The Meetings of Anna (1978) - full transcript

Anna, a detached and diffident director, arrives in Germany to show her latest film; she checks into a hotel, invites a stranger to her bed, and abruptly tells him to leave. He asks her to a birthday lunch with his mother and daughter; she goes. Afterward, in Cologne, she meets an old friend, a Polish Jew and war refugee. In Brussels, she spends the night at a hotel with her mother, whom she rarely sees. On the train, a stranger tells his story. Last, it's home to Paris, where her lover Daniel picks her up and they go to a hotel. Throughout, people make personal revelations to her, and Anna listens with little affect. Although it was 30 years ago, the war seems ever present. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
l believe there's a reservation
for me - Anne Silver.

Yes, that's right.

Room 320.

My mother phoned.
How did she know l was here?

l'm afraid l don't know.

l see.

You're here for the opening
of your film at the Roxy?

You're the directress -
isn't that how you say it?

That must be fascinating work.

ls there a phone in the room?

Of course.

Excuse me.

ls this the front desk?

l'd like 27-15-76

in Prato, Italy.

Thank you.

A two-hour wait?

Yes, l'll wait.

l realize two hours
haven't gone by yet,

but l found a pearl-gray silk tie.

l'm sure it's silk.
The label even says so.

lt's on two hangers
on the left side of the closet.

l left it there.

lt probably belongs
to the man here before me,

perhaps the man
having a beer in the lobby.

He was leaving.
He had a small suitcase.

l didn't notice
if he was wearing a tie.

lt isn't his?

l thought it was.

Should l leave it here?

All right. Call me back in two hours.
A bit less by now.

Yes, everything's fine.
l like the room.

Could you get me 68-95-27

in Cologne, Germany?

They haven't lived there long,
but they do have a phone.

l doubt if they're in now.


Yes, it's me, Ida.

Yes, l'm here
but l don't have time to stop by.

l'm just calling to say hello.

No, l really can't.

No, there's no point
in you coming here.

l'm very busy.
l can't talk long.

l'm waiting for an important call.

Yes, l'm leaving Cologne
tomorrow night on the express.

The manager of the Roxy

is waiting downstairs
with a reporter?

Tell them l'll be right down.

You can cancel my call to Italy.

ls something wrong?

We don't love each other.

l feel like l've known you forever.

But you haven't.

Get dressed.

lt's been a long time
since l looked at the night.

You meet a woman...

and go to her place.

You think something wonderful's
going to happen.

You get your hopes up,
and then suddenly...

she says, ''Get dressed.''

And you're alone once again.

ls life always like that?

No, you mustn't say that.

l often let someone see me home

but l don't say, ''Get dressed.''

l let it happen.

But l don't tell myself
it will be wonderful.

l don't think
l tell myself anything.

Anyway, l leave tomorrow.

You know, Heinrich...

l used to think that when someone
held my hand, it meant ''l love you.''

So l'd give them my hand
and all the rest.

Would you like my address?
You never know.

This is my home phone.

The other is the school
where l teach.

Ah, you're a teacher.

Just grade school.

When are you leaving?

Tomorrow at 4:00.

my daughter's birrhday.

- How old is she?
- She'll be five.

l could have had a daughter
who'd be five now.

Two daughters, in fact.
The other would be six now.

l'd have called them
Judith and Rebecca - nice names.

But the time wasn't right.
It's nobody's fault.

What's your daughter like?
Does she love you?

Yes, l think so.

She's very affectionate
and a bit shy.

You should meet her.

She's probably asleep right now.

Yes, children sleep at night.

You should
come meet her tomorrow.

You'll still be here
tomorrow afternoon.

She'd really like that.

l'll pick you up around noon.

lf you like.

See you tomorrow.

Good night.

lt's noon?

l'll be right down.

You just missed a phone call.

While l was in the elevator?
It always happens.

Perhaps so. Your mother called,
and a gentleman called from Paris.

Neither left a message.

l see.

