The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Paul Oetken, District Judge
AMENDED MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This copyright case, involving a film and three screenplays, presents questions about the protection of historical fiction under American intellectual property law. Eve Pomerance owns a copyright in two screenplays about the dramatic and intertwined lives of John Ruskin, John Everett Millais, and Euphemia ("Effie") Gray-two stars of the Victorian art world and the intriguing woman who was married to each of them. Emma Thompson has written a screenplay about the same historical figures; her screenplay has since been turned into a film that stars Thompson, Dakota Fanning, and Robbie Coltrane. In response to a threat of litigation, Effie Film sued for a declaration of non-infringement and, five months later, moved for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). For the reasons that follow, that motion is granted.
A. Factual Background and Procedural Posture
Victorian England, famed for its cultural achievements, high political drama, and sexual mores, remains a rich source of inspiration for historians and artists. For generations, authors, composers, dramatists, and scholars have been drawn to the story at the heart of this case-a story that involves two major figures of the Victorian art world, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais, and a woman, Euphemia Gray, who married Millais after annulling her notoriously unhappy marriage to Ruskin on the scandalous ground of non-consummation. See, e.g., Suzanne Fagence Cooper, Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais (2011) (history); David Lang, Modern Painters (1995) (opera); Eva McDonald, John Ruskin's Wife (1979) (novel); J. Murray, The Order Of Release: The Story Of John Ruskin, Effie Gray And John Everett Millais Told For The First Time In Their Unpublished Letters (1948) (primary sources); Van Dyke Brooke, The Love of John Ruskin (1912) (silent film).
Eve Pomerance and Emma Thompson have both contributed to the corpus of works about the Ruskin-Gray-Millais affair. Pomerance authored and copyrighted two screenplays: The King of the Golden River ("King")and The Secret Trials of Effie Gray ("Trials"). Thompson later authored a screenplay, entitled Effie, and registered it with the United States Copyright Office. Thompson subsequently assigned to Effie Film, LLC ("Effie Film") exclusive ownership of her copyright in Effie and all rights in the screenplay, including the right to produce a motion picture on the basis of the screenplay and to seek declarations that the screenplay (or any film based on it) does not infringe on others' copyrights. A film based on the screenplay, starring Dakota Fanning, Robbie Coltrane, and Thompson, is expected to be released in 2013.
On October 4, 2011, counsel for Pomerance sent a letter to counsel for Effie Film setting forth a claim of copyright infringement and alleging eleven similarities between Effie and Trials. On October 7, 2011, Effie Film filed this suit to obtain a declaratory judgment that Effie does not infringe Trials. (Dkt. No. 1.) On October 31, 2011, Pomerance filed an answer and alleged counter-claims against Effie Film and Thompson for copyright infringement. (Dkt. No. 7.) Five months later, on March 16, 2012, Effie Film filed a joint motion for judgment on the pleadings as to its declaratory judgment suit and to dismiss Pomerance's counterclaims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 16.) In a letter dated May 8, 2012, Pomerance notified the Court of her decision to drop her counter-claims against Effie Film and Thompson. (Dkt. No. 25.) Two days later, Effie Film notified the Court that it intended to defer any response to Pomerance's statements in the May 8, 2012 letter because Effie Film intends to move for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 505 in the event of judgment in its favor. The parties then finished briefing Effie Film's motion for judgment on the pleadings.
Over the course of this briefing, the Court ruled-or the parties stipulated-that the three works at issue in this case are King, Trials, and the post-filming version of Effie.*fn1 The Court holds that the operative pleadings have been impliedly amended to reflect that state of affairs. Accordingly, Plaintiff now seeks a declaration that the post-filming version of Effie does not infringe Pomerance's copyright in either King or Trials. Before turning to the applicable rules of law, the Court summarizes each of the disputed works.*fn2
Effie opens with a foreshadowed scene in which a doctor examines Effie for signs of virginity and describes John as "mad." (Sc. 1.) The script then falls back in time to when John and Effie first met; John explains a Bernini sculpture (entitled "Apollo and Daphne") to a much younger Effie.*fn3 (Sc. 2.) This dialogue reveals a strong intellectual and personal connection between John and Effie, and introduces themes of female purity, perfection, and escape. Moving forward, in scenes glimpsed quickly between flashes of John frantically sketching Effie, she startles a paramour with news of her engagement to John, and John is shown preaching his aesthetic theory to members of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. (Scs. 6-9.)*fn4 Effie is then depicted reassuring her concerned younger sister, Sophie, that all will be well after the marriage; Effie mollifies Sophie with the promise that "you'll come and stay in London!" (Sc. 10.) A marriage scene immediately follows, in which Effie's parents appear briefly and Ruskin describes Effie as "a Muse, not just for the inspired instant but for all Eternity." (Scs. 12-13.)
