Northfork (2003) Movie Script

That was Lefty Frizzell's
Always Late (With Your Kisses).
Before that, we heard Buck Owens.
It's seven days before the state
officially drowns Northfork.
It's cloudy skies
with the highs being 51...
"To the loving O'Brien family.
"It has been brought to our attention
"that the remains of
a Mrs. Patricia O'Brien
"have yet to be excavated.
"Please make arrangements
The hard-working citizens of Northfork
will be able to have
their much-needed power,
as well as the pleasure and recreation
that this body of water will provide.
Let me add this.
The good people of Northfork will be able
to have their cake and eat it, too.
Two, three, four.
Where shall we start?
Let's start right in here.
"Then the water shall become a flood
"and destroy all flesh.
"And the bow shall be in the cloud.
"And I will look upon it,
and I will remember
"the everlasting covenant between
God and every living creature,
"of all flesh that is upon the earth."
And that's what we have here.
Our town is dying.
I have seen the concrete monument.
The headstone for the town of Northfork.
This dam gate will close,
and the water will rise over the plains
and cover our businesses,
our homes,
and our well-being.
We have lost Northfork.
We'll be losing our dear son.
But we will gain the hope
and the courage
to move to a higher ground.
"We are all angels.
"It is what we do with our wings
"that separates us."
What are we waiting for?
Well, Mr. And Mrs. Hadfield.
Father, his health isn't getting any
better. Rose has had to stay by his bed.
All the doctors have left Northfork.
You're returning him, then?
He's a very ill child. We can't make
the journey with him in this condition.
We apologize, Father.
We appreciate your honesty
and will ask for forgiveness.
Let's be honest, Father,
you gave us a sick child.
I gave you an angel.
You're misunderstanding us.
We love Irwin.
Halo Home is deeply regretful...
about the grief
Irwin has brought to your family.
God bless. Have a nice journey.
This is wrong.
This is just downright wrong.
- When did you get this letter?
- I received the final notice yesterday.
I don't like this damn cake.
This is wrong on every level.
Where did my parents go?
We don't wanna go where they're going.
Father, everybody's leaving.
I know.
I know.
Let's see...
You're the caretaker?
Cookie takes care of the yard.
Maybe you can help me.
Who are you looking for?
A relative.
Hold still.
Marvin. Matt. Eddie. Arnold.
Walter. Willis. Eddie. Arnold.
Walter. Willis. Eddie. Arnold.
Walter. Willis. Marvin. Matt.
Marvin. Matt. Walter. Willis.
Marvin. Matt. Eddie. Arnold.
Anyone who voted for him
voted themselves right out of Northfork.
Have a good journey.
A nice concrete cork.
I have done countless evacs,
and as long as I've been doing this job,
it's never come down to 48 hours before.
And by the time I'm finished
it'll be 47, so listen up.
Remember one very important thing.
Despite the inconveniences
we're putting these people through,
we're giving them new power.
All right?
Matt, Marvin...
please go pay a visit to the Youngs.
Eddie, Arnold...
Get down to Hungry Horse Road
and nail Jigger, understand?
You betcha.
You can't go into this treating it
like you're throwing out homesteaders,
poor old homesteaders.
You're saving some
son of a bitch from drowning.
Mr. Rudolph?
It says here that...
there has been some
previous attempts at evacuation.
Walter, Willis.
The Stallings, Highway 93.
Remember the one single
most important thing:
It is not our business
to tell anybody else theirs.
You just come in
like their guardian angel.
You give them wings and pull them up
into higher ground. Good luck.
In the early 1800s,
European settlers named Northfork
after the river that embraced their town.
Word traveled throughout the world
that angels roamed these plains
like bison.
I find the humor quite parched.
Nineteenth century. A remarkable piece.
Artist used the finest oils.
Organic pigments.
The artist has a religious vocabulary.
He used the luxuriantly white wings
of the swan.
Fascinating representation
of the angelic messenger.
Lovely bird.
If I do recall correctly,
the Celts employed the majestic swan
as their sacred symbol
and messenger to the other world.
Their link that existed
between the realm of their gods
and the realm of humans.
Very relatable.
I can only speculate...
that the man with swan wings -
or in this painting, the wild birdman -
is a creation
of the overtaking by Christianity.
