Rycerz (1980) - full transcript

A tale of medieval quest for a golden harp called "the Knight".


Screenplay by


also starring

Director of Photography

Directed by

A woman, water, the sea, the moon, a fish,
a seashell, Venus, the Tree of Life.

A boat and the wheel of fortune.

A boat with wood on it, a messenger.

A fisherman, feels cold.

Damp, a stomach, a feast, gluttony.

Music, death, mental illness.

White, the moon, milk, white bed sheets.

White manna, snow, suffering.

The harp, a white flower, salt, poison.

Air, the fountain of life of four rivers.

A pointless journey.

A vessel, a woman's womb, a snake.

A bow and arrow. A bird. A woman.

Night. And darkness again.

And darkness again.

All those circles closing above me.

No victory it was, my Lord.
The banners were bought from the enemy.

- You want to search for the harp?
- But it's the hierophant’s quest.

I know. Please get
King Father to appoint me.

He doesn't interfere with knights’ affairs.

He has enough worries
with the state affairs.

It must be MY quest.

Hierophant will never agree to that.

You mustn't go against your master’s will.

You think I can stay here and be part of
bribery, lies and treacheries?

Oh, my dear.

I know things are bad because
the wondrous harp is gone.

Our harp is gone.

I think it's not the absence of the harp

but also the King’s ineptitude
that is the root of this evil.

What if the harp, when brought back,
reveals this?

Don’t blaspheme!
You’re only protected by my love.

King Father loves you so.

He holds you as an example to the youth.

I realize King Father has changed.

But it’s hard to rule a kingdom
one inherits in such a dire condition.

- When Mother died…
- The King surrounded himself with bad people.

Courtiers hungry for fame.

Openly obsequious for personal gains.
The kingdom means nothing to them.

Unlike their personal happiness,
because they're people of small spirit.

Looking up to the manna
falling on them from the skies,

for nothing, for their insolent lies to the King.

The King is going senile,

rewarding the fools and executing the sound.
- Please, don’t shout!

I’m not shouting. It's just my eyes are bursting
looking at all this.

Everybody’s whispering about defeats.

Lying through their teeth to the king,
looking him in the eye.

10 villages up in smoke, and they tell him
10 new villages have been built.

The King is put on the horse and led
to whatever’s been spared from the fire.

It’s me who wants to go
and search for the harp.

You? But you know that quest
is to be mine.

I do. But you’re the only knight I can ask.


This should be a foreign word to you.

I’ve never taught you

to ask.

This must be my quest.

But you’ve lost!

It must be mine!

Fine. Go, then, if you desire fame.

I don't desire fame.

What, then?

I want to help people defeat evil.

It's hard to describe.

Give me your strength and bless me
so I can find the holy harp.

Everybody’s talking about it
but nobody believes in it anymore.

Do you know where to look for it?

I only heard it was thrown in the sea,
never to be found.

Not much.
And nothing more?

No. And you, my lord?

Knowledge is useless here.

Knowledge is God’s essence
and his alone.

Of his own knowledge
He doesn’t need knowledge from without.

Just like a flame doesn’t need another flame
to show its glare. Do you understand?


I can’t help you.

You can count only on yourself.
And another thing,

everything, including our bodies,
originates in ignorance,

like a bubble on the water, and then is gone.

You must find that one thing
that mustn’t be gone.

The holy harp, which brings happiness.

I give you this sash, my darling.

It'll protect you against evil.

Don’t go, my lord.
Let things go bad here. Let the people wake up
and smash it all to pieces.

No, that would be wrong.

You’re talking about people

but you’re not thinking about them.

I pass it to you. Along with its fame
and good name.

So, you do want to help me, my lord?

You deserve this quest more than me.

Why, my lord?

Because you do have faith.

and I lost it long ago.

God be with you!

God be with me!

My brethren: woodcutters and carpenters.

We’re clearing the forest for a new temple.

- Praised be Jesus Christ
- Forever and ever.


- You want to build a temple here?
- Yes.

It’s a sacred ground.
You must not enter it, my lord.

- Why build a temple in this wilderness?
- That is the Lord’s will.

We need strength to endure in faith,
without temptation and sin.

Go and do your work.

And you, my lord, must stay
outside the walls of the temple.

But father, there are no walls here.

Young man, your eyes are blind.

Can’t you see these are becoming
more durable than rock?

They’re within us, Knight.

What’s the use of a temple
nobody can enter?

It must be raised before
the congregation can enter.

Just like we have to raise our souls
to help people commune with God.

The country is in ruins.
And it’s not the victories that’ll save it,

But the people, who need their only God.

The King is their only God,
before whom they tremble.

He's not God, only a man
who’s forgotten about justice.

Aren’t you, father, afraid that
God will forget about it, too?

Don’t blaspheme, Knight!

We’re sewing shirts for the pilgrims
Who will come here to listen to the truth.

