02 November 2008

a film treatment of the novel Breath


Waiting for the last gasp

a film adaptation of the novel by Tim Winton

A teenage boy obsessed with dangerous and extreme surfing becomes involved with an older woman who is even more dangerous and extreme...

This story is a psychological drama about Bruce Pike (Pikelet), an ordinary boy from an ordinary town in Western Australia looking to be anything but ordinary. His thrill seeking starts simply through holding his breath for increasing lengths of time in the local river but progresses to surfing dangerous and extreme conditions and locations. He develops dangerous relationships with (1) a boy, Loonie, who has no fear (2) an ex pro-surfer, Sando, attempting to hold onto his thrill-seeking youth and (3) the surfer’s wife, Eva, a bitter crippled ex-aerial skier. It is his relationship with Eva that develops into the most extreme behaviour, culminating into auto-erotic asphyxia behaviour (restricting breathing through strangulation for sexual pleasure) and pregnancy. Pikelet’s relationships with all three fail and establish a life of risk-taking and loneliness.



A naked teenage boy is hanging from his bedroom doorframe with a belt around his neck. There is a computer screen showing instructions for auto-erotic asphyxia. His breath becomes louder and shorter. He panics as he gasps for air. He dies.

Middle class parents hear frantic kicking at their son’s bedroom door. They try to enter the room but the door is locked. The father puts full force into the door with his shoulder, dislocating it in the process, and the door slaps into the body of their son. The mother screams. Someone dials 000 and soon sirens are heard.

Bruce (aged 40+), an ambulance officer, arrives with his younger female partner, June. June attends to the father’s dislocated shoulder. Bruce looks grimly but knowingly at the victim. The noise and action dims around Bruce, and the boy fades to the background until all that can be heard is Bruce’s heartbeat. He continues to look at the dead boy’s face until the face becomes blurry.