The Gatekeeper

Set in China, a long time ago, The Gatekeeper (2m) tells the story of Lao Tzu, an old man, knocking on a gate at the edge of the civilized world.  The Gatekeeper says he must pay a fee and when Lao Tzu says he has no money, the Gatekeeper says that nobody has ever wanted to go out the gate into barbarism and chaos.  Lao Tzu identifies himself and the Gatekeeper invites him into his lodge to warm himself by the fire and have something to drink.  The Gatekeeper says he remembers hearing Lao Tzu speak many years earlier.  Lao Tzu says he wants to go out the gate because he wants to die in a place where there is nothing.  The Gatekeeper pours more wine into Lao Tzu’s cup, saying that he had a dream in which he refused to let Lao Tzu through the gate until he wrote down his wisdom.  That, he says, is the fee.  Lao Tzu says his writing will be misconstrued and turned into dogma over which people will kill each other.  The Gatekeeper says his teachings make him happy and his words and images are beautiful, but Lao Tzu insists that there is nothing to be gained from writing, nothing to be gained from anything.  The Gatekeeper gets pen and ink and tells Lao Tzu he can go out the gate if he writes down his wisdom.  Lao Tzu refuses and the Gatekeeper pulls out a trumpet and blows it into Lao Tzu’s ear five times, but Lao Tzu still refuses.  They struggle over the trumpet and the Gatekeeper starts whacking Lao Tzu over the head with it until Lao Tzu collapses, dead.  The Gatekeeper says he will write down what he remembers of what Lao Tzu said and continues to write as the lights fade and we hear the sound of wind in the darkness.

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