Beloved Sisters (2014) Movie Script

- Did you get any sleep?
- I'm far too excited.
The coach rocks terribly.
It's hard to get any sleep.
Write to me.
Nelly, drive the chickens into the pen.
Come on.
What a strenuous journey.
I'll be glad to arrive in Weimar.
Do the ladies mind if I smoke?
No, I like smoking myself.
In autumn 1787
young Charlotte von Lengefeld
enters her godmother's service
in Weimar.
She was sent to the Duchy
of Saxony-Weimar's capital,
hoping her aunt
Charlotte Albertine Ernestine von Stein
could turn her into a lady of the court.
- Yes, please?
- Charlotte von Lengefeld. I'm expected.
Go through the side entrance.
Also in her baggage:
Her mother's ulterior motive
that she find herself a man of
noble birth and substantial wealth.
Charlotte is regarded
as an obedient daughter
who only does and says
as she is told to do and say.
- Pyramus!
- That's Pyramus.
The lion with the
bloodstained veil in its mouth?
Frau von Stein, a bright star
at Duke Carl August's court,
has been much plagued
by the departure of her
famous poet friend to Italy a year ago.
Medea. She's killing her children.
Medea killing her children.
At first she's rather cool to her godchild.
Charlotte spends all winter
learning manners
with literary society,
music and feasts at the court.
When spring arrives she's had
many invitations, accepted most of them,
danced abundantly
and had many witty conversations.
But where and to
whom life is taking her:
She's less certain of this now
than on the day she arrived.
The tone of her letters changes.
Respect for courtly society turns to
mockery, reservedness to loneliness.
In spring 1788,
only a single Scottish captain remains,
who beleaguers her with his affections.
"Beloved, dearly missed Caroline,"
I must report to you the incident of
Frau von Werthausen's mistaken funeral.
Old Herr von Werthausen's young wife
was in good health at a party one evening,
when at noon next day, her spouse
was told of her sudden death.
The old man hurried home
and found his wife already in a coffin,
allegedly to ward off an epidemic.
He wept,
had her laid out in a closed coffin
and buried three days later.
But his sister had noticed
that a certain Marquis von Bernbach,
who'd got on so well with
Frau von Werthausen these past weeks,
had suddenly disappeared, just like
half the young woman's wardrobe.
When the couple's escape was
uncovered and the grave was opened,
they found, instead of her,
a life-sized doll.
Behind closed doors
this episode is considered admirable,
showing international flair.
On top of that it opens up
an unexpected wealth of ideas
of how to escape a tiresome marriage
in case of emergency.
"Tu comprends?"
Anyone there who knows the way?
Can anyone hear me?
I'm lost. Do you know
the way to the market square?
Go to the end of the block.
Turn left.
Take the dark alley
leading to the old church yard...
How can that be?
I came this way.
And now I'm here.
No, over there.
- Where?
- Over there.
No, next to it. There.
Can women read maps then?
Doesn't it take the strategic grasp
and creative will of a man?
Like those needed to wage war?
That's right.
You're mistaken, we're not here.
You're mistaken too,
or you wouldn't be lost.
True. I'll yield and give it a try.
If you're wrong,
I'll hold you responsible.
If you find the way back.
Milady requests Miss Goddaughter's
presence in the salon urgently.
Even though we'll spend the season
next door to a madhouse
because no other mansion with a garden
was for rent in this town,
that, my dear child,
is no reason to behave in such a way
that passers-by
mistake our house for said institution.
Which they will,
if a young lady of high rank
talks to them like some kitchen maid.
But most of all, Lollo,
never dally with a man at the back door
while another is waiting at the front.
Tell the Captain we will see him now.
Would there be a possibility
of taking out Frulein von Lengefeld
for a walk through the "Geholz" grove?
"Gehoelz", Captain.
- Gehoolz?
- Gehoelz.
SPRING 1788, RUDOLSTAD "Thanks, dear Lollo,
for the idea of feigning one's death"
to escape an unwanted marriage,
but it isn't that bad with Beulwitz.
At least he allows me the freedom
to visit you in Weimar soon.
I've been thinking a lot
about our secret oath, Lollo,
"that we swore amid the uproar of
the Schaffhausen Falls five years ago."
Caroline von Beulwitz,
ne von Lengefeld,
writes her sister how, in May 1783,
five years earlier
and only meant for Charlotte to hear,
she cried out
her life plan above the water.
