Manderlay (2005) - full transcript
After gangster Mulligan's cars colony, fleeing northern justice, finds a hiding place in Alabama, spoiled, naive daughter Grace refuses to travel on after seeing the Manderlay cotton plantation being run under slavery rules, called Mam's law, inclusive flogging. She keeps half of dad's goons as guard to force the dying matriarch-owner's heirs, which she shamelessly dispossesses and reduces to 'staff', to taste destitution under absurd, gun-imposed contracts. The 'slaves' are made free partners, supposed to vote for progress after lessons from Grace. But almost all her democracy-pupils prove fickle, dumb and selfish, except old Willem. Her and their ignorance in Southern planting and crafty Dixie ways means more problems are created then solved. By the time dad returns to pick her up or abandon her for good, she's the one who has learned and changed the most.
It was in the year of 1933
and Grace and her father were heading
southward with their army of gangsters
After Ieaving Dogville
they had returned to Denver
only to find that the mice had been well
and truly playing while the cat was away
and new forces had taken
over their former possessions
The result was a particularly
that had brought them through
the state ofAlabama this spring
in search of new hunting grounds
No, they will not
admit it! But it's a fact!
Deep down inside there isn't a woman
alive who doesn't nurture these fantasies
whether they involve harems
or being hunted through the
jungle by torch-bearing natives
however much they go on and on about
civilization and democracy sexy it ain't!
Grace and her father had
resumed their Iegendary discord
even as they pulled out of Dogville
and although Grace had
been employing the technique
of Ietting things go in one ear and out
the other for a pretty Iong time now
she was, to be frank, somewhat weary
of her unbearably overweening daddy
who still believed any nagging woman could be
pacified with the good old bouquet of carnations
I bet you wouldn't have had the guts
to talk Iike that if mother had been alive
No, you are right, my girl, I would not!
we're going, boss
Miss, Lady, can I talk
to you? Can I talk to you?
They going whip him! I knew they would!
Itjust ain't true! He ain't stole nothing!
They put that Rhenish wine
from Mam's bedside table in his cabin
just to give 'em somethin'
to whip him for! That's the Iaw
One bottle and it's a whippin',
that's "Mam's Law!"
what are you talking about?
who... who are they going to whip?
That's how they do us slaves...
- Yes, Ma'am
Surely you've heard of slaves?
That's what we is at Manderlay
this godforsaken place!
That's how I got out, when a whippin's in
the offin' they take out a section of the fence
Listen, Grace! It's a Iocal matter
and it's not for us to poke our noses in
why should we not "poke our noses in",
just because it's a Iocal matter?
It's certainly not our responsibility
You think the Negroes wanted
to Ieave their homes in Africa?!
wasn't it us who
brought them to America?
we have done them a great wrong, it's our
abuse that has made them what they are
'Fraid not, Iady! SIavery was
abolished seventy years ago
Ifyou won't obey that Iaw ofyour
own accord, we will compel you to do so!
Mam! Help me get her inside!
water for Mam! Quickly
Spare me your hypocrisy,
you dumb old slave!
Get out, Ieave us alone!
Ifyou're Iooking for sympathy,
don't expect any from me
Listen, I'm very old
and unfortunately, dying
I should Iike to ask you for a favor
If it involves allowing you to go
on exploiting these people Iike slaves
I'm sorry, I'II just have to say no
- No matter how "dying" you are
- SIavery is over now, I can see that
It had to come one day
All right, I'II probably refuse
you, but you might as well ask
There's a book,
it's under my mattress
I should Iike you to
retrieve it and burn it for me
- It would be best for everyone
- I'm sure you think so!
But it's my view that anything no matter what, is
best served by being brought out into the open
I beg you, one woman to another
woman to woman,
makes no difference to me
the sins of the past are sins I cannot
and do not wish to help you erase
And now I must Ieave you, I believe
my father's men have unlocked the gate
so now everybody can
come and go as they please
PIease Iet everyone else
know on the plantation
that from now on they can all enjoy the same
freedoms as any other citizen of this country
And the Constitution can
be found at any courthouse
And here's a tip for
when you sue the family
there's a weighty written evidence
concealed in this very room
The old devil!
Oh, I'm sorry,
I didn't mean it, Missy!
No, no, if any of us deserves
an apology it's not me!
There's nothing to be afraid of!
we've taken all the family's weapons!
I'm afraid ofwhat will happen now
I fear we ain't ready for
a completely new way of Iife
At Manderlay, we
slaves took supper at 7
when do people take
supper when they are free?
we don't know these things
Free men eat when they're hungry
free women, as welI
Considering the times and the situation
Grace's words in the dead woman's
room on meal times for free citizens
might have seemed a trifle over-spirited
we should not believe that there
Iay any contempt in these words
for the wretched and
starving people ofAmerica
Grace rejoined the gangsters
who had indeed concluded their disarmament
of the plantation's powers-that-had-been
though their findings were meager:
the shot gun, and an old toy pistoI
All right, we can go
No, Iet's just wait a moment!
what are you waiting for?
For them to come and thank you?
Or for them to burn
the whole place down
and dance some tribal dance on
the ruins by the glow of the torchlight?
You are a bigot, daddy
and you always have been
we owe these people we
brought them here, we abused them
- we made them what they are!
- I admit, I don't do deals with the Japs
You can't trust them when there's
big money at stake, but a bigot?
- why don't they come out?
- That's exactly what you said Iast time!
- Last time?
- Remember when you were six
you thought it was so sad that your
beloved Tweety was all shut up in a cage
and nobody could persuade
you not to Iet him out
Tweety was a proud Iittle bird
well, his dignified exit didn't
do Tweety a hell of a Iot of good
we found him the next
morning underneath your window
- Frozen to death
- I know
he'd been bred as an indoor bird,
he really didn't have a chance
And what do you think
those Negroes in there are?
How many generations do you think those
families made their homes behind that fence?
I bet you most of them have taken up
employment in their former jobs with the family
contracts and alI
Of course now they'II get a few dollars
for their efforts, but they'II soon drink that up
and maybe they'II borrow
a bit more from their employers
who have, no doubt, opened a Iittle
store full of colorful wares just for them
And of course they'II never be able to pay
back the money and they'II be trapped yet again
what you did was
all very noble, my girl, but...
when push comes to shove you've just made
everything far worse, just as you did with Tweety
So all we can do
is hope there's no frost
what you said about
contracts and Ioans
- That's fraud!
- See, I've read that freed slaves
- Are given a mule and a plot of Iand
- So that they can establish themselves
Yep, that's true,
but when it came down to it
the fellow who owned the mule and
the Iand had rather keep it all for himself
so nothing really ever happened with it
Anyhow, it may take them a while to
gather the evidence against the plantation
for when the family goes on trial...
There are times when you seem
even Iess with it than your dear mother!
No, I seem to have
we've at Ieast one man with
a genuine thirst for freedom
And he's gettin' out,
and he's in a hurry
Yeah, he's high tailin' it, all right
Yeah, it's Gramps!
Not a Iot of dignity there...
he's scared out of his wits!
would it be possible to have
a word with the young Iady?
Don't mean to inconvenience you
That's exactly what you're doing
You're not inconveniencing anyone, this
is a grave day for everyone, I know that!
I just thought we must have
seemed a might bit ungratefuI
we should Iike to thank
you properly for what you've done
- It'II only take a moment
- Yes of course
Ten minutes and then
I'm going, not a second Ionger!
Grace was conducted through the wretched
Iiving quarters bestowed upon the slaves
with their pitiful, Ieaky cabins
Her actions would comprise an unconditional
enrichment of these people's Iives
There was no doubt about that...
or was there?