Everything all right?

May l leave my bag here
and pick it up later?

Of course.

This is where l live.

ln summer the garden's
full of flowers, especially tulips.

There have always been tulips here.

My father planted them.

Tulips were his hobby,

but he died at Stalingrad.

Now l look after them.

l was born here.
l love this house.

We were lucky.
It was spared during the war.

Do you like flowers?

Not much
but it doesn't matter.

Are we in the suburbs here?

- Sorry.
- Doesn't matter.

Good thing
we're not in the suburbs.

Good thing, yes.


l don't like the suburbs.

These aren't the suburbs.
It's a separate town.


My father and grandfather
lived here.

Now l live here
with my mother and daughter.

My wife left me...

for a Turk.

A very dark type.

She lives in Frankfurt.

She left me
so l got custody of the child.

l was depressed for a while,
but then it passed.

l thought we got along well.

lt happened so quickly.

Everything seemed peaceful.

lt really seemed
we'd spend our lives together.

lt's true that we could go
for weeks lying side by side

without feeling any desire,
but it didn't matter.

And often...

when l'd turn around
to go to sleep...

she'd nestle up against me.

lt was so peaceful

to melt into her,
her smell, her flesh.

And if she fell asleep first
and turned her back to me,

then l'd nestle against her

and feel her round buttocks
in the hollow of my stomach.

We never argued
or raised our voices.

l worked
and looked after my flowers.

She'd quit working
to take care of Julia

who was still very young.

And then they ran away together.

l only saw them together once.

Their attraction to each
other was so clear,

like iron to a magnet,

that l didn't even try to fight it.

She never visits
not even to see the child.

Unusual for a woman.

But l guess it's better that way.

So l feel rather lonely at times,

especially since my best friend,
Hans, left Germany.

He worked at the same school.

All the kids loved him.

We'd known each other forever
you might say,

and then one day he was fired.

Someone denounced him, l think.

We never found out who.

They accused him
of unpatriotic activities,

of being an enemy of the state.

He did have different ideas

yet he and l
weren't so very different.

We breathed the same air

enjoyed the same music -
Handel and Mozart.

We knew Don Giovanni by heart.

We'd sing it together,
acting out all the parts.

He had such a fine voice.

But sometimes he'd get depressed.

You might even say desperate.

Perhaps that's what they meant

by an ''enemy of the state.''

l never really understood
what happened.

You know, Anne,
in Germany in the '20s,

the Communists brought hope
to lots of people.

Equality for everyone,
sharing the wealth.

Then came '33...

and the Communists
and many others...

were put in camps and killed.

The new regime gave people

new hope after those bleak years.

Work for everyone,
a greater and better Germany -

so they said.

Then came the war.

And one day the war ended.

And the Russians, Americans
British, French, and Belgians arrived.

They divided Germany in two.

They took the remaining Nazis

and killed them
or locked them up.

And there was peace.

They rebuilt Germany
from the ruins.

Everyone pitched in.

Then one day
my friend lost his job,

and l lost a friend
a truly good man.

What have they done
to my country?

l ask myself
what will become of us.

Let's go inside.
They're waiting for us.

Do you really have to go?

You ate so quickly.

l wasn't hungry,
and there was too much.

Tell your mother it was very good

and that l'm sorry for spilling
coffee on the tablecloth.

lt wasn't my fault.
- No, it wasn't.

My mother will forgive you.

She likes you,
and so does my daughter.

The whole family
likes you already.

Tell your daughter
l like her very much.

Give her a kiss for me.

You're going to leave me all alone.

You shouldn't have come.

Yes, you should have.

My mother wants me to stop
in Brussels. She'll be at the station.

That's all she said?
She didn't say why?

This one's from Daniel in Paris.

Are there lots of trains to Cologne?
- All the time.

ls there a nonstop train
from here to Brussels?

Then l'll have to go via Cologne.

lt's busy.

The lines to Italy
are always overloaded.

