Proposal & music samples for a seven part Netflix series

Platform: TV/ Online Entertainment

Genre: Irish Fantasy

(For a complete proposal & script, please contact me)

The Hound of Culain

"The Irish Celtic Legend"

(Treatment by Merv Spence)

Character Illustrations by Ian Lowe

Music Soundtrack Written & Performed by Merv Spence

Based on the novel “Cuchulain” by Eleanor Hull

and, independent research into the history of the Irish Celts.


There are stories and there are stories. The story of the young hero Cuchulain, half-man and half - god, Champion of Ireland, bearer of the magical spear The Gae Bolg, has in two thousand years of telling and retelling assumed the proportions of a universal myth. When the first English edition on the legend of Cuchulain was published by Lady Gregory in 1902, the great Irish Poet W. B. Yeats was moved to write; “If we will but tell these stories to our children the land will begin again to be a Holy Land, as it was before men gave their hearts to Greece and Rome and Judea. When I was a child I had only to climb the hill behind the house to see long, blue, ragged hills flowing along the southern horizon. What beauty was lost to me, what depth of emotion is still perhaps lacking in me, because nobody told me, not even the merchant captains who knew everything, that Cruachan of the Enchantments lay behind those long, blue, ragged hills!”


© Merv Spence. All Rights Reserved 2020

All compostions written, performed and produced by Merv Spence

© 2021 Merv Spence. All Rights Reserved

SUMMARY

There is a price to pay when a great legend falls into the hands of the literati; loaded with honour and praise it may fall beyond the reach of those unlearned souls for whom the story was originally told. Many poets have suffered this fate. But the story of Cuchulain is different.

Editions abound in many languages, always highlighting some new twist in the story - leaving parts out, rearranging the text, re- writing the story for children, it seems that the legend is inherently strong enough to withstand almost any permutation of its imaginative substance. It will surely withstand a televisual presentation! Perhaps this is because the story of Cuchulain is a rough story, hewn from the imagination of pre-Christian Celts. This is the great Celtic Legend, stemming from the times when most of northern and eastern Europe was a battleground for warring Celts: men and women much given to fighting but with minds leavened by a strangely Eastern imagination, bound together by bonds of magic, of love and of honour. Such is the legend of Cuchulain, the boy-hero whose coming is foretold in the sweetest dreams of the worthy and in the nightmares of Queen Maeve whose home is Cruachan in Connacht.

Some time between 30BC and 30AD, the legendary Cuchulain, the hound of Ulster declares that “by the oath of my people, I will make my doings be spoken of among the great doings of heroes in their strength. “Long before the Dark Ages, we are pulled into a time when the young hero Cuchulain, who must die at only twenty- four, might expect word of his deeds to travel by imperial galley to the distant parts of the Roman Empire, to Egypt, Persia, or even Galilee... Here is a story where nature and supernature are entwined as ivy about an old tree; full of lover’s trysts and jealous gods, frenzied war and dark dreams, where to imagine is to see nature herself conspiring in anger with the Druid’s curse or a mother’s tear. It is the history of Cuchulain of Ulster’s whose coming has been late to the screen.

THE METHOD / THE STORY

It is proposed that The Hound of Culain will consist of seven episodes, each of a half hour’s duration. The story will be dramatized and shot in Ireland and the British Isles. The target audience is principally a family one, but is not intended for very young children, some of who may find some scenes frightening. As an entertainment format, The Hound of Culain is best described as a much more organic alternative to Game of Thrones, Beowulf or Merlin. It is deep-rooted in Irish Celtic heritage & culture based in an earlier historical period around 1100 AD. The visual style will contain a beautiful and colourful cinography of Celtic landscape and coastal locations with music playing a central role to enhance the presentation. As well as the soundtrack each episode will contain one or two specially composed songs and will dominate the dynamic sequence at appropriate points. The musical style will principally employ the use of authentic musical instruments from Ireland but will have no fixed genre or rule of style. Naturally, pipes, drum and harp will play an important role, but It must be stressed the project will be sympathetic to the story and will not serve as examples of indulgence and visual hysteria. A number of songs and musical pieces have been written and produced by the creator, musician & producer Merv Spence.

A development period will be necessary to investigate certain matters, but in particular how appropriate may be the use of Digital HD format’s and where CGI techniques may be employed for certain magical effects. Nevertheless, the producers are aware that there is a certain tiredness growing about the indiscriminate use of ‘wonderful digital effects and again, the firm dramatic elements must always be central. There are other routes to portraying the supernatural than resorting to direct figurative modes, especially when the magical forces evoked are frequently generated from purely natural phenomena: clouds, the sea, the swamp, the darkness, the stars, the startling lushes green landscape and so on. A close weaving of visual storytelling and music into a coherent dramatic whole is sought. The legend is poetic but the poetry lies as much in the physical movements of characters as it does in the realm of pure imagination. It is a rough and ready story, sometimes harshly angular but it is also a story of grace and high endeavour. It is this ‘double’ quality which gives the story of Cuchulain its force and its contemporaneity.

The Hound of Culain will begin in the year 1100 with the discovery of ancient manuscripts by monks at the monastery of Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon. The camera approaches the ancient Ogham script and pulls back to reveal the hand of a lady; Lady Gregory who brought the scattered manuscript stories into a whole and consistent work at the end of the 19th century. She explains her work to the poet W.B.

Yeats and he exhorts the viewer to dig deeper into the story. We return to the pages of the 21st-century compilation and go back in time to the years shortly before the advent of Christ: to stars above and standing stones and ancient burrows below against a stark and dawning northern sky. The voice of ‘Yeats’ will provide such commentary as will be necessary throughout the series; a soft, poetic, precise Irish brogue...

© 2021 Merv Spence. All Rights Reserved