Before the World Set on Fire (2023) Movie Script

[leaves crunching]
[buzzing of insects]
[suspenseful music]
[birds chirping in distance]
[indistinct chatter]
[fire crackling]
[water running]
[indistinct chatter]
Anya Davis?
Hi, I'm--
Sorry, I'm Cole Keating,
the philosophy department.
-Oh, hi.
-I was on the hiring committee.
-Can I?
Yes, yes, yes.
Sure, sure.
Your dissertation
on the Nietzschean will
of individualism
was fascinating.
-Thank you.
-So, I really admire you.
You um-- You cover Nietzsche?
No, no, I focus on
the practices and aesthetics
of the 18th century,
so, Diderot, Voltaire.
-Right. Enlightenment.
Um, although I teach a survey
course here and there.
We're so lucky to get you.
Thanks. [chuckles]
Uh, so, will I see you
at the fire tonight?
Sorry, will you see me
at the fire tonight?
Oh, do you not--
Um, so back in 1886,
when Eastling was all men,
at the end of a term,
the students all decided
to burn their books.
It only happened once,
but it sort of
became a tradition.
Oh, yeah,
like a ritual of sorts, right?
Yeah, it's tonight.
So see you there?
Yeah, sure.
[soft piano melody]
[indistinct chatter]
-You're new.
I'm a new hire
in the philosophy department.
Anya-- Dr. Davis.
Do you believe in all that,
burning of books?
They say
it's this Eastling tradition,
the burning of literature
and the like.
It's actually a serious
practice with meaning.
I hear it's treated as a joke...
people just throwing
their shit into the fire...
leaving the world outside
When really,
what it actually means...
it's eliminating ideology that
may threaten any kind of power.
Burning a person...
burning a mind.
Yeah, I understand that.
So, basically,
all these lunatic co-eds
have taken this practice
and turned it
into a kind of celebration.
A reason to get drunk.
I don't think that's
what education should be about.
All right, Anya,
I think we're ready for you.
[Dean Johnson] Anya,
can I get you anything?
No, thank you.
This is Joanna Higgins.
She's investigating
the death of Wilder Hewitt.
[Joanna] We've spoken to all of
the students from your seminar.
Wow. All of them?
Except Mara Headley.
We can't get in touch with her.
-Have you heard from her?
-[Anya] No.
And Selena?
Selena Ferreira, my student?
We've spoken with her.
-So, she's okay?
-[Dean Johnson] Yes.
We've learned you did
a recording of the class?
Reed Harris shared it with us.
Yes, uh, per my instructions,
I was required to record
all remote classes.
What's strange is
from this specific seminar,
the recording stops.
Is there
a reason you stopped it?
That I stopped the recording?
It stops with Reed Harris
saying, and I quote,
"The Upashans have
a theory about this."
He goes on to argue
with Molly Stanovitz.
It gets a little out of hand.
You call five minutes.
Yes, yeah, I had-- I had called
a break in the class.
Yes, and at that point,
someone stopped the recording
and didn't restart it.
We assumed that person was you.
[soft suspenseful melody]
[Dean Johnson]
Students, faculty,
and staff of Eastling,
This message is to inform you
that all classes
will remain being conducted
online and only online.
This is necessary as we
to deal with the outbreak.
As your Dean,
I ask you to please
remain safe and stay tuned
for further updates.
Thank you.
[computer chimes]
-[video call chimes]
-Hi, Dr. Davis.
Oh, hi, Mara. Hi.
[Mara] I can't hear you.
-Hello? Hello, hello, hello?
-Hi, hi.
I can hear you.
-How are you?
-[Mara] Um, I'm okay.
I mean, all my classes
have been on here,
-so I'm kind of--
-[video call chimes]
-[Mara] Hi, Reed.
-Did you just wake up?
-[phone buzzing]
[Reed] Yeah, so?
[Mara] Oh, no. Sorry--
-I'll be right back.
-[Reed] Where's Wilder?
He's not with you?
No, we, um...
uh, we had a fight last night,
so I came back to my dorm.
[Wilder] This is Wilder.
Leave a message after the beep.
-[phone chiming]
-[Reed] Hey.
[Hanna] Hey.
[Reed] You're not part of
this class unless somehow
I've missed you out of
the six people that are in it.
-Are you, like, here to troll?
-Dr. Davis is my mom.
-[soft music plays]
-What's that in your background?
That's music.
I knew that,
but I mean, like, what kind?
How did you even get in here?
Your calendar synced
to my phone.
And all your passwords are saved
there, too, by the way.
Uh, you always use the same one.
Okay, so--
So where is everyone?
Aren't you two
in the same house?
No, Hannah's actually
with her dad this week.
So what are you
listening to exactly?
[Hanna] Polish jazz.
Yeah, I knew that.
Yeah, during
the communist takeover,
jazz was totally repressed.
And when Stalin died,
a new wave began.
Krzysztof Komeda? Like--
Polish jazz is the bomb.
My dad plays in a band that kind
of emulates the movement.
It's not as good, but--
[Anya] Hannah, it's really
not time for a concert.
Well, it's not a concert.
It's just a conversation,
but fine.
I'll leave.
Reach out to the others,
and then we can start
officially, officially.
[Reed] Cool.
[phone buzzes]
-[video call chimes]
-[Molly] Hey!
-[Kasper] Hello!
-[Reed] Hi!
It's my favorite Molly!
I don't want to see that.
Put that away.
Also, how many Mollys
do you even know?
A lot. Like, 12.
Yeah, I don't feel special.
-Kasper! Nice place, dude.
-Oh, thank you.
Yeah, they decided
to give all the funding
to foreign student housing,
but I'm chill,
because I'm off campus.
Okay, the dorms aren't that bad.
But anyway,
I mean, how are you guys?
I don't know. Just vibing.
I mean, this whole thing
is so fucking weird.
So what are the signs
of this thing?
The-- the sweat?
Feels weird to say.
Like, the bubonic plague?
