The Mezzotint (2021) Movie Script

Jolly good, Binks. JOLLY good!
What are you using?
Iron shot? Gracious!
Not sure I could
ever get used to that.
Well, one must move
with the times, Williams.
Yeah, yeah.
So I'm told.
Oh, bad luck.
I don't doubt it, madam.
I don't doubt it.
Yes, very fine, I'm sure. Very fine!
The fact remains, however, that
the museum is chiefly interested
in topographical subjects - English
topographical subjects at that -
and so your late mother's
collection of pots...
Delftware? I do beg your pardon.
Delftware does not come within
my purview. You take my point?
Hm. No, no. I am sure
they're very charming.
"Dear Sir, we beg to call
your attention to number 978
"in our accompanying catalogue,
which we shall be glad
"to send on approval.
Yours faithfully, JW Britnell."
Well, I'm afraid I really
must be going now, madam.
"978. Unknown,
interesting mezzotint.
"View of a manor house. 2.2s."
Hm! Pricey!
Oh, no, that wasn't meant for you.
Terribly sorry, madam.
Well, don't hesitate to call us
again if you come across anything
that you think might be appropriate
for us.
Not at all. Any time!
Any time at all.
Yes. Goodbye.
Yes.. Goodbye!
Her again?
Means well, of course,
but, er, quite mad.
And we've enough tat here as it is.
- Speaking of which...
- Oh?
It's from this man called Britnell.
He sends me things from time to time
in which he thinks the museum
might take an interest.
Brought my attention to a picture.
Oh, quite. My thoughts exactly.
Doesn't look anything out of
the ordinary, does it?
Can't really say,
what with my eyes.
I can't tell the difference between
a tin of treacle
and a bottle of Jeyes Fluid
these days.
Well, from what I can see,
dear lady, it's nothing special.
Only, Britnell knows his stuff,
I know.
I'll drop him a line
and get it on approval.
I wonder if there's anything else
worth noting.
Tea'll get cold, mark you.
Yes, thank you. I haven't forgotten.
Yes, but he played a Dunlop 5,
which is obviously...
Well, suicidal
on that course!
With a Mashie all
he had to fall back on,
his goose was effectively cooked.
Yes, it was a bit of jam.
Well, ordinarily,
I would, old man.
But, oh, there's a
bit of a nip in the air.
Say no more!
Is this for the museum?
It's a bit of a puzzle, actually.
Arrived this morning
from old Britnell.
- Soda?
- Just a thread.
I mean, you can see a dozen like it
in any country pub.
It's a rather indifferent mezzotint.
And an indifferent mezzotint is
the worst form of engraving known.
I'd bow to pay five shillings for
it, but Britnell wants two guineas!
- Why?
- Well, that's the puzzle.
What the devil does he see in it?
It's pretty wretched.
Aren't even any figures in it
to give it life.
I think you're being
a wee bit harsh, old man.
Moonlight seems rather good to me.
Moonlight? Don't recall there being
any moon.
And I should have thought
there were figures,
or at least a figure, just on
the edge in front. Look. See?
Oh, yes.
Odd that I never noticed that!
I do. The reproduction
in the catalogue was rather poor.
Yes, the moonlight is rather nicely
caught, isn't it?
- Any idea where this place is?
- No, a further part of the puzzle.
Is it something "- ley Hall"?
Sussex? Essex?
Quite. Ring any bells?
No, I can't say it does.
Aren't your people from Essex?
A long time back.
It all gets a bit murky.
I've been trying to do a bit
of digging as it happens.
I bicycle down at the weekends.
But the trail has gone
decidedly cold.
Ah, well! An evening with
my gazetteer beckons.
Thanks for the game.
I'll beat you yet!
- Same time Thursday?
- Why not?
Oh! I was expecting...
My husband. Yes,
of course you were.
But Robert has a very full rota of
parish visits, so he tells me.
I'm afraid you'll have to make do
with me.
Oh, well, that's no hardship.
- Let me help you.
- No, no. Not quite decrepit yet.
And do not sorrow, for the joy of
the Lord is your strength.
Parish registers aplenty here.
Back to the flood, practically!
Not that there ever was
such a thing.
I shall get in trouble again.
I fear your search will be
a difficult one, Mr Williams?
Yes, alas. A very ordinary surname.
Was there a particular reason
for your search,
a particular ancestor,
or do you simply like to dig?
Well, there is a
reason, actually...
I dig myself,
though rather further back than
even you are attempting.
- Oh...
- Palaeontology, Mr Williams.
It is my passion.
Alas, this district is rather barren
in that respect -
fragments of lobster, turtle shells,
the odd shark's tooth.
But it is not encouraged.
No, indeed.
My husband has... views.
But in our old parish, oh!
They tumbled from the cliffs
like shiny little Easter eggs -
the ammonite, the belemnite!
But... you haven't come all this way
to hear a silly old sausage
like myself pontificating
about her hobbies.
Well, we're all enthusiasts of
one sort or another, are we not?
I am unmarried, without issue.
One must fill
the idle hours somehow.
As I say, there is a point
to my researches, erm,
something of a family mystery.