Yes, she will marry
Friedrich von Beulwitz
to ensure financial security
for her mother and Charlotte,
but she plans to live an independent life
under the yoke of a forced marriage,
to organize festivities
and receive great poets and artists.
But most of all, her sister
must never leave her alone.
Swear it on the roaring water's spirit.
I swear!
On the roaring water's spirit, I swear!
"You alone know
I could only accept Beulwitz"
with you in my heart
as sister and companion.
I did it, but since then
my soul has left the paradise of love.
I miss you, Dearest.
I miss you every single day.
And I look forward to seeing you
and the Englishman in the red coat.
"Sorry. I know he is a Scotsman."
But when Caroline visited her sister
in Weimar, misfortune had already struck.
I've made some inquiries.
Mr. Heron left for Berlin yesterday.
He wants to go to India
to lead the heroic life of a soldier,
as he told us at some length
in his farewell letter.
- Is one to believe that?
- One should believe it.
Or one would make room
for other assumptions.
The fact is, Lollo,
the nice Scotsman stood you up.
He may have written you
many nice English verses,
and he wants
to visit you on his return, but...
Where are you going, my child?
My apologies.
Please allow me to withdraw, Aunt.
Give me a moment to myself, Line.
Charlotte still doesn't realize
her market value.
She shows no ambition to seem
alluring in society or in general.
It's trs sympathique
but not very promising.
Maybe one should encourage her?
She has so much to offer.
All right,
her conversational skills are poor.
Wit isn't her strong suit,
but the way she behaves,
she's selling herself short.
It's not at all what you think.
I'm not sad about the Captain.
- Then why?
- I'm just so ashamed.
Because Maman sent me here,
and all the clothes you bought me.
Your husband too, and I'm supposed
to find a well-situated husband.
Now I can't even hold
on to this English war-horse.
- Didn't you want him then?
- No.
No, for heaven's sake.
But I would have married him.
If you'd all persuaded me,
"Marry him, you won't find anyone better."
We certainly wouldn't have done that.
You should find someone you love.
Someone who makes you happy.
- I don't think I have the courage to love.
- Why not?
I'd only wish for a husband
who's a little like our father.
You baby.
Our father was a poor, ailing man.
He was paralyzed.
He was gentle and only spoke lovingly.
Of everything.
Of people, nature...
Not like these vipers at court
who judge everything
and weigh every word.
Haven't you met a single young man
here in Weimar whom you like?
On the day of her return home,
Caroline finds a two-week old letter
on her sister's desk
from a Herr Friedrich Schiller,
telling Charlotte that after
their first meeting at her window
he had often looked out for her there,
that he knew who she was
and asked her to signal
that they could meet again.
Without hesitation
Caroline writes him a reply.
"Herr Friedrich Schiller,
Weimar, Am Frauenplan."
Dear Herr Schiller,
you don't know me
but I found your note to my sister
Charlotte von Lengefeld on her desk
and took the liberty of reading it.
It strikes me that the two of you
got on well at once.
I worry a bit about my little sister.
"Could you look after her a little?"
Frau von Stein, I request permission
to take Frulein Lengefeld
out for an afternoon.
With a chaperone
and on your terms, of course.
"Don't tell her I wrote to you."
But, if you like, you can visit us
in Rudolstadt in the summer.
Our mother,
who lives with my husband and me,
would certainly be thrilled to meet
such a famous poet,
whose play 'The Robbers'
has made him rather notorious.
Rudolstadt is a day's journey
south of here.
A peaceful little Duchy.
"You could come and stir it up a bit."
It's a wood engraving, a relief print.
It allows more contrast
and bigger black areas.
Charlotte, look at this lettering
from France, the Didot typeface.
It's crystal clear.
Its clarity makes it easier to read.
This is how it looks in print.
Imagine if one day everyone could read,
understand and buy a book.
Afford one.
That one day
books might be affordable for everyone.
Ideas bound for all.
The idea alone
makes me giddy every time.
I think humanity will evolve through
knowledge and the sight of true beauty.
We, Charlotte, you and I,
will see a new world in our lifetime.
Your coat's torn. Here too.
Give it to me. I'll mend it.
You'll get it back next time.
- Madame wants to see you.
- What is it?
She's received a letter from Italy,
from Goethe.
"Herr von Goethe."
- When?
- This afternoon, while you were out.
He's not coming back.
He won't come back to me.
Get out. Get out!
Maybe such experiences
made Charlotte feel
that sacrifice and loss
prevail in the greatest of loves
and that an unhappy love adorns
the sufferer with an aura of beauty.
