National Treasure April 9, 2003 Script Draft: Page #2


BEN
Come on, Ian. This is a treasure
hunt. You can't just find it in
the first place you look.

IAN
It only took me three weeks to find
the Panamanian Galleon wreck with
my last so-called expert. I've
been funding you for six months.

BEN
Seven.

Ben takes the quill and suddenly stabs his finger with the tip. Riley sees this and winces.

RILEY
What the hell're you doing?

Ben rubs his blood on the pipe, then rolls the pipe over the desktop, revealing...AN IMPRINT IN BLOOD. We recognize the symbols: THE ALL-SEEING EYE and UNFINISHED PYRAMID.

IAN
The Templar symbols.

RILEY
Does it say where the treasure is?

Ben reads from the bloody imprint on the desk.


BEN
The legend writ, the stain effected
The key in Silence undetected
Fifty-five in iron pen
Mr. Matlack can't offend."

RILEY
I didn't hear the part about "X"
marks the spot.

IAN
What does it mean?

BEN
It's a riddle. "Key" and "legend."
It's referring to a map.

RILEY
What map?

BEN
"Undetected" and "in silence" means
the map is hidden.

IAN
Of course. A hidden map. Where?

Ian picks up the pipe. Studies it.

IAN (CONT'D)
"Iron pen" could mean iron manacles,
iron bars...55 men in prison! Or,
no, wait. Perhaps 55 refers to the
year 1755. Who's "Mr. Matlack"?

BEN
Timothy Matlack. The official scribe
of the Continental Congress.
(realizes)
"Iron" because they used iron-based
inks back then.

RILEY
Scribe. A writer?

BEN
No, a calligrapher. He transcribed
documents for the Continental
Congress.

RILEY
So, Mr. Matlack made a map. Where
would he hide it?

IAN
"Mr. Matlack can't offend." Why
can't he offend it?


BEN
It means he didn't write over the
map. It's probably on the back of
something he transcribed.

RILEY
What'd he transcribe?

BEN
Lots of things. The most famous
document being...

His voice trails off.

RILEY
Being what? The Constitution? The
Bill of Rights?

BEN
No.

RILEY
(relieved)
Thank God.

BEN
The Declaration of Independence.

A beat of incredulity, then Riley scoffs...

RILEY
There's no map on the back of the
Declaration of Independence.

Ben gives him a look, like yes there is.

RILEY (CONT'D)
There's a map on the back of the
Declaration of Independence?!

IAN
It's brilliant if you think about
it. Such an important document
insured the map's survival.

BEN
Too bad we'll never see it.

IAN
Nonsense. We get a viewing.

BEN
Nobody gets a viewing. Not even
the President.

RILEY
What kind of sick person would put
a treasure map on the back of the
Declaration of Independence?!

BEN
Could've been a number of people.
Nine of the signers of the Declara-
tion of Independence were known to
be Freemasons. Ben Franklin, Robert
Treat Paine, John Hancock to name a
few. Thomas Jefferson and John
Adams were suspected members of the
order. George Washington wasn't a
signer, but he had access. He was
a 1st Master Mason. He was also a
surveyor and map-maker before he
was commander of the Continental
Army. He's got my vote.

IAN
Well, there is one way to see the
Declaration of Independence in
person.

RILEY
Really? How?

IAN
We "borrow" it.

Ben laughs, incredulous. Ian pockets the pipe.

IAN (CONT'D)
Come on, Ben. The Lost Treasure of
the Knights of the Templar is the
treasure of all treasures. Gold
from the Temple of Solomon, King
Alaric II's ransom of the Athenians,
the entire wealth of 5th century
Rome, the Sword of Alexander the
Great. You've been looking for
this treasure all your life. You're
not going to let a piece of paper
stand in your way, are you?

BEN
You can't be serious.

IAN
What else are you going to do? Go
back to working on salvage crews?
Comb beaches with a metal detector
looking for doubloons? Oh, that's
right. You have your PhD in History.
Maybe you can teach high school
history.

BEN
Forget it, Ian. I won't steal the
Declaration of Independence.

IAN
Don't get soft now. You begged me
to finance your expedition when
everyone else thought you were crazy.

BEN
You financed this expedition because
you knew this treasure would make you
famous.

IAN
And, it will.

BEN
I won't let you.

IAN PULLS OUT HIS GUN from his belt. Trains it on Ben who is STUNNED.

IAN
Oh, you didn't bring one of these?

