I Heard the Bells (2022) Movie Script

(WHISPERING) The cannon
thundered in the south.
And with the sound,
the carols drowned.
And in despair,
I bowed my head.
There is no peace
on Earth, I said.
For hate is strong
and mocks the song
of peace on Earth, goodwill
to men.
(SINGING) Hark, the herald
angels sing, glory to the--
Papa, they're singing
the last song!
Let's ring the bell.
(SINGING) God and sinners--
I'll take this side.
Christ be with you.
Henry Longfellow's
in attendance.
Yes, I know.
Wake up!
Christ be with you.
And with you.
Christ be with you,
Mr. Longfellow.
And with you.
born in Bethlehem.
Hark, the herald angels sing.
Christ be with you.
He's always doing that.
I know.
He's creepy.
I know!
I saw it.
(SINGING) Christ
by highest heaven
adored, Christ the
everlasting lord.
Look, it's Mary.
(SINGING) Late in
time behold him come,
offspring of the virgin's womb.
The bell!
The bell!
Is it Christmas now, Papa?
Not yet, Annie.
When is it?
Not until we get
past the Reverend.
Then it's Christmas.
(SINGING) Hark the
herald angels sing, glory
to the newborn king.
Merry Christmas, Cambridge!
Merry Christmas, Cambridge!
Merry Christmas, Boston!
Merry Christmas, Boston!
Happy Holy Day, Mr. Longfellow.
Uh, yes.
Happy Holy Day, Reverend.
Almost missed
America's greatest poet
and our most famous congregant.
Perhaps next year,
a Christmas message?
I have retired from
public speaking.
Well, perhaps then a
Christmas poem, hmm?
Perhaps a poem.
Say Merry Christmas, Annie.
But you said it's not Christmas
until we get past the Reverend.
[LAUGHS] Look how magical
the snow is, Annie.
Henry and I wish
you and your wife
a blessed Christmas, Reverend.
Always lovely to see
your entire family
at Christmas service, Fanny.
Oh, my heavens.
Well, it was Charles
Dickens who said,
"it's good to be children
sometimes, and never better
than at Christmas when
its mighty founder was
a child himself."
Perhaps Henry has been
corresponding a little too much
with Mr. Dickens.
Yes, perhaps.
A Merry Christmas to everybody,
and a happy new year to all the
[GASPS] Henry!
Let it be known, I warned my
sister about marrying a poet.
God bless us, everyone.
He hit him right in the face!
Come on.
Let's go home.
Between the dark
and the daylight,
when the night is
beginning to lower,
comes a pause in the
day's occupations
that is known as
the Children's Hour.
I hear in the chamber above
me the patter of little feet.
Edith, go that way.
The sound of a
door that is opened
and voices, soft and sweet.
[LAUGHS] From my study,
I see in the lamplight
descending the broad
hall stair, grave Alice
and laughing Allegra and
Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence.
Yet I know by their
merry eyes they
are plotting and
planning together
to take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway.
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
they enter my castle wall.
They climb up into my
turret, o'er the arms
and back of my chair.
If I try to escape,
they surround me.
Oh, they seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour
me with kisses,
their arms about entwined!
Oh, till I think I'm the Bishop
of Bingen in his Mouse-Tower
on the Rhine!
Ha, ha!
Do you think, oh
blue-eyed banditti,
because you have scaled the
wall, oh, such an old mustache
as I am is not a
match for you all?
I have you fast in
my fortress, oh,
and will not let you depart--
Ha, ha!
But put you down
into the dungeon
in the round tower of my heart.
And there will I
keep you forever.
Yes, forever and a
day, till the walls
shall crumble to ruin
and moulder in dust away.
Again, Papa, again!
Little Annie Allegra says,
"again, Papa, again!"
Mama says, no, no, no.
Not again.
Tomorrow, my angels.
Christmas bells?
And tomorrow has become today.
Is it Christmas now, Papa?
Hmm, I don't hear anything.
