National Treasure
Current Draft by
The Wibberley's
Previous Drafts by
Jim Kouf
E. Max Frye
Jon Turtletaub
April 9, 2003





FADE IN ON:

EXT. GEORGETOWN STREETS, 1832 - NIGHT

Wet cobblestones are beaten by a heavy rain. A CARRIAGE WHEEL splashes through huge puddles.

MAN'S VOICE
It was 1832...

EXT. CARRIAGE, MOVING - NIGHT

The carriage races through the darkened streets. A flash of lightning illuminates the coachman. It's a drenched boy, THOMAS GATES.
 
MAN'S VOICE
...Thomas Gates was ten years old.

Thomas whips the wild-eyed horse and turns a sharp corner.

INT. CARRIAGE, MOVING - NIGHT

Riding inside is CHARLES CARROLL. He's 96 years old. His weak body wracks with coughs, death closing in.

MAN'S VOICE
Mr. Charles Carroll, the last
surviving signer of the Declaration
of Independence had asked Thomas to
take him to see President Andrew
Jackson. He said it was urgent.

EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT

Through the White House windows, we can see finely dressed GENTLEMEN and WOMEN partying, old-school. Thomas pulls the carriage to a stop, jumps down, and sprints to a DOORMAN.

THOMAS
The President must come quickly!

INT. CARRIAGE - NIGHT

Thomas opens the carriage door, but Carroll sits motionless.

THOMAS
Mr. Carroll?

Carroll peeks open an eye, coughs weakly.

CARROLL
(off Thomas' look)
He's not coming, is he?

THOMAS
They told me he was busy.

CARROLL
But the treasure! The treasure!

Carroll breaks into a fit of coughs. Thomas looks down and sees that Carroll's handkerchief is stained with blood.

THOMAS
We should've gone to see the doctor.

Carroll suddenly pulls the boy close.

CARROLL
Listen now, or the secret dies with me!

Carroll stares at Thomas, dead serious. Carroll's face is ashen. A desperate look in his eyes. Thomas listens.

MAN'S VOICE
That night, Mr. Carroll told Thomas
about a great treasure, the greatest
treasure of them all...

FLASH TO:

A PYRAMID, EGYPT 2000 B.C. NIGHT. The surrounding city is on fire.

INT. PYRAMID - NIGHT

Carrying torches, SLAVES bust down a stone wall, revealing a DARK ROOM. A slave holds up his torch to see...

A ROOM MADE OF SOLID GOLD, filled with items made of gold and precious stones.

MAN'S VOICE
...a treasure amassed throughout all time...

As the slaves loot the Pharaoh's tomb, we PUSH IN on the golden tomb walls which are decorated with MASONIC SYMBOLS: the ALL-SEEING EYE and the UNFINISHED PYRAMID.

EXT. JERUSALEM, 70 A.D. - NIGHT

ROMAN SOLDIERS carry treasure out of the burning Temple of Solomon. We recognize the treasure as the same treasure from Egypt, only now it includes more...

COPPER SCROLLS. A GOLD MENORAH. A GOLD BAS RELIEF.

MAN'S VOICE
...a treasure amassed over all continents...

As the soldiers cart out the treasure, we see the same Masonic symbols on the temple columns, then CUT TO...

A TREMENDOUS POUNDING. CLOSE ON men's hands wearing armored gloves. They draw straws. One hand pulls the
SHORT STRAW. We WIDEN to reveal we're in...

INT. CHURCH, 14TH CENTURY FRANCE - NIGHT

A group of KNIGHTS wearing Masonic insignia on their armor look to their brother with the short straw. The POUNDING INTENSIFIES. SOLDIERS are banging down the church doors.

MAN'S VOICE
...a treasure the Knights of the
Templar found and swore to protect...

The Knight with the short straw surrenders his armor, dons a MONK'S ROBE, and slips out just as SOLDIERS burst through the church doors. The outnumbered KNIGHTS fight bravely.

EXT. FOREST - NIGHT

The knight who got away leads a small caravan through the forest. In the carriages, hidden under tarps...the TREASURE.

EXT. CASTLE COURTYARD - DAY

KING PHILIP OF FRANCE watches emotionless as the Knights who didn't escape are BURNED AT THE STAKE.

MAN'S VOICE
...even when faced with death. For
the Knights believed that a treasure
so great was not meant for any one
man, king or not.

The knights' screams are drowned out by the sound of the ocean as we CUT TO...

EXT. ATLANTIC OCEAN, 1492 - DAY

A ship laden with the treasure crosses the stormy sea. The ship's name...the SANTA MARIA.

