Palac (1980) - full transcript

Set in 1944. A shepherd boy enters an abandoned palace he has seen only from the distance since he was a boy. Once he enters the palace, strange things begin to happen as though he was dreaming the events rather than living them.

Film Group 'Perspektywa' presents

The Palace

Based on the novel by W. Mysliwski




Written and directed by:


Well, to your
health, Jacob!

Is there anyone there?

Is there anyone there?!

Oh, Jacob...

If you had at least

trained as a manservant...

I could...

...die in peace.

Knowing you've become a man.

Try and sneak one day

into the garden
with a sling.

Kill a bird.

Pick up the little corpse,

and take it to the ladies.

Say, once again,
some rogue

shot a bird in the park

and you came along,

and found it.

Or if it should ever


that carriage horses

spook and bolt,

and you were leading

your flock
along the road,

don't spare your legs

or your arms,

but leap,

and grab fast onto

the horses' manes,

and don't let go.

Don't let go until
you've stopped them.


Even if

they were to trample

you to death.

Better that than this life of ours.

Once again, some rogue

shot a bird in the park.

I was walking by,
and I found it,

your ladyships.

It feels like an oven.

What a sultry, scorching day...

...isn't it, cousin?

My lord,

the ewe is lambing.

Here you go.

Eat something.

Give it to them.

They are many,

but there's one of you.

Eat something.

I can do without.

Where are you off to?

I'll go to the palace.

I'll go and see his lordship.

I shall write a letter
to the prince.


In the name of the Father,

the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

With the first words

of this letter, I ask you, prince,

how is your health...

...and whether the mare has given birth?


Not like that.


Start over.

Like this.

No... no...

I'll write it tomorrow.

What's new at the palace?

Be precise.

What is her ladyship doing?

The priest is visiting

with her ladyship.

The priest again?

What are they doing?


Did you hear her laugh?

What was he telling her?

"To you, one could pray

day and night,

in you alone confide

among all the saints. "

Such a priest has
the gift of words.

Not like the common man.

You're going to paint me.

But not any which way

it strikes your fancy,

but the way I tell you to.

In return, you will

be lodged in the palace,

in a room of your own.

You will eat whatever

you want; drink

to your heart's content.

Find yourself a wench.

What I am saying... A wench!

Even a lady!

I'll have a coat made for you.

You'll get your own carriage.

Four horses...

and a footman.


What else do you need?

Speak up!

Nothing, my lord, nothing...

Only light...

I'll have a wall taken down...

But you'll be painting
from dawn to dusk.

I need to be fat, you see.

A double chin
spilling over my collar.

My cheeks:

milk and blood.

And before me,

my two hands...

white and plump.

My body will spill
out of the chair.

The horse will buckle
under my weight.

Carriage wheels will
dig into the ground.

And when you portray me asleep

my dream will

hover over my head.

And what will you

be dreaming about, my lord?

You must paint

something pious.

His lordship must not

have impure dreams.


I'll be kneeling in a chapel,

before the main altar,

my lips moving

in ceaseless prayers,

my eyes shut
in humility...

I'm even beating my breast

Like this.

Should I also

paint your laughter, my lord?

Paint it.

You are so beautiful, my lady...

that you should be

among the chapel saints.

My lady...

say a word...

I can't live without you...

say a word, you hear?

My husband,

my lord...

what does it mean

when one dreams of a shepherd?

I'll put the end to it.

I'll kill you,

I'll kill you!

I'll kill you...

Swear, never again!

I swear!

Don't be afraid, Jacob.

I didn't want anything from you.

I only wanted you to come,

because I felt lonely.

I thought you, too,

might have left me
in hardship,

and robbed me
to boot.

Perhaps you thought I was gone.

That I had fled,

my horses foaming
at the mouth.

Is no one faithful anymore?

The palace gates are ajar,

and everything is yours.

Drink and play,
the master's away!

But I'm here,
God willing.


and sound.


For I won't be
rid of easily.

Tear me out of your memory,

and I'll remain in your humility.

In your fear.

In your dreams.

And perhaps in your longings.

You've given too much

heed to your curses,

your hatred, your prayers,

your omens, your auguries,

and believed I'm no longer

over you...

But here I am.

God willing...

Where would I run to?

And why?


I had only gone hunting.

I returned and waited

for someone to

pull my shoes off,

to serve me some tea,

and ask...


