Rene Daalder

Preface: An Army of Florence Nightingales


Rene Daalder and Rem Koolhaas

The White Slave

Rene Daalder

Everybody in the film industry knows that professional movie people abhor reading screenplays. Even in Hollywood, where scripts are considered to be the lifeblood of the profession, most executives are remarkably reluctant to actually read them and often resort to just telling the author that the first act still needs some work (which can just as soon be said about every draft of every script since Gone with the Wind). Even in the unlikely event that an executive will find a moment to glance at the beginning, middle, and end of a script’s obligatory three-act structure, most screenwriters are well aware that industry people only gloss over the dialogue and skip the “wordiness” of the more descriptive parts.

So you may be asking yourself, if there’s so much reluctance to read a screenplay even among the people who actually make movies, why should anyone read—let alone publish —the script for a film that was released in 1969 in a small country with no film culture to speak of, where nothing dramatic ever seems to have happened except the ravages of World War II?

Moreover, although The White Slave was the most expensive movie ever made in the Netherlands at the time, it was a box-office failure. It did, however, attain some sort of cult status, thanks in part to its youthful authors’ flirtation with comic-book culture and the subversive ideas of the German philosopher Oswald Spengler, author of Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West), in which he postulated that any civilization is a superorganism with a limited and predictable life span, which we considered an important leitmotif in The White Slave’s plot. But who were these young cinéastes who had been offered the opportunity to turn such heady ideas into what was supposed to become their country’s first commercial feature film?

As it happens, I was one of them, and my partner in crime was the future architect Rem Koolhaas—two precocious high school dropouts sharing an uncanny grasp of the zeitgeist and a deep-seated desire to reinvent the world accordingly. It turned out that the first time we laid eyes on the future was at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958, which, unbeknownst to each other, both of us visited as teenagers. Rem was accompanied by his grandfather the architect Dirk Roosenburg, and I was traveling in a Citroën 2CV with my idealistically inclined father, who was interested in the fair from a utopian perspective.

For me, Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis’s immersive Philips Pavilion became the impetus for a lifelong pursuit of digital technology, electronic music, and virtual reality, whereas the structure’s impossibly interlocked shapes may well have influenced the architectural balancing act of Rem’s design for the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, not to mention the Swiss architect’s lasting impact on Rem’s creative practice, informing his great interest in media and the visual arts, and, later, the research publications of his architecture firm OMA’s think tank, AMO.

But it would still take a few more years before Rem and I met as high school students at the Montessori Lyceum in Amsterdam, where we became close friends, and ultimately went on to be writing partners on various film projects in Europe and the US. From the very beginning, there was no question that the two of us would eventually be looking for a larger podium than the staid provincialism of postwar Holland. In fact, as our Greek teacher disdainfully observed, what we really wanted was “to go to the moon.” After all, Russia had just launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, and it wouldn’t be long until America put the first man on the moon. Little could our teacher have known, however, that we’d soon be giving up our formal education altogether, dropping out of high school to take inventory of the real world!

Shortly thereafter, we broke the news about this radical plan to our liberal parents, announcing that we planned to leave Amsterdam—often referred to as the “Venice of the North”—to visit the city’s counterpart in Italy. While we were at it, we decided that we would embark on a comparative study of the different means of transportation in postwar Europe, whereby Rem would take the Trans-Europ Express train and I would depend on the kindness of strangers, hitchhiking my way across Hitler’s network of Autobahnen while carrying Jack Kerouac’s On the Road in my back pocket to culturally reference a similar network of highways in the US. I seem to remember that Rem also took along one of his favorite books, Hadrian the Seventh by the gay British writer Frederick Rolfe, aka Baron Corvo, himself a longtime resident of Venice. The book is a wish-fulfillment fantasy in which the main character, an alter ego for the writer, is unexpectedly picked to be the next pope.

A few days on the road and many adventures later I reached Venice, three hours ahead of the train, just in time to welcome Rem as he elegantly stepped onto the platform, suitcase in hand, like a European envoy on an important mission. It was spectacular to arrive at the Santa Lucia railway station. Few experiences in the Western world are as exhilarating as the moment the traveler leaves terra firma and floats down the Grand Canal: It is a sensation not unlike the temporary weightlessness of an astronaut touching down on another planet. I remember how Rem’s extensive knowledge of the city suggested that he had been there before. He took me on a grand tour of the city that ended up in the shadows of St. Mark’s Basilica, where the spirit of deity is invoked by the cathedral’s sheer architectural dimensions and reinforced by the overwhelming theatricality of its iconography along with other auditory and visual stage effects.

Even though many architects proclaim a great interest in the cinema, few of them have been as conversant with the medium’s essential suspension of disbelief as Rem, be it marveling at the divine presence in the world’s great cathedrals, studying the rush of the gravity-defying amusement parks at Coney Island, or rewriting the rules of architecture in cinematic books like S,M,L,XL (1995).

Flashing back, I remember the honking yellow cabs floating through the dark canyons of Manhattan merging with the memory of the noisy rush-hour traffic of water taxis on the Grand Canal, both evoking a delirious experience of operatic grandeur. Having worked extensively at the intersection of music and film, I have often marveled at the theatrical potential of Rem’s 1978 book Delirious New York, which I am sure could have been successfully adapted for the Broadway stage, especially in the 1980s when Manhattan was down in the dumps and in dire need of a more effective advertising campaign than the “I ♥ New York” logos emblazoned on thousands of T-shirts and coffee cups. Rem’s singular book title Delirious New York would have made for a much catchier slogan all by itself, promoting the city with just one poetic gesture.

But back in Venice, such wistful musings about the theatrical potential of these urban visions would serve only as frustrating reminders to Rem that a potential career as an architect might be hanging in the balance due to his lack of a high school diploma, which would soon prompt him to head home and assess the repercussions of his aborted education. (Little could he have known that a few decades later he would be welcomed back to Venice with some of the pomp and circumstance that Baron Corvo had dreamed of—when he was selected for the “papal” job of presiding over the 2014 Architecture Biennale.)

When Rem returned to Holland, I pitched my tent on the Lido island to attend the Venice Film Festival, where, as luck would have it, Luis Buñuel was the guest of honor. He was presenting his masterpiece Belle de Jour (1967), starring one of Rem’s favorite actresses, Catherine Deneuve, whose character comes to a turning point in her life when she discovers some exclusive Paris brothels where middle-class housewives like herself work in the afternoons.

While I lingered in Venice, Rem had lucked into a job as an apprentice journalist in the culture section of the Haagse Post, a weekly magazine. In this capacity, he soon began exercising his own brand of New Journalism, influenced by the American style of first-person news writing and fictional techniques that allowed journalists to behave more as novelists, sociologists, or even psychoanalysts. Writers such as Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe were juggling fact and fiction to great effect, as Rem did in an interview with Federico Fellini, during which the Italian maestro never said a word to him, leaving it up to the young journalist to paint his own picture of the director through the eyes of his freakish entourage, much as the filmmaker himself might have scripted one of his own backstage circus scenes.

When I eventually made it back to our rainy fatherland, it was my turn to face the challenge that I had forfeited my high school diploma. I came to the conclusion that the best way to close this gap in my education was to apply to Amsterdam’s fledgling film academy, which was at the time crammed into a few old buildings adjoining the red-light district. I was readily admitted with the assistance of Rem’s father, who taught scriptwriting and would eventually become the school’s director. Anton Koolhaas was known for his literary fiction; his relationship with film had been limited to writing and occasionally directing conventional documentaries about Holland’s struggle to hold back the sea or its attempts to rebuild the country in the aftermath of World War II. By contrast, most students at the time were trying to imitate the French Nouvelle Vague, a movement Rem and I dismissed for its shallow intellectualism. A typical example was Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie (1962), starring Anna Karina as a would-be actress who prostitutes herself by talking about philosophy with the johns she picks up in local bars to finance her acting career, which was definitely an unheard-of strategy among the “working women” plying their wares around the corner from the Film Academy. (By the way, although Rem’s biographers may tell us otherwise, he was never formally a student at the school. As far as I remember, he hardly ever entered the building, nor did he much approve of his father’s taste in movies, but the school’s administration was rather easygoing and didn’t keep much track of the students’ comings and goings or the equipment they let us use.)

Needless to say, Rem and I couldn’t resist taking on the Francophile contingent among the students by writing an anti-auteur film manifesto and recruiting some of our friends to join our Film Group 1,2,3—a filmmakers’ collective in which all of us would eventually take turns as writers, directors, cameramen, and stars in a series of short films. The endeavor was roughly based on the idea that classic Hollywood movies revolved around the personae of stars such as Gene Kelly, Greta Garbo, Buster Keaton, etc., who in many instances might be considered the actual auteurs. Likewise, one could maintain that Film Group’s practice was somewhat reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s Factory, with its own roster of so-called Superstars, emulating low-budget and often campy versions of Hollywood glamour.

As architecture critic and essayist Bart Lootsma put it in the magazine Hunch in 1998, “Film Group 1,2,3 mocked whatever was considered fashionable in the sixties—especially anything that was considered personal, artistic, idealistic, or intellectual, like art-house cinema or the literary ambitions of the French cinéma d’auteur.” It was our opinion that for a film to have only one Author in order to qualify as Art was a nineteenth-century idea. Instead, we operated like a band, and everyone did everything: financing, acting as our own cast and crew, as well as looking after production and distribution, all without the subsidies that other Dutch filmmakers depended on. Our movies were of such a renegade nature that they were constantly turned down by the government’s cultural committees. For example, in one of the episodes shot for our first anthology,  The 1, 2, 3 Rhapsody (1965), Rem starred as the personal servant of a look-alike Queen Elizabeth, in which capacity he seriously overstepped his boundaries, unceremoniously retrieving a pearl necklace that he had “accidentally” slipped into the cleavage of her majesty’s décolletage, prompting the Dutch censors to prohibit future screenings of the “obscene” short film in order for the government to distance itself in the unlikely event that the British royal family would be offended by our pranks. This controversial film was followed by a sequence in which I played a female nurse who was picked up after work by her boyfriend, played by Rem. In yet another segment, Jan de Bont acted the part of a photo model showing off male underwear in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark.

I regularly worked with Jan as cameraman, and he and I gradually moved away from our handheld style of shooting and became the first in the country to make a “mini-blockbuster” using Hollywood’s top-of-the-line CinemaScope format, shot on a dime with the school’s equipment. Using the same anamorphic projection techniques, we went on to make a couple of stylish low-budget shorts called Body and Soul 1 and  2 (both 1966), the first of which was a visual homage to one of Amsterdam’s most charismatic bodybuilders, who flexed his considerable muscles in front of our wide-screen camera while confessing that he was overcome with the fear that one day his body might outgrow his mind. This short was followed by a longer film featuring our favorite actress, Andrea Domburg, the grande dame of Holland’s national theater, whom we fancied as our local equivalent to Greta Garbo. (She would eventually be cast as the leading lady of The White Slave.) In short order, these movies were shown at a number of festivals, winning several awards that finally made us eligible for more substantial Dutch funding to develop our first full-length feature film. But it soon became clear that to realize our ambition we were going to need resources that were in short supply in Holland, like experienced producers and stars with international name recognition, as well as a full-blown feature-length script!

Unfortunately, the lack of a thriving local film industry had left the Dutch producers we approached riddled with insecurities that weren’t easily resolved in our small, self-conscious country, where everyone was constantly looking for precedents and validation from abroad. This led us to think that an internationally successful book unlike anything that had been written in Holland might be the only answer. Looking around for a prestigious English-language novel, I came across Vladimir Nabokov’s The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941), which had great potential for Rem and me, as fledgling screenwriters, to hone our skills in character development while turning Nabokov’s prose into Pinteresque dialogue. We admired the British playwright’s penchant for putting a story’s characters under a magnifying glass to create what he eloquently called his “comedies of menace.”

A visit was arranged for me to meet with Nabokov over drinks at the bar of the Montreux Palace hotel in Switzerland, where, after a long drive from Amsterdam, I was served sherry by a midget who could barely look over the countertop but seemed to be the perfect servant for the Russian-American author, given his aristocratic personality. On the subject of Sebastian Knight, I told Nabokov how much I admired the conceit of using the protagonist’s biographer as the jumping-off point for a detective story. When I asked him for an option to adapt his book into a screenplay, he surprisingly agreed on the spot, mentioning his appreciation for the fact that we had picked the first novel he had ever written in English for our Dutch screenwriting debut. He may have identified with our challenge to dramatize his prose because just a few years previously he had worked with the director Stanley Kubrick on a film version of his most famous book, Lolita, starring Sue Lyon as the eponymous nymphet.

To our surprise, the Netherlands film fund declined to subsidize our planned adaptation of Sebastian Knight, rejecting it out of hand with the claim that the book’s international status made it unfit for what was legally required to be a “Dutch” production, confronting us with the narrow-mindedness of the Netherlands, existing as it were outside international culture. This baffling bureaucratic debacle gave us the impulse to pick up some inspiration for our project from the only Dutch novelist we seriously admired: W. F. Hermans, whose well-crafted cinematic stories, set in the Dutch landscape, have to this day not been effectively translated into other languages. In the aforementioned Hunch piece, Lootsma described Hermans as having “built up a body of work in which our human existence is characterized by a sense of uncertainty within … a ‘sadistic universe’ where one can no longer distinguish one’s friends from one’s enemies,” where “heroes are people who have been reckless without being punished, and idealism is a gamble which could very well be a wrong bet.”

This assessment of the historical moment was born out of the postwar situation in the Netherlands, emerging around the same time that the famous Jewish Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal helped catch Adolf Eichmann, one of the masterminds of the Holocaust. Between them, these two men perfectly represented the archetypes of good and evil as they were perceived by the Dutch, who, according to Hermans in a 1966 magazine interview with Rem, wanted to believe that 99 percent of the country’s population had been in the Resistance. But as Hermans told Rem, it was clear that the vast majority of the Dutch had in fact collaborated with the Germans and that therefore German “badness” and Dutch “goodness” were not nearly as black and white as most people would like to believe. In our movie, Rem and I wanted to stir and manipulate the emotions surrounding this subject. We sought to do a number of things that were absolute taboos, pushing the boundaries of political correctness while embracing the reality of creating a box-office success. We decided that the film we wanted to develop was going to be the story of a “good German” called Professor Unrat, in homage to the character of the same name in the famous German film The Blue Angel (1930)—which we greatly admired for its groundbreaking musical filmmaking and its passionate depictions of Germanness (which would itself later be picked up by Rainer Werner Fassbinder for his film Lola [1981]).

This was the background for our commercial pitch to the producers for a film based on a contemporary theme with a catchy title ripped from the headlines. Announcing that we had already started to work on a movie concept in the vein of Hermans’s “sadistic universe,” we requested an advance to write a script about a German character who—unlike his role model, Simon Wiesenthal—is not looking for war criminals but for “good” Germans like himself and a certain Kurt Schneider, whose tragic death as a Resistance hero Unrat tries to unravel in Amsterdam with the help of a wealthy woman named Loudy.

Almost immediately after Unrat’s arrival, he and Loudy are invited by a middleman nicknamed “the Arab” to participate in a scheme continuing the humanitarian work of Albert Schweitzer, whom he depicts as a shining example for all good Germans. Before long, Unrat and Loudy get mixed up in what seems to be a charitable initiative to train nurses for a new missionary hospital in Africa. But this idealistic cause soon threatens to unravel into an international white-slavery scheme—a phenomenon that at the time was getting a lot of attention from the tabloid press, appealing greatly to what Rem referred to as our “lurid, youthful fantasies.” If there was one thing we had learned from films like Belle de Jour, Lolita, Vivre Sa Vie, and even The Blue Angel, it was the old adage that sex sells, especially if the movie in question is related to one kind of prostitution or another.

Likewise, if Hollywood lore has it right that every movie is as good as its bad guy, we luckily found an actor living in Amsterdam who could easily fit the bill of the caricature of the Arab. As far as Rem was concerned, this character might turn out to be one of the most realistic and vital members of our cast, and maybe one of the movie’s most sympathetic characters. Ironically, the actor, Izzy Abrahami, turned out to be Jewish.

To harness all these characters and narrative strands, Rem came up with an architectural masterstroke. He proposed that we use the St. Hubertus hunting lodge, one of the most extraordinary buildings Holland had to offer, as the location for a boot camp where the newly recruited nurses—described in the screenplay as an “army of Florence Nightingales for the dark continent”—would be trained. In our eyes, this enormous hunting lodge made of bricks became perhaps our movie’s biggest star. It was designed in 1914 by Holland’s preeminent architect, H. P. Berlage, for the Kröller-Müllers, owners of one of Holland’s most valuable art collections. Coincidentally, it was also where Rem’s mother used to play as a little girl, since her architect father, Dirk Roosenburg, worked for Berlage. To this day, I can’t help but speculate about the Oedipal emotions Rem might have felt imagining his mother as a young girl playing in the shadows of the castle’s phallic brick tower, which her son referred to as “a portrait in stone of The White Slave’s leading man.”

Before long, the producers became increasingly concerned about the project’s commercial appeal. Our first line of defense was to mollify them with lots of titillation, partially provided by the film’s wardrobe department making the student nurses wear ever-shorter skirts and minidresses, while the girls themselves were constantly competing by shortening their own hemlines and showing themselves off in the most transparent of baby-doll dresses, described in detail in our script. Rem had a great affinity for these fashionable dress codes of the time, and they looked very good on the Paris-trained photo models who made up our “army of Florence Nightingales.” In the film, Unrat idealizes them and encourages them to participate in German-style “social nudism” as a way to connect the individual to nature. Countering any protestations from the girls about nudity, he proselytizes that the natives they would encounter in Africa also walk around “just as God created them.”