After the wedding, John and Effie are shown aboard a train to London. In an early sign of discord, Effie promises "never to wear anything too excessively yellow" because "I know how it upsets you," notwithstanding her earlier promise to Sophie that "we'll go to parties in beautiful yellow dresses and we'll dance with musicians and poets and great artists . . . ." (Scs. 10, 15.) John smiles, rearranges Effie's hair, sits back in his chair, and deems Effie "perfect." (Sc. 15.)
Their travels end at John's gloomy Victorian mansion in Denmark Hill, where Effie strikes up a friendly relationship with a young manservant named George, who is plainly smitten with her. (Sc. 20.) We are promptly introduced to Mrs. Ruskin, a domineering mother who comes across as proud, controlling, and hostile. In her eyes, Effie is a potential interloper into her household and relationship with John. Mr. Ruskin, John's father, seems pleasant and patient with his wife's stern ways. (Scs. 21-22.) Effie admires a newly acquired work by J.M.W. Turner while Mr. Ruskin raves about its expense and John's role in securing Turner's reputation. (Sc. 23-24.) Effie is shown to her room, where she meets Anna, a cheerless and stiff servant. (Sc. 25.) Over an awkward dinner, Mrs. Ruskin treats Effie coldly, frets endlessly over her son's genius and health, and heaps scorn on Effie's native Scotland, though John seems alert to his mother's hostility and smiles reassuringly at Effie. (Sc. 26.)
As they prepare for their first night as man and wife, Effie appears in her nightgown and John says "you are perfect." (Sc. 29.) Then the scene jumps forward, across something awful, to Effie crying. (Sc. 31.) The next day, John is pleasant but distant. Alarmed by Effie's suggestion that they spend time together, he sends her to explore the garden with his mother. (Sc. 36.) Outside, Mrs. Ruskin viciously warns Effie away from her roses and emphasizes that "you have married no ordinary man . . . the best way -- the only way in which you can help him is by leaving him alone." (Sc. 37.) Later that day, again in the garden, Effie broaches with John the question of children and describes her desire for a house and family. John is silent. (Sc. 41.) The same night, Mrs. Ruskin castigates Effie in front of her husband. In a separate scene, John reacts with disgust when he witnesses Effie urinating in a chamber pot. (Scs. 42-43.) Effie's relationships with Anna and Mrs. Ruskin grow colder in the scenes that follow. (Scs. 45-46.)
John and Effie are invited to dinner at the Royal Academy. Effie presents herself to the Ruskins in a bright pink dress, causing "genuine alarm." (Sc. 55.) In the next scene, Effie appears at the Academy in a somber evening outfit. (Sc. 56.) Guests hotly dispute the merits of the paintings on display. John rises and passionately defends the pre-Raphaelite artists, with specific reference to a painting by his friend Millais, prompting jeers and cries of support. Over dinner, Effie befriends Lady Eastlake, wife of the President of the Academy, who proposes that Effie invite her and her husband to dine. Mr. and Mrs. Ruskin, snobby social climbers, are stunned by the chance to host such distinguished guests. (Sc. 57.)
The Ruskins scramble to clean and adorn their house. (Sc. 62.) Meanwhile, Effie grows ashamed of her body and is terrified when she wakes up one night to the rhythmic sound of John masturbating on the other side of the bed. (Scs. 65-66.) The day of the dinner, Effie develops an overpowering headache. Through Anna, Mrs. Ruskin forces medicine on Effie; Effie protests that "she means to poison me," but ultimately drinks while sighing "anything for a quiet life." (Sc. 72.) After a discussion about Venice over dinner, Lady Eastlake notices Effie's absence and seeks her out. Effie confesses to Lady Eastlake her feeling that the marriage was a mistake and her sense that Mrs. Ruskin will never let John go. Lady Eastlake tells Effie that "it is a mistake you will have to live with," suggesting that children may ease the burden. Effie replies that John does not like children. Lady Eastlake tells Effie to feel free to call upon her for help. (Sc. 76.)
Mr. Ruskin is furious that Effie cost him a graceful evening with the President of the Academy. (Sc. 79.) He takes his anger out on John, prompting John to berate Effie that night. She is defensive, then turns to hysterical laughter, and concludes by sobbing uncontrollably. The scene ends with Effie's unheard plea: "We need our own home . . . ." (Sc. 80.)