Ask what?

Did you have

a successful hunt,

my lord?

I did.

I did.

Give your rifles to the beaters.

Let them have some fun.

We are the beaters, my lord.

We track and rouse
fowl and game.

As you asked us to.

What are we to do

with the sacred rifles?

We, who curse our fathers

for having brought us

into this world...

who curse our children

for having been born...

we, who remember

that as we curse them

so they will be cursing us...

what are we to do,

your lordship,

with the sacred rifles?

Enough! Enough!

A beautiful death sometimes

makes the whole life worthwhile.

Sometimes, that death

is all that remains of life.

Oftentimes, one must await death

to truly feel that one is human.

You're staring at me

as if you've just learned

that death exists.

And it does.

Are you afraid of death?

Everyone's afraid, my lord.

I'm not afraid of death.

I'm only afraid of

commonplace death,

because one could doubt

whether it was his lordship who died

or his servant.

And that would be
worse than death.

What is death?

You can know it

only insofar as you fear it.

You can't put death into words.

All speculations are vain.

Better tell me,

what do people
say about me?



Don't they say I'm miserly?


a villan? a scoundrel?

Go on...

Don't be afraid.

I am afraid.

It's not your fault
what they say.

I know them well.

They'd happily drown me
in a teaspoon.

But when the bishop
comes to visit,

I'll have them stand

in two rows in front
of the palace

to receive his blessing.

They're brimming with hatred.

They need holy water
and penance.


Tell me then...

don't they gossip...

you know what about...

Well, they say that

if a girl strikes your fancy

she'll soon be in your chamber.

Don't say anything to
to her ladyship.

It would cause her too much pain.

Not much of a ladyship now...

You were always ill...

tired... sleepy...

Always something aching...

You can't even imagine

what a country girl

is capable of.

It pains me to give you away.

It makes my eyes well up with tears

Even though she's mine,

this is the law.

Be merciful,

and let me wait for her.

You'll be waiting a long while.

Better go to a wedding,

enjoy yourself.

Time will pass quicker.

Do as you will, my lord,

but let me wait.

This is not a rabbit hunt.

I'm not in a hurry.

She won't be free
before morning.

I will wait, my lord,

until you're bored with her.

And you will be, for sure.

And what will you do

if she has a bastard child?


what will you do?

I will accept it
as a human being.

Because it will be human.

Well, be off then.

Go on and wait, you fool...

since you're asking for it.

Give him as much food
and drink as he wants.

It's better he's eating
and drinking

than if he were crying.

He can eat only
so much

through this long night.

Never again will he be able

to eat and drink his fill.

Don't you think that

if one cannot handle death,

one should at least

not make a mockery of it.

One can mock life,

but in the face of death

one should strive to greatness.

Because that's the only moment

of salvation and life.

Stop wailing.

I won't throw you out.

You'll marry her.

In return, you'll get

an acre of land and a cow.

I will do as you please, my lord

but to my own disadvantage.

What else do you want?

A piece of meadow
would be useful.

One or two sheepskins.

And shoes for the wedding.

All that?

She's a hangman's daughter, my lord.

Very well.

Go on already.

My lord...

your guests are waiting.

Ah, yes, yes,

I've nearly forgotten.

Ah, dear sir,

it's been almost a year

since we last saw each other.

I am glad you could come.

I am of hunger, my dear count.

Hunger is my soul.

I've lived on my own saliva.

On my own bile.

On my parched liver.

How's this year's harvest?

Was the second crop
worse than the first?

Maybe so, maybe not.

And are the sheep lambing?

They are, they are.

Prepare some potatoes.

Don't spare bacon.

Their smell should
not just make me

salivate, but bring
tears to my eyes.



Why should I eat potatoes?

Make me noodles.

But with eggs alone.

As thin as gossamer.

And yellow as the sun.

What are you staring at?

Don't you know that God

gave man a wooden spoon?

And all this was invented

by men against men!

Did you know,

my dear ladies and sirs,

I went last year to the springs.

Off you go.


Whoever you are, my lord,

let him, please, let him.

Forgive me, my lady,

your beauty has charmed me,

but I am not a tree.

I beg you, my lord,

let him.

Let's drink!

Let's eat and laugh.

But do we even know

when we're truly joyful...

and when convulse
with hollow laughter?

One is truly alive only when

when one knows it.

Perhaps someone
can show us

how one used to drink
in the old days?

