Synopsis of the screenplay "The Witch Queen of the Orient Sun" by Elisabetta Errani Emaldi

Synopsis of the screenplay

The Witch Queen of the Orient Sun

L'Odyssey of a cruise ship and her crew, with the “Witch Queen of the Orient Sun” ’s premonitions. In contact with the mysterious Eastern world, between Singapore and Jakarta, threatened by racism, mutiny, hurricanes, fires and toxic smoke which doesn’t allow to sail.

On March 1991 I have two dreams where my father (died on 1989) tells me that I will have an extraordinary odyssey in the East, on board ship.

In one of the two dreams, I see blood dripping from my mouth, in the other one my father tells me that he will cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. Almost twenty days after these dreams, I join the ship named “Orient Sun”, berthed in a dock at Piraeus, Greece, waiting to sail for the East. During the voyage, I am a supervisor and I have to teach Lilian how to use computer and be a shop manager. Lilian boards with Alfio (her lover).

When I meet Lilian on the plane, I recognize in her hair and eyes, the same ones I already saw in my dream. A few days later we leave the dock, sailing to Singapore. On June the 15th, in the night, air conditioning stops working and I wake up immediately, dripping with sweat and remembering a dream where Eastern people take over half of the shop on board and sell Chinese goods. In the meanwhile, I disembark and see Lilian and Alfio on a cart drawn by a horse leaving, and leaving me. During the sailing, in the evenings, I usually meet with the general manager, the purser and the engine room officers on the Sun Deck; we drink beer and we talk a lot. During one of these evenings, I discover that the general manager is a racist: he hates the Filipino crew. One morning, a few days before reaching Singapore, the ship meets a hurricane which lasts three long days.

The hurricane has been so strong that it has completely destroyed the villages on the nearby islands, and we see the remnants floating on the water. We reach Singapore with one day delay. The general manager is very angry and accuses Filipino crew to be good for-nothing, as far as he is concerned, he would kill them just like Hitler killed the Jews. I stare at him, disappointed, and I think about all those useless evenings spent trying to make him reflect upon his terrible ideas. The first cruise is delayed, in order to finish some works on the ship.

During this maiden voyage there will be only V.I.PS. and Travel Agents on board, that’s why everything must be perfect, in order to have good publicity and fill the ship with rich passengers. Just like in my dream, two days later the Charterer breaks the contract with the Company I work for, the crew must disembark. Lilian tells me that she won’t remain on board without Alfio, I agree with her but I please her to wait until I find a new assistant.

The Indonesian Charterer takes half of the shop with the intention to sell Chinese goods. The Charterer disembarks anybody who is no good for his purpose. Alfio leaves, leaving Lilian crying. When the voyage starts and the ship is full of passengers, a lot of sailing problems begin: food is disgusting, air conditioning always doesn’t work, and travel agents protest threatening bad publicity. Many passengers prefer sleeping outside on the deck, instead of suffering the heat during the night.

In Singapore all the newspapers write about the terrible experience lived by travel agents on the “Orient Sun”. But the Charterer doesn’t lose heart and thanks to a big publicity (great winnings at the Casino, strip-tease shows, luxury prostitutes and “special” masseuses): he succeeds in taking aboard passengers. In the following days, because of a broken pipe (they suppose), potable water and sea water mix in the pipe-lines of the ship, the crew and I are obliged to drink that mix because the Charterer doesn’t sell potable water at bars, he only allows the delivery in passengers’ cabins.
From that moment on, I notice blood dripping from my mouth. At last, I recruit purser Frank’s wife and Lilian disembarks. Captain Michael too is a racist: he doesn’t trust the crew and irritates it with repeated drills every four days.