The next scene opens in Venice. John has begun a book about Venetian architecture. Freed from Denmark Hill and from Mrs. Ruskin, Effie flourishes. (Scs. 81-83.) Amidst the bright scenery, Effie strikes up a friendship with a young Italian, Rafael, who guides her around the city's sights, parties, and waterways. When they first meet, John and Rafael engage in a tense back-and-forth over Effie's perfection.*fn5 (Sc. 85.) Rafael realizes that Effie's marriage is an unhappy one. (Id.) In Venice, even as John sorts the beautiful from the ordinary, he remains cold toward Effie. (Sc. 96.) One night, after Effie enjoys herself at a party, she returns home to a lecture in which John scolds Venice (and perhaps her), stating that "once she was a Virgin and now she is a harlot addicted to nothing but pleasure and voluptuousness." (Sc. 103.) When Effie shows John a daguerreotype of Bernini's "Apollo and Daphne," John does not recall the sculpture's significance to their relationship. (Sc. 105.) Meanwhile, Effie and Rafael grow close-a blooming relationship that Rafael treats as a sexual invitation. He thrusts himself at her, but she runs away. Distraught, she starts suffering hallucinations in which she sees her skin covered with tree bark-just as Daphne, the nymph, escaped lustful Apollo through metamorphosis into a tree. (Scs. 109-112.)
The script returns to Denmark Hall, where Effie's attempt at a bold sexual advance toward John is interrupted by Mrs. Ruskin, who insists that Effie take pills and charges her with madness after a scuffle. (Sc. 114.) A doctor examines Effie and describes her hallucinations as symptoms of a malady best cured with "simple love and attention." He also recommends time spent back in Effie's native Scotland. (Sc. 117.) In the next scene, Lady Eastlake encounters Millais, who informs her that he has been commissioned to paint a portrait of John in Scotland. (Sc. 118.)
In the Highlands, John, Effie, and Millais stay together in a small cottage while Millais paints a portrait of John standing by a riverside. John and Millais grow closer while playing in the loch and discussing the portrait. (Scs. 119-121.) Millais also grows close to Effie. He comforts Effie when she receives word that her mother miscarried for the seventh time and he is troubled when John seems indifferent to the news. (Scs. 122-23.) When Millais injures himself out in the woods, Effie runs out, accidentally falls on top of him, and then comforts him back in the cabin. (Scs. 127-130.) Millais teaches Effie how to paint and shows Effie a drawing of her tending to his wound. (Sc. 132.) John then heads off to Edinburgh to deliver a lecture, leaving Millais and Effie alone, though over Millais' breezily dismissed protests of impropriety. (Sc. 133.) While John is away, the two grow closer. Millais reveals that John does not intend to have children, news that devastates Effie. (Sc. 135.) Shortly thereafter, Effie sees Millais naked as he emerges from a loch. (Sc. 136.) In the cabin, she cries at his kindness. (Sc. 138.) They are in love.
When John returns, Millais sees how coldly his patron treats Effie. (Sc. 142.) Millais is tormented by his love for Effie and hatred toward John. (Sc. 143.) Late that night, Millais says he "cannot bear to witness any more of your . . . torture," but Effie replies that "there is nothing to be done." (Sc. 144.) John, who only appears to be asleep, overhears this exchange. (Id.) In the next scene, Millais nearly finishes his portrait of John, which assumes a sinister cast without a face or hands. (Sc. 146.) Ultimately, as John and Effie prepare to return home, Effie declares her hatred of Denmark Hall: "I cannot go back." (Sc. 147.) John reacts with fury, threatening her with loss of reputation because of her "behavior here"; Effie replies, almost inaudibly, "I hate you." (Id.) Before they leave, Millais urges Effie to invite an ally to Denmark Hall. (Sc. 148.) Millais acknowledges that he cannot visit her. Ultimately, Effie invites Sophie. (Id.)
Back in Denmark Hall, Sophie visits the Ruskins amidst a tangle of unspoken implications and chilly subtext. (Sc. 150.) Effie confronts John about their marriage and he replies: "Our marriage is the greatest crime I have ever committed . . . you snared me. Just like you have snared poor [Millais]. Wicked. Wicked." (Sc. 151.) John and Mrs. Ruskin manipulate Sophie, showering her with praise and knife-edged comments about Effie-who overhears part of Mrs. Ruskin's graceful character assassination. (Scs. 152-54.) Effie finally seeks help from Lady Eastlake, confessing that she has never had marital relations with John because "he was disgusted by my body that first evening." (Sc. 159.) Stunned, Lady Eastlake promises to look into the legal and social norms that might allow non-consummation to nullify the marriage. (Id.) In the next scene, Effie discusses annulment with a lawyer, who carefully examines a report concerning her virginity prepared by Dr. Lee, the doctor who examined her in the foreshadowed scene at the beginning of the script. (Sc. 162.) Effie spends the night terrified that John will attempt to consummate the marriage. (Sc. 163.) The next day, as John scolds her for her continued defiance, Effie receives a letter from her attorney-but pretends it is a request from her mother that Effie and Sophie visit Scotland. Millais is then shown scowling with steely determination at the portrait of his nemesis. (Sc. 167.)
