Wyrok zycia (1933) - full transcript

The following is the story of the film, summarized chronologically. The film actually begins in the middle of the story, with the murder prosecution and conviction of Jadzia (Andrzejewska). She then tells her appellate attorney Krystyna what happened:Jadzia is a poor, lonely government worker in Warsaw who lives in a rooming house and studies at night with ambitions of becoming a nurse. On what is supposed to be a day trip to the countryside with her office mates, she is seduced and abandoned by a stranger named Janusz (Damiecki) whose face is not shown. Distressed over her being abandoned, Jadzia becomes distracted at work and is fired for making too many mistakes. She cannot hold down a job due to fainting spells which, it turns out, are due to pregnancy. She is evicted from the rooming house and becomes homeless. While weeping with her infant son at the river's side, his basket cradle accidentally drops into the river. Jadzia calls for help, but it is too late, and those who respond to her cries for help accuse her of murder. She is charged with murder under Article 25, Section 1 of Poland's Penal Code. A court-appointed lawyer defends her, but he is not very effective, so she is convicted and sentenced to death. The trial scene opens with the testimony of the one of the women who was nearby when Jadzia's infant son fell into the river. She stands, facing the panel of three judges, and the presiding judge in the middle asks her whether she confirms her previous written statement. The presiding judge wears the distinctive chain and medallion of Poland's coat of arms, which is a White Eagle. The coat of arms is also displayed prominently on wall behind presiding judge. A large crucifix rests on the bench near the presiding judge. The traditional bell for calling the court to order is resting next to the crucifix, but in this film the presiding judge is never shown using it, not even when the panel emerges to pronounce the verdict and sentence. After the witness affirms her written statement, the presiding judge confirms that neither of the other two judges has a question and then dismisses the witness. The testimony is heard by twelve jurors, all male, who sit in a separate jury box to the right hand of the panel of judges. The presiding judge then asks the prosecutor, who sits at the right end of the bench, near the jury box, to give his summation. Before speaking, the prosecutor stands and dons his cap. When he is through speaking, he removes the cap. The defendant sits in a dock to the left, across from the jury. As is customary in civil law countries, defense counsel speaks last. His client Jadzia sits behind him, guarded. There is a crucifix hanging on the wall behind them. During defense counsels plea, the film cuts abruptly to the judges returning to the bench to pronounce the verdict of the jury and to pronounce sentence. The abrupt cut implies that the deliberation was done quickly. All three judges remain standing as the presiding judge pronounces the guilty verdict and the death sentence. Incidentally, a female attorney Krystyna (Eichlerówna) is watching the proceedings from the gallery and believes that Jadzia has been convicted in error, so she volunteers to handle the appeal to the court of second instance. An appeal in civil law courts is essentially a re-trial. However, what is depicted in Life Sentence is more likely a new trial and not an appeal, because a 12-man jury is empaneled, and evidence and argument are once again presented to a three-judge panel. We are shown only the layout of the court and a glimpse of Krystynas impassioned plea to the jury.Cut to Krystynas informing Jadzia that she has been acquitted. Without consulting with her husband Janusz, Krystyna takes Jadzia home to stay indefinitely, providing her with her own room and a bank account. Jadzia and Janusz meet, and Krystyna learns that her husband is the cad who seduced and abandoned Jadzia. Janusz shoots himself in the head and survives, and Krystyna forgives him. We are left to speculate about Jadzia's future.

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Who is Guilty?

Written by

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Produced by

Who is Guilty?

So the witness confirms
her testimony?

Yes, Your Honor.

I remember well.

There were three of us.
We were doing laundry by the river.

I saw it with my own eyes.

The witness may go now.

I've never been a juror before.

Me, I am always selected.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Let's hear the prosecution now.

Your Honor,

members of the jury.

We are gathered here today

to take into our hands
yet another case.

One of those
society is too lenient with.

But you, members of the jury,

must not be guided by false mercy.

That woman has killed.

Killed her own child.

Motherhood is
the superior mission of a woman...

The halo of sanctity over her head.


Oh, God. Two more mouths to feed.

A child which is God's blessing...

Your verdict may be
no other, but...


Defendant's counsel, the floor
is yours.

Your Honors, jurymen.

I am proud
to have been chosen by this court

to represent this poor person.

My opponent is right, a child is...

the most precious jewel in a society...

...and should be provided with
the best care possible.

All rise. the Court will preside!

I shall read the verdict.

In behalf of the Polish Republic,

the Court finds the defendant guilty

of the deliberate homicide of her child,

in accordance
with Article 225, Section 1

of the Penal Code.

She committed murder
and is sentenced to death.

Any plans for tonight, Chairman?

- I'm playing bridge.
- And I have a date, at a café.

Procurator, what is the time?

