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Dick Croy & Vincent Brook
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FADE IN: EXT. DAY – PRAGUE, AUGUST 1939 A palatial Baroque mansion stands out among elegant townhouses in a fashionably decaying neighborhood. A Mozart violin sonata is HEARD.
INT. DAY – BEDROOM ALEXANDER SYNEK, handsome, tall for 13, is practicing the sonata in his ornately furnished room when he is interrupted by MARTHA, one of his family’s numerous servants. She is a middle-aged spinster in a long black dress with a white apron and bonnet. MARTHA Your father wants to see you, in the library. Alexander, offended by the interruption and arrogant by nature toward the servants, gives her an icy look, repeats a passage, then pencils in a note to himself on the sheet music.
MARTHA He said it’s important. He wants to see you at once. Furious, Alexander throws the pencil on the floor, waiting for Martha to pick it up, but she refuses. ALEXANDER They’ll get you for that, you Nazi! He brushes past her through the open doorway, and walks angrily through a long carpeted...
INT. - CORRIDOR ...with Martha scurrying along behind. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I didn’t know what the word meant. My parents talked about the Nazis, I had seen newsreels. But I knew nothing of the Munich Agreement the year before, which led to the disintegration of our country, opening the door for Hitler’s Third Reich. When I asked about the German troops in the city, why I had been removed from school, my father always had a commonsense explanation. I believed him not only because I never questioned my father but because, like so many others, I wanted to believe. Alexander’s anger has been replaced by curiosity and anticipation when they reach the library. He waits for Martha to knock on the door. PRINCE SYNEK (O.S.) Enter!
INT. – LIBRARY PRINCE VACLAV SYNEK, Alexander’s father, is on the phone. PRINCE SYNEK Jawohl. Danke vielmals. Wir sprechen später. Wiederhören. [Yes indeed. Many thanks. We’ll speak later. Good bye.] He hangs up and looks at Alexander and Martha from behind his massive uncluttered desk. PRINCE SYNEK Thank you, Martha. She exits. PRINCE SYNEK (cont’d) Sit down, Alexander. I have to talk to you. He sits down in a baldachin, a baroque canopied armchair, facing the desk. His tall, thin elegantlydressed father’s commanding gaze is directed at him through rimless pince-nez on a long patrician nose. PRINCE SYNEK (cont’d) This summer we will not go to Ischia or on any other trip. Only your mother knows what I’m about to tell you. Alexander’s respect for his father is compelling. PRINCE SYNEK (cont’d) Miss Edwards has gone back to England. She is afraid of the Nazis – as is everyone else for that matter. No English or French governess will take a position in this part of Europe. But I don’t want my son’s education to suffer because of (MORE)
PRINCE SYNEK (CONT’D) these gangsters and their “New Order.” So I have managed to get you a new governess. She is German – ALEXANDER German? You just called them gangsters! PRINCE SYNEK I haven’t finished. She was born and schooled in Germany, but she is Jewish, from an old, very respectable Jewish family. ALEXANDER She’s Jewish? PRINCE SYNEK She is a German-Jewish refugee. Jews in Germany have been deprived of their citizenship. She had to flee the country that has been her family’s home for generations. Prince Synek unfolds a fresh handkerchief and cleans his glasses, eyeing his son sharply. PRINCE SYNEK (cont’d) Fräulein Rachel Moss was an honor student at the University of Cologne, with a degree in musicology. She has impeccable manners, and everything about her is first-rate. She can teach you languages, history, mathematics – anything you care to learn, including German of course. Because the day will come when these criminals will be behind bars and the German language will be respectable again. I have taken her into our home –
ALEXANDER She is already here? PRINCE SYNEK For her own protection. In this country as everywhere else, the Nazis have stirred up anti-Semitic feelings. Listen to me carefully. I want her to feel secure in my house, as though she were part of the family. As long as she lives in my custody nothing will happen to her. Now, I know you are rough on the servants and your tutors. No more of that! You are 13, old enough to behave like a gentleman, not like an ill-mannered schoolboy. Fräulein Moss is a lady, and you will have to be her knight, her squire. You will have to obey her instantly. But most important, no one is to know she’s Jewish, except for Martha and Ottokar. ALEXANDER Martha? She can know? PRINCE SYNEK But none of the other servants, and absolutely no one on the outside. Is that clear? ALEXANDER Y-yes of course, Father. PRINCE SYNEK The young lady’s true name is Bacher, but I have had a passport made out for her in the name of “Moss.”....So, can I rely on your chivalry and your discretion? ALEXANDER You can.
Prince Synek comes around his desk and shakes his son’s hand. Alexander is too befuddled to speak. The Prince returns to his desk and rings a bell. PRINCE SYNEK When Fräulein Moss enters you are to stand and bow to her in the proper manner. There is a knock on the door. Alexander springs from his chair and stands at attention. PRINCE SYNEK Enter! The door is opened by FRANZ, a middle-aged servant. FRANZ Fräulein Moss. RACHEL (BACHER) MOSS, a petite dark-haired beauty of 21 who looks much younger, enters and curtsies. Alexander is stunned. PRINCE SYNEK Fräulein Moss, I have the pleasure of introducing you to my son, Alexander. I entrust you with his guardianship. Barely mastering his emotions, Alexander approaches her and bows; Rachel curtsies, this time to him. PRINCE SYNEK (cont’d) Show Fräulein Moss your room and your schoolwork. ALEXANDER (to Rachel) May I? RACHEL (uncertainly at first) Yesss...yes – please do.
Alexander bows to his father, Rachel curtsies, and Alexander opens the door for her. As she exits, he gives his father a look of mixed emotions – amazement reassurance, confusion – and closes the door.
INT. DAY – CORRIDOR Walking down the hallway together, Alexander steals a glance at Rachel, who smiles gently in return. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) That was the beginning. As both my tutor and music teacher, Rachel and I became nearly inseparable, under the virtual “house arrest” my father had imposed after withdrawing me from school. She was my world. Over time, I dared to dream I might become Rachel’s as well.
INT. DAY - ALEXANDER’S ROOM These aren’t the history lessons he endured in school. ALEXANDER (reading book) “Friedrich der Grosse?” INSERT – ILLUSTRATION ALEXANDER (cont’d V.O.) He doesn’t look so big to me. BACK TO SCENE RACHEL “Grosse” means “great,” as in impressive, not large in size. As in Alexander the Great. ALEXANDER Ah, now I understand.
RACHEL I’ll tell you what would be really great, Alexander: if you started taking your lessons more seriously. He dutifully looks back at the book RACHEL So then, the next of the Hohenzollern to assume the Prussian throne was...?
INT. NIGHT – MANSION PARLOR Rachel accompanies Alexander’s violin playing on the piano. When he stumbles over a passage, she takes the violin and plays the passage perfectly. ALEXANDER That’s great, Rachel – impressive, I mean. Is there anything you don’t do? RACHEL Put up with naughty boys. ALEXANDER You can’t be talking about me. RACHEL Then let’s hear you play that passage as you’re capable, not just the notes but with feeling. When he stumbles again Rachel puts her arms around him to adjust his bowing position, producing a static shock when they make contact. Rachel pulls away with a start. ALEXANDER Are you okay?
RACHEL (flustered) Just a static shock. Cautiously this time, she readjusts his arm and hand position again. Their eyes briefly make contact; a subtle romantic flicker is exchanged.
EXT. DAY – CENTRAL COURTYARD A Gypsy plays a violin, another a hand-organ for Rachel and Alexander, listening from a balcony. When they’re finished Alexander tosses coins which a Gypsy woman tries to catch in a hat. Rachel is shocked. RACHEL Alexander! ALEXANDER What? You didn’t like their music? RACHEL An arrogant gesture like that is no way to show appreciation. ALEXANDER They’re here for the money. RACHEL But wouldn’t have handing it to them in the courtyard been more gentlemanly? Or do you really think they’re beneath you? Alexander is considering this as they leave the balcony and enter the...
INT. SYNEK MANSION ...where FRAU SYNEK, Alexander’s mother, a beautiful woman in her mid-30s, hurries past instructing Martha and Franz, another of the servants.
FRAU SYNEK Franz, please tell Otto to order a roast for tomorrow night – we’re having guests – and, Martha, I noticed that some of the bouquets have wilted. Could you please have the gardener gather fresh ones? She turns to her son with an adoring smile – which is cut short by an expression of fear. Rachel and Alexander follow her eyes.
EXT. - COURTYARD DRIVEWAY Herr Synek bows politely to a Nazi officer getting into the rear of a military vehicle. When the car drives away, Herr Synek turns and hurries away.
BACK TO SCENE ALEXANDER (to his mother) What was that all about? She pretends not to hear as she hurriedly leaves the foyer with the servants. ALEXANDER What’s going on, Rachel? RACHEL Just a formality, I’m sure. Your father has everything under control.
EXT. DAY – MANSION GARDEN Rachel sits with Goethe’s Faust as Alexander paces in front of her, reciting from it. Autumn leaves fall around them.
ALEXANDER “Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast, and one is striving to be separate from the other. One holds, with sensual, passionate desire, fast to the world, with clinging...” He glances at Rachel for assistance. RACHEL “Organs,” as in sense organs. ALEXANDER “...with clinging organs. The other rises strong from earthly mist, to the ethereal realms of high ancestral spirit.” RACHEL Sehr gut. Now what does it mean? ALEXANDER I guess, that we’re kind of like...two people, in one. Or at least we have two sides to our nature. As he continues, the CAMERA RISES to provide a view over the ivy-covered wall separating them from the rest of the bustling city - where, in the distance, we see military vehicles and soldiers in the streets. ALEXANDER (cont’d O.S.) ...One is physical, tied to our senses. The other is... A German Messerschmitt passes overhead, drowning out Alexander’s words.
INT. - LIBRARY Prince Synek, looking out the window, glances from the
fighter plane to Alexander and Rachel in the garden, then to the RADIO he’s been listening to. RADIO ANNOUNCER (V.O.) ...While its government refuses to surrender, Poland’s military defeat is all but assured. Its territory is now completely overrun by German and Soviet forces, with the two nations poised to carve up Polish territory between them.
EXT. - GARDEN – POV PRINCE SYNEK RADIO ANNOUNCER (V.O. cont’d) Meanwhile, Britain and France, which declared war against Germany after the Nazi Blitzkrieg a month ago but have offered little in the way of counteraction since,... INT. - LIBRARY The prince’s face is suffused with pain as he gazes at his son. RADIO ANNOUNCER (V.O. cont’d) ...seem similarly paralyzed by this latest development.
INT. NIGHT – MANSION LIVING ROOM A large tree adorned with candles on a snowy Christmas Eve. Rachel on piano and Alexander, violin, play the piece they were practicing earlier, he with assurance and fervor lacking before. Alexander’s parents listen appreciatively, applauding at the conclusion, along with Martha, who is serving coffee and pastry. PRINCE SYNEK Bravo! Excellent. What a beautiful gift to us all!
FRAU SYNEK You’ve made such progress, Alexander, and in such a short time! Fräulein Moss, you are to be commended. RACHEL Thank you, gnädige Frau. FRAU SYNEK I could almost see you two touring the Continent together. ...Under different circumstances. ALEXANDER What’s wrong with right now? PRINCE SYNEK (giving his wife a look) Your age, for one thing. ALEXANDER I’m thirteen! Fräulein Moss herself said that in the Jewish religion... He grimaces and pauses, as the others look to see whether any of the servants, besides Martha, has overheard. Apparently none has. ALEXANDER ...You become a man at thirteen. And I’ll be fourteen in January. RACHEL Going on middle age! This breaks the tension.
