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The Wind in the Willows

Novel to Film | The River Bank

Novel | Script | Film | Descriptive Video Script

The Novel

The River Bank
From The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
From Chapter 1. The River Bank

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!' and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, 'Up we go! Up we go!' till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

'This is fine!' he said to himself. 'This is better than whitewashing!' The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

'Hold up!' said an elderly rabbit at the gap. 'Sixpence for the privilege of passing by the private road!' He was bowled over in an instant by the impatient and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hurriedly from their holes to see what the row was about. 'Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!' he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then they all started grumbling at each other. 'How stupid you are! Why didn't you tell him -- -- ' 'Well, why didn't you say -- -- ' 'You might have reminded him -- -- ' and so on, in the usual way; but, of course, it was then much too late, as is always the case.

It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting -- everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering 'whitewash!' he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before -- this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver -- glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

As he sat on the grass and looked across the river, a dark hole in the bank opposite, just above the water's edge, caught his eye, and dreamily he fell to considering what a nice snug dwelling-place it would make for an animal with few wants and fond of a bijou riverside residence, above flood level and remote from noise and dust. As he gazed, something bright and small seemed to twinkle down in the heart of it, vanished, then twinkled once more like a tiny star. But it could hardly be a star in such an unlikely situation; and it was too glittering and small for a glow-worm. Then, as he looked, it winked at him, and so declared itself to be an eye; and a small face began gradually to grow up round it, like a frame round a picture.

A brown little face, with whiskers.

A grave round face, with the same twinkle in its eye that had first attracted his notice.

Small neat ears and thick silky hair.

It was the Water Rat!

Then the two animals stood and regarded each other cautiously.

'Hullo, Mole!' said the Water Rat.

'Hullo, Rat!' said the Mole.

'Would you like to come over?' enquired the Rat presently.

'Oh, its all very well to talk,' said the Mole, rather pettishly, he being new to a river and riverside life and its ways.

The Rat said nothing, but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had not observed. It was painted blue outside and white within, and was just the size for two animals; and the Mole's whole heart went out to it at once, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.

The Rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up his forepaw as the Mole stepped gingerly down. 'Lean on that!' he said. 'Now then, step lively!' and the Mole to his surprise and rapture found himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.

'This has been a wonderful day!' said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. 'Do you know, I've never been in a boat before in all my life.'

'What?' cried the Rat, open-mouthed: 'Never been in a -- you never -- well I -- what have you been doing, then?'

'Is it so nice as all that?' asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

'Nice? It's the only thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. 'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolute nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: 'messing -- about -- in -- boats; messing -- -- '

'Look ahead, Rat!' cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

' -- about in boats -- or with boats,' the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. 'In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?'

The Script

The River Bank
From The Wind in the Willows
As adapted by Lee Hall from the novel by Kenneth Grahame

Int. Underground/Mole's house - Day
Through tunnel to Mole's house.
Music: In

Title Card: Matt Lucas

Title Card: Mark Gatiss

Title Card: Lee Ingleby

Intercut as Mole pulls root from ceiling.

Mole: (Groans)

Title Card: and Bob Hoskins

He falls -

Mole: O blow!

Music: Out

Mole: (SIghs)

Moves to stand -
Pulls root, falls -

FX:/Mole: (Groans)


Mole (Cont): I hate spring cleaning. (Sighs) I'm sick of it.

Looks up at hole in ceiling.

Mole: (Sniffs)

Music: In
FX: birdsong

Mole (Cont): (Sighs) Fresh air.

Ext. Countryside - Day
Mole climbs to surface -
FX: birdsong

Mole: (Sighs)

Glances around -

Mole: My oh my. (Sniffs) Oh!

Climbs from molehill -
Walks into B.G., Gestures.
Music: Continues

Title Card: Kenneth Grahame's
The Wind in the Willows

Mole walks through countryside -
Glances around -
Bends, smells flower -

Mole: This certainly beats spring cleaning. To think I've been down in my hole and not out here! (Chuckles)

FX:/Mole: (Breathes deeply)

Title Card: Imelda Staunton

Stands, watches butterfly -
Steps towards.

MOLE (Cont): Goodness, what the devil's that?

Title Card: Jim Carter
Anna Maxwell Martin

Intercut as he climbs over fence.
Music: Out

Mole: (Groans/FX:)

Title Card: with Mary Walsh

Title Card: and Michael Murphy

Mole: (Continues)

Title Card: producer Michael Prupas
co-producer Charlotte Ashby

He stands.

Mole: (Sighs)

Music: In

Mole walks through countryside -

Title Card: written by Lee Hall

Ext. Riverside/River - Day
Along river.

Title Card: produced by Gub Neal

Mole: Oh! (Chuckles)

Title Card: directed by Rachel Talalay

Mole gestures.

Mole (Cont): Would you look at that. Oh. (Chuckles)

Intercut as he watches bubbles on river surface -
Hurries into B.G.
FX: water

Mole: (Gasps)

Rat emerges from surface -
Mole steps to him.
Music: Out

Rat: You all right?

Mole: Um, oh, oh yes, yes, yes ... (Chuckles)

Rat climbs out - dries himself with towel.
Mole gestures.

Mole (Cont): Oh, yes. Yes. (Chuckles) I, er, I hope you don't mind me asking but is, is this, er ... (Mumbles) ... is it a river?

