Shadow Princess: An Indonesian Story
a film script by
Cindy Marvell and Tamara Fielding
319 Spruce St. Boulder, CO 80302
EXT. JAVA, NIGHT
KARTO SUPRAPTO, (17), a promising, ambitious Dalang, or shadow puppet master, casts images from behind a white story cloth. Puppets array either side of the screen from the Tree of Life to various animals, clowns, and kings. The performer’s mentor watches intently from the audience as elephants, deer, flying monkeys, ogres and giants take their parts in the drama to the chants of the Dalang.
EXT. BEHIND THE SCREEN, JAVA, NIGHT
KARTO’S mentor slides behind the screen as the audience fades away. The Dalang begins to place the puppets in a wooden cabinet, a box that stands on its side. Knobs form handles in the shape of hands that cradle a sphere. The Dalang turns as his mentor speaks.
Only a Dalang can unlock the secrets of the stories inside my puppet box.
Karto approaches the box. He puts his hands on the sphere to open the box and speaks with awe.
When I saw you perform as a boy I thought these knobs could open to other worlds.
He hangs the puppets in the box.
Now you are the master of Wayang Kulit.
(pauses with deer puppet in hand) This was my last performance in Java.
The box is yours on your journey.
The Dalang starts in disbelief then blushes.
Mine. What if I never return?
I have seen better ones in the storeroom.
Want to test it? Your blood is real.
Franz makes to grab Tumbuh’s arm. Tumbuh turns to run as Franz catches up to her. He blocks her path.
The others are much sharper, with stones that make this one look dull.
Thunder cracks and a flash of lightening brightens Tumbuh’s face. Franz considers the options.
Take your stories back to your Oma. My father says your family is lazy. Shoo!
Tumbuh turns and runs as the rain begins.
EXT. EDGE OF THE RESORT PARK, SUMATRA, DAY
A gecko lizard hops down the sidewalk as Tumbuh takes cover in the bushes that line the resort. She starts as a furry tale brushes her cheek.
Mooky! What are you doing here?
She wags her finger at the monkey.
Let’s find Yusuf’s shortcut. I’m not supposed to come this way.
She paws the branches, Mooky perched on her shoulder. He wraps his tale around her neck. They arrive at the entrance sign of the Orangatang Reserve. Mooky hops off Tumbuh’s shoulder and leaps into the forest.
Mooky! Come back!
Tumbuh chases after the monkey’s screeches. Tumbuh arrives at a clearing with a wooden house. Mooky scratches the door as she approaches. Chants emanate from a cracked open window. Tumbuh parts the shades and peeks through.
She slaps her hand over her mouth to keep quiet.
CHEAP CHEAP SCREETCH!
TUMBUH (CONT’D) (whispers)
Tumbuh reaches into her pocket for a few nuts and feeds them to Mooky. As he munches she looks through the slats.
INT. ROOM IN WOODEN HOUSE, ORAGNATANG PRESERVE, DAY
A semicircle of adults and children sit on the floor in front of a white cotton screen supported by bamboo poles with an oil lamp positioned behind it to cast shadows. On the screen puppets move; a fantastical character with long arms and some with pointy noses with a hint of color that shimmers in the light. The Dalang continues to chant behind the screen.
In the corner, some teenaged boys play with the instruments from the gamelon, the Indonesian orchestra. Xylophones, gongs, chimes, and drums with traditional carvings such as typical gamelons use attempt accompaniment to the puppet play.
(to the other musicians) Where is Yusuf?
MUSICIAN (shrugs with mallets)
He’s tying the fish.
BOY WITH GONG
And wet in the rain!
BOY WITH CHIMES
I have all the chimes.
He taps out a friendly scale as the Dalang glances over. His gaze falls on Tumbuh for a moment and they lock eyes.