EXT./INT. DAY – MANSION KITCHEN Pouring rain outside, as Martha, Franz, two other servants, HERR HRMADKA and ANNIE, and OTTO, the cook,
stand huddled over the radio. RADIO ANNOUNCER ...The war’s Scandinavian front expanded today with Germany’s invasion of Denmark and Norway. Unlike the valiant Finns, who stood off the Russians for months before capitulating in late March, the Danes appear to be offering the Nazis little resistance. Alexander bursts in from outside with the family dog. Both are soaking wet and covered with mud. Franz immediately turns down the SOUND. MARTHA Alexander! What were you doing outside in this foul weather? ALEXANDER Walking Luci. Then it started pouring. What are you all doing? ANNIE Um, just listening – Franz switches the channel and turns up the SOUND. FRANZ To an opera. HERR HRMADKA Fidelio! OTTO Our favorite. MARTHA And you, young man, if you want to avoid a scene, we’d better get you cleaned up before your parents see you!
Annie takes Luci, and Martha starts to lead Alexander away. RACHEL (entering) There you are, you rascal! I’ll take care of it, Martha. It’s really my fault. I should have been watching him more closely. First thing is to take off those wet clothes. Then it’s into a nice hot bath. Alexander contentedly allows Rachel to lead him from the room. When they’re gone, Franz returns to the news.
INT. DAY - ALEXANDER’S ROOM RAIN lashes the window as Rachel sits pensively reading a letter. ALEXANDER (O.S.) Rachel! She doesn’t react.
ALEXANDER stands by the bathroom doorway in only his shorts. ALEXANDER Rachel! BACK TO SCENE Rachel hurriedly places the letter on the window sill and puts on her governess’s face as Alexander comes over. RACHEL It’s Fräulein Moss to you, young man!
ALEXANDER What were you reading? RACHEL Just a letter from my parents. ALEXANDER (turning around) So, do I pass inspection? She checks his nails and behind his ears. RACHEL Just one thing. She gets a comb and combs his hair. RACHEL There. Now once you’re properly dressed ALEXANDER Could I, would you let me, braid your hair? I know how to do it! Mother showed me. She lets me do it for her. RACHEL Why, y-yes. Sure. That would would be nice. He expertly, and lovingly, braids her thick dark hair. ALEXANDER ...You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. RACHEL Coming from a man of the world like you, that’s quite a compliment. ALEXANDER Don’t make fun. I mean it!
RACHEL I’m sure you do. He tugs on her hair. RACHEL Ow! (pulling away) Okay, that’s enough now. Get dressed. We have our Latin grammar to study, remember? She finishes braiding her hair. He walks to his dresser, pouting – then, spotting her letter on the sill, darts over and picks it up. RACHEL (rushing over) Alexander! That’s my letter. It’s not for you! ALEXANDER (holding letter away) You said it was just from your parents. So what’s the big secret? RACHEL (reaching for letter) No secret – it’s just private. Now give it back, this instant! ALEXANDER No! Everyone’s always hiding things from me! (glancing at the letter) This isn’t from your parents. You lied! She wrests the letter from him. He grabs her wrist so hard she gasps in pain. RACHEL Let me go! You’re hurting me!
ALEXANDER I will not let go until you tell me who the letter is from! RACHEL (crying) Let me go! Alexander releases her but blocks the door. ALEXANDER Give me that letter! When she refuses, he grabs her wrist again with one hand and tries to snatch the envelope from her. RACHEL No! Frustrated and enraged, he pushes her and she falls to the floor. She lies motionless, tears trickling from her closed eyes. Finally she speaks, without emotion. RACHEL The letter is from my cousin in Palestine. I am engaged to him, since childhood. My parents must have told him I’m here. He is a Zionist. Mail can only be sent through the underground. ALEXANDER (kneeling) ...Forgive me, Rachel. I beg you! I love you – I’ll love you forever. I pray that you love me. Not him. Rachel rises to her knees and kisses him tenderly on the lips – then takes the envelope from her dress and places it on the floor. Leaving him spellbound, she stands and exits the room. When he hears her DOOR CLOSE, Alexander rips open the envelope. A black and white snapshot and piece of stationery flutter to the floor. He picks up the photograph.
INSERT – PHOTOGRAPH of a fat young man in his late 20s or early 30s, bearded, bald and shirtless, shiny with sweat.
ALEXANDER drops the photo in disgust and picks up the letter...
INSERT – LETTER ...in a spidery indecipherable handwriting.
ALEXANDER in misery but also strangely elated, walks to the window. The rain outside continues. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) My beloved Rachel, was engaged! But to whom, or rather to what? This “man” looked like a monster in a horror film. He was old and ugly. And that handwriting... He looks back down at the letter. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) ...like a half-dead insect dragging itself across the paper. This was my rival? But then, was I so much better? He looks down at his hands. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I should cut off the hands that pushed her to the floor!...Even so, she kissed me! FADE TO:
EXT. DAY – MANSION GARDEN With the look of a young man suffering the wounds of adolescent first love, Alexander sits alone with a book in the shade of a chestnut tree in bloom. PRINCE SYNEK (O.S.) Alexander! Alexander looks up at his father in the window. ALEXANDER Yes, father? PRINCE SYNEK Come to the library immediately! ALEXANDER Yes, Father.
INT. DAY - LIBRARY Prince Synek is at the window as Alexander enters and, seeing Rachel, stops in the doorway. She stands. PRINCE SYNEK Come in, my boy. Come in. Alexander steps forward with trepidation, fearing a reprimand for his behavior, or worse. PRINCE SYNEK You must prepare to leave immediately. ALEXANDER Leave? But why? PRINCE SYNEK Just listen. Soon the Germans will be invading the Lowlands. Their plans are to cross the borders of (MORE)
PRINCE SYNEK (CONT’D) Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. We must leave Czechoslovakia before it is too late. ALEXANDER Too late? PRINCE SYNEK Yes, we are in danger here. ALEXANDER I don’t understand. PRINCE SYNEK I’m sorry, son. I have tried to keep this from you... (looking at Rachel) ...we all have. But it’s no use any longer. We are in the middle of a world war. There is no time to explain things further. Fräulein Moss will pack your things – as if for an overnight trip, no more. RACHEL It is done, gnädiger Herr. PRINCE SYNEK Very well. We will be leaving in half an hour! ALEXANDER (looking at Rachel, anxiously) A-all of us? PRINCE SYNEK All except the servants. Frau Synek enters, dressed for a trip. PRINCE SYNEK Is everything in order?
FRAU SYNEK The luggage is packed. All the servants have left. (to Rachel and Alexander) I have prepared a cold lunch for you. RACHEL May I help you, gnädige Frau? FRAU SYNEK Thank you. Just attend to Alexander. ALEXANDER If the servants have left, who will drive? PRINCE SYNEK Ottokar, of course. ALEXANDER But PRINCE SYNEK Ottokar is a friend. Martha and Herr Hrmadka will remain also, to maintain the premises and for appearances’ sake. Now enough questions. Go! After Rachel and Alexander leave, Prince Synek sinks into a chair by his desk. His wife puts a comforting hand on his shoulder, which he covers with his own.
EXT. DAY - MANSION COURTYARD A shiny black Stutz idles before the mansion gate. Herr Hrmadka, the Syneks’ obsequious concierge, places the last piece of luggage in the trunk and helps Frau Synek into the car, twirling the tips of his greasy handlebar-moustache. Prince Synek, Alexander, Rachel, and OTTOKAR, the chauffeur, are already inside.
HERR HRMADKA Is your Ladyship planning a trip of long duration? FRAU SYNEK That depends on the weather. HERR HRMADKA Let us pray you will have plenty of sunshine. PRINCE SYNEK Please open the gate. HERR HRMADKA Of course, your Highness, of course. Herr Hrmadka waddles to the gate, selects a key from his enormous key ring and inserts it in the lock, turning it as if the task required great strength. As the car passes, he bows deeply.
EXT. DAY – PRAGUE STREETS The imposing automobile in crowded city streets.
INT. – CAR Prince and Frau Synek sit in back facing forward, Rachel and Alexander in the double seats facing them. A curtained glass window separates the passengers from Ottokar, a tall, thin man with impassive features that seem set in granite. He wears a long black overcoat and peaked black cap. Imbedded in an armrest between the adults is a flexible speaking tube allowing the chauffeur to communicate with his passengers.
EXT. – STREETS – MONTAGE A) German soldiers and military vehicles everywhere.
B) Alexander is awed and alarmed by sights from which he has been shielded for over a year. C) Rachel takes his hand to comfort him. D) Prince and Frau Synek, embittered and pained by the situation, appear comforted by the strong bond they observe between Rachel and Alexander. E) Harried indifference or intimidation in the scurrying pedestrians, but also occasional curious, or resentful glances at the luxurious car.
INT./EXT. DAY – CAR – MONTAGE Seeing his wife take a handkerchief to her face, Prince Synek musters a grim determined expression. PRINCE SYNEK (to Alexander) There’s your old school. I doubt you’ll shed a tear for that. They all glance at the monastery-like building. Alexander quickly looks away. PRINCE SYNEK And that, Fräulein, is the Altneuschul, the oldest existing synagogue in Europe. Built in the 13th century. RACHEL “Old-new school”? An odd name. FRAU SYNEK It was Prague’s only synagogue until the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal. A family leaving the synagogue as the car passes are all wearing yellow stars of David. Everyone, but especially Alexander, is struck by the sight. He gives
Rachel a comforting look and squeezes her hand. OTTOKAR (over speaking tube) Pardon me, but we are nearing our destination. PRINCE SYNEK Thank you, Ottokar. Prince Synek takes a fine Moroccan leather wallet from the inside pocket of his jacket. PRINCE SYNEK I have something important to show you. Listen carefully. He opens the billfold to reveal two Czech passports, a large amount of money, and road maps. PRINCE SYNEK Several currencies, ample for your needs. And passports for both of you. Ottokar has his own. Familiarize yourselves with the maps. You should know at all times where you are and where you are going. (handing Rachel the wallet) Ottokar has directions for the entire trip. By dusk, you will cross the Austrian border. You have the exit and transit visas for Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland stamped in your passports, as well as your entry visa for France. He pauses until they’ve passed a group of Nazi soldiers looking suspiciously at the car. PRINCE SYNEK (cont’d) Ottokar will drive through (MORE)
PRINCE SYNEK (CONT’D) Austria all night. You will arrive at the Palace Hotel, in Vaduz, early tomorrow morning. (to Rachel) There you will meet your parents. RACHEL My parents? PRINCE SYNEK They should have left early this morning and will arrive in Vaduz tonight. Tears roll down her cheeks. Overwhelmed by emotion, she reaches for the Prince’s hand to kiss it.
RACHEL Thank you, thank you so much, gnädiger Herr! PRINCE SYNEK (pulling his hand back) Now you must concentrate, Fräulein, because Vaduz is only the beginning of your trip. You will get some rest during the day Sunday, then Ottokar will change vehicles, one with French license plates, and at five o’clock Sunday evening he will take you, your parents, and Alexander through the night into Switzerland and across the French Border. From then on, you’ll be safe. After breakfast you will proceed to Lyons, where you will await further instructions. ALEXANDER (anxiously) Papa! What about you and Mama?
PRINCE SYNEK We will join you in Lyons. From there we will travel together, unless Herr Hitler interferes with our plans. We will all stay in Lyons and wait until the “Führer” and his henchmen are behind bars. Nothing can happen to us once we are in France. France is our ally. ALEXANDER But where are you going? How long will you be away? PRINCE SYMEK No time to answer now. Ottokar will explain.
The car comes to a halt at the train station.
EXT. CAR – TRAIN STATION Ottokar gets out and opens the rear doors. Prince and Frau Synek step out followed by Rachel and Alexander. Rachel shakes hands with his parents. RACHEL Thank you again, both of you! I don’t know how I can repay you! PRINCE SYNEK By making sure that we all meet again safely, in Lyons. ALEXANDER You make sure, too! He shakes hands with his father and embraces his mother, who kisses him tenderly. FRAU SYNEK It won’t be long, my darling.