The politically charged mix of all these controversial attitudes caused a great deal of anxiety among the producers. They became increasingly anxious about our plot, which could, of course, easily come across as blasphemous and politically incorrect. But we kept reassuring them that the rich architectural backdrop of the hunting lodge would defy any hint of cheap exploitation.

Nevertheless, we were asked to bring in some script consultants from abroad, and I reached out for advice to my Belgian filmmaker friend Harry Kümel. It was Kümel who introduced us to the great scriptwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, who told the Dutch producers that he and Buñuel had written the script for Belle de Jour on the premises of an actual brothel in Paris to get into the mind-set of Catherine Deneuve’s character. Needless to say, this anecdote impressed the producers most of all, especially in comparison with the espresso bar in Amsterdam that Rem and I frequented for our daily writing sessions. But then again, wherever you are in Amsterdam, even at the film school I attended, the red-light district is never far away.

Fortunately, Carrière told the producers that in his professional opinion we were doing a stellar job. In fact, he went so far as to tell us that the film he was currently writing with Buñuel, which was to become The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, was significantly influenced by the “wicked satire and subterfuge of The White Slave.” This was, clearly, one of the best compliments our challenged project would ever receive. Carrière also introduced us to several international talents of his acquaintance who would add considerable credibility and bring out our movie’s operatic sensibilities. Thanks to the French scriptwriter’s recommendations, The White Slave’s sound track would ultimately feature a highly convincing Wagnerian score arranged and performed by Carrière’s friend Antoine Duhamel, who also had composed the music for such prominent movies as Godard’s Le Weekend (1967) and François Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black (1968).

To add even more international cachet, the British cinematographer Oliver Wood, who had worked with Martin Scorsese, was added to the team and worked side by side with Jan de Bont. Nevertheless, the movie remained thoroughly Dutch at its core. In fact, as yet another subsidy requirement, the entire cast would have to speak Dutch. When we got around to filming, with a slightly different shooting script, the cast consisted of our leading lady, Andrea Domburg, playing Loudy; three French-trained photo models; and an assortment of characters including a couple of “dubious” Dutch comedians and the “ingratiating” Arab with his Israeli accent. In other words, there was a Babylonian mix of foreign accents. Professor Unrat was played by the famous German actor Günther Ungeheuer, who spoke most of his dialogue in Dutch with a heavy accent, learning and rehearsing his text with the help of phonetics. This resulted in sometimes-stilted readings and added an effective aura of campiness to lines like “Marlene … put on your minidress. You’re off to Africa!”

An English-language audience might have appreciated dialogue like that, but in the context of sober-minded Dutch realism, there was little local appreciation for the high quota of campiness in our movie. By contrast, the American film critic Parker Tyler, one of New York’s best connoisseurs of camp, told me years later that in his opinion The White Slave may well have been the most expensive experimental film he’d ever seen. Even though partially meant as a joke, this would have confirmed one of the producers’ biggest fears, which was that the target audience would simply never show up—as would be the case when the film was finally released in 1969.

In an interview with Shumon Basar at the Architecture Foundation in London in 2011, Rem recalled the night of the premiere: “The film was produced by a completely clueless producer who basically thought he needed to create a big event. The first show was at midnight. He had hired a real camel from the local zoo, and publicly displayed it in front of the theater on the Leidseplein, which is the magical center of Amsterdam. It was raining. There were rows in the auditorium reserved for the makers. But we were in our early twenties so the ushers didn’t want to let us go to our places. They couldn’t believe we were the makers, and we ended up sitting in a kind of freezing auditorium where every minute the sense of outrage in the auditorium increased, in an almost linear way. … It became clear that we basically had made the most expensive but also least successful popular film in Holland’s film history. So we both had to go into exile. I was already an exile studying architecture in London, but Rene had to follow me into exile because he could no longer sustain life in the Netherlands. So in that sense it was kind of a radical experience for both of us.”

But to tell the truth, despite the mayhem Rem and I never truly perceived ourselves as exiles. Instead, The White Slave marked the beginning of an exodus for us and several of my Dutch filmmaking friends. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to emigrate to America to start a new life in Hollywood. At the time, it usually included a presentation of one’s work in order to convince a committee of immigration officers that the potential American citizen before them might have something of cultural significance to contribute to the United States. Several of my friends applied with The White Slave listed on their résumés, or even a print of the film under their arm for a screening, in order to convince the authorities that they were deserving of special visa considerations. That is how I was accepted as an immigrant into the United States. Among the others were The White Slave’s director of photography, Oliver Wood, who went on to shoot Face/Off (1997) and the Bourne Identity franchise (2002–); Jan de Bont, director of Speed (1994) and Twister (1996); and Theo van de Sande, who would later be cameraman for the spectacular movie Blade (1998). A few years later, Paul Verhoeven and several other Dutch filmmakers joined our parade as well.

Indeed, given the number of Dutch filmmakers moving to the USA thanks to The White Slave, Holland’s loss turned out to be Hollywood’s gain, and career-wise we were all better off for it. Still, I would like to take this opportunity to add a thank-you note to all the supporters who helped us find our way through the development hell we encountered as we confronted the naïveté of our cinematically deprived country, the experience of which is without a doubt reflected in the pages of the screenplay published here.

So if after all this you’re still inclined to read our script, please don’t just gloss over the dialogue or tell us that the first act still needs work—because, undoubtedly, it does!


Los Angeles, December 2015

Rene Daalder &
Rem Koolhaas

Translated from the Dutch by Laura Martz

Wagnerian main movie theme, played in a Middle Eastern style.

A traveling shot takes us through the casbah with its local color. The camera stops in front of a slum dwelling. A sudden scream comes from inside.

The camera moves toward the hovel and enters through a bead curtain.

In a squalid room, we find a corpulent Arab male and a veiled Northern European girl locked in a struggle. The man is speaking in Arabic, while the girl screams in Dutch:

Let go of me! Pervert! etc., etc.

The Arab muffles her veiled mouth and pushes her onto a shabby wooden bed. She continues to fight but seems increasingly feeble. He tries to tear the veil from her face, but she holds on to them with all her might in an effort to protect her mouth, which he tries to kiss, greedily seeking it with his. He bites her lower lip through the veil and rips the garments from her body as she finally ceases to resist.

Superimposed titles roll:


A Dutch-German border post.

The barrier rises, and Günther Unrat drives his car, bearing a German license plate, into the Netherlands. We drive with Günther through the Dutch landscape.

We hear his voice (in Dutch with a German accent):

Back in Holland … visiting Loudy. This flat country that was nearly crushed under the German heel. There were good Germans too, though. Some were in Holland. I was going to write a book about them, the standard reference work. I could have, because I was one of those good Germans myself. But nothing turned out the way I expected …

Over an imposing color shot of the capital, the words “AMSTERDAM 1968” appear. Meanwhile, portentous Wagnerian music swells.

Günther’s car pulls up in front of an imposing mansion. He goes inside with his suitcase. Loudy welcomes him.


Well, well. So you’ve turned your back on Germany again…

Günther sets down his luggage. He takes Loudy’s delicate hand in both of his large ones. She leads him toward the living room. He stops in the hall in front of a portrait of her late husband, who played a key part in the Resistance and was executed by firing squad. Loudy turns.


Günther …


His body has died, but his spirit is still with us …

Loudy looks sad. Günther comes toward her and gives her a comforting touch.


Don’t you think so, Loudy?

She smiles, appreciative and moved.

Amsterdam’s Artis Royal Zoo.

Sacha, an attractive blond woman, is walking through the zoo with a small girl. They are holding hands, but otherwise nothing indicates particular affection for the child on Sacha’s part.

A Chevrolet Impala pulls up at the main entrance, and a woman gets out. She is not quite middle-aged and looks slightly common. The driver, whom we cannot see clearly, opens a newspaper and begins reading. The woman enters the zoo.

Sacha and the little girl come to the seal pond, where a keeper is feeding the animals. Sacha, captivated by the show, pays little attention to the child, who soon wanders off and picks up a grubby white sandwich from the ground near a trash can.

When Sacha notices the child has left, she runs after her and sees she is about to take a bite of the sandwich. She snatches it away and pinches the girl’s cheeks to see whether there is any in her mouth.


Spit it out! Spit it out!

The child starts to cry. Sacha picks her up and rocks her in an attempt to comfort her, but her action has no effect, and she sets the child back down. Sacha takes her hand, and they walk on. Behind them, we see the woman hurrying forward on stiletto heels, which are highly unsuitable for the gravel paths. Not yet in earshot of Sacha and the child, she begins to call out:

Anita! Anita, honey!

But her shouts have no effect. She hurries on, twists her ankle, pauses briefly to feel the injury with her hand, and rushes toward the pair again until she is within hearing distance.

Woman (in a sugary voice):

Anita, Anita, sweetie!

The little girl holding Sacha’s hand turns around, sees the woman, and beams. Before Sacha knows what’s happening, she breaks free and runs toward the woman as fast as her legs can carry her, shouting:

Grandma, Grandma!

The woman crouches to receive the child with open arms. She covers her with kisses and notices she’s been crying.


What have they done to you? Have you been crying?

She looks accusingly at Sacha, who has come closer. The child starts crying again and points to Sacha.


Was that lady not being nice to you? Oh, what a naughty lady.


Excuse me, what do you think you’re doing?


Did you hear that, Anita? The naughty lady asked Grandma what she’s doing.


She hit me, Grandma.


Oh, how mean. Grandma knew her big girl wouldn’t be crying without a reason …

Sacha attempts to take the child’s arm.


Come on, Anita, let’s go.


Leave her alone!

Holding the little girl in her arms, she turns and walks away, limping but determined. After a few yards, though, she puts the child down and holds on to her shoulder while she removes a rock from her own shoe.

Sacha walks toward them and suddenly pulls the girl out from under her grandmother; the older woman loses her balance, and her stockinged foot lands on the gravel. Anita, in Sacha’s arms, begins shrieking:

Grandma! Grandma!

She starts hitting Sacha in the face with her small fists. Eventually, Sacha puts the child down, pushes her toward her grandmother, and walks away with tears in her eyes.

The grandmother hurries toward the exit with the child.

Sacha dries her tears and composes herself somewhat. When she realizes what she’s done, she runs toward the exit. But they’ve had a head start. Sacha reaches the fence just as the grandmother gets into the Impala.

For the first time, we can see the driver clearly. He has a somewhat sinister, exotic appearance. It is the Arab, whom we will soon get to know better.

The gigantic Chevrolet disappears in a squeal of tires. Sacha stands behind the railing, crying at her own powerlessness.

Loudy’s house.

Loudy walks upstairs to the attic.


Günther …

In the attic, she opens a door hidden in a closet. Behind the door is a small, airless space. Inside, Günther is lying on a primitive cot. A hurricane lamp smokes nearby. He is sweating, and his breathing is labored. As Loudy comes in, he sits up on the edge of the bed.


Why can’t you stop doing this?


It’s so cramped in here, Loudy.
(clutching at his throat)
To think I stood it for two years!


You know the effect this has on you! Come on, now. Out.

She leaves the closet.

The dining room.

Günther sees that the table has been set for three; a maid has just finished. His face darkens.


I’m sorry! I had to invite Charles. He’s so miserable. His wife’s been kidnapped.

The maid lingers by the door.


She’s a white slave!

The doorbell rings. The maid opens the door to let Charles Dujardin in.

Loudy (whispering):

Don’t say anything.

Charles stands in the doorway.

Loudy greets him effusively:

Oh, here’s Charles! It’s so nice to see you! Charles—Professor Günther Unrat. And this is Charles Dujardin. He was such a great help to us during the war. He was fifteen, and he operated the stencil machine for our underground newsletter. Didn’t you, Charles?

Charles seems ill at ease; he doesn’t quite blend in.

The maid enters with a tray and starts serving.

Loudy (to Charles):

Professor Unrat actually does the same type of work as Simon Wiesenthal, that man who …


Tracked down Eichmann?


That’s right.

They begin to eat. There is silence.


How come Wiesenthal’s so famous and you’re not, Günther?

Charles (embarrassingly crude):

Wiesenthal’s bagged dozens of ’em. There can’t be many left.

Günther (irritated):

Loudy, I don’t believe your friend quite understands … I’m like Wiesenthal, yes, but in reverse. Simon hunts down evil; I hunt down the good in this world. I look for Germans who were on the right side in World War II … the good Germans. A group that gets little attention.


Charles, while you were down in the basement stenciling, Günther was hiding in the attic.
(proudly) We did a great job keeping it a secret, didn’t we!


I hope to make the results of my work public soon.


So you’ll be famous after all.

Günther (reflectively):

I doubt it …
(pontificating) As crazy as it might sound, today evil is held in higher regard than good. Evil is a hit, and no one wants to hear about the good in this world!

The maid takes the plates away. Günther gazes after her thoughtfully .


Take Woman. People cheer at her emancipation, but that’s nonsense … She hasn’t stepped down off her pedestal; she has fallen flat on her back for all eternity …


Günther suddenly stands up, strides to the door, and yanks it open. On the other side, the maid is kneeling, picking up scattered dessert forks. Seeing his legs before her, she sits up, startled.

Günther (severely):

I think this is what they call eavesdropping.


I dropped the forks.

He grabs her arm and pulls her to her feet, not ungently. He leads her to the table and sits back down. The maid stands shyly between Charles and Günther. Günther’s gaze is fixed on her legs beneath her short skirt.


That’s what they think looks good these days—skirts as short as that.

Loudy (alarmed):

Günther! Leave her alone.

But Günther points to a place higher on the skirt:

Soon it’ll be like that…
(indicating even higher) And then they’ll want it like that.

Charles can restrain himself no longer. He grabs the hem of the maid’s skirt with both hands and pulls it up as far as he can. The maid stands there speechless, her underwear on show.

Charles (shouting):

And before you know it they’ll be walking around like that!

Günther taps the slightly hysterical man on the arm, and he lets go. The maid smoothes her skirt and starts clearing the table as if nothing has happened.

She leaves. The others maintain an awkward silence. Charles is slumped at the table in despair, his head in his arms.

Filled with self-pity, he says:
That’s how you act when you live in hell, like me.
(pause) Tangier, Loudy. She’s in Tangier.

Loudy (appalled):

How do you know that, Charles?


Her mother received a letter.

He pulls out a crumpled sheet of paper and reads tearfully:
Dear, dear Mama,
I am a white slave in Tangier.
I have no life anymore.
These animals do what they like with me. They make me …
(Charles falters)
and sometimes they make me …
(again, Charles trails off)
And just when I think it’s over, they start again from the beginning …
Please, Mama, don’t tell Charles any of this.
A thousand kisses to my little girl.
Good-bye, Mama. Good-bye, little Anita.

Charles collapses at the table, facedown.


Mimi! Oh, Mimi.

Loudy leads him to a chair; he flops into it.

Loudy takes Günther aside and whispers:

Oh, how awful that it has to be like this …


Ach, Loudy, I’ve become such a pessimist.
These things hardly affect me anymore!
All I can think is: clearly our civilization’s rotten to the core.

A taxi stops in front of Loudy’s house. Sacha is inside. She hurries to the front door. The maid opens it.


Is Mr. Dujardin here?

Maid (derisively):

There are two gentlemen here; take your pick.

Loudy brings aspirin and a glass of water to Charles, who is still sitting dazed in an armchair. Günther stands in the middle of the room, a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other, with a reflective expression.

The maid opens the door:
Ma’am, there’s a girl here for one of the gentlemen.

Sacha walks in, beautiful and vibrant, wearing a stylish raincoat.

She looks around in surprise and says:
I’m here for Mr. Dujardin.

Charles is swallowing the aspirin with water, his eyes closed in distaste. Hearing his name, he chokes.

Sacha (in panic):

Mr. Dujardin, I’m afraid Anita’s been kidnapped. I’ve been looking for her all evening.




I’m so sorry—a woman lured her away.


Anita! Goddamn it! You stupid bitch! Anita …

He leaps to his feet, seizes Sacha by the collar, and starts shaking her.


Some babysitter you are!

Günther grabs Charles by the shoulder and pushes him away from her.


Stop that, man! Get hold of yourself.

He leads Sacha to the sofa and sits down beside her.

Günther (calmly):

Can you tell me what happened?

Loudy tries to soothe the agitated Charles, who is banging his head against the wall and calling out the names of his lost wife and child:
Mimi! Anita! Mimi!

Loudy leads Charles back to his chair. Drained, he mumbles “Mimi” once more and sits staring vacantly into space.

Sacha (to Günther on the sofa):

Oh, God, what have I done …

Günther looks at her shyly:

I can see it in your eyes—I don’t know what it is, but—no one will blame you for anything.

Loudy, exhausted, sits down across from them and says:

I’m so sorry. You finally get here and it’s so awful …

Günther, looking at her and Sacha:

I don’t call this awful.

The following morning.

Günther parks his car in a run-down part of Amsterdam. He gets out, goes to a door, finds the right bell, and presses it. The door is opened with a pull cable. Günther stumps up the dark staircase.

Upstairs, a woman is waiting. She is wearing a robe and curlers.


Does the name Kurt Schneider mean anything to you?

She looks at him without answering and calls for her husband. We hear thumping. Before the man appears, the woman’s robe falls partly open. This does not escape Günther’s notice.

The man of the house, dressed in an army undershirt and pants, appears in the doorway behind his wife and places his right arm around her shoulders, closing her robe. He keeps his eyes fixed on Günther.