Rat: (Laughs) Course it's a river.

Mole: Yes.

Rat: Never seen one before?

Mole: (Chuckles) Oh yes, yes, oh yes. (Mumbles) No, no, no.

Rat: Oh. Do you care to join me for a row?

Rat places towel over his arm -
Mole turns to moored boat -
End on Mole.

Rat (Cont): Just fetch my togs.

Rat seated in boat - helps Mole into it.

Rat: Give me your hand.

Mole falls -
Intercut as he struggles to stand -
Rat gestures.

FX:/Mole: (Groans)

Rat (Cont): (Stutters) It, er, it, it, it helps if you sit down.

Continue to intercut as Mole sits.

Mole: (Gasps)

Rat: (Chuckles)

Mole: (Sighs)

Rat offers his hand.

Rat (Cont): Rat.

Mole: Mole.

Rat pushes boat away from jetty -

Rat: I haven't seen you around these parts before, have I?

Rows -

Mole gestures -
Continue to intercut between them as they travel along river.

Mole: No, no, I, I, I'm generally underground. I, I, I rarely go outdoors. When I do, I try to stick to within a few yards of a molehill. (Chuckles) Yes. I, I, I've never been in a, a boat before.

Rat: Really?

Mole: (Chuckles) Yeah.

Rat: What on earth do you do with your time? (Pause)
Believe me, my friend, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Mole: Ah.

Rat: In 'em, out of 'em, doesn't really matter.

Music: In

Rat (Cont): Nothing seems to matter when you're in a boat. Listen, if you've nothing else on, perhaps we could take a trip down river together. Make a day of it.

Music: Continues

Rat (Cont): There's a hamper in the boat, a soft wind in the willows. There's more to life than living down a hole.

Music: Out

The Film

The River Bank
From The Wind in the Willows as directed by Rachel Talalay

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The Descriptive Video Script

The River Bank
The Wind in the Willows
As described by the Media Access Group at WGBH Boston


Now, our view dives into a burrow as titles appear:
Matt Lucas as Toad.
Mark Gatiss as Rat.
Lee Ingleby as Mole.
and Bob Hoskins as Badger.

In the burrow, a MAN wearing a brown fur coat balances on a chair, as he yanks on a root growing down from the ceiling. Candles illuminate the earthen room's table and chairs, narrow bed, and faded rug. A fire glows in the hearth.

The man, MOLE, pulls the root free and falls!

[:01 CRASH]
Sitting up, he shakes himself off. His dark hair covers his ears.

[SOUND FX, "...O, BLOW."]
Dirt speckles Mole's long, pointy nose. He grabs a dangling root to pull himself up, but the root comes crashing down!

He scrambles to his feet.

("...I'm sick of it.")

Sniffing the air, he lifts his gaze to a hole the missing roots left in the ceiling. Sunshine streams-in from the blue sky above. Mole steps into the light, and breathes-in.

["...FRESH AIR."]
With his hairy, clawed hands, he digs himself out of the burrow.

Resting on a molehill, he squints in the bright sunlight.

His surroundings come into focus: lush trees border a sprawling field of yellow and purple wildflowers.

["...MY, OH MY."]
Mole inhales deeply, then looks-out at a range of distant hills behind him.

He scratches his shaggy dark hair, then climbs out of the molehill. With butterflies flying overhead, he starts across the field, and reaches up toward the bright blue sky.

A title appears: "Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows."

("...and not out here!" [:01 CHUCKLES])

Mole smiles with a mouthful of crooked yellow teeth, then smells a flower with his pointed nose.

[(faint) "...OH."]
He watches a butterfly flit around him, then freezes.

A wooden FENCE stands at one end of the field. Mole slips and fumbles as he climbs over it.

Titles continue:
Imelda Staunton as Barge Lady.
Jim Carter as Engine Driver.
Anna Maxwell Martin as Jailer's Daughter.
with Mary Walsh as Washerwoman.
and Michael Murphy as Judge.

Producer: Michael Prupas.
Co-Producer: Charlotte Ashby.
Written by Lee Hall.
Produced by Gub Neal.
Directed by Rachel Talalay.

Catching his breath, Mole steadies himself on the other side of the fence. Later, he ambles past leafy shrubs and cat-o-nine-tails. He stops, gaping at a peaceful river lined with willow trees.

Mole stands on a small wooden dock with an empty rowboat.

He shifts his weight excitedly, then squints at the river. Large bubbles ripple the water's surface!

Eyes wide, Mole starts to run, then glances over his shoulder. A MAN with buck teeth and a whiskered mustache emerges from the water. He locks eyes with Mole, who edges back.

([MUMBLING]" ...Oh yes.")

The whiskered man climbs out and dries-off his striped long johns.

("...Do you care to join me for a row?")

Mole looks nervously at the rowboat.

Later, the whiskered man sits in the boat as Mole climbs in backwards.

Mole grips his hand and tumbles into the boat! He jumps up, wobbling, and swings his arms for balance as the boat rocks unsteadily.

("...helps if you sit down.")
Mole shoots over a hesitant look, then grips the sides of the boat and swings himself into a cushioned seat.

The whiskered man smiles and extends his hand.

They shake hands.

("...a few yards of a molehill.")

Rat rows the boat down the river.

("...than living down a hole.")
Mole smiles agreeably.

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