[GROANS] Well, the
clock strikes midnight,
but it's not Christmas
until we hear the bells.
I do hear them.
Papa, listen.
Oh, perhaps you're hearing
the whistling wind?
Or a foghorn of a distant ship?
Papa, you're teasing us.
Would it help if
I open the window?
Guards, seize the maidens!
Yes, to know for sure
that it is Christmas--
Do not.
I must.
Guards, stop them!
Not so fast, little bandittis!
Take them to the dungeon!
What are you thinking?
Alice, I was at the piano first!
Move over!
Finally, I have
you all to myself.
Let me go, Mr. Longfellow.
Oh, it took me seven long
years to convince you
that you love me.
I am never letting you go.
Well, at least put on your coat.
You know, a famous poet
once said, "love withstands
the cold better than a cloak."
Well, poets have
heart but lack brains.
Oh, I do not believe anyone
can be perfectly well that
has a brain and a heart.
And I can say that in
eight different languages.
I saw that.
You're laughing.
They take me to sacred places.
They are ferocious, untamed
creatures who steal our food
and steal my wife.
Not the children.
The bells on Christmas Day.
The hopeful voices of the church
ringing out peace on Earth.
Imagine how hopeful it
would be if they were
the only voices of the church.
Oh, how delightful
to finally see you
at service, Mr. Longfellow!
Now, about that Christmas
poem you promised.
Henry, be kind!
Christmas is already
a poem, Fanny.
It doesn't need my help.
The Reverend is a good man
who brings goodwill to men.
Yes, I know.
However, he's--
And he knows that
within his congregation
there is a gifted poet,
one who could put words
to what we are all feeling
during these trying times.
[SIGHS] Everyone says
a war is certain.
Is it?
Charley wants to enlist.
He is not of age.
There are boys as
young as 15 enlisting.
You know that.
Yes, but with their
father's consent.
I cannot bear the thought
of losing another child.
Henry, you promise me you will
not let this war take our sons.
Fanny, you have my promise.
And with Charley, a boy's
will is the wind's will,
and the thoughts of youth--
I know.
Are long, long thoughts.
My poet.
My poetry.
There, you see?
They're thieves.
Stealing you away
from me once again.
Get back here!
(SINGING) Fall on your knees.
Oh, hear the angel voices.
Oh, night divine!
Oh, night when Christ was born.
Oh, night divine!
Oh, night, Oh, night divine.
How can you be fully devoted to
writing if you are more fully
devoted to reading your mail?
Well, how am I to know
the impact of my writing
if I never read the letters
of my many admirers?
You were never
good at being vain.
Well, I suppose I could
read your diary instead.
You will not.
To remain humble, I
should stay home tonight,
instead of being the center
of some hollow spectacle.
Let me see your hands.
This dinner is a ploy.
They are trying to flatter me
into writing some national song
or something of the like.
You should do it.
We need poets to change
the world, Henry.
Not politicians.
Such arenas I never enter.
Who, then?
Who will write the
anthems for our children
and their children?
I'm not a songwriter.
Besides, you are far
more talented than I.
There should be banquets
in your honor, not mine.
Frances Appleton Longfellow,
artist extraordinaire!
I like my place in this
world, tying your ties,
cleaning your hands,
fixing your poems.
You're beautiful.
I'm hungry, and I want you to
take me to a lovely banquet.
Ye are better than
all the ballads
that ever were sung or said,
for ye are living poems,
and all the rest are dead.
Ye are sweet, but we are late,
so don't forget your coat.
Our carriage awaits, my bride!
Your coat!
Should we ask him why--
No, never!
He's insufferable.
Senator, you have charmed
all the hearts of the North.
Must you now charm my own wife?
Your wife?
And all this time
I thought I was
speaking with the heroine
of a great romance.
Hyperion, have you read it?
Oh, indeed she is that heroine.
And indeed she has
since forgiven me
for that bold and blind
attempt for her heart.
Oh, have I?
Perhaps I should give it a try.