He wants to know if the name Kurt Schneider means anything to us.

Man (pretending to think):

Kurt. Yes, I know the name.


My name is Unrat. I track down good Germans.


Did you hear that? So those filthy Krauts still haven’t forgiven him!


Mr. Schneider is dead.


Please understand, I was a defector, just like him.
I’m writing a book about people like us.


Come in, Mr. … Unrat?

Inside, four children are sitting at the breakfast table. The smallest, not yet two, is in a high chair. The eldest, a blond girl in her early twenties, also is wearing a robe, stretched tightly across her voluptuous breasts and buttocks. Her eyes bear traces of yesterday’s mascara.

The man finishes getting dressed.

The girl’s blond hair and robust build contrast with the other children’s pale, scrawny appearance. At the sight of her, Günther stands transfixed.


That’s our eldest, Marlene.


I’m sorry, I have to go.
(shyly) But Kurt was the best friend I ever had. The very best.

To hide his emotion, he grabs his lunch sack from the table and leaves.

Woman (to Marlene):

I’m going in the other room with Mr. Unrat.
(to Günther) It’s quieter in there.

Günther follows her into a small bedroom. The bed has been stripped. The curtains are half-closed, and the room is a mess. The woman goes to the closet and takes out some clothes.

She throws them on the bed and says:

Kurt’s uniform. It’s all still there. Except the underwear, which my husband’s nabbed. He gets so unhappy when it has to be washed. He’d sleep in it if he could. You should have seen Kurt wearing it, up in the attic …

She takes out Kurt’s boots, sits on the bed, and clasps them between her legs.


You noticed right away, didn’t you? Marlene. She’s got Kurt’s hair, Kurt’s eyes. All that German blood running through her veins … Marlene, come here!

The girl enters the room instantly, as if she’s been eavesdropping behind the door. Listlessly, the woman tells Marlene to take Günther to see Kurt’s hiding place.

As they leave the room, the woman slumps forward, her hands sliding down to the bottom of the boots.


He’d have gotten at least ten more years out of these … I wonder if they’re your size …

The attic.

Around the room, traces of Kurt’s presence are still visible: an old-fashioned receiver and headphones; a mattress covered in damp patches on the floor; notches carved into a beam to mark out his days spent in hiding.

Günther picks up the headphones, puts them on, and twists the knobs on the receiver. To his surprise, the radio still works, more or less: we hear the faint strains of a hit song.


A friend fixed it … to cheer things up a bit in here. He puts on the headphones, and then he waits while I …

Slowly, she takes off her robe. Her breasts press against her skimpy nightgown. She approaches Günther and pulls him toward her by the headphone cable. He doesn’t resist. She takes hold of one earpiece and pulls it off his head. She puts her head close to his and sticks her tongue in his ear.


Be nice to me, German …

He does not resist when she presses herself against him passionately and runs her hand through his hair.

Then he extricates himself from her embrace.


I came here for Kurt Schneider.


My father is dead … but I’m alive.

Günther looks at her benevolently, in silence.

Günther (thoughtful and touched):

Perhaps you’re right …

He walks past her and leaves the room, his face expressionless.

Inside Mimi’s mother’s house.

Charles enters the bedroom of his mother-in-law, the woman who abducted his daughter from the zoo. He seems aggressive and tense. Mimi’s mother is evidently getting dressed for an evening out and barely bothers to greet him, turning her back.

Mimi’s Mother:

Charles! Zip me up.

He jerks her around to face him, pulls her tightly against himself, and starts pulling the zipper.

Mimi’s Mother (sultrily):

You used to help my daughter out of her clothes, and now you’re helping me put mine on …

At her words, Charles pauses mid-zip. She frees herself from his arms.

Charles (venomously):

Think of who’s helping your daughter out of her clothes now … Damn it, she doesn’t even get a chance to put them on anymore!
(furious now) And another thing!
(with icy calm)What have you done with my daughter?

Mimi’s Mother (nervously):

Anita? (silkily) Oh, she’s at summer camp.
Don’t you understand how awful and depressing it was for that poor little angel to be living with you, without Mimi?


Ooh, and I guess Mimi’s at summer camp too … I guess living with me was awful for her too!

Mimi’s Mother (highly indignant):

Charles, how could you? How can you joke about that?


Mimi’s Mother:

Just imagine, the poor thing … Best not to think of what they’re doing to her there in Tangier … it’s simply too awful …

Charles is sitting at the dressing table with his fists clenched. He looks at himself, and occasionally his mother-in-law, in the mirror.

She sits on the edge of the double bed and begins putting on her stockings. Pulling one on with provocative slowness, almost caressing her leg, she continues:
Just imagine … The humiliation! Coerced, crushed, defiled, raped, used …

She falls backward on the bed, without fastening the stocking to her garter.
My daughter, a plaything of the Arabs …

Charles, closing his eyes in despair:
The entire foreign legion having their way with her …

Silence. Mimi’s mother fastens her stocking, apparently ready to get back to the business at hand.

Charles jumps up and shouts:
You’re lying—you’re lying through your teeth!
Do you think I’m a complete idiot?!

Mimi’s Mother (silkily and ostensibly shocked):

Charles …

She gets up off the bed. Charles lunges toward her and shoves her onto her back.

Mimi’s Mother:


Charles looms over her threateningly, his knee between her legs.

Out in the hallway, Günther hears muffled groans coming from the bedroom. He jumps up in alarm and rushes toward the door.

Just before Günther enters the bedroom, in a flash, we see Charles with his mother-in-law in a stranglehold.

We barely have time to understand what’s happening. By the time Günther flings open the door, Charles’s grip has slackened and the two are lying entangled and motionless. Charles is panting. Mimi’s mother is gasping for breath and moaning softly .

Günther averts his eyes in embarrassment and is about to leave. But Charles climbs off his mother-in-law like a broken man and lamely apologizes:

I’m sorry …

He drops into a chair, dazed.

Günther looks at Mimi’s mother, who is still moaning and gasping for breath as she examines her evidently sore neck. He kneels at the headboard and arranges the pillows to support her.

Mimi’s Mother:

You saved my life …


My God, Charles, this is madness!
The poor woman! You could have killed her …
Thank God Loudy made me come with you!

Mimi’s Mother:

Please, leave me alone with my misery …

Günther helps Charles up from his chair, and they walk toward the door.

With difficulty, Mimi’s Mother sits up and stammers:
Thank you …
Thank you.

Günther (in the doorway):

Auf Wiedersehen, madam.

As they are about to leave the house, they hear a key in the front lock.

The door opens, and the Arab comes in. He looks at them in surprise but walks on to the bedroom.

Charles stands rooted to the spot.

Mimi’s mother comes out of the bedroom, looking cheerful, as if nothing has happened. She closes the door to the room, leaving her friend inside, and walks gracefully toward them.

Mimi’s Mother:

It’s all over …
Charles, let’s forget what happened. And you, sir (exaggeratedly), I will always remember what you did for me…
(whispering to Charles, pointing to the bedroom) He didn’t notice a thing …
(mainly to Günther) It’s been fifteen years since I last saw him. He was a good friend of Albert Schweitzer’s …

A respectful silence falls.

Mimi’s Mother:

Well. Good-bye, Charles. Auf Wiedersehen, sir.

They stand outside the house, somewhat nonplussed. As soon as the door clicks shut, Charles bursts out:

What? A good friend of Albert Schweitzer’s? More like an old friend of Mimi’s!
Goddamn it, do they think I’m completely out of my mind?


If you’re not careful, mein Lieber, they will …

They leave in Günther’s car.

We see shots of a man who appears to be seriously injured. His forehead is covered in beads of sweat; he is writhing as if he is in excruciating pain. He is naked, and a gaping wound is visible on his belly.

A hand holding a dropper full of red liquid comes into view, dripping it into the wound and over the man’s abdomen.

Now we see Karl Reich at work in the living room of an ordinary house. His wife, Helga, wearing a white doctor’s coat, is helping him apply the artificial wound. Karl wipes his red-stained hands on a cloth and greets Günther with a handshake. Günther is pained to see that traces of fake blood have transferred to his hand.


This may seem extreme. But even with wounds, reality surpasses the imagination.

Günther finds himself a seat at the back of the room, as the students continue to bandage the “wounded” man.

Karl walks over to Günther and points out two men practicing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and an aging lady with a splint on her leg.

He remarks:

Broken leg.

Karl sits down beside Günther to take a break.

Günther (thoughtfully):

If only the two Germanys were as easy to put back together.

Karl (after thinking for a moment):

(with a slight grin) Oh, you mean East and West …

He rubs his tired eyes:

You know, this work is so depressing. During the war I healed wounds, now I create them … Most of my students have never even seen a real wound.


I hope you’ll help me, Herr Reich … Perhaps you can arrange for me to meet all the good Germans you know. I understand you’ve organized such reunions before.


That’s depressing too. The ranks have thinned terribly after so many years … The war is a wound few would wish to rip open again. There are only four of us left now, and I doubt my comrades would be interested in your field of research. But I’ll do my best.

During their conversation, a red stain has appeared on Reich’s white coat, directly over his heart, and has been steadily spreading.

Günther stands up and shakes hands with Reich.


You’re leaking, Herr Reich.

Shocked, Reich touches the red stain and extracts the dropper from his breast pocket in embarrassment. In horror, he looks at his hands, now covered in “blood.”

With a polite nod at Helga, Günther leaves.

Inside the nightclub Ecstasy.

Music with an Afro-Cuban beat can be heard at an unobtrusive volume.

In the cloakroom, Günther helps Loudy out of her fur coat. Underneath, she is wearing a black lace dress with long gloves and an antique necklace.

Charles, in a trench coat, walks toward the ballroom. Half-hidden behind a curtain, he peeks inside. Alone on the dance floor, Mimi’s mother and the Arab are swaying to the rhythm, cheek to cheek.

Günther spots him and calls sternly:

Charles. Come here, man.

Angry but obedient, Charles moves toward them, taking off his coat.


Courage, Charles. And for God’s sake, keep your cool.


Yes, for heaven’s sake, don’t make a scene like you did yesterday. You’ll have to play your cards right.

The Arab is talking to the bandleader, requesting a lively rumba. In anticipation of the music, Mimi’s mother does a few dance steps on the still-empty dance floor.

Maracas strike up a beat, and the band starts blaring along.

Just then, Loudy and Günther, with Charles in between them, walk into the ballroom.

Mimi’s mother and her partner approach them with extreme politeness, extending their hands, as if abandoning themselves to the tempestuous rhythm is the last thing on their minds.

Gallantly, the Arab leads them to a small table, where champagne is waiting in an ice bucket.

The bandleader realizes the request is no longer wanted: the Arab is gesturing with both hands for the music to be toned down. Slowly but steadily, the musicians segue into something more discreet.


We’re here because … Charles has serious doubts about Mimi’s fate.


Yes, is it certain she’s in Tangier? I mean …


She means to say: Tangier? That’s hard to believe in this day and age.

Charles bangs his fist and shouts abruptly:

Where is Mimi, goddamn it?!!

Everyone is shocked. A silence falls, and we see Mimi’s mother melodramatically touching her neck in a manner suggesting that it is still sore.

The Arab puts an arm around her protectively and, referring to her scarf, says to Charles:

She’s wearing it for a reason, as I’m sure you understand …

Mimi’s Mother:

There’s bruising, Charles.


Understand one thing, sir: I won’t engage in a shouting match.
And what possessed you to come here and interrogate us in the first place?
The woman in question, Mimi, has written her mother letters, which, alas, we may say leave nothing, but nothing, to the imagination …


They are perhaps somewhat overly explicit.


Somewhat exaggerated.

Mimi’s Mother:

Oh, thank you very much. You call that exaggeration? When for two bits every Tom, Dick, and Harry can go and … (she buries her face in her hands)



It is a terrible thought, yes.

Loudy tenderly places her hand over Mimi’s mother’s and says:

Please don’t doubt my sympathy …


What I’m about to say may sound harsh, but nothing’s easier than feeling sympathetic when you’re sitting here in Europe all cozy and comfy. I know Africa. And I can assure you that Mimi’s suffering exceeds anything you can imagine.
(melodramatically) However many veils she wears, they’ll never hide the misery in her face …

Mimi’s mother bursts into tears, leaps to her feet, and starts across the ballroom toward the restrooms. When she is halfway there, Loudy, shocked and feeling sympathy, gets up to comfort her.

The Arab pours champagne. Günther, addressing Charles somewhat reprovingly:

That woman’s emotions are undoubtedly deeply felt.

Meanwhile, two rather common-looking girls have entered the nightclub. They sit down at a table not far away.

Suddenly there is a loud “yoo-hoo”; one of the girls has evidently recognized Charles. As they wave and wink at him, he gets up, embarrassed.

Charles (apologetically):

A cousin of mine …

He makes his way over to the girls.

In the bathroom, Loudy and Charles’s mother-in-law are standing at the mirror.

Loudy is blotting the unfortunate woman’s tears with her handkerchief.


I understand, really I do. But please stop crying—I’m tearing up myself.

Loudy escorts Mimi’s mother to the bathroom attendant’s chair, thinking it best if the woman takes a moment to catch her breath.

The attendant emerges from a stall with a mop and bucket. After stretching her back with difficulty, she notices with a scowl that someone is sitting in her chair. Loudy rescues the situation by giving the attendant a generous tip.

Back in the ballroom, Charles has quickly fallen under the sway of the two girls, who are prodding him into an increasingly uncontrolled, exuberant dance routine.

He jives with one girl like a man possessed, spinning her energetically, making her skirt swirl, and even lifting her in a reasonably competent hip swing. Onstage, the band is playing louder than ever; the bandleader, caught up in the mood, is shouting encouragements, like “Swing it out, man!”

Fortunately for Günther and the Arab, though, the band soon segues into a slow foxtrot. From this point on, we see Charles making out with one of the girls in the background.

Günther and the Arab are engrossed in animated conversation.


Yes, the white man’s misconduct in Africa is a dark page in history.


My friend Albert Schweitzer is one of the few who attempted to salvage our dignity …
How he understood the soul of Africa!


His Bach recordings exude sheer inspiration. I so enjoyed them.


You should have heard the sound of that organ in the jungle …

Loudy and Mimi’s mother return and see Charles making a spectacle of himself with the girl. Mimi’s mother nudges Loudy and points disdainfully at her son-in-law.

They sit down with Günther and the Arab.


Sometimes after a busy day we’d sit on his veranda …

Günther (to the two women):

We’re talking about Schweitzer.

Mimi’s Mother:

His great friend and role model.


Really? How fascinating.

The Arab continues:

I was talking about how after he’d spent the day working himself into a sweat helping ailing Negroes, we’d sit there in the twilight together, listening to his sublime Bach performances. And the music of the organ would mingle with a faraway tom-tom, the screeches of a bird in its death throes, the terrifying howl of a hyena, and sometimes, from Schweitzer’s little maternity clinic, the moving cries of a newborn black child …
Music has never moved me so much.

Günther is lost in thought. The others, too, fall silent. The musicians are taking a break, relaxing over drinks.

Charles’s debauched behavior with the girls is now truly conspicuous. He sits on the sofa, one arm around each girl, feeling them up.

Mimi’s mother, in particular, seems pained at her son-in-law’s behavior.

Loudy gets up, walks over to the three, and grabs Charles’s arm.


Charles, you really disappoint me! I do hope you ladies will forgive me, but this gentleman is coming with me.
(overly polite) Have a lovely evening, ladies. Perhaps you can find someone else to console yourselves with.

Loudy leads Charles away as the girls sit flabbergasted. On the way to the group’s table, Charles accosts a waiter and instructs him to offer the girls a drink on him.

But Loudy deflates the gesture.


Just put it on our bill.

She sits Charles down at the group’s table.

Mimi’s Mother (sarcastically):

The love of Mimi’s life.


Man, how vulgar you are! How could we have taken you seriously when you maligned this gentleman, you fatuous buffoon!

Mimi’s Mother (sarcastically):

Hmph. The love of Mimi’s life!


You’re acting exactly like the proverbial mother-in-law in the jokes, if I may say so.

Mimi’s Mother:

Oh, that’s nice. Thank you very much.


Shut up, slut.


How is it possible that after the conversation we had about Schweitzer we’ve suddenly sunk to this level!


That was the divine thing about Schweitzer: he didn’t have time for such nonsense …

A lengthy silence.

Arab (melodramatically):

If only I could start a new Lambaréné …
But the question is, where would you find suitable girls to send there nowadays?


The band begins to play.

Günther (somewhat shocked):

What do you mean, girls?

Charles (pointing at the girls he cavorted with earlier):

Those two sluts over there seem like your type.

Loudy takes Günther’s arm and says:

Let’s go, Günther. My mind’s reeling.

She stands up, but the Arab stops her.


Madam, I beg you, pay no attention to that fool. The man is pathologically dirty-minded.
Africa doesn’t need Mimis; it needs nurses.
I want to train them and prepare them for their glorious duty.
A small army of Florence Nightingales for the dark continent.

He fills the glasses and hands one of them to Loudy; she is still standing.


I hope you’ll be so kind as to drink a toast with me.

She raises her glass:

To Africa!


To Mimi!

Günther and the Arab clink glasses. The scene ends on a close-up of their glasses touching.


Loudy’s house.

Günther, in pajamas and a silk dressing gown, descends the staircase. The steps creak under his weight; otherwise, the house is deathly quiet. In the living room, lit only by the moon and a street lamp, he goes over to the record player. Wagnerian music begins to play. He lies down on the sofa and stares at the ceiling.