You get 10 marks back.


How's life in Germany?
You getting used to it?

Yes. The recession
isn't as bad as in Belgium.

One has to earn a living.
You never know what might happen.

And l can speak German here.

l never really got used to French,

even after 25 years in Belgium.

So it's almost as if
we never left Germany.

One mustn't dwell on the past,
you know.

We have
no family left there anymore.

Most of them are dead
and the rest are scattered.

The worst thing is that
all our friends are back there.

Luckily we met another couple
who left Belgium,

so we get together sometimes.

You speak German that well?
l thought you were Polish.

l don't speak it all that well,
but l get along.

Have you heard
from your mother?

Do you write to her?

Yes. Her letters are always the same,
and l reply that everything's fine.

Someone who saw her in Brussels

said she had backaches
and she was very tired.

She's also taken up smoking
in her old age, but otherrwise she's fine.

l got a letter from her
a month ago.

She's like a sister to me.

She said she thought of you a lot.

l think about her too.

Did you come here
to talk about my mother?

Your train's half an hour late.

l got that.

l didn't know you spoke German.

l don't, but l understood that.

l'm hungry.
- Then come on.

l have to make a call.

l'm not so hungry anymore.

Let's go back. You never know.

lt's wonderful to be an artist.

l wanted to be an artist too.

l was good at drawing
when l was young.

You're very fortunate.

You get to travel
all over the place.

l don't mean to be nosy,

but if you don't have anyone,

you know that my son's
still waiting for you.

l'll ask one last time:
Will you marry my son?

Don't tell me it's all over.

You still write each other.

Why write
if you don't love each other?

Let writers write.

But don't do like last time.

You say yes,
and then you disappear,

and no one hears from you
for months.

lf you didn't want to,
why say yes?

And not just once, but twice.

Anyway, let's drop it.
It's long forgotten.

But to break your engagement - twice -
l never heard of such a thing.

You just don't do that.

Without a word of explanation.

Don't you want children?


Well then?
Your father would be so happy.

He's always saying, ''l may die
before l see any grandchildren.''

And you know...

when your parents are dead
and you have no kids, what's left?


Unless you have kids.

You realize that?

Maybe you don't like children.
Who knows with you?

- l like children.
- Well then?

Maybe later.

l hope you don't decide
when it's too late.

l promise l'll think about it.

l'll write to him.

lf you had someone else,
l'd understand.

But to be all alone is no life -
especially for a girl.

You say you're happy,
and l believe you.

You look happy.

Sometimes l don't understand.

The world's topsy-turvy.

Women used to pray
to find a husband,

afraid they wouldn't be
good enough for anyone,

but now -

lt'll all end badly...

very badly.

l remember when l fell
in love with my husband.

l was 13.

l fell in love just looking at him.

He was so handsome.

A good-looking boy.

l was so proud to walk
down the street with him.

He was so kind.

lt's the war that changed him,

all those terrible things
that happened.

Now he's become irritable

and seems to blame me
for all that happened.

Who else can he blame?

But we can't complain.

We worked hard
and now we're rich.

And my eldest son
is happily married

with three lovely children,
thank God.

Two would have been enough.

And he lives in America.

He refuses to set foot in Germany.

So we went to visit.

He's a real scholar.
A professor.

But my husband's become
irritable and fussy.

lf one thing's out of place, he yells.
Over nothing at all.

And since it's just me
in the house now -

we let the maid go
when the children left -

he yells at me.

But l forgive him.
l know it's not his fault.

And l'd rather he yell at me
than sulk for days on end.

l know it makes him feel better.

But when l start to feel down...

l think about the old days...

how sweet he was
and how proud l felt.

And l think of my children.

My son's a good boy, you know.

He'd make you happy,
and you know it.

You've known each other
for so long,

practically since you were babies.

There'd be no nasty surprises.

l remember your mother and l

pushing our strollers together
by the sea.

He's a very sensitive boy.