She doesn't always like her godmother
but admires her for the difficult path
she chose for her great friend Goethe.
Now she hears the music of tragedy.
It is the tragedy of love,
the tragedy of marriage
that seem to tell her,
"You were not made for big feelings like
these, Little Charlotte von Lengefeld."
SUMMER 1788, RUDOLSTAD When will he arrive?
Tomorrow afternoon.
If the coach is on time.
- Where will he stay?
- Lollo rented him a room in Volkstedt.
We'll see him coming from afar every day,
when he comes to visit us.
A lovely walk.
The worse off we are financially,
the more important
our reputation becomes.
Dearest, anything to add
on the subject of Schiller?
On account of his famous revolutionary
drama about the rebel "Robbers",
an undeserved reputation precedes him.
He's a young man,
driven by excessive ardor.
But no reason to worry.
He's a poet and a gentleman.
Just throw him into the Saale
twice a day to cool down.
And prevent him from turning
the big historico-political wheel,
because he won't stop talking.
But otherwise he's a most
well-behaved pet for your daughters.
What's the matter?
He may expect too much of us.
What if he gets bored?
Don't worry. We'll see what happens
when he gets here.
He's likely to send a message every
morning saying when we can expect him.
He'll want to work until noon.
So we'll expect him in the early afternoon
and watch him walking along the river.
Let's see how long it takes that person
to get from the bridge to here.
Starting now.
He's very sluggish.
Schiller walks differently.
All right, we'll deduct some time.
When we see him coming
we'll put some new books on the table.
Over there too.
Different ones every day.
If the weather's nice
we'll serve drinks in the garden.
Maman says to receive him
in the front house.
- Why?
- She's ashamed of her house.
Our place smells of my husband.
Look, now he'd be by the bridge.
You'd have plenty of time
to put on your wig.
- I never wear wigs.
- Or tweak your red cheeks.
Where'd he be now?
- By the bench.
- He could see us.
Get away from the window.
- He mustn't know that we're waiting.
- No.
Turn your back to him at the most.
We're glad, not desperate, to see him.
Women can't offer themselves
like sour milk, you know?
Forgive me, I mistook
you for someone else.
Don't look so disappointed, Herr Schiller.
Here she is.
But she's Lollo here, not Lotte.
- You're one day early.
- I know.
Don't be so stern.
Thank you.
And the room in Volkstedt?
Is it good?
Even though I was one day early.
Pleasant people. I already had coffee.
Incredible that I mixed up the dates.
Yes, incredible.
We must introduce you
to our mother now.
Especially the color accuracy is great.
This will be the first volume
of the deceased Herr von Lengefeld's
silvicultural writings.
The advance copy has been printed.
We just corrected the proof
and checked it against
the original manuscripts.
This is your father's handwriting?
Very expressive.
My husband was paralyzed
on one side due to a stroke.
After that he had to get used to
writing with his left hand.
Hence the expressiveness.
You can't read the scrawl at times.
Dearest, this matter
is for close family only. S'il vous plat.
You live in the front house, Madame?
No. But I receive guests
in my son-in-law's quarters.
He is away. In Berlin.
Since my husband's death,
more than ten years ago,
we've accepted compromises
in our lifestyle.
Herr von Beulwitz is wealthy?
From a well-to-do house.
He now holds a good position
as chamberlain with Prince Schwarzburg.
He's about to become
a privy legation councillor.
And yes,
as you may suspect, Herr Schiller,
one can't say his superb prospects were
an obstacle to a union with my daughter.
All right, he's most sympathetic,
but he has no taste and no money.
He looks like a beggar.
Lollo, I didn't send you to the Weimar
court to find yourself a poor poet.
- Follow your sister's example.
- No, don't.
The man's a pauper.
Maybe he thinks
he stands to gain something here.
Did you purposely let him
think that, Charlotte?
I don't need to lie
to be a good catch, Maman.
Everyone knows
we don't exactly eat off gold plates.
Herr Schiller's sympathy that
I'm allowed to experience isn't calculated.
He is a great poet.
I'm proud he's staying with us.
And I consider him a friend.
Forgive me, my dear.
I forgot how fresh
the wound in your soul is.
- Maman, the man speaks French.
- Yes, I speak French.
Because French
is the language of the great...
"Bring light into the world,"
the new age tells us.
The noblest achievement
of the Enlightenment
is a free treatment of nature
and its sources of life.