Effie prepares to leave Denmark Hall. She encounters George, who has clearly guessed at her plans and wishes her well. (Sc. 168.) As Effie and Sophie's carriage departs, Effie pulls off her ring to send back to John; simultaneously, Millais' portrait of John is delivered to the Ruskin household. (Scs. 171-72.) The Ruskins assemble around the mantelpiece to admire their new painting. (Sc. 175.) Moments later, Effie's lawyer arrives at the door and informs John that Effie has sought annulment of the marriage on the ground of impotency. (Sc. 177.) Meanwhile, Effie has sent Sophie to Millais. The scene darts between their dialogue and the sight of Effie looking up at Millais' studio. Sophie tells Millais that Effie loves him, but "you are not to go to her" because "she is not fit to marry for a time -- without -- much deliberation . . . because it would never do to be wretched twice." (Scs. 178-82.) Millais' reply, conveyed to Effie by Sophie, is simple: "Tell her that I look forward to her -- no, to making her very happy." (Sc. 183.) Effie smiles, the carriage pulls away, and Millais rushes down to the pavement to see Effie's carriage fade into the distance. (Scs. 184-85.) The film's closing titles reveal that the marriage was annulled on the ground of incurable impotency, Effie and Millais married and had eight children, and John eventually descended into madness. (Sc. 186.)
King opens with the foreshadowed scene of Effie, child-like and lit with moonlight, stepping into a lake, sinking into the water, and panicking as she drowns beneath the weight of a luminous white gown. (Sc. 1.) The film flashes back to Denmark Hall, 1837. Effie and John meet for the first time when John, looking up as he writes, notices a young girl dancing outside. (Scs. 4-7.) John introduces himself and caresses Effie's hair while reading her a fairytale- which he then gives to her when she is summoned away by her father. (Sc. 8.)
Ten years later, Effie and her father George attend a lecture at the Royal Academy. In the lecture, John brilliantly explicates a painting by J.W.S. Turner. While he speaks, drawing the fixed attention of all ladies in the room, John's eyes settle on Effie. (Sc. 9.) After John's talk, Millais attempts to introduce himself, but is sharply rebuffed and told to seek an appointment. (Sc. 10.) While John chats with Turner and Charles Dickens, George suggests that Effie relieve her boredom by stepping out to the garden. George approaches John and reminds him of prior business, prompting John to inquire after Effie and then to join her in the garden. (Sc. 12.) They discuss flowers and John places a rose in Effie's hair. George arrives and indicates that they must leave, leading John to protest and invite them to the Kew Gardens. (Sc. 13.) John and his mother discuss these plans and Mrs. Ruskin says she would like to meet Effie. (Sc. 14.) John and Effie bond over a walk in the gardens; John is pleased that Effie has "not lost any of that youthful beauty" and affirms that he wants to remain close. (Sc. 16.) In the next scene, John lies with his head in Mrs. Ruskin's lap as she applies medicine for his cough. John says he wants to marry Effie. When Mrs. Ruskin protests and says that she will move out, John replies that "my dearest wish is for us all to live together." (Sc. 17.)
John visits Effie and her mother Anna in Scotland. John guides Effie's hand as she paints, but is disappointed when Effie does not recall their meeting ten years earlier-though she does recall the fairytale, entitled "The King of the Golden River." (Sc. 22.) John reveals that he has loved her since "the first moment that I saw you in my parent's garden" and asks Effie to marry him. She agrees and is about to kiss him, but then suddenly he pulls back. John, Effie, Anna, and Sophie go to George, who approves of the engagement. In the next scene, the Grays and Ruskins discuss the wedding and, at the Ruskins' urging, agree on a small affair. (Sc. 24.) As the wedding approaches, Anna warns Effie that it will take hard work to win over Mrs. Ruskin and Mrs. Ruskin tells John that she will not attend the wedding in Scotland. (Scs. 25-26.) The wedding scene reveals a happy couple and a first kiss. (Sc. 27.) Anna and Sophie say a tearful good bye and Sophie promises to visit Effie. (Sc. 28.) The newlyweds are shown aboard a steamship. John tells Effie "you are perfect to me." (Sc. 30.)