Well, actually,
"sweat" is much easier to say,
because it's one syllable,
"bubonic" is three.
Oh, come on, Molly.
You know what I mean.
Actually, I don't,
because I've never experienced
the bubonic plague.
[scoffs] Why don't you tell us
about it, Kasper?
Come on, you're--
you're from Germany, right?
So, in your homeland,
isn't that the origin
of all these hateful
and evil things in the world?
I think that's
what Molly is getting at.
What, like, the plague?
Mm, no, the whole world
blames Germany for,
like, every problem.
I swear to God.
Where is Dr. Davis?
Oh, God.
She is looking so hot today.
Okay, um,
she went to get coffee.
Oh, coffee's super important,
by the way.
Okay, wait, you guys,
there's this rumor
that it, like,
started from this leak
in a botched experiment
in the lab at Decker Hall.
Yeah, I heard that, too.
Now, I-- I'm not so sure
that's a rumor, Molly.
I think that actually happened.
-[phone buzzing]
[Kasper] I mean,
it did start somewhere, right?
A-- and if someone
did do it on purpose,
like, uh-- like it was
a deranged science major
or-- or faculty,
what would the purpose be?
I mean, I happen to think
that it was just
an honest mistake, you know?
I-- I-- it doesn't exactly lead
to world domination.
We are all crazy.
People do crazy shit sometimes.
You don't even know.
Oh, my God,
put your computer down.
It's, like, super disorienting.
-Yeah, but, guys...
...someone at Jasper's party
had it,
which really disturbs me
because I was there,
and so was Wilder.
Oh, my God, no way. Who?
Uh, Jessica Williams,
the art history major.
Oh, yeah,
yeah, yeah, I know her.
But, like, we're fine.
Only, like,
three people have it anyway.
-No, five.
-No, I heard eight.
Okay, this is ridiculous.
Like, the entire student body
is, like, what?
800 students?
So why do we all
have to quarantine
and not just those,
like, six or eight people?
Well, you know, they don't know
how it spreads, right?
If people have touched, uh--
Yeah, I've touched a lot of
people in the last week, so...
Well, all of that
is under investigation, Reed.
Wait, wait, wait, the Sweat
or how many people I've touched?
No, but seriously,
Mara, come on.
This is a question
of the individual
versus the greatest good, right?
So, if you want
to selfishly go out
and-- and do whatever,
go to a party
with your boyfriend,
you could catch it
from some Hawaiian student,
and then you go give it
to your barista,
and they go into the city,
and they give it to whomever,
and then we're all fucked,
the whole planet.
But isn't that where you'd get
herd immunity?
[Reed] Herd immunity?
I-- I'm sorry,
are you an anti-vaxxer?
No, okay, I'm just saying
that sometimes you have to
make these decisions.
Like, in nature, they accept
that the weakest
don't always survive.
You-- so, you're talking
about Darwinism?
I'm sorry, but we're at a tiny
liberal arts school.
What is your point?
Okay, I'm just playing
devil's advocate.
Like, if we were to go out,
people would survive.
Like, humanity would survive.
I heard that when you get it...
it drips into your sinus system,
and it can make you go blind.
Your eyes get all milky
-like some old dog.
Yeah, dude.
-Think about it, Mara.
-Stop it.
Your beautiful blue eyes
will get all foamy
-like a cappuccino.
-[phone buzzing]
[Mara] No,
you're just making that up.
It's not funny.
[Reed] It also fucks
with your, uh,
I don't know if I can say
this in front of--
[Molly] ...anyways,
so, thank you.
All right, guys, all right.
Who are we still missing?
Um, Parker, Selena.
All right, so what do you think?
Two more minutes?
[Reed] And Wilder.
[Mara] Yeah, he'll be here
Molly, Molly, bo-bally, banana,
tana, poppoly, me, my, mo Molly.
-Where's Hillary?
-She went home.
-Fuck. To the city?
She didn't want
to be holed up here any longer
than she had to be.
I mean, you know,
she's like a real hypochondriac,
plus her dad's not really
doing well.
-Sorry to hear that.
-Yeah, he's really old.
Well, send her my love.
Um, who-- who is Hillary?
Hillary is Molly's girlfriend.
She was the TA
in my early Greek seminar.
I tried to fuck her,
but she's gay.
Well, actually, she's bi.
She just wasn't into you, so...
-She told me that...
-That's just not true.
...multiple times.
I'm [indistinct] you know,
actually. [indistinct].
-[computer chimes]
Hey, Selena.
I'm sorry I'm late, Dr. Davis.
I had to go
to the clinic this morning.
I, um, I thought
I had the Sweat.
Oh, my God, really?
-[Selena] Yeah.
-I'm so sorry I'm late.
I went for a run.
-What's up?
-How was that for you?
Well, no one's out,
and my endorphins are flowing,
so I feel really good.
Last night,
I threw my own personal rave.
Oh, I did the same thing, too.
I pretended
I was in a club in Berlin
-with all the lights.
-But I wasn't in Berlin.
-Okay, Parker, thank you.
Can you--
can you take a seat and join us?
-[computer chimes]
-Hey. Sorry.
-[computer chimes]
-[synthetic voice] Recording.
Okay, let's start.
Sorry, can I just say one thing?
I-- It's relevant, I promise.
[laughing] No.
I sold Lucinda and the Argonauts
to Fox Pictures.
I'm so excited.
I can't believe it.
-[Parker] That's amazing.
-It is so popular in Germany.
What's that?
A-- a young adult novel.
-[Anya] Congratulations, Selena.
Thank you.
But we need
Lucinda and the Argonauts?
Come on, Molly.
I just don't really know
what this has to do
with philosophy.
Oh, but it has, like,
everything to do
-with philosophy.
Anyway, Lucinda is faced
with so many
fight-or-flight situations.
You know, monsters, saboteurs,
the natural elements,
all working against her.
There is a big fight on the sea,
so you don't know
if she's gonna make it or not.
And then, over the course
of 300 or so odd pages,
you realize
that she's superhuman.
