Autumn Sonata (1978) - full transcript

After having neglected her children for many years, world famous pianist Charlotte visits her daughter Eva in her home. To her surprise she finds her other daughter, Helena, there as well. Helena is mentally disabled, and Eva has taken Helena out of the institution where their mother had placed her. The tension between Charlotte and Eva only builds up slowly, until a nightly conversation releases all the things they have wanted to tell each other.



Sometimes I stand looking at my wife

without her knowing I'm there.

The first time she entered this room
she said,

"Oh, how nice. I feel at home here."

We hadn't known each other long.

We met at a bishops' conference
in Trondheim.

She was there as a journalist.

I told her about the parsonage out here.

I ventured to suggest a visit
when the conference was over.

On the way, I asked her to marry me.

She didn't answer,

but, when we entered the room, she said,

"Oh, how nice. I feel at home here."

Since then we've lived a quiet,
happy life at the parsonage.

Eva has, of course,
told me about her earlier life.

After finishing school,
she went on to college,

got engaged to a doctor
and lived with him for several years.

She wrote two small books...

came down with tuberculosis,
broke off the engagement

and moved from Oslo
to a small town in the south of Norway

where she began to work as a journalist.

This is the first of her books.
I like it so much.

She has written...

"One must learn to live.

I practice every day.

My biggest obstacle is
I don't know who I am.

I grope blindly.

If anyone ever loves me as I am,

I may dare at last to look at myself.

For me,
that possibility is fairly remote."

I'd like to tell her just once

that she is loved wholeheartedly...

but I can't say it in a way
that she'd believe.

I can't find the right words.

I've written to Mama. Am I interrupting?

No, no. Come in.

- I'll turn off the radio.
- I can come back later.

No, please read me the letter.

"Dearest Mama,

I was in town yesterday
and ran into Agnes,

who was visiting her parents.

She told me Leonardo had died.

I know what a terrible blow
this must be to you.

I was wondering if you'd like to
come visit us for a few days or weeks.

Please don't say no right away.

The parsonage is very spacious.

You'll have your own room
with all the conveniences.

We have a piano,
and you can practice all you want to.

It would make a change from a hotel.

Please say you'll come.

We'll make a fuss over you and spoil you.

It's been ages since we saw each other,
seven years this October.

Much love from Viktor and Eva."

- That's fine.
- Are you sure?

- Mama, darling!
- Eva! Well, here I am.

- I'm so glad you're here.
- Yes, just imagine.

- It was a long trip.
- Yes, I know.

It's beautiful here.

- I hope you'll stay a long time.
- Indeed I will.

- I can't believe you're here.
- Let's go for a nice long walk.

What heavy bags.
Have you brought all your music?

- Yes, I'm staying for good.
- That would be nice.

- You'll give me some lessons, won't you?
- Yes.

- Where's Viktor?
- He's not home at the moment.

We didn't think you'd arrive so early.

- This is your room.
- It's lovely.

- And what a beautiful view.
- The bathroom's here.

- How nice and modern.
- Thank you.

- I hope one wardrobe is enough.
- Everything's fine.

I really am very tired.

My back hurts.

I sat with Leonardo
through his last day and night.

He was in bad pain.
They gave him shots every two hours.

Now and then he cried because it hurt.

He wasn't afraid of dying.

Outside the hospital,
they were drilling and hammering.

The sun was blazing down,
and there were no awnings.

We tried to get another room,
but many wards were closed for repairs.

Towards evening the noise stopped
and I could open the window.

The heat outside was like a wall,
and not a breath of wind.

In the evening the doctor came.

He's an old friend.

He said it wouldn't be long.

Leonardo would get a shot every half hour

so he could die without pain.

Then the doctor left
and the ward nurse came in.

She said I should eat,
but I wasn't hungry.

The smell was making me sick.

Leonardo dozed off...

then woke up and asked me
to leave the room.

He called the night nurse,
and she came in with a shot.

A minute or two later,
she came out and said...

Leonardo was dead.

I sat with him all night.

He had been my friend for 18 years.

We had lived together for 13
and had never had an angry word.

For two years, he had known he was ill,
and there was no hope.

As often as I could, I went to see him
at his villa near Naples.

He was kind and thoughtful
and happy about my success.

We talked and joked
and played chamber music.

He hardly ever spoke of his illness,
and he wouldn't have liked me to ask.

One day he gave me a long look...

then laughed and said...

"This time next year I'll be gone...

but I'll always be with you.

I'll always be thinking of you."

It was sweet of him to say so,
but he was apt to be rather theatrical.