In her own room, Loudy lies in bed. She, too, stares at the ceiling. The music becomes faintly audible. She lies there another moment, then finds her cigarettes and cigarette holder and lights up. Smoking, she sits up straighter against the pillows, as if waiting for something.

Her maid lies in her own bed with the covers thrown back. She can also hear the music. She is wearing a sheer baby-doll nightgown; underneath, one hand is stroking her breast.

Günther, who is still lying on the sofa listening to the music, suddenly gets up. He ascends the stairs. Again, the steps creak.

The noise is audible from the maid’s room. She throws the covers back all the way, briefly hesitates, then hurries to the door on tiptoe. She opens it and patters down the hall to the landing, breasts bouncing. Over the banister, she sees Günther climbing the last stairs to the second floor.

More creaking. Günther looks up, sees the maid clearly, and goes into his room. He stands by the door for a moment, listening. Then he cautiously opens it again and steals into the hallway.

The girl is still on the landing above and sees him gently knocking on Loudy’s door; he does not notice her. Loudy flicks on a lamp, briefly arranges her hair, and whispers:


Günther enters the room. Loudy is lying in bed, wearing a Japanese kimono.

Günther walks to the foot of the bed and says:

I can’t sleep.


Neither can I, Günther. Sit down.

He sits down on the edge of the bed beside her.


It’s strange. What do you think it is?


I can’t even find peace in music tonight. The rhythm of that band keeps pounding in my head.

Loudy passes him a cigarette.


And I can’t stop thinking about what that man said …

Loudy (reflectively):

White slaves. Albert Schweitzer. Tangier. Lambaréné.
It’s a strange world, Günther. A whole continent I never thought about.


Verdammter Krieg! That war has always taken up all our attention!
We never paid attention to the suffering in the world at large, never—how do you say it—spread our wings across the world!
That man’s idea—nurses for Africa. How I’d love to take on a mission like that.
Verdammter Krieg!


But Günther, alongside the suffocating hatred and misery there was also (she searches for the right words) a tremendous amount of love for one’s fellow man … and camaraderie, and idealism.

Günther (intensely):

Yes, but what’s left of all that, Loudy? When I went to see Reich, it was nauseating!

That man served with the Red Cross, helped the injured in their final moments—and now, Loudy, he runs a horrible first-aid course, messing around with disgusting wounds that have nothing to do with reality! I got his filthy fake blood all over my hands!

(Filled with revulsion, as if the blood is still there, he shows his palms, gesticulating furiously.)


He thrusts his head into his hands and sighs dramatically:
Ohhh, Loudy!

Moved, Loudy strokes his hair soothingly and murmurs:
Les héros sont fatigués, Günther … Yes, the heroes are tired.

They sit for a moment. Then Günther lifts Loudy’s hand from his head and kisses it with feeling.

He gets up and goes to the door.

Günther (calm again):

I’m not a hero, Loudy … (silence)
Do you know why we can’t sleep, Loudy?
Because along with the past, there’s a future waiting for us …

He leaves. Just before the door closes, she calls softly:

Good night, Günther.


Helga comes into the living room where Reich holds his first-aid course. She is carrying a tray with three cups of coffee on it.

Karl sits in a frayed armchair by a rattan smoking stand.

Helga (somewhat sourly):

Ach so, Herr Professor still isn’t here.


His good Germans keep him busy, you know.

Helga (cynically):

Yes, there were so many … It must be quite a job.

Karl laughs loudly.


How dare you laugh! Your own war years weren’t exactly heroic.
(devastatingly) The first Red Cross soldier ever to desert.


My God, that’s nice! You know as well as I do that my conscience wouldn’t leave me in peace.
(staring) Here I was, patching up generals while my comrades perished …

The doorbell rings.

Karl (startled):

Professor Unrat!

Helga goes to the door.

Günther comes in.

Sternly, he says:

Herr Reich, where are your friends?


Oh, it’s terrible, terrible.   They didn’t show up!
The topic of your research wasn’t really to their liking.
A book about niederländische war crimes, they said—why doesn’t Unrat write one of those?

Günther to Helga (condescendingly):

This coffee is excellent.

Karl rattles on:

Herr Unrat, did you know that the highest positions in this land, each and every one, were held by collaborators?
The worst Dutch collaborator is thousands—no, millions—of times better off than the purest “good” German … We’re nothing but pariahs.


If they’d foreseen that, Herr Professor, they probably wouldn’t have listened to their consciences …


Certainly, certainly. We would have thought twice! You understand …


On the contrary, my dear compatriot, I don’t understand at all.


Oh, no. I’m sorry, Professor. Of course, I’m talking nonsense!


Easy, Reich.
(dramatically) That damn war’s played such a big role in our lives!

Karl (tearfully):

The leading role, Herr Unrat!


Allow me to make a confession. I had a terrible night last night.
(impassioned) Because I realized something. Not only did the war play the leading role back then—it still does today! And Mr. and Mrs. Reich, I call that tragic!

Helga and Karl nod in agreement.


Not only tragic but … ludicrous!

The Reichs are silent. Karl looks offended.


And it’s not just you and your friends who are ludicrous.
I am too.
All of us are!
One time—just one time in our lives we took the right side.
And we thought that was enough …
But that was a quarter of a century ago.
It’s high time we allowed the voice of conscience to speak up—high time we took the right side again!



I must go.

He rises.


Perhaps we’ll meet again one day …
Fighting for a worthy cause …
At the barricades!

Günther leaves.


Very interesting. Something to think about.


The barricades. Try and find them!


Helga, get me a beer.
(joking listlessly) In heaven there is no beer.
That’s why we drink it here.


Günther sits on the sofa in Loudy’s living room with his head in his hands, staring into the fireplace and listening to Wagner.

In the flames, the hated face of Adolf Hitler emerges as a ghostly apparition.

The apparition dissolves, giving way to the noble countenance of Albert Schweitzer, complete with pith helmet.

Günther buries his face in his hands.

When he next looks into the fire, he has returned to the here and now: the apparitions have vanished.

He throws more logs on the fire and fans the flames with the bellows, grinning malevolently as the flames blaze up.

An American limousine flies down a sandy track, sending up clouds of dust. Along the road, camels, donkeys, and women carrying jugs on their heads go their various ways.

Arab music with a nervous rhythm plays.

The car skids through a gate and drives toward a pink, Moorish-looking villa. It stops amid the lush greenery of a walled garden.

A blond woman appears on the balcony; she is wearing everyday European clothing. Holding her hand is Anita, whom we recognize from the zoo in Amsterdam. In contrast to her mother, the little girl is dressed in Middle Eastern robes, and even a tiny veil.

They wave at the Arab, who blows them a kiss and runs enthusiastically into the house.

They meet in the living room. He sweeps the child into his arms, pushes back her veil, kisses her, and says:

Hello, my sweet little Anita.

He embraces the woman. She calls Achmed, the babysitter. Achmed comes in, wordlessly takes Anita by the hand, and leads her away.

The couple begins kissing passionately. In between, he whispers her name:

Mimi … Oh, Mimi!

As they kiss, they move to a pile of soft pillows. As her hands caress him all over, he tells her his big news.


Honey, I found us a gold mine in Holland …

Mimi interrupts him with a kiss on the lips.


A rich widow. And you’ll never guess who introduced us … (he grins) Charles. Heh heh heh.

Mimi giggles, and her caresses intensify at the mention of the man she so successfully cuckolded.


And a German professor who’s so idealistic he doesn’t know what to do. They’re enchanted by my idea: plenty of nurses for darkest Africa.

Giggling, Mimi and the Arab start to undress each other.


Oh, by the way, your mother says hello.

Music: Wagner. New vistas.

We see the St. Hubertus hunting lodge in all its glory. The sky is filled with a purple glow, and the sun is just about to set. Clouds cluster picturesquely around the tower. We hear the faraway hoot of an owl. Surrounded by wilderness, the grand house stands as a proud achievement of twenty centuries of European civilization: a portrait in brick of the human being Günther Unrat.

Günther takes a last look at the house. He turns to face Loudy, who is standing on the other side of the car.

Günther (forcefully):

Buy it, Loudy!


I’m sorry, Günther, it’s only available to rent.

He goes over and opens the car door for her. But before she can get in, he clasps her to him and says with emotion:

Rent it, Loudy.

They get into the car and drive away from the lodge. Through the rear window, it can be seen shrinking into the distance.

We hear a hit song. The music is coming from a transistor radio, which Loudy’s maid holds in her hand as she shakes her hips to the beat.

Marlene is lying in Loudy’s bathtub.


Can you do the shimmy?

Without waiting for an answer, she shakes her body even more energetically. The beat goes on. Then suddenly she turns the radio off.


Hey, why do you want to be a nurse down in Africa, anyway?

Marlene shrugs and says:

I don’t know …


Well, you can count me out. All those scary Negroes.

Marlene is staring into space.

The Maid, slightly annoyed:

They asked me too, you know. The professor said I’d make a great nurse.

Marlene is still staring.


I can’t believe they talked you into it.


If you knew what I’ve been through you wouldn’t be so mean.
Nobody ever loved me. I was only fit for mopping the floors. My mother never stopped picking on me. The few times I had a boyfriend, they’d call me a slut and a whore. I was just an embarrassment to them.



The professor and the lady were the first people who believed in me …
If I go to Africa, at least I’ll feel like I’m good for something.

The maid picks up a jar of bath salts and shakes some lavender crystals into the tub in a gesture of sympathy.


She told me to take good care of you.

A nursery school classroom.

Small children are acting up, with no sign of their usual charm. The sexes are displaying an unmistakable interest in each other.

The reason for this excessive behavior proves to be the inattentiveness of their teacher, Sacha, who is staring absently out the window with her back to the class. Without turning around, she sighs:
Could you all please be quiet, this minute!

Her words have no effect whatsoever.

A car drives up and parks in front of the school. Inside are Günther and Loudy. Günther gets out. Without noticing Sacha, he goes and stands between two mothers waiting for school to let out.

Meanwhile, in Sacha’s classroom, the bell rings. She turns toward the children, who jump up and run to the coat rack with a deafening racket. Sacha follows to help them into their jackets. Innumerable children swarm from all directions, surging toward the doors in an unstoppable flood (about 1,500 small children will have to be mobilized to achieve this effect). Sacha stands among the teeming creatures like a solitary rock in the surf.

Scuffles break out among the shoving children. Outside, one shrieking little boy with a nosebleed hurls himself into his mother’s skirts. The woman looks at the others with a knowing smile. She addresses Günther:

Oh, sir, I don’t suppose you’d have a handkerchief I could borrow.

Günther reluctantly hands over a spotless hanky. The woman stanches the blood streaming from her son’s nose.

At the exit, Sacha is still helping her pupils as best she can. In between, her attention is drawn to Günther as he comes over and stands facing her, ignoring the flood of children. Sacha forgets her pupils, the last few of whom are trickling from the building.

Günther shakes his head in commiseration. The mother with the handkerchief taps him on the shoulder. Sacha says good-bye to the last pupil.

Günther’s face betrays sheer disgust as he takes the soiled white cloth and shows Sacha the red bloodstains before throwing it in a trash can in revulsion.


One of your children had a nosebleed.


I used to think those children were the purest, most innocent segment of humanity. Oh, how they’ve disappointed me …


It’s a malignant species, Sacha. (pause) So have you thought about things?

They walk toward the waiting car with Loudy inside.


I’ll do it.

Günther stops, takes her hands in his, and looks wordlessly into her eyes for a moment.


Until now, Sacha, the whole plan was only an idea in my mind. But now that you’re part of it, it’s flesh-and-blood reality!

From the car, Loudy sees that an agreement has been made. She takes her checkbook out of her purse, unscrews the top of her fountain pen, and, with a flourish, signs a check made out for $100,000: St. Hubertus is within reach.

A car drives through the night.

Mimi’s mother is at the wheel; Charles is beside her. In back are the Reichs, bickering.

Helga (angrily):

Yes, of course I consider it an honor!

Mimi’s Mother:

I don’t understand you, Mr. Reich. How could it not be an honor, Professor Unrat asking your wife to give the girls medical training …

She explodes at Charles:

You never back me up, do you?


It’s true, Professor Unrat isn’t just any old … uh, I mean …


Ach, don’t bother. (scornfully) My husband figures, he got passionate about an ideal once in his life, and he’s not going to let it happen again. Are you, Reich?

Mimi’s Mother:

Mrs. Reich, why are you so eager for your husband to go to Africa if he simply doesn’t want to?

You know we already have somebody there, in Tangier.


Yes, yes … our man in Tangier is an outstanding asset, Mama. But I can imagine that Günther wants more of a foothold in Africa.

Helga (to Karl):

Oh, you jerk, just do it. Just help them. Find out where those nurses are needed.


Just shut up. I’m already outta here.

Charles (comically):

You want to know where those girls are needed?
I happen to know somebody who could really use them.

Mimi’s Mother (poking her son-in-law):

Anything in a skirt, eh, Charles?

Helga (reflectively):

Yes, anything in a skirt.

Charles (with a sudden loud laugh):

Ha ha ha. Anything in a skirt.

Mimi’s Mother:

Hey, where is this St. Hubertus lodge, anyway?
I haven’t seen a sign in ages.


No … And there’s no traffic heading this way, none at all.

Wagnerian music is faintly audible.

Marlene is wandering down a corridor of the St. Hubertus lodge. She is fairly smartly dressed, carefully made up, and wearing an extremely short skirt. Her stiletto heels click on the tile floor.

She knocks on a door and says softly:


Hearing no answer, she walks on. She is getting closer to the music, which is growing louder. Each time she passes a door—once, on the way down the stairs—she calls Sacha’s name.

Downstairs, she opens a door, releasing a tidal wave of Wagner. Günther is standing in the living room, his face contorted in concentration, one fist clenched to emphasize his argument, which is directed at Loudy. She sits in an armchair, looking at him admiringly and nodding in agreement.

Marlene gently closes the door; she has not been noticed. She continues her search through the labyrinth of the house.

In her room, Sacha sits on the edge of the bed in her slip, letting out the hem of a skirt. The contents of her suitcase are scattered through the room. She hears her name being called faintly—so indistinctly that she thinks she has imagined it. After a while, though, the calls grow too audible to ignore.

Sacha opens the door and sees Marlene, who has already gone past and is some distance down the hall.


Hello … yoo-hoo …

Looking back in surprise, Marlene sees Sacha, who she’s been searching for all this time. She hurries to her door.


Gosh, I got lost. I’ve been looking for you for ages. (silence) They put me upstairs, all the way at the other end, in the attic.

A silence falls between the girls.

Marlene asks hesitantly:

Can I come in for a minute?


Of course, Marlene.

Inside, Marlene checks out the room. She goes to the window to admire the view. Sacha watches her silently. After noticing the brevity of Marlene’s miniskirt, she picks up her own skirt to continue letting out the hem.


God, your room’s lovely. It’s so different from mine.



Silence. Marlene continues to stand by the window with her back to Sacha. Then suddenly she turns. There are tears in her eyes.


I want to get out of here. This place is so creepy.

She comes over and sits beside Sacha on the bed. She continues:

It’s so cold. And I’m so lonely up there.

Marlene shivers all over. Sacha puts a motherly arm around her.


I’m getting out of here tonight.

The door, which has been ajar, slowly swings open. In the doorway stands Günther, drawn up to his full height. Does his face portend trouble?

Marlene is visibly—and audibly—startled to see him.


Ah. It’s a bad time, I see.
I just wanted to ask you both to join me and Loudy for a cup of tea. After all, it’s our first night here.

Without another word, he closes the door.

Marlene relaxes and sighs:

I don’t know what it is, but that man gives me the willies.

Sacha silently resumes her sewing.


Hey, are you letting out that hem?


Yes. Loudy asked me to. She says Günther doesn’t approve of miniskirts, especially now that we’re going to be nurses. He says the blacks react badly to them.

As she speaks, Sacha puts on the skirt.

Marlene stands next to her, and they compare skirt lengths in the mirror.


She didn’t mention it to me.


Maybe she forgot.

Marlene, looking in the mirror, not without self-satisfaction:

As long as they don’t expect me to let mine out. Not by a single centimeter.

Günther opens the door to the living room, where Loudy is waiting. Wagner’s piece is in the middle of its bombastic climax. Leaning back in her chair with her eyes closed, Loudy does not appear to notice Günther’s arrival. As he sits down, the music ends and the room falls silent. Loudy is still lost in a reverie. The record player switches off with a dry click.

Loudy looks at Günther. A smile breaks across his tense face.

Loudy (sighing blissfully):

I was a million miles away.

The door opens, and the two blondes gracefully enter the room, walking with a single rhythm. Sacha, however, steals the show.


Here we are!

Her words land in an icy vacuum.

Günther leaps up from his chair and motions for the girls to sit down. As Marlene does so, a devastatingly critical look crosses his face as he sees her short skirt, which has already ridden up still higher. His reaction does not escape her notice. Under his disapproving gaze, she tugs the skirt down slightly.

Loudy wheels the tea trolley over.


You aren’t homesick yet, girls? (She winks at Marlene, who looks a bit glum.)


Fortunately not. If we got homesick here, how would we cope in Africa?

Loudy pours tea.

As they stir it, the clinking of the spoons emphasizes the loaded silence.

Günther (looking at the girls):

I’ve never been married … unfortunately. And I don’t have any children.


Günther: And now … now I know what it feels like to have a family of sorts.

May this family be a happy one.