The wedding night is pictured in detail. John slowly and clumsily undresses Effie. She shivers and breathes heavily. John's breathing grows irregular and he orders her to turn around so he can see her. He refuses to make eye contact and starts caressing her body. He mounts her and parts her legs, but then rolls off and onto his side, curling up like a child. She presses for detail on what has gone wrong; eventually, John tells her "we can not lie together as man and wife" because he does not want a child while his career demands travel. Effie is anguished. John "sits by the fire with the Bible open on his lap; all colour gone out of his face." (Sc. 31.)
Back at Denmark Hall, Effie meets a group of unwelcoming servants, including Joseph and Marjorie. (Sc. 33.) Mrs. Ruskin shows Effie around the house and insists that Effie wear a formal dress, which John absolutely despises. This is clearly Mrs. Ruskin's plan. (Scs. 37-39.) Effie then ignores John when he knocks on her door, but after seeing two lovers outside, she sneaks into John's study and tries to kiss him as he sleeps. (Scs. 40-46.) John wakes in a panic and yells at Effie. (Sc. 47.) Regretful, he then apologizes and asks if she still loves him. Effie says she does, and makes John promise to take her with him to Venice-much to his mother's chagrin. (Scs. 47-48.) Mrs. Ruskin then concocts a scheme to make it appear as though Effie stole the manuscript for John's new book, leading John to attack Effie and call her a "thief and a liar." (Scs. 54-56.) Mrs. Ruskin comforts her son, who replies by saying "I love you." (Sc. 58.)
The scene shifts to Venice. Effie and John are shown being affectionate, though John grows irritated that Effie admires other couples instead of focusing on the Venetian architecture. (Sc. 59.) Effie shops for a glamorous dress that horrifies John, who "gazes on his wife, as if she has been transformed into a vulgar Whore" and insists that she wear a different dress to the ball. (Sc. 61.) John tightens Effie's corset so fiercely that her breasts disappear; Effie can tell that John is pleased. (Id.) At a Venetian ball, Effie flirts and dances with Austrian officers, angering John. As the night spirals out of control, an officer forces Effie to keep dancing and John grows angrier and dizzier. John finally reaches Effie and is almost killed when he tries to separate her from the solider. Back in their room, he accuses her of acting like "a common whore," says that "you are weak, just like the rest of them," and leans in as if to rape her. But he instead violently shoves the fabric of Effie's skirt between her legs. (Sc. 66.)
Back in London, John purchases a dress for Effie that makes her look like a child. (Sc. 69.) Millais calls on John, who does not recall meeting him at the Royal Academy, and asks John to write about his new artistic movement-previously unknown to John-called the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. (Sc. 71.) Effie briefly meets Millais and is intrigued, but John is contemptuous of Millais and annoyed at Effie. (Scs. 71-72.) John tells Effie that "it was selfish of me to marry you" and, when Effie objects that their marriage is a success, he reduces her to tears by retorting that "happiness is something I know nothing about." (Sc. 73.) That night, Effie overhears John telling Mrs. Ruskin that his wife will "not lie with me." Effie immediately sneaks back to her room. Moments later, Mrs. Ruskin arrives at Effie to scold her daughter-inlaw and is nonplussed when Effie tells her "to ask [John] why he will not lie with me." Mrs. Ruskin calls Effie a liar. Effie is traumatized. (Sc. 78.) She walks out into the snow and leans against skeletal apple trees. John watches from his window, but finds himself unable to approach his wife. He is lonely and filled with despair. (Sc. 82.)
The script cuts forward in time. John visits his friend Turner, but is scandalized to discover that Turner patronizes prostitutes and paints pictures of vaginas: "This is not art. --It is sickness." (Sc. 85.) John grabs a fistful of the sexual images and thrusts them into the fireplace; Turner grapples with John, who flees the building. (Id.) John then visits Kate Greenaway, an old acquaintance painting a portrait of a ten year old, Lily. (Sc. 89.) Greenaway shows John pictures of Lily, noting that "she looks much more natural without her dress." John's breathing grows labored and he is mesmerized as he watches Lily button up her coat. Greenaway invites John to help and "smiles knowingly" as John shyly approaches the young girl. (Id.) Back at home, Effie approaches John and tries to touch him, but he pushes her away and demands that Effie apologize to Mrs. Ruskin. Effie refuses to do so and storms out. (Sc. 90.)
John is then shown with Millais, having written a glowing review of Millais' work. (Sc. 91.) Millais shows John sketches of Ophelia, the moment before she drowns. John insists that Millais use the Highlands as his landscape and invites Millais to join him, Mrs. Ruskin, and Effie on a trip to Scotland. The group sets off for Scotland after a scene in which Effie is embarrassed by the directness of Millais' gaze. (Sc. 92.) After passing through the Scottish Highlands, the four characters arrive at a small, white-stone cottage near a large loch. (Scs. 93-94.) The sexual-romantic tension between Effie and Millais builds: he leans a folder against her knee, he stares at her face, and their bodies brush against one another as they enter the cabin.