Your husband, as the
Prince's forest manager,
was a beacon
of progress in this respect.
He saw the blessings of nature
through cleansed eyes.
Count von Lengefeld's fame
extends even to the King of Prussia.
My husband wasn't a count.
And there's no need for flattery.
I want to see my daughter's future
in bright colors, Herr Schiller.
Yes, that's understandable.
When my husband died
Charlotte asked me every single day,
she was eight at the time,
"Maman, are we poor now?"
I said, "Can't you differentiate between
a common man's poverty and ours?"
We're poor when we only have one
of our twelve 26-piece dinner sets left.
We are poor
when we have to live in a house
"where we each have only one
room and just three servants."
That's what I told her.
And now?
What are we left with?
The rear house.
Herr Schiller, my daughters deserve
a life without worries.
He's there.
I'll never get there.
He's on the way back.
When I left Frau von Stein in Weimar,
his last letter came from Meran.
"Every afternoon the sisters pick me up
at a bridge over the Saale outside town"
and lead me to their home
for the rest of the day and evening,
looking like two river goddesses
at the gates of some paradise
which will open up to me one day too.
We gave ourselves secret names,
noms de guerre, as the French say.
Charlotte was 'Wisdom',
Caroline 'Ardor'.
Sorry, Wilhelm, I know I promised you a
classic tragedy and half a dozen poems
if you found me a woman
with a 12, 000-taler dowry soon,
but now I'm happy and confused.
The sisters have no money either.
Still, the summer and this river...
Will you forgive me
if I return without any masterpieces
"but with two flames in my heart?"
- Help, help!
- She's drowning.
- Help!
- My God, she's drowning.
- Where?
- Help!
She's drowning.
- Can he swim?
- Help.
Can you swim?
Come on.
Come here. Come to me!
- Schiller!
- Ida!
The child!
I'll hold you.
- This way.
- Take the child!
- Get her.
- Take her hand.
Fritz, I'm over here.
I've got you.
Hang on.
Ida Marie.
We'll take you home, both of us.
You have to take your clothes off.
- I'm all right.
- You have to get warm.
Don't be foolish,
you'll catch your death.
Keep him warm.
"II", meaning Schiller,
"acknowledges the benevolent
performance of 'Triangle'", which is you.
"And 'Circle'", that's you.
Right. "On the 27th of last month."
Which means yesterday. All dates
are plus one month minus two days.
Today's the 30th.
He acknowledges
our benevolent performance.
- Again the two slashes.
- Meaning him.
"...hopes for a repeat performance."
But the artists have postponed the tour,
"so it seems
a renewed staging will have to wait."
Circles, triangles...
It's a code.
We need several letters to decipher it.
No problem. They receive two a day.
I'll try and memorize the symbols
until the next letter arrives.
Your daughters
may have modified the code by then.
What's all this nonsense?
Has everyone gone mad?
The heat, Madame. Careful.
- Nonsense.
- They mustn't notice.
"Dear II,
the performance
was postponed at the time..."
Meaning today.
"...because on said date last month"
the troops returned to the barracks.
The performers..."
Insert a circle and a triangle.
Meaning the two of us.
"...were forced to find another location
for a renewed staging."
And here we are.
Now the three of them
will become one,
observing the three stages of approach
as described by Madame de Scudry.
Are you strong enough
to put up with both of us?
Are we annoying you?
We've just arrived.
How can we be annoying him?
First: irony.
Second: Recognition of true feelings.
Third: irredeemable honesty.
The suspect has a severe chill
after saving someone's life.
This is an opportune moment.
Corporal, spread out.
The accused had better pray to God
that we find nothing
but virtuous literary works in your cell
and no perfumed love letters.
"The Revolt of the Netherlands".
Will you read to us from this
once you're back in our garden?
It's suffocating in here.
Why not open a window?
What's this?
Madame von Kalb?
Isn't she married?
Am I mistaken?
- She is married.
- To Herr von Kalb?
I see.
"Esteemed young Master..."
Lollo, here, you read this one.
No indiscretions at first glance.
Something about literature.
How about yours?
Let's check the next one.
Is this right?
Madame von Kalb cites a letter
that you, Herr Schiller,
allegedly wrote to your friend Krner.
She quotes the following:
"It's a dutiful wife you want..."
And then, "No passion
must be involved in an eternal union."
Krner is a good fellow.
He keeps accusing me of getting lazy.
I wanted to reassure him.
How come Frau von Kalb
knows about it?