MAN'S VOICE
...The Templar Knights who escaped
execution took the treasure to the
New World...

At the ship's helm is CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS. We PUSH IN on a medallion hanging around his neck. On it, the PYRAMID and ALL-SEEING EYE.
MAN'S VOICE (CONT'D)
...The Knights were fugitives and
developed secret passwords and signs
of their order...

We KEEP PUSHING IN on the medallion until the PYRAMID fills the screen. We then transition to...

EXT. THE PYRAMID OF THE SUN, 1521 - DAY

AZTECS hurriedly unload the TREASURE from the pyramid as Hernando Cortes and his army attack the city.

MAN'S VOICE
...The treasure survived many more
wars and was moved many times...

INT. CRYPT, 1779 - NIGHT

Carrying a lantern, a MAN wearing a tricorn hat closes the stone door on the treasure. The man is COUNT CASIMIR PULASKI, general of the Continental Army.

MAN'S VOICE
...Some believe it was buried in
Nova Scotia, but Mr. Carroll told
Thomas the treasure had been hidden
by the Freemasons, the descendants
of the Templar Knights. These
descendants included such men as
Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin,
George Washington...

EXT. BATTLEFIELD, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA 1779 - DAY

Rallying his troops against the Red Coats, PULASKI takes a musket ball in the chest and falls from his horse.

MAN'S VOICE
...and other soldiers who fought
bravely for the Continental Army
during the Revolutionary War. Men
like Count Casimir Pulaski who died
in the Siege of Savannah...

CUT TO LATER. SOLDIERS comb through the battlefield carnage. They find Pulaski's dead body and roll him over.
On his finger, we now see he's wearing a silver ring bearing the ALL-SEEING EYE and PYRAMID symbols.

MAN'S VOICE
...and took the secret to the
whereabouts of the treasure to his
grave...

The soldiers search Pulaski but find only a piece of paper with one word written on it: "CHARLOTTE."

FLASH BACK TO:

INT. CARRIAGE - NIGHT

With his last breath of life...

CARROLL
...The secret lies with Charlotte.
Find her, and you will find the
treasure. Tell the President.
Tell no one else.

With that, Carroll dies. We now notice that Carroll is also wearing a MASONIC RING.

Suddenly, the carriage door opens to reveal PRESIDENT ANDREW JACKSON, a tall man with flowing grey hair. He looks to
Mr. Carroll, but he's...too late.

PRESIDENT JACKSON
Poor old fool. Coming all the way
here in the pouring rain.

EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT

President Jackson starts back. Thomas hurries after him.

THOMAS
Wait! Mr. Carroll wanted me to
tell you something.

PRESIDENT JACKSON
If this is about that damned treasure--

THOMAS
--You know of it?

PRESIDENT JACKSON
He's spoken of it no less than a
hundred times.

THOMAS
He said Charlotte has it.

PRESIDENT JACKSON
We've been looking for Charlotte
for years. She doesn't exist.

The president stops and looks at Thomas.

PRESIDENT JACKSON (CONT'D)
Who are you, young man?

THOMAS
Thomas Gates.

PRESIDENT JACKSON
Well, you'd best forget anything
Mr. Carroll told you. The treasure
is a legend. Nothing more.

With that, President Jackson turns back to the White House. We PUSH IN ON Thomas' face, watching the President go.

MAN'S VOICE
Well, Thomas never forgot...

DISSOLVE TO:


INT. RETIREMENT HOME, REC ROOM, 1983 - DAY

ELDERLY FOLKS watch current President Ronald Reagan on T.V. while JOHN ADAMS GATES (75) finishes regaling his wide-eyed, 10-year-old grandson BEN FRANKLIN GATES with his tale. (We realize now that the MAN'S VOICE belongs to John.)

JOHN
Thomas looked for Charlotte...

John Gates' face reflects a long life spent challenging the elements. He turns a page in a tattered OLD SCRAPBOOK.

CLOSE ON a black and white photo. A grown-up Thomas Gates stands at a excavation site, Aztec ruins in the background. The caption: "Thomas Gates, Teotihuacan, Mexico 1856"

JOHN (O.S.) (CONT'D)
...As did his son, George Washington
Gates...

John turns the page to another photo of another GATES. All the Gates men bear a strong family resemblance.

JOHN (CONT'D)
...Generation after generation, our
ancestors have tried to find
Charlotte and failed.

BEN
Maybe Charlotte is an anagram. You
know, you rearrange the letters,
and it means something else.

John stops. He's never thought of that before.