John, Effie, and Millais row out into the loch. Effie comments on the beauty of it all and Millais "smiles at Effie, obviously moved by her." (Sc. 97.) John identifies his favored spot for the Ophelia landscape and, recalling the foreshadowed scene that opens King, recites the Ophelia soliloquy from memory.*fn6 That evening, Mrs. Ruskin and John praise Millais' painting, and John explains his theory of aesthetics. (Sc. 99.) John tells Millais that Effie suffers from melancholia. (Id.) In the next scene, Effie comes upon Millais painting as she rows across the loch. They draw close, but only for a moment before Effie distances herself. (Sc. 100.) Effie remarks that she finds the painting very sad, since "death is the only way out for [Ophelia] . . . he does not love her." Millais replies: "She could leave. No one is stopping her." But Effie states simply, "no, that is impossible." Effie picks up Millais' model Ophelia dress, puts it on, and wades into the water. Millais is horrified when he realizes what is happening and wades into the loch to save Effie. She changes back into her clothing in front of Millais, who looks down and grows aroused; when she asks him to fasten her dress, the sexual tension thickens and Effie leans forward to kiss Millais. The kiss is passionate, but Millais draws back, objecting that she is married. Effie reaches for him: "There is no love between us . . . he will not touch me or look at me." She confesses her virginity. (Sc. 100.) Effie and Millais embrace. John, examining the local birds through his binoculars, sees them kiss. His face grows pale. (Sc. 101.)
That night, John invites Millais to join him for a post-dinner nightcap. (Sc. 102.) John, holding a shotgun against his leg, reveals that he is aware of the love between Effie and Millais. He orders Millais to leave at first light. By the time Effie awakes, Millais has left. Effie grows tearful at the news and rows out into the pouring rain, pulling up short of the spot where she and Millais embraced. (Scs. 103-104.) On the way back to Denmark Hall, John brings Effie to her family's house. Anna asks Effie when she plans on having a child, but Effie avoids the question. (Sc. 107.) John reads "The King of the Golden River" to Sophie. (Sc. 110.) That night, Effie discovers John in Sophie's bed and orders him out of the room. (Scs. 111-14.)
Back in London, Millais attends one of John's lectures at the Academy in the hope of glimpsing Effie. (Sc. 115.) John catches sight of Millais and rushes Effie out; Effie realizes that John knows of the affair. (Id.) Back in Denmark Hall, a doctor examines Effie and, rejecting John's diagnosis of madness, suggests that "childbirth has been known to work miracles." (Sc. 116.) As he leaves, the doctor mentions that Turner recently died in his sleep. John is shocked.
He races to Turner's house, rushes past prostitutes, and burns Turner's drawings of female genitalia and other sexual images. (Scs. 117-19.) The scene flickers to Millais lighting an opium pipe to deal with his emotional pain. (Sc. 120.) From the opium pipe to the flame of an oil lamp, the scene jumps next to John's sleeping face. Effie arrives and asks to sit with him; John insists that she return to her room. She invokes the story of Abraham and Sarah and tells him that "I don't think I could go on living if I thought that I would never have a child." (Sc. 122.)
At night, Mrs. Ruskin looks outside and sees Effie wandering in her night-dress through the gardens, carrying a lantern. (Sc. 123.) John also sees Effie outside, bright in the full moon. (Sc. 125.) Mrs. Ruskin applies a hot compress to John's chest as he coughs and wheezes. (Sc. 126.) Mrs. Ruskin confronts John about his marriage and John finally confesses to his mother that he has never lain with Effie. Mrs. Ruskin is shocked, but tells John that he must take Effie's virginity so that Effie does not ruin him. (Id.)
Back in Effie's room, Mrs. Ruskin encourages Effie to leave the house and never return: "Listen to the rain. How gentle it is. How reassuring. Why don't you go now? What are you waiting for?" (Sc. 128.) The script cuts forward to the foreshadowed scene from the beginning. Effie wades out into the water beneath a full moon, her white dress floating around her like "a large white lily." (Id.) Elsewhere, Millais startles, sensing something wrong. (Sc. 130.) He races to the Ruskins' house, surges into the water, and recovers Effie's drowned body. (Sc. 131.) He lowers her to the ground and bursts out sobbing, but then saves her by breathing into her mouth. (Id.) John and Mrs. Ruskin appear. Mrs. Ruskin orders the servants forcibly to remove Millais. (Id.) John carries Effie back into the house. (Id.) Soon after, John enters Effie's room and attempts to mount her, but is overwhelmed with a sense of compassion and withdraws. (Sc. 136.) Effie leaves the house and keeps on walking. (Id.)
