13d 1945 AN AMERICAN NON-HAPPY-END
Werfel is sitting in his study in Santa Barbara. Alma comes
to visit him. August 26th, 1945
are you today?
bad, thank you, but still much better than tomorrow.
I call Dr. Spinak?
you'd better offer me your breast and suckle me.
ALMA I hate
hate them too. It's the eternal Jew in me taking revenge on
the ephemeral Christian, that I've never been.
can be taken care of in no time. Shall I call Father Moenius?
as long as I live!
yourself. - Have you made any progress on the Epilogue?
I can't write anymore.
have to . It's the only thing that's going to save you.
worthless. No one is going to read it anyway.
is that letter you've got from the publisher, Johannes Urzidil?
said he liked your Prolegomena.
my »Theologumena« not my »Prolegomena«.
you read it to me?
I won't. It's boring.
I mean Urzidil's letter -
meant the letter too, goddamn it! You think I was talking
about my Theologumena? They're even more boring.
the matter with you, Franz? You've become so bitter. So unpleasant.
you've got to do is avoid me, and you'll spare yourself from
all this unpleasant afternoon spleen.
going on, Franz? Something very negative is happening . I
can't figure out what it is. I have to say, I'm alarmed.
alarmed, are you really? And you wonder what it is? Then let
me tell you: I'm finally decided to give up being a suckling.
I'm no longer the miserable breast-oriented male that I've
been all my life, and especially since I met you. I'm starting
to grow up. I've already reached puberty. I know it's a little
late, but better later than never. You can sense that you're
losing your grip on me, and that's making you panic.
ALMA I see
you indulging in your self-destructive tendencies, and that's
a disheartening show, I have to admit. What's happening to
you, Franz? When I took you in , you had more talent in your
little finger than Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, Karl Kraus and
Stefan Zweig put together. You were better than Joseph Roth,
Ödön von Horvath, Franz Kafka. I was sure you were
going to write a masterpiece that would put a mirror to our
time and define the spiritual horizon of the twentieth century.
Why didn't it work, Franzl? What did we do wrong?
head is full of shit. Full of shit! How could I have postulated
that the victim is guilty, and not the murderer! How could
I have written that the Jews have only themselves to blame
for everything, for being and behaving in a way that elicits
the sin of anti-Semitism from the Christians.
was a bold idea!
was not a bold idea, my dear. That was stupid crap , and you
encouraged me to write it!
lost your balls.
The idea was perverted in the first place. Now after what's
happened in Europe - it stinks like shit.
becoming too self critical.
see what I'm producing. I'm no idiot! My Great Masterpiece
is an ugly mixture of platitudes, gossip, science-fiction
nonsense, and soap-opera aesthetics.
is the spirit of our time.
do you know about the spirit of our time? What do I know about
it? Nothing! You hear me? Nothing! We are living here in Hollywood
in the most artificial environment man ever created. Ah!
Mrs. Werfel! Hello! How are you? Nice to meet you! You look
wonderful! What a beautiful house! This is a Non-Place.
is the most beautiful place on earth.
It's a perfect fit for you and your empty heart! My only contact
with reality is my daily visit to the movies. I'm killing
what's left of my soul and my brains with the debilitating
products of the most degenerate dream-factory ever constructed.
don't force you to go to the movies.
you don't, do you? Thank you very much. Then let me to ask
you what other cultural alternatives this cursed place has
can always read a book or listen to good music.
can't! I can't! That's the whole point, don't you understand?!!
I can't!! I need distraction! Distraction! You know why? Because
I'm toiling away eight hours a day on bad writing. I'm working
without inspiration, without pleasure, with a bad conscience
on my »masterpiece« - my masturbation-piece -
my great novel about the future! It's nothing but false pretences
and hot air. ! It makes me puke when I think of it. I've wasted
the best years of my life writing the wrong things. Yes, there
was a moment when I was standing on a cross-road. It was the
most meaningful moment in my life - and I let the opportunity
we were in Palestine, twenty years ago. I could have stayed
there. I could have connected myself to a place where history
was being made. The most meaningful event in the history of
my people, and maybe of all time. ! The most dramatic encounter
that has ever taken place between a new, sovereign Judaism
on the one hand, and Christianity and Islam on the other.
This is humanity's critical opportunity for either historical
reconciliation or total destruction. I could have taken part
in it! I could have been where everything was happening. I
could have sensed, experienced - and expressed it. What did
I do instead? I tore myself away from the heart of the world-drama
to live out my life in this fake, artificial paradise, where
all I can do is live a travesty of an existence, and reproduce
a counterfeit depiction of artificial feelings and thoughts.
And you're the one who talked me into it. It's all your fault.
is there another woman behind all this?
been feeling for a while that I was losing you. That you weren't
looking at me the way you used to. That you were avoiding
me. I didn't know what to think.
are you talking about?!
ALMA My God!
How could I be so blind! Now it's all clear to me. There is
another woman in your life. Franz! I know it.
God, you're such a dimwit. !
me the truth! Who is she?
all you can think about: »another woman«? Are
you serious? You are incorrigible! Your entire existence was
like a cheap, miserable, pathetic Viennese operetta. And I
was stupid enough to play a part in it. I can't believe it!
I'm dying! And all you can think about is »another woman«!
My God! My God! My God!
down. Calm down! It's just a fit of bad temper. It's only
temporary. You'll overcome it. You're young. You're only fifty
five. That's the golden age for a writer. It's the prime of
your career. You've had a success in Hollywood with your Jacobowsky
and the Colonel. You have at least another twenty years
to write. You'll overcome this crisis and realize that your
best novels and plays are still to come! You will tell the
story of the decline and fall of our civilization! You will
write a titanic masterpiece that will describe the destruction
of humanity! You've got what it takes! You have a fiery style,
a subtle and sensitive feel for language. You have the hunger!
The fever! The madness! And above all a tremendous lust for
life! I feel it! I know it!! You will be greater and much
more important than Thomas Mann. You will get the Nobel Prize!
Yes, you will! You have to ! You have to !
have been my life's great catastrophe. It took me years to
understand, but now I can see that I've been your slave for
years. Now it's finished. I'm finally free. Free of you. Nothing
can stop me. Nothing at all. I'm free! I am I! I am
Werfel topples over his desk. He is dead.
Father Georg Moenius enters.
you call me, my child?
He passed away.
poor child! (He caresses her) How terrible it must be for
had lots of experience being widowed.
me to express my sincere condolences.
of all you have to give him an urgent emergency baptism. We
can't bury him as a Jew.
my greatest pleasure! - Did he ask for it?
could say so, yes. In his own personal way. In any case, I
can't bear the thought of my Franzl appearing before God as
should he? It's so simple to fix!
Moenius sprinkles Werfel with some water, and murmurs some
my sister in sorrow, that's been taken care off. Is there
anything else I can do for you, Madam?
me prepare the ceremony.