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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Human Follies


FADE IN:

INT. STUDY - DAY

Working on a computer, PETER watches TV at times. We see video clips of the Notre-Dame Cathedral up in flames. We hear an on-screen US COMMENTATOR slowly remarking:"Stunning, unbelievable..."

PETER (V.O.)

What?

"a disaster..." The commentator continues.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

Instead of "stunning", can

he say "astonishing"?

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

"Unbelievable"? It happened

as a matter of fact. Yes,

it's "a disaster" to communicate

in such a way, in my view.

Pausing.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

When I was a kid, I heard

about Victor Hugo's story -

"Hunchback of Notre Dame".

How many times have I

visited the Notre Dame?

MONTAGE OF PETER'S VISIT TO NOTRE DAME

A/ Summer, 1984, Peter (30) arrives as a member of a tour group. He looks stunned.

B/ Summer, 1995, Peter (41) arrives with his WIFE. He shows his wife the way.

C/ Summer, 2005, Peter (51) arrives with his wife and 4 CHILDREN as members of a tour group. They don't look particularly interested with the monument.

D/ Summer, 2014, Peter (60) arrives with his younger SON as members of a tour group. Peter takes a few photos casually.

END MONTAGE

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

The external architecture and the internal decors

were there for hundreds

of years until this blaze...

Pausing.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

But I did visit the Notre

Dame for the few times

I was in Paris. I'm not a

religious person, but it's

a landmark of Paris.

Pausing.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd) It was only yesterday I was

reading a love letter from

Emmanuel Macron to his

wife Brigitte, who was his

former teacher.

Peter checks the web news.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

Macron cancelled a

scheduled televised

address and went to

the Cathedral to inspect

the efforts of firefighters

in controlling the blaze.

Peter nods.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

His words and actions have

been effective. Effective

persuasion is the key to

achieve success, whether

it is simply love or solemn

cultural matters.

Pausing.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

Unlike the Old Summer

Palace or the Atomic

Bomb Dome...

MONTAGE OF PETER'S EXPERIENCE IN SEEING DESTROYED MONUMENTS

A/EXT. OLD SUMMER PALACE - DAY (1987)

Peter (33) and his WIFE (32) arrive as members of a tour group.

PETER

(To Wife)

It's agonizing to see the

remnants of it. I'm not in

the mood to take any

photos here.

B/ EXT. ATOMIC BOMB DOME - SUNSET (2018)

Peter and his WIFE are the lone souls in the vicinity.

PETER

(V.O.)

The pain suffered by the

people here must be

immense. Peace is the

answer.

RETURN TO PRESENT

PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd)

...not fixing the Notre

Dame isn't a believable

option now. It has to be

rebuilt, as vowed by Macron.

And there's the European

value alignment, lots of

capacity and support.

Pausing.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd)

Like the rebuilt Chapel

Bridge in Lucerne, which

was burnt down in 1993,

the only difference is new.

A What'sApp message gets Peter's attention. We see on phone screen a newspaper article with the tagline: "...we share France's terrible loss." Peter sighs, and mines another article to read.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd) In his "Chinese expedition",

Victor Hugo wrote in 1861:

"Artists, poets and philosophers

knew the Summer Palace...

People spoke of ...Notre-

Dame in Paris, the Summer

Palace in the Orient...This

wonder has disappeared..."

Pausing.

PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd) The blaze of Notre Dame

evidences once again

avoidable human follies.

Whether the cause is

intentional or reckless,

it is also part of the global

human culture!

FADE OUT. The End

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