In the final scenes, Effie is shown pregnant, in a field, as she paints a portrait of Sophie and embraces Millais. A different young girl, Rose, reads the opening lines from "The King of the Golden River" as John looks on. End title cards reveal the rest of the story.
Trials opens with the clamor of a crowd at Oxford University excited to hear John lecture on Turner's works. Effie, nineteen years old and attractive, is present with her father George. Millais stands nearby with other artists and Mrs. Ruskin sits on stage. While he speaks, John fixes on Effie. After the lecture, Greenaway approaches John, thanks him for a kind review, and urges him to visit her studio to see a lovely girl. While John then chats with Sir Reynolds and Turner, noting that Charles Dickens is present, Millais steps forward and is rebuffed by John, who does not know him. John notices Effie mimicking the ladies in the crowd while drinking wine; suddenly, George takes Effie's glass away and sends her to the garden. As Effie sits amidst the roses, John approaches and mentions that he once read to her when she was young. He shows her how to draw and they discuss the roses. When George interrupts, John insists that Effie and George join him in Kew Gardens. On that tour-Mrs. Ruskin in tow-John sets off with Effie. Discussing the orchids, they bond over ephemeral beauty. John tells Effie he is pleased that she has not lost her youthful looks. They discuss which orchid they would prefer to be and Effie tells John that he seems like a white orchid: tall, proud, and sophisticated. They look forward to becoming good friends. That night, John rests with his head in his mother's lap and, notwithstanding her caustic remarks, affirms that he hopes to marry Effie.
John visits Effie and her mother Anna in Scotland. John guides Effie's hand as she paints and asks her to be his wife. Effie tells Anna and John speaks with George. While Anna fetches glasses for a toast, Effie introduces John to her baby sister, Isabella. John reacts nervously to the baby. One month later, Mrs. Ruskin tells John that she will not attend the wedding in Scotland and says that she will move out after the festivities, eliciting a protest from John. She agrees to stay. Effie discusses the marriage with Anna, who warns Effie that it will take hard work to win over Mrs. Ruskin. The wedding scene reveals a happy couple and a first kiss. The newlyweds board a steamship; flush with champagne, Effie is tipsy as she wanders the gangway.
The wedding night is pictured in detail. Effie unlaces her boots. John pours a hot bath. John slowly undresses Effie and washes her feet. He unbuttons her dress and stares at her breasts, then turns and loosens her corset. Effie trembles. John's fingers are clumsy. Effie gasps as she feels her bridle come undone. Then John sees her underarm hair and is repulsed. His breathing grows labored. He loosens his collar and fixes himself a drink, looking at Effie with a glazed expression. Effie asks if something is wrong and John replies "no, it just wasn't what I expected." He urges her to put on her night-gown and go to bed. John changes into his night shirt and joins Effie in bed. He lowers the covers, hitches up her gown, and mounts himself on top of her-but after he thrusts forward, his eyes glaze over, he lets out a long sigh, and then he rolls off onto his side. John is upset and leaves for a walk. Effie cries alone.
Back at Denmark Hall, Effie meets a long line of servants. Mrs. Ruskin notices that Effie has caught a chill and insists that Effie stay in her own room until she recovers. Mrs. Ruskin then leads Effie on a tour of the building, noting that John's health conditions are the result of an early bout of scarlet fever. Mrs. Ruskin emphasizes that she will treat John and then insists that Effie wear a formal dress, which John dislikes (this is clearly intentional). Effie is crushed. Looking out the window, she lights up when she sees two lovers. She sneaks to John's study and puts her hands over his eyes; John, busy writing, is startled. He asks if she still loves him and she says yes. She extracts a promise that he will take her with him to Venice, much to Mrs. Ruskin's chagrin. Mrs. Ruskin makes it appear as though Effie stole the manuscript for John's forthcoming book. John is furious and yells at Effie. When Effie tells him that Mrs. Ruskin gave her the manuscript, John makes Effie swear on the bible-and then confronts his mother that night, stating that he believes Effie. Mrs. Ruskin retorts that Effie must have taken the manuscript, since Effie is an untrustworthy and unreliable Gray. John asks his mother to show more consideration for Effie "because she is my wife." In a brief scene, John flips through the manuscript and sighs with relief when he finds what he is looking for: a drawing of a naked young girl. He slips the drawing into a brown envelope.