JOHN
Like "hotel crate."

BEN
That's too many e's. It'd have to
be the "hotel cart," or "tear cloth"
or "teal torch" or "Rachel Ott."

Ben quickly rattles off the anagrams. John is impressed.

JOHN
Maybe you'll be the one who finally
finds her.

BEN
How will I know it's the right
Charlotte when I do?


John pulls out a $1-bill and presses it on his T.V. tray.

JOHN
Because she'll be marked with these.

CLOSE ON the $1-bill. John's craggy finger points to the UNFINISHED PYRAMID and ALL-SEEING EYE on the back.

JOHN (CONT'D)
The unfinished pyramid and the all-
seeing eye. The marks of the Knights
of the Templar.

Ben studies the dollar-bill with newfound curious awe.

JOHN (CONT'D)
Our founding fathers, the Freemasons,
designed our nation's Great Seal
and left us all the clues. These
symbols are telling us something.
I just don't know what.

BEN
Don't worry, grandpa. I'll figure
it out, and I'll find her. I swear.

MAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
You swear what?

They turn to find Ben's father PATRICK HENRY GATES (40s). Patrick looks just like his father, albeit decades younger.

BEN
That I'll find Charlotte.

Patrick shoots a baleful look to his dad.

PATRICK
Dammit, dad. How many times have I
told you? Ben's not going to waste
his time chasing a treasure that
doesn't exist.

JOHN
He's a Gates. It's in his blood.
Ben's gonna look for it, just like
you did and I did.

PATRICK
He's smarter than us. Ben's going
to Harvard. He's going to be a
lawyer or a doctor. Right, Ben?

Ben looks to his dad, then to his grandpa, then back to his dad as we DISSOLVE TO...WHITE. All we can hear is...

BEEP...BEEP...BEEP. A heart monitor? The beeping fades.

GROWN-UP BEN'S VOICE
We're losing her...

We WIDEN to reveal we're in...

EXT. SNOWCAT, MOVING - DAY

Dressed in heavy arctic gear, intrepid explorer BEN GATES (late 20s, strong family resemblance) monitors a laptop.

ON THE SCREEN, red and blue dots signifying amplitudes make random patterns on a subsurface trace of BEEPING GPR pulses.

BEN
...Go left.

The driver, RILEY POOLE (25, unkempt), cranks the wheel.

EXT. BARREN ARCTIC LANDSCAPE - DAY

The SNOWCAT (The Endeavor) trundles left, its tractor treads clawing through the ice. The Endeavor also has giant screw- shaped pontoons to propel over water.

EXT. THE ENDEAVOR, MOVING - DAY

Riley wipes the frost from the window.

RILEY
Maybe she's not here.

BEN
She's here.

RILEY
We've been looking for weeks. You're
going on data that's 200 years old.

BEN
200-year-old data is usually the
kind of data you go on when you're
looking for something that's been
lost for 200 years.

RILEY
Sailors have a way of exaggerating
you know. What if the storm wasn't
as big as they said it was? We
could be hundreds of miles off.

Ben scans the landscape ahead where the ice ends in a SHEER GLACIAL CLIFF.

BEN
The Inuits said they could still
see the masts poking up through the
ice just three generations ago.

RILEY
Were they smoking anything at the
time?

BEN
Only for medicinal purposes.

Just then, the GPR BLEEPS loudly. They both look to...

THE COMPUTER SCREEN. We now see that the red and blue dots have taken an unmistakable shape...A BLOB WITH SPLATTERS.

Ben and Riley exchange a look. Hopeful but wary.

RILEY
Could be a frozen whale.

CUT TO AN ICE AX. It swings hard, shattering the ice, revealing a WOMAN'S FROZEN FACE. We PULL BACK to reveal...

EXT. ARCTIC LANDSCAPE - DAY

Ben chips away the ice. AS THE ICE is chipped away, we see the face is CARVED OUT OF WOOD.

BEN
Isn't she beautiful?

Ben grins. When Riley sees the face, he is stunned.

RILEY
I'll radio base camp.

EXT. ARCTIC LANDSCAPE - DAY - LATER

Holding a pole (used for measuring snow depth) Ben and Riley watch as three SNOWMOBILES approach and pull to stops.

RILEY
I'd hate to be you right now. A
lot of people relying on you. A
lot of money riding on this.

BEN
I'd hate to be you right now. All
that cholesterol and hair where
it's not supposed to be.

A man wearing expensive high-tech gear hops out of a snowcat. This is IAN HOWE (40s, British). A rich adventurer.

