Monday, June 18, 2012


Transcribed by Ralph Dumain:

The door to the church opens. Father Peregrine is at the altar. He hears something, goes to close the door. Father Peregrine returns to kneel and pray at the altar, then turns around and looks for an intruder.

"Someone there?"

He approaches a water basin in the center of the room, sees blood dripping into the water. He sees a hand bearing the stigmata, then the other, and begins to pray intensely with eyes clenched shut.

"Enough." Father Peregrine covers his face with his hands.

'Jesus' appears, in a robe, with arms crossed and folded, with a crown of thorns. Father Peregrine reaches out his hand. Then he mutters "You're trembling ..."

'Jesus' says: "Let me go."

Peregrine: "Let you go? But no one keeps you here."

'Jesus': "Yes …. you do."

'Jesus': "Avert your gaze. The more you look, the more I become this. I am not what I seem. I'm not that vision. I didn't mean to come here. I was in the town square. One thing: I lost hold … and suddenly I was many things to many people. I ran and they followed. I fled in here. Then you came in. And I was trapped."

Peregrine: "No…. no…."

Martian Jesus: "Yes … trapped!"

Peregrine: "But … you're not what you seem?"

Martian Jesus: "Forgive me. I wish that I might be but I cannot."

Peregrine: "I'm going mad."

Martian Jesus: "No … or I go down in madness with you. Release me!"

Peregrine: "I can't. Not when you've finally come. 2000 years we waited for your return. And now I am the one who sees you, and hears you speaking."

Martian Jesus: "You see nothing but your own dream ... your own needs. Beneath all this I am another thing."

Peregrine: "What am I to do?"

Martian Jesus: "Look away from me, and in that moment I'll be gone. Halt, or you'll kill me!"
Peregrine: "Or I'll kill you?"

Martian Jesus: "If you force me into this guise much longer, I will die. This is more than I can hold."

Father Peregrine and 'Jesus' exchange inaudible whispers.

Martian Jesus: "No … You know that …

Peregrine: "That …"

Martian Jesus: "No more, no less."

Peregrine: "And I have made you like this with my thoughts."

Martian Jesus: "You came into the church. You looked at the crucifix. Your old dream of meeting him seized you once again. Seized me. My body still bleeds from the wounds you gave me with your secret mind."

Peregrine: "…Oh, my sweet God …. Go, before I keep you here forever."

Father Peregrine turns away. The door opens; the wind blows. 'Jesus' is gone. The priest turns back around: no one is there.

From Ralph Dumain:
When I transcribed the scene above, I erroneously assumed that this scene must have been [Richard] Matheson's own creation, and that there was no way to obtain this story in print, as screenplays can be very hard to come by. Thanks to Ray Bradbury fans, I have learned that the scene above was indeed based on a short story by Bradbury, though not part of "The Martian Chronicles". Apparently, there are enough other Martian stories to make up another volume. The basis for this scene is evidently Bradbury's story "The Messiah", which appears in the collection "Long After Midnight" (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976; pp. 55-66). The story begins with a theological dialogue between Father Niven and Bishop Kelley. Father Niven has the encounter with the Martian 'Jesus' in the wee hours. There is more to the dialogue here than in the screenplay, as Father Niven exacts a promise from the Martian Jesus to return once a year, on Easter. I think this ending derogates from the story. I do not know how Richard Matheson came to include this story in his teleplay. One of my informants claims that Bradbury wrote some of the additional scenes and dialogue for the miniseries, but I have not as yet been able to verify Bradbury's direct input. The miniseries is available as a three-volume VHS video, and can easily be found via online auction web sites. (Ralph Dumain, 17 May 2003)

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