I can't say I go around grieving.

Of course he left a gap,
but it's no good fretting.

Do you think I've changed much?

You're just the same.

I dye my hair of course.

Leonardo doesn't like gray hair.
Otherwise I'm the same, don't you think?

I bought this outfit in Zurich.

I wanted something comfortable
for the trip.

I saw it in a window, went in,
tried it on, and it fit perfectly.

It was so cheap.

- Don't you think it's nice?
- Yes, very.

Will you help me with this case?
My back's giving me hell.

Do you have a board
to put under the mattress?

I need a hard surface.

- We put one there yesterday.
- Wonderful.

Eva, dear, what is it?

Did I say something wrong?

I'm just so glad to see you.

Give me a nice big hug,
like you used to when you were little.

I've done nothing but talk about myself.

Tell me about you.

- How are things?
- Oh, fine.

Do you lead a very isolated life?

No, we have our parish work.

Yes, of course.

I often play the organ.

Last month I had a musical evening.

I played and talked about each piece.

- I hope you'll play for me.
- I'd love to.

I gave five school concerts
in Los Angeles.

3,000 children each time.

I played and talked to them.

I was a huge success.

There's something I have to tell you.

Helena is here.

You should have told me.

If I had, you wouldn't have come.

I'm sure I would have.

And I'm sure you wouldn't have.

Isn't Leonardo's death enough?

Why drag poor Lena here too?

She's been here for the last two years.

Viktor and I asked her
if she'd like to live with us.

- I wrote to tell you.
- I never got the letter.

Or else you never bothered to read it.

- Aren't you being rather unfair?
- Yes. I'm sorry.

I'm not up to seeing her.
At any rate, not today.

Helena is a wonderful person.

She's longing to see you.

It seemed so nice for her at that home.

I wanted her with me.

Are you sure she's better off here?

Yes. And I have someone to look after.

Has she...

I mean is she...

Is she worse?

Oh, yes, she's worse.
It's part of the disease.

Come along then. Let's go and see her.

- Are you sure?
- I have no choice.

Some people are so naïve.

- You mean me?
- If the shoe fits.

Come on. Let's go.

Dear Lena!

I've thought of you so often, every day.

Helena is afraid of giving you her cold.

I haven't had a cold for 20 years.

What a lovely room you have,
and what a view.

I have the same view from my room.

Helena wants you
to take her head in your hands.

Like that?

I'm so glad Eva's looking after you.

I thought you were still at that home.

I would have come to visit.

But it's much better like this, isn't it?

Now we can be together every day.

Are you in pain?


I love how you've done your hair.

It's in your honor.

Suppose I read aloud to you?
Would you like that?

And we can go for a drive.
I've never been around here before.


Helena says you must be very tired
and not to exert yourself any more today.

Well done, Mama.

- Doesn't Lena have a wristwatch?
- Of course. It's on the nightstand.

I'll give you mine.

It was a gift from an admirer
who said I was always late.

- Will Lena be having dinner with us?
- No, she's on a diet.

She ate far too much at the hospital.

Why do I feel like I have a fever?

Why do I want to cry?

I'm to be put to shame. That's the idea.

A guilty conscience.
Always a guilty conscience!

I was in such a hurry to get here.
What was I expecting?

What was I longing for so desperately?

What an extraordinary mother.

You should have seen her
when I told her Lena was here.

She actually smiled.

Can you believe she actually
managed to produce a smile

despite her surprise and alarm?

Then, as we stood outside Lena's door,

she was like an actress
waiting for her entrance,

scared but in control.

The performance was superb.

Why on earth did she come here?

What did she expect would happen
after seven years?

- What did she expect?
- I wonder.

And what did I expect?

- We never give up hope, do we?
- I don't think so.

Don't we ever stop
being mother and daughter?

No use starting to cry.

Damn it!

There she sat,
gazing at me with her big eyes.

I held her face and felt the disease
twitching at her throat muscles.

Damn it!

To think I can't carry her to my bed

and comfort her as I did
when she was three.

That soft, torn body...

that's my Lena.

Don't cry, for Christ's sake.

A writer whose name I've forgotten said,

"It's like a ghost falling on top of you
when you open the door to the nursery

having long since forgotten
it is the nursery."

Do you think I'm an adult?

I guess being an adult is being able
to handle your dreams and hopes,

not longing for things.

Do you think so?

Maybe you stop being surprised.

You look so sensible with your old pipe.

You're very adult.

I don't know. I'm surprised every day.

- At what?
- At you.

And I have the most
unreasonable dreams and hopes.

And a longing too, come to that.

