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Animula

Short film about a microscopist who falls in love with a miniscule woman

This 20-minute screenplay was adapted from The Diamond Lens, a short story by Fitz James O’Brien, an unjustly neglected 19th century writer of tales of the uncanny.

It’s the tragic story of a pioneering microscopist who falls hopelessly in love with a miniscule woman.

‘Nothing could break down the barriers which Nature had erected between us.

In Love… With an Animalcule!’

EXTRACT FROM ANIMULA

INT. LINLEY’S FLAT. NIGHT (B/W)
Linley looks through the microscope.

He leaps in astonishment from his seat, then scrambles back to stare through the eyepiece.

INT. ANIMULA’S WORLD. DAY
In front of a painted backdrop showing a sylvan scene, a semi-naked nymph, in wisps of chiffon, dances around. The effect is of an end-of-the-pier Victorian pornographic peepshow styled by Julia Margaret Cameron.

The nymph, ANIMULA, is young and beautiful, balletic in her movements.

LINLEY (V.O.)
Animula! My heart’s delight!

INT. ANIMULA’S WORLD. DAY
Through the eyepiece frame: Animula flits about her ‘stage’, picking flowers and fruit.

LINLEY (V.O.)
Those eyes of mystic violet. That lustrous hair! Oh, light of my life!

INT. LINLEY’S FLAT. NIGHT (B/W)
Linley gazes rapt through his microscope.

INT. ANIMULA’S WORLD. DAY
Animula, seems to hear something in the distance; she sweeps theatrically ‘offstage’.

INT. LINLEY’S FLAT. NIGHT (B/W)
Linley becomes agitated, moving the slide about as he looks in vain for Animula through the microscope.

He puts his head in his hands.

A silent-film caption reads:
In Love… With an Animalcule!

Linley takes his eye from the eyepiece, and his gaze falls on the glass slide with the tiny drop of water on it.

LINLEY (V.O.)
But it could not be. Nothing could break down the barriers which Nature had erected between us.

INT. LINLEY’S FLAT. NIGHT AND DAY (B/W)
A dishevilled, sleepless Linley pores over his microscope, day and night.

INT. ANIMULA’S WORLD. DAY
Animula, oblivious, does a striptease and bathes herself in a river.

INT. LINLEY’S FLAT. NIGHT (B/W)
In the spirit of experiment Linley dims the lamplight shining on the slide.

INT. ANIMULA’S WORLD. TWILIGHT
In the dim light Animula shows signs of distress, with an expression of pain, wringing her hands.

LINLEY (V.O.)
How I delighted to learn I could have any effect on her, however invisible or anonymous the force.

INT. ANIMULA’S WORLD. DAY
Animula’s environment is flooded with light, which makes her gambol and sing with pleasure.

INT. LINLEY’S FLAT. NIGHT (B/W, FLASHBACK)
Linley is turning the lamp up and down, staring through the microscope.

LINLEY (V.O.)
I grew pale and emaciated. Perhaps, if I compared her with the flesh and blood women of my own world, this false enchantment would vanish like the dew.

INT. THEATRE STALLS. NIGHT (B/W, FLASHBACK)
Linley is sitting among the audience in a small theatre.

LINLEY (V.O.)
Signora Caradolce. Said to be the most beautiful, the most graceful woman in the world…

The curtain rises.

The backdrop is a crude painting of a woodland scene, like a rough parody of Animula’s home.
A tall figure pushes aside the drapes to emerge and dance around the stage.

Linley, hands trembling, puts his opera glasses to his eyes.
We see what he sees, framed by the glasses:

An Amazonian woman, her face harshly painted, smiling grotesquely, lumbers around the stage.
Sweat runs down her face. As her feet hit the floor the scenery shudders.

Linley jumps to his feet, horrified, and runs from the theatre.

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