[doorbell chimes]
-[Molly] Oh, I...
-[Parker] Nice, Molly.
...did not mean
to send that to everybody.
[Parker] Okay, wait.
You kind of may have a point.
[indistinct] it feels medieval.
Like, maybe we're going back
to the biblical plagues
of the Greeks and Romans.
You know,
Nietzsche was a classicist.
-[clears throat]
Yeah, he was. Yeah, actually.
Parker, thank you.
And Selena, thank you.
I, um, I--
I wanted to start
today's seminar by taking a look
at Nietzsche's roots
to classicism,
which, of course, is covered
in this week's reading.
So, if we go back
to Greek mythology,
what we have here is--
is a kind of storytelling,
a way of transcribing
the human experience
in a way that I think
Nietzsche has felt
that we have strayed from
or, um, lost contact with.
So, what I'm talking about...
is a storytelling.
Mythology is a storytelling
that sort of encompasses
the carnal,
the animal, the spiritual,
the intellectual, even madness,
all of these elements
of the human experience
come together.
And then also, um,
this-- this idea of...
destiny and fate being, um,
being based on one's type
or one's character.
As Plato says, uh,
character is destiny.
But so what you have
with the rational philosophers
who have completely strayed
from this type of...
of storytelling,
what we have with them
is more of a-- a--
a-- a doctrinization
and a-- a rationalization,
a separation
of all of these elements, uh...
in a way that I think
Nietzsche finds...
much less complex, you know?
Uh, this--
this experience of living,
you know,
the Leibniz philosophy, Kasper.
Yeah, philosophy of life.
Kierkegaard was also
implicated in this.
-Schopenhauer, too, actually.
-[Anya] Right.
So now look, I mean...
Nietzsche's a philosopher
who is-- He's-- he's--
he's very difficult to explore
in a session like this.
I mean, we could spend
forever really--
Sorry, can we just go back
to this idea
of fate and destiny
being based on your type
-or your character?
-[Anya] Yeah, yeah.
Okay, so character is destiny,
as Plato says,
but what about circumstance
and chance shaping your destiny?
I mean, I was raised
by two women, two moms, okay?
And, you know,
they lived in, like,
a completely separate reality.
They were cool and progressive,
you know, sure,
but they are incredibly
brilliant, both of them,
and they essentially forced me
to come here.
I mean,
I didn't even really know
if I wanted to pursue college,
higher education in general,
but they wanted
a higher existence for me,
-so now I'm here.
-Because that's what you wanted.
Well, no, even if I want this,
I want that,
I'm still living
their trajectory for me
by getting a degree.
Yes, Molly.
Before we get into this,
I-- I-- I think it's crucial
that in-- in order to understand
these somewhat
controversial ideas here
that we really need to, um,
we really need to know
about the 19th century
in terms of the historical,
political, philosophical climate
in which Nietzsche emerged.
So, look,
the 19th century can-- can--
can really be separated
into two very distinct parts.
We have before 1848, 1850,
and after.
Can anyone speak to me
about what is happening
in Europe
at this time?
Well, the revolutions of 1848...
[Wilder] Sorry,
it's just, like...
...are some of the largest--
...kind of sounds like
we're just kind of reading
from an encyclopedia.
[Wilder] No, it's just
not very challenging.
I mean, this seminar, right,
this whole class is supposed
to be a challenging discussion,
supposed to move things forward,
I just...
I'm not really challenged.
We just started the discussion,
like, a few minutes ago, um--
I know, but challenge me,
or I'll challenge you.
So, uh...
so what we see happening here
in the middle
of the 19th century is this,
like, major reconstruction
or reconstitution
of liberal values
with the restitution
of the Bourbon monarchy
in France
and with the apotheosis
of Bismarck in Germany.
So, these two events, in a way,
sort of denied
all of this progress
that the revolutions in--
in France
and in America had made
in the previous century.
Um, up to this point,
history and politics
and art and philosophy
were all sort of converging
and building unilaterally,
cohesively, on top
of one another
towards this notion of progress.
Um, but now, all of a sudden,
there's this sort of
terrifying reversal.
And-- and you know,
this-- this of course,
really, um,
throws things on their head.
So, a large sense
of-- of nihilism looms.
Um, and what we have now
with Nietzsche
and his contemporaries
are, um-- Or let's look
at these artists.
So, the-- the--
the celebrated artists
of the time
are Van Gogh, Monet, Manet.
Uh, what you're looking at here
is the emergence
of an avant-garde
for the first time, you know?
Uh, you have a, uh,
an avant-garde class,
a rejection of institutions,
of religions, of--
The, uh, the-- the rejects,
the Salon des Refuss.
[Anya] Right. That's right.
These people become the stars
of the moment.
is re-evaluating
our whole philosophical
tradition, in a sense.
There is no longer any sort of
pan-universal set of truths
for which we could all sort of
ascribe meaning.
Um, it's the individual
that must search
for the salvation.
So, who
and what does he introduce
to express
this ultimate aspiration?
-He introduces the Ubermensch.
Okay, Mara, okay.
So, let's unpack that.
Well, through Ubermensch,
Nietzsche introduces
the idea of a superior man,
who can rise above conventional
Christian morality
to create and impose
his own set of values.
Well, that's just bullshit
because what you're describing
is patriarchy.
Not patriarchy. Hierarchy.
And hierarchy should,
and does, exist.
I mean,
even in this class, right?
Yeah, there's a hierarchy
created by who will progress
and excel in this environment.
You know, who will get an A
at the end of the semester.
[Wilder] Exactly, Mara.
And I feel like it's, uh,
the most important part of
that is to consider
what happens if society
or this class
or structure accepts
the Ubermensch, right?
The Ubermensch may harm others,
may overtake others.
Therefore, one adheres
to suffering,
accepting the earth,
but aiming to be above it,
to be above mankind.
You're really cute.
Are you dating?
Isn't that one of the theories
Hitler used
to define the Holocaust?