Well, Günther, I think I speak for the girls as well as myself when I say that we feel the same way.

Sacha and Marlene exchange an uncertain glance. Evoking family ties this early on seems to be going a little too far. Loudy looks at the girls questioningly, seeking confirmation. Meanwhile, Günther’s gaze rests heavily on them.


Don’t we?

Sacha nods coolly. Marlene, too, feels compelled to vaguely agree, but her nod is unconvincing.

Mimi’s mother’s car speeds up the driveway, skidding in the gravel. Slamming on the brakes, she lurches to a stop in the courtyard and begins honking with excessive exuberance. Charles jumps out and rings the doorbell; it echoes mournfully in the farthest reaches of the house.

Charles returns to the car and says:

There’s not a living soul around.

He walks a little way around the building to see if any lights are on.

Screaming like a madman, he shouts:

Hey, anybody home?

He peers through the pane in the front door. At the back of the foyer, a door opens; in the strip of light, Günther’s silhouette can be seen. A moment later, the foyer fills with muted light. Günther approaches the front entrance of H. P. Berlage’s historic building and solemnly unlocks it.

Günther says coolly:

So you found us after all.


Yes, Professor, here we are.

They approach the doorway, but Günther’s imposing frame does not move out of the way.

Mimi’s Mother:

Even if it had taken years, we’d have found you somehow or other.
(enthusiastically) Goodness, look at this place. It’s exactly what we had in mind, isn’t it, Professor?


Wait until you get inside. It’s dark out there. It’s light in here.

He lets them in, and the door closes.

Through the windows, in semi-silhouette, we see the guests entering the living room. Loudy and the girls get up to greet them.

Mimi’s mother admires the interior with animated gestures. Charles sticks close to the girls. Helga talks to Günther. Everyone is moving around the room.

Karl breaks away from the group and walks toward the window, in the direction of the camera. In the foreground, he stands gazing bleakly into the night.

The group leaves the living room.

Outside, the camera slowly tilts up over the building. The screech of an owl breaks the silence.

Upstairs, a light comes on. The group crowds around the windows. Someone opens the French doors. Günther and Helga come out onto the cruciform balcony.

From a distance, we hear Helga:

Ach, Professor Unrat, Karl’s just a coward. He hasn’t got the guts …


Let me deal with him, Frau Reich.

On the opposite balcony, Marlene appears, with Charles at her heels.

She takes a deep breath and sighs:

Phew, I’m so hot.


You better watch out …

Trying to put an arm around her shoulders, he whispers:

Hot. Yes, that’s the word I was looking for …

Marlene shrugs him off.


Hey, you’re not an ice queen like that Sacha, are you?

Sacha stands outside, wearing her coat. Her expression is gloomy.

Mimi’s mother comes out through the foyer. With a conciliatory smile, she takes Sacha’s arm companionably. Nothing but rejection is visible on Sacha’s face. But Mimi’s mother is undaunted.

Sweetly she says:

Don’t think I can’t tell. You’ve got something against me, and you’re absolutely right. But really, dear, you know, that day at the zoo, I took Anita from you for a reason.

Sacha (disapprovingly):

Oh, please, don’t bother …

Mimi’s Mother:

Honestly, it was the best thing for Anita. I admit I could have been more tactful, but I was only thinking of that dear little girl …

Mimi’s mother notices that her words are falling on deaf ears. After a moment of silence, she melodramatically takes things up a notch:

My granddaughter’s at camp now. And my daughter—my daughter is a white slave!

(weeping) I have nothing left in this world!

Sacha pulls free of her grasp and walks off in disgust.

As Günther looms up behind her with a burning torch, Mimi’s Mother screams:

(whispering quietly) Bitch.

It is not clear whether Günther has heard.

In the background, another torch flickers; it is carried by Charles, who is still brazenly chasing Marlene. Two spotted Great Danes leap up against the wire mesh of their kennel, barking plaintively. As Günther walks toward them with his torch, the dogs become even more restless.

The flames illuminate his tormented face as he speaks to the dogs, in German:

Calm down, Wodan … you too, Donar.

Sacha has walked a little way into the park on her own. Helga catches up with her with feigned nonchalance. Even when Helga comes up alongside her and speaks, Sacha does not respond.


Romantic, isn’t it? Walking in the moonlight.



Helga walks alongside her, very slowly, step by step.


Or aren’t you a romantic?


Only when there’s reason to be.

She turns around. The others are coming towards them, led by Günther with his torch.


Which there isn’t.

Günther, his face full of elation, calls:

Come, Sacha. Both of you, join us. I’m telling the story of St. Hubertus.

Sacha and Helga mingle with the group and they walk on through the park. The lodge is visible in the background.


The story of the lodge …
Hubertus was an obsessive hunter. The hunt, the forest, the quarry—it was all he thought about.

Charles, carrying his own torch, whispers to Marlene, with whom he is behaving as intimately as possible:

I’m an obsessive hunter too … (stifling laughter)

Marlene can’t help giggling.


One day, he came face to face with a stag. He took aim, and then, at that very moment, a burning cross appeared between the stag’s antlers, and Hubertus heard a divine voice.

Mimi’s Mother:

A divine voice? Really?

Günther suddenly stops and whirls to face the group. With his face eerily lit by the torch, he thunders:

Turn to the Lord and lead a holy life!

No one speaks. Only the rustling of the leaves can be heard in the stillness.

Günther adds in a low voice:

Hubertus fell to his knees and prayed to the Lord.

They walk on in silence. Seen from behind, they shrink from view, until only the flickering torches can be seen.

Far away but still clearly audible, we hear Günther continuing with his story.


He went to live in a monastery, and there, his spirit ascended to ever-greater heights …

The two Great Danes move restlessly back and forth in the narrow confines of their moonlit kennel. Now and then, one of them howls nervously.

Loudy, Charles, and Mimi’s mother ascend the stairs.

Mimi’s mother suddenly stops before a stained-glass window:

Well, look who’s there—St. Hubertus and his stag.

Charles glances back briefly.


Yes, that’s right. St. Hubertus is all over this house. A whim of the lady who had it built …

Mimi’s Mother:

God, what a funny whim!

Upstairs, Loudy opens a door.

Loudy (to Mimi’s mother):

This is where you’ll be sleeping.

Loudy turns the light on, and Mimi’s mother, before getting a proper look at the room, clasps her hands in delight and says:

God, what a lovely room.

She tosses her vanity case on the bed and theatrically wraps her arms around Charles.

Mimi’s Mother:

Good night, my darling son-in-law.

She kisses him matter-of-factly on the lips. Then she turns to Loudy, clasps her dignified hostess mercilessly to her bosom, and kisses her on both cheeks.

Mimi’s Mother:

It’s been lovely, Loudy.

Loudy smiles in spite of herself and says graciously:

Good night.

Charles and Loudy continue down the hall; Mimi’s mother disappears into her room.

In a hushed voice, Loudy says to Charles:

We have to be quiet. The Reichs are in this room. And you’re right here next door.
Tell me, Charles—am I mistaken or are you already feeling a little bit better … about Mimi?


Yes—all the new faces … It does kind of help the sadness fade into the background …

Loudy squeezes his arm and whispers:

Good night.

She disappears into a bedroom. Charles glances around before entering his own.

The howling of the dogs penetrates Helga and Karl Reich’s bedroom.

Karl is dressed in striped pajamas. Helga is in her slip. He is smoking a cigar; she is unpacking her bags. She places a Red Cross tin on the nightstand and goes back to hanging her clothes in the closet. It is clear that she is intending to stay for a while. The couple do not speak.

The dogs continue to howl.

Karl jumps up, goes to the window, and opens it in exasperation.


Christ, those damn dogs!


He turns and looks at Helga, but she doesn’t meet his eye. He paces the room.

Karl (half-pleading):

Helga …

Helga (oblivious):


Karl goes over to her and embraces her from behind. He murmurs into her neck:

Helga …

Her cold face hardens further, and she extricates herself brusquely from his arms. He seizes her by the neck and forces her onto the bed, almost strangling her. He slides one hand under her slip.

In close-up, we see his grubby hand aggressively pawing her goose-bumped thighs. The camera tilts upward, and we see Karl’s balding head, bent forward as he kisses her neck. Then we see Helga’s stony face, which expresses pure revulsion.

In spite of it all, the ghost of a smile appears at the corners of her mouth.


Reich, you’re about to commit another heroic act …

A close-up of Günther’s gloomy, tormented face.


Then he speaks:

Marlene …

Marlene, sitting beside Sacha in the living room, looks fearfully at the man who is addressing her so frighteningly, stretched out in his chair with his legs propped on a small table.


Do you still want to run away?

Scared, Marlene says anxiously to Sacha:

He heard …


Of course I heard.


Marlene’s eyes fill with tears, and she looks to Sacha for support. Sacha gives her an encouraging nod, but its only effect is to make Marlene’s tears really start to flow.


But … I don’t want to run away at all. I don’t want to leave. I want to stay!


And so you will.

Wearily he rubs his face with his hands.


Go to bed, Marlene. You’re tired …

She stands up, puts a comforting arm around Marlene, and ushers her to the door.


Go on, go to bed.

Marlene, her face tear-stained, turns in the doorway and says in a choked voice to Günther:


She turns and runs up the stairs.

Sacha sits down again and says:

Wow, I’m not tired at all.

Günther gets up and goes to the window. Outside, dawn is breaking. There is silence.


But I’d better go to bed.

Günther (with his back still to her):

Keep me company for a little while longer, Sacha.

Without turning around, he goes out on the balcony. He leans on the balustrade and looks out at the pond.

Sacha hesitantly walks across the room to the balcony. On the threshold, at the sight of Günther, who still has his back to her, she almost retreats, but she perseveres and goes to stand beside him.

With a deep, peaceful gaze, Günther turns his face toward Sacha and looks into her eyes. She smiles. Then his gaze drifts back to the pond, and he ostentatiously takes in a deep breath of fresh air.


Aahhh …

Günther watches as she follows his example, inhaling deep lungfuls of fresh morning air, causing her breasts to visibly move up and down.

Karl stands before the mirror, shaving his ashen cheeks with a safety razor. His hair is a mess, and his eyes are puffy from the joyless night he has passed; once again, he did not get laid. All in all, the man performing his morning ablutions is not a cheery sight.

Helga is already dressed. She is wearing her dark blue nurse’s uniform with a starched white collar and black lace-up shoes.


Let’s get Professor Unrat. I want to talk to him privately.


All right, Reich.

Helga enters the living room. There, the others are in the middle of an elaborate breakfast. Mimi’s mother, fresh as a daisy, is telling the others about her fitful night.

Mimi’s Mother:

Yes, it was crazy, I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night. Not a single wink.
It’s all this silence. It gives me a headache.

Helga is standing by the table.


Do join us, Helga.


No … I’ve come to ask Professor Unrat if he could have a word with Karl.

Upstairs in his room.


Right now?

He continues to spoon up the yolk of his soft-boiled egg.


Yes. Now.
(ironically, as she sits down beside Marlene after all) Our friend Reich has made a big decision, you see.

Günther, in a silk dressing gown, gets up, wiping his mouth with a napkin.


It’s upstairs, Günther. Second door on the right.

He leaves. There is a brief silence.

Sacha, wearing respectable pajamas, gets up and pours tea. Loudy pops two slices of toast out of the toaster.

Helga decapitates her egg with surgical precision. Charles, with a theatrical gesture, places a hand over his face and peeks at Marlene between his fingers faux-surreptitiously.


Now what was I dreaming about last night again? It was very enjoyable, I remember that much. Something to do with …

Mimi’s mother demonstrates that she’s paying attention with a knowing giggle. The others listen without comprehension, except for Marlene. She has her suspicions, and they bring a blush to her cheeks.


It was warm, and it was soft, and it moved.

Loudy (who does not wish to hear Charles’s story; to Sacha, who is all too eager to listen to her rather than Charles):

Gosh, these sprinkles—the canister is still exactly the same as when I was little …

She picks up the white-and-pink canister.


And the color … it was kind of pink.

Helga (betraying the subject of Charles’s dream by placing her hand ostentatiously on Marlene’s):

I think we all know what you dreamed about.

Günther comes into Karl’s room. He doesn’t speak.

Karl is sitting on the bed, gloomy and ashen-faced. He stands up.


Herr Reich, you’re bleeding!

A trickle of blood is visible on Karl’s face.


I cut myself shaving.

He takes a wad of cotton out of Helga’s first-aid kit and sticks a piece on the cut.


Professor Unrat, I’ve decided to go to Africa.


Ah … I won’t stop you.


I don’t expect compliments.


Of course not.


I just want to go.


I’ll arrange for your travel.


Do you think I’m up to it? Working in Africa?


If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have asked.

Karl offers his hand to Günther and says:

All right. I’m out of here.


Farewell, Reich. When you get there, contact our man in Tangier as soon as possible. You’ll help him figure out where in Africa the nurses are most urgently needed. Loudy will give you some cash in a minute.

The courtyard of the hunting lodge. Sacha has put on a coat over her pajamas. Marlene is leaning against the mesh of the kennel. Mimi’s mother, Charles, and Loudy are standing by Mimi’s mother’s car, which is parked outside the front door.


Loudy, I’ll be back next week, you can count on it.

I really feel like I’m starting to get over the trauma of losing Mimi … it’s so peaceful here.

Loudy nods sympathetically.

Günther pushes open the front door to let Karl out. Günther stays where he is. Karl walks past Helga, who is leaning against the building, to the car.

Günther’s voice rings out across the courtyard:

Herr Reich is going to Africa after all!

Loudy hurries over to Karl, clasps his hand in both of hers, and says:

That’s wonderful. Congratulations on your decision!

She goes back into the house.

Mimi’s mother’s face darkens. Angrily she gets into the car, slams the door, and mutters to herself:

Jesus. Just what we needed.

She collects herself, honks the horn forcefully, starts the car, turns it around with a skid, hits the brakes, and shouts out the window angrily:

Are you coming or not?

Miserably, Karl walks over to Helga with his hand outstretched.


Farewell, Helga.

Helga gives him a tightlipped good-bye kiss on his closed mouth.

Charles and Karl get into the car.

As Mimi’s mother is starting to drive away, Loudy comes running breathlessly out of the house, calling:

Wait, wait!

Mimi’s mother hits the brakes. Loudy, out of breath, passes a stack of cash through the open window to Karl.

The car drives off in a shower of gravel.

Loudy stands looking after it, dazed. Marlene and Sacha, standing with Günther, are still waving good-bye.

Helga walks over to them. Bitterly she says:

So much for Karl Reich.

She gazes into the distance. Günther looks at her. It does not escape his notice that along with the bitterness there is genuine sorrow in her face.

He puts an arm around her and says:

Come on, let’s go inside.

Loudy comes and stands between the two emotional girls. She puts an arm around each one’s waist and guides them toward the house, sighing:

Africa’s such a long way off, isn’t it?

A piercing steam whistle; the harbor.

Karl, weighed down by a khaki duffel bag, walks up the gangway of a large coastal liner. The captain greets him. They shake hands, and the captain shows Karl to his cabin.

Picking her way between the porters, Mimi’s mother runs down the quay. Evocative music lends a touch of suspense. A sailor stops her.

Mimi’s Mother (gasping):

I have to talk to Mr. Reich. Where’s his cabin?

Intimidated, the sailor shows her the way.

Karl, wearing a white tropical jacket, stands in his cabin, digging through his duffel bag. He finds his pith helmet, puts it on, and looks at himself bleakly in the mirror.

The door of his cabin bursts open. In the doorway stands Mimi’s mother.

Mimi’s Mother:

Reich, don’t go!

Karl (bewildered):


Mimi’s Mother:

Don’t go to Africa! Bad things will happen to you there, I’m sure of it.


Ach so. You have a premonition …

Mimi’s Mother:

The ship sails in two minutes!
(pleading tearfully) For God’s sake, come on, please!

She tries to pull him out of the room, but he shakes her off. She pretends to leave, rummages in her purse, whirls, and points a small ladies’ pistol inlaid with mother-of-pearl at the man standing in the way of her plans.

Karl does not react.

The ship’s whistle blows.

The pistol shakes in her hand as she points it at Reich.

Mimi’s Mother (playing it cool):

Well! So much for Karl Reich.

A deeper tone joins the horn’s piercing high note.


Dying for an ideal. Is there anything more wonderful?

He shuts his eyes and says earnestly:

Shoot, woman!

Mimi’s mother is furious and desperate at the same time. She hauls off and punches him squarely in the face with shocking force. Then she runs out.

She rushes to the gangway just as it’s about to be pulled up. The hawsers are cast off. The woman runs to her car without looking back.

Sitting in his cabin, Karl Reich takes off his pith helmet and tries to stop the blood pouring from his nose with his hand.

The ship sails.

The balcony overlooking the pond.

Marlene is lying facedown on the balcony, exhausted and panting. She is wearing a majorette-type outfit—a short skirt and knee socks—as does Sacha, who, with her arms trembling from fatigue, does a last pushup and collapses.

Sacha sighs to Marlene:

How can he …

Now we see Günther, stretched out in front of them doing pushup after pushup, dynamic and vital, his muscles bulging; he is wearing bright red shorts and a matching shirt stretched tight over his chest. He shows no sign of stopping and doesn’t notice that the girls have quit.

They get up and go over to stand by his bobbing head. Sinking into another pushup, he sees their sneakers; on his way back up, he laboriously turns his sweating face to look at the girls.


Günther, we can’t do any more.


We’ve been at it for an hour.

