Back

THE OCTOPUS CHARMER

Flora has the gift which saves her people from starvation on World War II occupied Guam

It is December 9, 1941, the night before the fiesta of Santa Maria Kamalan, the patron saint of the island of Guam. The native Chamorro people are busy preparing for this day, cooking, decorating and preparing for the mass in the islands cathedral. But something isnt right. That morning, Flora Untalans grandmother, Regina Guerroro sees flaming red and purple streaks in the sunset, foreboding signs that others have witnessed in the past which foretold terrible earthquakes and typhoons that slammed this tiny, idyllic island. What happens to the people of Guam has never happened before. Overhead, Japanese Zero planes interrupt the Mass the next day, sending the Chamorro people into a state of panic. Their island is soon overtaken by the brutal Japanese Army. The Japanese are merciless occupiers. They make all the islanders learn Japanese, beat anyone who doesnt bow to them (and do worse to Chamorros who are larger than they are or seem to pose a threat). The Japanese also desecrate the local churches; either using them as military headquarters or destroying them, denying the Chamorros their important religious holy days and fiestas. Life for the Chamorros becomes hellish.

Caught in the middle of all of this is a young Chamorro woman with a bright future. A nurse-in-training at the American military hospital, Flora Untalen only wants to attend the movies unchaperoned by her grandmother and date one of the young Navy doctors from the hospital. Her tight knit family includes her brother Joseph, a good looking, athletic young man; her mother Anna; a widow; her grandmother Regina; and her aunt and uncle and their children. Bishop Camacho, a very well-loved native priest also plays a minor role in the action. There are one or two flashbacks to Floras childhood.

Flora is like no other young woman. She has an amazing gift she inherited from her ancestors - the ability to communicate with the animals and fish on her native island of Guam. This gift helps her rescue her American friends from certain death in Japanese P.O.W. camps. But, Flora is captured by the Japanese military who suspect her of helping their comfort women escape.

There is no one who can rescue Flora now  or is there? It doesnt seem hopeful for her - not even her secret Japanese lover, Takei, who she met on her solitary walks on Tumon Beach can help her out of her predicament. He was educated in California until he was recalled to fight in the war. Takei is secretly sympathetic to the Americans and Chamorros and becomes the father of Floras baby when the two enter the jungle and the ancient Chamorro village where Floras grandmother and brother now reside. Takei tries unsuccessfully to free her from prison and certain execution at the hands of the Japanese but comes to a tragic end at the hands of his fellow Japanese on the night before Floras death. But, on Guam, a place where superstition, legends, and elements of the Catholic tradition merge, nothing is impossible. The ending is a surprise and shouldnt be revealed here! The twist of events that lead to Floras release from her Japanese captors is not anything anyone could predict.

In July 1944, Guam is retaken from the Japanese by the Americans. Shortly before that, the Japanese knew that their defeat by the Americans was in sight. They rounded up all the native Chamorros of Guam and forcibly marched them to the south part of the island. Flora, who has fled into the boonies or jungle is their only hope. She leaves food and water along the path where the Japanese captors force the Chamorros to march like their fellow allies in Bataan. When they arrive at Manengon she uses one of her friends, a brightly-colored KoKo bird  the signal that Flora has supplied her people with plentiful water and food.

After liberation, Flora and her family return to their home. Unmarried, with a half Japanese/half Chamorro baby to care for, she is soon ostracized by the very people that she saved. Unable to live happily with this hypocrisy, Flora's mother decides to move the family off their beloved island to California where her late husband has relatives. Life improves for the Untalen family. Flora becomes a nurse while Joseph and Anna watch her little son, Roque, who shows signs of inheriting his mothers gift of communicating with nature.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Budget:
Low
Starring Roles For:

20s female
20-ish Mixed-Race Actress, bookish type
In the Vein Of:
inspired by true events
Pan's Labyrinth
Unbroken
Posted:
01/06/2010
Updated:
10/02/2019
Author Bio:
Justine Allen Cowan juscowan1964@gmail.com

Justine Cowan has been a writer, in various capacities, for 25 years. Her first screenplay "A Grunt's Tale" was awarded Honorable Mention in the 77th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition(out of 17,000 entries). "A Grunt's Tale" was also recognized as a top winner in the SkyFest I 2008 Script Competition.

Justine's other completed screenplays include "The Octopus Charmer"(which was also recognized as a top winner in the SkyFest I 2008 Script Competition), "Flashdrive" and a modern remake of "It's A Wonderful Life" - "Janie Loves Bollywood"(SkyFest III HOnorable Mention winner).

Show More

Contest Results:
SkyFest (Honorable Mention) [2008]