Russian Atrocities in Mariupol

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol, Ukraine

Russian Atrocities & the War Crimes Screenplay

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Russian Atrocities in Mariupol – SCREENPLAY TREATMENT

This script is 1/3rd Casablanca (1942). It’s 1/3rd Transit, a 1942 novel by Anna Seghers. The script is also 1/3rd events that I personally witnessed in March of 2022. All together it is the quintessential Ukrainian-Russian war story.

History is repeating itself – 1942 and again in 2022. – Volodymyr Zelenskyy

SETTING

This is the most timely script on the market at this time in history. The setting is in the near future, in Ukraine. The locations are the cities of Mariupol and Odesa. As the war drags on and Russia shifts toward a strategy of attrition, wearing down and choking their enemy, experts calculate that given time Mr. Putin will seek to control the seaport of Odesa. It’s a classical military and economic maneuver, to deny your enemy access to the sea.

CHARACTERS

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol
Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

YURI      former professional soccer player.

VIKA      supermodel, widow of a fashion photographer.

DARIA     model and best friend of Vika.

MAXIM     worthless doctor who’s romancing Vika.

TAZ       attractive but devastated widow of man killed by the Russians.

Ocean     son of Taz who dreams about traveling to America.

These characters are the beautiful people. All minor characters are somewhat grotesque. It’s a common theatrical theme, placing beautiful people next to less than beautiful. The beautiful will escape the war, one way or the other. The grotesques must remain in the path of the Russian army.

ACT ONE SUMMARY – Yuri has an athletic and heroic disposition. Yuri is presented with the opportunity to abandon his duty and leave the conflict for New York. Yuri looks like a dead man who is on a list to receive an American visa. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

ACT TWO SUMMARY – Yuri is interested in taking the dean man’s wife, supermodel VIKA, with him to New York, but that would expose to her that he’s impersonating her dead husband. So he searches the city for a suitable wife/companion. There is a nebulous WRITER LADY, he considers. Yuri also considers romance with DARIA, who is Vika’s best friend. At the end of the second act, Yuri decides that he’ll take TAZ, a widow and her son, to New York. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

Why does Yuri NOT CHOSE Vika? Vika is clearly fiercely loyal to her husband, Shvets; she doesn’t believe that he’s dead. She might have been told by the American consul-general that her husband was part of the resistance to the Russian. But like Elsa in Casablanca, the truth is, her sentiments are constantly suspect. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

ACT THREE SUMMARY – Daria attaches herself to Yuri, in hopes of traveling with him to New York, but it’s discovered that Daria’s daughter is suffering from neglect and malnutrition. Yuri choses Taz and Ocean, the widow and son. Taz commits suicide before Yuri can tell her that he has visas for her and Ocean to travel with him to New York. Vika is the final option for Yuri, but she’s only using him to get onboard an evacuation ship that she believes her husband will be on. Yuri gives up traveling to New York and rejoins the conflict, picking up a Kalashnikov on his way back to the front lines. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

ACT ONE

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!
Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

I witnessed a Ukrainian man high jump a six-foot razor wire to escape a Russian filtration camp. The man was unnamed, but I could make out from the bystanders that he was a former professional soccer player. This brave fellow is the main character, YURI. If we are making a “Ukrainian Casablanca,” this character is similar to Rick from the famous 1942 film staring Humphry Bogart. Yuri is required by extreme circumstances (the need to escape execution) to be brave in act one. He’ll be cynical about the future of Ukraine and aloof in act two. By the end of the film he’ll be brave and patriotic by choice.

HIGH POINT! To begin the film, Yuri escapes from a Russian prison camp outside Mariupol. Yuri’s wife has left him, and he is told that the ship she took was sunk by the Russians. His hope of reuniting with his wife are ended. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

Yuri befriends a photojournalist and he’s given a phone/camera in the camp; he’s asked to deliver it to a photographer/spy in Mariupol. Instead of escaping toward Ukraine, Yuri runs and then swims a frozen river into the heart of the conflict, besieged Mariupol.

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!
Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

When Yuri arrives in Mariupol, he returns to his home, hoping to find his estranged wife. Yuri is only greeted with the news that his wife isn’t there and his apartment has been destroyed. Yuri after leaving profession soccer, has been working as a youth coach in Mariupol; he learns that his former players have firebombed a Russia troop carrier, wearing their uniforms. Yuri learns that the Russians are now looking for him, not only for escaping a camp, but allegedly being the leader of a group that’s burned half a dozen Russian soldiers.