She holds back tears as she and the train station. Alexander is himself as he looks after them. Rachel, who tugs Alexander back
the Prince depart for on the verge of tears Ottokar signals to into the car.
INT./EXT. – CAR Alexander and Rachel sit where his parents sat. Ottokar pulls away from the station. Alexander sees his mother steal a brief glance in their direction before she and his father disappear into the crowd. RACHEL Don’t worry, Alexander. Your father has planned everything so well. Soon we will all be together again. He nods, restraining his emotions. Rachel draws him toward her, and he rests his head on her shoulder. As they drive on, her expression turns to one of concern.
INT./EXT. DAY – CAR/CZECH COUNTRYSIDE - MONTAGE Alexander’s spirits are lifted by the scenery – verdant meadows, fruit trees in bloom, cattle grazing – and by the intimacy he’s now sharing with Rachel. Her mood has lifted too, thanks to the surroundings and the thought of seeing her parents again. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) Ottokar didn’t say much about where my parents were going or why we had to be separated. Just that my father had some important financial matters to take care of and wanted us to get a head start. Getting anything out of Ottokar was like pulling teeth, in the best of times, so I put my concerns aside for the moment. Besides, here I (MORE)
ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O. CONT’D) was, starting the longest journey of my life – with Rachel. While driving, Ottokar opens the glass partition and hands back the lunch Frau Synek prepared for them. RACHEL Thank you, Ottokar. Alexander and Rachel talk while enjoying the meal. RACHEL Oh, Alexander, I know you’ll love my parents! And they will love you. ALEXANDER I’m not thinking of your parents. RACHEL You’re worried about yours, aren’t you? ALEXANDER I’m not thinking about them either. Being here with you – alone...it’s what I’ve always dreamed of. RACHEL But we’re not alone. We have a chaperone. ALEXANDER You know what I mean! RACHEL I’m eight years older than you, Alexander – ALEXANDER Seven!
RACHEL And I’m your governess. But a few years from now, when you’re twenty-one... ALEXANDER Yes? What then? RACHEL Well, then – you won’t need a governess. If you still know me. ALEXANDER I’ll know you 80 years from now! He grips her hand so tightly she squeals. Suddenly the car brakes, spilling some of their food.
INT./EXT. DAY - CAR/COUNTRY ROAD A group of men, women and children with swastikas on their sleeves and carrying banners march past singing the Horst Wessel Lied, the Nazi anthem. Rachel, almost choking, presses her hands over her ears. Alexander, surprised by her vehement reaction, closes the windows and attempts to comfort her but without success. He directs his anger, silently, at the marchers.
INT./EXT. - TWILIGHT - CAR/RUGGED TERRAIN Rachel’s head rests on Alexander’s shoulder now. She is asleep and he is nearly so. OTTOKAR (through speaking tube) We must stop for gas in Budweis.
INT./EXT. NIGHT - CAR/BUDWEIS As they enter the Czech village, a mob, lewd and drunk, careens through the streets. Nazi flags and
banners everywhere. Rachel sits up with a start. RACHEL Oh no! Alexander puts a protective arm around her. OTTOKAR (through speaking tube) Have no fear, Fräulein. We will be out of town in no time. But he is forced to slow due to the riotous crowds. An SS officer chasing a young woman across the street slams into the hood and waves a fist at Ottokar. Another officer rips the dress off her apparently willing companion. A wild-eyed woman tears off her dress in front of a drunken reveler. Other drunken men are fighting. A couple make love in an alley.
INT./EXT. CAR – FILLING STATION When they finally reach the filling station, it’s closed. Ottokar parks under an archway and comes to Alexander’s side window as the crowd surges past. OTTOKAR I have to find the owner. Draw the curtains and open the doors for no one. I’ll lock the doors from the outside. INT. - CAR We HEAR the doors being locked as Alexander pulls the curtain on one side, Rachel on the other. The NOISE outside seems even louder in the car’s dark interior. Alexander puts his arm around Rachel and she opens the billfold Prince Synek gave her and removes a map. RACHEL The closest town is Linz, in (MORE)
RACHEL (CONT’D) Austria – almost a hundred kilometers. ALEXANDER It would be Sunday. We wouldn’t be able to buy petrol anyway. EXT. - CAR The chaos continues. A man is clubbed savagely by SS thugs. The surging crowd shows increasing curiosity in the gleaming Stutz parked at the filling station.
INT. - CAR Crowd SOUNDS as Rachel and Alexander huddle in fear. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I could feel Rachel shaking in fear against me and suddenly remembered something my father had said: the Nazi doctrine appeals to people because it releases the savage in them. The mighty shake hands with the downtrodden, each believing this to be their revolution. Violence and brutality are justified in the name of patriotism. The rape of everything refined and elevated – the victory of the lowest instincts in man. I hadn’t understood at the time, because I couldn’t imagine what was now taking place around us. Rachel and Alexander jump at a voice outside. VOICE #1 Was macht denn dieses Auto hier? [What is this automobile doing here?]
VOICE #2 Jemand da drinne? [Anybody in there?] VOICE #3 (RATTLING door handle) Ist geschslossen. [It’s locked.] VOICE #1 Hey, Du da drinne. Mach auf! [Hey, you in there! Open up!] VOICE #2 (RATTLING other doors) Sind alle geschlossen! [They’re all locked!] VOICE #2 Vielleicht Judenhunde die verschwinden wollen! [Maybe Jew dogs trying to run!] The SOUND of fists pounding on the windows, followed by splintering glass: Ottokar’s side window. Alexander tries to shield Rachel as the window is shattered. VOICE #3 Verdammte Tür ist immer noch geshlossen! [Damned door’s still locked!] VOICE #2 Krieche durch’s Fenster, Dummkopf! [Crawl through the window, blockhead!] Suddenly Ottokar’s partition is smashed open. Alexander rips off his overcoat and throws it over Rachel. A MAN with a crowbar (Voice #3) tears the curtain aside and stares in; other faces peer in through the windshield behind him. He snatches the overcoat off of Rachel – who screams.
MAN (VOICE #3)
‘N Mädel! [A girl!]
VOICE #2 S’gibt Mädel da drin! [There are girls inside!] CROWD VOICES Hol sie raus! Hol sie raus! Hol sie raus! [Get them out! Get them out! Get them out!] The man pulls the side window curtain aside to give the crowd a look, then reaches for Rachel. Alexander tears the crowbar from his hand and strikes him in the face. Screaming, the man falls backward, blood pouring over his face. Two other men (one of them Voice #1) crawl over the one who was bludgeoned... VOICE #1 Pass auf für die Bremse! [Watch out for the brake!] ...when the car lurches forward and starts to roll. VOICE #1 Du hast’s losgelassen, Du Esel! [You released it, you fool!] EXT./INT. CAR The car rolls down the street, parting the crowd and picking up speed. One of the men crawling through the partition grabs the crowbar from the floor and strikes Alexander a glancing blow across the face. He slumps against Rachel, who’s still screaming but now in rage as well as fear. She claws the man fiercely.
INT./EXT. CAR – POV ALEXANDER As he fights to retain consciousness, everything
begins to blur, from the flash of Rachel’s arms struggling with their attacker to the intermittent glare of shop windows sliding past through the window. The shouts and sounds of the crowd merge into a cacophonous BABBLE. Then, against the strobing shop lights, the indistinct silhouette of a giant, striding toward us through the crowded street, sweeping people aside as if he were swimming through them. Is that Ottokar, towering over everyone in his long black overcoat? Everything goes black. FADE TO: INT. DAY – CAR – POV ALEXANDER Rachel’s face comes into focus. Alexander groans. RACHEL He’s waking. OTTOKAR (through smashed partition) Give him some more cognac. Rachel tips the bottle to his lips and Alexander sits up abruptly, choking. ALEXANDER (holding his aching head) Ohhh...what happened? RACHEL Ottokar was magnificent. And so were you, my brave knight! ALEXANDER How did we get away?
EXT. NIGHT – BUDWEIS – MONTAGE – FLASHBACK RACHEL (V.O.) Someone released the hand brake...
Alexander is hit in the face and slumps forward onto Rachel. A reprise of the scene we saw through his fading consciousness, but from other ANGLES: the Stutz rolls downhill through the pursuing mob. Ottokar strides through the crowd, knocking people aside, jumps onto the running board, and unlocks the front door from the outside.
INT. – CAR - FLASHBACK Ottokar pulls the emergency brake, grabs the bleeding man at the wheel by his neck and throws him into the street. The one in back he knocks cold with a single blow without stopping to remove him. He starts the engine and, honking non-stop...
EXT. – STREET - FLASHBACK ...backs through the crowd so wildly that people push one another aside to avoid being run over.
EXT. NIGHT – FILLING STATION – MONTAGE – FLASHBACK The owner is waiting for him and fills the tank while Ottokar stands guard. When the tank is filled, he pulls the unconscious man in the back seat through the door and drives off. The owner pulls a fat wad of cash from his pocket, riffles it to make sure it’s all there, then hurries into the station and douses the lights.
EXT. NIGHT – AUSTRIAN BORDER STATION - FLASHBACK A sleepy guard checks Ottokar’s papers, then looks in back at Rachel and Alexander, still passed out on her lap. OTTOKAR Sleeping.
RACHEL (V.O.) ...And the guard waved us through. The guard does just that. BORDER GUARD Heil Hitler.
INT. NIGHT – CAR Rachel having brought him up to date, Alexander returns her smile, wincing, and looks out the window to see that they are in the...
INT./EXT. NIGHT – MOUNTAINS Ottokar drives cautiously through slush, snow and fog, headlights probing the blinding weather. A truck HONKS as it passes dangerously close. RACHEL Maybe we should stop till the fog clears. OTTOKAR Impossible, Fräulein. We lost too much time in Budweis. My main concern is the young man’s condition. Ask him his name. ALEXANDER (groaning) I can hear you. Alexander – Alexander the Great. OTTOKAR Okay, get some sleep. Both of you.
INT. – NIGHT – PASSENGER COMPARTMENT
Alexander blows Rachel a kiss, which she returns. Lowering his eyelids with her hand, she closes her eyes and puts her head back against the seat.
EXT. NIGHT – MOUNTAIN ROAD Later. The fog is gone. The Austrian Alps, partially obscured by drifting clouds, are magnificent. Ottokar stops at a turnout and comes back to the...
INT. – CAR ...passenger compartment to give Rachel a wool shawl to cover Alexander’s neck. He pulls a wool cap out of his pocket as well, dislodging the car’s triptique. OTTOKAR They mustn’t see his injuries. Feldkirch is the most pro-Nazi border station. Rachel places the cap on Alexander’s head, then hands Ottokar the triptique, with a noticeable shudder. OTTOKAR ...But it’s the last in Austria. Courage. She nods and smiles bravely. Ottokar closes the door. ALEXANDER (sleepily) What was that you handed him? We HEAR Ottokar slam the door and turn on the engine. The journey continues during their conversation. RACHEL Triptique. The vehicle papers: engine number, body type, proof of insurance. That’s how it (MORE)
RACHEL (CONT’D) always begins when you arrive at the border: “Heil Hitler! Triptique, bitte!”...How I hate Those horrible words! Twice I left Germany swearing never to return, each time with the illusion that I was out of danger at last, free from persecution, free to say what I think and feel. Now, I am free: free from my illusions. Fascism is marching faster than we can flee from it. They’re both silent a moment as Alexander thinks about what she’s said and Rachel appears absorbed in memory. ALEXANDER ...What were the other times – when you tried to escape? RACHEL First, when I drove with my parents to Holland, last year... and the second time, when I entered Czechoslovakia. ALEXANDER Your parents are in Holland? I thought they were in Germany. RACHEL They are. We never made it to Holland....There is so much I’ve not told you of my life. It’s a different world from yours. ALEXANDER Tell me about it. Please. RACHEL ...I’m leaving behind so many (MORE)
RACHEL (CONT’D) people – whose world has molded me. You see, when Hitler came to power, my father was a public prosecutor. ALEXANDER A prosecutor! So what happened? Rachel stops talking and gazes through the window, not really seeing the mountains they’re passing through. RACHEL ...My father, who knew the law, whose business it was to accuse and indict criminals, was now accused by criminals. The public prosecutor was prosecuted. People took their revenge on him. Suddenly he was a Jew, suddenly we were all Jews – when until then we had been Germans. ALEXANDER That’s how you became a refugee? RACHEL Not right away. First came the various anti-Jewish policies – relieving professionals of their positions, outlawing intermarriage, ...eventually stripping Jews of our German citizenship. Many Jews, and other anti-Nazis, left Germany, if they could. Our home became a way station for relatives and friends who hoped to emigrate, or who were out of work, destitute.