BEN
You're not going to shoot me, Ian.
Not until you know all that I know
about the riddle.

Ian studies Ben. Is he bluffing?

IAN
Such as?

BEN
Put the gun away.

Ian turns his gun on Riley instead.

IAN
Tell me, or I shoot Riley.

RILEY
Wait! How do you know I don't know
something else about the riddle?!

Ben and Ian can't help but just give Riley a look, then Ian pulls the trigger...BLAM!

Riley flinches as the glass porthole in the wall just behind him shatters. The old ship GROANS.

RILEY (CONT'D)
Shit. Come on, Ben. Tell him what
he doesn't know.

BEN
Okay...

Ben comes up with HIS LIGHTER and flicks it on.

BEN (CONT'D)
...for one thing, the whole room
below us is full of gunpowder.

Ben holds the flame over the trap door in the floor.

BEN (CONT'D)
You shoot anyone, I drop this, and
none of us gets out of here alive.

Ian eyes the flame. Ben eyes the gun. A tense stand-off.

RILEY
(incredulous)
Whoa-whoa-whoa! How did we all go
from wildly rich to dead in a matter
of minutes? Let's think here.

Just then, the FLAME FLICKERS AND GOES OUT. Ian shrugs. On reflex, Ben tackles Riley and hurls them both to the ground behind the desk as...
 
Ian OPENS fire on them...BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM!

Bullets CHEW UP the desk and walls.

One bullet takes out the GAS LANTERN. It explodes with an OIL FIRE, instantly setting the desk ablaze.

INT. SHIP, UPPER COMPANIONWAY - CONTINUOUS
 
Ian hurries out of the cabin and battens the door shut.

INT. SHIP, CAPTAIN'S CABIN - CONTINUOUS

Flames spill down from the desk and creep across the floor. Ben tries the cabin door. It's locked.

RILEY
We gotta put this fire out.

Riley tries to smother the fire. It's hopeless. Ben grabs his ax and slams it into the door. Riley joins him.

We PAN DOWN to the burning floor and PUSH through it into...

INT. SHIP, HIDDEN ROOM - CONTINUOUS

BURNING EMBERS fall from the ceiling, float to the floor, catching a POWDER trail spilled on the ground. It ignites and BURNS A PATH toward...the BARRELS OF GUNPOWDER.

INT. ICE CAVE, SHIP'S DECK - CONTINUOUS

Ian hurries across the tilted deck, calling to his men...

IAN
Get the hell out of here. It's
gonna blow!

Ian leaps off the deck, then runs with Shaw to the rope ladders.

SHAW
I heard gunshots.

IAN
Gates and Riley tried to kill me.

INT. SHIP, HIDDEN ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The burning trail of gunpowder reaches the first barrel, and the wood barrel CATCHES FIRE.

EXT. ARCTIC LANDSCAPE - CONTINUOUS

Shaw, Powell, and Shippen run like hell to their snowcats. Ian is the last man out of the hole in the ice, and he PULLS UP THE ROPE LADDERS.
 
Shaw climbs into a snowcat.

SHAW
Come on!

Ian jumps in with Shaw, and they all take off.

INT. SHIP, CAPTAIN'S CABIN - CONTINUOUS

An inferno. Portholes SHATTER as their panes shift. Ben and Riley finally bust through the door and scramble out.

INT. SHIP, HIDDEN ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The BARREL OF GUNPOWDER burns, fully engulfed.

INT. ICE CAVE, SHIP'S DECK - CONTINUOUS

Ben and Riley emerge from below and look across the way to find that THE ROPE LADDERS are gone! They're trapped.

BEN
They pulled up the ladders.

Riley regards his surroundings, resigned.

RILEY
Why do I ever listen to you? I was
two credits away from graduation.

BEN
That was seven years ago.

Ben spots a SWIVEL CROSS-BOW HARPOON mounted on the deck and hurries to it.

RILEY
Intel offered me a job with my own cubicle.

Ben ties a rope to a spear and loads it into the harpoon.

BEN
Do we have to go over this every
expedition?

RILEY
Until I get rich, yes.

Ben wheels the harpoon around and aims it at Riley's head.

BEN
Fine. Now, duck!

Ben releases the harpoon...WHOOSH! The spear ROCKETS over a ducking Riley up to the CAVE's ceiling. THUNK!

Ben grabs the ROPE. Pulls hard. The ice ceiling caves in, opening a hole just above the ship's bow.