He'd make you happy.

And a girl should marry.

You'd have beautiful children.

And if you don't have time,
l'll look after them.

l know how to raise children.

Whatever you do, don't worry.

Everything will be fine.

No smoking.

Passport or ID.

They're reconfiguring the train.

They're uncoupling cars.

Are you going to Paris?

l'm stopping in Brussels first.

And you?

l'm going to Paris.

l see.

What time is it?

Half past ten.

l don't think smoking's allowed.

lt is in the corridor.

The train's leaving.

You know Brussels?

That's where l was born.
l lived there for 20 years.

Twenty years?

l spent a week there
two years ago.

l like it.

Were you still there then?

No, l left Brussels
eight years ago.

Too bad.

Do you know my friends there
by any chance,

the Vanderlindens?

Don't they have a furniture store?

No, that's not them.

Then l don't know them.

They say Belgium's
the land of plenty.

So they say.

Where do you live?


l'm going to Paris too.

l'm going to live there

because they say
France is the land of freedom.

So they say.

Maybe l'll be happy there.


you've got to live somewhere.

That's true.

l'm from Berlin.

After that l lived in Hamburg,
because there's a port there.

You speak French well.

l always wanted to go to France.

They say that the French
carry freedom in their hearts.

So l learned the language
and even worked on my accent.

When l was young
and on vacation in Spain...

l fell in love with a French girl.

She corrected my mistakes.

When she stopped,

l realized
she didn't love me anymore.

The next morning
l saw her talking to a Swedish boy...

much stronger than me.

l'm going to stay
at the H?tel des Grands Hommes.

You know it?

l see.

l don't speak French
as well as you yet.

l don't speak it that well.

When l left Hamburg...

l went to South America.

Perhaps l was dreaming of justice...

a grand and glorious thing.

l went from country to country:

Bolivia, Brazil, all over.

lt's a strange climate -
hot and humid.

l walked a lot...

for days and nights on end.

l don't remember much:

gunfire, footsteps, noises, smells,

a few words in Spanish.

l met a woman there.

This'll be my sixth country.

This time it will be the right one.

l'm sure of it.

Then l was in Greece.

On an island, practically alone.

That's all right for a while.

Then l returned home to Germany.

But l couldn't take it there either.

Then l remembered France.

Maybe l'll meet a woman there...

whom l'll love and who'll love me.

We're coming into Brussels.

You're a real woman now.

l have been for a long time.

You're pale and fair.

You're beautiful.

You have my mother's eyes.

Look at me.

l wish l looked like you.

l miss you.

l have no one to talk to.

But you never talked to me.

You never talked to me.

But you were there.

How's Daddy and my brother?

Your brother's still like a big kid.

And your father's not as strong
as before, but he's okay.

But he's got me.

Of course.

And how are you?

A bit tired
from so much traveling.

ls there no one to look after you?

lf you're tired,
come home with me.

No, let's stay here a little longer.

As you wish.

But we can't sleep here
in this booth.

Let's get a room, shall we?

Your father will be worried.

But he's probably fallen asleep
and won't wake up.

He had a long day, as usual.

ls business going well?

l don't like to talk to you
about these things,

but now you'd understand.

No, it's not going well.

lt's the recession.
It's hit us very hard.

l mean, it's hit everyone,

but we're losing everything
we've worked for for 30 years.

Sometimes you wonder
if it was all worth it.

Your father's very discouraged.

One moment he says it'll pass
and we just have to hold on,

and the next he asks,
''What's the point?''

He sighs and becomes withdrawn.

l try to boost his confidence.

l smile at him.

Sometimes it works

and sometimes
he doesn't even notice.

His gaze is turned inward...

seeing God knows what.

How are things in Germany
these days?


There are curtains everywhere,
and tulips on every table.

And as a friend of mine says,
it's full of Germans.

lt's true. It's full of Germans.

l haven't been there
in over 20 years.

lt's probably full of opportunity now.