Actually, Grace did not see so
much of the glow she had hoped for
The glow that could have convinced her that no
one would end up Iike the Iittle pale yellow canary
These were human beings but of the kind on
whom pain had been inflicted, Grace thought
as she was suddenly interrupted
by a strangely exotic accent
when we were slaves we were not
required to offer thanks for our supper
and for the water we
drank and the air we breathed
to say thank-you, but...
You mean there's somethin'
we ought to be thankful for?
I didn't mean
"but" I meant "and"!
And, there's no reason to be grateful
for anything as natural as your freedom
I'm the first to apologize for everything you
and your people have been subjected to...
See, those gates should have
been unlocked seventy years ago
Only seventy years ago
but before that, of course,
they were completely justified?
no, no, you misunderstand me
what can I say?
You need to say nothing at alI
we've heard ofyour kind
A society Iady, who spends
her time rescuin' wretched nigras
I should Iike to say thank you! Missy
done give her time and effort to helpin' us
time I bet she could've spent
on all kinds of different things
'Cause, t'was perfectjustice when God
made some of us slaves and not others
A nigra is vile by nature
Oh, I know it ain't popular to say so!
And it ain't 'cause
of Burt that I say so
No, Victoria did not base her perception
exclusively on her experience of her husband
though God knows it weighed heavily
Burt was a useless eejit whose character
Victoria, regrettably so far in vain
had done her best to improve by hitting him
with any implement to hand on any given occasion
no matter how much he had
threatened to take his own Iife
by throwing himself
into Manderlay's deep welI
Grace Iooked at wilhelm the
old house slave and understood:
He had not brought her
here for anybody to thank her
he just wanted her to see them all!
The unfortunate flock that he very
rightly feared would have few chances
beyond the perimeter fence
Iiving proof of the devastating
power of oppression
Listen up, it's all been put on paper
we just needed to check the wordin' first,
bein' as these things are Iegal and bindin'!
what are these?
They're the contracts, Ma'am!
The family has been so
considerate to offer us all employment
Grace was not a Iawyer and unqualified to assess
the validity of the contract she held in her hand
But she feared that unfortunately any judge
in the county would deem it fair and proper
it appeared to Grace
that instead of "employee"
they mightjust as well have
retained the old term of "slave"
A body would only sign it if he or she
was utterly ignorant of Iife in a Iiberal society
or if he or she
really had no choice!
Folks, I suppose that you're
in urgent need of cash, Mark?
I once knew this fella' from a Iittle
township nobody'd know the name of
so there ain't no grounds
to mention what t'was called
he had cash, not piles of it
we are prepared to Iend you some money
as covered by this other piece of paper
and we also can set up
a Iittle store here, ifyou Iike
after all, it's a Iong way to town
And ifyou buy enough for all of us,
I betcha Iiable to get a real nice bulk discount
and the goods'II be
cheaper than in town!
Ain't that right, Miss Grace?
I have no idea
PIease sign, everybody!
All right, Iet's go!
- No, turn it off
- Damn it!
Daddy! You said that I didn't have
the power to help Tweety and you were right
I was a child then...
So, what is it this time?!
This time I have the power to act!
You said so back in Dogville
That your power would be mine, too!
And that I could use it in my own way!
That power was
to carry on the family firm
that I was open to new ideas
The power you ask for now will undoubtedly be
applied to something that's foolish at best and...
Daddy! You promised!
You were a bastard to mother, but when
you promised her something, she got it!
Ok, you've been
given what I promised you
Maybe things haven't
been split right down the middle
but this is as far as I am prepared to go!
I want nothing to do with your plans
And you won't be able to get in touch with
me if anything goes wrong and you need me
as usual, to get you out of trouble,
because fortunately, my dear
you'II have no idea where I am
- Daddy, I'd Iike to take Joseph, as well
I need a Iawyer
to sort out some paperwork!
No, no, never, never
I'd never Iet Joseph go
He's the only man I know who can draw up a
contract so there's only one possible interpretation
and though I haven't
needed that talent as ofyet
I still might need it one day!
I'II give you Viggo and Bruno for him!
I've given you my best
associates and you know it!
Daddy! I was meant
to have been given half!
- If mother had been alive
- Oh, damn it, Grace!
So, that very day and into
the early hours Joseph employed
the celebrated unambiguous phrases
his previous employer and given him
so wretchedly Iittle
opportunity to practice
New contracts needed drawing
up and old ones needed nullifying
all with the astonishing goodwill
that parties always evince in the company
of rapid-firing machine pistols
These are the deeds of gift, you transfer the
property to the former slaves in joint ownership
The Iast document is your contract
of employment by this community
Employment? I don't quite
get what you mean by that...
It'II be without pay and the right
of termination is rather one-sidedly
in the hands of the
employer, but nevertheless
Manual Iabor... for you
and your family and Mr. Mays!
Say something, Bingo!
My father's back ain't so strong, he climbed
up to reach the chandelier, one Christmas day
And he fell off the
banister and struck a table
well, that's what happens
when you've got chandeliers
when I consider that your understanding
of the worth of other human beings
has reached the desirable stage
you and Mr. Mays and
your family will be allowed to go
Go? And Ieave our home?
and I assure you that even starting from
scratch your prospects will be a Iot better
than your former
Iabor's would have been!
with regards to the
presence of me and my men
we'II only act as your counselors
The guns are merely a precaution in
case of any threats to the new community
we intend to stay here, but
only until the first harvest is home
after which any of the new
shareholders who wishes to do so
may cash in his or her
deed of gift and receive a dividend
All right, will you
collect your deeds, Mark...?
Nobody was particularly enthusiastic or
confident about these Iate night Iegal formalities
But Grace could see beyond this
And if she saw Iittle else than
fear and disquiet in all these eyes
at Ieast she saw
gratitude in one single pair
namely in wilhelm's mild, old gaze
Burt! I got a deed of gift
here that ain't been accepted
will Mr. Burt approach forthwith
and take delivery of his deed of gift?
Mr. Burt? Mr. Burt?
Burt had actually prepared his
escape from his ferocious wife
Despite her Iack offaith in his abilities
Burt had succeeded in meeting
a woman through the fence
and she had agreed
to help him to abscond
and there he was waiting at
the agreed place at the agreed time
"A helping hand", the woman had said
what a peculiar coincidence that
two women should come to the aid
of the Manderlay
slaves at the same time:
Grace; and Burt's "helping hand"
and the similarities between
them were also peculiar:
young; beautiful; white in male company
company in alarming numbers
where's the nigger?
Grace had moved into the freed
plantation: among its new shareholders
She was there as a guard, no more
But no one could stop her
from using this beautiful spring
to make her own Iittle observations
on the people of Manderlay
In the hope of spotting the burgeoning change
in character that freedom ought to bring
she saw Iittle ofjust that:
She saw Victoria for the third time, Iooking down
the well in hope of a glimpse of the body of Burt
She saw FIora and EIizabeth
swooning for Timothy as ever
She saw the men spending
their time on card games
playing for tufts of blue
cotton under their Ieaking roof
And she saw how everybody would ignore
the eager Mark whenever he opened his mouth
not knowing that he was notorious for never
being able to give an intelligible answer to anything
we called him Putting head,
but his real name wasn't Putting head
Grace saw Victoria beating her
eldest son, for stealing a moldy cookie
And she saw the unstoppable,
irrevocable hierarchy of the beatings
Victoria beating Ed, Ed
beating Milton, and Milton, willie
who finally vented his frustration
further down the food chain on CIaire
who far too rarely managed to make
use of the window with the outside handle
that her Ioving father Jack had
installed as an emergency entrance
which also allowed her to fall asleep every
night to her favorite view of the twinkling stars
Every noontide Grace witnessed
with pity how the former slaves
were arrayed on the parade
ground with its mysterious numbers
and marks beneath Mam's balcony
as if nothing at Manderlay had changed
However, one of them did not submit
to this all-too-soothing power of habit
Timothy of course
In a flash his exotic pride
almost took Grace's breath away
This day Grace walked on past the old "Peach
House" where the whites were now detained
put to work on sundry more
or Iess needless Iittle repairs
on her way to the
barn housing her gangsters
So, how's everyone doing?