Bless the imagination.
It's wrong.
It's just downright wrong!
It's wrong, and I'm not gonna do it.
And neither should you.
It's death to depart.
She's your mother!
You ever smelled death?
I don't recall smelling it.
Death smells like nothing
you've ever smelled in your life.
What does it smell like?
You know when you've smelled death.
'Cause when you smell it...
you say to yourself, "Damn...
"did something die?"
- Does it say anything about a child?
- No. Not specifically.
There was a small child
roaming the garden.
Oh, Flower,
it said nothing about children.
The narrator fluctuates between the first
and third person... Quite interesting.
I would have to say
that he's above the age of a child.
Flower, every town you scurry off
looking for offspring.
Would you like a cup of tea?
One lump or two?
My name is Cup of Tea.
To my right, as you may already know,
is Flower Hercules.
To my left, Cod.
And behind us all,
but in front of you, Happy.
- And you are?
- Irwin.
Hello, Irwin.
- And your surname?
- Sir Irwin.
Well, Sir Irwin of Northfork,
my family and I
have traveled a long way,
and we are having trouble
finding a loved one.
Are you familiar
with the Unknown Angel?
This is where we can
be of help to each other.
What could we offer you?
When you leave, just take me with you.
No. No. We do not take children.
- Then I can't help you.
- Now, Sir Irwin...
you're being unreasonable.
- Where we're going, we can't take you.
Then take me a thousand miles.
A thousand miles, in anybody's book,
is a long way.
- How about a hundred miles?
- A thousand.
- Two hundred? Three hundred?
- A thousand.
- Four hundred and that's it.
- A thousand and that's it!
Do you know how far that is?
A thousand miles is a far,
far, far-away place.
- Five hundred miles.
- A thousand.
All right!
We'll take you a thousand miles
if you bring us the Unknown Angel.
In the morning. Deal?
You have two customers!
I tell you, these sons of bitches
are harder to yank
than a tick on the touch-hole
of a chicken.
I hear you.
Good morning!
You have six customers, now seated!
Well, if it ain't the bottom feeders!
Go ahead, Willis.
No meat?
- Cup or bowl?
- Yeah! Good work, Walter!
- Nice work, Walter.
- Nice work, Walter.
Thank you, boys.
I'll have a bowl.
- Same.
- Same.
It's only dirt.
- Afternoon, boys.
- Good afternoon, Father.
Your wife, Patricia...
Irwins still sick.
I'm sorry, Father.
You got anything to keep his spirits up
and his fever down?
If I was those parents, I'd be ashamed.
Most parents can't see their child ill.
So they throw him in a lake.
Depends on how you look at it.
Either you're halfway to heaven
or halfway to hell.
Here we go, Father.
It's an antibiotic.
- Inject 5cc of this into his arm.
- OK.
- Bless you. Have a safe journey.
- Thank you, Father.
We thank you in advance
and hope you have a pleasant journey.
- Pop?
- Yes, son.
You suppose he's got
two of everything in there?
I suppose we'll find out.
Damn it.
I know.
Not one, but two Chevys.
I know.
This is gonna be difficult.
Ever since we started moving folks out,
we've never done well
with people that own Chevrolets.
this country is being divided
into two types of people.
Chevy people...
and Ford people.
It looks like he's got
some kind of hammer.
No. It looks more like a...
I think he was holding a shotgun.
I think you're right.
Every town we come to, you want a child.
Once again, selfish!
How observant. The noble Englishman.
How I long to be Earl Grey.
The wit that got us here.
- It's a splendid acquisition.
- Unknown architect.
Probably owner-builder.
A true visionary, I might add.
No. No, he was a carpenter.
We're searching for the unknown.
The unknown doesn't just come
knocking on your door.
If it is unknown, how would you know
if it did come knocking?
- It won't be in the shape of a child!
- I would have to agree.
Do you ever disagree?
I disagree with the Englishman's
use of starch.
What do the scriptures say?
"Temperature: 105 degrees high.
"Please look after him when I leave."
What do you suppose we do?
We're gonna wing it.
It appears they've...
worn out their welcome.
Afternoon, Mr. Stalling.
I'm Walter O'Brien. My son, Willis.
- We're with the evacuation committee.
- You're seeking some assistance?
I'm not going anywhere.