Yes, I will write a fictional
account of a factual maiden.
I would not recommend it.
And we will marry.
Thank you for inspiring
me, Mr. Longfellow.
Ms. Ashburton.
Oh, stop.
Ladies and gentlemen
of highest esteem,
thank you for adorning our
home with your lovely presence.
Now as you return to
your place at the table,
would you please
join me in warmly
acknowledging those responsible
for tonight's feast?
Tonight we also acknowledge a
few of Massachusetts finest.
Chief among them a man who just
five years ago lay near death
on the chamber floor
of the US Senate.
Beaten with the cane of a
slave-holding congressman,
Mr. Sumner fought
for his life that day
but also for the lives
of helpless slaves
across this land who are
beaten daily by immoral men.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Senator Charles Sumner.
Now we turn our attention to
this evening's central figure.
Already enshrined
as America's poet
and referred to as America's
most famous person, his works,
well, have helped shape
the national character
and its legacy.
The New York Evening
Post casts Longfellow
as the nation's prophet.
Like Thomas Paine
of the Revolution,
his recent poem,
"Paul Revere's Ride"
is finding its
way into the ranks
and the rucksacks of a
gathering army of patriots.
Here, here!
Here, here!
It was reported that over
10,000 copies of his works
sold in London in a single
day, a day that Charles Dickens
called more frightening than
all the ghosts of Christmas
past, present and
future combined.
[LAUGHS] So who is this man?
He is the song of Hiawatha.
He is the belfry of Bruges.
He is New England's very own
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Lift your eyes, Henry.
Smile, nod.
Smiling, nodding.
Good boy.
Cheer and calm the wildest woe
and stay the bitterest tear.
But even Henry Longfellow cannot
stay those bitter tears when it
comes to the sin of
slavery in our land.
Longfellow's poems on
slavery have helped
ignite a national outcry.
I have chosen one
of these poems to be
read by a man who is all too
well aware of the dehumanizing
consequence of being
man's property.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr. Josiah Wilson.
A poem on slavery by Mr.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The pages of thy book, I read.
And as I closed each one,
my heart, responding,
ever said, well done.
Well done!
Thy words are great and bold.
At times to me they seem like
Luther's in the days of old,
half-battles for the free.
Go on.
Until this land revokes
the old and chartered lie,
the feudal curse whose whips
and yokes insult humanity.
A voice is ever at thy side,
speaking in tones of might
like the prophetic
voice that cried
to John in Patmos, "Write!"
And tell out this bloody tale.
Record this dire
eclipse, this day
of wrath, this endless
wail, this dread apocalypse!
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
For the union!
For the union!
You are a good man, Henry.
Charles, you promised your
brother and sisters you would
help them fly the K-I-T-E
this morning at the P-A-R-K.
Well, I can't find the kite!
I want to fly a kite!
Did they already
take it to the park?
I want to go to the park!
I know.
Found it.
I want it, Charley!
I want it!
Thank you so much, Charles.
Can I go, Mother?
[SIGHS] Sure.
But first, let's recite
one of Papa's poems.
Yeah, the little girl poem.
I'll start.
There was a little girl--
--Who had a little curl--
Right in the middle
of her forehead.
And when she was good--
She was very good indeed.
But when she was bad--
She was horrid!
Charles Appleton Longfellow!
That's the poem.
That's how father wrote it.
Ask him.
Oh, my goodness.
I changed the ending for her.
Oh, goodness me.
Charley said you called me
horrid in your little girl
No, no, no.
The little girl with curls is
about a different little girl.
But I thought it was my poem.
Oh, it is your poem.
Just not that part.
Come along, little one.
To the park!
The park!
Charley's taking me to the park!
Did I grow, Mama?
Well, let's see.
[GASPS] I believe you did.
And we just measured
you yesterday!
Now go enjoy the park.
I love you!
Bye, Mama!
Ah, fresh stack of papers.
We should have
bought a paper mill.
Perhaps "horrid"
is a bit strong.