I'm afraid the men got nothing to do
And it's not so good for the moraI
In situations Iike that your father
always came up with something!
I bet he did! But it's
patience that's required
But not this much patience, Niels says,
Niels's grandpa was a cotton grower
And he says the cotton
should've been sown ages ago!
The soil doesn't Iook ready
Might be because nobody's ploughed it!
Maybe things are different here
from where your grandpa Iives?
No ma'am, don't reckon so
well, if it should've been sown, surely
the people here would be the first to know
As she did not want to impose
Grace's intercourse with the former slaves
had been Iimited to brief greetings and the Iike
But now it was time for
a talk with some meat to it
Excuse me, sir? Mark?
May I ask you something?
It's about planting the cotton
I've been around for sowin'
and harvestin' and birth and death
Right, so when should
the cotton be planted?
There're strict rules for that...
you can't mess
around with that sort of thing
Manderlay's always been renowned
for the precision of its harvest
the swallows always
migrate right afterwards
they settle here for the night
on their way across the marshes
But the planting?
It's a science, my dear Iady
And the weather, what you might've
expected, plays a fear-some role
Yes, yes, and when
will it be time this year?
Not too soon and not too Iate
Yes, but when? Should the
cotton have already been planted?
I'm not the sorta fella' to pass on
information unless I'm damn sure of it
Iess the facts of the matter are
one hundred percent, in other words...
the facts need be beyond dispute
Do you know when to plant?
I'd better ask wilhelm,
is he in his cabin?
This morning he went
down to the bath house
he'd gotten a Iittle frayed around
the edges, as they say, it's a funny thing
I'm sorry... I'II go find him myself
Excuse me wilhelm,
I've come about the fields
The fields should've been ploughed
and harrowed three weeks ago
and the cotton planted two weeks ago
But does everybody know that?
Oh yes, but I reckon they thinkin' somebody
else oughta go out into the fields first
In the old days Overseer
Mays would've driven us out there
Maybe it's because
nobody really trust you, Missy
Yeah, but wilhelm, they could
be doing something else instead
repairs to their homes
they badly need it
The cabins have
always been a sore spot
But Mam said we ain't
got no material to fix 'em up
But we're going to need what we make on the
cotton, how else will people survive on their own?
iffolks felt they
was given something
Something brought out
by this, these new times
That made their Iives better in
a convincing way, right here and now
I don't know what
that might be, but...
But we don't have time for that
we've been forced to sow Iate before
The harvest might be improved ifwe planted
it a bit Iate, even says that in Mam's Law
Oh, yes, Mam's Iaw
It's all the rules for running the plantation
But we weren't allowed to read it,
it was just for Mam and the family
Only for Mam and the
family, Grace thought...
Certainly no more...
And there on Mam's bed skimming through the old
book well filled with bizarre and vicious regulations
she came upon a page
that Iooked strangely familiar!
A table with numbers
from one to seven
Somewhere Grace had
seen something similar, for sure
Mam's Iaw revealed it alI
The Manderlay plantation
with its glamorous front mansion
and pitiful rear where the slaves had
their quarters had been kept in an iron grip
by these very numbers!
They represented the psychological
division of the Manderlay slaves
Sammy was a Group 5:
a CIownin' nigger
The formidable Victoria was of
course a Number Four: a Hittin' nigger
No wonder her husband Burt had found
it necessary to accept "a helping hand"
even if it was another color from his own
wilma and Mark were Losin' niggers
wilhelm was a Two: a Talkin' nigger
FIora was a weepin'
nigger, et cetera et cetera
there were pleasin' niggers
and crazy niggers by the dozen
The final category, Number One proudy niggers
consisted nowadays ofTimothy as expected
who was of course
not there, and EIizabeth?
No, it said seven, not one
she was a pleasin' nigger,
also known as a chameleon
A person of the kind who could transform herself
into exactly the type the beholder wanted to see
This was how the slave system had
been kept alive for so Iong at Manderlay
Bondage even through psychology!
As Grace in deep thoughts
gazed across the fields of Manderlay
she recalled another page in Mam's Iaw
dealing exclusively with the weeding of the
paths in the romantic "OId Lady's Garden"
The name of the narrow band
ofwoodland that skirted the plantation
"Trees and tree trunks!" Grace thought
So there were materials
at Manderlay after all!
may I ask you all something?
Isn't it true that somebody
who's even poor and colored
can still take the trouble
to maintain their home?
How dare you?
Do you think colored folks prefer
holes in their roofs and wallowing in mud?
well then, all you need
to do is to mend those holes!
But I told you, there ain't never been the
materials for that kind of thing at Manderlay
No materials? That's not true
when I'm in the fields
I see timber wherever I Iook
just waiting to be turned
into boards for a roof
or an extension or maybe
even a whole new cabin!
That be Mam's Garden,
you can't cut that down
And why can't we cut
down the OId Lady's Garden?
Have you really spent that many happy hours up
there on your knees weeding her romantic paths?
That's true, there's Ioads of timber
we ain't seen it as anything
but the OId Lady's Garden
I don't know what you think,
but to me it sounds Iike a splendid idea
And at a stroke these seated, reclining, resting
people had turned into people going full tilt
walking, running, working people
without anyone having to threaten
them in the slightest with "The Lady's hand"
as Grace had been
told the great whip was called
And Grace had won a kind of victory
a small beginning of something
that would one day erase
all the negative inherited
behavior patterns at Manderlay
But, as Grace had suspected, the
appetite for improving the Iiving quarters
that for preparing the fields
But a few of the former
slaves had volunteered
And with the white
family and Grace herself
they made up a sort of gang
to prepare the soil for the seeds
Under the gaze of a demonstratively hostile
Timothy with his mysterious white handkerchief
He wasn't born here?
He's a Munsi
It's a Iine ofAfrican royalty,
it's a very proud Iine
He don't drink, either,
or gamble Iike the others be doing
with their Iittle blue
tufts of cotton money?
T'was Mam's Law
we weren't allowed no real money
Grace knew about the clever
system of currency in Mam's Law
Not real money you
could use in the outside world
The Munsi don't gamble
'cause don't believe in winnings
They believe you have to be humble to your
crops and only take what's absolutely necessary
I've never heard of these Munsi before,
but I do believe I once heard of the Mansi?
They different, they was
slaves ofAfrican kings, they gamble
they is true mischief, Timothy say
- So Timothy has prejudices as well?
Oh, nothing, I was just thinking aloud
Oh, so you've find company, FIora?
No, no, I was on my way out anyway
Timothy, Iet me tell you one thing
I know you don't Iike me and
don't trust me, and I can see why
Although our ideals differ,
you have a pride within you
that I believe will one day be
the salvation of everybody at Manderlay
Let me tell you one thing, too!
You got fine words, a posse of gangsters and
your white skin, somethin' folks here seem fall for
But I ain't fooled
You're not interested in us
Not as human beings
After all, it's tough telling people
apart when they're from another race
we whites have committed an
irreparable crime against an entire people
Manderlay is a moral
obligation because we made you!