- A longing?
- Yes. I long for you.

Those are very pretty words.

Words don't mean anything real.

I was brought up with beautiful words.

Mama is never furious
or disappointed or unhappy.

She is "pained."

You have a lot of words like that too.

It's kind of an occupational disease.

If you long for me when I'm here,
I'll start getting suspicious.

- You know what I mean.
- No.

If I knew, it would never have entered
your head to say you long for me.

I have to check the veal roast.

Mama thinks I'm a hopeless cook.
She's a real glutton.

- I think you're a...
- ...wonderful cook.

Thank you.

And she's having decaffeinated coffee.

I'll cut my visit short.

I can manage four days.

Then I'll go to Africa
as I had originally planned.

This hurts, Charlotte.

It hurts, hurts, hurts.

I've often wondered why she sleeps badly.

Now I know.

If that woman slept normally,
her vitality would crush everyone.

Her insomnia is nature's way
of using up the surplus energy.

I'll put on my red dress
just to spite Eva.

I'm sure she thinks
I ought to be in mourning.

Watch how carefully
she dresses for dinner.

Her dress will be a discreet reminder
that she's a lonely widow.

I'm angry all the time.

Viktor and Eva have been sweet to me.

Viktor's a kind soul.

Lucky for Eva, the crybaby.

I'll bet the shower doesn't work.

Yes, it does.

- What a lovely dress!
- Does it suit me?

One day I met a friend who said,

"I've just come from a fashion show.

There was a divine red dress
that's absolutely you."

To your health, Charlotte.

We're delighted to have you with us.

see if I left my glasses on the table.

Thank you, darling.

That was my agent. He's so sweet.

He's the only friend I have left.

You remember old Paul, Eva.

We've worked together for 30 years now.

What a fine old instrument.

What a lovely tone. And just tuned.

Now I'm really happy.

- I didn't need to worry.
- What do you mean, Mama?

I was nervous,
seeing you again after so many years.

I nearly didn't come.

No sugar, please.

This strange coffee is a bore,
but what can I do when I can't sleep?

I see you're working
on the Chopin preludes.

- Play something.
- Not now.

Don't be childish.

You'd give me great pleasure.

But you wanted your mother
to hear you play.

But it's all a sham. I have no technique.

I haven't even bothered
to learn the fingering.

Darling, no more excuses.
Come on, now, play.

Eva, my dearest.

- Is that all?
- I was just so moved.

- Did you like it?
- I liked you.

- I don't understand.
- Play something else.

- What was wrong with it?
- Nothing.

You didn't like my interpretation.

- We each have our own.
- Exactly.

I want to know yours.

- You're annoyed.
- No, I'm upset.

You won't tell me
your interpretation of this prelude.

All right, if you insist.

Your technique wasn't bad at all,

though you might have taken
more interest in Cortot's fingering,

but let's just talk about the conception.

Chopin was emotional, but not sentimental.

Feeling is very far from sentimentality.

The prelude tells of pain, not reverie.

You have to be calm, clear and harsh.

Take the first bars now.

It hurts, but he doesn't show it.

Then a short relief.

But it evaporates immediately,
and the pain is the same.

Total restraint the whole time.

Chopin was proud, passionate,
tormented and very manly.

He wasn't a sentimental old woman.

This prelude must sound almost ugly.

It is never ingratiating.
It should sound wrong.

You have to battle your way through it
and emerge triumphant.

Like this.

I see.

Don't be annoyed with me.

Why would I be? On the contrary.

For 45 years,
I've worked at these terrible preludes.

They still contain a lot of secrets.

When I was little, I admired you so much.

Then I got pretty tired
of you and your pianos.

Now I admire you again,
but in a different way.

- Then there's some hope.
- Yes, I guess so.

- Where are you?
- I'm up here, Mama.

I've changed,
so we can go for a walk if you like.

- Is this the nursery?
- Yes, it's Erik's room.

Why would you keep it this way?

We've often talked about changing it.

Sometimes I come and sit here
and let my thoughts wander.

- Let's go.
- Wait, Mama.

Just feel how nice it is in here.

Erik drowned the day
before his fourth birthday.

But you know that.

It was too much for Viktor.

I grieved a lot, outwardly.

Deep inside,
I felt like he was still alive,

that we were living close to each other.

All I have to do is concentrate,
and he's there.

Sometimes, as I'm falling asleep
I can feel him breathing on my face

and touching me with his hand.

He's living another life,
but we can reach one another.

There's no dividing line,
no insurmountable wall.

I wonder what reality looks like
where my little boy is living.

I know it can't be described.

