The Better Angels (2014) Movie Script

Wanna know what kind
of boy he was?
Well, I myself, his cousin,
am the only one living
that knowed him that early.
Knowed him the day he was born.
Lived with him most of the time
until he was 21,
and left home for good.
His Pappy didn't drink,
play cards.
And them were drinking,
cussin', quarrelsome days.
...I was running out
of the woods,
and he's got that paint
all over his face.
He grabs me and he reaches down
and picks me up,
and he lines him up,
nice and steady-like,
'cause it ain't no squirrel.
Shot rings out.
And your Uncle Josiah...
A little slab of bacon
with a hoecake...
A little cornbread
and milk every day...
He said he never had
a prettier target.
...and he was satisfied.
You hoe?
Do it right.
What did you read today?
About Noah.
He lived to be 950.
Will you stay with me?
I'm here.
She couldn't read or write none.
Had to make her mark, instead.
Cousin could.
Taught hisself.
She was a believer.
Now you can mark your place
in your book.
She knew so much
of what she believed
was yonder.
Always yonder.
Every day came scrubbing,
There was so little time to sing
or think about the glory.
Her mind and his
seemed to run together.
What happens is, the wind comes
and it blows real hard,
and then the seeds rain down
and they land on the earth.
And then they grow up.
We should move to a place
where he can be schooled.
I've prayed on this.
Boy has more to learn here
than any schoolhouse.
He asks questions
I can't answer.
He's got a gift.
Can't turn our backs
on what God has given us.
I know best.
I remember when you were born.
I wrapped you up in a bearskin
and we slept by the fire.
But when you cried...
it was your Papa who got up
and tended to you.
I watched him hold you,
and I knew that no one
would ever care for you more.
A while back, about a mile,
half a mile back that ways.
I don't know nothin' 'bout you.
Trevor says, "What in tarnation
are you doing yelling 'low' for
when a fella's passing?"
Your Uncle says,
"Well, what in tarnation
are you doing passin' 'em
when a fella's yelling 'low'?"
Oh, boy.
Swoop up.
I don't want to hit you.
Right over your Mama's head.
I was 18.
My folks was dead.
I like it.
I went with the Sparrow family.
Same folks that raised
cousin's Mama.
We let out for Indiana.
Yes, sir.
Kentucky was getting stuck up.
Where we heading?
No place for poor folk, anymore.
It's a frog.
Catch him!
That's my name.
Don't look a thing like you.
He was sharper than me.
He learned Henry Clay's speeches
by heart.
Get him by the arms.
He took to writing on the floor.
The bench rail,
the wood and fire shovel.
All with a bit of charcoal.
Betcha can't get him like that.
It pestered his Pappy
a heap to have him
writing all over everything.
He was just wrapped up in it.
Lock your fingers.
Bring 'em around.
Like this, right here.
You ready?
You're getting it!
Might be bad water.
This will pass.
May not want to drink
from the well no more.
All my cows are gone.
All of 'em!
You, too!
Both of ya.
Go on.
It's the plague.
Nothing you can do.
In the last of days.
I prophesy.
Yeah, we'll all be buried
by the end of the week.
All gone!
We should pray.
For what?
For ourselves.
Cows ate the poison wheat.
We got the milk sick.
One week...
They were gone.
Will you get it, too?
Don't worry.
It's been such a lonely time.
Please, Mom.
Be a good boy.
Take her, Lord,
for she was yours
from the beginning.
Forgive her for her sins,
though she committed none.
Uncle wasn't worth shucks
that winter.
He put the corn in
in the spring.
Left us to tend to it.
He let out for Kentucky.
We can't go on like this.
We knowed what he went for.
Look after yourselves
and don't let the crops
go to waste.
We didn't think
he'd have any luck
bein' as poor as he was.
I can't cook like Mama.
Tastes real good.
Me and him got her a baby coon
and a turtle.
We tried to get a fawn,
but we couldn't catch any.
It makes me think of her.
He wrote a letter to
our Reverend from Kentucky.
There's a world above us
where sorrow is...
Told him that his Mama
went without a proper burial.
A long eternity of love.
Not a sparrow
falls to the ground
without His direction,
much less a person.
For we are of more value
than a sparrow...