Creating and perfecting
the master race, yeah.
Uh, I--
I do want to state, though,
before we kind of delve
into that,
that-- that-- that--
that it was through
misinterpretation, of course,
that Hitler and others were able
to exploit Nietzschean--
The Lebensborn program.
-The what?
-His Das Lebensborn-Programm.
The Lebensborn program
was created by Hitler to, um,
in a sense, spring to life
the master race, right?
So basically, he created
breeding facilities
where Aryan women
were recruited,
uh, to be impregnated
by genetically pure SS officers.
There were 42,000 babies
produced during that time.
Yeah, my grandfather
was one of them.
He-- he was born
from the program.
Really? That is fascinating.
So this--
this Sweat, right, this--
this illness
that's going around campus,
could just be, like,
some kind of mindset.
Like some kind of
or sociological experiment.
I mean, not even real.
Yeah, I mean,
I have thought this all along,
you know?
So, one person is so convinced
that they have it,
then it spreads
to another person
who also feigns illness,
and eventually,
we all have it, right?
Or we think we do,
and then we succumb
to some kind of, like,
widespread hysteria.
Well, okay, Selena, I guess if--
if we're going to
switch gears here,
if we were to view this moment
through a Nietzschean lens,
we might...
see it as mass hysteria or--
or conformity of sorts
of the weaker man,
-the weaker spirit.
-[Wilder] Yes, yes.
But I still feel like
that's missing something.
I mean, it's-- it is a theory
about power and control,
the masses,
the conformity of the herd, yes.
But you're missing
that if we become above man,
if we become the Uberman,
then we can't get sick.
I mean, not in that way.
I thought suffering
was elevated in the Ubermensch.
Uh, uh, it is, it is.
So, I'm not sure I'm--
I-- I'm not sure I'm following
or agreeing
with your point, Wilder.
Can we go back for a second?
Nietzsche denounced God, right?
Like, threw him out?
Well, you know, this idea
of throwing off religion
is kind of a sort of part
of the moral nihilism
of Nietzschean philosophy.
So, really, if you're a follower
of anything of--
of an institution,
of a religion, of whatever,
you're hoarding
your individualism.
Okay, but he also claimed
there was a crisis of nihilism.
He didn't throw God away.
He admitted
that the death of God
would profoundly disrupt
Remember, religion at this time
was the construct
through which individuals
their sense of the world.
Therefore, the loss of God
was a loss of coherence,
-a loss of objective truth.
-[Anya] Yeah. Yes.
God, I forgot
how smart you are, Parker.
Um, who here believes in God?
Reed, we're not going to do
a poll
on people's religious beliefs.
I feel like it's valuable
to the discussion.
Uh, Wilder,
-what about you, man?
-Do you believe in God?
So you're an agnostic?
-I'm an atheist.
-Whatever, same difference.
Actually, they're not similar
at all.
You don't believe in God.
We got it.
Mara, what about you?
Do you believe in God?
I-- I have a feeling
that might affect your coupling.
Are we really doing this?
Why are you so interested
in our relationship?
Good question.
[Anya] Um...
Mara does not believe in God.
...okay, look--
-I'm right here.
-Okay, all right, cool.
While I do think
that personal beliefs
can be relevant
to our discussions,
I'm-- I'm-- I'm really not sure
why it's coming up
right here, Reed.
But Anya, you yourself
always talk about
how you're from Pittsburgh,
how that's shaped
your personal views,
how you move through the world.
I mean, shouldn't we be doing
the same thing?
How did we get to Pittsburgh?
Yeah, I didn't know that.
When did she mention
being from Pittsburgh?
Where's Pittsburgh?
Look, I-- it's possible
that I have mentioned things
in previous classes.
The point is
is that no one has to adhere
to any of these theories,
obviously, in order to study--
Wait, okay,
so I was raised Catholic, right?
I, like,
went to a Catholic high school.
Okay, can we--
No, wait, Dr. Davis, I--
I promise I'm gonna
make my point really quick,
-and it's relevant.
-[Anya] All right.
Like, all that we were
talking about earlier, right?
How you're bringing influences
to your being,
or you wanting to be like them,
or whatever.
But, see, as I grew up,
I made the decision
not to be Catholic anymore.
Can you-- Selena,
can you please stop
co-opting the class,
just to interrupt Dr. Davis
and say something
completely irrelevant?
What Selena is saying
is not completely unrelated.
Let's take a second here.
I-- it is clear that people pray
to a higher spiritual being,
or a god, or institution,
or the like, in dark times
because they want something
to believe in.
I mean, much like we're doing
in this class right now.
Yeah, I mean,
God has stood the test of time
because much of society
-is entirely hopeless.
And our judgment
of others is fickle.
I mean, actually, Molly,
when you think about it,
there is no right and wrong
when it comes to beliefs.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
So you're saying Hitler,
and like, all of his beliefs,
attempting to exterminate
the entire Jewish population
was correct?
[Wilder] No, that's not
what I'm saying at all.
Or the way
the Russians decided to hide
what actually happened
at Chernobyl
in order to glorify
their country
and maintain
their politics, their beliefs.
That's all a-okay?
It's not an issue of morality,
which is the trap
that this conversation
keeps falling into.
So, if it's not an issue
of morality...
what is the metric
that defines this?
[Molly] Well, I'm not--
I'm not moralizing though.
[Wilder] not morality,
-it's vitality.
-That's right.
The strength of character
is all.
-That's right.
It's an issue of vitality.
And by the way, Molly, you know,
those are two
more obvious examples, right?
You know, kind of generic.
You can be a little more
specific is all I'm saying.
I'm sorry my digression offended
so many people.
Wow, Molly, I am so impressed
with you apologizing
for your behavior.
I am just pointing out
to you, Wilder,
that what you are saying,
despite your expertise
on all subjects all the time,
is not always correct.
Yeah, but I never said I was.
Well, then it's an incredibly
calculated performance.
Oh, no one's gonna back me up.
Okay, cool.
That's awesome. Great.