It's a world of liberated feelings.

Do you know what I mean?

To me, man is a tremendous creation,
an inconceivable thought.

In man, there is everything,
from the highest to the lowest.

Man is God's image,
and in God there is everything.

So human beings are created,

but also the demons and the saints,

the prophets and artists and iconoclasts.

Everything exists side by side.

It's like huge patterns
changing all the time.

Do you know what I mean?

In the same way,
there must also be countless realities.

Not only the reality
we perceive with our dull senses,

but a tumult of realities arching
above each other inside and outside.

It's just fear and priggishness
to believe in limits.

There are no limits.

Neither for thoughts nor for feelings.

It's anxiety that sets limits,
don't you think so?

When you play the slow movement
of the Hammerklavier sonata,

you must feel like you're living
in a world without limitations,

in a movement
you can never see through or explore.

Let's go for a walk
before it gets too dark.


I thought I heard Helena calling.

Excuse me.

I think Eva is terribly unhappy.

I'm appalled when I hear her rambling on.
It's so neurotic.

Just a moment, Charlotte,

and I'll try to explain how I see my wife.

When I asked Eva to marry me,
she said she didn't love me.

- What do you mean?
- I asked if she loved someone else.

She said she had never loved anyone,

that she was incapable of loving.

Eva and I lived here for several years.

Then Erik was born.

We'd given up hope of a child of our own

and had talked about adopting one.

With her pregnancy,
Eva underwent a complete change.

She became cheerful, gentle and outgoing.

She got lazy.

She lost interest in her parish work
and her piano playing.

She would sit by that window,

gazing at the play of light
over the mountains and fjords.

We were suddenly very happy.

I'm much older than Eva.

I felt as if a gray film
were settling over life.

I felt as if I could look back and say,

"Well, well, so that was my life.
That's how it all turned out."

But suddenly things were different.

Please forgive me,
but it's still rather hard to...

We had some years that were very rich.


You should have seen Eva.

You really should have seen her.

At the time of Erik's birth,
I was recording all the Mozart sonatas.

- I couldn't get one day off.
- No.

We invited you over and over again.

When Erik drowned,
that gray film got even grayer.

For Eva, it was different.

- Different?
- Her feeling lives on, uncorroded.

Or so it seems anyway.

If she feels that her son is alive
and near her...

well, perhaps that's how it is.

She seldom speaks of it.

I guess she's afraid it might upset me,
as indeed it would.

But what she says sounds true enough.

I believe her.

Yes, you're a minister.

The little faith I have
lives on her terms.

I'm sorry if I hurt you.

It doesn't matter.

Unlike you and Eva,
I'm confused and uncertain.

It's my own fault.

I think I'll take a nice dose
of sleeping pills tonight.

It's so peaceful here,
only the hiss of the rain on the roof.

- Do you have everything you need?
- Couldn't be better.

Cookies, mineral water, a tape recorder,
two detective novels,

my blindfold, earplugs,
my spare pillow and my travel blanket.

Would you like to taste my delicious
Swiss chocolate? Fresh from Zurich.

Help yourself. You can have two pieces.

I don't like chocolate.

I seem to remember you were crazy
about candy as a child.

Helena liked it. I didn't.

Good, all the more for me.

- Good night, Mama.
- Good night, my pet.

Viktor is a wonderful person.

- You must take care of him.
- I do.

Eva, darling, are you happy together?

Do you get along?

Viktor is my best friend.

I can't imagine life without him.

He said you didn't love him.

- Did he say that?
- Yes.

- Why?
- Oh, it's just surprising.

Was it a secret?

- But he shouldn't have said it?
- He's not the confiding type.

We were talking about you.

If you want to know anything, ask me.
I'll tell you the truth.

Now, don't get upset.

A mother naturally worries
about her daughter.

We spoke of you
with the greatest affection.

If only you'd leave people alone.

I've left you alone far too long.

- You're right.
- Give me a hug.

- Promise you're not angry.
- I'm not.

- I love you, don't you see?
- I love you too.

It's not much fun
being alone all the time.

I envy you and Viktor.

Now that Leonardo's dead, I'm so lonely.

- Do you understand?
- Yes.

I'll start weeping
with self-pity any minute.

This book isn't bad.

It's by Adam Kretzinsky.
Have you heard of him?

I met him in Madrid. He's mad as a hatter.

I couldn't defend myself.
In fact, I didn't.

- Should I turn off this light?
- Yes, please.

- I'll bring you your breakfast.
- Don't trouble yourself.

- But I want to spoil you.
- Very well, if you insist.

