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Cry of the Dreamer

When you're fighting for freedom and you fall in love, does freedom become the price instead of the prize? An Irish freedom fighter is transported for life to Australia but vows to return to liberate his people. Then he falls in love with his jailer's daughter.

Based on a true story. Poet, soldier and Irish revolutionary, John Boyle O'Reilly is arrested with a group of fellow conspirators. Court Martialled and sentenced to death, he is eventually spared and jailed for life. But he does not give up on his dream of Irish independence. His numerous escape attempts infuriate and embarrass the English establishment and he is finally exiled to the colony of Western Australia.

The voyage is not without incident and O'Reilly's conduct at the death early on in the journey of a fellow convict, from injuries inflicted by a psycopathic prison warder, gains the attention of William Woodman, the Controller of Convicts.

On arrival at Fremantle O'Reilly is assigned to work in the library. His supervisor is fellow Irishman, Father Lynch and it is through him that a transfer for O'Reilly to a road building gang in the south of the State is arranged as part of O'Reilly’s plan to escape.

But life on the road gangs is brutal and O'Reilly finds himself face to face with the murderous warder, Ridley, whom he had confronted over the death of the prisoner at sea. Ridley has vowed revenge and now is his chance to inflict it. The brutality is not just physical, it's also psychological. O'Reilly's resilience begins to crumble and he reaches his nadir when Ridley withholds a black-bordered letter from home as punishment. O'Reilly attempts suicide, but is found just in time.

He is taken to the Woodman family home and nursed back to health. He tells Woodman about the brutality and horrors of the road gangs. Woodman immediately dismisses Ridley and his men and takes control of the works himself. He offers O'Reilly the job of Convict Constable, a position of considerable trust and freedom. O'Reilly accepts with the words, '...but I don't want the cheese, Mr Woodman, I want out of the trap'. Woodman understands but warns, 'Be aware, Mr O'Reilly, if you do get out of the trap, I can be of no help to you'.

The new freedom brings O'Reilly and Woodman's young daughter, Jessica, into frequent contact. Inevitably they fall in love. But all the while O'Reilly is planning his escape on an American whaler with the help of local free settlers sympathetic to his cause. He begs Jessica to go with him. When she refuses he enters a steep downward spiral of doubt about the whole undertaking, from which he's finally rescued by the local priest.

He leaves the camp at night and makes his way down the Collie River to the port of Bunbury. But on arrival there he finds the ship has sailed without him. Now there's a life and death manhunt as O'Reilly hides out on the coast whilst his friends desperately search for another ship. Eventually, two weeks later and in a hail of police bullets, he swims out to a small fishing dory which takes him offshore to rendezvous with another Yankee whaler at the start of his journey to freedom in America.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Budget:
Mid
In the Vein Of:
based on, inspired by true events

Posted:
02/24/2016
Updated:
07/04/2020
Author Bio:
I have been a professional historian and archaeologist since 1972 and a writer since 1982. I have thirty-eight children's books to my name and have been published by Macmillan, Nelson and Wayland Press. I have also contributed articles to the yachting press and to the Financial Times in London, UK. My screenwriting career highlight was winning the October 2010 WriteMovies competition with my screenplay 'Cry of the Dreamer'. I am an Ancient History and Archaeology graduate from Birmingham, UK and have postgraduate teaching qualifications in primary years education and in English as a foreign language.

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Contest Results:
WriteMovies (First Place, October 2010)