“Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story” (scenes 1 – 17(of24), Margharita and Crane inside Margharita’s apartment in Greenwich Village, late Fall 1898)

Post-advertising-Edward-Amets-faked-Spanish-American-War-film-356x500-2Scene 1: Havana, February 1898

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USS Maine Tablet (1912). old City Hall, Rochester, NY, Fitzhugh Street

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from 1896 film, Boxing match or Glove Contest

Scene 2: Pawtucket, Rhode Island, February 1898

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The Roosevelt Room in the White House

Scene 3: Washington, February 1898

 

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Buffalo Soldiers in Montana, 1896

Scene 4: Montana, February 1898

Scene 5: New York, February 1898220px-StephenCraneandCora1899

Scene 6: The Cuban Countryside, February 1898

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1893 edition

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 Scene 7

Scene 8: Havana, May 1898

crank 2Scene 9, Siboney, Cuba June 1898

shafter on cart Scene 10

Scene 11negro troops

 

 

Scene 12 cuban flag Scene 13Black_Maria

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Scene 15

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For background, see: (from War, Literature and the Arts)

“Infirm Soldiers in the Cuban War of Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Harding Davis”

“Strains of Failed Populism in Stephen Crane’s Spanish War Stories”

“Imperium in Imperio: Sutton Griggs’s Imagined War of 1898”

“The Spanish-American War as a Bourgeois Testing Ground: Richard Harding Davis, Frank Norris and Stephen Crane”

also On Spanish-American War Monuments and Rochester. And remembering the Buffalo Soldiers on Veteran’s Day

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Stephen Crane, Greece, Greco-Turkish War, 1897

Scene Seventeen: New York, late Fall 1898

(Crane is working in his studio. He is looking over the original footage from San Juan. Since they last saw each other at Pete’s Tavern, Crane and Margharita have been talking daily on the telephone. Scene 14 A boy delivers Crane a telegram.)

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Evangelina Cosio y Cisneros (September 23, 1877 – April 29, 1970) was the focus of events that played out in the years 1896–1898 during the Cuban War of Independence. Her imprisonment as a rebel and escape from a Spanish jail in Cuba, with the assistance of the reporter, Karl Decker from William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, created wide interest in the United States press, as well as accusations of fraud and bribery.

Boy: Mr. Stephen Crane. Telegram from Margharita Quesadas.

Crane: Thanks, boy. (looking for money in his pocket). Out of dough.  Take this. It will make your heirs rich. (Crane grabs a first edition of Maggie off the shelf, signs it and give it to the boy).

Crane reads the note.  “Stephen, Calixto is dead. Please come to my apartment on Grove Street. Maggie”

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Garcia, Calixto (1836 – 1898) Garcia spent three decades working and fighting for the independence of his native Cuba. Trained to be a lawyer, he helped organize the insurrection against Spain known as the Ten Years War (1868-1878). His success as a military leader earned him the high post of commander in chief of the Cuban revolutionary army. He was captured in 1873 and imprisoned in Spain, but after his release six years later, he returned to Cuba and started a new rebellion. Garcia was recaptured and forced to live under police surveillance. In 1895, he managed to escape and return to Cuba. Garcia commanded troops in Camaguey and Oriente provinces and helped the American forces capture Santiago in 1898. His name became an American household word after the publication of “A Message to Garcia,” an inspirational essay written in 1899 by Elbert Hubbard [painting by Charles Johnson Post]

(Crane goes to Margharita’s apartment. Margharita is crying.)

Crane: (holding her) Dear, Maggie. I am so sorry. What happened?

Margharita: Calixto was found dead in his Siboney beach house. At his side was a machete.

Crane: A machete! Assassinated. Villains! It must have been an embittered cowardly Penisular [the white upper class Spanish who settled in Cuba]. Oh, Maggie, I am so sorry.

Margharita: (sobbing) Stephen, it gets worse. The police are claiming it was self-inflicted. There was no sign of a break in or a struggle. And it was in a hidden room that only a few family members knew existed. And they are saying family, friends and even his soldiers said Calixto had been acting despondent. Saying strange and desperate things.

Crane: But how can a man kill himself with a machete?