She was present
when I wrote to Krner.
- Present?
- She teased me about it.
What's the nature of your relationship
with Frau von Kalb?
Accused? Quick!
- Her husband regards me highly.
- For cheating on him with his wife?
He likes to see his wife
in inspiring company.
That's true.
At court they say Herr von Kalb approves
of his wife's friendship with Schiller.
Tacit approval at court
makes this indelicacy no better.
I'm not asking for acquittal.
And I don't care about the Weimar court.
It isn't my world.
Irony, coquetry,
I'm too plain for all that.
Not plain.
You are honest. That's not the same.
Lollo, I can hardly imagine
you like the rarefied air of Weimar,
even if we met there.
Isn't everything that truly affects
our soul, nature and naturalness,
like a beautiful melody?
Isn't it financial need that drives us
into the world of false notes?
The lies,
the unnatural play-acting at court?
We suffocate in that society.
Soon we no longer know
what we feel or what we want.
He's showing remorse.
A fellow like me
gets from life what he least expected.
I love you both.
Caroline, Charlotte.
I can't imagine leaving your side.
Forgive me.
Come in.
Good afternoon.
We have to talk.
Come on. Right away.
You stay here. We'll talk later.
Come in now, Caroline.
The man who lights his stairs so
sparingly that one breaks one's bones
also felt inclined to write me a letter.
Stop, that hurts.
What's going on?
What's happened?
- Madame has fallen?
- Yes. But I don't need you. Out. Out!
He's heard in Berlin,
God knows if it's true,
but never mind, that Herr Schiller
is a guest in our house
and also that the mood is joyous
while he's away.
He demands that I remind you
to consider both your reputations
and your marriage.
- Why not write to me?
- Speak French, Caroline!
I don't want every servant
repeating this conversation.
Close the window.
The children's games you play.
Letters in a secret language.
The absurd veiled performance two days
ago at Monsieur Schiller's in Volkstedt.
The public embarrassment
with the child at the river last week
that every idiot in Rudolstadt
heard about, even the Prince's family.
What else could we have done?
Let the child drown?
- Monsieur Schiller...
- Monsieur Schiller!
This Monsieur Schiller is...
Caroline, your marriage with
Friedrich von Beulwitz saved us.
We'll never forget that, your sister and I.
I know it was hard on you.
It wasn't a marriage for love
but out of financial need.
As a young girl I was lucky.
I was allowed
to marry your father for love.
I don't know anything about money.
It is said there are good marriages
based on money,
better than some based on love.
Not in your case, unfortunately.
Your sister and I are
eternally indebted to you.
No, I...
We'd scrub your salon
on bare knees if you like!
We owe it to you.
But don't jeopardize your marriage.
We'd have to go begging,
all three of us.
I know you're unhappy in this union.
Your husband is an evil elephant.
He knows nothing about women.
On top of that
he wants a dozen children,
but only because he won't come
into his father's inheritance otherwise.
Yes and no.
It's not just that,
he keeps pestering me.
But a divorce,
if that's what you have in mind,
is out of the question.
Your sister was
so badly humiliated in Weimar.
Don't hurt her again.
Keep away from this Schiller.
It's important when you love
that there are obstacles to be overcome.
The two sisters and the young man
were like three sides of a triangle.
They keep sending coded letters
and become
more like conspirators from day to day.
To them, the absent Herr von Beulwitz
is like an invisible enemy
who will show up soon.
Schiller would gladly use both hands
when writing each sister twice a day.
He's keen on preventing any kind
of competition between them,
so he sends them the same lines.
He writes that
they've chosen an earthling
whose health is heavily compromised
every spring and autumn.
That he's now medically banned from
the water, the river goddesses' element.
He can't swim anyway, as they'd seen.
And that he'd be fine again in two days
expecting them at a conspiratorial place.
Charlotte, remember the
wonderful Didot typeface in Weimar?
Look at these clumsy German letters.
French printing
is so much more advanced.
We're still at the level
of the Thirty Years' War.
There's news.
The two sisters and their mother
stand to inherit a substantial sum
from a deceased
very wealthy merchant from Batavia.
A man who hadn't only been
a very successful tradesman
but also an eminent authority
on the study of jungle apes.
Caroline and Charlotte immediately
make plans for the expected money,
the objective of which is a happy life
with Schiller as a threesome.
One day I'll write a book too.
About the love we three shared.
I'll call it, "Under the Waterfall".
Lollo, we must lay down a plan.