Strong coffee, hot milk,
two slices of German bread with cheese,

one slice of toast with honey.

- And orange juice.
- I nearly forgot.

- I can...
- Juice it will be.

- Good night, darling.
- Good night, Mama.

I think I'll have a look at my accounts.

I'll have Brammer invest
the money from Leonardo.

The house is worth quite a bit too.

you never looked after your money.

You were above mundane worries...

and left all these problems
to your Charlotte.

3,735,866 francs.

To think you had so much money.
Who'd have thought it?

And you left it all to your old Charlotte.

I've got a little nest egg too.

Together, it comes to over five million.

What am I going to do with so much money?

I'll buy a nice car for Viktor and Eva.

They can't drive around
in that old rattletrap.

On Monday we'll go into town
and look for a new car.

It'll cheer them up. Me too.

"She offered him the red flower
of her virginity.

He accepted it without enthusiasm."

This is trash.

Adam was really quite an idiot,

even if he did nearly
commit suicide because of me.

Supposing I buy a new car for myself
and give them the Mercedes?

Then I can fly to Paris
and buy a car there,

and I won't have to drive all that way.

Tomorrow, I have to work on Ravel.

It's disgraceful
how lazy I've been lately.

Mama, what happened?

I heard you call out,
and you weren't in your room.

I'm sorry I woke you,
but I had such a horrible dream.

I can't remember it.

- Do you want some company?
- No, thank you, dear.

- You go back to bed.
- Very well.

- You do like me, don't you?
- You're my mother.

That's one way of answering.

- Do you like me?
- I love you.

Do you?

I broke off my career
to stay at home with you and Papa.

Your back prevented you
from practicing six hours a day.

Your playing got worse
and so did your reviews.

- Have you forgotten that?
- No, but Eva...

I don't know which I hated more,

when you were at home
or when you were on tour.

I realize now you made life hell
for Papa and me.

Eva, sweetheart, that's not true.
Your father and I were very happy.

Josef loved me,
and I'd have done anything for him.

Yes, of course.

- You were unfaithful to him.
- I was not!

I was quite honest with Josef.

I fell in love with Martin
and lived with him for eight months.

It wasn't a bed of roses.

I was the one who had to sit with Papa
in the evenings.

I was the one who had to comfort him,

to keep repeating
that you did love him just the same,

that you were sure to come back.

I read your letters out loud,

your long, loving, amusing letters

in which you told us
of your interesting travels.

We sat there like two idiots,
reading your letters over and over.

We thought you were
the most wonderful person alive.

You hate me.

I don't know.

I was so excited that you were coming.

I don't know what I was imagining.

Maybe I thought you were lonely and sad.

I'm so confused!

I thought I was an adult

and could look clearly at you and me
and Helena's illness and our childhood.

Now it's all one big mess.


It's all right now.

Wake up. Wake up now.

There, there.

I'll sit here with you
until you go to sleep.

For you, I was just a doll you played with
when you had time.

If I was sick or naughty,
you handed me over to the nanny.

You shut yourself in and worked,

and no one was allowed to disturb you.

I used to stand outside, listening.

When you stopped for coffee,
I'd go in to see ifyou really existed.

You were always kind,
but your mind was elsewhere.

If I spoke, you barely answered.

Thank you.

Mama wants to be left alone now.

Run along and play outside.
It's such a lovely day.

I always wanted to be beautiful like you.

I always worried that you
wouldn't like the way I looked.

I was so ugly,

lean and angular with big cow's eyes,

big wide lips and no eyebrows.

My arms were too thin and my feet too big.

I thought I looked repulsive.

Once you said,
"You should have been a boy,"

and laughed so I wouldn't be upset.

I was, of course.

Then, one day,
your suitcases would be downstairs,

and you'd be talking on the phone
in a foreign language.

I used to pray that something
would stop you from leaving...

but you always went.

You'd hug me and kiss me,

then hug and kiss me again.

You'd look at me and smile.

You smelled nice but strange.

You yourself were a stranger,
already on your way.

You didn't see me.

Then you'd be gone.

I used to think, "Now I'll die.

It hurts so much.

I'll never be happy again.

How can I bear this pain for two months?"

And I'd cry in Papa's lap.

He'd sit very still
with his soft hand on my head.

He'd keep on sitting there,
smoking his old pipe.

Sometimes he'd say,
"Let's go to a movie this evening,"

or "What about ice cream
for dinner today?"

But I just wanted to die.

So the days and weeks passed.

We shared the loneliness very well.

We didn't have much to say,
but I never disturbed him.

Sometimes he'd look worried.