...and know
that He is God.
Let us hear...
Be strong.
Can't fall into despair.
Get over and say,
"How do you do?"
Pleased to meet you.
This is Tilda.
Grab a load.
Take it on in.
Come on.
Bless this food, Lord,
and the hands that made it.
We've endured many hard time,
Heavenly Father.
Send good to us now.
Let us live happily.
- Good to see you come up.
- Thank you.
Thanks for all of your help.
She was a widow.
She had been fendin' for herself
for a while now.
I lost my hat!
I snuck out of the house
when she was outside
waterin' the horses.
She went back in the house,
I went in there
and I snuck out on the porch,
and locked the door.
And I scared her
and she got scared.
Do you pray?
At night?
You pray for her every night.
Not too tight.
His sister was always
a say nothing little gal...
A couple times.
...with eyes
like an owl.
She chirped right up
with a new mother.
And a sister for company.
That was my dress, Mama.
Ten steps.
Nine, ten.
I was glad she had
some good times.
Singular number.
Plural, "We may."
She married pretty young.
Be loved.
Died with her first baby.
I reckon it was like her Mama.
She didn't have no cure.
She asked if
we'd seen her trinket.
Empty your pockets.
It's nothin'.
Didn't mean nothin' by it.
I said empty your pockets.
Come here.
Please, Tom.
I don't want this.
Go wash up.
Go on.
Run off.
No one keeping you here.
If I see you...
...keep your distance.
Burn like hell at suppertime.
Your Mama saw something in you.
She thought you was blessed,
that you was smart.
You see,
I've always known it to be
if a man is smarter,
you don't got to act like it.
He don't have to show
no one he's better than 'em,
he just is.
You're like this corn.
You're all closed up.
You won't break free,
you won't come out.
Seed can't stay in the ground
forever, son.
No, it has to grow and give.
Don't you like
having a Mama here?
Sometimes I forget
what Mama looks like.
That ever happen to you?
Can you do it?
Your eyes closed?
I'll never take
your mother's place.
But I'll love you as she did.
If you choose to love me less...
I'll still love you the same.
He doesn't say much.
He thinks he's better than us.
That's not true.
He talks to himself.
I've seen it.
He's strange.
He's your brother.
Drop it!
Come on.
Come on.
He won't let go
of the stick, guys.
Come on!
Found a dead coon.
Couldn't get it off.
The dog made a beeline
for the woods.
Wild dog scentin' coon.
Tracked the little animal home.
Speedily demolished him.
You do it?
No, sir.
You do it?
No, sir.
I did it.
How'd your husband die?
Bad water.
Were you scared?
Scared for him.
Scared to be alone.
Are you sad still?
In a different way.
I'll always miss him.
He was a sweet man,
good father.
I have a new life now.
A good one.
Strong and sturdy.
Everyone was real pleased
to have a new house for worship.
I can't think of a better man...
The Reverend asked
his Pappy to build it.
It was an honor.
If we call to mind
our beginning,
some of us may find a time
where our fathers were under
affliction and suffering.
The wilderness
in which our fathers
passed the days
of their pilgrimage
are now pleasant fields.
This was not done
to be buried in oblivion,
but to prepare a people
for a greater destiny.
And the remembrance of that
ought to humble us
and create in us
a Christian benevolence
towards our inferiors.
Whoever supports
the cause of some
promotes the good of all.
No time.
I wanna live on the river.
On a flat boat.
Is that a snapping turtle?
He'll bite ya on the finger.
Won't let go till
it turns dark, neither.
Ain't you gonna do something?
From here to here.
Come on!!
Come on!
Come on!
Never seen you fight like that.
Want to finish the firewood
before you go, too.
Don't leave me without it.
His Pappy sent him to a tannery.
I don't want you to be hungry.
It'd take him three days.
He'd never been gone
like that before.
She didn't talk all evening.
Just worked.
Stayed by herself.
She didn't have no education,
But she knowed what learning
could do for folks.
A new school's been built.
Only five miles from here.
She'd do anything for him.
Single file.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
in Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day
our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses...
Speed doesn't matter...
neatness does.
Use soft strokes.
That's better.
Full of fur...
And the form
of the visage...