EXT. ARCTIC LANDSCAPE - CONTINUOUS

Ben and Riley clamber out of the ground just where the lady figurehead pokes through the ice. They race to the Endeavor.

INTERCUT: The barrel of GUNPOWDER. It BLOWS...KA-BOOM!

INTERCUT: The arctic landscape. The ground shakes violently. Ben and Riley dive into THE ENDEAVOR just as...

INTERCUT: The other barrels BLOW in a chain-reaction series of explosions...BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!

EXT. ARCTIC LANDSCAPE - CONTINUOUS

A FIREBALL ERUPTS from the snow and ice. The CONCUSSION launches THE ENDEAVOR forward off...

THE GLACIAL CLIFF! The Endeavor plummets down to...

EXT. ARCTIC OCEAN - CONTINUOUS

The Endeavor HITS THE WATER AND SINKS LIKE A ROCK as a FIREBALL rolls skyward in the background.

Burning SHARDS of WOOD rain down onto the icy waters. A long beat, then...

WHOOSH! The Endeavor POPS BACK UP, floating on its pontoons.

INT. THE ENDEAVOR, FLOATING - CONTINUOUS

Riley laughs, incredulous.

RILEY
It drives! It flies! It floats!
(looks around)
It needs a toilet.

Ben looks at the smoke and fire, solemn.

BEN
Ian's going to steal it.

RILEY
Why do you always have to focus on
the negative? You found Charlotte.
That was your life's quest. Be
happy. I'm the one who should be
upset. I'm not wildly rich, which
is my life's quest.

BEN
Riley, it's the Declaration of
Independence.

RILEY
Do you see an American flag planted
in my ass? I didn't even vote in
the last election. I'm in this for
the money.

BEN
Well, if Ian gets the Declaration
of Independence, he gets the
treasure. All of it.

Riley considers that a beat, then...

RILEY
Suddenly I'm feeling very patriotic.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THE MALL, WASHINGTON, D.C. - DAY

The famous green thoroughfare. There's the Lincoln Monument, the Washington Monument, the White House. We TRAVEL down Pennsylvania Avenue, finally coming to...

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES. A beautiful neoclassical building.

CLOSE ON THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. We are tight on 65 the autograph of JOHN HANCOCK.

We PULL BACK to reveal...

INT. NATIONAL ARCHIVES, ROTUNDA - DAY

TOURISTS crowd around the Declaration of Independence exhibit. Riley finishes counting the signatures.

RILEY
54...55...56.
(looks up, confused)
I don't get it. There are 56
signatures. The riddle said "55 in
iron pen."

BEN
The 56th signature, Thomas McKean's,
wasn't added until 1781, two years
after the Charlotte disappeared.

Riley looks to the document again, then shrugs...

RILEY
Well, it's still here. Looks like
Ian came to his senses.

GUARD (O.S.)
What're you doing?

They turn to find a GUARD standing behind them. He gestures to the line of TOURISTS which snakes through the Rotunda.

GUARD (CONT'D)
You're holding up the line.

EXT. NATIONAL ARCHIVES - DAY

Ben and Riley exit the building.

RILEY
So, we're back. Let's go say "hi"
to your dad. Tell him that your
treasure hunting days are over.

Just then, Ben grabs Riley and pulls him behind a column.

RILEY (CONT'D)
All right. I'm sorry. I know I'm
not supposed to talk about your dad.

Ben motions with his head, and Riley follows his gaze to...

ACROSS THE STREET where Ian and Shaw climb into a SEDAN and drive away. Riley watches them go, incredulous.

RILEY (CONT'D)
No way. They can't be doing this.
This isn't some liquor store. It's
the National Archives. It's
impossible to break in.

BEN
Nothing's impossible. Ian will
hire an expert. Or pay off somebody
on the inside. Or both.

CLOSE ON the remains of a SHIPWRECK submerged in murky water. A giant fish darts into frame. A goldfish. We WIDEN to see we're in...

INT. BEN'S LOFT APARTMENT - DAY

A studio loft crowded with books, maps, a computer, SCUBA gear, and many historical items, like a "Don't Tread on Me Flag" which is framed but not hanging on the wall.

Keys jingle at the door, and it opens to Ben and Riley.

RILEY
I don't think we're safe here.

BEN
Ian thinks we're dead.

Suddenly, there's a noise outside the door. Ben grabs a spear gun, and Riley whips open the door to reveal...
 