Maybe. l don't know.


ln any case,
things will get better.

We have to be strong
and keep our hopes up.

And you're doing very well,

so all the rest doesn't matter.

l follow your career
very closely, you know.

l read all the papers
and keep all the articles.

l have some in my bag.
Want to see them?

They make me feel better.

Mama, you've been
in Belgium so long,

yet you still have an accent.

Everyone tells me
l have a good French accent.

Shall we go?

Would you have a room?
- One?

lt doesn't have a bathroom.

All right.

Follow me, please.

Shall we go to sleep?

Aren't you going to undress?

Let me just look at you.

How long's it been?

Almost three years.

A long time.

Yes, but you were always with me.

l won't always be.

Yes, you will.

l have to make a call to Italy.

There's no phone here.
Who would you call?

A girlfriend.

How's Pierre?

We stopped seeing each other.


l was never there.
He was always waiting for me.

One day he'd had enough.

Shall l turn off the light?

So tell me.

l travel all over, you know,
showing my films.

l meet all kinds of people.

l often end up all alone
at night in my hotel room.

So sometimes
l bring someone back with me.

But it's always sad
and a bit silly, actually.

But she came to see me at my hotel
because she'd liked the film.

We went out for a drink.

She told me about herself

and l told her about myself.

The bar was closing,

so we went to another one.

We kept on talking...

and then that bar closed too.

We looked for another one.

Everything seemed closed.

The city was deserted.

We didn't want to say good-bye.

So she came up to my room.

We were tired.

We lay down on the bed...

and kept talking.

We happened
to brush against each other.

Then we kissed.
l don't know how it happened.

l felt sort of nauseous.

l felt sick. It was too much.

l was confused.

But we kept on kissing.

And then it all became very easy.

l let myself go.

lt felt good.

l never imagined
it could be like that with a woman.

l had no idea.

We stayed together all night.

And for some strange reason,
l thought of you.

l even told her so.

What did she say?

She smiled.

And then?

l had to leave the next day.

Have you seen her since?

We talk on the phone.

l wouldn't dare tell your father.

Don't tell him.

Have you ever loved a woman?

l don't know.

l've never thought about it.

Are you asleep?

Me neither.

You smell nice.
Still the same perfume.

l've worn it a long time.

As long as l can remember.

Sometimes you'd dab me with it
before you went out for the evening.

You'd wear that long dress
and put your hair up.

You'd ask me
to button you up in back.

You couldn't reach.

You were such
a well-behaved child.

When we'd go out, you'd say...

''Have a good time.''

And when we got back
Iate at night...

you'd be lying wide awake...

in your bed.

Anna, tell me you love me.

l love you.

Daniel, did you get a haircut?

Now l look even worse than before.

Aren't you exhausted?


Oh, you know me.

What's wrong?

Just the usual grind.

Lots of work.

Are you hungry?

l don't know.

There's nothing at my place.

And l can't stand my place.

l'm thinking of moving.

Yes, your place is dreary.

l'm gonna get a bigger place.

That way if l ever have kids...

You're planning to have kids?

No, not especially.
l was just saying.

Forget l said it.

Maybe you want to be alone.

But we're driving around aimlessly.

Let's find a hotel and eat there.

l want you.

ls this a new shirt?

No, a very old one l never wear.

lt looks good on you.

Do it some more.

What do you see in the street?


Lots of them?

l'm going to take a bath.

You're going to wash?



What can we get to eat?

All right.

For two, please.

ls the bathroom floor tiled?


Just asking.

l almost quit
three times this week.

lt's like tilting at windmills.

And for what?

You're born, you eat, you drink,

you screw when you can,
you die.

Come in.

l saw a plane.

There's air-conditioning.

Ah, breakfast. 7:30.

No, 8:00, please.

For a moment
l was afraid they'd found me.

But that's impossible.

You never know.
You're an important man.


We can't affect what happens.

We're just carried along
by the current.