That's why I changed it.
You changed my poem?
What could possibly rhyme
better than "horrid"?
Changed my poem.
I'm Henry Longfellow.
I need you to stop
at the post office.
My father loves how Annie's
hair curls in the summertime.
I'm placing it on your
desk, under the watchful eye
of Johanne.
(MUFFLED) No, no!
[GASPING] Henry!
Henry, help!
(SINGING) Abide with me.
Fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens.
Lord with me abide.
When other helpers--
Would you please rise
for the last verse?
Would you take me to see Henry?
(SINGING) Have no weight
and tears, no bitterness.
Where is death's sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
Christ be with you, Henry.
The service has concluded.
Everyone sends their
deepest condolences.
Is there anything we
can say on your behalf?
I understand.
It's the 13th day of July.
It is.
18 years ago today,
she became my bride.
She wore orange
blossoms in her hair.
Yes, Henry?
(CRYING) She would want
orange blossoms in her hair.
I will see to it.
Thank you for coming, Senator.
Christmas Day, 1862.
Yesterday, as I was passing
down the village street--
--I saw in a shop window, a
beautiful orange tree having
upon it six oranges and a
hundred buds and blossoms.
It is now flourishing
in my own window
and filling the
room with fragrance.
But the fragrance
opens graves within me.
How inexpressibly
sad are all holidays.
A Merry Christmas,
say the children.
But that is no more for me.
Measure me, Ernest.
Measure me!
You probably shrunk.
Did not.
Why did you say whoa?
You did shrink.
I did not!
Ha ha!
Anne shrunk!
Alice, stop!
Ernest, measure me for real!
Measure yourself!
Is that the book about Mama?
Did I growed smaller?
No, Annie, you've grown.
In fact, you've grown so much.
Are you standing
on your tippy-toes?
Are you sure?
Papa, stop.
Look at how you've grown.
I'm growing!
It's yours.
I have another somewhere.
I didn't shrink!
I didn't shrink!
If God gave me the
voice of a poet,
then why did he take
my poetry from me?
I will never write again.
As the dead lie silent,
my voice lies silent.
Let the war within me rage!
Come to the rescue
to save our Union!
Calling all able-bodied men.
It is time to
serve your country!
Here they come.
Here who comes?
54th Massachusetts.
Go Massachusetts!
Look, there's Mary's brother.
I'm proud of you, son!
How old is he?
Hi, Charley.
Hello, Mary.
Fine parade.
Yes, it is.
You'd make a brave soldier.
You think so?
But I'd rather you stay
here in Cambridge with me.
So it's got to be
one or the other?
You just said it.
Said what?
I can't stay in
Cambridge and be brave.
Charley, that's
not what I meant.
I'm sorry, Mary.
Where's Charley going?
What's happening?
Where's Charley?
All right, go ahead.
Next up.
Sign your name here, and
sign your name there.
You Longfellow's boy?
I am.
Suddenly a man?
Next up.
A boy's will is the wind's will.
And for our family.
It's in Christ's name we pray.
Did you watch the
parade today, Pa?
No, I did not watch
the parade today.
I watched you
watching the parade.
Pa, I'm the only man on Brattle
Street that hasn't enlisted.
I'm almost 18.
You've written poems that
rage against slavery.
You've inspired the Union
with "Paul Revere's Ride."
And there are alternative
ways you can serve as well.
In the hour of darkness
and peril and need,
the people will waken and
listen to hear the hurrying hoof
beats of that steed and
the midnight message
of Paul Revere!
I intend for my pen to
raise unity, not swords.
It has raised an army of swords!
Please, sit down, Charles.
I will not sit.
I will stand, and I will fight!
We are fighting!
Fighting every day
just to survive!
I need--
Oh, you need?
You need?
What about us?
You never leave the house,
except to get more ether!
It's for the pain.
We cook the food,
we clean the house.
Your brother and sisters
look to you for--
For what?
To replace their absent
father and their dead mother?
For hope, Charles!