IAN
Gates! Where is she?

Ben gestures to the figurehead in the snow. When Ian sees the woman's face, he grins like a kid on Christmas morning.

IAN (CONT'D)
Bloody hell, you found it. You
really found it! You're a genius!

RILEY
I told you if you underwrote this
expedition, you wouldn't be sorry.

IAN
(calls to his crew)
Shaw! Get the champagne.

Ian drops to his knees and studies the figurehead's face, almost disbelieving.

IAN (CONT'D)
You know how many expeditions I've
financed that've turned up nothing?

RILEY
Well now, we're all about to be
rich, and it's a beautiful thing.

A solidly built man (SHAW) approaches, without the champagne. Shaw is the type of man who'd do anything for hire.

IAN
Shaw? The champagne?

SHAW
I thought we were looking for a
100-foot frigate.

BEN
We were. She is.

SHAW
Then how come GPR indicates this
ship's only 81-feet long?

Shaw hands Ben a GPR printout. Ben reads it.

BEN
Because this is a 2-dimensional
rendering of a 3-dimensional object.
The image is only 81-feet long
because the ship's canted.

SHAW
Canted?

BEN
Tipped. Tilted. Lying at an angle.

IAN
How canted?

RILEY
By our calculations, about 35°.
Which means the stern's about 57
feet down.

SHAW
57 feet down?! Christ! We'll be
digging for a week.

BEN
No, we won't.

Ben slams the POLE DOWN INTO the ice, puncturing a small hole. WHOOSH of wind blows up on them. Ben shrugs.

BEN (CONT'D)
Air pocket.

EXT. ARCTIC LANDSCAPE - DAY - LATER

The Endeavor is now parked next to a newly bored hole into the ice. Shaw mans a winch while...

Two more workers direct a steel cable which plays out from the Endeavor's front end. These men are SHIPPEN intense, ex-Army, and POWELL, brawny, ex-con.

We follow the steel cable down which disappears down into...

INT. HOLE IN THE ICE - DAY

Daylight illuminates the cylindrical blue walls of this narrow opening. Wearing a helmet and headlamp, Riley rides down on the cable which is lowering a heavy generator...

INT. ICE CAVE - DAY

Riley joins Ben and Ian who are staring at something we don't immediately see. We REVERSE to reveal...

A nearly perfectly preserved SHIP, tipped 35°, its hull and stern frozen in a wall of this vast ice cave.

The ship is wooden with three masts. Its ancient sails are wrapped in its frozen casings. Icicles hang from frozen ropes. One of the ship's masts is broken. The other two tower up until they are swallowed by the cave's ice ceiling.

They all stare at the ship in its ghostlike beauty.

IAN
The frigate Charlotte. Last seen leaving port from Maine in 1779.

RILEY
Looks like she ran into some bad weather.

We FOLLOW Ben who trudges up the icy incline to the bow. With his glove, he wipes away the snow.

Through a thick layer of ice, we can make out the ship's name..."CHARLOTTE."

BEN
Hello, sweetheart.

CUT TO ARC LIGHTS BEING LIT. We PULL BACK to reveal...

INT. ICE CAVE - DAY - LATER

The cave is now illuminated by intense lights powered by generators. A nylon rope ladder and cables dangle down from the hole in the cave's ceiling.

Shaw, Powell, and Shippen finish securing the ship with ropes and spikes while Ben, Riley, and Ian don climbing harnesses and snap ice crampons to their boots.

BEN
Riley, you take the berthing
quarters. Ian, check the Captain's
cabin. I'll take the cargo hold.

IAN
I'll take the cargo hold.

BEN
Suit yourself.

Ian rises. Moves to the ship. Riley shoots Ben a look.

RILEY
You dog. You wanted the Captain's
Cabin.

BEN
Hey, we're all just looking for the
same thing.

RILEY
Fine. Then, I want the Captain's
Cabin.

BEN
Sure. Whatever you want.

Riley studies Ben. Now completely mind-fucked.

RILEY
OK, forget it. You're trying to
trick me, I know it. I got the
berthing quarters. You take the
crappy Captain's Cabin.

INT. ICE CAVE, SHIP'S DECK - DAY

Ian, Ben, and Riley move across the steeply angled deck. Each wears a helmet-lamp and carries a metal detector. The old ship GROANS as the timbers shift under their weight. They cross the deck then move in different directions.

INT. SHIP, BERTHING QUARTERS - DAY

Riley ducks his head under frozen hammocks as he moves through the cramped crew's quarters. He sweeps his metal detector over the debris. Nothing.