Luckily, I'm just a nigger
who don't understand such words
and now, ifyou'II excuse me,
I've come here for the company of my girI
and that ain't nothing for you to see
black hides meetin'
and if I were you I'd Ieave
now before things get too nasty
Grace regarded Timothy's
hostility as a challenge
And the very next day she
took a step to dispel his claim
that as a white she was incapable
of caring for blacks as individuals
She had had a chat to Venus,
about her somewhat maladjusted son Jim
And Venus had revealed that Jim's behaviour
was merely that of a budding but frustrated artist
Tell me, have you seen Venus?
Nobody here wants your charity!
I have something for Jim!
I've had a really good Iook
at his face, since our Iittle chat
And you're right, it does
possess an artist's sensitivity
This is far too much
No, no, no, go on,
call him! This is for him
Jim, come on out here
with me and Miss Grace, baby
These are for you,
because we believe in you
Now run along,
and paint your fantastic pictures
and never mind those closed minded folks
who think they know what art is meant to Iook Iike
give them hell from me Jim!
Excuse me, but I ain't Jim,
I'm Jack, that's Jim!
It is tricky, as a matter offact I've
never been able to tell them apart either
They're both colored
and they both got curly hair
why Iook any deeper than that?
To be honest Grace had never been quite
sure which was Jim and which was Jack
A blunder that would, in her
former Iife among her fellow whites
merely have occasioned a Iittle Iaughter
in her Iife at Manderlay it was disastrous
But Iike her father, she did not take
Iong to transform a defeat into anger
energy and a counterattack
This is what has
created all this resistance
Even you regard it
as almost sacred, don't you?
I must admit it's played
a right important part of my Iife
And that will be my next move!
They should be allowed to see it
and to understand that it
can't do them any more harm
I wouldn't advise it, Missy
Presenting it to them would be Iike showing
a child the rod with which it's been beaten
I agree, it must be made public,
but we ain't all ripe for it
All right, then we shall have to
see about ripening you, and quickly!
And I'm not talking about the
couple of cozy meetings I've organized
to which hardly anybody turned up
I mean teaching with a timetable,
old fashioned hands on schooling
All right, I've got something for you to do at Iast,
and it even involves bossing people about...
At noon tomorrow I'm going to give my first
Iesson to all of the former slaves of Manderlay
And it'II be your job to
make sure that they're there
No excuse for not showing up!
And the family?
No, they're pretty
well teaching themselves
Are you Iistening to me?
It's 'cause Niels just got a great hand!
who are you?
My name is Doctor Hector
Do excuse me a moment,
I'II have to pay my way out of this round
God knows, I don't believe you possess
any cards of real significance
You have a poker player's face
You see here my entire enterprise
I'd never gained access
to Manderlay before
so when I drove by today,
I saw the gates were open
I took it as a sign of new times
what exactly do you do?
I entertain, party games,
card games and the Iike
well, nowadays mainly the Iatter
You play for money?
Oh, but I do more than play
And you have no objections to
revealing this business secret ofyours?
Oh, to some people, but not to you
No, you see, ifyou and I establish
the business relationship I am anticipating
you'II be happen
to know exactly what to expect
And what can I expect?
Eighty per cent
Now, you certainly know
all the problems that arose
when our beloved new
deal was imposed in '65
the plantation owners had
plenty of Iand but nobody to work it
So they contracted
with their former slaves
But they just didn't have the same hold
on the rascals as they had in the old days
Of course, they Iend them money
Then quite a few of the nigras
actually saved up and paid off their debts
so the plantation owners got worried
- I bet they did!
- Oh, yes
See, that is where my idea came in
I went from plantation to plantation
with the full backing of the plantation owners
to entertain their employees, and they were
sorely in need of diversion, Iet me tell you
we just had a Iittle game of cards
And if anyone was
close to repaying his debt
I would take their shirt off their back!
And I'm prepared to offer you
that very same service today, Mam!
You are not convinced
Let me give you another
token of my profound Ioyalty
I have here a Ietter from
a man by the name of Stanley
He asked me to smuggle it out
I thought perhaps you would
Iike to see it before it is mailed
Listen, Mr. Hector, Iet me
just say that I've never met a man
whom I have instantly despised so wholeheartedly
both for his personality and his occupation
Does that mean you
are turning down my offer?
I never want to see you here again!
All right, well, I am disappointed
I shall nevertheless bestow
upon you my thought for the day
I indulge in word games
I Iike to give my clients something
to Iaugh or think about when I Ieave
The best technique for a card
sharp is "dealing from the bottom"
Look as ifyou're dealing
from the top of the deck
but instead you just take the
bottom card, one that you know
"Take from the bottom" means
something else entirely in social terms
but it is what I do,
I "take from the bottom"
won't be hard to find
me ifyou change your mind
The Ietter was aimed at a Mr. Miller, one of the
truckers who picked up cotton from Manderlay
and the plantation's only real contact with the
outside world, it was short and to the point
"we are being held prisoner by
gangsters and coloreds at Manderlay"
"inform the police and please
come to our aid with all due dispatch"
Indignation is a rare
emotion for a gangster
but a state ofjust that was what Grace's
men experienced while they herded
the colored people in
for their Iesson that day
as Grace had reported on Doctor Hector's
cheap trick of "taking from the bottom"
And it was hardly the sophisticated ambiguity
of the term that had affected them so dramatically
welcome to our Iesson
yes, I call it a Iesson as the term "meeting" seems
to have scared some people out of attending
I was coming, but I was Iate!
Very Iate, you hadn't made
it by the time we finished
In the old days we could hear
the bell from the old clock in the halI
T'was easier to keep up with time,
but we never hear it no more
Probably because nobody winds it up
But, now for the topic of
this Iesson: working together
Only four people from your
wing helped to prepare the fields
and only five helped to plant
I'm not a shareholder in this enterprise but if I
had been and if I had also been one of the five
I would've felt cheated
government by the people
But as it's not practical
for everyone to sit in congress
a method by which people may
express their views is required
this method is called a ballot
All right, so Iet's try it out
we should choose a problem,
anything anyone can't decide on?
If I may suggest a small matter?
I reckon the Iittle broken rake
is mine, but FIora reckons it's hers
That's an excellent suggestion,
it's a great example
I assume you all know of this dispute and
all feel able to have an opinion on it, right?
who does the community
think owns the rake?
It could turn out to belong
to both parties equally
now that would correspond
nicely with the subject of this Iesson!
sharing together, all right?
So, who thinks it's EIizabeth's rake?
I think it's EIisabeth's rake
SIowly the point of Grace's edifying
discourse dawned on the majority
Most of them thought the rake was
definitely EIizabeth's a few that it was FIora's
and nobody that it could be shared
I still remain undecided whether
the rake is EIizabeth's or FIora's
Right, so, not too surprisingly,
neither party receives Mark's vote!
From now on a Iittle broken
rake belongs to EIizabeth
That's what ballots are Iike,
there are winners and there are Iosers
But the community has spoken
And now Grace embarked on a
protracted explanation of FIora's difficulties
raking without a rake
and that owning things together
could have its advantages
To make sure that everyone
understood the democratic principle
the meeting carried out
another ballot at Jim's suggestion
I wanna talk about the fact that Sammy
being Iaughing so Ioud of his own jokes
and they ain't funny
and I been tryin' to get some sleep, and
I can't get no sleep, cause he Iaughs so Ioud
Maybe perhaps there can a be
a time when he can stop his joke
and stop Iaughing,
so we can get some sleep
You can't vote on a man's Iaughter,
you can't vote on a man's Iaughter surely
I'm hearing that it's
at sundown at sundown
That's what I'm hearing,
so Iet's do a vote
All right, so that's settled
Finally wilhelm proposed that it would
be practical if somebody was responsible
for winding up the clock with
its small but penetrating chimes
And for mysterious reasons the probing
though fairly passive artist, Jim, was appointed
despite the song and
dance his mother kicked up
Grace wound up the Iesson by announcing
that the topic for the next day would be
"our anger and how to communicate it"
Maybe somebody would at
Ieast tell me what the time is?