At my bar mitzvah,
my pants split
during the chair dance.
Never set foot
in a synagogue again.
So, you gave up
the entirety of Judaism
because your pants split?
Well that and the whole
singing in Hebrew part.
That's pretty tough.
[Reed] Don't worry
about it, dude.
I went to so many
bar mitzvahs when I was a kid.
I technically lost
my virginity at one.
I got a BJ
from this girl with braces.
Oh, my God. Reed, shut up.
Shut-- Just stop talking.
Nobody wants to hear
about your BJ.
I mean, we were having--
All of you,
have you been present recently?
Because we were having
a very intense conversation
about the Holocaust,
and all you can think about
-is getting head?
-Could-- could we just try--
[Molly] That's so insensitive
and disgusting!
Okay, Molly.
What, oh, oh, I'm being
the crazy one right now?
No, I just--
I'm gonna ask us all
to just return
to a more respectful way
of talking to each other.
Well, it's not my fault
that Reed loves to just listen
to the sound of his own voice.
What's wrong with listening
to the sound of my own voice?
Your voice tells you a lot
about your being.
The Upanishads actually came up
with a lot of their philosophies
based on questions
about the origins of the voice.
[Molly] Stop and listen
to Dr. Davis
and stop being so disrespectful.
[Anya] I'd like to end this now.
[Molly] Shut up! Oh, my God.
I can't even
handle this anymore, bye!
-[Wilder] Reed?
-[Anya sighs]
Reed, can I, uh,
can I tell you something?
-[Reed] I'd be honored.
You're an idiotic representation
of your generation.
A pig.
You're a pig grappling through
the vines of intelligentsia,
plotting against
our prolonged thought
trying to move things forward,
and then chewing our ideas
with your slime.
-You're just--
-Uh, okay.
Let's take ten.
[computer chiming]
Dr. Davis, we are missing
significant information
to what actually happened
during the rest of the class
and the lead-up to the jump.
We've been in contact
with everyone involved.
We have testimonies
from your students
and your daughter.
You've been in contact
with my daughter?
We're just asking questions.
We've had to question
everyone involved.
So that's why he's here?
Professor Keating's the head
of the Standards Committee.
[Anya] Uh-huh.
So then he told you
we were fucking?
No, I hadn't.
And that I had called him
during the break in the class?
-So it's my fault now?
-Fault? No.
I mean, I just-- I assumed
that's why you were here.
[Dean Johnson] Is this true?
[Cole] Yes,
she called me that day.
That's not what I'm asking you.
I'm asking you
if you were in a relationship
with her.
I don't see why that matters.
[Dean Johnson]
Because you're the head
of the Standards Committee,
[Joanna] What exactly
did she tell you, Mr. Keating,
on that phone call?
-It's good to see you.
-Like, it's been that long?
It's been like five days.
Well, uh, yeah, but I mean,
feels like longer.
A lot has happened.
Like before the world
set on fire. [chuckling]
-Can you come over tonight?
Uh, I got to finish this outline
for this grant application.
My Diderot research.
Um, are you okay?
Yeah, it's just
my seminar just got so crazy.
Which one was that?
Just like my only one,
the one with Wilder Hewitt.
Oh, what's up with him?
I thought you liked him.
I do like him, it's just...
he's just very volatile today.
So, uh, students, like,
so a lot of his kind, you know,
any of his type...
they can totally have
their heads stuck
up their own asses.
You know what I mean?
They think they know
everything about everything,
and you can't teach them.
But you can influence them.
And, you know, it's--
Often it's the most difficult
ones that teach us the most.
She said the class was hard
and that she felt overwhelmed.
Why didn't you tell us this?
[Cole] I-- It didn't seem
like it was important.
You didn't think
it was important?
It was a conversation
with an academic colleague.
[Dean Johnson] Mm-hmm.
Okay, Cole,
I think you should go.
Is there anything else
that you'd like to tell us?
It seemed like
she was drawn to him.
[Dean Johnson]
Drawn to him in what way?
In the way that a teacher
is drawn to a bright student.
[Joanna] What did you talk about
with Wilder?
Many things.
We-- we spoke often.
It seemed very much
part of his process.
It's-- it's normal,
it's standard
that I speak with my students.
What-- what is it
that you think I know?
Let's not jump
to any conclusions.
I'm not jumping to conclusions.
I'm just--
I'm simply asking questions.
I teach philosophy.
It's the nature of what I do.
December 2nd, 2009.
Does that date ring a bell?
There was a custody hearing.
Your daughter
was five years old, correct?
[sighs] Yes.
During the hearing,
your ex-husband, Phil Archer,
claimed that you were unable
to leave the house
for six weeks.
Yes, I was severely depressed
during my divorce.
That you were living
in a state of alarming disarray,
and according
to your daughter's testimony
during the proceedings,
"I saw Mommy eating.
Eating roots and plants
from the garden.
She said she wanted
to go back to the earth,
to the way
things were supposed to be."
What does this have to do
with anything?
Uh, well, um...
what strikes me
about that statement
from your daughter, Anya,
is that it sounds very similar
to some of the things
that Wilder was talking about
just before he jumped.
to the Nietzschean theories
you were discussing
in that class?
Yeah, I just-- I'm-- I'm sorry,
I don't-- I don't understand.
[Joanna] Your daughter brings up
a level of instability...
-Oh my God, instability.
-...which was also mentioned.
In December of 2014,
you resigned
from your last position
at Jones College.
Can you tell us about that?
What is going on here?
A student flung himself
from his window
-during your class, Anya.
-I know!
So I'm sure you can understand
-the urgency of the matter.
-I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
I need a minute.
-[low somber music plays]
-[bell tolling in the distance]
-[Cole] Hey.
[Cole] I've been looking
for you everywhere.
I'm just, uh,
really glad you came.
I didn't think you would.
Hi, Wilder.
Hi, Professor Keating.
I'm glad you two met, uh,
as you know, Anya,
we don't really have
traditional majors here,
but I'd say Wilder's focus
is our department.
