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Historical Fiction Screenplay

Susan Wilcox Richardson 515-370-1266 richsons@netins.net
Genre: Historical fiction

Logline: A tangled tale of adventure, politics and love sparked by the desire of a greedy Egyptian ruler to
make an alliance with France by making an unusual gift: A giraffe who captures the hearts of the people
and leaves a colorful tale for the history books.

EGYPT, 1938. In a dark, damp snake-infested cellar beneath the tomb of his descendent, Muhammad Ali
Pasha, King Farouk hopes to find journals that will provide clues to securing his place in history.
Immediately, the King hires a British journalist and an Arab translator to help him on this quest. When
the pair stumble across the documents, they uncover an unexpected series of events that transcends
the imagination and weaves the cultures of two very diverse worlds through one common thread, a
Egypt, 1826. Muhammad Ali Pasha gazes at the Nile pondering how to secure an alliance with King
Charles X of France to expand his empire. The answer comes from the French counsel general,
Bernadino Drovetti, who tells Ali about a directive from Charles. The king wants to build a zoo of exotic
animals from all over the world. A gift of a giraffe from Egypt could earn King Charles’ favor. Muhammad
immediately orders Drovetti to oversee the mission. Arab hunters are hired and through a brutal hunt
kill a mother and take her calf. Disease, crocodile attacks, and revolts are perils faced on the giraffe’s
long journey down the Nile and through France to meet the king, but she flourishes despite them.
Everyone that crosses the giraffe’s path is touched by her soulful eyes and kind and gentle nature. The
giraffes two caretakers, Atir and Hassan, devote their lives to her. They name her Zarafa or lovely one.
Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, a French naturalist hired by King Charles, ensures Zarafa’s well-being during her
stay in France and plans her walk of 550 miles from Marseille to Paris. Hagar, who first sees Zarafa on
her trip down the Nile is so drawn to her, he accompanies a second giraffe to France to keep her
company. While in France pursuing his studies, Hagar meets the lovely, independent librarian, Clarisse.
Their friendship develops as their cultures become entwined and their shared love of Zarafa grows.
Zarafa wins the hearts of the people as she walks across France to Paris. Crowds of people gather and
cheer as she passes. There has not been a giraffe in Europe for over 350 years and they stare at this
unique creature in wonderment. Every aspect of French culture becomes focused on her. Giraffe plates,
fashion, and hairstyles become the rage which the media aptly calls Zarafamania.
While Zarafa is gaining popularity with the people, Charles and Muhammad Ali Pasha are losing theirs.
Charles takes rights away from the people and is chased out of France never to return. Muhammad Ali
Pasha begins his fall from power after losing the support of his people and the French armies.
EGYPT 1938: Muhammad Ali Pasha’s journals have been read and interpreted. The story of how a giraffe
becomes an uncommon bond between France and Egypt is fascinating. However, the journalist and
interpreter know that King Farouk will not like their conclusions: Giving gifts doesn’t necessarily earn
favors and when a ruler lives a lavish lifestyle and ignores the needs of the people, they will rally against him. Does King Farouk choose to learn from the past or does he ignore it and let history repeat itself?