...a LADY. Actually, it's the LANDLADY (mid 50's) who greets the spear gun pointed at her with a bored smile.

LANDLADY
This is why you can't keep a
girlfriend.

They sigh, relieved. Ben lowers the spear gun.

RILEY
Hello, Mrs. Doyle.

LANDLADY
Did you find it?

BEN                              RILEY
Yes.                              No.

She looks at Ben.

LANDLADY
You know when you talk about
Charlotte all the time, it scares
the girls away. That last girlfriend
you had was really nice too.

BEN
Don't worry. I won't be talking
about Charlotte ever again.

LANDLADY
Does that mean you're settling down now?

RILEY                              BEN
Yes.                              No.

Ben digs into his pocket and comes up with the antique pocket watch he found on the Charlotte.

BEN (CONT'D)
Here. I got something for you...

The Landlady inspects the watch, amazed.

BEN (CONT'D)
...It's 18th Century. French. 14K
gold key. Very rare.

LANDLADY
It's beautiful. Thank you.

Ben kneels down and starts rifling through his stacks of books and maps and charts. She watches him.

LANDLADY (CONT'D)
You know, Ben, what you need to do
is stop reading so much, and go out
and have some fun.

BEN
You're right. We will.

Ben stands, holding a stack of books, and we CUT TO...

CUT TO CLOSE ON the books, which are now strewn across a cherry wood desk. We WIDEN to reveal we're in...

INT. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, READING ROOM - DAY
 
This 19th Century building is the grandest library in all America. Ben and Riley study a SCHEMATIC at a table.

BEN
Every night, the Declaration of
Independence is lowered down into
the vault room which is directly
below the Rotunda...

CLOSE ON A BLUEPRINT of the National Archives. We FOLLOW Ben's finger as it traces the path down through the Rotunda floor and to the Vault Room right below.

BEN (CONT'D)
...where it's locked up in a
specially designed, impenetrable,

BEN (CONT'D)
50-ton, steel vault where it's
protected from heat, cold, even a
thousand years of nuclear winter.
The entire process takes just two
minutes, but during those two
minutes, the Declaration of
Independence is vulnerable.

RILEY
So that's when Ian's going to do it?

BEN
Doubt it. A better time would be
to create a situation wherein the
Declaration would be automatically
lowered into its vault when the
guards aren't there.

RILEY
Well, Ian'd have to create some
external chaos because there's no
way he can hack in.

BEN
Why not?

RILEY
Because most of these old government
facilities use the old Data-Link
encryption-based security system.
Once you're in, you can do whatever
you want, but only a handful of
people know how to get in.

BEN
And would one of those people happen
to be someone who gave up a good
life at Intel to help save his
country?

RILEY
Could be.

BEN
Then, it looks like we have the edge.

RILEY
--Whoa-wait-whoa! Holy shit!

Riley's "holy shit" ECHOES LOUDLY through the room. ALL HEADS turn to glare at them. Riley lowers his voice.

RILEY (CONT'D)
You just said "we."

BEN
Yeah. As in me and you.

RILEY
No. Nuh-uh. Bad idea.

BEN
What's bad? We take it first so
Ian can't steal it.

RILEY
You're right. That's not a bad
idea. It's an extremely-horrible-
get-your-ass-reamed-for-life-in-
prison idea.

BEN
It's the only way to protect it.

RILEY
How did we go from "let's stop Ian"
to "let's take it ourselves"?

BEN
You got a better idea?

RILEY
As a matter of fact, I do.

INT. NATIONAL ARCHIVES, OFFICE LOBBY - DAY

Ben and Riley wait. "DR. ABIGAIL CHASE, CHARTERS OF FREEDOM CUSTODIAN" is stenciled on the office door.

BEN
You want me to do the talking?

RILEY
No, this is my idea. You'll try to
make it sound crazy.

Just then, a bookishly beautiful DR. ABIGAIL CHASE (26) opens her office door. She sees Ben and Riley.

ABIGAIL
Good afternoon, gentlemen. Please
come in.

Ben and Riley exchange a look. She's prettier than they expected her to be.

INT. NATIONAL ARCHIVES, OFFICE - DAY

Abigail moves to her desk as Ben and Riley enter her office which is decorated with colonial art and Revolutionary War era artifacts.

RILEY
Thanks for seeing us on such short
notice, Dr. Chase.

ABIGAIL
So, what can I do for you today?

Ben eyes Riley like, "go on."

RILEY
Okay. This is going to sound crazy,
but somebody's going to steal the
Declaration of Independence.