Instead of escaping Mariupol, Yuri decides to deliver the phone/camera. Yuri’s not aware of it yet, he can guess; however, the camera/phone has photos of Russian atrocities. The script doesn’t explain the nature of the photos, but they are damning evidence that will be useful in the media war. Later, if there is a war crimes trial, the contents of the camera/phone will be needed; the camera/phone could contain photos of summary executions, use of chemical weapons, looting civilian property, and rapes. The details aren’t clear. But what is clear the Russians are hunting Yuri because he has the camera.

Yuri finds a man named Shvets hung in his Mariupol hotel room. Shvets is the photographer/spy who Yuri is supposed deliver the camera/phone. The dead body might be the result of foul play on the part of the Russian FSB, but Yuri learns that the reason for the suicide is that Shvets’ supermodel wife has left him and the death was a suicide. Yuri finds a suicide note and a cell phone, photographic equipment and most importantly Shvets’ papers. Yuri not only resembles the dead photographer, but he now has the man’s identification and banking information. He has the means and ability to escape the conflict. He also has letters from the American, Belizean and Canadian government promising him immigration visas.

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!
Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

Yuri helps the hotel manager dispose of the body and happens into an opportunity to escort a wounded man to Odesa via boat. The wounded man has a wife and young son in Odesa. Yuri is promised a Rolex watch if he helps the man get home.

In transit to Odesa, Yuri does his best to care for the wounded man. Yuri manages to charge both phones, Shvets’ and the phone/camera that he escaped the camp with.

It’s clear that the Russian army is on the way, but Odesa isn’t wrecked yet and the cell phones are still working. Yuri arrives in Odesa, but the man has died due to his wounds and the boat is attacked immediately upon arrival by Russian marines. Yuri manages to survive a rocket attack on the boat, and he manages to send the photos of the Russian atrocities to the fashion magazine contacts on Shvets’ phone. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

After this, the Russians will not be after the phone, but will want to eliminate Shvets as a witness to war crimes.

ACT TWO

Yuri is approached on the street of Odesa by his wife VIKA and her best friend, DARIA. They approach him from behind. Yuri turns and they are amazed at the similarity. Vika is searching for her husband, either out of love or perhaps she just wants the U.S. visa he allegedly has for her.

Yuri travels to meet the dead man’s family and tell Taz the bad news. Waiting for the dead man’s wife to return home, Yuri befriends the man’s son. The man’s son, Ocean, has a dream to go to America and be a professional baseball player. After bonding with the son, Yuri mets the widow and tells her that her husband has died. He does this and at the same time he becomes romantically interested in Taz. Yuri seems to be thinking that he’ll petition the three governments to allow emigration for the three.

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!
Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

In the Belize consulate, Yuri again meets Vika and Daria. Daria stops to flirt with Yuri. Daria’s going to be an option for Yuri. Mariupol Atrocities! Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

Using Shvets ID, naturally the consulates believe he’s a fashion photographer. However, Yuri is denied a visa to enter Belize because it appears to the conservative and Catholic consul-general that he’s abandoning his wife in a war zone. His application is for himself, Taz and her son.

Yuri buys pizza and beer and travels back to see Ocean. Taz is out and the boy is watching a New York baseball game via a satellite dish. As Ocean watches baseball from the couch, Yuri looks out the apartment balcony at the smoke on the horizon (the Russian army); Taz arrives and she is clearly in a state of emotional flux. Taz is morning her husband but also there is a new suitor with a visa/ticket to New York. Taz is extremely shy but it appears that she might agree to go with Yuri, if she’s asked.

The Russian army is approaching the city. There are incidences of violence and espionage that foreshadow a battle for the seaport. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

While waiting for an American visa and a ship to evacuate, Yuri bonds with and trains the boy to be a professional athlete. Yuri knows something about what it takes to play professional sports. Ocean needs the discipline and instruction, and a new father. Yuri might want to live on in sports glory through this boy. The boy’s father, before his death, had planted the dream of sports glory in the box.

The American’s believe it’s Shvets in their consulate and he’s treated well. However, there is bad news. Yuri learns from the American consul-general that someone in the New York fashion industry has informed the Russian government that Shvets was the source of the war crime photos. The American’s will facilitate Yuri’s exit from the war so perhaps they will have a witness at a war crimes trial.