Just ask Timothy,
he always know what time it is
he can tell by
the sun, he always do that
Or you can always
ask wilhelm, he's so old
He's from before
the clock ever got here
So wilhelm and Timothy, each made
his own suggestion as to what the time was
And they were astonishingly close
wilhelm thought it was eight minutes to,
Timothy thought it was five minutes to
and Grace rejoiced quietly at this natural
ability that they found so straightforward
But rapidly two factions emerged
one which insisted it was eight minutes to
and the other would not hear
of anything but five minutes to
And they were thus able to draw on
the day's Iearning and put it to the vote
The result was five
minutes to by a small majority
and so it was decided:
the official time at Manderlay
was five minutes to two
Grace's first Iesson of the day
took place in relative good humor
but the second one, the one that
had unfortunately proved unavoidable
was severer in character
Daily ration offood
for slaves from category 7
oh, no, 1 ... is, er...
Six ounces of solid food, and
they've always been given just that
no matter how Iittle
there was in the stores
That's a Iot Iess than
category seven, for example
why should a proudy "nigger" have
Iess to eat than an eye-pleasin' one?
How can the way your head seems to be
arranged have anything to do whatsoever
with the amount
people are given to eat?
I really don't know either,
not precisely, do you, Mr. Mays?
It could be just to
punish them for their pride!
No, I just did what it said
It mattered a Iot to my mother
that we follow these rules
I know of many places where everybody
got quite a bit Iess than 6 ounces
and where they began to eat dirt
It's a kind of custom coloreds
have when food is scarce 'round here
but it was forbidden under Mam's Law
That's not what we're discussing here
don't you see what an affront
it is to divide people up Iike that?
Folks is different
oxen and rabbits don't need
equal shares offodder neither
both parties would
come down with a belly ache!
Stop! All right, I'm not at all satisfied
with what I've heard here today
You're all speaking
up for this foolishness
I'm going to have to penalize you, because
so Iittle effort has been made in these Iessons
That evening Grace thought that her idea
of making the whites make up their faces
which had seemed so just and edifying
in her flash of anger that afternoon
was perhaps a tad too
much in the wrong direction
Even though Philomena herself in
her own childhood would not have dreamt
of going to the toilet without
the entertainment of her black nanny
Look at your Uncle Jim, he's
in the bathtub Iearning how to swim
Can we clean our faces now?
Yes, yes, of course!
Ah well, here comes the dust
so none of this will matter any more
what do you mean?
There's gonna be a dust storm
and the plants have
only just begun to grow
it couldn't be worse!
But Manderlay's fields have
never been harmed by a dust storm
windbreak was still in place
Grace was not inclined to go into what the former
overseer meant by these mysterious words
And soon she had convinced herself
that they had no meaning at alI
apart from spreading
disquiet and despondency
The next day's Iesson on the
importance of unleashing one's anger
met Iittle understanding
from the assembly
It was when they wound
up with a series of ballots
and the community had rapidly
decided to use wilma's potatoes for seed
as she was so old and
did not have to eat that much
that they heard the wind
The dust had come at this time
for as Iong as anybody could remember
But every year from time immemorial
it had spared the newly planted cotton
as the plantation had been cleverly
shielded by a narrow band of trees
known in common parlance as
"The OId Lady's Garden"
In the midst of the almost Biblical
darkness that descended on Manderlay
Grace knew all to well that even
hand in hand with all the races of the world
no army of gangsters
could counter this
demonstration of power
All she could do was watch
as row upon row of the seedlings
she had so welcomed disappeared
beneath the devastating dust
Nobody could do a thing
but apparently it did not
mean that no one would try
for now Grace
discerned a rider out there
He was riding Iike crazy
As he progressed across the fields, wherever
he spotted a pile of dust beginning to grow
he would break it
up with his horse's hooves
whether it would make the slightest dent
in the grand scale of things was hard to telI
but it was a battle
no matter how senseless
it might be: heroic and dangerous!
Come back! Come back!
He's gonna be all right,
he knows these storms
Miss Grace, you's head over heels
for him, you's a fool, Miss Grace
- where did you find him?
- He was behind the house
Is he alive?
I do believe I know what
you mean by that question
But what does it mean to be alive?
I mean is he breathing?
Is he dead?
we colored folks can be awfully
hard to kill ifwe want it that way
That very afternoon strong
Timothy was back on his feet
surveying the buildings
for damage caused by the storm
The dust had struck a devastating blow:
Unfortunately, hardest hit were the food
stores in the dilapidated "Peach House"
which had Iost its roof
Almost all of their
provisions were now inedible
On top of that the pneumonia
brought by the dust was inevitable
The dust had got in everywhere
particularly where no new boards
could have provided weatherproofing
namely through the cracked glass in
the window on the stars above CIaire's bed
"Valuables", not to mention cash,
were non-existent at Manderlay
since the elegant clock miraculously
still ticking merrily away on the mantelpiece
turned out to be, not Swiss
as Mam believed
but a copy made quite Iocally
and worth practically nothing
"The freed Enterprise
of Manderlay" was bust
wilhelm and Grace were therefore under no
illusions that anybody would attend class this day
But then, one by one the
Manderlay flock began to appear
I'm happy you're all here
But I don't really have
a Iecture for you today
I'd just Iike to say
how badly I feel about
this hopeless situation
But of course words
aren't much use to you
No, Missy has
Iearnt that much at Ieast
But as regards hopelessness,
it is something we do know a bit about
There are a million plants out there beneath
the dust, ifwe can save but fifty of 'em
perhaps we can grow a small quantity
of great quality and get a better price for it
I reckon we should make a move
And that is how the greatest disaster
turned into a stroke of Iuck for Grace
and how the people, with a common
foe, the dust, as their excuse
suddenly found themselves working shoulder
to shoulder with their deadliest enemy
to achieve the common goal
as free, grown-up Americans
Stanley and Bertie had
sown the fields with Iittle sticks
so that people could tell where
to uncover the tender seedlings
while FIora ever so
childishly kept teasing Grace
with her digs at Grace's supposed
romantic feelings towards Timothy
Good night, old wilma
Good night, child
we can Iie down and talk
for a while 'fore we go to sleep
No, thank you, wilma
I'm not weary enough to go to bed yet
A Iittle walk helps
A walk when a body ain't
sleepy is a very good thing
I do the same myself
That everything seemed as moving along on
its own could be nothing but welcomed by Grace
But her Iack of an active part to play
had suddenly Ieft her in a kind of a vacuum
and allowed other things
inside her to claim attention
human things Iike
instincts and emotions
An ominous sense of homelessness
and Ioneliness struck Grace this evening
As she wondered about, Grace suddenly found
herself outside the wooden rear of the bathhouse
without warning the homelessness transferred
into a strange desire to move up that rusty pipe
against the flow of dirty water into where
naked bodies were being washed in cheap soap
male and black manhood
what Grace had felt at the bath
house was undignified, shamefuI
Her mind was meant to be
devoted to policy at Manderlay
a matter in which these thoughts
had no business whatsoever
Grace had forced herself to sleep
to rid her thoughts of those black bodies
an achievement that was actually
possible thanks to the stubbornness
that flourished in Grace's family
But the cotton seedling in her
Iove-starved body did not give up
It manifested itself as a dream
Grace was in southern climes
There were women in exotic
costumes and men in turbans
Even in her sleep she hated with a passion
any idea of allowing that her father might be right
But it was a harem!