(SHOUTING) Hope in what?
Is Charley going to die too?
No, Charley is not going to die.
I will not let it happen again.
And again.
And again!
I know what you promised
Mother, but she's dead now.
Let that promise die too.
This is not God's will for you.
God's will?
You still believe in that?
What do you think he was
doing while she burned alive?
Was he sleeping?
Into each-- Into each
life, some rain must fall.
This is not a poem!
I am not a poem!
This war is not a poem!
I know!
You write about
the hopes of youth!
Well, my youth was
stolen from me.
And hope?
I will not put it in
a God who is sleeping
or a God who is dead.
There, I said of for both of us.
You don't mean that, son!
Charles, don't go.
Charley, please!
Senator Sumner, Charles has run
off to war without my consent.
Perhaps you can make
arrangements to protect him.
Please, I beseech
you, do what you must.
Your eternally grateful friend--
Adjutant Curtis--
(VOICEOVER) --Within
your ranks is a private
by the name of Mr. Charles
Appleton Longfellow.
Promote him to a rank that
would serve the officers
and prevent him from
entering the fray of battle.
Senator Charles Sumner.
Find Charles Longfellow and have
him begin reporting directly
to me immediately.
You too good to eat hardtack
like the rest of us?
Oh, is that why you officers
keep your shiny teeth?
Shiny teeth, shiny
boots, shiny promotion.
Shut your mouth, Richard.
Look, how do you get to
second Lieutenant anyhow?
You ain't even fired a rifle.
What are you going to do?
Throw a silver spoon at him?
I said enough!
Just get back to
my reading then.
What are you doing with
that magazine, Richard?
Everybody knows you can't read.
I can too!
Two if by land, one if by sea.
That ain't even on the page.
Cause I'm a fast reader!
Would you believe
it if I told you
he's got more teeth than brains?
Yes, I would.
Brave, though.
Name's Elliot.
Elliot Gleason.
Just Charley?
Just Charley.
I heard your father's some sort
of famous writer or something.
He's a poet.
Is there a difference?
He says one rambles,
and the other rhymes.
[LAUGHS] That's good.
Could you tell us one?
One of your old man's poems.
Ah, come on.
It's either listening
to you recite poetry
or listening to ugly over
there gnawing on tack.
(SLOWLY) And he
climbded to the toe--
Tow-- Toe--
--Tower of the old North ch--
Ha, church.
Look, Charley,
these boys are going
to spend the rest of their
lives trying to forget
what happened out there today.
Give them something
to take their minds--
My mind-- Off it for a while.
All right.
Listen up.
This here is Charley.
Just Charley.
He's got something to share.
His wages?
No, not his wages.
His old man's a writer.
A poet.
His old man's a poet.
That explains it.
The stranger at my fireside
cannot see the forms I see nor
hear the sounds I hear.
He but perceives what is,
while unto me all that has been
is visible and clear.
There are things of
which I may not speak.
There are dreams
that cannot die.
There are thoughts that
make the strong heart weak
and bring a pallor into
the cheek and a mist
before the eye.
And Deering's Woods
are fresh and fair.
And with joy that
is almost pain,
my heart goes back
to wander there.
And among the dreams
of the days that were,
I find my lost youth again.
And the strange and
beautiful song, the groves
are repeating it still.
A boy's will is the wind's
will, and the thoughts of youth
are long, long thoughts.
Your Pa wrote that?
And a few more.
As you were.
Look not mournfully
into the past.
It comes not back again.
Wisely improve the present.
It is thine.
Go forth to meet the
shadowy future without fear
and with a manly heart.
You're not just Charley.
Who are you?
Yes, sir?
I'm assembling the
officers for a debrief.
Yes, sir.
Did he just say Longfellow?
Oh, and it's one if by
land, two if by sea.
Well done.
You just offended the son
of America's greatest poet.
You think his old
man'd sign it for me?
Could you read it if he did?
Get out!
Get out of here!
Get out of here.