NOTE that now the Russians are looking for Yuri because his team burned a Russian vehicle with soldiers inside it. AND the Russian’s are looking for Shvets as a potential war crimes witness that they need to silence. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

Yuri receives a visa for Taz and the Ocean, but the boy notices the way Yuri looks at Vika. Of course, Vika is a supermodel, and, despite the visa, Ocean believe in the end Yuri will abandon his mother and travel to New York with Vika instead. Of course, the audience all realize that traveling with Vika could lead to Yuri being caught in the fraud – identity theft and desertion. Yuri can leave with any one of five or six suitable women, but he can’t leave with Vika. Yuri might want her but it’s not practical to even consider traveling with her.

Daria has accidently starved her infant daughter. Yuri didn’t know she had a child. Daria is racing for a doctor. Yuri runs with her for a doctor. MAXIM, the doctor they find, is the man that Vika left Shvets for. Vika is living in the apartment of the doctor. The doctor is something of a failure and can only provide a Polish visa; Vika won’t go to Poland when she believes that she can move to New York with her husband. Her husband is rumored to have a visa for the United States. And if that doesn’t work out, she knows that Yuri has an extra visa for the U.S.

Maxim treats Daria’s infant child. Yuri buys Daria months of infant formula at a huge war-time price; the Russian’s are coming nearer and nearer the city. However, Daria is definitely taken off Yuri’s list of women that he might escape with. Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

Vika pressures Yuri to take Daria with him to the U.S.

IMPORTANT! Yuri vacillates and considers taking Vika, as dangerous as it seems, to New York. Yuri is falling in love with the only woman (in this story) that can get him killed. This vacillation causes a delay and…

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!
Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!

Taz throws herself off her apartment balcony. Taz leaves Ocean an orphan. Oceans’ Kazakh goat-herding cousins come and take him back to Kazakhstan. Ocean’s dream of a professional baseball career in American is finished.

LOWEST POINT! Yuri might step up and offer to adopt Ocean, but the Kazakh’s appear to want to fight with him. They might blame him for Taz’s suicide. The Russian’s are coming and there isn’t enough time for a prolonged conflict with a large Kazakh family. There would be a fight and Yuri’s identification might not stand up to too much police scrutiny. But primarily Yuri has been a professional athlete, when it comes to women he’s accustomed to just moving on. He allows the family to take the boy to Kazakhstan.

ACT THREE

Maxim loves Vika, but he’s a failed doctor and can only give her Poland. Vika loves her husband and is totally motivated by the idea of finding her husband, making up with him and moving to New York. Circumstances all add up to force Yuri in the direction of Vika; Yuri is left with only one viable/dangerous choice. Daria will travel to Poland with Maxim. Yuri will take Vika to the United State, regardless that the entire fraud might be exposed.

Yuri goes to the U.S. consulate, and they reissue a new visa for Vika. The new visas will be for Shvets and his wife.

Maxim and Daria have a loveless relationship, but get on the last train from Odesa bound for Poland.

Yuri and Vika live in Maxim’s apartment for two days until some FSB-looking men show up. Yuri leaves in the middle of the night and goes to his hotel room. Either the FBS are looking for Vika to lead them to the real Shvets or they are looking for Yuri.

Yuri is planning to leave on the ship without Vika, as it appears the FSB are surveilling her. Yuri stays away for his own safety.

However only minutes before the ship leaves, the last ship out of Odesa, Vika arrives at the dock.

Vika and Yuri board the ship and find their cabin. Vika admits that she only needed Yuri to get on board the ship. She tells Yuri that the American ambassador told her the name of the ship that her husband was departing on. It’s her plan to reunite with her husband and that she only needs the concierge to tell her husband’s cabin and she won’t bother Yuri anymore.

But the supermodel wants some coffee.

Yuri is on the deck of the ship before the ship launches. He’s bringing Vika’s coffee back to the room, when he sees the ship that his wife was on; it pulls into port. His wife is probably not dead as he was told.

Vika is asleep when Yuri returns.

Yuri rips up Shvets’ passport and also his U.S. visa and flushes them down the toilet. He leaves Shvets bank card, Vika’s visa and various banking papers in an envelope on the bed. He leaves her everything that was her property rightfully.