A group of black slaves appeared,
bearing a huge charger piled with dates
And in a twinkling Grace Iay among
the dates, trembling with pleasure
as a flock of Bedouin satisfied
her one by one with their noses!
And it was even more confusing
when Timothy appeared
and was both the slave bearing wine,
hands shaking, and the Sheik himself
whose authoritative hands tested
the size of Grace's most intimate orifices
I must have overslept
I'm sorry, CIaire
has had another turn!
Yeah, she's running a bad fever
again, she had anything to eat?
Oh, sure, pork
chops and baked chicken
She's taken a Iittle oatmeal
but it's hard to get it into her
she had this trouble with her Iungs
Iast year when the dust come, too
but there was far more dust this year
Honestly Missy, you oughta go back
home to the clean air and Iarders full offood
we're all in this together,
no matter how hard it gets
And hard it will get
I've seen what's Ieft around here though
some folks are still fillin' their bellies
we've got to talk about that
Come on, it'II be all right, Rose!
I propose that we
ration what we have Ieft
and spread our provisions over a month until
we can harvest more from the vegetable gardens
And as I hear there are so
very few beans and potatoes Ieft
I think we should give them to
Rose who needs them for CIaire
what's Ieft will be shared
out equally among the rest of us!
Excuse me, the rest of us?
- That goes for us too?
- Yes, of course it does
we've already eaten things
your father would ever have put up with
Joseph swears they couldn't
been described as food at alI
Your father used to Iet us obtain
stuffwhen the coffers were empty
Surely we could steal
something from somewhere
but I suppose that's
no good either, Miss Grace?
I'm afraid you're one tough cookie
Maybe I am
Sadly the most nourishing
fare the estate could still provide
had not improved
CIaire's condition much
but she needed meat,
and Timothy knew it
and so henceforth they would have to do
without the Ioyal old donkey on the treadmilI
It was not a good portent of the Ievel
of morale that the gangsters were now
trying hard to fix the car
from the ravages of the dust
But Iuckily Joseph, a Iegal expert with the ability
to interpret the most incomprehensible of texts
had met his match in the
1923 Ford owner's manuaI
As time went by the scattered cotton
plants at Manderlay grew side by side
with its denizens' hunger now that
the Iittle that was Ieft of the donkey meat
was reserved for CIaire
And Grace found herself in the
peculiar situation ofjoining wilma
and the other women in what had been
completely forbidden under Mam's Iaw
namely the southern
tradition of eating dirt
Having given up on the automobile manuals
Joseph had found a quaint turn of phrase
in the agreement into
which he had originally entered
with Grace's father
regarding his employment
The wording could with a Iittle good will be
interpreted to mean that certain circumstances
obliged an employee to obey
a higher authority than his boss
the authority in this
case being his stomach
The good news was that although the
drought had been hard on the fields
Stanley and Timothy had invented
a weapon to deploy against it
wait, wait, it's coming, it's coming
But the best news of all was CIaire
who had miraculously gained so much strength
that she could empty her plate of good food
always in the middle of the night when everyone
was asleep and nobody was Iooking, but even so
If Grace had thought hunger would
put paid to her forbidden sensual fantasies
actually the opposite
was more the case!
FIora, what's goin' on with the chickens?
Are they fighting?
You mean the four
whites after the black?
You want I should open
the door and have a peek?
Mind you, that Iittle black hen real proud
wouldn't surprise me if them others
took the chance to give her the odd peck
Now don't you tease me, FIora
FIora had teased Grace
before with the Iittle black hen
But they were hurting
it in there! No doubt about it!
And to make everything
far worse, that heat in her Ioins
seemed to come back in spite of
that poor chicken's cry for help
Or even intensified by it?
Devastated, humiliated and overcome
by fear for her sanity, she fled
And in a fit of madness
or what others would simply call "horniness"
she threw herself onto her bed on her tummy
and for a moment forgot all about
shame and political correctness
and did what she had
not done since her childhood
when she had not yet
known it was so infinitely wrong:
she pressed herself onto the knot she had rapidly
and instinctively formed by bunching her quilt
whether it was pleasurable
or painful is hard to telI
but she kept at it,
it was beyond her controI
with no regard for the sleep of the women
around her or common decency in generaI
the pulsating explosions in her
nether regions took over her world
And who knows how it would have concluded
had there not appeared at that very moment
fortunately for Grace
a person shaking her back to
a reasonable state of self defense
Miss Grace! You gotta
come quick, Miss Grace
I took such care of her
I fed her the good meat
But she'd been eatin'
she's dead! Dead
But she'd been eatin'
No! She hadn't
been eatin', this 'un had!
Are ya gonna tell 'em, wilma?
I was so hungry, I get so dizzy
and my Iegs hurt when I'm hungry
Our good friend and CIaire's beloved OId wilma
been visiting in the window so while we slept
She emptied CIaire's
plate every single night
T'was as easy as pie, considerin' that there
window could be opened from the outside
I've eaten so much dirt in my time,
my teeth can't take it no more
She killed our Iittle girI
Jack, she was sick
- Miss Grace
- She was sick, Jack
Rose didn't worry to much about feeding her
during the day, 'cause she ate so much at night
I want wilma punished
for killin' my Iittle girI
I want this matter put to the vote
I want wilma punished for killin' my Iittle girl,
I wantjustice or I'II kill her myself, right now
Let me go
Stop it, Jack!
- Stop we'II talk about it tomorrow...!
- She killed my Iittle girl!
And so, the very next evening a
gathering took place under the magnificent
starry sky of Manderlay
Now we've heard 'em all, wilhelm
wilma showed no mercy to our CIaire so no
mercy oughta be shown to her, she must die!
Jack, killing OId wilma
won't bring CIaire back
All we want is justice, you've said
so many times, that we're entitled to it!
I propose that she
be banished from Manderlay
for stealing food in an emergency
she probably won't survive
that anyway, as old as she is
after all, we don't know if the matter of the
food made any difference at all in CIaire's fate
wilma can't have
known whether it would kill her
but she didn't care a bit when it came to
riskin' somebody else's Iife that of our Iittle girl!
All wilma saw was a plate nobody
was touching, she was hungry
And what do you
think the rest of us was?
All of us here ate what we had agreed?
And whatcha think Iittle CIaire was?
we're all hungry, and that
just makes it far, far worse!
All right, I'd Iike to ask y'all to
vote on Jack and Rose's motion
All those who believe that wilma
deserves to die, raise your hands!
Thank you, thank y'alI
Grace, I thought we were the
ones who made the decisions here
that's what you've always told us?
Or maybe it's only sometimes?
No, of course not, it's always
And they's the decisions
you're here to defend, ain't they?
So Iet me go across and do it!
if anybody is going
to do it, it's going to be me
it must not be an act of vengeance
That's all right by me
as Iong as she
suffers as much as CIaire
That will be up to me
I'II Iet you know when it's over
be so kind as to tell me
what did they decide?
Am I gonna die?
No, wilma, you're not going to die
I mean the ballot did not go
Jack's way, you're not gonna die!
See, they didn't think that CIaire
would've eaten the food on her plate anyway
and anyhow she'd certainly
have died from pneumonia from the dust
Did they really say that?
Yes, they really said that
how terrible the waitin' was...
I'm just so weary
I know, I know you are,
but now you can sleep easy
Yes, I can
Lie down and get some sleep
You are the daughter I might had
will you stay 'till I sleep?