On July the 27th, in the harbour of Jakarta, the umpteenth fire drill. I feel sick and when the drill finishes I don’t have lunch and I prefer to go to sleep. During my sleep I dream of an handsome Indian Prince wearing a wonderful colored turban: he starts massaging my gum, I feel a kind of energy entering my mouth, while a strange heat wraps my body; suddenly I see a lot of particles running inside my mouth and becoming part of my teeth. The following days the blood stops dripping from my mouth. Unfortunately, the entire crew starts having dysentery and Win, the doctor, decides to inoculate everybody against cholera and other diseases, in order to prevent quarantine.

After a couple of months, we discover that all the pipe-lines are ok, there is no broken pipe, but the mix happened because of the incompetence of one officer. Captain Michael tries to conquer me, but I don’t like him and he is married! That is not accord to my principles.

The Charterer disembarks even the general manager, who is replaced by Hong, a very handsome Chinese. With his savoir faire he conquers Desery, one of my friends, a hostess. She will tell me everything about her affair with the Chinese. Because of the heat, almost 45° C., there are fires on the Indonesian Islands; that is dangerous for our sailing because the smoke avoids us to see and we risks collision with other ships (during the night it is impossible to sleep because of the foghorn). Even inside the ship we notice small clouds of smoke, floating in the air. They are grey and toxic. I start feeling sick again. One night, I am half-asleep and I see the transparent image of my father trying to cure me with acupuncture. I feel a strange energy coming out from my plexus (this energy will last a few days).

On August the 24th, ship berths in Singapore, I immediately run to the MT. Elizabeth Hospital where I have a blood test. On the 28th, when I go to withdraw the result of the blood test, Doc. Charles T.C. Lim says to me: “You are as strong as a horse, you know? You had hepatitis A but now, your body has created antibodies and you are infectious no more”. In the following weeks I dream about the ship, she will stop sailing, in a future, but I don’t know the reason why. In one of these dreams, I realize that our Captain will be struck in a psychologic way by a very sad event. One night, during a birthday party of one of the crew, the Captain and a Filipino have a quarrel and the Captain hits him; the entire Filipino crew helps the man and there is a kind of mutiny. Henry (the cabin chief) wants to help the Captain but he is wounded at the head and the day after he must go to the hospital. The same day, the entire Filipino crew accuses the Captain of being a racist and threatens to leave the ship. The Captain leaves the ship in the hands of the staff Captain, but four days later, when the ship comes back to Singapore, fifty Filipino people of the crew are replaced with Burmese and the Captain keeps commanding the ship. But, just like in my dream, he stops smiling and his hair turns grey in a short time. In the meanwhile, we discover that Henry received a bribe from the tip of his stewards; so the Company fires him.

On September 199l I have a very short dream of one of my friends Edward Gibbs who is nervously running up and down the ship, worried about a stain of black liquid in a room full of electric wires.

On October, I dream I am in Italy, at my uncle’s funeral. Shocked, once in Singapore, I immediately call home in order to have his news; my mother tries to hide me the truth, but at the end she tells me that my uncle has a cancer and he is in hospital now. At last the wet monsoon arrives, and the rains extinguish the fires on the Indonesian islands. Towards the end of October, I see Edward running to me; he is excited and tells me that one of my dreams comes true: his assistant woke him up at six in the morning because one room full of electric wires has flooded with black liquid. At the beginning of November, I have another short dream where I see our ship abandoned in a harbour, grey smoke going out from one of her side. One evening I tell my dream to Shirley Kok, purser assistant and amazingly she had the same dream. And even Mr.Tono, the Charterer accountant, who has listened to us, tells he has had the same dream and in his dream the ship moved on wheels and stranded. Shirley and I tell the dream to the officers, explaining that a common dream can surely come true. Same month, another dream: Mr. Edward Gibbs suffering on his bed, with his feet on a pillow.

Twenty days later he has problems with his ankles and the doctor of the ship orders him not to move for two weeks. At the end of the month I dream of two mobsters (they look like the Charterer and Mr. Willer Wuner), and they tell me they have the power to keep me on board for long time. I wake up immediately: now I understand that my staying on board, in that “prison”, will last many months.