The time? Yes, one second.

- An excellent watch!
- Isn't it?

- It's missing two jewels.
- How so?

One to hold it and one to...


You've just sentenced
that poor girl to death.

You, fathers of your children,
haven't you thought of asking:

Where's the real culprit of this crime?

Where's the father of this child?

She must die for her mistake,
whereas he'll live, free and happy?

My child...

Why do you blame only the woman?

I appeal for her defense to
the second instance.

- Is my husband home?
- No, he hasn't come back yet.

Good, good...

- We're having borscht today?
- Yes, ma'am.

- With meat pies, just like he likes it?
- With meat pies, madam.

Chocolate cream too?

Yes, ma'am.

- With hazelnuts, just like he likes it?
- With hazelnuts, ma'am.

That's good. You can go now.

- Is my wife home?
- Yes, she's changing.

Good afternoon, darling.

Good afternoon.

Didn't you have enough?

- My construction plans are approved.
- They did? That's great!

Unfortunately, I will have to
leave for a longer time.

The evening daily!


Death penalty!



Death penalty!


What's wrong, Christine?

Today, they gave the death penalty
to a girl who killed her child.

- You know her?
- No, but I'm interested in the case.

Just think, a nameless man gets away
without penalty, while she...

That's terrible.
I must defend that girl.

I know.

You're men's enemy.

Including myself?

You? An enemy?

Yes, I hate you...

My dearest darling...

So when will you be back?

Not too soon. I must supervise
the beginning of the works.

But I'll drop by in a couple of days
and take you with me.

No, I can't. There's the trial!

That'll be my major trial, you'll see.

Good bye.

Good bye.


- Be careful on the scaffolds...
- Of course.

- And don't catch a cold.
- Don't worry.


And think about me...

and have a good time.

- And don't cheat on me.
- Don't worry.



Don't worry, child.

I am a lawyer.

I will be your counselor.

You just have to tell me
the whole truth, all of it.

All right?

I know...

You are not a murderer.

What did they do?

I'll tell you what happened.

It's not true!
I didn't want to!

Those women were yelling!

Devil! Murderer! She drowned her baby!

And when I went to...
Oh my God...

I'm tired already.

I've had enough. Why are they
tormenting me like that?

Do you understand?

I don't understand a thing.

Calm down, my child,
you must tell me what happened.

Everything, day after day.

Day after day?

All of it?


One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven.

One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven.

One, two, three, four...


Your lunch.

- Go ahead and eat, miss.
- Thank you.

Nothing would make me sit
over books after work.

When I pass my exam,
I'll take a course for nurses.

- When will you pay your rent, lady?
- I'll pay when I have money.

No pay, no stay.

I'll call the cops.

I won't be working my guts off
for every bimbo.

"The heart..."

"The heart is about as large as..."

The heart...

"The heart is about as large as..."


Silence! Everybody listen
to this great idea!

A day trip to the country.

Only five zlotys. Who's going?


Hey, Jadzia, over here!

Allow me, I will open the window.


Thank you.

- You like the countryside?
- Very much.

- Do you go there often?
- Never. I work in town.

I can see you are delighted with
those meadows and forests.

Absolutely. How did you know?

Because you are stuck on that
window and never look at me.

♫ I didn't know

♫ That the world is so beautiful

♫ That the sun has so many golden rays

♫ That the woods
hold so much wonderful greenery

♫ I didn't believe

♫ This time would come

♫ That something will happen to me

♫ And suddenly, in my heart,

♫ An unknown voice will sound

- What's your name?
- Jadzia. Nothing extraordinary.

- I like it...
- And yours?



How about a cigarette?

All right?

I don't know how.

Come on, give it a try,
it's really simple.

There you go...

What's wrong?

I'm sorry,
do you have any candy?

- Candy?
- I want to get rid of that awful taste.

Wait, I'll get you candy.

There was no candy,
so I brought oranges.

Wow, there's so many!

We'll take what remains
with us for a walk in the forest.

In the forest?

I can hear your heartbeat.

It wraps my whole world.

Why didn't you want to kiss me?

I was afraid.

So kiss me now.

- Are you cold, kid?
- I don't know Maybe...

It's over...

What is over? For us
it's a beginning.

- The day is over.
- There will be another one.

- Stay!
- What do you mean?

We'll spend the night here.

- I must be at work tomorrow.
- We'll leave in the morning.

No, no...

Where do we go now?

You will be comfortable here.

You missed your train?


The next one leaves tomorrow
morning at six. Good night.

(unreadable...) CALL...


- Were there any phone calls to me?
- No.

- Are you sure?
- I said no.

Because I...


'Why didn't you come or call me?
Still waiting - I love you...'

'I waited in vain.'

One envelope, please.

- Here you are, 5 cents.
- Here.