One drunk by quarts!

In one gulp!


Who'll try the quart?

I'll give a hound to whom

saves our honor.

I'll give a stallion.


I'll throw in a carriage.

And a coachman.

I'll give a 100 acres. So?

A thousand acres.

A forest.

A meadow. No one?

Maybe you, count?


Anyone at all?


No one.

Damn you.

Then I will.

Long live!

Long live!

I must tell you...

Of late, I've enjoyed drinking.

When I drink, everything

seems reasonable,


nothing bothers me.

I want nothing.

Nothing surprises me.

Perhaps, my friends,

we musn't scorn

those fleeting moments

for who knows,

it may be those moments

that are eternal in man.

Then, I feel like

doing happy deeds...

I make up my mind

to give away all I own,

and wander around the world

with a beggar's walking stick.

I'll stand

outside a church,

and hold out my hand...

I'll give away all my land...

all my choicest cattle,

countless sheep, horses,

dogs, canaries,
I'll give it all away...

All my servants,

chambermaids, butlers...

I'll give them all away.

All my carriages, my coaches,

my chambers,

this whole palace...

Have you gone mad, cousin?

Don't worry, count.

It's but idle dreams.

Try at least to endure

a dream with dignity!

Welcome to my palace!

Bind my arms and legs

and you'll be more at ease.

In such a moment,

someone must be crucified

for the moment to be eternal.

So that you become worthy

not of the moment

but of eternity.

Not very cheerful, are you, my lord?

Take this!

We will cheer you up!

Your lordship...

Who is this?

I am so glad

to see you, my lord.

In such hour.

When you, too, can be pitied.

You had no idea I existed.

Perhaps now,

looking at

my ugly, ailing body...

you will discover

that you had always wanted

to pity someone,

show them mercy...

I wanted you, my lord...


you were mine.

You don't know it,

but you were,

for one night.


My body

is bursting.

He's big.



In the evening,

I can feel
him go to sleep.

He can't fall asleep

when I can't sleep.

I can't stop thinking.

He tosses and turns.

He pushes at me.

He stretches his
arms and legs.

Staring into darkness,

he tickles me

with his long eyelashes.

He should have been born

long ago already.

But I'm afraid.

Because if I part with him,

I will be parting with you.


The prints of your palms

are still visible.

You gave me nothing in return.

Not even a cow,

or a lamb...

Isn't it wonderful, your excellency?

Why bother prolonging one's life

if a moment can turn into a lifetime?

Yes, this is inscrutable.

Now you understand

why after such a sublime song,

loving anything else is impossible.

And how can I experience the sublime

if they're always outside my windows?

Just take a look, my friend.

Your lordship!

Go away!

Stop bothering me!

Have pity on us, your lordship!

Are children are starving,

your lordship!

All our possessions

have gone up in flames.

Have pity on us, your lordship!

You see, your excellency...

Can they understand anything?

It's much quieter

in my estates.

Because you've got
God on your side

While I have to
cope on my own.

They're everywhere.

They've besieged the palace

with their laments.

Day and night.

I know

I could have
chased them away.

But I can't.

You're weary with life.

Perhaps I've lived
too long.

Man is his own

harshest sentence.

There is no one to torment him

as much as he does himself.

You must accept God's will.

God is your answer to everything.

If I always relied
on his will,

I would not be myself.

But you do believe in God?

I don't.

But I'm afraid of him.

But I hope

I'll handle him somehow.

He's not inexorable.

I'll build a roadside chapel,

and we'll come to an agreement.

My grandfather
built a chapel,

and now everyone knows

he was pious.

And if he had a soul,

he had sold it to the devil.

Believe me,

if a chapel is not enough,

I'll build a church.

And if a church won't do it,

I'll build a cathedral.

And God will be enormous in it.

He won't be nailed to a cross,

but he'll be seated
on a golden throne.

And when the church
bells ring...

Can't you see, imbecile,

that I have company?

The bishop is here!

On your knees and kiss his hand.

Forgive him, your excellency.

He's a goodnatured soul,

but simpleminded.

His father was one
of my shepherds.

Stop trembling.


Who's come at this hour?

The same one as yesterday.

Ah, the rebel.

If he were at least a thief,

a good-for-nothing,
a drunk...

but, instead,

he's a rebel.

You won't find him
in the tavern,

or in the church.