- Mm! I'm all ears!
Well, it's...
It's a little delicate.
You see my great-grandfather,
he had two surnames
on his birth certificate -
Williams, of course,
and another, Francis.
The suggestion being...
- Oh, I see!
Obviously, such a thing would have
been hushed up.
Oh, quite so. Quite so!
So assuming my great-grandfather
then the point of my search is
to track down this Francis family.
Francis... has a little more colour
than Williams, but...
..I will do my best to dig.
Some fossil hunting all of your own,
eh, Mr Williams?
All I'm saying is it wouldn't
be the end of the world.
Precisely. Twist.
- I don't think that's very wise.
This college has trundled on
through war and pestilence.
This cuts to its very heart.
What's that?
Giving degrees to women.
Binks here thinks
the college will crumble.
I quite agree. Stands to reason!
Reason has precious
little to do with it.
What is the point in tradition if
one is constantly changing things?
What the devil has changed here
in the past 500 years?
The quality of the plum
pudding has sharply declined.
Happily, the booze is still
top notch.
May I, Williams?
- Of course.
Oh, by the way, Garwood, you've got
an eye for a picture.
You might want to
take a look at that.
What is it?
Oh, take a look.
Had a long-haired youth trying to
flog me a bad oil the other day.
Claimed it was a Titian.
I said that unless the great man
had had a palsy in middle age
and had lost the ability
to paint a woman's buttock,
then I very much doubted that...
Where did you get this, Williams?
- From a dealer I know.
It's a curious little thing,
isn't it?
It's pretty ghastly,
but... I was curious.
Ghastly? It's rather fine, Williams.
Yes, I thought so too.
Yes! Has quite the feel of
the Romantic period,
and the light is admirably managed.
And the figure,
it's rather grotesque.
It's very impressive.
- Ha!
- Oh, I say!
Five card trick. Beat that!
It's rather too grotesque.
No, no, no, no, no!
Be sensible, Edward. Bed!
Up the wooden hill.
You are off-form today!
Sorry. Sorry, Binks. Didn't...
Didn't sleep well last night.
You get anywhere with that picture
of yours?
- What?
- Sussex or Essex, wasn't it?
Yes, something like that.
My game, I think.
I want you to tell me exactly
what you see in the picture.
Describe it, if you don't mind.
rather minutely.
I'll tell you why afterwards.
Well, I have here
a view of a country house -
English, I presume - by moonlight.
Moonlight? You're sure of that.
Certainly. The moon appears
to be on the wane,
if you wish for details.
- I do.
And there are clouds in the sky.
All right.
Go on.
Well um...
There's not much more left to say.
The house has one, two, three rows
of windows, five in each row,
except at the bottom,
where there's a porch instead of...
- What about the figures?
- Figures?
- There aren't any.
- What?
There are no figures.
Oh, there must be, on the lawn
in front of the house.
Not a thing.
You'll swear to it?
- Sir, are you quite...?
- Swear to it!
Yes, of course I will,
if it's what you want.
- What else?
- What?
Anything else about the picture?
No, it's just an ordinary view
of a front...
Oh, just a moment.
One of the windows
on the ground floor,
left of the door, it's...
- It's open.
- Open?
He must have got in.
What? Who?
When I first saw the mezzotint,
it was just a view of the house -
no moonlight and no figures.
Binks, my golfing partner...
Not a man prone to
imaginings, wouldn't you say?
I would.
Well, he saw it first.
The alteration.
Moonlight and a figure where
there'd been no figure.
I merely thought that
I hadn't noticed these things
on the first viewing, but then
last night...
Well, you were there.
What was it Garwood said?
That the figure...
was rather grotesque.
And then just before I retired
for the night...
..I saw it myself.
A shape crawling over the lawn.
Now... figure and an open window.
By all that's reasonable, Nisbet,
this is a rank impossibility.
And yet it is so.
I've jotted it all down.
Will you write out a description
of the picture
as you've just seen it and sign it?
If it'll make you
happy, but look here...
Please, for me.
Very well.
But I was going to say, I can
photograph it for you if you'd like.
- Oh.
- Would that be an idea?
Certainly it would.
Then we'd have a proper record
of the alterations.
Right, then. But look here, sir.
Are you sure you...?
I know what it looks like, Nisbet,
but it's the truth.
I swear it.
The picture...
What is this, a trick?
- There's no trick.
- Is it...?
What do they call it,
sympathetic ink?
- It's all true, Garwood.
- Ah, you're pulling my leg!
- Nisbet, is he pulling my leg?
- I swear.
It's true.
What can it all mean?
Well, it looks very much to me
as if we were assisting
at the working out of
some sort of tragedy...
..a record of some
long-forgotten mischief.
Where is it now?
In my office at the museum.
Don't you think
you should be watching it?
No, I...
I don't think it works like that.
I rather imagine we're meant
to see the whole thing.
You see, between the time
that I saw it the other night
and when I showed it to Nisbet,
there was time for a lot of things
to happen,
but... the creature only got
into the house.
- Creature?
- Figure, then.