Uh, where do you live?
Oh, uh, the housing
over on Ponce.
Wanted to walk you home.
I'll see you tomorrow.
I'm in your seminar.
Great. See you tomorrow.
[Cole] Interesting kid.
[Anya] Yeah.
What'd you guys talk about?
[Anya] Oh.
The bonfire.
[computer chiming]
Kasper, Vlad?
Vlad, Vlad, Vlad, Vlad, Vlad.
-Oh, Vlad!
[Vlad] Hey, hey! Parker!
-What's up, man?
-[computer chiming]
Oh, bye, Vlad.
Molly, how are you doing?
I know that was
a little tense before.
So sorry I got so upset,
you guys.
[Selena] What do you want?
I want to be lonely
Is that Selena Ferrara
on vocals?
Oh, I didn't realize
I was still on.
-Hi, guys.
Um, hey, is-- is Reed coming?
-Or is he-- Oh.
-[computer chimes]
[Parker] Yo! Reed, man.
I miss you.
It's been too long.
When we're-- When this is done,
we're going to Bubby's, okay?
As soon as this is done,
the day this is fucking over.
Oh. Has anyone heard
about Dr. Davis and Dr. Keaton?
[Molly] No, why?
I saw them getting drinks
at Bubby's the other day.
[Molly] Yeah, okay, but maybe
they like their happy hour.
I mean, I sure do.
[Reed] Yeah, me too.
Yeah, she's also new.
It could be routine.
Maybe, yeah, maybe, I--
I saw them not once, though,
not twice, three times,
and last week.
You think they're fucking, bro?
I don't think
they're grading papers.
-[Reed] Hey, Wilder.
That was really
emotional before,
and I just want
to discuss our feelings.
You know,
you kind of attacked me there
with that poetic gibberish
that sounded like it was
from Planet of the Apes.
Okay, they speak English
in Planet of the Apes.
-No, they don't.
-Yeah, they do.
-[clears throat]
-[computer chimes]
Okay, guys, so we're back.
Uh, I wanted to start
this next half
by just grounding us
in some text.
All right, guys, look, I, uh--
I know you don't want
to acknowledge
that there's any kind of
hierarchy here,
but I am your professor.
I am trying to lead you
in a discussion.
[Reed] I don't believe
in hierarchy.
Oh, wow, Reed, that might be
the first thing
you and I actually agree on.
Uh, your question
of my authority
or hierarchy
in this context is what?
Is directed at academia?
Yes, I mean, the institution.
And you bringing it up,
you yourself are questioning it.
You know, Reed, yes,
he's being an asshole dickhead,
but he still has
the authority to question you
just like you have
the authority to question him.
I mean, Plato, Socrates,
that was like the first
relationship, right?
But look at where
hierarchy has gotten us.
We live in a completely
patriarchal, racist society.
This isn't a philosophy,
it's gender studies.
Oh, well, thank you
for bringing up my minor.
Also, I hate it when
any time a woman loves to talk
about patriarchy or equality,
a man has to
question it and be like,
"Oh, do you know
gender studies?"
It's, like, so frustrating.
All this
male versus female bullshit.
I mean, God,
we've been dealing with it
since the beginning
of fucking time.
We are still dealing with it.
Ah, I mean, for example, okay,
at the beginning of this class,
Parker brought up
the fact that you are
in a sexual relationship
with Dr. Keaton.
[Parker] Whoa, whoa,
whoa, Molly!
What? You did.
And just by the way,
if you were a man,
do you think anybody would be
saying something like that?
Right, um...
I, uh--
I'm gonna disregard
that last statement
that you made, Molly, about my
personal life, and I am--
I'm just gonna read
the text now.
Uh, this is
from Beyond Good and Evil.
"What inspires
respect for women,
and often enough even fear,
is her nature, which is
more natural than man's.
The genuine, cunning, suppleness
of a beast of prey.
The tiger's claw
under the glove.
Her inner wildness."
Men oppress women,
because they know
they're a force
to be reckoned with.
Well, Nietzsche also claims
that the emancipation of women
from feminism is merely just a--
I mean, kind of a resentment
of some women
against other women
because they're better
physically constituted
and more able to bear children.
It sounds like a little bit
of a compliment from Nietzsche,
layered with this
bit of misogyny, no?
No, exactly,
Kasper, because literally,
any time a woman is
competing against another woman,
it's inherently misogynist,
because it's
for the benefit of a man.
That's, like, the first thing
I've heard in this class
that makes sense.
Look, Lucinda and the Argonauts
is a great example
of a text
that actively engages with--
-Are you serious?
-No, no, no!
We are still questioning
if men are the greater sex,
and that's insane!
Right, but that's
because they are, I mean--
In Nietzsche's theory, right,
a woman's whole purpose--
Her whole purpose, her goal,
is to give birth
to an Ubermensch.
Which is just a theory.
Right, but her
ability to do that
dictates her relationship
to man.
Nietzsche talks
about the Ubermensch
that literally translates
to "superman."
Okay, so, Wilder,
you're actually
interpreting it literally.
You know, Wilder,
I think that
that interpretation is valid.
Okay, thank you, yes,
more than valid, but--
-So you're agreeing with him?
-No, I'm not, I'm just--
I'm saying
that it's interesting,
and that I'm acknowledging it.
Look, it's impossible
to talk about Nietzsche
and-- and sort of
skip over misogyny.
It's-- it's in his writings.
But wouldn't it be interesting
to think of misogyny
as a part of, perhaps,
an overall strategy...
of Nietzsche's to demonstrate
that our attitude
towards gender and sex
is completely cultural?
And it's often incredibly
to our-- our potential
as individuals
and as a species, and...
perhaps it's something
to be overcome.
It's an interesting, I mean,
glorified, positive reading.
But it's all besides the point,
because when it
comes down to it,
men did come first.
And were created first.
According to the Bible?
-Yeah, which is--
-So we're interpreting
the Bible literally?