I'II do that, wilma
Harvest-time finally did arrive and
the cotton went safe into the sacks
Despite the fewer bushes
the harvest was splendid
It was as if all the trials and tribulations
had made the cotton extra white
and the fibers extra strong, and even at
current prices it would bring in a record sum
And although nothing
was the way it had ever been
the harvest was as precise
as always at Manderlay
The moment the Iast tuft of cotton
was in the sack, the swallows arrived
dropping from the
skies towards the marshes
Everyone observed the sight in awe and for
a moment it was greater than all the words
and politics in the world
The old gin was as ready as ever, it had
been for a week, greased and stripped down
and reassembled by Sammy,
who had teamed up with Niels
They worked well in harness, Niels
had never found a joke funny in his Iife
so Sammy, the clownin' nigger, had given
up, not unrelieved, trying to entertain him
with his somewhat weak materiaI
Miss Grace? Miss Grace?
Edward?! God, I hardly recognized you!
You've certainly changed the way you dress!
Yes, your father thought it was time for a change,
he's on his way into a new area of business
- Is daddy here?
- No, he just sent me on ahead
to give you a message
Your father says he will be by a week
Monday at eight o'clock in the evening
He told me to tell you that he will wait in the
car outside the gates for a quarter of an hour
and not a second Ionger,
the way he did in Dogville, he says
and the way he did with
your mother, I think it was...
- when he asked her to marry him
- Yes, something Iike that
But ifyou want to go with him, you better
be there, 'cause he says he'II just push on
I know, I get the message
All right, I'm on my way,
take care, Miss Grace!
You too, Edward
Edward! just tell dad
that new times have come to Manderlay
But no, Grace had no intention of
going with her father when he arrived
she had her own Iife to Iead now and it suited
her just fine, but she'd be at the gates anyhow
She just had to show him what she had
achieved, a new and better Manderlay
It was examination day
for Stanley and the family
because even though things
had been going well recently
when Stanley partook of his
traditional beer with Mr. Miller
nobody would be able to prevent him from
revealing what had happened on the plantation
and thereby ruin it alI
wilhelm had been highly skeptical about
Ietting the whites talk to the drivers at alI
but Grace had insisted,
she trusted them
Eejit nigger! Are you totally useless?
Sorry, Mr. Mays!
Stanley Mays and the family passed
That very evening Grace
pronounced them graduate Americans
And although they were free
to go they had elected to stay
as there was talk of hiring the family
and Stanley Mays on a permanent basis
And before anybody knew it the days
had passed and the money was in the bank
from where it had been picked
up by proud Timothy on horseback
Niels and Sammy had fixed the car,
wisely without reference to the manuaI
- Thank you, for everything
- Thank you
- what are you gonna do now?
- I don't know
You could always
go back to gangstering
where is Mr. Robinsson?
He's been down
the cabins shakin' hands
Grace was touched by Mr. Robinson's
sudden social interest in the former slaves
But it felt right when the car Ieft, it was
time for Grace to say goodbye to power
Brave and strong thy men and women
Better this than corn
and wine, make us worthy God in heaven
of this goodly Iand ofThine
Hearts as open as our doorway
Liberal hands and spirits free
we will aye be true to thee
He's watching you
- No, he's not!
- He's watching you
No he's not!
I reckon it have somethin'
to do with them gangsters Ieavin'
See, honey, when you was boss,
he has visitin' your kingdom
Now, you're visitin' his
I reckon he wants you now
He should have some dinner,
I'm gonna go get him
You gotta come
and get some dinner
In Mam's bedroom Grace recalled
FIora's worrying, intimate Iittle details
Sexual intercourse amongst the Munsi
was determined by ancient traditions
It would not appeal
to Grace, FIora had said
not with Grace's modern ideas
of equality of people and the sexes
but Grace seemed to have Ieft
her progressive attitudes at the table
Now actually in the situation she had
dreamed of... it was all more bizarre than erotic
anyway Grace decided
to hang on to this opinion
Timothy, wake up!
Timothy's horse had got out of
the staple when fires had been Iit
around the Manderlay slave
quarters while Grace was asleep
I can't tell you, ifyou want a clear answer
you gonna have to ask somebody else
- The gangsters took the money!
The gangsters took the money! That's the answer!
And I reckon it's a pretty clear answer, too!
It certainly is very clear,
but what makes you think so?
when the party ended we all Ieft the
table to go and take a Iook at the money
Timothy had hid it behind the red slope
Timothy was meant to be keepin'
an eye on the place, but he wasn't there
And the box had been
pulled up, it was empty
One of the gangsters dug up the money
when he was pretendin' to say goodbye
But he couldn't have done it alone
told 'em where the box was
And Sammy refused to admit it was him
although he'd spent
a whole Ioad of time with Niels
And then everybody
started yellin' and screamin'
and folks is angry and no one's Iistenin'
Stanley Mays and
the family got away I believe
and Bertie got cut up real bad
EIizabeth is dead too,
although that was mostly by accident
It was too soon to send the guns
away, we weren't quite ready yet
For once Grace had nothing to say
She could but reproach herself in silence
for her tasteless joke to the gangsters
about resorting to their former
occupations if things got tight
wilhelm, I can't rouse Timothy
No, I bet you can't
he drank three bottles
of hooch before we ate
The Munsi don't drink!
Oh, well, maybe they
do on special occasions
well! It certainly
is Iively 'round here!
Didn't I tell you I didn't
want to see you here again?
Yes, but I haven't come to do
a deal, I have come to conclude one
and in the hope of course that
you'II see that I am an honest man
Cause, I needn't have
come back to settle up at alI
This is your 80 per cent, quite
amounts to a tidy bit too, as you can see
It's the money from our harvest?
I expect so, it's that time ofyear
See, I had a Iittle game with a young man who
came to see me and I knew he come from here
so I've made my humble return
Don't you think that you've
just might have been wrong about me?
who did you play for all this money?
It was a day ago now
See, I would have come sooner but I pass
this black car with some gentlemen in dark coats
they began to follow me, shouting
the whole time, that I was going to die
and that I was a con man who dealt
from the bottom, what an accusation!
well itjust took me a while
to get away from them
who was it?
The Nigra fellow and he arrived
on horseback, what was his name?
Yeah, that was it, Timothy,
yeah, that was his name
He's a Munsi! They don't gamble!
well, I know, Munsi don't gamble,
I'm a bit of an expert in this field
You'II have a devil time
gettin' them to the gamin' table!
but he's no Munsi, in fact he's what
I'd call a splendid fella at the card table
and he just stayed bein' splendid
no matter how much he Iost
But he told everyone he was a Munsi
Of course, see, the girls were
wild about the tales that he told
All the Munsi tales, the proud African,
the royal Iine, all that old-fashioned morality
and the accent of course, and on
account of that the girls was easy to bed
There! I'm not even going
to avail myself ofyour gratitude
That's just the kinda'
fella I am, hey ho!
BIess me if I can't come
up with a motto for today
they say the Mansi are
better hung than the Munsi
or "The Munsi are so up-stuck
but the Mansi, how they fuck!"
well then, I'II be seein' you!
we can talk business another day
Grace went straight to the Iast pages
with the tables of personal details
on the slaves at Manderlay
where was Timothy, now?
Yes, his name had a 1 beside it
A proudy slave,
as she'd read earlier or did it?
She Iooked more closely
at the handwritten number
She compared it to the
seven next to EIizabeth's name
The pleasin' nigger
of the chameleon type
an expert in changing character
according to whatever was opportune
and what would titillate and enthrall the
other person, and then Grace could see it
was not a one but a seven
She had only wanted to read it as a one
There was even a note beside Timothy's
name: "Caution, diabolically clever"
Grace had called a final meeting
for everybody at Manderlay
for that evening she had decided to Ieave the
place forever with her father when he arrived
Oh, you're all here
I persuaded the community to
assemble, extraordinarily, for two ballots
whatever they involved, they can scarcely
have anything to do with me any more
Don't be too certain of that, Miss Grace
well, I am certain,
I've come to say goodbye!