For this country can only be saved

by rebuilding it as a country

of happy people, reborn in God.

You won’t save the country here,
in the wilderness.

If everyone raised a temple within, like we have,

they would be happy
and never speak of evil.

Soon the bodies of the happy
will be clad in these shirts.

Renowned Knight!

Why don't you stay here and protect us
against evil, wild animals, and bandits?

Brother Kryspin, we can protect
us against evil by ourselves.

Can’t you see this knight is on a quest?


The most noble quest is to defend God
and protect the servants of His.



Why don’t you stay with us for a year or two?

and the Lord will arrange
a better place for you in heaven.

No, my desire is to act

and to bring the Harp that brings people
peace and happiness.

Only God and faith can bring peace and happiness.

The Almighty is sweetness itself.

Why all this evil all around if He’s almighty?

And you?

And why don’t you go
and deliver people from evil

instead of staying here for your own sakes?

Who would come here?


Answer me!

I repeat:

You must go to people

teach, heal, and help them.

Instead of fencing yourself out of the living.

You’re right, my young lord.

But first of all, people
must be led to love God.

One must heal the sick soul,
not the sick body.

People can only be helped through deeds.

And your temple is as fragile as these strings.

Cursed carrion!

I’ll give you death just as
you meant to give me it.

Spitting your own death in the face?

Your own death?

Maybe you’ve been sent from
the Castle to stop my quest?

Is that your courage?

You’re after gold?

You don’t look poor.

Spitting your own death in the face, eh?


Go free, then.


Thank you, my lord, for rescuing me.

Them scoundrels strung me up like a wolf

for my blood to flow out of my eyes.

At least they left the horses.

- May I keep them, my lord?
- They’re yours.

What are these twigs for?

It’s a custom, my lord.

They’re dropped one by one where a man
was killed until a pile is made.

What for?

It’s lit up in the autumn for the soul
of the deceased to be cleansed by fire.

Must you go the pagan land
to look for the harp?

I've already told you. That’s my quest.

Why don’t you go to the town with me?

They trade in fiddles, bugles, and lutes there.

You might find a harp for yourself, too.

A harp like that one can’t be bought in a market.


The one you buy could be blessed at a temple.

That’s a merchant talking through you.

One that doesn’t know
what a magical harp that brings happiness is.

Only wisdom can make one happy, not a harp.

That harp has the wisdom of all kings.

Its sound brings peace
and makes the soil fertile.

So they say.

The people need
only the image of the harp.

If you tell them the harp
you’ve bought is magical,

they will all believe.

But they won't change at all.

You’re a better tempter than Satan himself.

People must be helped ‘cause they’re suffering.

They mustn’t be deceived with gilded dung.

Goodbye, sir.

You here?

How did you get here?

We’ve been following your traces.

Your words became the new light to us.

We felt it was time to leave the wilderness,

go to people and seek
happiness in deeds.

As you said, my lord,
the prior was going senile.

He wanted to cut off our limbs
so that we were mere breaths.

God’s breath.

Such was the will of that who
is standing on death’s threshold.

But we, the young, have some life left.

We can fill it with deeds.

He’s very unwell, brother Wiesław.
He doesn’t have much life left in him.


I beg you to carry out my request.

What is it?

Shoot one of the birds flying above me.

The bow’s by the saddle.

What’s the bird for?

I beg you, shoot one.

It’s time for me to climb a mountain high.

Won’t make it without any claws.

Only a lone man can make it to the top.

unless he has insulted the gods.

Those words of yours are unclear.

I was saying that...

the Lord living at the top judges the dead
on their deeds in life.

Go on now. Leave me be
in these last offices of mine.

How can you go like that, of your own volition?

Aren’t you afraid of the strictness
that may knock you down those rocks?

I’m going because I must.

No, you don’t.

And for what do you put on fish scales
and travel to a distant sea?

Because I want to. It's my will.

I must.

The biggest “must” is death.

Don’t forget his pouches, brother.

Let’s wait until he dies.

No point. He doesn’t need
his gold while dying.

Look at this helmet of his.

It’s a pagan sign.

If not us, someone else
will take his pouches.

Maybe even for an unworthy cause.

If you’re too afraid, I’ll do it.

God looks at us mercifully

when we work for His glory.

Not afraid of my disease,
you took the belt, too, Father.

It feels so good

because it pressed against my swollen body.

And if it’s the gold that you want,
take it. For God’s glory.

But why are you not building
the temple anymore?

It’s not a temple, but
a cathedral in the city now.

A cathedral to save us from all kinds of evil.
The evil from the forest.

May we not perish from the plague!

She's coming.
I can see her!

There’s nobody here.

She’s traced me here.
That mangey bitch!

I can see her. Run!

But there is NOBODY here.

What’s happened?

I was ill.