INT. DAY – BOCHUM APARTMENT – FLASHBACK What was an elegantly appointed apartment at one time is filled with adults and children, all miserable.
RACHEL (V.O. cont’d) Our spacious apartment, where we had been living for as long as I could remember, seemed to shrink. It became too small to house all these people seeking temporary shelter. BACK TO CAR Rachel suddenly slumps in her seat. RACHEL (an older woman’s voice) Oh God, my Lord Jesus, help me! I can’t go on. I pray You, my Lord Savior, and You, our Father in Heaven, and You, the Holy Ghost! Help me! (laughing, normal voice) That’s just one of the things you had to put up with all day – Aunt Ruth sitting on the sofa moaning her prayers. ALEXANDER But wasn’t your aunt Jewish? RACHEL Yes of course, but she’d converted to Catholicism like many other Jews, thinking this would save her.
INT. DAY – BOCHUM APARTMENT - FLASHBACK Rachel’s AUNT RUTH sits on a sofa, sighing and mumbling to herself. RACHEL (cont’d, V.O.) Now with all this hatred of the Jews by the good German (MORE)
RACHEL (CONT’D) Christians, Aunt Ruth was a Jew again, whether she liked it or not. But now she didn’t know who she was praying to. ALEXANDER (V.O.) I can see her! BACK TO CAR RACHEL Then there were my daily love trysts with Yasha. ALEXANDER I don’t know if I want to hear this! RACHEL Yasha was 82 years old! Born in New York and still an American citizen, though his parents returned to Germany when he was three, which he always regretted.
INT. DAY – BOCHUM APARTMENT – FLASHBACK YASHA hits on Rachel, who humors him good-naturedly. RACHEL (V.O.) He tried to persuade anyone in a skirt to return with him to the land of milk and honey. Rachel escapes Yasha, only to encounter SIEGFRIED, rummaging in a wastebasket. Seeing her, he turns on the charm. When she tries to ditch him, he chases her. RACHEL (V.O. cont’d) Yasha’s rival was Siegfried Zarutzki, once a financier and multi-millionaire, now a (MORE)
RACHEL (CONT’D) compulsive pack rat, especially of things other people threw away. No doubt in compensation for the fortune he lost when the Nazis took over. Siegfried used to chase me through the rooms, but with his cataracts he was as good as blind. The glasses he wore weren’t even his. He’d filched them from a stranger. BACK TO CAR RACHEL (cont’d) (elderly man’s voice) “Oh, my little Esther, I’ve been dreaming of you all night long.” (her own voice) “But I’m not Esther, Uncle Siegfried. I’m Rachel Bacher.” (elderly man’s voice) “So what? What’s in a name? Don’t be so finicky.” ALEXANDER You should go on the stage! She’s pleased, but her mood turns reflective again. RACHEL These are only a few of all the people living in our apartment.
INT. DAY – BOCHUM APARTMENT – FLASHBACK Various rooms overrun with people. Rachel, clearly bored, plays chess with Yasha. RACHEL (V.O.) It became a marketplace. No one had any privacy.
INT. – KITCHEN - FLASHBACK FRAU BACHER, Rachel’s mother, serves a large group at the table. Others mill around, waiting their turn. RACHEL (V.O. cont’d) Hungry people flooded the kitchen in waves. Relatives swarming in to borrow and be fed, to shout and cry – threatening and defying my father, then begging for his help.
INT. STUDY - FLASHBACK A group of men hector HERR BACHER, Rachel’s father, in his study. He fends them off as best he can. RACHEL (V.O. cont’d) But this once-powerful prosecutor, humiliated and slandered by the Nazis, had no more power. He was a mouse trapped like the rest. BACK TO CAR ALEXANDER My God, how could you stand it? RACHEL This was nothing compared to what was to come. Kristallnacht – have you heard of it? Alexander’s expression indicates he hasn’t. RACHEL Of course not. Your father has shielded you from such things. Crystal Night, November 9, 1938, when hell broke loose in Germany.
INT./EXT. NIGHT – BOCHUM, GERMANY - FLASHBACK A rock shatters the window of a drugstore in which Rachel is a customer. ROCK THROWER Scheiss Jude! [Shit Jew]! Shouts and other anti-Semitic epithets are hurled by an angry crowd outside. The STORE OWNER reaches for a club from behind the counter. STORE OWNER Verdammte Verbrecher! [Damn criminals!] His WIFE tugs at his arm, trying to restrain him. WIFE Nein, Fritz. Bitte nicht! [No, Fritz, please don’t] Other customers cower in the aisles, while Rachel, afraid but wanting to know what’s happening, inches toward the broken window. DRUGSTORE CUSTOMER #1 Steh weg! Steh weg, Rachel! [Stay away! Stay away, Rachel!] DRUGSTORE CUSTOMER #2 Bist Du verrückt, Mädchen! [Are you crazy, girl!]
EXT. NIGHT - BOCHUM - POV RACHEL – MONTAGE - FLASHBACK Running through the streets, a mob throws rocks at store windows, paints “JUDE” on windows and walls, sets fires, and beats passersby, including an elderly couple. In the distance, the local synagogue is in flames.
RACHEL (V.O.) Mobs rampaged through the streets all across the country, destroying Jewish businesses, burning synagogues, beating and killing hundreds of people. Rachel waits for the mob to pass, then sneaks out of the store and runs the other way towards her home.
INT. NIGHT - BOCHUM APARTMENT – FLASHBACK Rachel bursts into what is now a makeshift hospital. Her mother and Aunt Ruth are tending to riot casualties. Uncle Siegfried is among the injured. RACHEL (V.O.) It wasn’t safe for Jews in Germany any longer. When the deportations began, we had to flee, in the middle of the night.
EXT. NIGHT – BOCHUM STREETS - FLASHBACK Rachel, her parents, Aunt Ruth and Yasha, carrying their belongings in bags and suitcases, trudge along a Bochum alleyway at night. RACHEL (V.O.) We left our car behind, thinking that when we had our papers we could leave the country – which my father, in spite of everything, didn’t believe would be necessary. Like so many others, he was sure that Hitler would be gone in a matter of months.
INT. NIGHT - ATTIC - FLASHBACK Rain water drips into pans and buckets as Rachel and
her family put together makeshift beds in an attic at night. Rachel puts her coat over a shivering Yasha. RACHEL (V.O.) Since our money had run out now too, we found shelter where we could: in cellars or attics with leaky roofs. Aunt Ruth and Yasha didn’t survive.
EXT. NIGHT – COUNTRY ROAD – FLASHBACK The family huddle in the back of a truck on a country road at night. Frau Bacher is coughing. RACHEL (V.O.) We could never stay in any one place for long. Always on the move. Finally, we found refuge with Gentile friends, the Meyers, who took us in and hid us at great risk to themselves.
EXT./INT. NIGHT - VILLAGE COTTAGE – FLASHBACK Herr Meyer welcomes the family at the door, urging them to hurry inside before latching the door. Frau Meyer greets them. RACHEL (V.O.) Then, my mother got sick. INT. DAY - COTTAGE BEDROOM - FLASHBACK Rachel and Frau Meyer tend to a bedridden Frau Bacher. RACHEL (V.O.) There was no hospital in the village. My cousin had told me of a route over the border to Holland that was unguarded. I (MORE)
RACHEL (CONT’D) know how to drive, and the car was still in our garage. Herr Meyer said he’d get it for us.
INT. - COTTAGE - FLASHBACK Rachel argues with her father. RACHEL (V.O.) The only obstacle was my father. BACK TO CAR RACHEL (cont’d) He was still convinced the Nazis would be overthrown any day, and refused to leave the country... (scornfully) ...without the proper papers.
INT. - COTTAGE BEDROOM - FLASHBACK Rachel, her father and the Meyers huddle around Frau Bacher’s bedside. She appears to be gravely ill. RACHEL (V.O.) But my mother continued to get worse and, finally, my father relented.
EXT. NIGHT - COTTAGE – FLASHBACK Herr Meyer arrives with the Bachers’ Mercedes, and Frau Bacher is helped into the back of the car. With Rachel behind the wheel, her father beside her, they say goodbye to the Meyers and drive away. RACHEL (V.O.) I drove through the night.
NIGHT – HIGHWAY – FLASHBACK
Rachel driving the Mercedes. RACHEL (cont’d, V.O.) Things went smoothly until we reached the Dutch border.
EXT. NIGHT – DUTCH BORDER STATION – FLASHBACK The Mercedes approaches.
INT. – MERCEDES – FLASHBACK Rachel and her father exchange a worried, but hopeful, expression. MAN’S VOICE (O.S.) Triptique, bitte!
EXT. - BORDER STATION – FLASHBACK A BORDER GUARD sticks out his arm.
BACK TO STUTZ (THE PRESENT) ALEXANDER But your cousin told you it was unguarded! RACHEL He was wrong. ALEXANDER So what did you do? RACHEL No triptique...my mother dying. I had to drive on – against my father’s wishes.
EXT. NIGHT – BORDER STATION - FLASHBACK Rachel guns the engine and peels out. The guard shoots their tires to shreds.
INT. NIGHT – CAR - FLASHBACK With her father screaming at her, Rachel fumbles beneath the seat as...
EXT. NIGHT – CAR - FLASHBACK ...the guard runs up, machinegun pointed at the car. GUARD Halt! Raus vom Auto! Hände hoch! Mach’s schnell! [Stop! Out of the car! Hands up! Make it fast!] ALEXANDER (V.O.) And arrested you? RACHEL (V.O.) No.
EXT. NIGHT – CAR – POV GUARD The petite girl in the driver’s seat, her eyes wide with fear, suddenly pulls a handgun from somewhere, aims it at him...and fires.
BACK TO STUTZ (THE PRESENT) The SOUND of the shot echoes in the back seat of the car. Alexander can’t believe what he’s just been told. ALEXANDER ...You shot him?
Rachel is too emotional to answer at first. ALEXANDER ...You shot a border guard? RACHEL Don’t you see? Everything rested on my shoulders. My father was a burden, not a help. ALEXANDER Where did you get the gun? RACHEL Herr Meyer. My father didn’t know about it. ALEXANDER ...And you knew how to use it? RACHEL I had no idea. I didn’t even know if the safety was on. But what choice did I have? What did we have to lose?...The safety was off – the gun could have fired at any time. I just squeezed the trigger and....
INT. NIGHT – CAR – FLASHBACK Rachel sits there frozen for a moment, stunned by what she has done. Herr Bacher is speechless. RACHEL Wir müssen weg. Sofort! Hilf mir mit Mama. Komm’ schon! [We have to go! Now! Help me with Mama. Come on!)
EXT. NIGHT - GUARD STATION/FOREST – MONTAGE, FLASHBACK
They help Frau Bacher from the car, and supporting her between them as best they can, stumble into the woods. HERR BACHER Was hast Du gemacht, Kind! Bist Du verrückt? Nun sind wir alle Tod! [What have you done, child! Are you crazy? Now we’re all dead!] Finally Frau Bacher pleads with them to stop. FRAU BACHER Kann nicht weiter. Bitte Moment halten. [Can’t go on. Please stop a minute.] They gently place her beneath some underbrush. It begins to snow. Rachel makes a shelter of branches for the three of them to huddle under. RACHEL (V.O.) I thought we would freeze to death – at least it covered our tracks.