Yeah, it's a source
of mythological creation.
Okay, but we've seen
in this class, right,
mythology, philosophy,
and it's also--
There's plenty
of scientific evidence
that backs this up.
Okay, Nietzsche had very
controversial views on this.
Next text.
"From the beginning,
nothing has been
more alien, repugnant,
or hostile to woman than truth.
Her great art is the lie
and highest concern
is mere appearance and beauty."
Oh, Selena,
the prime example of that.
-Excuse me, I'm sorry?
Well, no, it's just,
you obviously
put a lot of effort
into your appearance
just to come onto this
online class.
You know what I mean?
-Easy, Wilder.
-Oh, my God.
That is just offensive.
It's not offensive,
it's just an observation.
No, no, no, no, no, no.
This whole fucking seminar
is offensive.
Yeah, this whole seminar
is offensive.
It's fucking biased,
and set in a bunch
of made-up beliefs!
-None of you--
-[Reed] Selena!
-None of you...
...can even comprehend
or understand the fact
that I might actually
have a brain.
-Yeah, and that I--
-Stop, stop, stop!
I-- I--
-There's something wrong
with your eyes.
What? What is it?
[gasps] Oh, my God.
Oh, my God, you guys,
help me, tell me what to do.
Help me! Tell me what to do.
Wash out your eyes
with water and--
I have to go.
I have to go, just--
Where did she go?
Maybe someone
should go check on her?
[Parker] Yeah, yeah,
yeah, I'm on it, all right.
Reed, the eye thing,
is it really
a sign of the Sweat?
-I thought you were joking.
-I thought I was joking, too.
Well, if you were joking,
then how do you explain
her eyes actually being white?
I don't fucking know. Pink eye?
-Look, has anyone been
in contact with her
in the last few days?
I left--
I left cookies at her door.
But long story.
-[Wilder laughs]
-[Reed] What's so funny, weirdo?
Look, guys, I-- I, um--
I'm not so sure
that we should continue.
Yeah, it--
it doesn't feel right.
I think I'm--
I'm gonna go, and check on her.
No, Mara. Mara, Mara,
just stay, stay.
We should absolutely continue.
What else can we do?
No, I-- I actually think
that-- that we should
probably just end this.
No, Anya, we should absolutely
Nothing can be done for Selena.
-How do you know?
-Because I do.
Look, we have an obligation
to continue this class.
What obligation, I can
leave whenever I want, okay?
It's a free zone.
Okay, then go ahead.
"I love all who are,
like heavy drops,
falling one by one
from the dark clouds
that lowers over man.
They herald the coming
of the lightning,
and succumb to the heralds."
I feel sick.
I'm going to call-- call Selena.
Hey, um--
I, uh--
So, what are we doing?
Uh, we're gonna continue.
-Next quote.
"Lead back to the earth
the virtue that flew away,
as I do.
Back to life, back to the body,
that it may give
the earth meaning.
A human meaning."
Does anyone have
anything to say?
I think that on this notion
of virtue
and the power of virtue,
I think that he's saying
that we need to ground
Right, but we can't
ground ourselves
in something that's unfit.
Right, but what I'm saying
is that I think we need to--
We need to find-- No, we need
to find something--
Hey, Wilder, I think
Mara was speaking.
-I was.
-Oh, well, I speak through her.
She speaks through me.
-No, but that isn't--
-Shh. Mara.
Mara. Mara.
I just need you to give me
a second so I can figure
these ideas out for myself.
What's the point
when your analysis
is gonna be so generic?
You're not moving
anything forward.
You're afraid, Mara.
-You're afraid.
-Stop telling me what I feel.
I can tell you whatever
I want to tell you.
That is not okay for you to say.
Yeah, you're right, it's not.
The Earth has become small,
and on it hops the last man
who makes everything small.
Therefore, one must sacrifice
themselves to the Earth
so that the Earth
of the superman
may hereafter arrive.
That's incomprehensible.
It's not incomprehensible.
It's so clear.
It's just difficult and--
and it's difficult to inhabit
and understand,
but it is possible.
No, I don't think it is.
That's just because you're
convincing yourself of that.
Because our reality has
superimposed certain ideas,
certain images into your brain,
you think that
it's not possible.
But there's been no proof,
no actual proof
that this can't be achieved.
And look, right now,
right now, this is our chance.
I mean, we're all gonna
become extinct anyway.
What are you talking about?
Oh, my God, Mara!
Come on, stop-- stop acting
like you don't know me.
It's me.
If you want to keep on
then you can join the throngs
of women like Selena
who prostitute themselves,
and end up infected.
[laughs] So what are you
gonna do?
I mean, either stay or go.
Go. Go, leave. Leave the call.
Hang up on me like you did
last time.
If you're not strong enough
to continue this work,
then you should leave.
You are not God, Wilder.
-[computer chimes]
-[Anya sighs]
[computer chimes]
The fuck just happened?
I don't know.
Did either of them answer?
No, but maybe--
maybe Parker's there.
-I'm gonna call him.
-I'll call too.
Reed, give me the number.
I hope she's okay.
It feels real bad.
What all of you are
not realizing
is that this Sweat,
this-- this illness,
it has the potential to wipe us
all out entirely.
I mean, look at what just
happened to one of our own.
We don't know what that was.
We have to face
the consequences.
We have to be ready.
Ready-- ready for what?
-[computer chimes]
We have to prepare ourselves.
We have to take risks.
Anya, Anya, tell them.
Tell them what you told me
last night.
Last night?
"Our minds are
the most dangerous.
Man is but a rope
between the animal
and the superman.
A rope over an abyss.
Wilder, what?
What is great about man is that
he is a bridge,
not a goal."
Wilder, you have to stop.
[laughs] I knew. I knew it.
I knew you were never really
devoted to me, Mara, I knew.
I knew this would never last.
We-- we have to
endure the unthinkable.
We have to
get ready for the pain.
Wilder, Wilder,
you have to listen to me, okay?
You have to stop this.