One must either drink

or believe in God.

What does he want?

He's asking that your lordship

only come up to the window.

Do you think he did it
out of despair?


Out of hatred for me.

The villain got
tired of working.

He assailed labor,
not himself!

What an intractable soul!

But I feel sorry for him.

And I forgive him.


The old man is dead.

You hear?

He's lying outside the palace.

He was cutting rosebushes,

and then slit his own throat.

You must take his body

before his lordship gets up.

I knew you'd come.

That you wouldn't leave me

in hardship.

You alone can
bring me relief,

for everyone else
is trying to trick me.

Everyone's tormenting me.

Don't cry.

I've only asked you
to dust the place,

tidy up after the guests.

Do you have any idea

how much you suffer?

Perhaps as much as
I long for you.

Perhaps our suffering is one,

but we don't know it.

Come closer.

Come closer.

I'm afraid of you.

But I came to serve you

because you're alone.

All alone in this grand palace.

You must be full of anguish, my lord.

Full of hatred toward yourself.

I don't know if I can help you.

But I'll do whatever you want me to.

You know what?

I'll make a lady out of you.

May even God know
what it's like

to lie in the secret
of your breast.

You know what?

I'll give you a
splendid funeral.

I ask for your help, father.

Everything has become

insufferable in my solitude.

Impossible to stifle in silence.

You need a confession, my son.

Confession will be
of no use, father.

The bishop himself
had suggested it.

I told him that

I don't know why

God demands humility since

it's not my sins he wants to hear.

He knows them well.

He had condemned me to them.

Indeed, you must be very unhappy.

I am simply

lonely and bored.

Sometimes I envy people
their misfortunes.

I, too, would like to experience

some great misfortune

that I cannot even imagine.

Perhaps through fate,

perhaps of my own doing.

You're blaspheming, my son.

I, too, want to know

what it's like to
pity onself,

to shed tears
over oneself.

Don't you think that

man is never truer to himself

than in suffering?

Perhaps this longing after oneself,

this cruel, selfish longing,

is the essence of man?


I don't know...

I don't know...

I only doubt.



Can't you hear this silence?

Make it stop!

I love you.

And I love you.

Will you be mine?

Do you want to marry a shepherd?

I do, Jacob, I do.

How wonderful it
is to be a shepherd.

A shepherd's life...

what more could one ask for?

He leads his flock all his life.

His dreams become
reality at will.

Or reality becomes dream.

If something ails him,

he takes refuge in his sheep,

in the clouds,

in birds...

It's a beautiful fate.

Beautiful, Jacob.

One can't help but laugh

at the thought that someone

like that, stinking of sheep,

of rank milk,

of manure and sheepskin,

that someone like that

might have his own fate.

That would be an offense against fate!

That would be toying with fate.


A mere farm hand

is dreaming of fate?

Is it not enough

to fill his stomach?

He'd like to have fate.

He should rather pray,

give thanks to God,

but no, he wants fate!

And this is becoming dangerous,

ladies and gentlemen.

There's a distant rumbling.

Where are you off to, count?

Going home? No!

I'm tired, my dear host.

Everyone's week in the knees,

but we keep on dancing.

All the doors are locked

till the ball is over.

No one can open them.

Not even I have the right.


This might be our last ball.

Take the count

to her ladyship.

Let's dance till
we're out of breath.

Let's lose ourselves.

Let's enjoy ourselves!

Let's dance, round and round!

Let's dance!

Let's spin till
we're out of breath.

Let's hold our hands,

and fall down together.

And no one will ever rise again.

Let's enjoy ourselves!

Round and round.

Oh, how much I desire

to find myself alone with you,

countess, far away
from this ball.

Far away from all of them

For you...

I came here only for you.

I knew you needed me.

Look, countess...

The despair that must be

filling these people

since they succumb

so easily to fatigue.

Let's dance!

Round and round,

to make it before dawn.

The livid morning sun

will turn us into corpses.

Then we'll face

the fear that's gripping us.

Oh God!


This world cannot end when we do.

It cannot begin with us anew!

Let's dance!

No! No!

The whole world is on fire.

The palace!

My palace is burning!

My palace!


My poor sheep!

Why have I abandoned them?


My palace is burning!

This is my legacy!

This is all mine.

It doesn't hurt.

Nothing hurts any longer.

Nothing any more.

Subtitles: by ailverte for KG. October 2012.