Dialogue from Film – The Miracle Worker

Annie is putting Helen’s hand on the pump handle, grimly.

Annie                    All right. Pump.

Helen touches her cheek, waits uncertainly.

                                No, she’s not here. Pump.

She forces Helen’s hand to work the handle, then lets go. And Helen obeys. She pumps till the water comes, then Annie puts the pitcher in her other hand and guides it under the spout, and the water tumbling half into and half around the pitcher douses Helen’s hand. Annie takes over the handle to keep water coming, and does automatically what she has done so many times before, spells into Helen’s free palm.

                                Water. W, a, t, e, r.  Water.  It has a – name

And now the miracle happens.

The camera has moved around close to Helen’s face, and we see it change, startled, some light coming into it we have never seen there, some struggle in the depths behind it; and her lips tremble, trying to remember something the muscles around them once knew, till at last it finds its way out, painfully, a baby sound buried under the debris of years of dumbness.

Helen                    Wah. Wah.

Cut back. Helen drops the pitcher on the rock under the spout, it shatters. She stands transfixed. Annie freezes on the pump handle.

                                Wah. Wah.

Helen plunges her hand into the dwindling water, spells into her own palm. Then she gropes frantically, Annie reaches for her hand, and Helen spells into Annie’s hand.

Annie                    (Whispering)  Yes.

Helen spells into it again.

                                Yes.

Helen grabs at the handle, pumps for more water, plunges her hand into its spurt and grabs Annie’s to spell it again.

                                Yes. Oh, my dear –

Annie falls to her knees to clasp Helen’s hand.

Helen pulls it free, stands, almost bewildered, then drops to the ground, pats it swiftly, holds up her palm, imperious. Annie spells into it.

Annie                    Ground.

Helen spells it back.

                                Yes!

Helen whirls to the pump, pats it holds up her palm, and Annie spells into it.

Annie                    Pump.

Helen spells it back.

                                Yes!  Yes!

Now Helen is in such an excitement she is possessed, wild, trembling, cannot be still. She turns and clasps a small tree.

Annie                    (Spelling) Tree.

Helen turns, runs falls on the porch step, claps it, reaches out her palm, and Annie is at it instantly to spell.

Annie                    Step.

Helen has no time to spell back now.

                                Mrs. Keller!  Mrs. Keller!

Helen scrambles back onto the porch, groping.

Helen finds the bell string, tugs it; The bell rings, the distant chimes begin tolling the hour, all the bells in town seem to break into speech while Helen reaches out and Annie spells feverishly into her hand.

Kate hurries out with Keller after her.

James and Aunt Ev follow, and remain on the porch. The servants – Viney, the two negro children, the other servant – run in, and standing, watch from a distance as Helen, ringing the bell, with her other hand encounters her mother’s skirt; when she throws a hand out, Annie spells into it.

Annie                    Mother.

Keller now seizes Helen’s hand, she touches him, gestures a hand, and Annie again spells.

                                Papa – She knows!

Kate and Keller go to their knees, stammering, clutching Helen to them.

Annie steps unsteadily back to watch the threesome, Helen spelling wildly into Kate’s hand, then into Keller’s, Kate spelling back into Helen’s; they cannot keep their hands off her, and rock her in their clasp.

Helen gropes, feels nothing, turns all around, pulls free, and comes with both hands groping to find Annie.

Helen encounters Annie’s thigh, Annie kneels to her, Helen’s hand pats Annie’s cheek impatiently, points a finger, and waits; and Annie spells into it.

Annie                    Teacher.

Helen spells it back, slowly; Annie nods.

                               Teacher.

She holds Helen’s hand to her cheek. Presently Helen withdraws it, and not jerkily, only with reserve, and retreats a step. She stands thinking it over, then turns again and stumbles back to her parents. They try to embrace her, but she has something else in mind, it is to get the keys, and she hits Kate’s pocket until Kate digs them out for her.

Annie with her own load of emotion has retreated, her back turned, toward the pump, to sit.

Kate moves to Helen, touches her hand questioningly, and Helen spells a word to her.

Kate comprehends it, their first act of verbal communication, and she can hardly utter the word aloud, in wonder, gratitude and deprivation; it is a moment in which she simultaneously finds and loses a child.

Kate                       Teacher?

Annie turns; and Kate, facing Helen in her direction by the shoulders, holds her back and then relinquishes her. Helen feels her way across the yard rather shyly, and when her moving hands touch Annie’s skirt, she stops. Then she holds out the keys and places them in Annie’s hand. Helen separates herself from Annie. Her father sweeps Helen up in his arms and carries her into the house. Kate follows.

Dissolve to:

Night. Front porch of Keller home.

Annie is sitting in a rocker. Helen in her nightgown comes out of the house, walks to Annie. Annie lifts her to her lap and the two hands meet. Annie spells.

Annie                     I, love, Helen.

She clutches the child to her.

Helen Keller in her teen years

Anne Bancroft as “Annie Sullivan” and Patty Duke as “Helen Keller” in The Miracle Worker (1962)

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1 Comment

Filed under Dialogue

One response to “Dialogue from Film – The Miracle Worker

  1. Helen Keller was born in Alabama, USA on 27 June 1880. At 19 months, she suffered an illness which left her blind and deaf. She lived to 87 years of age, and died in Connecticut, USA on 1 June 1968.

    Main characters in screenplay
    Helen:
    Helen Keller, blind and deaf, and at the time of Annie Sullivan’s first visit, she was not yet 7 years old
    Annie:
    Annie Sullivan, vision-impaired teacher
    Kate:
    Kate Keller, mother
    Keller:
    Captain Arthur Keller, father

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