I didn't know then
that he was always short of money.

But whenever I'd come clumping along,
his face would brighten,

and he'd pat me with his pale little hand.

Or else Uncle Otto would be sitting
on the sofa, drinking brandy.

They'd mumble to each other.

I wonder if they could hear each other.

Or else Uncle Harry would be there
and they'd play chess...

and then it'd be extra quiet.

I could hear
three different clocks ticking.

A few days before you were due home,

I'd get a fever from the excitement.

I'd worry I might really get sick,
because you were afraid of sick people.

When you did come,
I was so happy I couldn't say anything.

You'd get impatient and say,

"Eva doesn't seem verypleased
to have her mother home again."

I'd blush red as a beet
and break out in a sweat.

I couldn't say anything.

I had no words.

You had taken charge
of all the words in our home.

- You're exaggerating.
- I must finish speaking.

I know I'm tipsy, but otherwise
I wouldn't have said what I have.

When I'm too ashamed to say any more,
you can explain,

and I'll listen and understand,
just as I've always done.

I loved you, Mama.

As a matter of life and death.
But I distrusted your words.

They didn't match
the expression in your eyes.

You have a beautiful voice.

When I was little,
I could feel it all over my body.

But I knew instinctively
you didn't mean what you said.

I couldn't understand your words.

The most horrible thing was,
you'd smile when you were mad.

When you hated Papa, you'd call him,
"my dearest."

When you were tired of me, you'd say,
"darling little girl."

It's gotten quiet in here.

What can I say?

Defend yourself.

Is it worth the effort?

How would I know?

You reproach me for leaving,
and you reproach me for staying home.

I had a hell of a time those years.

My back hurt. I couldn't practice.

Important engagements were canceled.

My life seemed meaningless.

I felt guilty about always being away
from you and Papa.

You're smiling sarcastically.

I'm trying to tell you the truth.

I'm merely telling you how I felt.

We may as well have this out for once.
Then we won't refer to it again.

Go on.

I was in Hamburg,
playing Beethoven's First.

It's not too difficult,
and everything had gone well.

After the concert, Schmiess and I...

You know, the conductor. He's dead now.

We went to get a bite to eat.
We always did.

After we'd been eating
and drinking for a while,

and I was content and relaxed
and my back wasn't aching,

Schmiess said...

"Why don't you stay at home
with your husband and child

and lead a respectable life,

instead of exposing yourself
to constant humiliation?"

I stared at him and laughed and said,
"Did I play that badly?"

"No," he said,

"but I can't help remembering
August 18, 1934.

We played Beethoven's First
together in Linz.

You were 20 years old.
The hall was packed.

We played like gods.
The orchestra was inspired.

the audience stood up and cheered,

and the orchestra played a fanfare."

Then he said,
"You wore a simple red summer dress

and had long hair down to your waist."

"How do you remember all that?" I asked.

"I wrote it down on my score," he said.

"I make a note
of all my great experiences."

When I got back to the hotel,
I couldn't sleep.

At 3:00 in the morning, I called Papa
and told him I was going to stop touring...

and stay at home with him and you.

We'd be a real family.

Josef was so happy.

We wept with emotion, both of us.

We talked for two hours.

And that was that.

That summer we were happy, weren't we?


- You weren't happy?
- No.

You said things had never been so good.

I didn't want to hurt you.

Well, that just goes to show you.

What did I do wrong?

I was 14,

and you directed all
of your pent-up energy on me.

You were damn well going
to make up for your neglect.

I tried to defend myself,
but I didn't have a chance.

You trotted out your thoughtfulness
and your worried voice.

There wasn't one detail
that escaped your loving energy.

I had a stoop.
You got to work with gymnastics.

We did exercises together.

You thought my hair was too long,
so you had it cut short.

It was hideous.

Then you got the idea my teeth
were crooked, so I got braces.

I looked grotesque.

You said I couldn't go around
wearing pants any longer,

so you had dresses made
without asking me what I thought.

I didn't dare say no
because I didn't want to upset you.

You gave me books to read
that I didn't understand!

I read and read,
and then you and I had to discuss them.

You'd go on and on, but I didn't know
what you were talking about!

I was scared you'd expose my stupidity.

I was paralyzed!

But one thing I did understand:

There wasn't a shred of the real me
worthy of love or acceptance!

You were obsessed.

I grew more and more afraid
of being annihilated.

I said what you wanted me to say
and copied your gestures!

I didn't dare to be myself
even when I was alone

because I hated everything about myself!

It was horrible, Mama!

I still shake all over
when I think of those years!