INT. SHIP, GUN DECK - CONTINUOUS

Ian moves through the gun deck. The heavy iron cannons have all slid across the floor and lie piled at the stern.

INT. SHIP, UPPER COMPANIONWAY - CONTINUOUS

Ben edges down a tilted staircase.

INT. SHIP, BERTHING QUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Riley's headlamp light plays over the broken shelves, ropes, boxes, then stops on...THREE MEN'S HEADS. Riley lets out a startled GASP.

INT. SHIP, UPPER COMPANIONWAY - CONTINUOUS

Ben overhears Riley gasp on his radio headset.

BEN
Riley...?

INT. SHIP, BERTHING QUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Warily, Riley comes around to find a trio of SEAMEN, bundled in blankets, eerily frozen.

RILEY
Uh-huh?

BEN (VIA MIC)
Find something?

RILEY
Uh-huh.

INTERCUT Ben. By the sound of Riley's voice, he knows...

BEN
Dead people?

RILEY (VIA MIC) (voice cracking)
Uh-huh.

BEN
(laughs to himself)
What'd you expect? You're in the
berthing quarters.

Ben wrenches open a closed door. Its frozen hinges SQUEAL.

INT. SHIP, CAPTAIN'S CABIN - CONTINUOUS

Ben finds an old oil lantern and lights it with a lighter.
We then see the Captain's Cabin. Plush furniture. An ornate desk. Everything covered in a thin layer of ice.

Ben moves to the desk and quickly rifles through it. He finds nothing of value except for an antique POCKET WATCH which he pockets. He then looks down and notices...

DEEP SCRATCHES in the floor by the desk.

INT. SHIP, LOWER CARGO HOLD - CONTINUOUS

Ian gets a reading on his metal detector. He pushes aside some netting. Finds a TRUNK. He pries it open...DISHES.

INT. SHIP, CAPTAIN'S CABIN - CONTINUOUS

Ben pushes the desk aside, revealing a TRAP DOOR underneath. He pulls it open. Peers down to find a dark, hidden room.

INT. SHIP, HIDDEN ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Ben jumps down, looks around. The room is crowded with large BARRELS. He pulls one of the plugs, and...

BLACK GUNPOWDER spills out into a pile onto the icy floor. Ben turns to go then notices...
TWO BOOTS poking out from between a row of barrels. Ben moves to the row and finds...

THE CAPTAIN. Frozen dead. Gun in his lap. Leaning up against one of the barrels.

INT. SHIP, CAPTAIN'S CABIN - CONTINUOUS

Riley enters to find Ben nowhere in sight.

BEN (O.S.)
Down here!

He hurries to the trap door and peers down to see Ben struggling with the barrel of gunpowder.
RILEY|
You found it!

INT. SHIP, HIDDEN ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Riley jumps down into the room as Ben pries open the barrel.

RILEY
There's gold in there. I can smell it.

Excited, Riley watches as Ben lifts the lid to reveal...more gunpowder. But Riley is undaunted.

RILEY (CONT'D)
Maybe it's in another barrel.

But Ben sticks both arms into the barrel he opened.

BEN
The Captain was guarding this barrel
for a reason.

As Ben roots around, gunpowder SPILLS ALL OVER THE FLOOR.

After a beat, Ben finally stops. He's found something. He exchanges a look with Riley, then pulls out a SMALL BOX. It's labeled "Little Hunting Creek, Virginia."

Ben carefully opens it, revealing...AN IVORY PIPE.

BEN (CONT'D)
Riley. Do you know what this is?

Riley eyes it, disappointed.

RILEY
I'm hoping a billion-dollar pipe?

INT. SHIP, CAPTAIN'S CABIN - CONTINUOUS

Ian enters as Ben and Riley emerge from the trap door.

BEN
Ian! Look at this!

Ben shows him the pipe. Ian glances at it, unimpressed.

IAN
A Meerschaum pipe. 18th Century.
I have three.

BEN
This box is marked Little Hunting
Creek. That's what Mt. Vernon was
called before George Washington's
family renamed it.

IAN
George Washington's pipe. And?

BEN
And it's gonna lead us to the
treasure.

IAN
" Lead us?" You said the treasure
would be on Charlotte.

BEN
No, I said " the secret lies with
Charlotte.
" This pipe has to be
that secret.

Ben strains to make out something on the pipe.

BEN (CONT'D)
There're markings on here. I need
some ink.

IAN
I didn't spend a quarter of a million
dollars to find a pipe.

Ben finds a quill and a bottle of ink, but the ink is frozen.






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