- May I use the desk?
- Yes, please.


Pardon me, ma'am...

Why don't you do it at home?

Yes... At home... I'm sorry...

- Please.
- Thank you.

This is your third mistake.

Turn the money over
and go see the Director.

You are dismissed from your post.

You may collect your salary now.


When will you pay the rent, miss?

One more week.

Then, you're out of here.

I have to make a living too.

The post has already been taken.

No vacancies.

Try next month.

It's taken.

I will get it for you, one second.

- What happened?
- She fainted.

Got any money?

No. I was fired from the boutique.

That's just fine,
because I've rented this place.

A decent, reliable
and solvent person will live here.

Come in, please.

It will be nice, sunny and quiet here.

- Good.
- I'll go and get your things.

A pretty girl like you
can get by easily.

- I can introduce you to a gentleman...
- Leave me alone!

I open my heart for her and she
gets upset. Can you believe that?

Hold it, miss. I'll keep your
things until you pay the rent.

Look at that dummy!
Came unwanted from town,

gobbles for free and wreaks havoc.

Take your stuff and get out of here!

Get out, you vagrant!

Don't you need a hand?

Look at this one!

She carries a brat and wants a job!

They kick us out wherever we go...

We ran out of food, sonny.

Maybe some good folks
will take care of you.

Maybe you'll be better off alone...

Oh, God!


The baby!



Oh, God!

What happened?

She drowned it!

The baby!

She drowned it!

She did it, I saw it!

She drowned it, I saw it!

The baby!

I don't know how it happened.
It just fell into the water...

My sweetest darling!

How are you doing?

Yes, very busy.

Yes. The trial of that young girl.

Tomorrow there will be
a second hearing.

I expect the verdict will be...

I expect the verdict will be a fair one.

She's been struck by tragedy
only because she's a woman.

Where is the man,
this nameless man?

He's in hiding!

Or maybe he doesn't even know
he's ruined someone else's life.

You'll say:
that's how Nature works,

but I say it's just
the law of the strongest.

However, members of the jury,

in your conscience, in your hearts,

your human hearts,

let there prevail the familiar words:

'Let those who are without fault
throw their stones at her first.'

Please commence
your confidential judgment.

You are free!

My dear friend...

I'm taking you to my place.

You'll start a new life.



Here we are.

Take off your coat.

- Am I dreaming?
- No, you will be living here.


This is your room.

Your dresses, some lingerie.

And this is your savings book.
That's for starters.

Come on, no need to get emotional.

Sit down and eat, darling.

We've got one more thing to do.

We must find the man
who got you in this situation.

I'd like to look in the face
of that unknown man.

A cable to you, ma'am.

He's coming! My husband is coming.

I'll go pick him up.

Eat and get some rest.

See you.

How have you been?

So you won the case. Tell me
all about it.

No, you tell me about your work
and the construction sites.

None of this is important.

I will now tell you
something really important.

I'll have coffee in my office, please.

Now, I'll tell you
what's most important.

I am so happy.

Did you miss me?


I thought about you night and day.

Each day without you is lost for me.

I love you.

Stop, you're strangling me...

Go to bed.

I'll join you in a moment.

Hush! The kid is sleeping in there.

- What kid?
- You know, my favorite.

- What?
- Well, yes.

I wanted her to recover here.
I'll tell you the whole story.

Are you all right?

Nothing, it's just a headache.

You're tired.
You must get some rest.

I'll get you some medicine.

No, that's impossible!

What do you mean?

I must have forgotten some blueprints.

- I'll help you find them.
- No, no.

- Calm down!
- I'll do it myself.

Go to bed, Christine.

Here's your medicine.

Put it there. Thank you.

I want to see that girl...

What girl?

Yours. You know.

- Oh, that kid...
- Yes.

I'll have a look.

If she's not sleeping...

I can't sleep.

Come, get up.
It's not that late yet.

You will meet my husband.



You know each other?

You do know each other...

It's a mistake, I don't know him.

I don't know that gentleman!

Don't lie to me!

So you are that...

that scum.

You're under great obligation to her.

You should marry her...

if she want.


I don't love that gentleman!

That girl is terribly righteous,

because she loves you...

She went through hell.
She was sentenced to death.

Because of you!


Janusz, Janusz!




The bullet damaged the forehead,
but he may still survive.




Is that you?

Yes, it's me.

Thank you.

Will you forgive me?

I love you.

I always have.

Won't you leave me?

Won't you leave me even
if I'm alive?

- I won't leave you.
- Swear you won't.

I swear.

Thank you...


He called for you.

I swore for you that you wouldn't
leave him.

That you won't leave him...

Thank you for everything...


Text: Piotr Gliwinski (Synthesis Media
Corrections & additions: bruno321 @ KG.