And ifyou've had two ballots today
well, oddly enough that coincides
with the two presents I have brought
ifyou Iike, the first is this...
It's the money from our harvest
well, actually it's 80 percent of it, a cardsharp
kept the other 20 per cent as commission
He scammed the money off of somebody
from Manderlay in a game of cards
So the gangsters didn't take it?
No, no they didn't
and I won't prolong the tension
it was the treasurer who did it
the man charged with
Iooking after the money
He was overcome by his eagerness to play,
probably because he isn't a Munsi at alI
but a Mansi, however
unimportant that may sound
which brings me to my second present, this
one, painful to you or not, it has to come out
In this book, which I still regard as the most
abominable, contemptible document ever written
Timothy is Iisted as a pleasin' nigger
a person who can change his appearance
to please the beholder, as he has done
Iet me find the page
It's on page 104!
How do you know? I thought
no slave had ever seen this book
How do you know what's
on page 104 of Mam's Law?
'Cause I wrote it!
It's all in my meticulous hand
Mam and I were very young
when the war suddenly ended
and this new statute terrified us
we tried to imagine what kind
ofworld were these slaves Iet out into
were they ready for it?
Or more correctly,
was it ready for them?
The Iegislators promised all kinds
of things but we didn't believe 'em
And that was then Mam urged me to
commit to paper the way I thought things
should be done here if everyone
stayed on at Manderlay
But it's the prolongation of slavery
You might call it that, you might
also call it the Iesser of two evils
But did the others know
that you wrote this book?
Groups 2, 3 and 5, always knew
A few members of the other
groups were better off not knowing
But everyone knows now, I wrote
Mam's Law for the good of everyone!
For the good of everyone!
For the good of everyone?
How dare you?
It's a recipe for oppression
and humiliation from start to finish
I think you've been reading it through
the wrong spectacles, Miss Grace
if I may take the Iiberty of saying so
And then wilhelm initiated Grace into the
humane qualities, of the Iesser of two evils
Mam's Iaw! How it
guaranteed food and shelter
and allowed anybody the privilege
of complaining about their masters
instead of having to blame
themselves for the Iife of no hope
that they would
surely have to Iead in the outside world?
How the noonday parade was a blessing
since the parade ground was the only place
with shade at the warmest time of day?
How the numbered groups were determined
according to the patterns of behavior
that human beings resort to in order
to survive in an oppressive community?
so that Iife could be made easier for
each of them, since a proudy' nigger
not that Manderlay had seen many, if any, of
these, survives by perceiving himself as proud
and could be helped by this system to
believe that he was a bit more persecuted
and punished than the others
Since a CIowning nigger would
benefit greatly from the Iaughter
that Mam's Law strictly
demanded of its master
just as any other groups
benefited from similar obligations
How cash was forbidden so that
gambling had to be done with cotton money
to prevent ruination and
misery for the families, etc. etc.
Until Graces head
felt fair ready to explode
Damn it, wilhelm, they're
not free! That's what matters!
I'd call that a philosophical argument, which
neatly brings me to the two ballots I just mentioned
was Mam's Law still relevant?
And we agreed that unfortunately
it was as relevant now as it ever was...
America was not ready to welcome us
Negroes as equals seventy years ago
and it still ain't, and the way things are
goin' it won't be in a hundred years from now!
So we agreed we'd Iike to take one step
backwards at Manderlay and reimpose the old Iaw!
Excuse me, but I'm going
As for your going, well, I'd better tell you
about the second of our ballots
as you know sadly we Iost Mam
and unfortunately we've good
and well frightened off her descendants
In short: we Iack a Mam!
I needn't tell you that
you received every single vote
with all your idealism, I think you'd enjoy being
the guardian of a kind of menagerie for creatures
who have no chance in the wild
Just as you thought the notion
of a community would be good for us
You were so sure that you permitted
yourself to use force to convince us
I'II be sorry ifwe have to do Iikewise
what do you mean?
Do you intend to keep me prisoner?
Only 'til you understand the
way you wanted us to understand
The gate has been
repaired and is closed
The fences are in good shape
but of course they ain't particularly high
Those fences, come on
two men with a rusty
shot gun and a toy pistoI
How dumb do you really think we are?
Too dumb to build a Iadder
ifwe'd really wanted to get away?
Grace had spent a great
deal of time on this meeting
which from her point of view
didn't seem to be getting anywhere
Her father and his car
would be at the gate at eight
That was in half an hour,
she had no Iadder
And she was on her
own and guarded by many
Just how was she
to get out of Manderlay?
when was a section
of the fence always down?
Grace would have to change her tactics
rapidly if she was to make the rendez-vous
All right, I'II do as you want
not from my heart, though
surely none ofyou could expect that
but as my only option, and you needn't
be scared, I'II obey your beloved Iaw
So we'd better start by
dealing with the present matter:
Timothy, a slave from group seven has
committed a theft that almost ruined us alI
As I've determined that Mam's Law does not
prescribe any punishment for stealing money
I shall have to be creative
what was it you once said, FIora, something
about planting a bottle of Rhenish wine?
I do believe there is a bottle of Rhenish
wine under Timothy's saddle, don't you?
So that's what I seen when I went there
yesterday, if it wasn't a bottle of Rhenish wine!
There was still ten minutes until her
slavishly punctual father would arrive outside
to wait for his 15 minutes
and not a second Ionger
Just enough time for
a verbal farewell salute
Timothy, you can stop
being proud and silent
Cry and shout and beg
for mercy Iike the Mansi you are
the Mansi who you despise so much
And it's that hatred Timothy and
the rest ofyou bear towards yourselves
that you'II never make me accept, you
are a cheat of the Iowest kind, and wilhelm
and all ofyou who follow him, are nothing
but a bunch of traitors to your race
I hope that your fellow Negroes one day
uncover your betrayal and punish you for it
You make me sick
I'm sure you're quite right, Miss Grace, most
Iikely it's impossible to revile us niggers enough
but what I don't get is
why it makes you so angry?
what do you mean?
Aren't you forgetting something?
You made us!
Probably the only thing that could
have stopped the Iady with the whip
from carrying on forever was the cheerful
tinkle that announced her father's presence
She needed his support
now, Manderlay, too
really was a place the world
would be better offwithout...
Grace recognized her father's
hand writing, "dear girl", it said
Dear girl, so you
tricked your father yet again
I waited the fifteen minutes
first but I am too kind hearted
So I popped over to the fence behind the bushes
and peeked inside to check that you were ok
to my great surprise it really did Iook
as ifyou had a good grip on things for once
I am proud ofyou, my girI
I hope we meet up someday
so you can tell me what you actually
meant by "new times at Manderlay"
Love, your dumb old dad
Ballots could be unrivalled, but determining
the time by public debate was rarely feasible
That was quite apparent
Grace had but a few
seconds to choose the direction
in which to flee away
from her swarthy pursuers
who, as her father had to teasingly
predicted, were carrying torches
Grace was in a hurry
and did not notice Burt
the former fugitive with a Iiberal attitude
to other races, who never did make it far
Grace was angry: Manderlay had fossilized in a
picture of this country that was far, far too negative
America was a many-facetted
place, no doubt about it
But "not ready" to accept black people?
You really could not say that America
had proffered its hand, discreetly perhaps
but if anybody refused to see a helping
hand, he really only had himself to blame!