You know, Anne...

sometimes l think...

l should stop paying
the rent and the phone bill...

and just vanish.

But l can't stop working.

lf l stop for a day,
like on Sundays, l get dizzy.

You march on or you die.

lf l were a woman...

know what l'd do?

l'd get pregnant...

and forget everything else.

l'd go...

l don't know, somewhere else...

live close to nature
breast-feed my kid every two hours.

- Every three hours at first.
- Fine. Every three hours.

But then l think
l should try to fix things,

a better life and all that.

But if you ask
what a better life would be,

l can't even imagine it.

lt's not just about food for everyone.
We know that's not it...

though that would be a start.

You know...

l think things
will keep getting worse...

that the price of milk and honey,
the price of happiness...

will get so high
that something will happen.

lt can't go on like this.

l'm always telling myself that.

Especially when l'm shaving.
With the buzz of the razor...

l can shut everything else out...

and ideas fill my head.

Everything moves so quickly.

Something's going to happen,
something good.

l don't know what l'm saying.

Something good!

People will...

listen to music, for example.

What's lovelier than music
than a woman's voice?

Where does a woman's voice
come from?

Will you sing for me?

l sing off-key.

You always said
you wanted to be a singer.

What should l sing?

Whatever you like.

l wash the dishes
Fix coffee with cream

l'm so busy
Have no time to dream

l work all day
In this cheap Iittle place

Flowers on the table
Curtains of lace

Young lovers come here
Holding hands

Wide-eyed, hopeful
They make no demands

They bring in the sun
My life they enchant

A bed built for two
ls all they want

l can't forget
How happy they seem

Joy on their faces,
Smiles that beam

When l think of them
In that sad little room

lt chases away
My workaday gloom

Faces that shine
Like rays of the sun

So bright that it hurts

So bright that it hurts

l wash the dishes
Fix coffee with cream

l'm so busy
Have no time to dream

l work all day
ln this cheap Iittle place

That's where they found them
Face to face

Lying together
Still holding hands

Dreaming of oceans
And golden sands

They were buried in the city
Side by side

Even the earth
Their joy could not hide

When l think of them
In that sad little room

lt chases away
My workaday gloom

Lovers for a day
Faces that shine

Like rays of the sun
Like rays of the sun

A Iittle sunshine
Can be so bright

So bright that it hurts

So bright that it hurts

l wash the dishes
Fix coffee with cream

l'm too busy
Have no time to dream

l work all day
In this cheap Iittle place

Flowers on the table
Curtains of lace

That was beautiful.

ln a moment we'll make love...

and then you'll be off
again tomorrow.

And l'll be left wanting you
more than ever.

Yes, but at 8:30 a.m
you'll be back at work.

We have 6 1/2 hours left.

lt's not much.

What if we just stay still?

Come lie on top of me.

You're shaking.

Suddenly l don't feel well.

Don't move.

You're shivering.
You've got a fever.

Wait. l'll be right back.

Do you have any medications?

No, l'm sorry.

Thank you anyway.

Turn over.

Don't do that.

l'm away for three days.
l'll be back Wednesday evening.

Anne, it's Michel.

See you at the caf?
Friday at noon as planned.

Don't forget. See you then.

lt's H?l?ne. I just got in.

Call me when you get back -

l hope everything's okay.

l'll be here until Friday,
and then l go home.

l hope we don't miss each other
this time. l've got lots to tell you -

lt's me.

Anne, this is Jean-Paul.

You need to attend these screenings:
Saturday in Lausanne,

Sunday in Geneva,
Monday in Zurich.

You're booked for the 13th
at the Hotel Terminus in Lausanne,

the 14th
at the Mondralin Geneva

and the 15th at the Excelsior
in Zurich. See you soon.

This is Claire.
l'll call when you get back.

Or try calling me after 6:00

at 272-15-76.

See you soon.

That machine again!

This is Alain.
Today's my birthday.

l wanted to spend it with you.

Maybe next year.

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