEX POPE
But tell me more of your last pleasure in Paris.

Voltaire turns, his smile broader than usual.

VOLTAIRE
Ah, true pleasure, a woman with beauty and– brains. I must admit, it was not her mind that I first noticed.

The two men smirk and nod in understanding.

VOLTAIRE
I tried not to stare, but it was obvious where my attention was focused–

INT. (FLASH TO) PARIS, SALON NIGHT

Vivaldi’s CONCERTO No.2 “La Cetra:, resonates. Everyone who is anyone is here. Voltaire sees only one.

EMILIE CHATELET (28) stands poised, strawberry blonde hair, light bright eyes- her dress supple and tight, accentuating every curve.

VOLTAIRE (V.O.)
Dear Lord, the bodice of her dress is cut so low, her nipples forewarn an appearance.

Voltaire moves closer, his eyes dart from her mouth to her breasts. Emilie notices and speaks with sharp speed.

EMILIE
It is as though men think that women were born only to flirt, so they are given nothing but that activity to exercise their minds.

Voltaire’s smile broadens as he inches even closer…

VOLTAIRE
Ah, you say that you do not flirt? I must confess, I feel like a butterfly drawn to lavender.

His eyes drift below her necklace.

EMILIE
So now you compare my breasts to tiny flowers?

Voltaire shakes his head no, mumbles, speechless.

EMILIE
Do I not hear the poetry of a writer and the mind of a bas–otanist? Would you not allow me to enhance my own body and mind?

Voltaire, caught off guard and stands back a little smaller.

EMILIE
Instead, women are allowed only crumbs to quiet us by the more powerful minds.

Emilie sensually plays with her hair, as her finger moves close to the curve of her breast. His eyes follow.

VOLTAIRE
You immediately assume that men are the more powerful. Oh contraire; it is women who take liberty over us.

EMILIE
That is not true liberation nor much competition.

VOLTAIRE
I think you are all the competition I would need.

Emilie’s eyes dart nervously, as if caught in a trap.

Voltaire bites into an apple. Emilie’s eyes brighten as she stares at the apple and opens her mouth with confidence.

EMILIE
I’m sure you’ve read Paradise Lost.

Voltaire, nods, curious, takes another bite of the apple.

EMILIE
I dare think that Monsieur Newton used the symbolic apple intentionally. He knew the symbolism of Milton and the Bible well.

VOLTAIRE
Clever.

EMILIE
I plan to translate Newton’s Principia (Prin kip ee ah) from Latin into French.

Votaire looks surprised.

VOLTAIRE
You could do that?

EMILIE
There are many things you do not know about me.

Emilie twirls her curls and looks at Voltaire provocatively.

EMILIE
I am convinced that either women are unaware of their talents from their lack of education or they bury them for want of intellectual courage.

VOLTAIRE
I cannot imagine you void of courage.

EMILIE
True. On one occasion I found the daring to enter the Cafe Gradot. You know, where the best minds of France- pass many hours in debate.

Voltaire raises his brow in surprise.

EMILIE
I only wanted to review Mathematics with my tutor, Monsieur Maupertuis. I’m not one to allow others to dictate what I might do. So…

(FLASH BACK TO) INT. CAFE GRADOT: — AFTERNOON

Well dressed men read and drink coffee, others in discussion.
A man at the piano plays Bach’s “Aire On a G String”.

Emilie tries to enter but is met at the door.
The Cafe Keeper forcefully shoes her toward the door.
The music stops.

CAFE KEEPER
Why? Why, on the grounds that women are not allowed!

EMILIE (V.O.)
So, I left, but later, I reappeared.

Emilie walks in, hair tucked under hat, a mustache drawn on her face and in the complete attire of a man. All the men stare in shock and amusement.

EMILIE (V.O.)
It was not an attempt to fool anyone, but to make a statement on what I thought was ridiculous.

Emilie is applauded by MAUPERTUIS and the men at his table and invited to sit with them.

The Cafe Keeper reluctant, brings her a cup of coffee.

EMILIE
I then began to believe that I was not merely viewed as a woman in man’s attire, but a being with a mind.

Emilie sits tall among men.

EXT. (FLASH PRESENT) PARIS, SALON, GARDEN– NIGHT

EMILIE
Chance acquainted me with men of letters and by choice it is I who extends my hand of friendship to you.

Voltaire gazes in admiration as Emilie extends her hand. He caresses her hand, takes her arm toward the garden party.

VOLTAIRE
I must confess– your intelligence and honesty are refreshing. It is my honesty that usually gets me in trouble.

Emilie raises her brow to ask how and why..

VOLTAIRE
Once, I even got into difficulty without speaking a word.

Emilie hangs on his every word.

VOLTAIRE
It was upon my first exile to England; an angry mob rushed after me shouting that they were going to hang me–

Voltaire holds his neck.

VOLTAIRE
They seriously wanted to hang me– simply for being French!

EMILIE
What did you do?

VOLTAIRE
I turned and faced them and loudly stated, “Men of England, am I not punished enough for not being born an Englishman?

Emilie CACKLES and raise her brow as to ask- and…

EMILIE
And then what?

VOLTAIRE
They spontaneously applauded, patted me on the back and then escorted me safely to the Inn where I was staying.

Emilie applauds as they both laugh out loud.

EMILIE
Was this also the stay when you became acquainted with the works of Locke?

VOLTAIRE
Yes, I concur with Locke that– without fair government, little progress in science is possible.

EMILIE
As you know, I am most fascinated with Newton’s writings.

VOLTAIRE
I hear the mind of a scientist and a heart that speaks with as great a rapidity as your lips.

He tenderly touches her lips.

VOLTAIRE
I desire to pursue this further. I must also be honest, at this moment, it is not intellectual discourse that I have in mind.

The tension is intense.
He leans toward her to kiss her, as she slowly bends toward him.

A woman rushes toward them. A friend, MADAME GRAFFIGNY, (50’s) owner of the salon, a refined and independent woman, with a reputation for bluntness, interrupts.

MADAME GRAFFIGNY
Madame Chatelet, I do not mean to interrupt.
(whispers)
Your husband may not wish you the luxury in public as he does himself.

Voltaire’s eyes widen and Emilie looks toward the party inside where her husband, the Marquis Du Chatelet, is being caressed by two other women. Her husband glares back at her…

(Continued…) For the rest of the story…
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