We've come to your aid.
We understand it's hard to move on.
The state will not hurt, destroy
nor harm you physically in any way.
It is our civil duty to assist you
in making this transition
as easy and pleasant as possible.
Your agreement is this:
You will each be assigned
65 households to depart.
Having fulfilled said obligation,
you will then each receive
1.5 acres of prime lake-front property.
Your lot size will be increased
by one fifth of an acre
for every additional household
that you assist in evacuating.
Have I made myself clear?
I'll take your vacant stares as a yes.
I could live with an acre and a half.
It's OK by me.
May we, sir?
the prodigal son returns.
Already packed.
A little ahead of yourself.
I've brought what you're looking for.
You have?
I don't see anything.
- We still have a deal?
- Yes, yes, we have a deal!
Yeah, we still have a deal.
Where is it?
Oh, my!
We'd appreciate it
if you'd both stop screwing around.
What do you wanna do?
The Youngs are going
to have a moving sale.
All I need is a pair of sinners
like you to mount up there.
We appreciate your giving us
this time to discuss this matter...
- Two wives?
- At least they're not mounted.
It appears you are preparing
for a flood in biblical proportions.
You got that right.
A flood will wipe through this place.
- Cleansing the soil of all sin.
- Understandable.
When God says move on, we're
gone at the first holler of a rooster.
We ain't needing the state
to tell us when to get going.
That's God's doing.
This is God's land.
And by God, we ain't moving
till we get that sign from above.
Yes, sir. We aren't telling you
to get going.
No. Look at us as your life preservers.
- Use us if you want. Or not.
- We give you that choice.
We're all in the same boat.
I'd like to bend your ears a bit
to tell you about the signs of God
that we are familiar with.
This could be that sign.
A what?
- He said he was a relative.
- To us?
- You're the Unknown Angel?
- Yes.
- The one you're looking for.
- Optimistic.
He is unknown.
The angel part's questionable.
How romantic.
There's a novel about you, too.
I started to collect these.
This is the first one I grew.
I'm not saying this boat
that you've built isn't worthy.
From the looks of it,
you've done a mighty fine job.
But for the sake of my job,
let's just say it doesn't.
- Doesn't what?
- Your boat doesn't float.
Imagine this:
One day, a town on the plains,
let's say Northfork,
was hit by a catastrophic flood
similar to the days of Noah.
Your husband and yourselves were
on the roof waiting to be rescued.
A friendly neighbor paddles by
in his little boat and yells,
"Hey, Mr. And Mrs. Stalling and...
Mrs. Stalling!
"Jump in and I'll take you to dry land."
- What do you say?
- I don't know.
- The water's rising.
- You shout, "No, thank you!
"I'm waiting for a sign from God."
"No, thank you.
I'm waiting for a sign from God."
- Exactly.
- And your neighbor paddles away.
A few days later,
a state rescue team comes by
in a larger boat.
Let's just say,
me and Willis are on board,
and we offer you the same deal:
"Jump on in,
and you and Mrs. Stalling and...
"Mrs. Stalling will be saved."
And you say...
"No, thank you.
We're waiting for a sign from God."
A few more days pass,
and the water level has risen.
It has risen above the roof.
And unfortunately,
you and Mr. Stalling have drowned...
and now are in heaven
in front of God.
Dear, we died!
What about our belongings?
- We died?
- Because you waited for a sign.
It never came and you three died.
But why?
That's the exact question you'd ask God.
You would say, "We waited for the sign
and it never came."
And you...
and she...
and Mr. Stalling...
What do you suppose...
is gonna say to you both?
I don't know.
Mr. Stalling?
I'm dead, remember?
- May I?
- Yes.
I'll tell you what God would say.
"I sent you two boats...
"to save your lives.
"What more of a sign
did you three want?"
May I?
- Fascinating.
- You have a lovely collection of feathers.
Thank you.
And your halo...
where's that?
I took it off when I was little.
I didn't need it any more.
Then these must be your wings.
Oh, mighty!
Look at this.
And where did we get this?
These are quite stunning.
- The grace of God!
- Yes, they are.
We're offering you something only
the man upstairs is willing to give you.
- Where did you get these?
- Born and raised here in Northfork.
What are you thinking?
- I'm thinking, "What bird suffered this?"
