LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON is about a communal house of five post-undergraduate students who all are in love with one roommate who loves another one of the roommates. The relatively well-behaved stasis is broken when a professor plagiarizes the doctorate of one of the group, thus precipitating a cascade of comedic and dramatic events that changes all of their lives.
A comparison would be that it’s roughly like “The Big Chill” with more sex, less death and more academics.
This film is a dramedy (with a dollop of satire of academia) about love, desire and loss. As one character formulates it: “… if we’re all guilty, then none of us are bad.”
The genesis of the screenplay actually began with Thomas’ monologue which was published in Smith & Kraus’ anthology “Audition Arsenal”. At the time, I thought it was part of a play, but I never was able to write the rest of the play, then a few years ago, I had the revelation it was the centerpiece of a movie. In the summer of 2014, I began developing it with the great aid of the actors of Safehouse, and now a year later, it’s complete give or take a polish, I’m sure.
Here is that original published monologue (details have changed since then, as the grad student is now a doctoral student named Thomas; his best friend is Marcus and the professor is Richard Bligh):
“from Limping Towards Babylon (an unpublished work)
DRUNKEN GRADUATE STUDENT, a.k.a. MARCUS… mid to late 20’s. A diligent, even brilliant anthropology graduate student, but hopelessly naïve and lacking in confidence, he has just discovered that his advisor and boss, Professor Cleveland Thomas has apparently swiped key sections of his own research. After initial resignation, his courage and anger have been unleashed by demon alcohol. At 2 in the morning, he finds himself in the front of the professor’s house.
(edited for publication)
DRUNKEN GRADUATE STUDENT
Your mama has a teapot for a head. Hear me, you manifesting, documenting bird shit…brain…thing. Professor asshole. Yeah. Yeah. I do not like your sentence sequencing. I will not forget. Will not forget…
(He passes out and wakes up immediately.)
I have not finished! Because, sir. You are a cheater. A lousy, stealing research consumer. You will not get away with this. Not, not. Not. Let us… recount the charges of heinous academic cowardice: Number one: you are a coward. Number two: you had lunch me. [sic] I told you my ideas. And you listened! Number three: you published “Shamanism: Gift or Curse?” My title! My title. Number four: you are a scum sucker…. Gentlemen of the Jury. You have heard the facts. It is clear. I find the accused to be an asshole. You may have the tenure. You may have the wonderful wife…the salads at home…and a dog. But you do not have pride. I have pride. I have dignity. You can take my ideas. You can destroy my public moment. But I know I was there first. Like Knut Hamsun. Me and Knut. At the South Pole together. History will remember your deceit. I will…I will… piss on your house. I will… puke on your flowers now…
(He heads for the bushes…)”
Banner image: Fallout Shelter, © Julius Galacki