The scene shifts to Venice. A teacher introduces her young female students to Ruskin, who initiates a conversation with a girl named Sylvia and guides her hand as she draws. Effie and John are shown as being affectionate in a gondola. Effie shops for a glamorous dress that upsets John, who believes it exaggerates Effie's bosom. At the party, an ambassador toasts to John for his successful book on Venice-a book that "brought life back into this dead city." Effie dances with a soldier, angering John. As the night spirals out of control, the officer forces Effie to keep dancing and John grows angrier. John finally reaches Effie and is almost killed when he tries to separate her from the solider. Back in their room, he accuses her of instigating with the officer and tells her that he is "growing tired of her lies." Effie cries. That night, Effie is shown pleasuring herself in bed. She reaches over to Ruskin, unbuttons his clothing, and starts to kiss him. He wakes and violently pushes her away.
Back in London, seven years later, Effie is shown instructing a servant to tighten a corset so firmly that her breasts disappear. Then she heads off to Lady Eastlake's house, where we learn she spends most of her time. John visits Turner, who is occupied by prostitutes, and tries to throw Turner's drawings of vaginas into a fireplace. He rushes to Greenaway's studio, where a young girl named Lily is modeling. John tells Greenaway that he took his mother, not Effie, to Venice. John inhales Lily's ribbon and grows short of breath while reviewing nude drawings of Greenaway's young models. In the next scene, John is shown dining at Denmark Hall with members of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including Millais. He introduces Effie to the young artists and they discuss the goals of their artistic movement. While John takes the group on a tour, Millais catches Effie watching him and smiles. She looks away shyly. Some period of time later, John and Effie visit Millais. Millais is busy painting-his model is lying in the bath in a wedding dress and reading the newspaper-but shows John a work in progress about the famed Ophelia. John insists that the Scottish Highlands would provide the perfect location for a background. John, Effie, Millais, and Mrs. Ruskin all head north to Scotland.
The group arrives at a small, white-stone cottage. A series of scenes reveals growing sexual tension between Millais and Effie. John, Effie, and Millais row out into the loch and discuss philosophy. John identifies his favored spot for the Ophelia landscape and recites the Ophelia soliloquy from memory. That night, John and Millais bond over dinner. John tells Millais that Effie is suffering from melancholia; Millais offers to take Effie with him while he paints and John approves. In the next scene, Effie comes upon Millais painting as she rows across the loch. They draw close, but only for a moment before Effie distances herself. Effie remarks that she finds the painting very sad, since "death is the only way out for [Ophelia] . . . [Hamlet] does not love her." Effie steps into the water and models Ophelia. Millais finds this incredibly erotic, but then charges into the water to carry her out. Effie is pleased by the thought that she resembled Ophelia and disrobes so that she can put on Millais' jacket. John, examining the local birds through his binoculars, sees Effie disrobe. Effie and Millais continue to flirt and, eventually, they passionately kiss. John sees it all through his binoculars. As they lie in the grass, Effie says to Millais "John has never lain with me, not like this." Millais is alarmed, but then says he is glad she told him. They kiss again.
That night, John invites Millais to join him for a post-dinner nightcap. John reveals that he is aware of the love between Effie and Millais. Millais apologizes. John orders Millais to leave at first light. At breakfast, Effie receives the news mournfully. She retreats to her room, where she cries while looking at a drawing of her and Millais in the grass. John enters and notices that she has been crying. He asks to see the drawing, but she refuses.
On the way back to Denmark Hall, John brings Effie to her family's house. Effie is happy to see her family. Anna asks Effie when she plans on having a child, but Effie avoids the question. John reads Sophie a bedtime story. Late that night, Effie discovers John in Sophie's bed and orders him out of the room. She confronts him and says "you are a sick man, John Ruskin." She announces that she is leaving him. John responds by revealing that he knows of her love for Millais and threatening to destroy Millais' reputation.
Back in London, Millais attends one of John's lectures at the Academy, fearing that John will ruin him. These fears are ill-founded; John describes a Millais painting as "the great picture this year." Millais encounters Effie in a corridor during John's lecture and urges her to run away with him. She refuses. Suddenly, John appears, grabs Effie, and marches off. Effie begs John to release her from the marriage. That night, John tells his mother that Effie and Millais are in love; Mrs. Ruskin tells him to keep Effie on a short leash. In the next scene, Mrs. Ruskin intrudes as Effie frantically packs her suitcase. Mrs. Ruskin seizes the suitcase and locks Effie's door. Millais sees Effie trapped at the Ruskin's house and feels that something is "terribly wrong." Mrs. Ruskin and John summon a doctor, who ...