EXT. EARLY MORNING – FOREST – FLASHBACK Rachel and her father struggle to carry Frau Bacher on a crude stretcher made of tree limbs and branches. Exhausted, they arrive at a country road and hide in the trees, then flag down a FARMER in a cattle truck. RACHEL Können Sie bitte helfen. Unfall gehabt. [Can you please help? An accident.] His face reveals his assessment of the situation. FARMER ...Na sicher. Steig hinten rein. [But of course. Hop in the back.]
Rachel and her father help Frau Bacher into the truck. FARMER Hab’ kein Angst. Aber am besten die Dame schützen. Die Tiere werden manchmal rastlos. [Don’t be afraid. But better protect the lady. The animals can get restless.] Rachel and her father stand over Frau Bacher to keep the cattle away from her as the truck starts to move.
EXT. DAY - FARMHOUSE – FLASHBACK When they arrive at the farmhouse, the FARMER’S WIFE comes out to meet them. FARMER’S WIFE Was ist passiert, Ernst? [What happened, Ernest?] FARMER Unfall gehabt. [Had an accident.] FARMER’S WIFE (quietly to her husband) Noch eine? [Another one?] (louder, to the strangers) Komm’ doch rein! Machen Sie Sich zu Hause. [Come on in! Make yourselves at home.] RACHEL Danke vielmals! [Thank you so much!] HERR BACHER Sehr nett von Ihnen. Besten Dank. [Very nice of you. Many thanks.]
INT. - FARMHOUSE - FLASHBACK Herr Meyer and Rachel’s father carry Frau Bacher in. She immediately starts coughing. FARMER’S WIFE Was für einen Unfall war das denn? [What kind of accident was it?] RACHEL Auto-unfall. [Car accident.] HERR BACHER Sind von der Strasse abgerutscht. [Went off the side of the road.] Farmer and wife share a knowing glance. FARMER’S WIFE Die Frau ist ja sehr krank! Sie muss zum Hospital! [The woman is very sick. She must go to a hospital! RACHEL Nein! Nicht nötig, wirklich. [No! Not necessary, really.] HERR BACHER Es ist nicht ganz so schlimm. Sie wird schon besser. Der Schock, wissen Sie? [It’s not really so bad. She’ll get better. The shock, you know.] Frau Bacher coughs and moans in pain. FARMER’S WIFE Unsinn! Sie braucht Hilfe! [Nonsense! She needs help!]
FARMER Ja sicher. Ich bringe Sie zu Dr. Waldeck. [Yes, for sure. I’ll take her to Dr. Waldeck.] RACHEL & HERR BACHER
Stunned looks. A tense moment of silence. RACHEL (V.O.) It was a desperate moment. I had to take another chance. RACHEL Es war kein Unfall. [It wasn’t an accident.] Her father looks at her sternly. RACHEL Wir sind weggelaufen. [We ran away.] HERR BACHER Rachel! RACHEL
Wir sind [We’re -]
- Juden. [Jews.]
BACK TO STUTZ (IN PRESENT) ALEXANDER Did he call the authorities? RACHEL They took us in. “We’re not all Nazis,” he said
ALEXANDER And your parents are still there? RACHEL Yes. My mother began to recover, thanks to the farmer and his wife – and Dr. Waldeck, another “good German.” But I had to leave of course. ALEXANDER Why? RACHEL After what I had done? The Nazis had our identification papers. I was a wanted Jew murderer. Anyway, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I hitch-hiked to Munich, where I met a Czech anti-Nazi willing to take me to Prague. I thought my troubles were over – until we arrived at the Czech border.
EXT. DAY – CZECH BORDER STATION - FLASHBACK The CZECH FRIEND’s car is stopped at a crossing gate, where a GUARD comes up. CZECH GUARD Triptique, bitte! CZECH FRIEND Jawohl. Für mich und – meine frau. [Yessir. For me and – my wife.] He hands his papers to the guard, who gives them only a cursory inspection until, frowning, he peers into the car at Rachel, then back down at the passport. CZECH GUARD Das soll Ihre Frau sein? [That’s supposed to be your wife?]
CZECH FRIEND Ja, natürlich. Gibt’s da ein Problem? [Yes, of course. Is there a problem?] The guard takes another look at Rachel, then at the...
INSERT – PHOTO - FLASHBACK ...of a woman in her forties. RACHEL (V.O.) I looked old and haggard by then, but not that old. He should have said I was his daughter!
BACK TO GUARD STATION - FLASHBACK The guard WHISTLES for help. Rachel tries to run away but is quickly apprehended. RACHEL (V.O.) Thank God I was in Czech territory! BACK TO STUTZ (IN THE PRESENT) ALEXANDER But the Nazis were there too! RACHEL Yes. But so was your father. ALEXANDER That was how he found you? RACHEL My Czech friend notified him of my whereabouts. Your father got hold of my dossier – I don’t think you know it but he’s kept (MORE)
RACHEL (CONT’D) the dossiers of hundreds of refugees. He changed my name, got me a new passport, and now I am not Rachel Bacher, the Jewish murderess. But Rachel Moss, from Falkenau. Alexander is obviously overwhelmed by Rachel’s revelations; he can think of nothing to say. And Rachel has fallen asleep. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) A storm arose inside of me. He looks out at the...
EXT. NIGHT – MOUNTAINS ...illuminated by moonlight. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O. cont’d) There was my father, fighting to save lives. INT. - CAR Rachel is finally at peace in sleep. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O. cont’d) Here was my “fragile” little Rachel, a lion-hearted woman disguised as my governess. While all this time I had been pampered and sheltered from everything. And then another thought struck me. A sudden look of alarm on Alexander’s face. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O. cont’d) What kind of danger must my father be in? And my mother – had he endangered her as well?
FELDKIRCH GUARD (O.S.) Triptique, bitte!
EXT. NIGHT – FELDKIRCH BORDER STATION A BORDER GUARD steps up to the car at a crossing gate. Ottokar hands him the triptique. The guard glances through it, then at Ottokar, then into the back, where Rachel has just awaken. When the guard’s eyes alight on her, his expression turns to contempt. OTTOKAR May I have my papers back? FELDKIRCH GUARD Pull forward. If your papers are in order, you’ll get them back after customs clearance. He turns to the car behind them, and Ottokar pulls forward ten meters to a second BORDER GUARD. FELDKIRCH GUARD #2 Heil Hitler! Triptiques, bitte! Ottokar hands this guard their passports, which he takes without looking at them, staring instead intently into Ottokar’s and his passengers’ faces. FELDKIRCH GUARD #2 Von welcher Stadt kommen Sie? [What city are you from?] OTTOKAR Prague. FELDKIRCH GUARD #2 Wo ist Ihr Gepäck? [Where is your luggage?] OTTOKAR Es ist im kofferraum. [It’s in the trunk.]
FELDKIRCH GUARD #2 (gesturing) Fahr vorwährts, zum Zollamt. [Pull forward, to customs.] OTTOKAR Wann kriegen wir die Pässe zurück? [When do we get our passports back?] FELDKIRCH GUARD #2 Sie werden beim Zollamt zurückgegeben. Heil Hitler! [They’ll be returned at customs. Heil Hitler!] Ottokar pulls forward under the roof of the customs house and the car is immediately surrounded. Half a dozen customs officers swarm around the Stutz and others with Swiss, German and Austrian license plates. CUSTOMS OFFICER Irgend etwas von Österreich mitgebracht? [Bringing in anything from Austria?] OTTOKAR Nein, garnichts. [No, nothing.] CUSTOMS OFFICIAL Waren anzugeben? [Any goods to declare?] OTTOKAR Nein. CUSTOMS OFFICIAL Kofferraum aufmachen! Gepäck aufschliessen. Auto aussteigen, offen lassen, Schlüssel im Zündschloss. Gehen Sie ins Amt und warten bis Sie gerufen werden. Heil Hitler! (MORE)
CUSTOMS OFFICIAL (CONT’D) [Open your trunk! Unlock your luggage! Leave your automobile open, keys in the ignition. Go into the office and wait until you are called. Heil Hitler!]
INT. – CUSTOMS OFFICE They enter a spare, empty room and sit on a bench. On one of the drab walls is an oversize color photo of Der Führer. Alexander consults his gold pocket watch. ALEXANDER We’re hours behind schedule. Ottokar doesn’t reply. Exhausted, they remain silent. Headlights pass outside. Finally, a uniformed man motions for them to enter a door to the...
INT. - OFFICE ...of the DISTRICT DIRECTOR of the Frontier Guards. They stand at his desk. DIRECTOR Heil Hitler! When he receives no response, his face turns sour. He looks at their papers, in front of him. DIRECTOR I understand you are from Prague? OTTOKAR Yes. DIRECTOR Where to? Switzerland? OTTOKAR France.
DIRECTOR Vacation? OTTOKAR Yes. DIRECTOR You left Prague in a hurry. The Director stands and begins to pace. DIRECTOR Why do you have only three small suitcases? He stops in front of Ottokar and glares at him. DIRECTOR (cont’d) Welll? Ottokar says nothing. The Director turns to Rachel. DIRECTOR (cont’d) How long have you lived in Prague, Fräulein? RACHEL About ten months. DIRECTOR Born in Falkenau, were you? RACHEL Yes. DIRECTOR How long did you live in Falkenau? RACHEL Until I was five. DIRECTOR Where did you live then?
RACHEL In Bochum, Westphalia. DIRECTOR That’s German territory. Why do you have a Czech passport? RACHEL I retained my Czechoslovakian citizenship. DIRECTOR Yet you resided in Bochum? RACHEL Yes. DIRECTOR And you, a Jewess... Rachel doesn’t rise to the bait. DIRECTOR You left Germany ten months ago without an exit permit. How do you explain that? Even Ottokar turns his head to see how she’ll answer. RACHEL I did have an exit visa stamped in my passport, but that passport expired and I had to surrender it when I received the new one. The Director’s triumphant smile fades. He paces again. DIRECTOR ...Well, I cannot let you pass. You will have to return the way you came. OTTOKAR Why is that?
DIRECTOR Because you have exit visas for twenty-four hours only. Ottokar grinds his teeth, his face glowering. OTTOKAR Thick fog...I was forced to drive cautiously. Many detours. DIRECTOR That’s no excuse. According to your papers you entered Austria Saturday night at 23 hours. Is that correct? OTTOKAR Correct. DIRECTOR You should have entered at seventeen hours, surely not later. What held you up? OTTOKAR Demonstrations. DIRECTOR Demonstrations? What sort of story is that? It took you 26 hours from Unterhaid to Feldkirch? Is that what you’re trying to tell me? OTTOKAR Yes. DIRECTOR You picked this girl up on your way! That’s what slowed you down! OTTOKAR No. She started out with us from Prague.
DIRECTOR Don’t argue! If you have no better pretext for your delay, it would have been best to say nothing. You must return – without fail. Next time you’ll have to devise a more convincing scenario. OTTOKAR What if we pay for the difference? The Director stops abruptly, as if thunderstruck by the insolence of Ottokar’s question. DIRECTOR Pay for the difference? That’s absurd! Pay with money for the difference in time? That would be illegal. What do you think this is, a trading post? You cannot possibly pay the difference. You would have to pay a penalty of at least...ten thousand Kronen! OTTOKAR That will be all right. Won’t it, Alexander? Alexander is taken by surprise but recovers quickly. ALEXANDER (pompously) Of course. That will be quite all right. DIRECTOR (turning to Alexander) Who is this boy? OTTOKAR The son of my employer. DIRECTOR And who is your employer?