The Company orders me to find somebody interested on buying goods and leading the shop, so I keep on dreaming future events and purchasers. But when I meet a possible Chinese purchaser, the Charterer upsets everything. In the meanwhile, many passengers prefer other ships and that intensifies the financial problems of our Charterer. After many negotiations, Charterer’s wife tells me she is very interested on buying, but her husband is still doubtful. I try to contact him, but when I reach him on the phone he postpones the deal on January 1992.

For that reason I must delete the flight I booked for December the 20th. I decide to take what is happening philosophically: on board the crew love me after all: they tell me: “Mommy, we love you” and I usually answer: “Hi children of the Orient Sun, I love you too”. Captain Michael disembarks because of a turnover and he is replaced by the English Captain Philip, who, being not a racist, is loved by the crew. I also dream when I will come back to Italy the airplane company will lose my luggage. On January the 2nd, my father and my ex-boss, Mr. Valdettaro (dead by cancer on 1990), appearing on a dream, tell me that the ship will stop.

During the breakfast I tell the dream to the officers and the Captain too, but they answer my dream won’t come true: the Charterer has signed a 18 months contract, we have spent 8 and break it would mean to pay a penalty clause. January the 5th , early morning, half-asleep I find myself in front of The White House, in the U.S.A, surrounded by some people dressed in black, they incite me to enter but I refuse, astonished, saying: “Do I really have to go into The White House? Well, what should I say to the people living there?” While I feel two presences at my side, with the eyes of my mind I see a beautiful golden Cross and a book with a golden cover full of diamonds. They are glittering. Astonished I say: “Oh my goodness! The Cross means my sacrifice on writing that book!” when I hear a voice saying: “You will tell them your story and conquer them all!” The sound of that voice is so convincing that I am touched. I wake up and realize that the White House is for the American People, and with the story of my adventure on the Orient Sun I will conquer their attention. About the sacrifice on writing the book, at that time I didn’t know that I would have had a bad desease that would have made me almost blind (when I started writing it I was only one tenth per eye).

On January the 7th 1992, the Charterer collects all his things and runs away just like a burglar. If the shipowner doesn’t find another Charterer, the ship will stay in the harbour and the crew will be without a job. The Captain and the officers, remembering my premonitory dream, nickname me “The Witch Queen of The Orient Sun”. During this stay, my boss advises me to sell the goods to some businessman in Singapore, but unfortunately there are laws which avoid to disembark duty
free goods in Singapore. At the end, I must send the whole goods to Venice, facing a lot of problems which delay my leaving again. On January the 13th 1992, the fire alarm wakes up the whole crew. Smoke caused by the fire goes out from one side of the ship, nearby the lower cabins.

The Captain orders to reach ship’s boat number three, waiting for the disembark, but the fire is extinguished in one hour and he orders to come back to our cabins. At last I find a good forwarding agency in order to send the whole load to Italy! The crew and the officers lead me to the ship’s boat and say goodbye to me with love. On January the 31st 1992, I leave the “Orient Sun” and fly to Europe.

Once in Bologna airport, I must go to the baggage claim: my baggage has gone lost; fortunately, a few days later the company delivers it at home. While my mother and I are going to the hospital to see my uncle, she tells me that my father appeared her in dream and told her that after my uncle’s death, other two relatives will die. Even my cousins Giorgio and Virgule die. My father, when alive, got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams; he didn’t believe it and considered us nuts. I think that his appearance in our dreams was in order to apologize for his behaviour, showing us that we were right.

Three months later I receive mail from Edward (I still have it): he writes me the ship Orient Sun doesn’t exist anymore. A Finnish company has bought it and changed the name into Wasa Queen. Worried, he writes he must stop working for a month because he needs new feet, as his ankles keep on hurting, he probably must change them into stainless steel. The officers and the crew send me regards, they disembark with him the day after. At the end he asks me how is the Witch Queen of The Orient Sun? Has she started to write down her book?

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