It was horrible!

I didn't realize I hated you.

I was so sure we loved each other.

I couldn't hate you,
so my hatred turned into an insane fear.

I had nightmares. I bit my nails.

I pulled out tufts of hair.

I wanted to cry, but I couldn't.

I couldn't make a sound.

I tried to scream,
but I could only make stifled grunts.

That frightened me even more.
I thought I was going out of my mind.

- Then came Stefan.
- Who got you pregnant.

I was 18!

Stefan was an adult.
We could have managed.


We wanted to have the child,
but you ruined everything!

That's not true!
I told Papa we should wait and see.

You didn't realize Stefan was an idiot.

Were you present during our conversations?

Were you lurking under our bed?

Do you even know
what you're talking about?

Have you ever given a damn
about any living soul except yourself?

If you'd wanted a child, I couldn't have
forced you to have an abortion!

How could I defy you?

- I was afraid and needed help.
- I tried to help you.

I thought abortion was the only way.
I've thought so all along.

It's awful! You've carried
this hatred all these years!

- Why have you never said anything?
- Because you never listen.

You're a goddamn escape artist.

You're emotionally crippled.

In reality, you detest me and Helena.

You're shut up inside yourself
and always put yourself first.

I loved you...

but you thought I was disgusting,
stupid and a failure.

You managed to injure me for life,
just as you are injured.

Everything that was sensitive
and delicate, you attacked.

Everything that was alive,
you tried to smother.

You talk of my hatred.

Your hatred was no less.

Your hatred is no less.

I was little and malleable and loving.

You bound me because you wanted my love,

just as you want everyone else's love.

I was utterly at your mercy.

It was all done in the name of love.

You kept saying you loved me
and Papa and Helena.

And you were an expert
at love's intonations and gestures.

People like you are a menace.

You should be locked away
and rendered harmless.

A mother and a daughter.

What a terrible combination

of feelings and confusion and destruction.

Everything is possible and is done
in the name of love and solicitude.

The mother's injuries are
handed down to the daughter.

The mother's failures are paid for
by the daughter.

The mother's unhappiness
will be the daughter's unhappiness.

It's as if the umbilical cord
had never been cut.

Is that true?

Is the daughter's misfortune
the mother's triumph?

Is my grief your secret pleasure?

My back's aching.

Do you mind if I lie down on the floor?

It's the only thing that helps.

I remember very little of my childhood.

I can't recall my parents
ever touching me,

either to caress me or to punish me.

I didn't know anything about love,

tenderness, contact, intimacy, warmth.

Only through music did I have
a chance to show my feelings.

Sometimes, when I lie awake at night...

I wonder whether I've lived at all.

Is it the same for everybody...

or do some people have
a greater talent for living than others?

Or do some people never live?

They just exist.

Then I'm seized by fear.

I'm seized by fear
and see a horrible picture of myself.

I never grew up.

My face and my body have aged.

I acquire memories and experiences...

but underneath all that
I haven't even been born.

I can't remember any faces...

not even my own.

I try to recall my mother's face...

but I can't see her.

I know she was big and dark
and had blue eyes,

a large nose and full lips...

but I can't fit
the various pieces together.

I can't see her.

In the same way, I can't see your face
or Helena's or Leonardo's.

I remember giving birth
to you and your sister,

but all I remember about
the deliveries is that they hurt.

But the pain? What was that like?

I don't remember.

Leonardo once said that...

How did he put it, now?

"A sense of reality is a matter of talent.

Most people lack that talent...

and maybe it's just as well."

- Do you know what he meant?
- Yes, I do.

- How strange.
- Strange?

- I've always been afraid of you.
- I can't understand that.

I think I wanted you to take care of me...

to put your arms around me and comfort me.

I was a child.

- Does that matter?
- No.

I saw that you loved me,

and I wanted to love you, but I couldn't.

I was afraid of your demands.

- I didn't have any.
- I thought you did.

I didn't want to be your mother.

I wanted you to know
I was as helpless as you were.

Is that really true?

- What are you thinking about?
- Leonardo and Helena.

I don't understand.

They hardly knew each other.

We were together in Bornholm one Easter.

You left after three days.

I was going to play
Bartók's First in Geneva.

I wanted to go through the concerto
with the conductor in peace and quiet...

so it's possible I did leave earlier.

The weather was awful.

Leonardo was in a bad mood. So were you.

Why are you making me remember all this?

I'll tell you.

You and Leonardo arrived on Thursday.
We had a lovely evening together.

We drank wine, sang and laughed

and played some old game we found.

Helena wasn't so ill then.
She was happy all evening.

