SCHAMA - a Depth Psychology Film Project


By Tom Stevens All Rights Reserved


Fantasy, Adventure
90 minutes
Tag Line
Love, Can Conquer Death!

An artist discovers the true meaning of life in a battle against Death itself.

Plot Synopsis
Schama, a bereaved artist, living in solitary retreat, deep in an East European forest, is visited by a group of hunters intent on tracking down a wolf-pack responsible for the death of their leader.

Story Synopsis
Schama, is a dramatic allegory portraying the universal journey of humankind in encountering grief, guilt, evil and death. Our protagonist is an artist entering late-life, a man gripped by the unendurable pain of bereavement and the loss of his creative soul. His withdrawal from life is a mythic motif: a prelude to Katabasis - an Orphic descent into the underworld. His antagonist, Death, enters the narrative in the human-guise of 'Vasil' the head of a group of hunters, intent on tracking down a wolf-pack responsible for the killing of their former-leader. A chance encounter leads to Schama's deep spirtual identification with The She-Wolf, leader of the wolf- pack hunted by Vasil. Joining the hunters, in the hope of somehow saving The She-Wolf from them, Schama is inducted into an odyssey of visions, dreams and hallucinations as everything he has ever believed in is systematically challenged by the enigmatic Vasil. Exposed to the most atavistic traits of human nature, Schama finds his battle for survival is no longer only physical, but also for his very soul. With increasing momentum, the psychological and species barrier between the wolves and men blurs, as the hunters become more wolf-like, and The She-Wolf more human. Schama's dreams are at once both increasingly real, and Shaman-like, as The She-Wolf's own dreams merge, terrifyingly, with his: her image blending with that of his dead wife. Its revealed that Schama's late wife: Eliana, was murdered, her killer never identified or caught, with Schama carrying terrible guilt as well as unendurable grief over her loss. The hunters, including Vasil, are corrupt post-communist police-officers, all of whom, unknown at first to Schama, were involved in the search for Eliana's murderer.

As Death, Vasil orchestrates the intertwined fate of all. The hunters are led one-by-one to shocking and gruesome ends, the wolves too are depleted, until he can bring Schama and The She-Wolf, at last, into their final confrontation with him, where Schama learns the awful truth about his wife's murder and in the face of overwhelming evil, the true meaning of life itself.



The motif of a wise-man retreating into the wilderness in order to answer some great question is an ancient one, found worldwide and across all cultures in religion and myth.

Schama is just such a story, an allegory that also works on a dramatic level as fantasy and adventure.

Our protagonist Schama, is an artist entering late-life, a man gripped by the unendurable pain of bereavement and the loss of his creative soul in the person of his murdered wife: Eliana.
Believing himself to be already 'half-dead' without her, he struggles with the existential angst of finding meaning in life, and the hope that somehow, love can triumph over death.

Believing that: 'A man's soul wears a woman's face' he tries desperately to complete a portrait of his dead wife, so that his brush-strokes, and even his paint-soaked fingers, might somehow return her from oblivion; and thereby through form, color and canvas, back into the world again.

But her face eludes him, and the portrait is tantalizingly unfinished.

Beset by dreams, visions and fantasies, Schama's mind blurs between physical reality and the darkest depths of the psyche. An unknowing Shaman, his quest in search of meaning leads him to conclude that only creativity and love are worth living for, and that in the end, only they can truly affirm a life. The loss of Eliana took both away from him. So, neither fully alive or dead, he's trapped in a state of spiritual stasis.

It's now that our antagonist, Vasil, appears.

Schama's quest has unwittingly placed him at the focal point of an eternal struggle between nature's two ultimate opposing forces, conceptualized in our story as Sigmund Freud's Eros (The Life Instinct) and Thanatos (The Death Instinct). In Bergman's movie The Seventh Seal, Death is personified in human form as something 'unknowing', an inexorable force, that seeks its own conclusion in the end of each individual's life. Bergman's protagonist hero: Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow ) buys time for himself by engaging Death in a game of Chess, until he can perform one last, significant, good deed. The film portrays the inevitability of death and the existential crisis this certain knowledge induces in us.

In our story, Death is personified as a fully 'knowing' character. In this, he (Vasil) represents the Freudian Thanatos or death-instinct. A conscious, articulated, yet natural force, that seeks not only the ultimate end of all life (human and animal) but also the pitiless destruction of hope and aspiration - to induce the meaninglessness of oblivion and the loss of love and relatedness to life that characterizes what anthropologists know of as a 'loss of soul'. In short, a living death.

The above exists in final shooting-script form and is part of a slate of projects in development by original author and depth psychologist Tom Stevens.