Do you know what’s happened, Father?

Why is this disease in you?

Tell me.

Don’t come closer if you want to live.

How did you get here, Father?

I belong here.
God had mercy over me

and let me complete my mission.

I can't make anything of it.

What’s happened?

You were well,
but you fell asleep in the saddle.

You fell down here and I couldn’t wake you up.
Or come closer.

Now leave here.
Leave here now!

You’ll perish all by yourself
in this wilderness.

Nobody to dig your grave here.

I won’t perish until
I've built a God’s temple.

And from what do you want to build it?

I’m praying for those rocks
to come down here.


I recognize you.

You and the others wanted
to build a temple in the woods.

What's happened to you?

Answer me, Father.

Don't ask, my lord.

Speak! Don't withold the truth.

Two of us started to sell God for gold.

And what of them?

I don't know.

One night they fled among lightnings

as if under God’s gaze.

The eldest brother died of grief.

And the rest of scattered to seek God.

I’ll give you my horse.

Leave here to save yourself.

Nothing can make me leave here

until I've built the temple.

Find a better spot, then,
and some men to help you.

Can you hear me?

Hey, man!

Help me.


I’m looking for the magical harp.

They say it was thrown in the sea.

If it was magical,
why did they throw it in there?

- Was your journey long?
- Yes.

- And that harp was taken
from whence you came?
- Yes.

You think they made a long journey that long
just to throw it in the sea?

That’s what was said at the castle.

It would have been better to smash it
with a stone by the castle

or bury it, wouldn’t it?
- Perhaps it would.

But they wanted to take it away
as far as possible.

- Was it made of wood?
- No, gold.


It will never be found, then.
It won’t float up.

I don’t even know what it looked like.
I’d never seen it.

It'll be hard to find, then.

Hard, indeed.

One won’t even get any
fish bones without faith.

There are people over there further down.
Try asking them.

They’re all there today.

It’s the Rusalia festival tomorrow.

Today they’re paying tributes
to the goddess Jurata and the sea.

- There, she might know something.
- Who’s she?

A widow. Her husband put to seas
a few years back
to find death and conquer it.

She walks up and down the shore everyday.

Waiting for her husband.

Listen, did you happen to see
a harp on the beach?

What harp?

A magical one.

It might have been washed up on the shore.

What’s so magical about it?

It brings happiness.

And wipes out human suffering.

What happiness can a harp bring?
It has no thought, bones or blood.

Wait. Have you seen the harp or not?

Even if I had, I wouldn’t
have bent down to pick it up.

So many worthless things
are washed up onto the shore.

Been thinking about you said, my lord.

None of us has seen
or heard about the harp.

If the fishermen from another village had,
we would know about it.

That can’t be. Your people
are afraid to come here.

'You're pagan,' they say. 'Heathens.'

But they’re dumb, they are.

Because we give faith to those who are with us.

The fisherman is our greatest god.

From him comes all life on earth
and he cares for it.

The great fisherman is the teacher
and lord of mankind.

He leads people out from the beyond
to bring them to life.

You’ll be a guest at the Rusalia.

You’ll be a guest of our gods.

You shall see them together.

The fisherman, the king of all waters,
And his sister, the earth.

And the sunny fire of a tall brother of theirs.

The last one is the moon,

who abandons his body for our sakes.

He wanes so that we grow.

He dies and disappears, like men.

And returns. As shall we return.

See the people who will rise at the bidding of
that which we desire most.

Now they have to listen to their real desires,

and they shall be rewarded.

And so you do not let yourself be misled
by the desires of others.

And be like that madman
on the edge of the abyss,

unaware of the danger.

Look! His entire figure seems to be saying:
‘Trust your fate.’

Because a madman persistent
in his madness shall become a wise man.

Only then will you find
the water of life in plenty,

And receive the gifts of spirit.

But remember!

As water disappears in water,

as water disappears in the ground,

all the hopes and desires of human life
may disappear, too.

And when you overcome your weakness,
and reach the deep within,

you shall be like that woman,
reconciled with the Universe,

free, through her dancing,
from any earthly influence.

Her wands with two tips give her power.

The power to bind the earthly flesh
with heavenly powers.

And the animals around her
come free from trouble,

their desires satisfied.


What are you waiting for?

So, you've come, my lord.

Come and feast with us by the fire.

You’ve hardly drunk up
and you’re going!

Oh, God! How I love thee! Love thee! Love thee!

A woman is in bliss in a man’s embrace.

Water gives a fish life but it’s only fire
that sanctifies it.

Drink our holy drink of life and grace, too.

Gods of wind and water!

The Moon, who’s born and dies to return again!

And you, the scorching Sun!

Help me!

I've finally set myself free.

And you've been misleading me.

There is no harp.

You know that.

During my journey I wanted to die.

But now I don’t anymore.

Tell me.

Is the harp in the sea?