Leonardo was happy because she was.
He talked and joked with her.

She fell head over heels in love.

They sat together until late that night.

The next day,
Helena told me Leonardo had kissed her.

That evening, we had guests.

Leonardo drank too much
and played all the Bach solo suites.

He wasn't himself,

heavy and gentle, as if he were enlarged.

He played badly but beautifully.

Helena sat there in the dusk, beaming.

I've never seen anything like it.

You and I went for a walk.
You were chattering away.

I didn't really listen.
I was thinking about those two.

When we got home,
they were sitting where we'd left them.

You went to bed,
and I had to help Leonardo upstairs.

Outside the door of the bedroom,

he stopped, looked at me and said...

"Can you imagine?

There's a butterfly
fluttering against the window."

When I went back to Helena,
she was sitting bolt upright,

quite relaxed and calm.

There was no trace ofher illness.

I'll never forget her face, Mama.

I'll never forget her face.

The next morning, you left for Geneva...

four days earlier than we had agreed.

When you left, you said casually,

"I asked Leonardo to stay.
I see it's doing Helena good."

And you smiled.

Leonardo abruptly became
restless and unhappy.

On Easter,
he went for a long walk in the rain.

When he came back,
he told Helena he was leaving.

He said they'd meet again.

Then he called Geneva
and talked to you for an hour.

That evening, he left on the last plane.

During the night,
I was woken by Helena crying.

She complained of pain in her hip
and right leg.

She didn't think
she could hold out until morning.

At 5:00, I had to call an ambulance.

So Lena's illness was my fault?

Yes, I think so.

- You mean that her illness...
- Yes.

You don't seriously mean...

When Lena was a year old,
you deserted her.

Then you kept deserting
both of us all the time.

When Lena got seriously ill,
you sent her to a home.

- It can't be true.
- What can't be true?

Can you prove otherwise?

Look at me, Mama.

Look at Helena.

There are no excuses.

There is only one truth and one lie.

There can be no forgiveness.

You can't blame me entirely.

You expect an exception
to be made for you.

You've set up a sort of
discount system with life...

but one day you'll see
that your agreement is one-sided.

You'll discover you're carrying guilt,
just like everyone else.

What guilt?

Eva, darling.

Won't you forgive me
for all the wrong I've done?

I'll try to mend my ways.

You've got to teach me.
We'll talk to each other.

But help me.

I can't go on.

Your hatred is so terrible.

I never realized.

I've been selfish and childish.

Can't you put your arms around me?

Touch me, at least.

Help me.



Help me.



Poor little Mama, rushing offlike that.

She looked so frightened
and suddenly so old and tired.

Her face had shrunk,
and her nose was red from crying.

Now I'll never see her again.

It'll be dark soon, and it's getting cold.

I have to go home and make dinner
for Viktor and Helena.

I can't die now.

I'm afraid to commit suicide...

and one day maybe God
will have a use for me.

Then he'll set me free from myprison.

I feel so shut out. I'm always homesick.

But when I get home...

I find it's something else
I'm longing for.

Are you stroking my cheek?

Are you whispering in my ear?

Are you with me now?

We'll never leave each other.

There's a light on in Helena's room.

Viktor's there, talking to her.

That's good, kind ofhim.

He's telling her Mama has left.

Your mother sent her love.

She was sad and worried.

She'd been crying.

Eva went for a walk.

She was so excited to see her mother.

She hoped for too much.

I hadn't the heart to warn her.

I can't understand what you're saying.

You're saying you want to...

Try to speak calmly,

otherwise I can't understand.

Eva! Come quickly!

Sometimes I stand looking at my wife

without her knowing I'm there.

She's in so much distress.

Since Charlotte left so suddenly,

she has been terribly upset.

She hasn't been able to sleep.

She says she drove her mother away,
and she can never forgive herself.

- Are you going out?
- Just down to the post office.

Could you please mail this letter for me?


- It's to Charlotte?
- Read it if you like.

I'm going up to Helena.

"Dear Mama, I realize that I wronged you.

I met you with demands
instead of affection.

I tormented you with an old hatred
that's no longer real.

I want to ask your forgiveness."

I don't know if this letter
will reach you.

I don't even know if you will read it.

Maybe it's already too late.

But I hope all the same
that my discovery will not be in vain.

There is a kind of mercy after all.

I mean the enormous opportunity
of getting to take care of each other...

to help each other...

to show affection.

I will never let you
vanish out of my life again.

I'm going to be persistent.

I won't give up, even if it is too late.

I don't think it is too late.

It can't be too late.