OTTOKAR Father of the boy. Alexander stifles a laugh, but the Director ignores Ottokar’s impertinence to return his attention to Rachel. With one eye wide open, the other nearly shut, he inspects her as if through a monocle. DIRECTOR ...And who is this girl? OTTOKAR The boy’s governess. DIRECTOR I’m warning you – you’re going too far! You want to smuggle this Jew-girl over the border! Why don’t you admit it? Do you think I am blind? Without replying, Ottokar pulls a bundle of onethousand Kronen notes from a pocket of his overcoat. Mumbling the figures, he counts out ten and deposits the money on the desk, then returns the rest of the roll to his pocket. OTTOKAR We don’t need a receipt, just your stamp of approval. The Director pauses briefly at the flippant remark, then reaches into the top drawer of his desk and removes their passports, along with Ottokar’s triptique, and stamps each. The three of them leave the room without another word.
EXT. NIGHT – PALACE HOTEL The Stutz pulls up in front of the hotel.
INT. NIGHT – CAR
ALEXANDER It’s after two o’clock. Your parents must have gone to bed hours ago. RACHEL You don’t know my parents.
EXT. NIGHT – HOTEL A bellboy takes what luggage they have, and Ottokar hands the car keys to a parking attendant.
INT. NIGHT – HOTEL LOBBY They enter the hotel and...
LOBBY – POV RACHEL AND ALEXANDER ...are confronted by the reserved stares of her parents, who barely resemble the bedraggled fugitives of Rachel’s flashback recounting. Herr Bacher has the stiff, ultra-conservative appearance and manner of the archetypal Prussian, his hair cropped in imitation of Field Marshall von Hindenburg. Frau Bacher, in better but still fragile health, masks a gentler soul behind the authoritative airs of an empress. The reunion with their daughter is not without tears by Rachel and her mother, but is otherwise surprisingly perfunctory. RACHEL Mother, Father, this is Alexander Synek. Alexander bows. Frau Bacher smiles faintly, Herr Bacher’s expression remains rigidly serious. HERR BACHER We are greatly indebted to your father, Prince Synek.
ALEXANDER ...Thank you, sir. RACHEL (awkwardly) ...And this is Ottokar, a trusted friend of the family, who got us here safely. Herr Synek nods stiffly at Ottokar, who bows politely. A moment of nervous silence. FRAU BACHER ...You must all be terribly tired. RACHEL Yes, a nice soft bed does sound nice. And HERR BACHER (to the others) Well, good night then. He bows and tips his cap. Rachel is obviously flustered and embarrassed. Frau Bacher takes her daughter’s arm and starts to pull her away. RACHEL (to Alexander and Ottokar) We’ll see you in the morning. Thank you so much, Ottokar, for everything! And thank you, too, Alexander. Good night. Ottokar nods his head. Alexander, too stunned to speak, waves meekly. But when Rachel gives him a longing look, he’s tempted to go after her. Ottokar grabs his arm, with a look which, though hard to read, reveals a compassionate nature we haven’t yet seen.
INT. DAY – HOTEL RESTAURANT Alexander, having apparently not slept well, anxiously
awaits Rachel’s appearance as he breakfasts alone in the large, sparsely occupied room. A PAGEBOY enters. PAGEBOY Telephone for Alexander Synek! Alexander raises his hand. PAGEBOY This way. Alexander follows the pageboy into the...
INT. - HOTEL LOBBY ...where Ottokar stands beside the telephone booth. He hands the receiver to Alexander.
INT. - TELEPHONE BOOTH ALEXANDER Father! In the TINNY VOICE of an old-fashioned telephone, his father speaks so rapidly, in such agitation, that we can understand only a few words: “Germans...Low Countries...Lyons...Marseilles.” It’s clear that Alexander is having difficulty understanding as well – not the words so much as their implications. ALEXANDER ...Yes, he’s right here. He hands the receiver to Ottokar, who takes his place in the booth and listens with increasing tension. OTTOKAR I don’t think the gentleman would take that from me, Sir. (tinny response) That I shall do, Sir. Will you wait on the line?
He puts the receiver down and turns to Alexander. OTTOKAR Your father wants to talk to Herr Bacher. He’s in the lobby. Wait! Tell Fräulein Rachel not to unpack, we’re leaving immediately. Alexander hurries off to the...
HOTEL LOBBY ...where he discovers Herr Bacher engrossed behind a newspaper in an armchair. ALEXANDER Will you please come to the telephone, Herr Moss? My father is calling from Prague. He has some urgent matters to discuss with you. At first there is no response whatsoever. ALEXANDER Regarding our departure. Herr Bacher’s newspaper slowly descends until the scornful expression on his face appears. He addresses Alexander with the air of a teacher speaking to a disobedient pupil. HERR BACHER My name is Bacher – Oberstaatsanwalt Bacher! Not Moss. Now, repeat your message. And repeat it correctly! ALEXANDER (barely mastering his anger) Will you please come to the (MORE)
ALEXANDER (CONT’D) telephone, Herr Oberstaatsanwalt Bacher? My father is calling, Herr Oberstaatsanwalt Bacher. He has a very urgent matter to discuss with you, Herr Oberstaatsanwalt Bacher, regarding our departure. Herr Bacher listens carefully, nodding at each mention of the name “Bacher.” Then he gets up and stalks to the telephone booth, ignoring Alexander, who follows at considerable distance in smoldering rage. When he arrives at the...
TELEPHONE BOOTH ...Rachel’s father is already on the line. Ottokar stands nearby. HERR BACHER ...My dear Prince Synek, while I am most grateful for all you have done for me and my family, I’m afraid that we have already made other plans. We will be staying with close friends in Bern, whom we have not seen in many years. The rest and relaxation is precisely what we all need after these many difficult months. With a sour expression he listens to Prince Synek’s protestations, whose urgency we can detect in the TINNY TELEPHONE VOICE. Outside the booth, Ottokar looks on with concern, Alexander with mounting fury. HERR BACHER Yes, yes, Prince Synek, we have heard these alarmist claims before. But can’t you see that even if such an invasion were (MORE)
HERR BACHER (CONT’D) to take place, which I greatly doubt, it would certainly require more than a few days to overrun the armies of four strong nations? The Poles and Scandinavians are one thing. But the Belgians and the Dutch – and the French, with their impenetrable Maginot Line! No, no, my dear sir, we shall follow our alternative route, as planned. But again, we do thank you for all your help. Auf Wiedersehen. He hangs up the phone with authority, glances icily at Alexander and Ottokar and strides away.
EXT./INT. DAY – CAR/LUXEMBERG COUNTRYSIDE In contrast to the beautiful spring landscape is Alexander’s dark mood. He sits beside Ottokar, now driving a Citroen with French license plates. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I wasn’t even allowed to say good-bye to Rachel. I was sure I would never see her again. Military vehicles pass them in the opposite direction. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O. cont’d) The next morning, the tenth of May, the German Army crossed the borders of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, as my father had forewarned...Herr Oberstaatsanwalt Bacher.
EXT. NIGHT – RESTAURANT Crowded and tense. Numerous military personnel among
the diners, many of whom are listening anxiously to NEWS REPORTS. At a table by themselves, Ottokar is sympathetically aware of Alexander’s misery.
INT./EXT. DAY – CAR – FRENCH BORDER Military vehicles line the road, but the Citroen passes easily through the border checkpoint. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) The next day, we crossed the French border – our easy passage tempered by the sense that we were racing ahead of a gathering storm.
INT. DAY - MARSEILLES HOTEL LOBBY Ottokar and Alexander check in. A pervasive sense of anxiety. People in the lobby follow the latest reports on the war in newspapers and on the RADIO. A BELLBOY takes their luggage, but when Alexander follows him to the elevator, Ottokar stays behind. OTTOKAR I’ll be up shortly.
INT. DAY – ALEXANDER’S HOTEL ROOM The bellboy deposits the luggage and opens French doors onto the balcony. Alexander wanders out absentmindedly. BELLBOY #1 Au revoir, Monsieur.
EXT. - BALCONY Alexander stands at the balustrade, too lost in thought to be impressed by the magnificent view of the city and harbor. There’s a KNOCK on the door.
ALEXANDER Entré. INT. - HOTEL ROOM BELLBOY #2 arrives with lunch. ALEXANDER What is all this? BELLBOY #2 The gentleman you checked in with ordered you lunch. Where would like me to put it, Monsieur? ALEXANDER I don’t know – the balcony? EXT. - BALCONY The bellboy sets a table on the balcony and lowers a canopy for shade. Alexander sits to eat, with little enthusiasm. There’s a KNOCK, and the door opens.
INT. – ROOM Ottokar enters with HERR GRAU, a man in his 40s with an oddly misshapen face - not unattractive due to his animated features. His black, slick-looking hair, moustache and beard appear almost artificial, as if stuck on haphazardly to hide a war wound or deformity. Alexander gets up in his chair at their approach. OTTOKAR Sorry to disturb. HERR GRAU Please sit down. I’ve been anxious to meet Prince Synek’s son. I’ve heard so much about you. Allow me to introduce (MORE)
HERR GRAU (CONT’D) myself... (bowing) Herr Anton Grau, at your service. Alexander, still standing, shakes Herr Grau’s hand. HERR GRAU Now please, enjoy your lunch. We’ve come at an inopportune time. ALEXANDER I’m not really hungry. You mentioned my father! How is he? HERR GRAU Quite all right the last time we spoke, a few days ago. I understand from Ottokar that you spoke with him yourself just yesterday. ALEXANDER Yes, but the connection was so bad, it was hard to hear. Sounded like a battle going on. HERR GRAU Well, I doubt that. Your parents were safe and in good health when we spoke. Everything seemed to be going according to plan. ALEXANDER Not everything! HERR GRAU Ah yes, Ottokar explained what happened in Vaduz. Most unfortunate. And most unwise. Alexander sits down dejectedly.
HERR GRAU) But the Bachers have shown an amazing capacity for overcoming adversity. I’m sure they’ll manage again somehow. This attempt at encouraging Alexander having failed, Herr Grau takes another tack. HERR GRAU Do you see that small island? ALEXANDER (half-heartedly) Where? HERR GRAU (pointing) Over there, beyond the harbor.
INSERT – ISLAND HERR GRAU (O.S.) The Count of Monte Christo was held prisoner there. The entire island was a fortress hewn into the rock: the Chateau d’If. BACK TO SCENE Alexander is mildly intrigued. HERR GRAU Would you like to see it? ALEXANDER ...I guess so. HERR GRAU Good. Finish your lunch, and get a good night’s sleep. First thing tomorrow we’ll rent a boat and spend the day inspecting the castle.
ALEXANDER Is that all right with you, Ottokar? OTTOKAR ...I won’t be going. ALEXANDER But - why not? OTTOKAR I’m returning to Prague. ALEXANDER What? OTTOKAR I am needed at home. Herr Grau will look after you – you’re in good hands. It has been been an honor serving you, Alexander. All best on your remaining journey. Ottokar extends his hand but Alexander emotionally turns away. Ottokar places it on the boy’s head instead. When he turns around, Ottokar is gone. HERR GRAU ...It hasn’t been an easy time for you, has it? ALEXANDER What do you know! You and your Count of Monte Christo! He angrily pushes away the food, then wipes tears from his eyes with his napkin. ALEXANDER ...I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. HERR GRAU I know you didn’t, Alexander.
Sensing Herr Grau’s genuine goodness, Alexander leans against his chest, sobbing uncontrollably.
INT. DAY – ALEXANDER’S HOTEL ROOM Shuffling through the clothes in his suitcase as he dresses for the boat trip, Alexander finds a small photo album. He sits down on the bed and opens it.
INSERT PHOTOS of his parents in formal poses; several of him at various ages; a couple of the servants, including Martha; and one of Ottokar standing proudly beside the black Stutz.
