Film: 9696

History | 1970 | Sound | Colour

Clip:

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Synopsis:

Historical reconstruction of the motivations behind various sections of society deciding to fight against the English for independence in America ie a) The American Revolution or b) the American war of Independence.

Winter, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. A carriage drawn by two horses is driven through the streets at night. The man inside the carriage is middle aged with hair in a queue. He wears late eightennth century costume including a fawn coloured cloak and is looking out of the window. He stops looking out of the window and reaches into his inside right pocket from whence he pulls out a letter. It is a letter from his son that was written whilst the father was still in London, England. The father had expressed conern about the political situation in America and his son, James Edward had been on a fact finding mission around the various states of America. The man finishes reading the letter and puts it away. The carriage pulls up outside a large house. A man in knee breeches comes down the steps to greet the traveller. The man in knee breeches is James Edward who opens the carriage door and greets his father who alights from the carriage. The two men hug. James Edward gives the coachman coins to see to the baggage and then he and his father go inside.

In the drawing room James Edward pours two glasses of wine and gives one to his father who is seated in front of a large fireplace. They toast the New Year and the father looks at Jame's sketches. Their discussions follow the decision by the English to use garrisons in New Yorkand Jersey to quash the rebellion in the Americas. Father appears to be in favour of the British action. He has decided to close the American branch of the business until the situation is settled. Father gets up and walks to a table where there are more pencil sketches, this time of a young woman. James accuses his father of turning his back on America. James believes that the future will be decided by the people themselves. He leaves his place by the fireplace and comes to stand by his father. They continue to discuss what action might be taken. James picks up one of the sketches which is a portrait of a young woman wearing a bonnet.

Her name is Sarah Tarrant and the scene changes to one of woodland in Conneticut, USA where Sarah is walking with care as if she doesn't want to be heard or seen. She appears to be a servant by her dress and is carrying a small sack. Two soldiers - English redcoats carrying muskets come running up to her. One compliments her on her looks in a suggestive and familiar manner and she slaps his face. She tries to leave but the soldier grabs her by the arm. The other soldier intervenes and commands his colleague to return to their campfire. The first soldier, Christopher believes that she is the spy they are lookig for. The other, a corporal looks uncertain and the woman looks scared. He asks Sarah to open her sack but she refuses to do so except in the presence of an officer. The corporal accompanies the woman back to his billet leaving Christopher in the woods. They arrive at a camp where there are tents and a stockade. One soldier is seated and holding a large a drum. Another stands to attention at the stockade gate. Within the stockade other soldiers are busy with individual tasks. All of them are armed. The corporal and Sarah go towards a wooden building with a large veranda. The corporal knocks and they enter an empty room. In the corner of the room by the door is a pail and a broom hanging from a hook. In front of the door is a table with paper, quill and candlestick on. Te corporal shuts the door. He offers Sarah a seat and pulls one up for himself. He places his hat on the table and then puts on leg on the chair. and leans forward. He recommends that Sarah destroy any papers she is carrying for Washington before Captain Andrews returns from reviewing the line. The discussion is continued and then the corporal picks up his hat and leaves. Sarah hangs her head, perturbed. She then rummages inside her sack and pulls out a map which she looks at and then folds up again. She stands, still rummaging in her sack as she walks towards the fireplace. As she goes to put the papers in the fire she hears voices outside and goes to the window. Outside soldiers have captured two rebels and are treating them quite roughly. She walks back to the fireplace and stands looking indecisive. Suddenly she puts the papers in the front of her bodice. She then picks up a pillowcase and tears it into bits. She walks outside, pauses and looks at the area in the stockade in front of her. There are about ten soldiers. Two soldiers stand to attention as a large man in a larger hat - Captain Andrews we presume returns. He salutes them. Sarah leaves the veranda and walks across the open area carrying in her arms the pile of rags she has made. As she walks towards the gate she greets Captain Andrews who mistakes her for a nurse. Sarah then nods at the soldier on duty and leaves the camp with her map for the rebels safe. The scene fades in to the sketch of Sarah made by James. His father is not impressed and believes that the rebellion is not women's business.

