Biography - Development 2014

Vivling is the intimate character study of iconic film star VIVIEN LEIGH's prevailing passion through a silent battle with mental illness.

    • Year of production
    • 2014
    • Genres
    • Biography, Drama
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 5 - 10 M$
    • Duration
    • 120 mn
    • Writer(s)
    • Sameera STEWARD
    • Producer(s)
    • Sameera STEWARD (Media Classics), Tumi ITHOLENG (Crude Fiction)
    • Synopsis
    • 1918: The breathtaking backdrop of Ootacamund, India. A dazzling five-year-old girl, VIVIEN HARTLEY, runs free… chasing birds, laughing, playing, imagining. Later that night her beloved father, ERNEST, reads her a story, inspiring Vivien to read on late into that night. Hours pass and Vivien, acting out the story, creeps through the house, past her mother GERTRUDE's bedroom and into the kitchen. As she settles herself under the table, a noise disturbs her and she looks up: her father is screwing the maid. Vivien doesn't react, just stares, intrigued...
      It's now 42 years later and we meet the infamous theatre critic KENNETH TYNAN - a smarmy, arrogant man, boarding the RMS Queen Elizabeth on his way to New York. He has opted for boat over plane, as film-star Vivien Leigh has requested they meet on the voyage. Tynan has just published an expose on the 'mentally disturbed, washed-up film star', and is curious as to why she now wishes to meet him. She is now 47, but her eyes still sparkle as they did when she was a little girl running around her home in India. As she sits down with Tynan, he tries to work out why she could possibly want to meet him. She tries to work out what motivation this man has to pour scorn on her personal and professional life so cruelly. Vivien knows that telling Tynan anything about herself could give him the journalistic material to end her career and public image, but, as she finally comes to the end of her tether, Vivien lights a cigarette and begins her story.
      Busy London Town 1934, in her early twenties Vivien finds herself a young mother in an oppressive marriage, denied her passion for acting. After seeing her idol LAURENCE (Larry) OLIVIER on stage, she decides to take charge of her own destiny and auditions for the upcoming West End play 'The Mask of Virtue' - without her husband's permission. This shoots her to West-End fame, but Vivien's home life continues to suffocate her. As it becomes too much to handle, she starts an illicit affair with Laurence Olivier. This turns into a passionate love that neither of them can ignore. One night they make the tough decision to leave their families, and start a new life together.
      With a wonderful new life and lover, Vivien's gutsy conviction grows into a colossal force as she fights to get the role she was born to play - Scarlett O'Hara in the upcoming motion picture 'Gone With The Wind'. The pursuit of this role consumes Vivien entirely: to get Scarlett she becomes Scarlett.
      Vivien is triumphant and soon becomes one of the world's most revered film actresses and Hollywood royalty. Just as it seems life couldn't get any better, she discovers she's pregnant. Vivling and Larry are over the moon - their love never deeper...
      However, during a shoot, Vivien sufferers a miscarriage. This triggers a breakdown; a descent into the depths of her mind cut off from the real world - a terrifying introspection. Doctors conclude that this must be linked to a bout of Tuberculosis and little heed is paid. However, Vivien's sudden change in behaviour starts to cause irreversible cracks in her marriage. She puts on a facade of normality, but the damage slowly begin to show.
      As Larry's career soars, Vivien's mental wellbeing declines: he is knighted, she becomes ill; he is soon a house-hold name, she is still known as Scarlett O'Hara. In a desperate attempt to regain control, Vivien seeks solace in her new role as Blanche Dubois in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Blanche is a wounded soul succumbing to her own madness as she looks back longingly on the life she once had. Vivien can't help but let the role dominate her, once again becoming her. The performance launches her career to it's peak - she is no longer seen as Scarlett O'Hara, but as an actress in her own right. Despite this, self destruction soon sets in; her marriage becomes competitive and abusive, her mental decline persists, and the ghost of Blanche continues to possess her.
      It's 1953 and Vivien returns to India for a film shoot - still deeply lost between herself and Blanche; reality and fantasy. Memories of childhood come flooding back; the colours, the heat, the home she thought was happy. Psychosis begins to take hold, and she confuses a fellow actor, PETER FINCH for Larry and sleeps with him - barely aware of what she's doing. However, what follows is a dangerous and terrifying breakdown. Vivien is committed to a psychiatric institute where electro-convulsive-therapy is deemed to be the only option. She is diagnosed with the little understood mental illness, manic depression. Larry, distraught and desperate, can no longer force their marriage to continue. He leaves her, and Vivien must recover and go on alone...
      Back in 1960, Vivien finishes her story. The RMS Queen Elizabeth draws in to the docks of New York, and Tynan begins to contemplate the woman who's life he has publicly derided. He sees her humanity and vulnerability for the first time, allowing Vivien to see the decency within him that she hoped to exist. With the acceptance of her most fierce public critic, self acceptance is now possible for her. They part ways in New York, both of them knowing that no further articles will be written. Vivien makes her way to the mental health institution, where we discover she is still undergoing electro-convulsive-therapy. She has learned to live with her condition, but is unable to escape it. She then makes her way to the theatre for the opening night of a new play; despite it all, her passion for performing is relentless, irrepressible. Unknown to Vivien, Larry sits in the audience as she takes to the stage - a tear in his eye for the woman he adored. Though Vivien is alone, she is still loved. Loved for her passion, her spirit, and her strength.
    • Partners & financing
    • Prescience Film Finance (provisionally attached)
      Film Afrika (provisionally attached)
      Film Finances (provisionally attached)
      Post Equity Deal (required)
      Sales Agent (required)
      Talent Representatives (required)
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Jan 01, 2014