- There's nothing fowl about these wings.
I understand your doubt. But how often
have you seen wings of this beauty?
This is what most of us were shot with.
Tranquility at its finest.
This could make an elephant fly.
It stuck in me right here.
May I look?
Appears to be
a lengthy needle of some sort.
Five years, maybe six years of age.
Used numerous times for injection.
You were shot with this rifle?
Yes. I was running with my flock,
and they shot me.
Running with your flock?
Flock of what? Doves?
Geese? Seagulls?
Angel wings, huh?
These wings are worthless.
To remove all doubt, we included
this certificate of authenticity.
Signed, sealed and blessed
by your own Father Harlan.
"Found near the glaciers,
these wings..."
This pair were detached
from a juvenile
who probably strayed from the flock.
"Perhaps no wiser
than four years of age.
"The abbreviated wingspan reveals
"that he weighed
no more than 25 pounds,
"before they were removed."
A bit too disturbing for me.
Happy, are you looking at this?
Would you say "amputated"?
Yes. Amputated.
Aren't we all?
I'd say quite the opposite.
Probably a little devil and
Daddy gave him a good strapping!
There's a back story for you.
- Does this cause any pain?
- No.
This would be recognized
as a highly dangerous procedure
without anesthesia.
Some people would just bite a bullet.
A highly-skilled surgeon
was overly concerned
with muscle stabilization.
There's no evidence
of curvature of the spine.
You're discovering feathers in this area?
What time of day?
Can you run your fingers
through his hair?
What can you tell us
about your relatives?
My mother and father
were twelfth-generation angels.
My great-grandpa and grandma
had wings the size of bombers
and would glide the plains of Northfork.
Come on, ladies,
can't you just smell the bird shit?
I'd like to believe
these wings were authentic,
but the feathers,
they ain't attached to anything.
You take those moose antlers.
Oh, dear.
Yeah, it's a fine set of antlers.
But it's more than just a rack of horns
attached to a piece of board.
That wouldn't be enough.
It's an OK place to hang your hat,
but there ain't no pride in it.
What you need is the whole head
hanging up there.
These marble eyes
just staring on down at you.
Then you know you got something
really worth having.
We're still not leaving.
I've got a $1,000 cheque from the state.
Want that for your funeral services?
- No.
- Then get the hell out of here. Now.
Use these and fly the hell out of here.
Eddie? Hey, Eddie.
I think Jigger's asleep.
Let's go.
Jesus Christ!
The scars on his forehead tell me
he did have a halo.
Most likely metal to stabilize his spine.
Everything all right?
Dankish, beetle-headed foot-licker.
What is wrong with you?
You should be
asking yourself that question.
Fired from a long-barreled rifle,
ten feet away.
A needle meant to penetrate
three inches of skin.
Perhaps the hide of a herbivore.
A beast of a hallucinogenic.
- Would you like a cup of tea?
- This isn't teatime!
Given my weight, calculated dosage...
this could be a lengthy trip.
- May I?
- No.
Plenty more where that came from.
There you go.
Shoot me, shoot Cod,
and then yourself in the foot.
You saucy, sheep-biting,
flat-mouthed dewberry!
This could be a family trip!
Santas everywhere.
I'm happy.
This should back off some evil spirits.
- Two out of three ain't that bad.
- I say hook it up and drag it out.
- What are you talking about, Willis?
- That was number 65.
I know that.
- I'm marking them down as departed.
- We can't.
When the state makes
their final pass through,
and they find Mr. Stalling locked up
in that boat with his moose head,
it's our butt.
It's our job to move them out,
not to know where they go.
Willis, it's our job to move people,
not change their beliefs.
What more could we have said?
Without the proper words,
this is just a man
nailed to two pieces of wood.
Oh, he's cute.
Yes, son?
- I don't think they want me.
- Oh, no, they do.
They do, son.
They came a long way for you.
Then can I go with them?
I will still have to speak with them.
Then can you tell them I'm an angel?
I will. I will.
Because I want them to see my wings.
Do you have wings?
Yeah? Me, too.
Mine got old and fell off.
You get some sleep now, all right?
- Mr. And Mrs. Hope?
- Yes.
- I'm Father Harlan.
- Father.
Thank you for coming on short notice.
Irwin is a good boy.