She regards them disdainfully. She gets this all the time.

ABIGAIL
All terrorist threats must be
reported directly to the FBI. Let
me get you their number.

She goes to get the number but is stopped by...

RILEY
This isn't a terrorist threat. The
people behind it are treasure hunters.

ABIGAIL
And they want to steal the
Declaration of Independence
because...?

Riley looks to Ben, but Ben looks away to a framed antique button collection hanging on the wall.

RILEY (reluctantly)
Because there's a treasure map on the back.

ABIGAIL
Is this a joke?

RILEY
We just found proof in a ship that
was wrecked over 200 years ago.

ABIGAIL
I see. Well, I've seen the back of
the Declaration of Independence,
and I assure you, there is no map.

RILEY
Really? You sure?

ABIGAIL
Absolutely. I've seen it many times.

BEN
Have you ever touched it?

ABIGAIL
Of course not. No one touches it.
It's hermetically sealed in a bullet-
proof, thermopane case.

BEN
That must frustrate you. Seeing
something everyday and not being
able to touch it.

There's an undeniable charm about Ben, but Abigail does her best to shrug it off.

ABIGAIL
I touch the case every day, which
is closer than most people will
ever get to it. Which makes me the
expert in this room about there
being or not being a map on the
back. Which there is not.

BEN
That's because it's invisible.

RILEY
It is?

BEN
Invisible inks were common back
then. They were used by both the
British and American armies to send
secret spy letters during the
Revolutionary War.

Abigail studies Ben, interest piqued.

BEN (CONT'D)
Or, the parchment could have been
palimpsest. Animal skin paper wasn't
exactly easy to make and was--

ABIGAIL
--often cleaned and reused. I know
what palimpsest is.

BEN
Of course, you do.

ABIGAIL
So, do you have any proof? About
this "invisible map"?

RILEY
It was in a riddle on an old pipe.

ABIGAIL
May I see the pipe?

Ben and Riley exchange a look, then grudgingly...

RILEY
We don't have it.

ABIGAIL
Did Bigfoot take it?

RILEY
I told you it would sound crazy.

Ben straightens the framed collection.

ABIGAIL
Don't touch that, please.

Ben refers to an empty space in the button collection.

BEN
1789 George Washington Campaign
Buttons. All you need is the silver-
plated Inaugural Button to complete
the set. I found one of those once,
digging in a back yard in Maryland.
You know, they're worth about five
thousand dollars.

ABIGAIL
(realizes)
You're treasure hunters as well.

BEN
Formerly. Now, we're more like
treasure protectors.

ABIGAIL
Well, Mr...?

Ben reaches out and shakes her hand.

BEN
Brown. Paul Brown. And this is my
friend, Tom Jeffries.

She shakes his hand.

ABIGAIL
Well, Mr. Brown and Mr. Jeffries,
let me assure you that the
Declaration of Independence is safe.
We have a very sophisticated security
system designed to stop crazy people
like yourselves from getting near
it.

INT. NATIONAL ARCHIVES, CORRIDOR - DAY

Ben and Riley move down the corridor.

RILEY
Paul Brown and Tom Jeffries?

BEN
When the Declaration of Independence
turns up missing, the Feds'll go
after anyone who reported it was
about to be stolen. Those are common
names. They should keep them busy
for a while. Buy us some time.

RILEY
So, we're really going to do it?

BEN
I am. I could use your help.

Ben pulls out a handkerchief and starts wiping his hand.

RILEY
Once we get it, what are we going
to do with it?

BEN
Look at the back.

RILEY
We would?

BEN
Of course. If we don't look at the
back, we'll never find the treasure.
If we don't find the treasure,
someone will always come looking
for the map, which means the
Declaration of Independence will
always be in danger until we find
the treasure.

Riley nods, liking Ben's reasoning.

RILEY
Then, we have to look at the back.
It's our duty. As Americans.

Now, Riley notices Ben wiping his hand.

RILEY (CONT'D)
What's on your hand?

BEN
Ultra-violet ink. Dr. Chase has
daily access to the vault. I shook
her hand.

RILEY
You knew we were going to do this
all along, didn't you?

BEN
I was hoping she would believe us
so we wouldn't have to.

RILEY
Yeah. Me too.

CLOSE ON a woman's fingers as they quickly punch in a passcode into a keyboard. A beat, then CLUNK. The solenoid lock releases. We WIDEN to reveal...







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