Everything-- everything
is pitted against us.
Wilder, don't-- What are
you doing, okay?
Listen to me, Wilder,
I care about you, okay?
I'm coming over.
I'm coming now, okay?
[Molly] Wait, how far
do you live?
Um, close, five minutes.
No, no, no, no, no, no.
Not-- not close enough.
See, that's the problem.
We can never be close enough.
Okay, I'm gonna
meet you there, okay?
-I'll come right now.
-No, wait, it's better
if it's just me, I know him.
You don't,
you don't know me, Mara.
You really don't know me.
I don't know me. No one knows.
-[Mara] Wilder.
-[Wilder] No one.
[Mara] Please,
I'm on my way, okay?
I'm coming right now.
Dude, Mara's on her way.
Everything's gonna be okay.
-Sit down, okay?
-It's going to be fine.
Anya? Anya, we're in this
together, right?
Like you said, right?
We're doing this work together.
Dr. Davis.
[Wilder] "Lo, for I am
a herald of the lightning,
a drop out of the cloud."
But I am not the lightning.
The lightning, however,
is the superman.
Anya, Anya,
don't-- don't be afraid.
I-- I have imagined this moment.
This beautiful,
beautiful moment.
Do you trust me?
Trust me.
This is just the beginning.
[Molly] Don't-- [screaming]
Oh, my God!
Is anybody there?
What's happening?
Students of Eastling, hello.
I hope you are all
keeping safe and well
during this challenging time.
I come to you with grave news,
but also with some news of hope.
All of you know the challenges
our college has faced
over these past few weeks.
Ours is a small
and familiar campus.
And so it is with great sadness
that I share with you
the passing
of undergraduate fellow
Wilder Buck-Hewitt.
Wilder had just
begun his junior year.
And those of you who knew him
or may have
encountered Wilder on campus
may remember his generous
and formidable academic spirit.
We ask for privacy
regarding Wilder's sudden death
from his peers,
faculty, and friends.
Now, as we take
this time to mourn Wilder,
we also take this opportunity
to open our campus again.
We believe that this outbreak,
or what has been
referred to as the Sweat,
has been contained.
And so over the next two weeks,
we will start
making our way back to class.
Now, I know this has been
a difficult time for all of us.
It is my promise to you that
Eastling College will come back,
and we will be better than ever.
Thank you, and take care.
piano instrumental playing]
[bell chiming in distance]

We've been going
through the testimonies,
and there's been
a kind of unanimous statement
between the students
who witnessed what happened
that you didn't
try to stop Wilder
as he went towards his window.
With all due respect,
nobody could stop him,
but I was actively
trying to keep him online.
Kasper Krogmann said that Wilder
was encouraging you to join him.
to some of your students,
it appears
as if Wilder believed that, uh,
through jumping, he was flying
to prove a higher existence.
I mean, it's clear
that something went wrong here.
He clearly
grabbed onto these ideas
in some kind of state,
and created
an alternate truth for himself.
That he existed above all of us,
of humanity, per se.
That he was actually
trying to align himself
with the Ubermensch?
Sorry, David, wh--
what is it that you're implying?
That-- that I was complicit?
That I somehow influenced
the death of my own student?
Anya, I'm sorry
to have to put you through this,
but it's something
that we absolutely--
David, David, please,
I-- I just can't sit here,
and listen to you
sort of defend or glorify
the-- the shortcomings
of the institution.
I-- I mean, you've really spent
the greater part
of this interrogation--
This is not an interrogation.
Well, whatever this is,
you've spent
the greater part of it
sort of illuminating and...
broadcasting my...
private and personal frailties,
of which I have many.
I-- I suppose
this is of interest of you,
because you-- you need
to assign blame for what
in my class, of course.
I mean, this is--
It's-- This is
an issue of liability, right?
You know,
it is my responsibility
to sort of open
the door to-- to becoming,
but it is not my responsibility,
and it is not
in my charge what becomes.
I did not take
Wilder Hewitt's life.
What transpired in my class
is incredibly heartbreaking,
and please,
never underestimate the depth
of suffering
that I have incurred.
I-- I reject
your moral accountability
of this situation
and-- and honestly,
shame on me for ever spending
any portion of my life
trying to gain acceptance
in a realm
that purports a notion...
of radical...
intellectual freedom
without the capacity for--
[clock ticking]
[Dean Johnson]
Anya, as you know,
we have security cameras
all over campus.
And we've been checking them
to see what might have happened
near Decker Hall.
Science building.
Anya, what we're
about to share with you
is strictly confidential.
[Joanna] 18th September,
we have security footage
of Wilder Hewitt
entering Decker Hall.
That date is about a week
before the campus shut down
due to a highly
infectious virus.
So Wilder,
he wasn't studying science.
Decker Hall is all labs.
How did he get access?
Only faculty have access
after 7:00 p.m., correct?
That's right.
Sorry, where is this going?
There's significant evidence
that this Sweat, this virus
that spread
all over campus was caused
by a leak in one of those labs.
So, that night,
the night of September 18th,
was the last time Wilder Hewitt
visited Decker Hall.
According to our footage,
he visited two times
prior to that night on his own.
[clock ticking]
And you think
that I knew about these visits?
I don't know what you knew,
but we have clear evidence
that your card was used
to let him in
on the night in question.
[fire crackling]
[Wilder] Sometimes I think
there never really was a plan.
We were all just
put here on this earth
to wither and squander, and...
wither away and not make
any progress at all.
When I think that I feel scared.
I feel defeated.
Then I hear this voice.
This voice like, inside.
And this voice
tells me that there is a plan.
It's not going to
be easy to understand.
But it's higher.
Higher than anything
I've ever imagined.
I don't think
I'm even ready to understand it.
Not yet, anyway.
But I was hoping that maybe
you could help me understand it.
Because I don't think
I can do it alone.
I feel--
I feel so alone.
Am I alone?
Dr. Davis?
[clock ticking]
[insects buzzing]
[contemplating melody playing]

[music fades]