BACK TO ALEXANDER looking pensive, then surprised, as he comes upon a loose photo slipped into the album upside down. He turns it over; it’s a...
INSERT PHOTO ...close-up of Rachel.
BACK TO ALEXANDER ...holding back tears, until he hears a KNOCK at the door. He stuffs the album in the suitcase and continues dressing. Another KNOCK. ALEXANDER Entré! Herr Grau enters, looking more somber than before. ALEXANDER I'm almost ready.
HERR GRAU Take your time. Alexander grabs a jacket and goes to the door. HERR GRAU You won't be needing the jacket. ALEXANDER But you said to dress warmly. HERR GRAU A change in plans, I'm afraid. I'll explain on the way. Alexander leaves his jacket behind and they depart.
INT. DAY - HOTEL LOBBY – MAY 12, 1940 As the elevator doors open, a scene of near bedlam greets them. Guests and hotel personnel scurrying about, suitcases stacked everywhere. Alexander gazes in amazement at the tumult. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) The Germans had invaded France. As for Herr Oberstaatsanwalt Bacher’s “impenetrable” Maginot Line, the Wehrmacht simply swept around it. Herr Grau guides Alexander through the hectic lobby to the door.
EXT. DAY - MARSEILLES STREETS Military and civilian traffic HONKING its way through a mass of pedestrians – tourists, locals, soldiers and refugees - hurrying in all directions. Herr Grau and Alexander work through the teeming crowd.
INT. DAY - UNION HALL
An auditorium has been turned into a makeshift refugee center, even more crowded than the streets and divided into two groups: a staff of nurses, doctors, and ordinary volunteers; and the refugees - men, women and children - some being checked in, some treated for injuries, others receiving food or emotional support. A sagging banner on the wall reads: “Jewish Refugee Committee.” With Alexander at his side, Herr Grau is greeted by staff members and pitches in to help. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) All at once, my personal troubles seemed so trivial in this suffering multitude. An elderly woman, FRAU DIENST, says something to Herr Grau in the cacophonous din. HERR GRAU Alexander, Frau Dienst says they could use some help at the serving table. Are you willing? ALEXANDER Yes, of course! FRAU DIENST This way please. He follows her to a long table where volunteers are serving an endless line of people a roll and soup. Frau Dienst hands Alexander an apron and instructs him in the simple procedure. As he takes his position in the serving line, he looks around for Herr Grau...
HALL – POV ALEXANDER ...and spots him in the crowd, issuing instructions to a subordinate, then comforting a crying child. Herr Grau looks up, sees Alexander and waves.
BACK TO SCENE
Alexander waves back. FRAU DIENST Such a wonderful man! ALEXANDER People seem to treat him with such respect. FRAU DIENST Herr Grau is the head of the Jewish Refugee Committee. Impressed, Alexander resumes his serving duties.
INT. NIGHT – STREET CAFÉ Though the chaos outside continues, the SOUNDS are muffled by MUSIC and ambience in the café. Herr Grau sits with Alexander, who picks at his food. HERR GRAU Come on, now. Eat, eat. ALEXANDER It’s hard to swallow food, after what I’ve seen today. HERR GRAU I know the feeling, but if we’re to help all these people, we need to stay healthy ourselves. ALEXANDER (taking a bite) With all your responsibilities, Herr Grau, why are you paying so much attention to me? HERR GRAU I would do much more, for that extraordinary father of yours! (MORE)
HERR GRAU (CONT’D) You have no idea how many people, Jews and gentiles, he has saved. ALEXANDER I know about some of it. HERR GRAU Yes, I suppose you do. (seeing that he’s finished) That’s better. So, now drink up and then it’s off to bed with you. It’s back to work bright and early tomorrow. Alexander gulps down his drink and they head for the door, stopping to observe the hubbub outside, before disappearing into it.
INT. DAY/NIGHT - UNION HALL - MONTAGE A) Alexander at the serving table, dishing out soup. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) The next six weeks I worked at the refugee center morning and night. B) Alexander in the soup kitchen preparing food in accordance with the Jewish laws of kashrut. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I learned about kosher dietary laws, the separation of meat and dairy, the prohibition against pork and shellfish and the consumption of blood. C) Alexander assisting in the used-clothing section. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I must admit, it wasn’t entirely selfless labor. Always in the (MORE)
ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O. CONT’D) back of my mind was the hope that some day, somehow, Rachel would be among the hundreds of refugees, most of them Jewish, streaming every day into the center ahead of the German armies. D) Alexander helping a nurse bandage a wound. Herr Grau stops by and pats him on the back, as a new group of anxious refugees enter the hall. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) Like the refugees, I knew that if the French didn’t issue them exit visas in time, they would be trapped behind German lines. A woman resembling Rachel, with a dirty face and tattered clothes, is among the latest batch of refugees. Alexander’s eyes open wide at the sight. ALEXANDER Can you excuse me a moment, Isabelle? He makes his way toward the entrance for a better look. Herr Grau watches him approach the girl, whose back is turned. When she turns to talk to another refugee, it’s not Rachel after all.
INT./EXT. DAY – HOTEL LOBBY – JUNE 5, 1940 Alexander stands at the front desk, listening to news of the war on the RADIO. The lobby, now emptied of most of its guests, is far from deserted, having been turned into a makeshift army post, with military personnel streaming in and out. RADIO ANNOUNCER (in French) We now have confirmation that (MORE)
RADIO ANNOUNCER (CONT’D) German troops have crossed the Somme and are advancing toward Paris. Although fierce resistance is expected as the Wehrmacht nears the French capital, France is now in imminent danger of becoming the latest European nation to fall victim to Nazi aggression. Though Alexander is too engrossed to notice, through the revolving-door we see a taxicab pull up, and an unusually agitated Herr Grau step out. When the bellboy (who took Alexander’s suitcase when he first arrived) starts to carry luggage into the hotel, Herr Grau stops him, barks some orders, and the bellboy hurries through the entrance and up to the front desk. BELLBOY Monsieur, Herr Grau urgently requests that you pack your things and meet him outside immediately. ALEXANDER Herr Grau? Where is he? The bellboy gestures outside. Through the door, Alexander sees Herr Grau talking to the driver of the first of three buses that have pulled up in front. BELLBOY Please, Monsieur. He says there’s no time to lose!
INT. DAY - HOTEL LOBBY The elevator opens. The bellboy, with Alexander’s suitcase, precedes him hurriedly toward the entrance.
EXT. - HOTEL LOBBY
Alexander exits the hotel with the bellboy. Herr Grau, who has developed a twitch, stops talking with people at the buses and rushes over. HERR GRAU It’s about time! ALEXANDER What’s going on, Herr Grau? Why all the – HERR GRAU Don’t talk! You will be taking the bus to Banyuls-de-Mer. I’ve rented the entire Hotel de la Poste for you and other refugees. You will be only a jump from Port Bou. I don’t have your transit visas to Spain and Portugal yet, but your American papers are in order. Is that clear? ALEXANDER But what about my parents? My father’s plans? HERR GRAU The Nazis have changed them. Your parents will still be joining you, but in New York. ALEXANDER New York? But Herr Grau tears an envelope from his jacket and sticks it into the pocket of Alexander’s overcoat. HERR GRAU This contains all your papers and enough money to see you through your journey. Hold onto it for dear life, as the Americans say. Now go, go!
He pushes him toward the rear door of the bus. ALEXANDER Will I be seeing you again? HERR GRAU I don’t know. We’re all refugees now! He kisses Alexander’s forehead and shoves him aboard.
INT./EXT. - BUS As the doors close and the bus drives off, Alexander is thrown off balance but catches himself and lurches up the aisle in a daze, looking for a seat. We see several Marseilles REFUGEES among the passengers. REFUGEE #1 Hi, Alexander. Alexander nods to him and others who acknowledge him as he moves through the packed bus. REFUGEE #2 There’s a seat up front, Alexander. Behind the driver. Across the aisle from the empty seat behind the BUS DRIVER sit two girls, looking at the eerily deserted streets of Marseilles. As Alexander puts his suitcase in the luggage rack and sits down, one of the girls – hair matted, clothes tattered and face wan - turns. RACHEL Alexander! ALEXANDER Rachel! They spring up and fly into each other’s arms. When the bus makes a sharp turn, the BUS DRIVER, a middleaged French Jew, smiles and shouts at them.
BUS DRIVER Asseyez vous! [Sit down!] The GIRL sitting next to Rachel, a tall blonde in pigtails, gets up and switches seats with Alexander. RACHEL I can’t believe it! ALEXANDER I can’t either! They hold each other’s hands and stare into each other’s eyes as the...
EXT. - BUS ...winds along the coast ahead of the other two buses.
INT./EXT. NIGHT - BUS Rachel pulls a blanket tightly around them as she nestles against Alexander in the dimly lit bus. RACHEL ...Of course, the Wehrmacht cancelled my father’s vacation plans. We escaped to France with some other refugees through the mountains, on foot. ALEXANDER Did your parents make it? RACHEL Barely. My mother suffered a relapse. ALEXANDER So where are they now?
RACHEL Still in Marseilles – I think. When we got there early this morning and checked in at the refugee center, this agitated man who seemed to be in charge ALEXANDER A thin man with slick dark hair, a funny-looking moustache and beard? RACHEL You know him? ALEXANDER Herr Grau. RACHEL Then that’s it! He looked at me so strangely when he heard my name. He got very excited, took me aside, and asked where I’d come from and who my parents were. When I told him my last name, he shouted something about “Children first!” and whisked me onto this bus. He said my parents would be in the next caravan. Next thing I knew, there you were! ALEXANDER Herr Grau was a good friend of my father’s. He’s been looking out for me ever since I got to Marseilles six weeks ago. RACHEL Thank God for Herr Grau! ALEXANDER Yes, thank God!
He kisses her head; Rachel, his hand, and they snuggle more tightly as the bus rumbles on into the night.
INT. DAY - BUS Alexander wakes up, sees that Rachel is still asleep, and looks outside.
EXT. DAY – ARLES – POV ALEXANDER The city is awash with refugees, some on trucks, some on carts, most on foot. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) Where had all these people come from? I knew from Herr Grau that few of them had visas, because the French government, in its eagerness to please the Nazis, refused to issue them to anyone other than French citizens. Without proper papers, where would the refugees hide? Where could they escape to?
EXT. DAY – CAFÉ - PLACE DE VICTOR HUGO Rachel and Alexander nibble bread and cheese and sip water when the bus caravan makes a rest stop. The despondency in the faces of the refugees makes the couple mute and somber. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) We made a rest stop at the Place de Victor Hugo, the square in Arles sanctified by the paintings of van Gogh. His sufferings were mirrored on a grand scale by the sea of homeless wanderers who filled the streets.
EXT./INT. DAY – BUS/HOTEL FOULAGE At mid-day they arrive in Perpignan. Two buses stop at the Hotel Foulage to drop off passengers. The bus with Rachel and Alexander drives on. ALEXANDER Why are they getting off here, in Perpignan? BUS DRIVER We can’t fit you all into one hotel. But their final destination is the same. RACHEL Port Bou? BUS DRIVER Oui. From there the lucky ones will sail away to the Promised Land. The less fortunate will cross the Pyrenees into Spain at night – an old smugglers trail.
EXT. NIGHT – HOTEL DE LA POSTE They arrive at the seaside hotel in the rain. The passengers take their own luggage and scurry inside.
INT. - LOBBY The empty lobby quickly fills with passengers, some of whom immediately plop down in easy chairs or stretch out on sofas in the lobby. Others, including Rachel and Alexander, go straight to the dining room.
