They Came Like Swallows (2020) - full transcript

Four friends have been on the road, travelling, living hand-to-mouth for two years, pursuing a true sense of freedom, when one of them receives word her Father is seriously ill and is going to die.

[Whirling sound]

[Inaudible chatter]

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[Laughter and indistinct chatter]

In an attempt to achieve a true sense of freedom
they had been on the road,

travelling for almost two years

when Debbie received word her Father
had been seriously ill and was dying.


She believed, in full faith that he would live.

If only they returned to England

in the same way they had been travelling.

If they continued to walk, to hitchhike,
to steal rides and stow away.

She was convinced of it.

They came from Rome.

They returned to England.

[High tone]

[Climbing cello note]

[Melancholic cello music]

[Pizzicato stings]

[Male counter tenor singing]

They Came Like Swallows


[Jack] You know what we’re
missing at the moment?

[Marianne] What do you mean?

[Jack] If we were still in
Rome right now.

- [Jack] The starlings.
- [Marianne] Oh yeah.

- [Jack] It’s about this time of year, isn’t it?
- [Marianne] Hmm.

[Jack] I love it.

No one seems to quite know
why they do it, though.

[Marianne] Do they not?

[Jack] I’ve spoken to a few people, there,

like a couple of years ago,

but it all seems to be like
guess work to me.

I like to think that they have an understanding
of something that’s beautiful

and that why they do it.

Like it’s a sense to them.

And that that’s a good
enough reason for them.

It’s a good enough reason for me.

It could be that there are
somethings we can’t explain.

Maybe they have reason,
but it just makes no sense to us.

We do lots of things that
make no sense to them,

and yet we think it’s important.

We have a different experience to them.

Intellect can sometimes be
just as restrictive as language.

You might understand something
but be incapable of explaining it.

but be incapable of explaining it.

This is why Art is necessary,

when done well it's

direct to a sense of understanding,

nature achieves that without a ’concept’ to define it.

I think that’s what we call beauty.

Do you think it’s possible to

understand something in this way,
without that sort of experience?

I’m not sure what you mean.

I’ve had something come back to me

that’s been going round in my
head since we left, to come back here

and I’ve been going over it again
and again, to try and understand it.

It’s something my
Mum once told me,

that my Father used to say to her.

He used to say:

’I will love you as long as I live’

and I can’t figure out how
he would have meant it.

Do you think he did mean it?

I’m sure he did,

but that’s not what’s confusing me.

What’s confusing me is that he died.

And I’m getting stuck on the idea

that if I could just imagine what he
sounded like I could figure out how he meant it.

- How old were you?
- I wasn’t born yet.

Do you have any photographs of him?

Yeah, yeah just a couple,

but that doesn't help me

imagining his voice, I just feel like that
would help, you know?

If I could.

I might go for a wander in the cemetery.

- Okay. Do you mind if I don’t come?
- No that’s fine.

I might go for a walk too,
somewhere else though.

If you see any shops, do you
mind picking up some flowers?

- What for?
- For Debbies parents

Yeah, okay. Yeah, okay.


[Whirling violin]

[Match striking]

[Wind in trees]

[Birds singing]


[Church bells]

[Muffled rocks]

[Dog barking]

[Muffled rocks]


[Birds singing]



[Car engine]


[Indistinct conversation]

- [Debbie] Mum.
- [Sonja] Hi Honey

[Bird sounds]

-[Sonja] Come in.

[Car passing]

[Bird sounds]

[Distant footsteps]

What’s this?


Why did you get basil?

[Indistinct distant conversation]

The only flowers they had
in the shop were lilies.

[Indistinct distant conversation]



[Nervous breathing]

[Door latch]



[Church bells]

[Wind fades]

[Restricted breathing]

[Door latch]

[Light switch]

[Light switch]

[Foot steps]

[Toilet flushing]

[Tap running]



[Horse snorting]

[Birds singing]

[Door latch]



What’s that?

- Nothing.
- Come on.

Don’t be so nosey.

Let me see!

Jack! Come on!

- No. It’s just some porn.
- Some porn?

It definitely doesn’t look like porn.

It’s Victorian porn.

Okay, I’ll leave you to it then shall I?

I can’t believe you didn’t
see this when you came in.

I’m gonna shoot this.

[Arpeggiated cello]

[Distant pellet gun]

[Pellet gun shot]

[Cillian] Morning


You alright?


We’ve got eggs on the go.

You want some?

No, thanks

What you been doing?

Just wandering about,

got up quite early. What about you?

Just up, hung over.

I found a shed by the way,

it’s over there a bit, you should,
I’ll show you. I’ll show you.

You always ask me if
I want eggs, actually

Yeah, you don’t like
eggs do you?

Nah, not when you make them.

- Are you making them?
- I make raw eggs...

- Do you want a real one?
- No I’m fine thanks. Cheers.

How’d you sleep?

Yeah alright,

how about you?

Yeah fine.

How’s Deb?

I don’t know,

she slept in her
Dad’s room last night.

I don’t think she’s coping very well.

I just don’t have a clue
what to say to her.

I don’t know how to console her,
I don’t know how to say anything.

Kinda just sort of,

just trying to be, somewhat
stable and steady or whatever.

But yeah, I’m at a complete loss,

and it’s, she’s just in this zone,

I don’t know, don’t even know if
she wants me to even be here...

[Birds singing]


[Birds singing]

You know, recently I read,

that I think it was the Chinese
are working on,

A.I headstones.

So, loved ones can, go to their graves

and still have conversations with them

and the personality of the
A.I’s are based on

social media of the deceased.