You promise me you will not
let this war take our sons.
Forward, march!
Company, halt!
Yes, sir.
Take my horse.
They'll shoot you
if you go in there.
We have every reason--
--An entire flank out on
the left side for this.
Sir, it's him again.
Excuse me, sir, for
the interruption.
Why are you not guarding
the supply wagon?
Well, sir, that's--
That's why I'm here.
I thought I'd be of better
service at the front, fighting.
Then who would be
guarding the supply wagon?
Excuse me a moment, gentlemen.
Charley, don't do this.
Sir, why am I continually miles
away from every engagement?
Isn't that the best place to be?
No, sir, it's not.
Your field glasses, sir.
Sir, does this have anything
to do with who my father is?
[LAUGHS] Ask the politicians.
So it's true?
Is that what you're looking for?
See those wagons over there?
Yes, sir.
They're empty.
You know why they're empty?
No, sir.
Because I just
ordered my officers
to march 200 men into
a slaughterhouse!
By noon, those wagons
will be stacked
with bloody heaps of men!
My men.
Officers like you.
So you tell me which
officer you want to be--
A dead one?
Or one who guards
the supply wagon?
Looks like your father
made that decision for you.
Dear Charles, I hope
this letter finds
you well and in good health.
Summer has arrived, yet
still no word from you.
Fearing my letters
are being lost,
I plan for them to
be hand-delivered
by your adjutant.
I hope this arrangement
does not upset you.
The flowers are in full bloom.
Nature's missive that
your birthday draws near.
Where have the years gone?
My son, suddenly a man.
Your uncle Thomas
sends his regards.
He has been a tremendous
support to us, constantly
coaxing me to get
out of the house.
A deeper brotherhood
has formed, and I
am reminded that he is
grieving the loss of a sister
as I grieve the loss of a wife.
Last autumn, he even persuaded
Ernest and I to a duck hunt.
You might be surprised
that I invited
the Reverend to join us.
Your mother was right
about the Reverend.
He is a good man who
brings goodwill to men.
Here they come!
The day proved that he is
a better shepherd of people
than he is a hunter of ducks.
There are two barrels
to this firearm.
I'll take that now, Reverend.
Your brother and sisters
miss you, Charley.
I miss you, son.
There are many things I miss.
How they long for a knock at
the door and for it to be you.
How I dread a knock at
the door with news of you.
Like all fathers
of fighting sons,
the knock is an awful
and beautiful obsession.
But I will heed the advice
of a once-famous poet who
wrote, "Let us then be up
and doing, with a heart
for any fate, still
achieving, still pursuing.
Learn to labor and to wait."
I'm proud of you, son.
Please stay safe.
Love, Father.
Lift your eyes.
Mr. Longfellow, lift
your eyes, please.
Thank you.
(WHISPERING) December 25, 1841.
Christmas morning.
Today for the first time
I have knelt before--
--The altar and
received communion.
I have many times
before shrunk back
as too impure to handle
those Holy things.
But today, this holiest Sabbath
of the year, this birthday
of the world, for
Christ was born
to bestow true
life on all, I felt
no dread, no
superstitious terror,
but overwhelming
tenderness and joy.
When the clergyman offered
me bread with these words,
"eat this in remembrance of
Christ," profound awe followed,
and I seemed already to
myself a new creature.
The wine completed this belief
in my innermost soul, warming,
reviving, recreating
its existence.
And happiness too deep
for speech or thought
succeeded, a blessed, blessed
peace, the Father's love
encircling me like
an atmosphere,
pressing evenly on my
whole being like light.
I chronicle this event
because it is one of the few
which makes life
memorable and death happy.
How long are you going
to stare at that church?
Until we freeze?
My mother always loved
hearing church bells.
She called them hopeful
voices of the church.
It looks like the
church lost its voice.
But the adjutant has not.
Here comes your guardian angel.
Gleason, report to your men.
Looking high and low
for you, Lieutenant.
Mail came.
Another letter from your father.