INT. - DINING ROOM The passengers are the only people in the drab, dark room. A man peers out from the kitchen and quickly
disappears. Rachel and Alexander go to a table by themselves. They’re both exhausted, but here at the end of their perilous journey, the love between them appears to have matured into something more adult in nature under the pressure of their shared experience. WAITER Mademoiselle, Monsieur? A disheveled-looking WAITER stands before them. ALEXANDER Could we see a menu? WAITER I’m afraid you won’t find much on it that’s available at this hour. The kitchen is closed. But we can scrape something together for you – some eggs and a slice of bread perhaps? We also have wine and coffee. RACHEL You order. Anything’s fine. ALEXANDER Two omelettes and some wine, s’ils vous plait. The waiter nods and goes to another table.
DINING ROOM – LATER They eat in silence, their eyes saying what they’re too tired and hungry, and shy with each other, to speak of.
INT. NIGHT - HOTEL STAIRWAY On the way to their rooms, in the middle of the stairs, Rachel stops a step above Alexander, tenderly
takes his face in her hands and kisses him. RACHEL I love you. Alexander says nothing, not because he is stunned; he obviously felt this coming as much as we did. RACHEL I’ve owed you that for a long time. You don’t know how it has tortured me since we separated that I didn’t tell you earlier. I’m grateful to you, Alexander, for loving me. ALEXANDER I have always loved you, Rachel from the moment I saw you. You know that.
INT. NIGHT – ALEXANDER’S ROOM He unlocks the door, pulls her inside and kisses her. She returns the kiss warmly but then slips gently away and he opens the door between their rooms for her. RACHEL Good night, Alexander. ALEXANDER Good night...my love. INT. NIGHT - LATER Alexander lies in bed awake but in a state of reverie.
BEDROOM CEILING – POV AELXANDER Lamplight from outside, filtered by the RAIN, creates a flickering pattern.
ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I know it sounds preposterous now, but at that time it was not. While Rachel slept – or lay awake, like me – in her room I tossed and turned, alone, in mine.
INT. NIGHT - ALEXANDER’S ROOM In a dream? the door between their rooms opens, and in the doorway appears a white nightgown, fluttering in the ocean breeze. It comes wafting into the room and halts at his bedside. Black pubic hair...a navel... breasts, the pinkness of their nipples, are visible through the veil-like material. Then a soft white neck, a face with delicately colored lips, a shapely nose and dark eyes, all framed by long black hair. RACHEL (whispering) I’m afraid. I’m so afraid, Alexander. I feel so alone without you. ALEXANDER Don’t be afraid, Rachel. I’ll always be with you. Always, always...you’ll never be alone. Suddenly, dark shadowy figures appear behind her, pulling her away from him, into darkness. RACHEL Alexander! Alexander! He rises, reaching to pull her away from them, down, down into the bed, where he shields her, covering her body with his...kissing and caressing her body. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) When she sighed and begged me to come nearer...and pulled me down to her...we united.
INT. DAY – ALEXANDER’S HOTEL ROOM In pale early-morning daylight filtering through the windows, the sound of WAVES crashing against the beach, Alexander awakes and sees Rachel lying next to him, her eyes open and full of tenderness and longing yet, beneath those emotions, a sense of sorrow. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) What had happened during the night? Which part was real and which a dream? I didn’t know then, and I don’t now, for we never had a chance to speak of it later. RACHEL Listen to the waves! They leap from the bed and run to the window. Alexander is nude, Rachel in her nightgown.
EXT. DAY – BEACH Under a gray sky the same drizzling RAIN is falling that they drove through the night before. But the scene is nonetheless spectacular: greenish-blue waves roll in, rise, crash against the rocks on which the hotel stands, then fall and dissolve into white foam in tide pools below them. INT. DAY – BEDROOM ALEXANDER Let’s go for a swim! RACHEL Let’s! Rachel slips from her nightgown, and Alexander forgets about a swim. He kneels as if in church to kiss her bare flesh. Then, from this sublime moment...to perdition. LOUD VOICES in the hall. RATTLING of their locked door. Rachel dashes into a wooden wardrobe
against the wall, while Alexander, hastily wrapping a towel around his waste, runs to the door and opens it.
INT. – BEDROOM/CORRIDOR A GESTAPO AGENT in a raincoat, water dripping from his hat, is startled to be confronting a nearly naked boy. GESTAPO AGENT #1 Gestapo! (to others behind him, Ein Junge! [A kid!] GESTAPO AGENT #2 Ein Junge?! (coming forward) Wie alt bist Du? [How old are you?] ALEXANDER Fourteen. GESTAPO AGENT #1 (translating) Vierzehn Jahre! GESTAPO AGENT #2 Macht Nix, gleiche Protokol! [No matter, same procedure!] We HEAR a din of voices barking orders, screams, wailing, pleading, doors slamming, boots on the wood floor of the corridor. Alexander has edged into the doorway just far enough to see what’s going on: people flitting back and forth in all manner of dress and undress at the orders of other Gestapo agents. GESTAPO AGENT #1 (pushing him back, Wo sind Deine Eltern? (thick accent) Where - your parents?
ALEXANDER In Prague. GESTAPO AGENT #1 You - here alone? ALEXANDER Yes. GESTAPO AGENT #1 Passport! Alexander goes to the nightstand, then hands his passport to Agent #1, followed into the room by two others. Having secured the towel, he stands shivering as the agent leafs through his passport. GESTAPO AGENT #1 Get dressed! Alexander hurriedly dresses. Behind him looms the wardrobe where Rachel is hiding. But Agent #2 is looking elsewhere. What the hell is he staring at?
INSERT – RACHEL’S NIGHTGOWN faintly luminous in the morning light, lies on the floor beneath the window.
BACK TO SCENE Agent #2 goes over to the window and picks up the nightgown, holding it in front of Alexander. GESTAPO AGENT #2 Wem gehöhrts? [Whose is it?] Alexander pretends not to understand. GESTAPO AGENT #1 Who this - belongs?
ALEXANDER It’s mine! All three agents laugh uproariously. Agent #2, the one in charge, motions to the third agent, who walks over and opens the wardrobe with a flourish.
INSERT – WARDROBE Rachel is huddled in a far corner, her back to us.
BACK TO SCENE Agent #3 drags her out, her eyes shut tight. Alexander tries to shield her but is grabbed by the first agent and shoved roughly toward the door. GESTAPO AGENT #1
ALEXANDER Leave her alone! She hasn’t done anything! The first agent pistol-whips him, then kicks him toward the door with the sole of his boot. RACHEL Alexander! Gestapo Agent #3 shakes her roughly and slaps her face. Alexander screams her name as he’s dragged, pushed and kicked into the...
INT. – CORRIDOR ...through which he is dragged barefoot and halfdressed, screaming Rachel’s name. Each time he tries to turn around, the first agent slaps him hard in the face and pushes him forward.
DISSOLVE TO: INT./EXT. DAY – HOTEL – POV ALEXANDER Through a of people elderly – la Poste. cordon of rifles on rain-streaked window, we SEE a large crowd – children, the young, middle-aged and silently standing in front of the Hotel de In front of them, facing the hotel, is a helmeted French GENDARMES, bayonet-tipped their shoulders.
EXT. - HOTEL Alexander stumbles through the door, where he encounters the silent, rain-drenched crowd. GENDARME Ey, Garcon! Behind the lines! His face swollen and blood-caked, his mind in shock, Alexander takes a place behind an OLD MAN, who looks at him with a pleading expression. A GESTAPO AGENT (#4) stands at the head of the crowd, calling out names. GESTAPO AGENT #4 Baruch, Benjamin, Boi, Dieterle, Dreyfus... ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) The French had closed the border the night before. No one would be crossing to Spain now. They were all trapped. GESTAPO AGENT #4 (cont’d) ...Eslau, Friede, Goldstein, Grau... Herr Grau’s name awakens Alexander from his stupor. GESTAPO AGENT #4 ...Loebel, Mendel, Pauli, Sommer, Synek, Tucholsky...
Those whose names are called are sifted from the crowd. The others, crying and exclaiming in fear, are herded away by the Gendarmes. As Alexander’s group is led toward the empty beach, he looks around frantically for Rachel or Herr Grau but sees neither.
EXT. DAY - RAMSHACKLE HOTEL Alexander’s group joins hundreds more refugees milling around, guarded by French and Spanish soldiers.
INT. - HOTEL Alexander is pushed forward to a GESTAPO AGENT (#5) at a table. GESTAPO AGENT #5 Ticket? ALEXANDER (faintly) To New York...from GESTAPO AGENT #5 Was? Lauter sprechen! [What? Speak louder!] ALEXANDER To New York, from Lisbon. GESTAPO AGENT #5 (reaching out) Lass mich sehen! [Let me see!] Alexander takes out the envelope Herr Grau gave him in Marseilles. The agent inspects the contents, hands them back and directs Alexander toward a small group guarded by a Spanish officer.
EXT. - HOTEL
As Alexander’s new group is being led away, a hoarse voice calls out. HERR GRAU (O.S.) Alexander! Herr Grau is nearly unrecognizable he’s been so badly beaten. Though being pushed along in another group, he’s able to stop long enough to convey a message. HERR GRAU You haven’t a penny to your name. All your father’s money has been confiscated by these criminals. He’s unable to say more. A guard hits him with his gun and blood spurts from Herr Grau’s toothless mouth. Two other Gestapo agents push him, staggering, in the opposite direction. It’s all finally too much for Alexander. He faints. FADE TO: EXT. NIGHT – BEACH The crash of waves against the rocks. Alexander regains consciousness in the midst of others asleep in the sand. A cluster of uniformed guards stand nearby. The rain has stopped. In the distance are the lighted windows of the prison hotel, where sporadic cries and screams can be HEARD. Alexander staggers when he gets to his feet and holds his head in obvious pain.
BEACH – POV ALEXANDER The moonlit ocean shimmers. In the lurid moonlight the dark rocks appear white, the sand black in their shadows. As Alexander’s vision clears, we see bodies lying among the rocks, people either asleep or dead.
BACK TO SCENE He staggers among them, looking for someone – someone
he knows or someone alive – examining one face after another. Suddenly a body moves! The frightened eyes of a young GIRL stare up at him; she utters a stifled scream. Alexander jerks back reflexively. GIRL ...Aren’t you Alexander? It’s the girl who gave him her seat on the bus. ALEXANDER ...Yes! GIRL You’re the boy Rachel fell in love with. ALEXANDER (stooping beside her) Where is she? Her eyes tear as she stares into his without answering at first. Then she raises herself by holding onto his shoulders so that her face is just inches away. GIRL She’s dead. She had no passport, no papers, but they identified her anyway. They accused her of killing a border guard! I was there with her. The Gestapo encouraged her to run, to try to escape. When she did, they shot her. The girl rummages inside her bag, the only item she appears to have with her. GIRL I’m so glad I found you. Rachel asked, if I should happen to meet you, to give you this. She pulls out the Moroccan leather wallet his father
gave Rachel in Prague and hands it to him. Alexander takes it numbly. Inside there’s a handwritten note, which he holds close to his face to read in the dark.
INSERT - NOTE “Don’t wait for me, Alexander, my love.”
BACK TO SCENE GIRL She wrote that on the bus. ALEXANDER But why...why did she leave it with you? GIRL ...I think, in case she didn’t make it, she wanted you to know. As Alexander absorbs this information, or tries to, we MOVE from his face to the waves crashing onto the rocks and, beyond, to breakers rolling in off the sea. ADULT ALEXANDER (V.O.) I can’t remember what happened after that. The trip from Port Bou to Lisbon, my voyage across the Atlantic – I must have blocked it all out. I’ve lived in New York ever since. At first with distant relatives, who told me what I’d long suspected even in Port Bou – that my parents never got out of Czechoslovakia. My father was a marked man by then. They split up from us as decoys, allowing us to escape. They were arrested, and executed, probably while I was still in (MORE)
ALEXANDER (CONT’D) Marseilles. Rachel’s parents were caught too – they must have been. Who has escaped the Holocaust? I have. I am saved. FADE OUT. THE END
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