Yuri exits and ship. He walks through the streets of empty Odesa; the Russians are very near.

There is a line of men at a police station. The police sergeant is issuing Kalashnikov rifles. Yuri takes one and walks toward the smoke, toward the front lines.

Combatant Yuri now has no identity and is marching probably to his death.

Supermodel Vika is on a ship that bound for New York.

Maxim is bound for Poland to set up a hospital for refugees.

Daria is in a loveless situation in Poland. Her modeling career is probably over.

Taz has committed suicide.

Ocean will be a professional goat herder in Kazakhstan.

 

 


Mariupol is a city in Ukraine, on the north coast of the Sea of Azov at the mouth of the Kalmius river, in the Pryazovia region currently occupied by Russian forces. As of a 2021 census estimate, it was the tenth-largest city in Ukraine and the second-largest in Donetsk Oblast, with an estimated population of 431,859.

Russian Atrocities in Mariupol!
Mariupol

Mariupol was founded on the site of a former Cossack encampment known as Kalmius, and granted city rights in 1778. Mariupol played a key role in the industrialization of Ukraine, and was a centre for the grain trade, metallurgy, and heavy engineering, including the Illich Steel & Iron Works and Azovstal. Not only was Mariupol a centre for trade and manufacturing, it also played a key role in the development of higher education and various other businesses. From 1948 to 1989, the city was named Zhdanov, after the Soviet functionary Andrei Zhdanov, as part of the practice of renaming cities after Communist leaders.

In 2014, Mariupol was threatened by separatists during the War in Donbas, but was secured by Ukrainian troops. It was appointed the provisional administrative centre of the Donetsk Oblast after the city of Donetsk became the capital of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Separatists attacked the city several times after that.

Since February 2022, the city has been besieged and severely damaged as part of the Russian invasion, in which it received the title of Hero City of Ukraine. On 11 April 2022 Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Mariupol had been “completely destroyed”. On 21 April 2022, after nearly two months of fighting, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Mariupol was under Russian control despite the sprawling Azovstal Steel Plant remaining under the control of Ukrainian forces.


Mariupol Plot

Mariupol - Transit_(Seghers_novel)
Mariupol – Transit_(Seghers_novel)

Yuri, a Ukrainian sports coach, escapes a Russian camp in the Mariupol area. He attempts to deliver a phone to a famous writer named Franz Shvets but discovers that Shvets has killed himself in a hotel room. He takes Shvets’ last manuscript and identity documents, which promise him safe harbor in New York. He attempts to flee to Mariupol via train with his injured friend, Heinz, but Heinz dies en route. In Mariupol, he brings news of Heinz’s death to his deaf wife Melissa and son Ocean, who live in the city illegally. Yuri befriends Ocean.

When Yuri attempts to turn in Shvets’ papers to the American consul, he is mistaken for Shvets and impersonates him, and is given transit visas for himself and Shvets’ wife, Bohdana. He learns that Bohdana had left Shvets but wishes to reunite with him and has been waiting in Mariupol so they can flee together. Ocean has an asthma attack, and Yuri  fetches a doctor, Richard, to care for him. Yuri meets the doctor’s mistress, who he learns is Bohdana.

Mariupol - Casablanca Film
Mariupol – Casablanca Film

Richard wishes to flee but is consumed by guilt over abandoning Bohdana. However, when Yuri offers her a transit visa, Richard goes ahead and tries to board a departing ship but is forced to give up his spot for Ukrainian soldiers. Yuri and Bohdana develop a romantic relationship. He wrestles with whether to tell her the truth about her husband, coming close to doing so but being unable to do so because she so adamantly believes him to be alive. He learns that Melissa and Ocean have fled and witnesses the suicide of a fellow refugee he had known as an acquaintance.

Yuri and Bohdana hail a taxi for the harbor to board their ship, the Silver Muse, but Yuri exits, claiming he has forgotten something. He goes to Richard and sells him his place on the ship. While recounting his story to a bartender, to whom he entrusts Shvets’ manuscript, he sees a woman who looks like Bohdana, but she disappears. He goes to the port to confirm that she boarded but is told that the Silver Muse hit a mine and sank with no survivors. He returns to the bar, where he waits for Bohdana as the Ukrainian police start sweeping the city to purge it of refugees.

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