I could go on, but that would seem
like I'm selling him to you.
- And I'm not.
- What? You're not?
Given the chance, I'm sure Irwin
would do a better job at selling himself.
Can we meet him?
Unfortunately, you'll have to make
a decision before you can meet him.
But it says here we can spend
the afternoon with him.
Yes, I know. I'm sorry, I apologize.
But Irwin is a fragile boy.
I can't let him get his hopes up too high,
only to have them diminished.
His health can't afford
that kind of a disappointment.
Father, we can't make a decision
based upon viewing him from a window.
I'm sorry.
Would you wait in the car?
Father, we come here
attempting to adopt a child,
and you turn it into window-shopping.
He's not a puppy.
Maybe that's what you and your wife
should be considering.
I'm sorry if I have wasted your time.
Have a pleasant journey.
Many townspeople have speculated
that the body of Jimmy Miller,
son of Doris and James Miller,
still lays in the Northfork dam.
One worker has said, "There is
a slight lump in the interior wall
"that will hold back
19 million acres of water."
Another worker said,
"Yes, Jimmy is in there.
"They never could retrieve him
from the dam. He is resting in peace."
Tom Johnson, a fisherman,
put it this way:
"You can't exactly trawl
just-poured concrete fishing for a body."
- Marvin. Matt.
- Walter. Willis.
Tours of the Northfork dam,
and possibly Jimmy Miller,
will be starting in January.
For more information, please contact
Montana's Water and Power.
Somebody is laying there.
Can you feel the heartbeat?
You can figure, the death of a person
is still considered progress.
The son of a bitch is getting the biggest
headstone this side of Rushmore.
Well, congratulations.
Sixty-five residents departed.
Good job.
You sign on that bottom line, 1.5 acres
will be transferred into your name.
Your log reads 64 residents departed.
Is this correct?
- Well, sir...
- Yes, sir, it is.
Well, you know what?
I'd like to thank you
for your dedication in the evacuation.
I hope to see you enjoying the lake.
Wait a minute. That's it?
We get nothing?
That's correct.
Sir, there...
There is another house,
we did not confirm their departure.
You best go out there
and get it confirmed.
The boy was a tad pigeon-toed.
What do you think?
For most, Vincent Van Gogh was a
fine artist. To some, he lacked technique.
Paint straight from the tube,
very heavy-handed.
How Van Gogh cut off his ear
is what is most intriguing to folks.
In each piece I've ever appraised,
it's the story that is more fascinating.
It's a fantastic yarn the boy has spun.
the story is more valuable
than the actual piece.
What about his collection of feathers?
Perhaps from the stork that dropped him.
The feathers are inconsistent.
I found no connection in the scriptures.
And that spleeny, ill-nurtured gnat.
- Are you positive?
- Oh, Flower, please!
Be open to inconsistency.
What did the feathers come in?
- A book.
- The book was in a pillowcase.
I presume the pillow the boy lays
his head on is stuffed with feathers.
He is not what we are here for.
La Fleur was touched by an angel.
Is it snowing?
Can I go?
This is it, son.
Looks pretty vacant.
Indeed it does.
Trick or treat?
It smells like something died in here.
That is precisely
why we're not going to get Mother.
Do you smell that?
Yeah, it smells like something died.
Go upstairs and check all the rooms.
Then we'll leave.
You're kidding.
You go upstairs and check.
Willis, go upstairs
and see if anyone is up there.
I'm personally not ready to face death.
This is number 65.
Go upstairs, check it out,
and let's get this over with.
I'm checking out the other side.
Hello, there!
Do you see anything?
Come on. Jump.
It's only about five feet. Come on!
You can make it. Jump!
Come on!
Pop, come on, jump!
You can make it. Come on!
Are you OK?
Would you like a cup of tea?
I would qualify this
in the area of concussion.
A frothy, clay-brained snapper.
Let's help you get up onto your feet.
You're definitely gonna feel that
in the morning.
Willis, let's go!
- Did you see anyone?
- Nope.
Come on!
Come on!
Get in the car!
What's got you so spooked?
- Grab the book.
- Pop?
Just do it!
And mark them down as evacs.
- Do it!
- OK, I will.
And I think we should go get your mom.
These have the same texture
as the feathers in the boy's book.
No more than four years of age.