The discussion between father and son continues with the revelation that Lord Dunmore, Governor of VIrginia, USA has offered freedom to Viginian held slaves if they will fight for the King of England. James picks up a sketch of a slave called Eric Tara and the scene fades to Eric speaking to a group of fellow slave in a small room which looks like a storeroom of some sort. He is telling them about Lord Dunmore's decree. The slaves are having a debate in which one argues that once the war is over their situation will not change. The door opens and a white man is seen on the top of the stairs looking very angry. He is clearly their master. The master walks down the stairs from the doorway and snatches the piece of paper from Eric whilst threatening to demote him from house slave to field hand if he is caught associating with the field hands again. He orders Eric back to the main house immediately. Te two of them leave the four field hands. Back in the main house, in the hall. The master removes his gloves and slams them down on a table. He stalks across the room and removes his cloak. He then takes his riding whip and slaps it agianst his thigh threatening to have Eric whipped. He is angry that the field hands know about Lord Dunmore's decree. The master is also frightened of what his slaves may do. He gives a speech about how well he treats his salves and having taught Eric to read and write and giving them no cause to wish to run away. Eric responds by saying that he had no cause to run away but that hearing the Philadelhia Decree had made him reconsider his place in society and that he considers himsef to be a man and therefore entitled to equal rights. The master throws down a piece of paper and follows with a speech on the necessity of slavery and that Eric should not trust Lord Dunmore's decree. The master gets out of the chair in which he has been sitting as their discussion becomes quite heated. As their conversation ends Eric takes the master's cloak and gloves and leaves the room. The master holds up his exit with another statement on truly free nations. Eric leaves without comment. The master is left alone staring after Eric, obviously angry and slaps his whip against his thigh again. The scene fades back to the drawing room in Boston, Massachusetts, USA where the father looks pensively into his glass of wine. He turns and speaks again to James and their discussion turns to families that have been divided by the issue of independence. Jame spicks up another sketch of a young man and woman who are married. They are the Jamiesons from Charleston, North Carolina, USA.

Scene changes to one of a young woman sitting at a desk wearing a mop cap and a floral dress. This is Mrs Jane Jamieson. Her husband, holding a letter in his hand is speaking about the war and how the blockade may mean that they can finally return to London, England. Jane is not enthused and tells Peter that America is their home. Peter considers himself to be an Englishman and not a colonist. Peter pours himself a drink from a decanter whilst discussing how soon they can leave. Jane gets up from the desk and goes to Peter. She turns away from him and then back again. Their dscussion as to why she doesn't want to leave reveals that this is not politically motivated. Peter is agitated and takes a long swallow of his drink. Jane takes Peters hands in hers whilst still trying to explain her reasons for them to stay. Jane begins to pace the room and then seats herself on a chaise longue. As their discussion continues Peter walks over to her and sits in the wing chair next to the chaise longue. As they continue talking they hold hands and then let go. During their conversation Jane states that she no longer considers herself to be English but American. Discussion gets more heated and Jane states that she will not leave and Peter says that he will leave her in order to return to England, Europe. The scene fades back to the sketch. James and his father continue their discussion. The father asks if their is anyone loyal to England. James speaks of Charles Chamberlain a Tory with lands to the north of New York, New York State, USA.