It could have quite easily got about
its business in that time
and gone back to
wherever it came from.
But the fact of the window being
open, I think, must mean that...
..that it's in there now.
So I feel quite easy
about leaving it.
Might we go and see the picture?
I beg your pardon, sir!
I shouldn't have taken the liberty.
Are you quite...?
Oh, you've seen it.
What do you make of it?
Well, sir, of course,
I know nothing about art and such,
and I don't set up my opinion
against yours,
but it ain't the sort of thing
I should hang
where my kiddy could see it, sir.
- What?
- No, sir.
If she were to catch sight
of that...
..skeleton, or whatever it is,
carrying off...
..whatever it is,
she would be in a taking.
Will you be wanting
anything more today, sir?
No, thank you, Mrs Filcher.
Thank you, sir.
Great God!
What is it?
What is that... thing?
What is that?
In his arms?
Is it...?
A child.
Who is it?
It's me!
- Who?
- Who? It's Binks, of course!
You going to let a fella in?
- Yes, yes, of course.
Beware of golfers bearing gifts.
- What?
- I say, old man, are you all right?
You look awfully peaky.
Yes, I'm all right. What is it?
It's the solution
to your little puzzle.
May I?
Murray's Guide to Essex.
Just sitting there
in the college library,
would you believe? Large as life.
And I thought, "Well, maybe there's
an answer to old Williams' problem."
Took me all of five minutes
to find it.
"Anningley. 16-and-a-half miles
north of Colchester,
"the church has been an interesting
building of Norman date,
"but it was extensively classicised
in the last century.
"It contains the tomb of
the family of Francis..."
Yes. "..whose mansion,
Anningley Hall,
"a solid Queen Anne house, stands
immediately beyond the churchyard
"in a park of about 80 acres.
The Francis family is now extinct,
"the last heir having disappeared
mysteriously in infancy
"in the year of 1802.
"The father,
Mr Arthur Francis, was locally known
"as a talented amateur engraver
in mezzotint.
"After his son's disappearance,
he lived in complete retirement
"at the hall and was found dead
in his studio
"on the third anniversary
of the disappearance,
"having just completed
an engraving of the house,
"impressions of which are of
considerable rarity."
There! Something-ley Hall in Essex
or Sussex must be...
Anningley Hall in Essex.
Your picture, your mezzo-whatzit.
Might be worth a bob or two.
Oh, is that it?
So there you are. Case closed.
There's no need to thank me.
Do you know, I think you're right,
It's nothing very remarkable
after all, is it?
Really? As much as that?
Er... I'm afraid I really must be
going now, madam.
No, I don't think it counts
as a treasure trove, no.
Not at all.
Well, goodbye.
Yes, goodbye.
I trust this isn't an inconvenience?
I would have wired you,
but as I knew I'd be in the area,
I thought I might pop in.
You're most welcome.
Well, I happened to fall into
conversation with the local lady,
you see, who comes to deadhead
the flowers,
a font of all knowledge and gossip
going back who knows how long?
I mentioned the name Francis
to see whether...
Well, it was all I could do
to stop her talking.
It seems there was
a Mr Arthur Francis...
Yes, I've recently
come into possession
of some information regarding him.
Oh. Then my trip is wasted.
Oh, no, no, not at all, dear lady.
Pray, tell me everything.
..tragedy befell
this Arthur Francis.
His only heir...
- Disappeared, yes.
I do beg your pardon.
Was there some speculation
as to what might have happened
to the infant?
Oh, well...
..old Mr Francis was apparently
always very much down on poachers.
And one in particular,
he had it in for.
But Francis, they said,
could never get at this fellow.
Gawdy, he was called.
What a name - Gawdy!
Francis could never get at him
because he always kept
just on the right side of the law,
until, one night, the keepers
found him poaching in a wood
just at the end of the estate.
Well, that was what Francis
was waiting for.
And poor Gawdy was strung up
in double quick time,
buried on the north side
of the church.
Of course, that's always the way.
Anyone who's been hanged
or made away with themselves,
they bury them that side -
silly superstition, of course.
like all of it.
Anyway, the idea was
that some friend of Gawdy
must have been planning to take hold
of Francis's boy
and, out of revenge...
..put an end to his line.
- Some friend!
- Yes.
Well, it could hardly been
Gawdy himself, could it?
But that is not my main point.
There's more.
- More?
- Oh, yes!
Arthur Francis was apparently
something of a rake,
and the gossip is
that he... Well...
He fathered a child
with one of his servants.
But he wasn't such an ogre that
he didn't provide for the child.
He paid for a local family
to raise it,
to raise HIM.
Can't you guess?
The family's name was Williams
and the child's name...
- Oswald.
Your great-grandfather!
It all fits!
Don't you see what this means?
You are the last
of the Francis line.
Isn't that splendid?
Well played! Look at her go!
I've been thinking about what
Nisbet is proposing.
Nisbet? Oh, the young fella.
Degrees for women, you mean?
I think he may be right.
You do?
Good Lord, Williams.
Someone slip something
in your chota peg?
One must look to the future, Binks.
Not the past.