Weighed no more than 30 pounds.
These were attached
to something very young.
I'm going to have
to evaluate the other side.
O Lord,
let the holy angels come to Irwin...
and carry him to your heavenly city.
Free his spirit...
from the prison of his body.
No more, please.
Please, no.
I'm a man of faith.
Forgiveness is my job.
But right now...
I can't forgive my faith.
He grew two inches this summer.
Still stacking wood?
You're not even close
to what death smells like.
I'm sorry.
I'm coming to get you.
I'm sorry.
I didn't forget you.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
Pop, come here!
- Can you see it?
- What?
Look closer.
I can't see anything.
What am I looking for?
There's a nick in my paint!
- Don't make it worse!
- It's only dirt. I was rubbing it off.
- What color's dirt?
- Brown.
If he weren't blind, he'd see
it was grey. Underneath my paint!
Willis, the speck is brown. Look!
Brown after Marvin's rubbed it!
How can you keep your car perfect
the way you drive, anyway?
It hurts. The first one hurts.
- You never know when it's gonna come.
- That's fate for you.
A little rock.
You do not have a say in the matter.
Now that you've got the first one...
the rest comes easy.
You spend all your time
polishing your car,
making everything perfect.
And then this rock flies out of nowhere.
It puts all your hard work to shame.
Nothing you can do about it.
Absolutely nothing.
- Holy cow!
- What in hell?
So when you get down in there,
thread this through the top handle.
You jump down there and do it.
- Willis...
- No more. No.
This is wrong. Once something's buried,
it should stay buried.
I can't show no more respect.
When this town becomes a big lake,
your mother will be the Catch of the Day!
Then throw some rocks on her!
That should keep her down.
Where are you gonna take her?
What about California?
What's there?
In California they serve cheeseburgers
and a soda in less than two minutes.
Wow! That's fast food!
I know you have been praying.
Not to worry.
A family will come soon.
You may be an orphan...
but you are still a child of God.
We must go get him, Flower.
If I didn't know your voice,
I'd think it was my subconscious.
Could he be?
He is.
You don't want to believe him, do you?
You do?
He's just a child.
- I can't accept that.
- Yes, I know.
We can't.
We have to.
You have to.
Don't let your motherly nature
cost you your manhood.
He prayed for us.
1.5 acres of lake-front property.
Northern pike?
Might be.
Pike's not a fish, it's a dog.
Skull full of teeth.
Pick them up by their eye sockets.
Weapons of massive destruction.
If they drop that pike's milt
into this lake...
You can forget about the fish
living in peace and harmony.
Pike eat their children.
They should introduce
a nice game fish like the muskie.
Now that's a fine species.
No fish from Minnesota should be
allowed to swim past the Missouri.
If Northfork citizens knew that muskie
was swimming in their houses,
they'd never have left.
Canada ought to claim
that bug heap they call Minnesota.
Throw in Wisconsin for free.
You have to think this must
have been His last day on the job.
You ready?
A thousand miles.
You're a relative.
The strongest man ever to wear a skirt.
Are you going to be
my mother or my father?
I am both.
Considered the perfect soul.
I search for no one,
and no one looks for me.
Whatever I need,
I look within myself to find.
I am complete.
I am not king nor queen, yet I am both.
A mother and a father.
You prayed to be this way?
Isn't that what Father Harlan says?
"Pray and you shall receive."
Would you like a cup of tea?
There you go, son.
There you go.
And in that journey of dying,
you see many things.
But all the issues I had passed,
because I was to be a witness.
A helper.
And that's the thing
I think is important about death.
Is the ability for us to be witnesses
not only for a person coming in,
but going out.
And that's what we have here.
We've lost our town, it's gone.
But maybe there's
a birth some place else.
Maybe there's a blessing
from that experience.
I'm no longer afraid of death.
But it's a lesson that's taken me
60 years to learn.
As you stroll around Northfork,
take your last walk down the road
to where your house may have been,
and look at the trees
that you once climbed.
Smile and remember those trees
for what they will become:
Future snags for fishing tackle.
As you continue your walk,
think to yourself,
"This is the only time
I will ever be able to walk
"on the bottom of a lake
without having to hold my breath."
Remember to pack
all your good memories.
No one else will pack them for you.
Goodnight to you all.