Delaware, Pennsylvania,
New Jersey,
Georgia, Connecticut,
Massachusetts, Maryland...
Be without malice, or envy.
Scoff at no one.
Love learning.
Be cheerful.
Go, go!
Here, your turn...
Hear... and answer.
You tell me,
where's your spirit?
How do you know it's there?
I feel it.
What did Jesus do
when he was young?
Worked in his father's shop.
What was his mind doing?
"It came to pass,
as he was alone praying.
His disciples were with him,
and he asked them, saying,
'Whom say the people
that I am?'
They answered and said,
'John the Baptist.'"
Then he tried to stop
and come back.
But when he did this,
he came back
and hit his head on the wall.
Shake my hand.
I ain't no scholar.
Firm, yeah, that's good.
Keep your head up.
Do it again.
Very good.
You can smile, it won't hurt ya.
I asked him where'd
he get so many blatant lies.
He told me when a story
learns you a good lesson,
it ain't no lie.
God tells truths in parables.
I was struck by his honesty
the other day.
He saw a buck's horn
hanging against the wall
that had broken off.
Thought some of the boys did it.
So the next day,
when it all got still,
I asked him, who done it?
Who broke it off?
And he said,
"I did it."
Takes the blame all to himself.
Won't put any on anybody else.
He won't stay
in these woods forever.
And even if he keeps on
in Spencer County,
he won't be a backwoodsman
for long.
There's emigrations
going on now.
By the time he's 30 years old,
it'll be a whole
different world.
He'll make his mark.
"I came down to Friday
and asked him
if he would stay by me.
He was very cheerful.
He would die
when I bid die."
Here, boy!
I got him!
And when he'd come
to the house at night,
he'd tilt the chair
by the chimney
and sit on his backbone
and read.
Where do they come from?
The jungle.
She always put a candle
on the mantelpiece for him.
His Pappy'd just shoo him
off to bed.
She said it didn't
bother her none.
He's a fast learner.
Interested in everything.
I'd like to tutor him here,
in fact,
on days away from school.
You was in the war.
Nothing's ever the same since,
I bet.
Taking odd jobs...
Never had no proper
learning, yourself.
And I pay you in corn,
and hides.
If you want more,
you might want to take it
someplace else.
Well, I don't want payment.
I brought two books for him.
I'm ready.
He wants it, come on,
give it to him.
You're up next.
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
whoa, whoa, whoa!
All right, nice work there.
Come here,
I want to show you again.
Come on, push harder,
come on.
That's it.
See, come on, come again.
Get down low.
Yeah, that's nice.
All right, you're up now.
Come on.
You and me.
You know,
get your head up there strong.
Put it up strong...
all right, see?
Get a grip on me
so you can feel me now.
Can't you?
And you got that other hand...
you're looking to get in there,
trying to work that leg.
Come on.
I got ya all tangled up now,
Come on, start again.
Start again.
Come on.
Let go, he's got him.
He's got him now!
Come on,
you can't get like that.
Don't give me your back.
Come on, I ain't finished yet.
Come on.
That's it.
Got me down, nice work.
Tie me up.
That's good.
That's good, that's good.
My Pappy got real sick and died.
Sure glad to have a new one.
Yours is real nice.
Everybody runs him down.
Never gave him credit
for what he was.
He made a good living.
His Pap kept his word.
He paid his way.
Couldn't say that of every man.
Not even today.
And men are decent-er
than they used to be.
Found 'em.
You found 'em, son,
you keep 'em.
I wanna be as strong as you.
You're a good boy.
Your Ma would be
real proud of you.
I ain't...
a fairer man,
not to nobody.
But I always looked out for you
and your sister.
You're gonna be twice
the man I am.
One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven.
Three, four, five, six,
seven, eight...
Hey! You cheat!
Now it's your turn.
Two, three, four, five, six...
What it means
when you hear locust nearby,
is somebody died
and their soul's risin'.
That's the truth.
My dad told me that once.
There ain't nothing
worth talking about.
Nobody much worth talking to...
since he's gone.
My God.
I had to go out to the farm
to tell her.
She was living on there, alone.
I knowed they'd kill him.
I'd been waiting for it.
She never asked no questions.
I reckon she thought
she'd soon join him.