You know, your father's
words have comforted so many.
You'd think they could do
the same for his own son.
Yeah, you'd think.
Week after week he writes you,
but you never write him back.
I have nothing to say.
Nothing to say?
Do you know how many
young men I've seen
take their last breath?
And do you know what
every single one of them
says before they do?
Tell my mother and
father I love them.
Read his letters, Charley.
Write him back.
Quit running off, would you?
I have orders to
bring you back alive,
and I never disobey an order.
Go, Charley!
Two rebels ran through the camp!
Get them, boys!
Turn back!
Turn back!
Sir, two rebels, likely
part of a larger force,
behind that tree line.
And you turned back?
Oh, you should be so proud!
What are you doing?
We drew them out.
Give me your rifle.
I want to secure the church.
Sir, those rebs wanted us out
in that open field for a reason!
If General Meade won't
end this, then I will.
I got them on the run.
I'm not going to
waste my time dragging
my wounded through those woods.
They are drawing us out!
Send a scout.
I'll go, sir.
I'll lead a small unit
along those trees--
You will stay here.
Lieutenant Longfellow will go.
I'm going with him.
Me too, sir.
One man goes!
That's an order!
Turn back!
Turn back!
Who is it, Ernest?
A message from the
Army of the Potomac
for Mr. Henry Longfellow.
I-- I'm Henry Longfellow.
He's been wounded.
So severely wounded, Ernest.
Near death.
He could be paralyzed.
He's on train 475
headed to Washington.
I'll call for Uncle
Thomas to watch the girls.
We'll leave tonight.
What happened to Charley?
He got shot.
What if God takes him too?
Father, he's alive.
I'll pack our things.
We're going to find him.
Is Charley going
to be OK, Father?
Charley's going
to be fine, girls.
Uncle Thomas will be staying
with you while we're gone.
Father, we must pack!
We're going to find him.
Check the cars, please.
All aboard!
Check it.
Check here.
Are you Professor Longfellow?
I am Dr. Babayev of Riga.
Oh, give me your hand.
I am surgeon in US Army,
director of field ambulance.
My son, is he alive?
Your son?
Charles Longfellow.
He's a second Lieutenant.
I don't know a Charles.
(MUFFLED) There were three
men I wanted to meet--
Louis Agassiz, Emerson,
and Henry Longfellow.
I am desperate to find my son.
I too am a writer
and have translated
your "Hiawatha" into Russian.
I have it here!
Your "Hiawatha" meets the
hand that authored it.
Would you please place your
autograph in it for me?
Will he live?
I promised his mother.
I'm sorry.
No, no.
I'm sorry.
I'm so sorry, son.
I want to go home.
I'm taking you home, my son.
I'm taking you home.
I'm going to take you home.
Are you OK, son?
Never better.
Well, I don't want you
getting too comfortable.
I would like my
bed back someday.
[LAUGHS] The prodigal
son has returned.
What's mine is yours.
Hmm, the holly is nice.
Oh, your sisters.
I don't know which
delighted them more--
Searching for their gifts or
sneaking past you as you slept.
I see you've been
teaching them penmanship.
Oh, no.
The holly is from your sisters.
The note, the note is from Mary.
Have you been writing much?
No, I haven't.
When the times have
such a gunpowder flavor,
all literature loses its taste.
I haven't stepped foot
behind my writing desk
since your mother died.
The bell has fallen
from its steeple.
What's that?
I was so close to that
church when I got shot.
You don't have to
talk about this, son.
One minute I was on my
horse, and the next,
I was on the ground, unable
to move, except to open
and close my eyes, and I
preferred to keep them closed.
And the next time I opened
them, I was inside the church.
Go up front.
Right here.
Right here.
It's OK, Charley.
Take your coat off.
Put it on him.
Yes, sir.
You're going to be
all right, Charley.
You're going to be all right.
Elliot, we got him!
You got him?
going to be OK.
It's OK, Charley.
It's OK.
There must have been a
million bullet holes.
