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The Leaves Are Burning (08/10/2007)

released: Aug 10, 2007

description: A bus full of middle school students heads through an autumnal landscape to Arthur Miller's Apple Orchard. Their teacher, Mr. Humphries, informs them that they will be spending a full month there, working the land, learning about apples and fall activities, under the leadership of Arthur Miller (not the playwright.) One student in particular seems disinterested at what the month has in store -- Tommy is much more concerned with how much damage he can do with lighters and how soon he can sneak away. Sally convinces him that it's a better idea to be away from his parents at the camp than back home.

Tommy and his bunk mates, Eugene and Chopper, decide to explore the orchards on their own. They decide to make the most of their independence, and run through the fields urinating on everything. As the girls secretly look on, this evolves into an inspection of each other's bodies, which results in the revelation of Eugene's tragic past. The boys leave with a new respect for each other, while the girls leave with a mission to make sure the boys are all heterosexual.

Meanwhile, in Mr. Humphries' cabin, Jeanette invites herself in, as she is allergic to others her own age. Mr. Humphries agrees and set about making Jeanette a woman -- but without touching her.

The next morning, the girls notice Jeanette coming up the walk as the sun rises, and ask her about her whereabouts. She confesses the truth as the children meet around the flagpole. There, Arthur Miller tells the children they will be out providing free labor for him in the orchards. The boys soon make the excuse of snipe hunting to get away from the girls, and run through the orchards.

Unbeknownst to the other children, Jeanette has met with a sudden end at the hands of Mr. Humphries. Arthur Miller enters, accepts Mr. Humphies' explanation that he has grown hungry, and helps him cover up his crime. They then set out to the orchards.

The boys grow frightened when they hear a noise in the woods, only to discover the girls have been following them. When the noises continue, they split up to investigate. Despite finding her treasured pumpkin patch, Lucy and Chopper meet the same end as Jeanette, to their friends' horror.

The remaining three children race back to the camp, where they tell Mr. Humphries that they need to go home as soon as possible. Mr. Humphries refuses with a sick grin. Arthur Miller appears behind them, trapping them in the cabin. At a loss, Tommy whispers to Eugene to get out his inhaler. With the help of his lighter, the two boys create a makeshift blowtorch and turn it on the two adults. The three children run as buildings explode around them.

The three make it to safety at the edge of the orchards, all unscathed though the trees are all on fire. Realizing the depth of their connection, Tommy and Eugene express their love to each other as the leaves burn around them.

cast & crew:

Directed by . . . Jason Chin
 
Arthur Miller . . . Jorin Garguilo
Chopper . . . Bob Ladewig
Drunk Farm Hand . . . Colleen Breen
Eugene . . . Sean Kelley
George . . . Michael Johnson
Jeanette . . . Colleen Breen
Lucy . . . Amy Verdon
Mr. Humphries . . . Michael Johnson
Sally . . . Mel Evans
Tommy . . . Rob White

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