POW - short film - Drama
Format: Short film
Logline: An American soldier, who after being captured by the enemy forces, makes some dark discoveries about himself.
The world: A dark basic cell in the depths of a Russian camp in 1919 during the Russian Intervention.
Brief Synopsis: POW is a short 20-minute drama in which two prisoners of war are subjected to physical and psychological torture with the aim of them giving up valuable codes. While waiting for their seemingly inevitable violent death, the two prisoners engage in a plan to escape while wrestling with the theological morality of their actions.
At the beginning of our story, we are introduced to JOHN, an American soldier, who has been captured as a prisoner of war during the Russian Intervention in 1919. PETYR and IVOR , Russian soldiers, are his captors. They are determined to extract the codes to a supply base that they believe, is being withheld from them by John.
As they interrogate him, John can hear the sounds of other soldiers being killed. His captors inform him that the longer he takes to give them the information they want, they will continue to kill each of his “brothers” until they arrive to him as the last captive. After yet another gruelling interrogation, John meets SAMUEL, his new cell mate.
Samuel is young and cynical. His first words are denying the existence of a heaven, hell, or God, introducing the true conflict of our story. John attempts to pray yet Samuel decides to discourage him with every sentence John speaks.
As Samuel attempts to establish dominance over John, Petyr walks in and begins to physically harass John. Samuel entices John to fight back, using his “rank” to order him around. Petyr ignores Samuel, only interested in the information they are looking for.
John continues to deny having any knowledge of such information and Petyr leaves after roughing John up. Samuel plays the bad cop as he continues to plant doubt in John’s mind, challenging his faith by challenging God himself.
They share a personal moment by asking each other where they are from and exchange a few quick words about their personal life before John brings up the subject of never having even so much as punched someone before the war. John explains to Samuel how a mysterious bright light saved his life and how they were captured shortly after narrowly escaping death. Samuel explains how he killed a Russian general and has been locked up since. He then reveals that he has stashed a knife and has plans to fight his way out.
The day passes and the two men discuss King David and how he defeated a giant with nothing but a sling and a stone. Samuel bargains with John that he’ll listen to the bible story if John listens to his plan. John then tells Samuel the story of how God delivered the giant into David’s hands.
John struggles with the idea of taking a life and begins to wonder if that is his only option for survival.
The two argue as one of the captors begins to enter the room. They quickly argue on whether the Bible or fighting will win the war. Petyr takes John out of the cell. Another prisoner dies and John is returned to the cell.
We start to realize the John is slowly losing his mind. He reveals to Samuel that the Bible and collar are not actually his, but his father’s and he is just pretending to be a chaplain.
John confesses that he really doesn’t believe in God and the war and his father’s death isn’t helping. John wonders if Samuel is actually a Russian trying to befriend him to get the codes. Another prisoner is killed, time is running out.
They engage in a controversial exchange and then Samuel tells John his plan to escape. John isn’t interested so Samuel threatens to tell the guards he is not a real chaplain unless John agrees to his plan to escape. John still disagrees to take part and Samuel shouts on the guards.
Petyr enters and kicks John on the ground. Still John doesn’t break. Petyr takes John’s index finger and pulls it back dislocating it. Petyr exits and John takes comfort in the Bible. Samuel, who assures John that everything would be okay as he would be doing the killing and John could retain his moral integrity. Another prisoner screams. John accepts what he must do to get out of this hellhole alive.
He decides to fight his way out by luring his captors close and telling them he will tell them the codes. They use another prisoner as leverage to hurry John to tell them the codes as outside there is gunshots as the Americans close in on their location.
John fights with Ivor manages to hold a knife to Ivor’s neck, but Ivor overpower John by twisting his dislocated finger and John drops the knife. At the precise moment before they decide to be rid of John, SERGEANT JONES executes Petyr as they conduct a rescue mission to save the POWs.
John reveals that he is a Captain and the sergeant asks John if he has the codes, in which John confirms. They were written inside the Bible, next to the story of King David. The Bible and the codes inside could indeed win the war.
As John is leaving, he looks inside the cell and slowly realizes that Samuel was never there but replaced by the same bright light that saved John from the mortar before they were captured. John carves the word “Samuel” in the prison wall with the knife, puts on his “dog collar” and leaves the cell, transformed.