(Margharita gives a pained, horrified look)

Crane: My dear, I shouldn’t have said that. Margharita, I am thankful you asked me to be here. These weeks when he have been talking so much on the telephone, it feels like we have grown close. We talk about everything. Books, ideas, life. We write down our dreams and nightmares and retell them in the morning. And you have almost made me an anarchist if not a Bryanite Democrat.

Margharita (nodding): But hardly anything about Cora.

Crane: Nor much really about Calixto.

Margharita: (composing herself) You know I love Calixto with all my heart. He is the father of our revolution.  Without him, Cuba would still be in total bondage. Calixto and I have been lovers but I was never his mistress. Calixto taught me to be my own woman. Independent like one day Cuba will be. Our cause will go on and our lives will go on.

Crane: I know you did and I know you are.

Margharita: Stephen, I have an idea and something I will hope you will do for me.

Crane: If I can.

Margharita: I want you to use your cinematic genius to help our cause. I want you to make a movie about the real story of the war. About how it was the Cuban freedom fighters who defeated the Spanish. And how the world must let Cuba be free.

Crane: (suppressing an inward astonished laugh)  But Maggie, I am already working on one film. We can do yours next. Hmm, we’ll call it Birth of a Nation. Birth of the Cuban Nation.

[Birth of a Nation (1915) by W.D. Griffiths is considered the first full length film. Under President Woodrow Wilson,  it was the first American motion picture to be screened at the White House. The film depicts its black characters as unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women. The Klu Klux Klan is portrayed as a heroic force.]

Margharita: I have often doubted if you are sincere in your love for Cuba. Why, in your writings you have called our soldiers “tatterdemalions.” And you were once quoted in an interview saying, “The Cubans themselves are the worst thing possible for the cause of an independent Cuba that could possibly exist.” [from newspaper interview “The Red Badge of Courage Was His Wig-Wag Flag”]

Crane: (trying to be light) Oh, that tatterdemalion was just a poetic device. I needed something to rhyme with “medallion.” And that reporter completely mangled what I said.

Anyway, what do I know about politics? And that was before I met you. Listen, I promise we’ll do Birth of a Nation  later. And, didn’t I show compassion for the Cuban cause in The Clan of No-Name ?

Margharita: (crying again) Yes, but Manolo had his head cut off with a machete. Scene 12

Crane: Ah, stupid me again for mentioning “Clan.”

Maggie, you see, a strange, unexpected and now coincidental thing happened today. Two black troopers I knew from Cuba, Pullen and Young, came to the set today. The oddest thing. Came right out of the blue. They want me to radically alter The Rough Riders. They want the movie to be about how it was the Buffalo Soldiers who really captured San Juan. And saved Roosevelt’s Anglo-Saxon ass.  Scene 11

Margarita: Are you going to do it?

Crane: How can I? Its unthinkable. The movie is nearing completion. It would simply be impossible.

But then I looked at old Vitagraph footage.  We actually caught Roosevelt falling off his horse and breaking his glasses. And when the black troopers devastated the Spanish counterattack. But I couldn’t decide.

But when I got that telegram and on the walk over here, I decided. I am doing it. If you want me to.

Margharita (glowing): Mr. Crane, are you only doing this so you can make love to me?

Crane: Yes.

Margharita: (startled) Yes? But why.

Crane: Because when I walked into that jail in Havana, I saw you. A kindred spirit. A true artist like myself. And true artists must tell the truth.  Scene 7 and Scene 8: Havana, May 1898

And because when I charged up San Juan by myself, I was thinking of you. Scene 11 I was thinking I wanted you to read about in the Times and be proud. Who would not risk his life for a star? [quoting Roosevelt] Scene 16

Margharita: (glowing and laughing). I did read those reports and thought to myself, what a reckless fool is Mr. Stephen Crane. But I am glad my star was not shot down.

Crane: (taking her around the waist and whispering in her ear): I

Margharita: You?

Crane: You. I. I want.

Margharita: I? You want?

Crane: You. I want to.

Margharita: You? I. You want to?

Crane: I want to be.

Margharita: To be?

Crane: To be inside you.

Margharita: To be inside me.

(Margharita steps to the light switch and turns it off.)