Do you know anybody
who's died? Anybody close.

Just my grandparents.

[Strings music]

[Bicycle wheels]

[Crackling fire]

Have either of you ever
heard of Michael Collins?


[Crackling fire]

[Indistinct distant argument]

You alright?

My heart is just so heavy,
I can actually feel it.

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s alright.

Stop! Just stop doing things!

Have a bit more sensitivity
to the weight of the situation.

You always do this!

Every time I have good reason
to feel down you just sink with me.

I can’t handle it!

I feel I have to cheer myself up just to
cheer you up, just to feel some light in it!

I can’t help it.

Please try!

I can’t handle it.
It’s too overwhelming!

- You want me to be happy?
- No!

I just don’t feel like your sadness is for me,

it’s just another low energy in the room,
and it just drags me down further.

[Staccato cello]

[Cillian] Look, Debbie I don’t know what the
fuck I’m supposed to be doing here. You know?

I’m wandering around like a fucking idiot,
I keep fucking pissing you off.

Tell me what the fuck I’m supposed to do.

[Debbie] Look I get that this is hard for you,
I get that I understand, I get it,

you’re having to take the weight of everything,

but just I need you to just be there for me.

[Cillian] I’m trying to be here, but I don’t know
what the fuck I’m supposed to do,

like if I do this I piss you off, it’s like,

do I stay silent the whole time?

It’s like, I’m trying to be supportive,
but I’m completely in a corner

and I don’t know what the
fuck I’m supposed to say.

[Debbie] Just think less about yourself.

[Cillian sneezes]

[Debbie] Your sneezes are always
so fucking violent!

You’re doing it again.

You’re just moping,
can’t you see this isn’t helpful?

[Haunting strings]

[Restricted breathing]

[Creaking floorboards]


[Heartbeat increases]

[Haunting music]

[Strings music]

I envy Michael Collins.

He went up there in Apollo 11 with two
men that made the history books,

while he was left orbiting
the moon by himself.

I believe he had the greater experience.

He experienced being alone, he was more
alone than anyone had ever been before

There, between two celestial bodies.

There is a quality of aloneness.

What great clarity he must have had.

I met a birdwatcher.

I always thought they were old, those who did that.

It was quite nice to see someone
a similar age to me doing this.

He was looking for the last of the swallows,

they were leaving now, leaving for Africa.

He wanted to make sure he saw the last one.


There was a sense of poetry to him

I’m not sure he understood he had,

as he quickly ruined it, by talking a lot about nothing.

I remembered now why I had gone out today.

When I was younger,

I was convinced an intellectual approach

was superior to an emotional one.

And could convince others of it too.

I thought, somehow being subject to
your emotions was a weakness,

that you could and should overcome.

And I could, and did.

One of these people I convinced,
simply by being around me

convinced me of just the opposite.

By this point

I think I had irreparably
damaged this ability,

while it was young,
malleable and susceptible.

[Birds singing]

[Indistinct distant argument]

[Debbie] You want to know why I left?
This is why

It's just another thing you'll never get!

[Sonja] He's dying Debbie!
I wanted you to be here

- [Sonja] I tried!
- [Debbie] Fuck you.

[Debbie] Fuck you!
[Door slams]

[Footsteps down stairs]

[Haunting note]


- Where are the boys?
- Don’t know

She won’t let me see him anymore.

Why not?

I don’t know, I don’t understand it.

What did she say?

That I’m just making myself more upset.

But I am upset,

of course I’m upset.

I knew he was ill before she even
called me, I knew it.

I could feel it.

He doesn’t want me to see him like that,

I just can’t understand it,

but that’s what she says.

She doesn’t want me to see him like that.
That’s the truth of it.

She just can’t say it.

I figure he was there when I was born.

Where was my dignity then?

You know, I have a right to see him out.

She can’t stop me from
seeing him, can she?

It’s getting cold.

Should we go inside.

Yeah. I’ll run you a bath.

[Water splashes]

[Water draining]

[Bird sounds]

What are you listening to?

It was called ’The Bright Field’

She’s falling into a hole here.

Yeah well, it seem a little like we’re
all here waiting for him to die now.

I know.

Is it getting to you?

Me? No

I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.

I had a chat with her last night.

I think she’ll be okay.

What are you thinking?


I feel what matters most
in a situation like this,

is if whether what you believe
in stands up to the test of it.

Personally I think the
best case scenario is

when you die you will realize
what you believed was right.

And the worst case, is that
someone else was right.

And the other case is just that

we have no awareness
whatever happens.

It’s all part of the huge
‘I told you so’ event.

All I care about is

feeling something till I get there.

You know Elise?

I’ll always remember her telling me
after her Grandfather died that,

the last thing she heard him
say was how happy he was,

because beauty still
looked beautiful to him.

I’ll always remember that.

[Cillian] Hey guys.

So, I’m thinking we should go out,

we should take Debbie out.
Take her out of this head space

clear her mind,
what do you think?

- [Marinanne] Yeah
- [Cillian] Yeah ok, cool

[Horse breathing]

[Whirling cello music]

[Heavy electro music]

[Male counter tenor singing]


[Record scratching]

I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field for a while,

and gone my way and forgotten it.

But that was the pearl of great price,

the one field that had treasure in it.

I realise now that I must
give all that I have

to possess it.

Life is not hurrying on to a receding future,

nor hankering after an imagined past.

It is the turning aside like Moses

to the miracle of the lit bush,

to a brightness that seemed as
transitory as your youth once,

but is the eternity that awaits you.

They Came Like Swallows

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