- Director, Melbourne Museum (MM)
- Director, National Museum of Australia (NMA)
- Director, Te Papa Tonagrewa, Wellington NZ (TP)
- Directors’ minions #1, #2 and #3
- Parents #1 and #2
- Kid (plus extra schoolkids)
NB: The museum employees portrayed in this screenplay bear absolutely no resemblance to any actual employees of the museums represented, all of whom are far too lovely to be characters in a horror film.
PART II: AT THE MUSEUM(s)
INT. MELBOURNE MUSEUM, PHAR LAP GALLERY – AFTERNOON.
Children and adults surround Phar Lap’s glass box.
Is this horse dead?
Yes dear, he died a long time ago.
Then why isn’t he buried, like Salty and Snuffles and Coconut and Cinnamon and Marzipan and—
PARENT looks about anxiously and shushes CHILD.
He was a very important horse. He won lots of races. Everyone was very sad when he died and they wanted to be able to still visit him.
How is he standing up?
PARENT looks uncomfortable. Other parents and children are starting to notice the conversation.
Err…I think they stuffed him with sawdust, and maybe some wire.
CHILD’s eyes get very wide, possibly a lip trembles.
Will you stuff me when I’m dead, mummy? So you can still visit me?
PARENT stares at CHILD for a moment, in panic.
Would you like some icecream? Let’s go get icecream!
CAMERA MOVES BACKWARDS. WE SEE THE PARENT AND CHILD LEAVE THE CASE, PRESUMABLY FOR THE MUSEUM CAFÉ. SUDDENLY WE ARE BETWEEN TWO MUSEUM EMPLOYEES.
Look at that. Crowds loving the Phar Lap exhibit, as per usual. Good thing we spruced it up for Spring Racing season—looks like the new audiovisual stuff is going down a treat. I wonder if we could ever figure out how many people visit us just to see Phar Lap.
We could conduct a survey. Maybe with questions like “what was your main reason for visiting today” or “what exhibit to you associate most with the Melbourne Museum?”. Maybe through an app. Web 3.0. With embedded links to exclusive Phar Lap content.
No, I can’t be bothered with another survey. I didn’t mean it, for God’s sake, calm down. Thank goodness we’ve got him, is all. The bloody State Library ended up with Ned Kelly’s armour – the library! What’s Ned Kelly’s armour got to do with a bunch of bloody old books? He should be here. I still don’t understand how that happened.
MINION #1 opens mouth to explain.
Don’t tell me again, for God’s sake, I’ve heard it all before. Now let’s get out of here before one of those kids sticks its jammy hands all over my suit.
CAMERA RETURNS TO THE DISPLAY, SLOWLY ZOOMING IN ON PHAR LAP’S HEAD, AS VARIOUS CHILDREN AND OTHER VISITORS PASS BY. WE SETTLE ON A GLASS EYE. BRIEFLY THERE IS A FLICKER OF RED WITHIN.
INT. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIA, PHAR LAP EXHIBIT – AFTERNOON
Eww gross what’s that?
That’s Phar Lap’s heart! Phar Lap was Australia’s greatest racehorse.
Why did we put his heart in a jar then?
It was a lot bigger than most horses’ hearts, so they kept it as an anatomical specimen.
What, for, like, scientific experiments and stuff?
A few. Mostly just to look at.
TWEEN makes an expression that implies both “God adults are stupid” and “how totally gross”.
Whatever. Can we go now? This is boring. And gross. I thought only serial killers kept hearts in jars.
Have you been watching movies about serial killers?
No. No! Everyone knows serial killers do weird stuff like keeping hearts in jars.
If you’ve been watching scary movies again I’m going to cut your phone privileges.
You are SUCH a Nazi, geez, Shannon’s parents let us watch anything.
What do you mean, “anything”?
POV MOVES SIDEWAYS FROM DISPLAY SO THAT WE CAN SEE THE DIRECTOR OF THE MUSEUM AND THEIR MINION, WATCHING THE PEOPLE IN THE GALLERY SPACE.
Look at those children, thrilled with the love of learning!
Such a wonderful horse. What a wonderful exhibit this is. It’s such a shame the heart is so fragile and can’t travel. The others should really send their parts to us one day, so we could show them all together.
After all, this is the national museum. We are the Nation’s capital. What better place for Australia’s most famous racehorse? I can’t understand why the others don’t see it.
I can’t help but feel Phar Lap’s spirit would be so much more at ease, if all his bits were together again, don’t you?
I must talk to the minister about it when we catch up at the club on Saturday. Well we can’t stand here gasbagging all day, we’d better go and meet those Foundation members and talk them out of some money.
CAMERA RETURNS TO THE DISPLAY OF PHAR LAP’S HEART, ZOOMING IN ON THE HEART. WE ARE ABLE TO EXAMINE THE TEXTURE OF THE SKIN AND ARTERIES ETC FOR A FEW MOMENTS, THEN IT GIVES A SINGLE JERK.
INT. TE PAPA MUSEUM, WELLINGTON, EXHIBITION SPACE – AFTERNOON
A class of schoolchildren and their teacher stand by Phar Lap’s skeleton.
This is the skeleton of New Zealand’s greatest racehorse, Phar Lap.
I thought he was Australian.
Never say that! The Australians claim all our good stuff for themselves! But Phar Lap was born here, in Timaru. Don’t you EVER let an Australian tell you Phar Lap is theirs. You hear me?
That goes for all of you! What do you say, when an Australian claims Phar Lap as their own?
ASSEMBLED KIDS (droned)
Fuck off, wanker.
So where’s the rest of him then?
TEACHER mutters something.
The Aussies have got him! Those bloody wankers. His heart’s in one spot and his hide’s in the other. They even got his skeleton over there for the bloody Melbourne Cup a while back – I didn’t think it was going to come back, let me tell you. It could’ve been the start of WAR.
Can we go and look at the giant squid now sir?
POV MOVES UPWARDS UNTIL WE SEE THE DIRECTOR OF TE PAPA AND THEIR MINION WATCHING PEOPLE IN THE GALLERY SPACE
Horrible things, kids. You got any?
Err – yes?
Well I daresay you couldn’t help it. Bit careless of you, though, eh? Had a few glasses, eh? Eh? Forgot where you put the protection? But how did we get stuck in jobs with so many kids in them? I should’ve been an investment banker.
Don’t you enjoy the collections though?
Oh yes, they’re alright, bit too much politics around them though. Take that damn horse skeleton down there. Everyone wants a piece of him. When we agreed to lend him to Melbourne I got death threats. Death threats! Haven’t people got anything better to do with their time? I bet investment bankers never get death threats.
Maybe not – but there not generally loved, on the whole, are they?
Loved, shmoved. Who needs the love of the public when you have a yacht and a stellar superannuation package? Anyway, we’ve got fuck all chance of ever flogging him off again to some other museum, even just for a temporary loan. The minister would hoist me up by my sphincter.
Come on, time for the board meeting. I hope Bob brings some Moet with him like last time. See? Investment bankers! They can bring bloody Moet to board meetings, just because they feel like it!
CAMERA PANS BACK TO PHAR LAP’S SKELETON AND THEN ZOOMS IN, FIRST TO THE SKULL, THEN TO THE EYE SOCKET, THEN DOWN THE LINE OF THE TEETH TO THE NOSE AND INCISORS. THE NOISE OF SCHOOLCHILDREN IS CONTINUOUS. THE CAMERA IS STILL A MOMENT, THEN THE TEETH RATTLE A LITTLE.
(To be continued)