Dining room with men at dinner.There are four men at the table and all except one are soldiers. The civilian in a burgundy coloured coat is the host - Charles Chamberlain. The soldiers are English and in uniform. The oldest soldier and Chamberlain are laughing and talking. Chamberlain holds a glass of wine. The footman removes a glass stand from the table which contains fruit and places it on the sideboard. Chamberlain offers the older soldier more claret and the footman brings the decanter to the table and pours whilst the soldier continues eating. Chamberlain speaks. The officer compliments Chamberlain. The footman leaves the decanter on the table and leaves the room by the door on the far left. As he leaves we learn that his name is Burke and that he is an indentured servant and also an Irish Catholic. The colonel and Chamberlain discuss the political situation in America and that it is part of England. Chamberlain then toasts the colonel and his men for being there to defend his lands from the rebels. At this point the colonel rises followed by his men and declares that the entire regiment is withdrawing from the area. Chamberlain stands in shock. They bow and leave by exiting the room through the doorway on the right. Chamberlain looks horrified. He blots his face with his napklin and then goes to the door on the left through which Burke had left. He opens the door and shouts for Burke but here is no response. He shouts again but there is still no response. As he turns around there are three soldiers behind him. These are rebels. The leader wears a hat. The one at the rear carries a musket and the middle one is Burke. The leader brushes off his shirtsleeves. Chamberlain looks disbelieving and walks forward to the table. The leader continues to brush off his sleeves. Burke leaves the room as Chamberlain picks up a wine glass from the sideboard. The rebel leader leans one arm on the back of a chair. Chamberlain puts down the glass on the dining table and picks up the decnter. He pours wine into his glass and the empty one and restoppers the decanter. He hands the full glass to the rebel leader who gives a toast to freedom which is echoed uneasily by Chamberlain. The rebel leader looks quizzical as he is not convinced that CHamberlain is telling the truth. Chamberlain sips his wine looking very uncomfortable. The rebel leader discusses the appropriation of Chamberlain's lands in the name of the Continental Congress of the United States. Chamberlain looks horrified. He tries to shake hands with the rebel to prove that he is a patriot to America but the leader doesn't take it saying that he will need to prove his loyalty. Chamberlain looks disconcerted. Scene of a man wearing green carrying a faggot of wood over his shoulder. There are rebel soldiers building a stockade. In the forefront is Chamberlain lifting a log to go on top of otherlogs as part of th stockade. To his left is a soldier in uniform and hat lashing together logs in the wall at a right angle to that Chamberlain is working on. Chamberlain lowers the log with great difficulty. He is dresses in a white shirt and brown apron. In the background are two soldiers loading a cannon with powder. Chamberlain adjusts the logs on the wall. The soldier to his left looks angry and shouts for him to work faster. Then Burke comes up behind them. He is carrying a musket and dismisses the other soldier who moves to the other end of the walk and carries on lashing the logs together. Burke and Chamberlain exchange words and then Burke offers Chamberlain a round flask. In the background a man is pushing a wheelbarrow. Chamberlain takes the flask looking confused. Behind him various soldiers scurry back and forth. Burke speaks to Chamberlain of equality. Chamberlain unstoppers the flask and takes a swig. As Burke stops talking he restoppers the flask looking thoughtful. He hands the flask back to Burke who puts the flask strap over his shoulder. The two talk for a little while longer and then Chamberlain smiles and turns to get back to work. View of Chamberlain and another man carrying a log on their shoulders. They begin lowering it onto the wall and the scene fades back to the drawing room in Boston where James' father stands in front of the window looking disapproving. The two men speak of whether the rebels can win. Both are standing in front of the fire, one at each end of the mantlepiece. James looks downcast at his father's conviction that the KIng's troops are superior. Scene faddes to a man in York, Pennsylvanis, USA.

He is sitting on a tree stump dressed in a white shirt and brown waiscoat reading a letter. He has brown hair in a queue and is next to a small tent. As he reads another man in a longer dark waiscoat walks round the other side of the tent. He starts speaking to the first man having picked up a jacket off a barrel in front of the tent. A man with dark hair and red boots walks in front of them. The first man is Dutch and is being ribbed abut not eating. He tries to read his letter but is interrupted as the other man asks after his wife. The Dutchman is both angry and upset as his wife is ill and trying to look after both farm and children on her own. The other man throws down the jacket and picks up another item of clothing. he then puts his rght foot on the barrel. He is encouraging the Dutchman to go home as his period of enlistment is up. As he continues to speak he removes his foot from the barrel and sits instead. The Dutchman looks undecided. He gets up off his tree stump, folds his letter and puts it in his waistcoat pocket. He then picks up his musket and walks away. Scene of Dutchman walking through a clearing in a wood with cut timber on the ground. He is carrying his musket over his right shoulder. Scene of pebble falling in to water. causing ripples. Dutchman is sitting on a rocky outcrop in the side of a river. He is thowing pebbles in to the water. His musket is by his side and he looks thoroughly miserable. He throws another pebble in to the water and fiddles with the ones in his hand. He throws another and then another. Having run out of pebbles he gets up, picks up his musket and starts walking. Dutchman returns to his tent. he is smiling. The other soldier is lounging inside his tent. The Dutchman comes round the corner and prods the other soldier in the foot with his musket. The other soldier rises and they speak. They then leave the tent together and walk down a dirt track between two fields away from the camera.

The scene fades to a sketch of the Dutchman reading his letter, sketch of Eric Tara, sketch of a girl in a bonnet, of a man with a beard, of Burke, of Sarah Tarrant. Clock shows midnight. The two men are standing in front of the clock facing each other. The are holdng red glass goblets with wine in and toast the New Year. They speak and then raise their glasses again and drink. They speak and as they do so look more and more apprehensive. James is to fight for the rebels and his father to return to England.

Filmed on location at:

John Brown House, Providence, Rhode Island, USE
Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater, New York, USA
Shuyler House, Schuylerville, New York, USA
Schuylar Mansion, Albany, New York, USA
Sleepy Hollow Restorations INc, Tarrytown, New York, USA.


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