He jumps up athletically, takes a single deep breath, and exhales, emptying his lungs.

Wiping sweat from his forehead, he says casually:

My tracksuit.

They pass it to him; he puts on the pants, and Marlene helps him with the jacket. Sacha wraps his white towel around his shoulders. He holds it around his neck with both hands, hopping from one foot to the other. The man is a dynamo. In his unstoppable frenzy of movement, he playfully slaps each girl’s bottom.


Into the showers, you two. Helga’s starting her lesson soon.

They all go into the house.

In the living room, Loudy stops Günther and says:

Günther …

Sacha glances back at them. Loudy waits until the girls have left and continues:

Günther, you’re terrific …

He walks lithely toward the door, looks back at her in amusement, and sings:

Happy days are here again … Za-ba-dap, za-za, da-doo-ya-dap …

He climbs the stairs, taking them three at a time, whistling the song; it echoes through the massive house.

Marlene stands before a long mirror in her exercise outfit. Sacha is drying off in the shower with a small towel.

Sacha (reflectively):

It’s odd that a man like him isn’t married, don’t you think?

Marlene shrugs and says:



He must have had an unhappy romance and never gotten over it.


We’ve all had unhappy romances.


Yes, but he seems like the type who’d take it really hard. Who knows—maybe he hasn’t looked at a woman since.


At least not the way he looks at you.

Günther opens the door energetically. He’s put on his dressing gown over his red gym shorts. He’s not at all surprised to see the girls.


My turn.

Sacha does her best to hide her nakedness with the small towel.

Without batting an eye, Günther looks at her in surprise:

You’re not embarrassed, are you, Sacha?


I’m sorry. I’m not used to this yet.
Marlene, can you give me my things?

Marlene picks up Sacha’s slip, balls it up, and tosses it over.



Catching the slip, Sacha is forced to drop the towel. In a panic, she covers herself with the slip. She pulls the curtain closed to finish getting dressed.

Meanwhile, Günther has bent over to take off his sneakers. He straightens up, cursing.


Damn shoelaces.

Marlene hurries over to help. Günther obligingly puts his foot up on the hamper so she can unravel the knot. Meanwhile, he takes off his dressing gown.


Some women dress up their dogs, and people laugh, but God forbid you undress a human being.

(pulling his shirt off over his head) All you get is shame!

Marlene has managed to undo his shoelace. Günther kicks off his sneakers and hangs his dressing gown and shirt on a hook. With his back to the girls, he starts taking off his shorts, startling Sacha as she throws open the curtain, now wearing her slip. Over her shoulder, we see the naked man hanging up his shorts with his back to us.


You’ll have to get used to nudity. Don’t you know the Negroes in Africa walk around just as God created them?

Casually he walks over to the shower, as Sacha hastily slips out. He turns on the water. In shock, the girls hurry out of the bathroom.

They stand in the hall, giggling a little, recovering from the experience. Marlene declares with a disgruntled look:

Damn. I didn’t even get to take a shower!

A door opens, and Helga calls:

Come on!

Loudy hurries excitedly up the stairs and toward the bathroom.


Günther! Günther!

She rushes into the bathroom. Günther, his dressing gown tossed over his shoulders, is drying his hair with a towel.

Loudy (outraged):

You’ll never guess who just called. Mimi’s mother!

Günther (soothingly):

Loudy …

Loudy (still agitated):

That man in Tangier wants to know when the girls are coming. He said it was about time.

Günther (his face darkening ominously):



Yes, and she said they couldn’t wait any longer. Africa needs them desperately.

Günther (dignified but determined):

That’s sheer madness, Loudy! We aren’t running a crash course here!
There’s been a misunderstanding.


Yes, that’s what I told her. I said it’s all going very well, and we wouldn’t dream of sending them now. Are they crazy?


Calm down, Loudy, and listen to me. No girl is leaving this house until we decide she’s ready!

What madness! They can forget about it …
Now, what are we having for dinner?

Helga is in her nurse’s uniform. The room allocated to her contains a dummy torso with removable organs. Medical pictures and a portrait of Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréné hang on the wall. Helga is disinfecting a fleshy part of Sacha’s upper arm with a wad of cotton. (Sacha is still in her slip; Marlene is back in her exercise outfit.)

Helga explains to Marlene:

I’m doing it in the arm, but you can do it in the buttocks too.

She picks up one of several syringes lying on an immaculate white cloth nearby. She pinches the flesh of Sacha’s arm and drives the needle in.


Gee, you’re right—it doesn’t hurt the way you do it.


Now you’ve been vaccinated, Sacha—not against anything, though.

To prove it, she extracts the needle and displays the empty syringe. Then she takes Sacha’s place.


Now, Marlene. Here’s my arm.
And here’s the needle …

Marlene takes the syringe hesitantly and grasps Helga’s arm. Helga nods, urging her on.


Oh, I can’t watch.

Marlene conquers her fear and forces herself to jab the needle into her teacher’s arm.

Helga winces with pain and groans:

That was far from perfect, young lady!

Karl, in his tropical outfit, is riding in the back of a limousine with tinted windows—the car is the Arab’s. Karl is sweating profusely and mopping his brow repeatedly with his handkerchief. At the wheel is Achmed, an Arab in a caftan and a black-tasseled fez.

Karl gasps for breath and pants:

I’m so thirsty.

Achmed drives on impassively.

Karl grabs hold of his shoulder and says urgently:

Hey, Achmed, or whatever your name is, I need a drink. Water.

Achmed continues to stare straight ahead. The car flies through the desert in a whirling cloud of sand.

The Arab comes down the hall with his hands outstretched and exclaims effusively:

Aahhh—Mr. Reich, I presume?

He bursts out in Homeric laughter.

Karl stands swaying in the middle of the hall, half-dead. His clothes stick to his fetid body.


Water …


Water? Beer! Achmed—beer. (in Arabic) Right away.

He helps Karl to the living room.

Arab (accompanying the stumbling Reich inside):

It’s not easy to be on the threshold of a new life, is it?

Achmed approaches the living room with a huge foaming tankard of beer.

In the living room, Karl snatches the tankard off the tray, splashing beer on his pants, and slurps greedily at the foam.


Yes, that Unrat is an Übermensch.

Karl chokes on his beer at the taboo word, coughs at length, and says with difficulty:

Forgive me. I’ve become allergic to that word.


Of course. I should have known. What I mean to say is, I think the professor is the last of the Mohicans in a terminally ill Europe.



The heat … I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it.

The Arab stands. He holds up his hands in entreaty and says mysteriously:

Just a moment.

He picks up a bottle labeled in Arabic, holds it aloft, and announces:

The Bedouin’s answer!

He fills a goblet with the viscous fluorescent-green liquid and hands it to Karl.


After eating sand all day, the Arabs often need a pick-me-up too.
And when they do, they have one of these. You see, Karl?



Or even two.

Karl tosses back the vile drink in one gulp. Then, wide-eyed, he immediately asks for another.

The Arab’s fat, beringed hand sets the phonograph needle down at the beginning of a record. The music is sensual and Arabic but might have been played by a Western orchestra. He begins snapping his fingers in time with the tune.

Karl bangs his fist on the table in front of him and splutters:

Karl Reich wants another Bedouin’s answer!

The Arab refills Karl’s glass and beckons to someone. Karl’s face assumes a flabbergasted look, and his mouth falls open: Mimi has appeared in the doorway.

With Karl, we see her leaning against the doorjamb in a highly provocative pose. She is wearing a transparent Arab robe with a veil. She starts moving her hips in time with the music; then she starts swinging her arms. Before long, she’s in the middle of the room, doing an amateur impression of a belly dance.

She swings her pelvis directly in front of Karl’s face, her arms beckoning quasi-teasingly. She punctuates this out-of-control sexual performance with completely inappropriate yet spirited cries:

Olé! Olé!

The Arab shows his support by clapping along in an utterly unconvincing manner, pausing now and then to stifle a yawn.

Karl makes an unexpected grab for Mimi’s veil and tears it off, but she manages to keep hold of the gauzy material. She dances around him a couple of times, wrapping it around the breathlessly gasping German’s head, blindfolding him.

The Arab’s rhythmic applause changes to a brief, summoning clap. Mimi goes on with her risqué act, whispering sweet nothings into Karl’s ear.

Looking slightly annoyed, the Arab leaves the room. Mimi suddenly becomes serious; she lifts the veil off Karl’s face and hisses hurriedly:

How’s my husband? How’s Charles?
I’m Mimi.
He’s not too unhappy, is he?

Karl (drowsily):

Charles? Charles … Oh, Charles.

Just then, the Arab comes in, closely followed by two Congo legionnaires, one black, one white.


Your taxi is here, Reich.




Yes, your taxi.
These gentlemen will take you back to your hotel.

The legionnaires grasp Karl under the arms, one on either side, and lead him out of the room. The Arab follows, trailed furtively by Mimi. Holding the door open, he says to Karl:

Reich, you will come to love Africa a great deal. I’m certain of it.

In the jeep’s headlight beams, Karl turns for a final glance, shouting tearfully:

Mimi! Auf Wiedersehen!

The jeep accelerates, and the sound dies away.


Poor Reich. The Foreign Legion might have been a better place for him.
Well, those mercenaries will know what to do with him.
(to alleviate his guilt) That crazy professor, sticking us with that damn Kraut!
He’d better get a move on with those broads!

Charles is pacing around Mimi’s mother’s bedroom. Quasi-fearfully, Mimi’s mother, wearing a fluttering lace nightgown, flees from him as if she is being chased.

Charles (shouting):

First I’ll drag them out of bed by their hair, and then I’ll spit in their faces.

And then I’ll kick them from one corner of the room to the other.

He feigns a kick in the direction of Mimi’s mother, who squeals.


And then I’ll stub out my cigarette butts on their nipples.

Mimi’s Mother:

My God, Charles (laughing). Such manly talk!
Why are you so obsessed with those girls all of a sudden?

Charles flops down on the bed and shouts:

That’s what they’re doing to Mimi!
Aren’t they?
(shouting) And you’d love nothing more yourself. Isn’t that right?

Mimi’s mother looks at her son-in-law with astonishment; her face is stern, yet she is suppressing a smile. She lies down on the bed and assumes a coy air.

Mimi’s Mother:

God, who’d ever have thought you’d figure out what we women are all about!

You know, Charles, that’s where all men fail. They simply don’t want to understand that every woman, deep down, wants nothing more than to be dragged off by a sweating galley slave, tossed down in a dungeon, humiliated, raped, and crushed—rammed by a bellowing brute … ripped apart!

She is shocked by her own words.


Mimi’s Mother continues:

And that’s the key to success. A present to you from Mimi’s mother.

Charles (clenching his jaw):

I’ll show them a thing or two at St. Hubertus this Sunday!
If I don’t do it, the Negroes will.

Mimi’s Mother (matter-of-factly):

So you’ll miss Anita’s visiting day again?
Not that I mind. I just need to know.

Günther is pacing back and forth in front of the windows in the living room at St. Hubertus. Dusk is approaching. Loudy follows him worriedly with her eyes. This is one of the rare occasions when we see Günther smoking; he is frowning pensively. Evidently, he and Loudy are facing a serious problem.


I have to talk it over with them.

I’ll just tell them that soon our man in Tangier will be coming to take them to Africa.


Africa … It doesn’t seem real.


I’ll ask them straight out: Do they really still want to take care of those natives halfway around the world?

As he says the last few words, the audible emotion in his voice makes it all too clear that Günther is hoping the girls no longer wish to leave the house, or him, ever again.

Günther (after a brief silence):

I’ll just have to get it over with!


Yes. The sooner the better. I’ll go get them.

She gets up and walks quickly to the foyer, where she beats a gong three times, signaling everybody to come down. The sound echoes ominously through the house.

As the reverberations die out, she asks, seeking reassurance:

Günther … It’s lovely here, isn’t it?

He merely looks at her gloomily in response.

The two girls come in, followed by Helga. In the doorway, Sacha struggles to take off a sling.


We’ve been doing broken arms.

Loudy looks nervously at Günther, who’s standing motionless, looking out the window.


Do sit down.

A heavy silence falls, the most painful one yet.

Günther, still gazing out the window, says:

Would anyone care for tea?

Helga is the first to break the silence:

That would be nice.

Loudy nervously begins pouring tea, sloshing it into the saucers.

Taking her cup, Sacha glances at the cheerless sight of Günther’s back and bites her lip.

Loudy sets Günther’s cup on the otherwise bare coffee table.

The sound of tea being stirred.

Loudy (despairingly):

Günther, your tea’s getting cold.

Günther goes to his chair and sits down. He stirs his tea without speaking.

Günther (looking at Sacha’s bandaged arm and sling):

Did you do that, Marlene? The sling?

Marlene raises her eyebrows in nervous confirmation.

Outside, the sun is setting.

Standing at the front door is a smooth-looking young man wearing a raincoat and carrying an overnight bag. He lifts his hand to ring the doorbell.

In the living room, the bell reverberates. The already none-too-lively group freezes in surprise: who can it be?

The bell rings again.


Shouldn’t we see who it is?

She gets up. Her heels echo bleakly on the tile floor.

The young man peers in through the window. The door opens, and Helga looks at him inquiringly.


Does Sacha live here?


Sacha … Yes, the name sounds familiar.


My name’s Bob. I’m Sacha’s boyfriend.


Well, in that case, you may as well come in.

She opens the door to the living room.


Bob’s here.

She goes back to her chair, leaving the young man standing forlornly in the doorway.

Bob (after a brief silence, with forced joviality):

Good evening, folks!
(noticing Sacha) Hey, Sach!
(jokingly) Jeez Louise, how’d you wind up in this harem?

Sacha visibly starts.

Günther (aggressively):

I see we’ve got ourselves a joker. It’s funny, Bob, Sacha never mentioned you.

Günther lights a cigarette. He gets up and walks toward Bob threateningly.


The name’s Professor Unrat, Bob.

(The younger man’s name bursts from his mouth like a champagne cork.)

He positions himself squarely in front of Bob and casually blows smoke in his face.


Don’t people shake hands anymore, Bob?

Somewhat ironically, Bob extends his hand to Unrat.


Bob. I’m Sacha’s boyfriend.

He walks past Günther, goes to stand behind Sacha’s chair, and bends forward awkwardly to kiss her cheek.


Hi, honey.

She coldly pushes him away.

Bob turns to Günther, and says, half-hurt, half-spitefully:

So, you’ve taken my place.
I figured there was somebody else when I suddenly stopped hearing from Sach.

Günther (slightly too loudly and emphatically to signal friendly intentions):

Really, Bob? You stopped hearing from her just like that?

Bob (frat-boy-like, in a desperate attempt at humor):

Yeah, man, that’s just it, you know? Not a word.


You think you’ve got them, don’t you, Bob—but then, whoops!
(snapping his fingers abruptly) They’re gone.

Bob (coolly):

Yep. Women, eh, Unrat? They’re really something, aren’t they?

Bob gives the four women the once-over.

Günther walks purposefully toward Bob, grabs his arm, and shoves him toward the door. For a moment, it looks as if he’s going to unceremoniously throw Bob out, but before they leave the room, he turns and says:

You too, Sacha.

Sacha (shocked):


She looks at the other women for support.


Yes, I think he means you.

Roughly Günther pushes Bob across the hallway, with Sacha following. They go upstairs.

Loudy, sitting in the living room with the others, bewildered:

What does he mean, somebody else in the picture?
Surely he’s not suggesting that Günther …

Marlene (mainly to Helga):

I’ve had two of them after me at the same time before, but not someone like Günther.

Helga (mockingly):

My name’s Bob. I’m Sacha’s boyfriend.

In Günther’s room, Sacha stands with her face to the wall, crying.

Sacha (in a choked voice):

Please go away, Bob.

Bob grabs her and roughly turns her around, grasping her firmly with both hands.

Bob (despairingly):

Go away?!
And leave you here with that creep?!

Do you really think I don’t know what he’s up to with you girls?

We see all Günther’s muscles tensing up. In spite of himself, he is preparing to crush this young fool with one merciless blow. It is evident that when Günther hits, he hits hard.

Seeing the threat in his eyes, Sacha shouts:

Günther, no!

She drops to the floor, wraps her arms around his legs, and lets out a sob.


Send him away. Send him away.

Günther (cool yet not unfriendly):

Come on, Bob. I’ll let you out.

He leads the despondent Bob him downstairs, holding him in a steely grip.

At the front door, he says:

I’m sorry, Bob. Sacha’s a delightful girl.

He pushes the young man outside and slams the door.

As Bob walks down the driveway in the dark, the dogs begin to howl.


In the living room, flickering candles give off a dim light.

Wagner’s eternal music fills the room.

Günther, in his dressing gown, lies on the sofa, following the score. Now and then he turns a page. His expression changes with the mood of the music.

He drops the sheet music and gazes at the ceiling. A smile appears on his lips.


Helga and Marlene are bending over Sacha, who is lying on the treatment table. A white sheet covers her legs; above it, she is wearing only a bra.

Helga has applied a gruesome fake wound to Sacha’s belly, in the bloodiest Reichian tradition, and is adding the final touches with a dropper. The red droplets beading on Sacha’s pale skin make for a visually seductive sight, in spite of everything.


Marlene, let’s say you’ve got a Negro who’s been mauled by a rhino. What do you do?


Well, um—emergency dressing, blood transfusion, and then rush him to the nearest hospital.


Go ahead.

Marlene goes to the sink and washes her hands.


Very good, Marlene. Always wash your hands first.

Marlene gets the bandages.