The wood was
splintered everywhere,
metal, twisted and disfigured.
They laid me out on a pew.
And above me was sky where
the steeple once stood.
And beside me was the bell.
I just stared at it,
lying there, mocking me,
this voice of the church,
as mother would say, now
just a bronze corpse on the
floor of some blown-out church.
I got cold, Pa.
I got so cold.
I was scared that I was right.
Right about what, son?
What I said the night
I left, about God,
about God being dead.
It got so dark.
I could just feel
death washing over me,
so I just closed my eyes
and waited for it to come.
And then I heard it.
The bell.
And when I opened my eyes,
it was shining so bright.
And that's when I saw it.
Saw what, son?
What I had lost--
And even though that bell was
lying in a pile of rubble,
it rang more loud and deep
than if it had been hoisted
atop the highest steeple.
Pa, you are that bell, and
you are not done ringing.
I need to go.
It's Christmas Eve,
and there's much to do.
I chronicle this event
because it is one of the few
that makes life memorable
and death happy.
Christmas 1841, she
became the bride of Christ
and then became yours.
Was that the only
reason you came, Henry?
I just-- I just wanted you
to know of Fanny's deep faith
and devotion.
Everyone who knew Fanny knew
of her deep faith and devotion.
What are you carrying, Henry?
Whatever it is, you
can leave it here.
I was married once before.
Her name was Mary Potter.
We were childhood friends.
We were married in
the summer of 1831.
I never knew.
No, it was a thousand
lifetimes ago.
What happened?
We were young.
I was ambitious.
Mary wanted a home.
I wanted a name.
I was offered a professorship
of modern languages
from Harvard, with the
stipulation that I spend
a year of study in Europe.
Mary was six months pregnant
when my ambition took her
across the ocean.
She miscarried
somewhere in Holland.
The child had a brief existence,
born only to be buried.
Mary died a few days later.
I never blamed God
for their deaths.
I am to blame.
And even when Fanny and I
lost our daughter to illness,
Fanny's faith kept me strong.
But with Fanny's death--
What is a man to believe?
When Fanny was alive,
my faith was alive.
With Fanny dead, my faith is--
Thank you for
listening, Reverend.
I've taken enough of your time.
Henry, Fanny passed
from this Earth, yes,
but she still speaks
from those pages.
And so does He from these.
They are both very much alive.
Is it Christmas now, Papa?
(WHISPERING) Not until
we hear the bells.
Sleep well, my angel.
(WHISPERING) I heard the
bells on Christmas Day.
I heard the bells
on Christmas Day.
I heard the bells
on Christmas Day.
Of peace on Earth,
goodwill to men.
And the belfries.
[MUTTERING] Ringing, singing.
A voice, a chime,
a chant sublime.
But there is--
There is no peace.
(VOICEOVER) I intend for my
pen to raise unity, not swords.
(ECHOING) Well, it has
raised an army of swords!
(ECHOING) Henry!
(VOICEOVER) Why did you
take my poetry from me?
never write again.
Am I writing fiction?
is no peace on Earth.
And in despair, I bowed my head.
There is-- [SNIFF] There is
no peace on Earth, I said.
For hate is strong
and mocks the song--
[SIGHS] --Of peace on
Earth, goodwill to men.
(WHISPERING) My poetry lives.
God lives!
(WHISPERING) My poetry lives.
Then pealed the bells
more loud and deep.
God is not dead,
nor doth He sleep.
The wrong shall fail.
The right prevail with peace
on Earth, goodwill to men.
(SINGING) I heard the
bells on Christmas Day,
their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words
repeat of peace on Earth,
goodwill to men.
And thought how as
the day had come,
the belfries of
all Christendom had
rolled along the unbroken song
of peace on Earth, goodwill
to men.
(TOGETHER) Then pealed the
bells more loud and deep--
Papa, lift your eyes.
(TOGETHER) Nor does he sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right
prevail with peace on Earth,
peace on Earth, peace on Earth!