Sacha (to Marlene):

Don’t tickle me!


Don’t worry, Sacha.

As she speaks, her hand shoots out and she pokes Sacha in the ribs. As Sacha giggles, the wound jiggles up and down.

In the hall, Günther hears her laughter. His pace quickens, and he opens the door. As he enters the room, he boils over with anger.

Roughly he pushes Helga and Marlene out of the way, yanks the wound off Sacha’s belly, and flings it at Helga. Sacha’s face contorts in pain; she screams:


She starts sobbing loudly.

Helga (icily):

Well, I guess the medical training is done, Professor Unrat.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re ready for Africa.

Günther carefully wipes the remains of the wound off Sacha’s belly with a wad of cotton. Tears are still streaming down her face.


Okay, Helga, you can go.
You too, Marlene.

They leave, Helga arrogant, Marlene intimidated.


I’m so sorry I hurt you, Sacha.

Sacha (through her tears):

It doesn’t hurt any more.

In fact, a blissful look is spreading across her face.

Fade out.

Fade in; day.


In her room, Loudy stands before the mirror in an old-fashioned bathing suit. Sparkling sunlight pours in through the window.

With some satisfaction, she turns from the mirror and walks casually out of the room.

In the hall, she runs into Helga, who is carrying a folded blanket under one arm.


Oh, aren’t you undressing yet?


No. The halls are so cold, and I don’t have a swimsuit.


It’s wonderful how Günther can make you see that nudity is really perfectly normal.
I walk around like this all the time now (indicating her bathing suit). And I’m not the least bit embarrassed.


Look at that sunshine! How lovely.

Sacha stands in a clearing in the woods dotted with bushes. We see her from behind; she is naked.

Close-up: she blows the seeds off a dandelion.

The camera zooms out slightly; we see her exquisite breasts, and, in the distance, Loudy and Helga walking in her direction.

Sacha turns, calls “Hey!” and runs to meet them.

Loudy (to Helga):

Such a beautiful young woman.

Loudy spreads Helga’s blanket on the grass. Helga pulls her uniform off over her head.

Helga (as her head comes into view):

Where’s Günther, anyway?

Deep in the woods, we see Günther, naked, facing Marlene, who is clothed. From his gestures, we see that he is trying to convince her of something.

Marlene (on the verge of giggling):

Well, I mean, I can’t help it if I think it’s silly.


Silly?! (pointing to his own nakedness) You think this is silly?


Well … not now … just …


I promise you, Marlene, that once you’ve taken off those clothes, you’ll feel so happy and free!


Well, it’s fine for the Negroes, but I don’t take off my clothes for nothing.

Günther (fiercely):

I don’t understand you. In a filthy attic, you’ll undress at the drop of a hat. But here—in nature!—you think it’s silly.

Marlene (suddenly sentimental and a bit sly):

Oh, yes. The attic. Gee, that was a long time ago.

With provocative slowness, she unbuttons her blouse and lets it fall to the ground. Then she turns, presenting her back to him.


Günther, this darn hook …

Trying to keep his composure, Günther unhooks her bra and even helps her out of it.

Günther (hoarsely and almost shyly, with the little garment dangling in his hand):

Silly things, really.

He drops the bra on the ground, turns away, and says, still speaking with some difficulty:

I suppose you can take care of the rest yourself.

Sacha, Loudy, and Helga are sitting on the blanket.


Well, he and I have come to blows more than once.


Be that as it may, my dear, the man deserves a Nobel Prize.

Günther’s feet appear very nearby.

Standing directly in front of them, he stretches like a panther, with his body turned toward the sun.


Aaaaahhhhh—the sun!
I worship it!

The women look admiringly at his broad, naked back.

Marlene comes running up, calling:

You guys! Charles is here!

Günther presses his lips together, turns around, and says brusquely:

Get dressed!


Get dressed?


That man wouldn’t understand!

Charles crosses the courtyard; no one has answered the doorbell. Impatiently he peers into the house through the pane in the door.

He hears footsteps: Günther and his women are approaching. Loudy is still in her bathing suit. Helga is wearing shorts and a blouse; her dress is tossed over her shoulder. The girls are provisionally clad. Günther—with the blanket wrapped around his naked body, stately as an Indian chief—leads the way.

Caught off guard, the women slink toward the lodge.

Meanwhile, Charles cheerily greets them:

Helloooo, everyone. I’m back.

Leeringly his eyes follow the half-dressed girls as they disappear inside.

Günther holds out a hand to Charles.


So, Chief, how are things?


Good and bad, paleface.

Charles looks surprised.


To be honest with you, Charles, I’m really upset.
I’ve built something here, and I can’t bear to see it collapse.

They move toward the house.

On the doorstep, Charles says:

Aw, it might be hard at first, but you’ll pick up a couple of new girls before long.

Günther (piqued):

What’s it to you, man?

Annoyed, he walks past Charles and into the house.

Charles waits until Günther is gone and then steals into the living room. He goes to the telephone and dials.

Fade out.

An elegantly choreographed dolly shot travels past candelabras and glittering crystal. The room is silent except for the clinking of silverware. The diners scarcely dare meet each other’s eyes.

A close-up under the table shows Charles’s hand slowly sneaking up Marlene’s thigh and pushing up her skirt. From Marlene’s face, we can see she is torn between pleasure and panic; nevertheless, she and Charles manage to continue eating without attracting attention.

Günther raises his glass and says gloomily:

A toast to … (his voice falters)

All eyes are on Günther, waiting to hear the rest. But it soon becomes clear that he isn’t going to say any more. Helga breaks the silence by saying slightly too emphatically:


Günther knocks back his wine and immediately refills it. He gulps down the second one too. He slams the empty glass down on the table, roughly shoves back his chair, strides to the phonograph, and puts on a 45 RPM record. Horribly tacky music fills the hallowed dining room of the lodge.


They call this music! (his face shows disgust)


Aahhh. Great song.

Günther shoots him a scathing look and turns the music up even louder. Loudy drops her knife and begins sobbing violently. Covering her face, she surrenders to her misery.


What’s wrong, Loudy? Why are you crying?

She puts her arm around the older woman. Meanwhile, Marlene pushes Charles’s hand away.


Loudy has no reason to cry!

Still standing, he pours himself more wine and gulps it down fiercely. He goes back to the record player; there is a scratching noise as he lifts the needle from the excruciatingly banal hit record.


This meeting is adjourned.


He snatches the bottle off the table, stalks to the door, and slams it shut behind him.

Charles (cynically):

Well. It’s all up to Uncle Charles now.

He winks lasciviously at Sacha; she haughtily ignores him. He gets up and moves behind Marlene. Growling like a tiger, he buries his face in her neck and shamelessly cups her breasts.

Marlene fights him off. The other three women look on in shock. Loudy is still in tears.

His head resting on Marlene’s shoulder, Charles looks at them spitefully. He snaps:

A joke! Can’t you people take a joke?

Marlene pushes Charles away. He laughs maliciously. Loudy starts crying even harder than before.

Günther stands in front of the kennel with the bottle of wine in his hand. The dogs are on their hind legs, paws against the wire mesh, but silent this time.

Günther (in German):

Easy, Wodan … You too, Donar …

He raises the bottle to his lips and takes a desperate gulp. Then he dashes the bottle against the stones.

Loudy and Sacha are sitting in the dimly lit living room. The handful of candles around them have almost burned down.


It’s 2:30, Loudy. Go to bed.

Loudy starts crying again.


Come on, go to bed. Everyone’s asleep.

Loudy (sobbing):

Everyone except Günther.


I’ll wait up for him.

Günther walks through the moonlit forest.

He enters the hallway as quietly as possible, climbs the stairs, and tiptoes down the hall. A strip of light is visible beneath Charles’s bedroom door. There is whispering and suppressed giggling. Günther stops and puts his ear to the door.

His face clouds over. At a loss, he paces back and forth in front of the door, impotently pounding his fist into his palm. Then he angrily turns on his heel, grabs the doorknob, and flings the door open.

The scene inside leaves nothing to the imagination. Marlene is on her back with her head hanging over the edge of the bed; Charles is on top of her, lasciviously kissing her neck. Marlene notices the enraged Günther and stiffens in fear.


Animals! Stop that!

Marlene has mostly wriggled out from under Charles, who is glaring at her lord and master.

Sacha hurries up the stairs in alarm. Seeing Günther’s silhouette, she stops in her tracks. Marlene slips past him, trying to cover her naked body with her hastily collected clothing. Head down, she runs to her room.

Günther turns off Charles’s light, slams the door, and stomps off. Sacha, frightened but unnoticed, goes off to bed.

Darkness. We can barely make out sheets and blond hair. Quiet breathing.

There is a knock at the door. The silhouette of a woman sits up in bed. A moment later, the door opens. A shadow stands in the doorway. It walks toward the woman. Frightened, she gropes for the bedside lamp and turns it on. We still cannot tell who she is.

Günther stands by the bed, unsmiling. There is vulnerability in his face. In the bed is Sacha. Neither speaks. His eyes fixed on Sacha, Günther sits down tentatively on the edge of the bed. He lifts a hand and nervously strokes her blond hair.

Almost afraid to touch him, Sacha places a hand on his thigh. Günther’s hand has dropped down and is reverently tracing the perfect curve of her breast. Sacha grasps the back of his head. It seems that she is about to pull him toward her, but she drops her arm. She looks the older man in the eyes (his age is accentuated with makeup for this shot).

He leans forward and kisses her hard on the lips; they part without resistance. Then he seizes the top of the blanket at her waist and throws it back with one violent gesture; she lies there vulnerable in her baby-doll nightgown.

With something like a sob, Günther buries his face in his hands and groans:

We shouldn’t! We shouldn’t …

He leaves without closing the door behind him.

The desert.

Shimmering air, blazing sun. Sand and more sand.

A man in a legionnaire’s uniform is climbing a dune, continually sinking backward; his boots cannot gain purchase in the shifting sand. Under the uniform cap and the handkerchief he is wearing on his head to ward off sunstroke, we see the sweating face of Legionnaire Reich. He is gasping for air like a fish out of water.

Exhausted, he collapses and lands facedown in the sand. With every ounce of remaining strength, he manages to pick himself up again, more or less. Stumbling rather than walking, he takes two more steps.

From the depths of his dehydrated body come the words:
Water …
Water …

He struggles forward another step.

The Arab is driving through the Dutch landscape, relaxed and at high speed. His left arm hangs out the window of his Chevrolet Impala; his beringed right hand loosely steers the big American car. The music of Edmundo Ros plays on the radio.

The road narrows. The car is approaching a wooded area. The Arab takes the numerous curves with violent yanks of the wheel and screeching tires. Then he resumes his relaxed pace.

Four timpani beats. The St. Hubertus hunting lodge looms ahead in the distance. Cheerfully the Arab drives down the winding road. The house disappears behind trees. When it comes back into view, we hear the kettledrums again.

With admirable control, the Arab skids through the final curve and proceeds up the hunting lodge’s driveway. In the middle of the courtyard, he screeches to a stop. The music bombards the sun-drenched house.

The Arab gets out, hoists up his shantung pants, picks up the matching jacket from the backseat, and puts it on over his sweat-soaked shirt. The radio plays on; he doesn’t bother shutting the car door. He pauses to rest for a minute.

Günther, ashen-faced and still wearing his dressing gown, stands at the living-room window looking out. On the balcony, Sacha, in her majorette’s outfit, is dejectedly watering the flowers. Marlene lies nearby, sunbathing in a bikini. Günther opens a jar of Alka-Seltzer and drops a tablet into a glass of water. Through the effervescence, he looks at Sacha. The doorbell rings. He gulps down the Alka-Seltzer and goes to answer it.

The Arab is bobbing along to the Afro-Cuban rhythm with his back to the house; he turns when Günther opens the door. Before Günther can get over the shock of seeing the man again, he is exuberantly swept up in the arms of Schweitzer’s perfumed friend.

The visitor shouts jovially:


He kisses Günther on both cheeks, southern-style. The already-devastated man stiffens completely; he shuts his eyes, unable to speak. Edmundo Ros’s brass section blares the last notes of a song whose exuberance is heartbreaking under the circumstances.

Günther says with difficulty:

Come in.

The Arab is immediately struck by the sunbathing Marlene:

Cute figure she’s got.

He gives Günther a casual, man-to-man nudge. Günther bites his lip. The unwanted guest makes a beeline for the balcony and slaps Sacha matter-of-factly on the bottom. She drops the watering can. As if nothing has happened, the Arab leans heavily on the balustrade and says:

What a heavenly view!

He enjoys the sight for a moment. Then suddenly he turns to Günther:

Say, Unrat, they’re ready to go, aren’t they?

He seizes Sacha by the ear, to her horror, and continues:

Hell, Unrat, Africa’s desperate for them.

He waggles Sacha’s head back and forth, lets go of her ear, and winks at her suggestively. She turns away, furious. The Arab takes the nonplussed Günther’s arm and guides him back inside.

Arab (confidingly):

Nice girls, Unrat! Nice girls …
You’ve got taste, man. If you knew what a funk I’ve been in, afraid you’d come up with a couple of four-eyed bluestockings …
But that … (tilting his head toward the balcony) Those don’t grow on trees. Bravo. Bravo.

Loudy comes in, sees the Arab, and hurries over:

This is a surprise!

The Arab clasps the enthusiastic woman’s outstretched hand, bends forward, and kisses it:

Madame …

Loudy (laughing coquettishly):

You’re embarrassing me.

Günther grips Loudy’s arm and says dully:


He leads her out of the room. The Arab, gasping from the heat, takes off his jacket. He drums on his belly with chubby fingers.

Günther pushes Loudy into his room and forces her to sit on the bed. He says:

They’ll end up in the gutter!

Angrily he pulls off his pajama bottoms and yanks his pants on under his dressing gown.

Then he bursts out:

Loudy! I’ve brought them to ruin!

He starts beating himself in the face with his fists. Wailing hysterically, he falls to his knees and continues to chastise himself. Kneeling in front of Loudy, he grasps her wrists and begins hitting himself about the head with her hands. She struggles, but she is no match for the force of his self-loathing. When Günther refuses to stop his shocking behavior, she gives up her resistance in despair.

Then he lays his head in her lap and calms down at last. When he straightens up, his face is pure determination once more. Gazing intently into Loudy’s dazed face, he says with unnatural calm:

That man is a devil. And I made a pact with him with my eyes open.

We’re nothing but common accessories, Loudy.

He states it as a fait accompli.

Sacha enters the living room, carrying a tray full of brightly colored glasses of soda.

Helga and the Arab sit in two chairs facing each other. He puffs on his Havana and says to her:

Also, you know, Mrs. Reich, in the part of the country where your husband is, the postal service is still in its infancy …

By the way, where’s Charles?


He left this morning at the crack of dawn. I don’t know why.

As she speaks, Günther walks silently across the room to the balcony. Helga looks puzzled.

Marlene, attractive as ever, is still stretched out in the sun. Günther comes and stands beside her; she doesn’t notice.

Günther (in a warm voice):


She looks up somewhat shyly.

Günther (sentimentally):

Marlene, the time has come. Put on your minidress. You’re off to Africa.

He holds out the garment. Fearfully, Marlene gets dressed.

Loudy comes into the living room, carrying a small suitcase. Unable to look at Sacha, Helga, or the Arab, she hurries out onto the balcony. Sacha and Helga watch her go; the Arab puffs on his cigar. Loudy sets the suitcase down in front of Marlene without meeting her eye.

Loudy (anxiously):

Here’s your suitcase.

Marlene just stands there, impassive.


Everything’s in there.

They prepare to go back inside.

The Arab stubs out his cigar, watching them. He looks inquiringly at Sacha:

Are you ready?

Sacha doesn’t reply; she is tensely watching the scene on the balcony.

The three come inside. Marlene walks alongside the stony-faced Günther, carrying her suitcase, docile as a sheep; Loudy follows nervously. They come to a stop, and Günther shoots the Arab a withering look:

You there!

He clenches his jaw and turns away; the group is left staring at his back. Günther takes a few steps forward; his body is pure tension. Without looking back, he roars:

Go on! Be gone!

He covers his eyes. The Arab gets up, roughly seizes Sacha by the arm, and drags the unresisting Marlene along too. Loudy starts to cry.

As they leave the house, the despairing Sacha, now thoroughly confused, calls from the doorway:


At the sound of her voice, Günther turns as if stung. He runs out to the courtyard and sees the Arab pushing Marlene into the back of the car and then jumping into the driver’s seat as Sacha hesitates in agony by the car’s open door.

The engine starts. Günther throws himself at Sacha, who is already halfway inside the accelerating car; they fall onto the cobblestones together. Helga and Loudy rush toward them. The Arab drives off erratically down the forest track, the brake lights flashing just once.


Bastard! You bastard!

Her words are directed at Günther. Distraught, he shouts:

Get inside! Get out of here!

He is left alone in the courtyard. Behind the wheel, the Arab is speaking furiously to no one in particular, barely taking notice of the dazed Marlene.


What’s that Unrat thinking, anyway? That I’m desperate for those stupid broads of his?

He explodes at Marlene, whose eyes widen in fear:

You can fuck off too! Bitch!
(filled with loathing) I don’t even want you anymore.

He brakes, flings open the door on Marlene’s side, and shouts:

Get the hell out!

He pushes her roughly out of the car; she falls to the side of the road as he speeds off.

Günther, watching from a distance, starts to run. He sprints with all his might, his face simultaneously expressing sorrow and hope. Running faster and faster, he starts shouting her name:

Marlene! Marlene!
I’m coming!!

Panting, he comes to a stop. At his feet, the sobbing Marlene lies facedown in the ditch, her whole body shaking. Moved, Günther kneels down and tries to comfort her. She continues to cry. He turns her over, consolingly kisses her teary cheek, and whispers her name.

Marlene continues to cry as Günther begins kissing her passionately, pleading:

Don’t cry! Don’t cry …

He clasps her tightly to him and showers her with fierce kisses. A dark impulse overtakes him, and his hands seek out her breasts and disappear beneath her dress. The pair lose themselves in a terrible ecstasy.

The Arab’s car reappears, backing down the forest track with reckless speed. He stops close to Günther and Marlene and gets out. They do not notice him. He walks over and stands beside them; still they do not notice.

The Arab seizes Günther by the shoulders with both hands, pulls him off Marlene, and takes a swing at him; his fist hits Günther squarely in the face like a sledgehammer. He hits him again and again.

Günther tries to protect his face in vain. After a merciless blow to the stomach, he doubles over. Meanwhile, Marlene, bedraggled but unharmed, has gotten to her feet. Suddenly she begins kicking Günther in the legs like a woman possessed. Sobbing helplessly, she pounds at his back with her small fists.

The Arab brings Günther down with a final blow and carries Marlene off to his car. She looks back at the motionless Günther one last time; tears stream down her face as the two disappear from view forever.

Barking furiously, the Great Danes leap against the wire mesh of their kennel and finally manage to break through. Still barking, they run down the track to their owner, who is lying at the side of the road, unconscious. They sniff at him, whining.

Cawing ravens circle the tower of the St. Hubertus hunting lodge.

Bloodied, Günther struggles upright and crawls back toward the lodge, on the verge of collapse. The dogs accompany him, licking the blood from their master’s face.


A battered Günther lies on the living-room sofa, wearing light blue pajamas. Sacha is cleaning his wounds with damp cotton balls. Loudy is assisting by passing various items.

The door opens. In the doorway stands Helga, in flat shoes, a gray raincoat, and a moss-green hat. Beside her sits a large suitcase, which she has just plunked down.

After a silence, she says curtly:

I’m leaving.

There is no response. Sacha goes on tending to Günther’s injuries.


I have something for you all.

She opens her suitcase. Inside is her white first-aid kit with the red cross on it. She picks it up and walks over to the others. Coolly, she opens the box upside down; its contents—iodine bottles, thermometers, jars of ointment—crash onto the floor. Glass shatters, and liquids soak the cotton and bandages.

Haughtily, she walks to the door and picks up her suitcase. She turns around and snaps:

Don’t think this is the end of it.

I’m going to report this to the police!

She leaves.

Loudy panics:

Oh God, Günther! Are we guilty?


Everyone’s guilty.

Loudy and Sacha are struggling to carry a chaise longue outside. They set it down in the grass beside the lake.

Günther is lying on the sofa in the living room, covered with a blanket. The two women come in.


It’s lovely out there, Günther.


Such a beautiful sunny day.

With vulnerable smiles of happiness, they help Günther to his feet. He is wearing his dressing gown. A Band-Aid and a few barely healed injuries remind us of the recent dramatic events. He clutches at his head, swaying slightly.


I’m still a little lightheaded.

With exaggerated frailty, he leans on Sacha. Loudy folds the blanket and hurries to help Sacha support Günther; he happily puts up with the fuss.

With the two women on either side of him, Günther walks out into the fresh air. Blissfully he fills his lungs and, with his eyes closed, turns his ravaged face to the sun.

Music—for the first time, truly idyllic.

Slowly the three pick their way to the chaise longue amid the enchanting natural scenery. They pass a rosebush.


Sacha, pick me a rose.

Sacha leans over, forcing him to manage without her for a moment. She hands him a red rose. Günther holds it to his nose and inhales its fragrance. Then he gallantly presents the flower to Loudy.


A rose for the woman who made all this possible.

He arranges himself stiffly on the chaise. Sacha and Loudy cover him with the blanket. Loudy settles on the grass and sniffs the rose. Günther happily takes in the idyllic sight of the blond Sacha standing by the lake, feeding the snow-white swans.


This day is a reward for everything that was done to us.

In the distance, the telephone rings. They exchange glances.


Never mind. Never mind. We’ll just pretend we’re not home.

The phone keeps ringing. Tensely they wait for the caller to give up. But the ringing goes on.

Günther (suddenly harsh again):

Answer it, Sacha!

Sacha runs into the house.

Charles is lying on Mimi’s mother’s bed, on the phone.

When at last someone on the other end answers, he says:

Hello, who’s that?
Oh, Sach …
(unctuous and nasty at once) Hey, Sach, we’re not done with you yet. Africa needs you as badly as it needs Marlene. Maybe even more so. Ha ha ha.
Bye, Sach. See you soon.

Night has fallen on the hunting lodge. Kettledrums.

Günther lies on the sofa, wearing regular clothes again. Sacha and Loudy sit in their chairs, uneasy and skittish.

Günther, bringing his fingertips together pensively:

I don’t understand why the Lord didn’t bring a second flood down on humanity long ago. If I were he …

He stares at the ceiling. It is deathly quiet.

Loudy straightens up in her chair:

I hear voices; I’m sure of it. I’ve been hearing them all evening.

They’re all around the house, and they keep coming from different directions.

Sacha goes to the window and says:

Where, Loudy?


They’re quiet now.

She joins Sacha at the window and suddenly groans:

Look at those shadows—they’re moving.

Sacha, as dignified as Joan of Arc being burned at the stake:

Don’t be afraid, Loudy. If they’re coming, it’s only for me.

Günther jumps up:

I’ll release the dogs.

Behind the wire mesh, the Great Danes jostle each other, barking. Günther releases them, and they shoot off into the woods, barking. Birds fly up, screeching.

The dogs run panting through the bushes. Indefinable shadows.

An owl hoots. Twigs crack. Something splashes in the lake. Nature is in a state of panic.

When Günther returns to the living room, he finds the two women standing by the insistently ringing telephone, uncertain whether to answer. Günther pushes them aside, picks up the receiver, and listens.

He hangs up. The phone immediately starts ringing again. Günther jerks it out of the wall, wires and all.


Sit down and stay calm. Wodan and Donar are watching over us.

Before they can sit, thunder rumbles. Lightning splits the sky. Loudy covers her face with her hands in distress.

Suddenly one of the Great Danes leaps up against the window, whining, his nails scratching against the glass. He runs off into the dark again, barking.

Driving rain beats against the windows. Günther has walked over to the record player; just before setting the needle down, he says:

Richard Wagner, stand by us!

He lays a protective hand on each woman’s head as the first strains of music cut through the sounds of nature’s fury. For the first time in the film, Günther laughs. Relaxed laughter wells up from the very depths of his soul.


Tomorrow we’ll leave for Hamburg. The city where I was born. We’ll be safe there.

Five o’clock in the morning. The storm is over; nature is recovering.

Loudy’s luxury sedan is sitting in the courtyard with its trunk open. Günther emerges from the house with two large suitcases. Loudy follows, carrying a smaller one; it is still evidently too heavy. They stow the luggage in the trunk.

Loudy (looking at the car):

You get Sacha. I’ll start the car.
It’s got its quirks.

As Günther goes inside, Loudy effortlessly starts the twenty-year-old car. Nervously, she pumps the gas to keep the engine going.

Günther sticks his head out the door to survey the scene, holding Sacha behind him with an outstretched arm. He takes her hand and leads her across the courtyard. Loudy has opened the back door, and Sacha gets into the car. Its proud owner slides over to allow Günther to take the wheel.

They drive away. After a short distance, they stop and look back at the lodge for the last time.


It’s fifty years old. The last true manor house they ever built in this country.


And the most beautiful, too.

They drive away, never to return.

Charles leans against a tree, listlessly smoking a cigarette. Concealed behind him is Mimi’s mother’s car. Through the trees, he suddenly sees Loudy’s car zooming toward him.

He throws his cigarette away and calmly gets into the hidden vehicle. After Loudy drives past, he starts the car and drives onto the road.

Separated by a generous distance, the two cars drive through the Dutch landscape.

The music hints at suspense.

Customs barriers; the German border.

The car stops.

A Customs Officer leans down and says through the open window on Loudy’s side:

Anything to declare?

Loudy (nervously, as the surly officer leers at Sacha):

No, we left everything behind.

The car drives away, accelerating sharply.

Sacha, watching her homeland recede into the distance through the rear window, suddenly cries out in fear:


The car speeds onward.

One car is now openly following the other through the deserted landscape.

Charles honks, pulls up alongside the trio, motions for them to stop, swerves in an attempt to cut them off—a dangerous situation, all in all. Finally, he manages to force Loudy’s big car onto the shoulder. He gets out, pulls something from a briefcase, and waves it, keeping a respectful distance in the hope that Günther will get out of the car. But Günther stays seated.

Charles cagily approaches the car. The object he is waving is a photograph. Günther rolls down the window.


Do people force each other off the road these days when they have something to say to them?

Charles (testily):

Why do you all distrust me so much?
Marlene is a nurse. Really. She’s doing fantastic work down there with the Bedouins.

See for yourself!

He thrusts the picture through the window.

Günther looks at the color snapshot. Marlene, in a snow-white nurse’s uniform, is surrounded by North Africans dressed in rags and covered in sores. She has an arm around one of them and her other hand raised, about to administer an injection. The scene has an utterly unreal quality; the local color is laid on thick.

Günther hands the photo back, unmoved, and says:



Well, Sacha’s a nurse too. Why can’t she go to Africa? Those wretches are dying to have her.

Günther doesn’t answer.

Charles (suddenly hopeful):

Can I take her with me?

He looks anxiously at the inscrutable Günther.

With icy calm, Günther opens the car door. He gets out and walks over to stand in front of Charles, who looks frightened. Günther stares him down for what seems to be an eternity. Then he fells his unfortunate victim with a single blow so hard that Charles drops to the ground unconscious.

With this one punch, Günther has settled the score with all his villains. He gets back behind the wheel, calmly reverses the car, and drives on toward Hamburg.

Rush hour in Hamburg. Diesel fumes; honking horns.

For anyone who has spent months living at the St. Hubertus lodge, it seems inevitable that this cheerless metropolis would be depressing.

A heavy truck belches exhaust over Loudy’s car, which is inching forward in traffic, driven by a gloomy Günther. A painful silence pervades its interior until Günther says what everyone is thinking:

I’m sorry. It’s filthy here.

Sacha puts one arm around Loudy and the other around Günther. She rests her head on the back of the front seat and says mournfully:

I’m so lonely. And yet we’re together.
(anxiously) How can that be?

Günther (looking gloomily out at the city):

We belong together.
And in love, one often feels lonely.

A deathly silence.

The big car pulls up outside Hotel Germania. A dull fin-de-siècle place, it exudes the painstakingly maintained glory of bygone days. A bellhop hurries over.

Günther stands at the reception desk with the two women behind him. The receptionist says (in German):

Two rooms?

He takes down two keys and places them in front of Günther.

Günther (in German):

Three rooms, please.  

Günther walks past the women to a telephone booth and, without looking at them, says (in German):

Now I’m going to call Mama.

Hearing him suddenly switch to his mother tongue, Loudy and Sacha are rendered speechless.

Loudy (a little anxiously):

He seems completely at home now, doesn’t he?

They sit down in the lobby to wait. Within moments, Günther reappears, confidently striding across the luxurious reception area toward them. Clearly he has overcome his low spirits, in contrast to the women. He says vigorously:

I’ll take you to your rooms. Then I have to go to my mother’s. She’s expecting me.

He leads them grandly across the spacious lobby to the elevator. On the way up, he looks at his watch and announces:

At nine-thirty, the three of us will dine together!
You two can pass the time without me until then, can’t you?

The women nod.

Sacha (tired):

I’m going to take a bath now, Günther.

She looks at him with affection. He runs a hand through the exhausted young woman’s blond hair, as if nothing could be more natural.


Do you know who you look like right now?
Grace Kelly.

Sacha smiles wearily. The elevator stops. They walk down the hall to her room, preceded by the bellhop, who opens the door.

Sacha goes inside and says:

See you later.

Günther briefly goes into Loudy’s room with her. She kicks off her shoes, sits down on the bed, and rubs her tired feet.



She looks up. He strikes his most flattering pose.


Do you think I’m old?

Loudy (surprised):

Not at all.


Do you think I’m of sound mind?


Yes, Günther, absolutely.


Could you love me?

Loudy looks at him uncertainly.


I’m in love with Sacha.
You’re the first person I’ve told.

Loudy is silent.

Günther (earnestly):

Tell me you don’t think I’m crazy.

Loudy is silent. Then she says, heartbroken:

She’ll be happy with you.

Günther (as if talking to himself):

The thing is, I love her so very much …

Günther is standing outside the front door of his parental home.

His sister opens it.

Günther (enthusiastically):

Lena …

He kisses her; his warmth contrasts with her reserve.

Lena (in German):

Mama’s not home yet, Günther.

They go inside. In the tasteful but extremely German living room, Günther says:

Lena, I have some news for Mama. (The dialogue is, of course, in German.)

Lena, who has imperturbably resumed ironing a skirt in the living room, barely responds:



Big news!

A silence falls.


I can’t keep it to myself. I’m going to marry a Dutch girl.

Lena (sullenly):

Ah. A Dutch girl.
So our Günther is settling down.


Her name’s Sacha.

Lena (still ironing):

Sacha Unrat. It’s about time.

Sacha, looking fresh and lovely, emerges from the elevator, wearing her own fashionable clothing again for the first time in months, and walks into the lounge. She settles herself comfortably in an armchair.

On a barstool sits an extremely attractive, well-dressed, genial young man. He turns toward Sacha, and they look straight into each other’s eyes. The man smiles. Sacha smiles back.

Günther looks at his watch.


I can’t keep her waiting.
It’s a shame I wasn’t able to see Mama, though.

Lena puts down the iron, helps him with his jacket, and says:

See you soon.

At the door, he kisses her good-bye. Lena smiles vaguely and looks her brother in the eye for the first time. She laughs briefly and says:

So our Günther is settling down. Won’t Mama be surprised.

Günther walks into the hotel, hands over his jacket, and hurries to the dining room.

Loudy is sitting at a small table; she has dressed for dinner. When Günther arrives, she says:

I’m so delighted for you both, Günther. Sacha’s still upstairs getting ready, of course.


I’ll go get her.

He briefly touches Loudy’s bare shoulder in a friendly gesture. Then he walks to the elevator. The doors close, and it starts to ascend. The music conveys happiness and melancholy at once, as only music can. The elevator stops; so does the music.

Günther hesitates before grasping the doorknob of Sacha’s room. Ardently, he whispers:

Sacha …

He opens the door. Sacha is lying in bed, laughing. On top of her, on his knees, is the young man. Günther, expressionless, takes in the sight. The boy sees him; so does Sacha.

Young Man (calmly, to Günther):

I see.

He hurries into his clothes. No emotion is visible on Günther’s face. He merely watches the young man get dressed. The boy walks past Günther and says a friendly good-bye to Sacha on his way out.

Günther (lovingly and reproachfully):

Sacha …

Sacha, near tears, bites her lip and whispers:

Günther …

She doesn’t dare meet his eye. She gets out of bed and starts putting on her clothes without paying him any attention. He watches her.

Sacha moves toward the door, tears streaming down her face. She lays her head on Günther’s chest. He stands there as if paralyzed.

Suddenly he begins kissing her like a man possessed. His hands rove over her body with frightening passion.

Sacha whispers:

Günther, don’t.

Sobbing and pleading now, again she says:

Günther, don’t!

She wrenches free of his grasp and runs out into the hall. Günther leans against the wall, breathing heavily, his chest heaving. A tear rolls down his cheek. His lips part. Very softly, he says:

I love you, Sacha.

Crying, Sacha walks out of the hotel.

Charles sees her, gets out of his car, and walks over to her. He takes her arm and leads her to the car. She gets into the backseat. Charles takes the wheel, and they drive away.

Sacha, calmer now:

Take me to Holland.


Then, resolutely:

I’ll always love him.

Charles (loudly):

Who? Unrat? Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

His laughter becomes hysterical.

Loudy, dressed and looking well, draws open the curtains in her hotel room. She goes out into the hall and knocks on Günther’s door.


Günther? I’m not disturbing you, am I?



Are you two still asleep?

From inside comes Günther’s deep voice:

Come in!

She opens the door and recoils in shock. She cries:


Günther is standing in the middle of the room. He says gloomily:

Yes, Loudy, I’ve gone gray overnight.

He stands before her, our hero, years older.

Loudy runs to him, flings herself onto his chest, and embraces him tenderly.


November 1967–April 1968


First published by

Fiktion, Berlin, 2016

ISBN 978 3 95988 034 3


Project Directors

Mathias Gatza, Ingo Niermann (Publishing Program)

Henriette Gallus (Communications)

Julia Stoff (Management)


Original title

De blanke Slavin


Translation from the Dutch

Laura Martz



Carel Struycken

Alexander Scrimgeour



Sam Frank


Design Identity

Vela Arbutina


Web Development

Maxwell Simmer (Version House)


The copyright for the text remains with the authors.


Fiktion is backed by the nonprofit association Fiktion e.V. It is organized in cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, and financed by a grant from the German Federal Cultural Foundation.


Fiktion e.V., c/o Mathias Gatza, Sredzkistraße 57, 10405 Berlin


Mathias Gatza, Ingo Niermann
Registered association VR 32615 B
(Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Berlin)

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