We'll let Maman
have the Batavia inheritance
on condition that she use it
to set up a new household.
Weimar would be best.
She always wanted to go there.
- By herself?
- Maybe with Knebel.
She doesn't want him.
But only because he...
What's going on in there now?
What is this?
That will change his mind.
As long as she moves
out of the rear house.
You'll move in with me
and Schiller can visit us anytime.
And my position with Frau von Stein?
Goethe could come back any day.
I'm moved and touched like never before.
I love him. Just like you do.
Hold me. Never let me go.
I hate Weimar.
How will we explain our get-togethers?
Your husband won't allow
a free thinker or male competition.
We have to convince Beulwitz
he is no competition.
And that Schiller
has chosen between us.
I'll do anything for you.
You two would marry
to save the love we three share.
Will Maman permit it?
That's interesting, but...
- It pricks.
- Yes, but it smells good.
Madame, compose yourself.
This is where we grew up.
When my father died we had to sell it.
A few years back the new owner
went bankrupt and moved away.
In the spring the house burnt down.
We'd heard about it,
but hadn't seen the house yet.
Maman, with the Batavian inheritance
you could buy it and rebuild it.
- And who would live here?
- You.
Me? By myself?
Over there.
Here. Come here.
That's no good.
It's full of brambles.
Go back. We'll go back there.
Here's good.
I'm really fond of Knebel.
But he has so few feelings.
Remind me of that if I consider letting
him into my bed after 10 glasses of port.
Madame, forgive me,
but he's much too old for you.
My husband was much older than me too.
But he's said to have been a great man.
Clever and funny.
That's where the spinet was.
Papa's portrait was here.
Our room is upstairs.
Wasn't the dining table here?
Schiller, do you think the ladies would
prefer to sit facing away from the house?
Yes, definitely facing away.
I know what you're planning.
You want to get rid of me
and the inheritance.
It's what you call them here.
- Motschekiebchen.
- Ladybird.
- Motschekiebchen.
- Ladybird.
When the sky was this color my mother
used to say, "The Swedes are coming."
"The Swedes are coming".
That's interesting.
That's what stuck with people.
The Swedes and their raids
that started out with heavy blazes.
What a time, the Thirty Years' War.
I want to write about it after
"The Revolt of the Netherlands".
But I've been so lazy,
it's not nearly finished.
You weren't lazy,
you were distracted.
And he was ill.
So ill that he had to send
each of you two notes a day.
So tell me, Schiller,
when will you enlighten us
about the meaning of two slashes,
a triangle and a circle?
Names? People we know?
We're anxiously awaiting the solution.
Knebel, we're not court crawlers who
need to scheme and play hide-and-seek.
In our family
all emotions are out in the open.
You just have to learn
to see and feel them.
We're enjoying
a moment at our old home.
However sad, it is also uplifting to be
close to our childhood and our father.
Be so kind as not to spoil it.
Oh, how well I feel in the evening
In the evening
- When bells ring for repose
- Oh, how well I feel in the evening
Up there was our playroom.
We used to have a nanny.
Maman, what was her name?
- Friederike.
- Right.
We locked her in a closet
and forgot about her.
Did you have a happy home, Schiller?
It was small.
It didn't leave you much time
to wonder about being happy.
Looking back,
I feel it was a good place.
Strange. Looking back,
everything seems good.
It seems man has a great talent
for lying to himself.
I'm sometimes overcome by a desire
to go back to Wrttemberg.
The Duke's ban against me
has lasted for so long now.
How long exactly?
I had to flee
from my homeland six years ago.
I apologize for asking that.
How insensitive of me.
There's an unrest in the air.
Yes, the summer's taking
its leave and calling to us,
"Keep me in good memory."
Charlotte von Lengefeld?
A message for you from Milady.
I'm to join Frau von Stein
in Kochberg at once.
Goethe's back
and has announced himself for tomorrow.
Goethe's back?
- Insist that she returns late August.
- What about the hats?
- Late summer is the best season.
- Have you got the hats and the red case?
Did you pack the present
for Madame von Stein?
Did you pack it?
And the festive dresses,
Charlotte's festive dresses...
- Schwenke, are you sure?
- Yes, Madame, I'm sure.
Forgive me.
- Did you pack them?
- Yes, I packed the hats, Madame.
Trust me, it will all turn out
as we discussed.
- Madame.
- No wonder one forgets things...
- Our Father who art in Heaven...
- Say hello to your husband.
- When will he arrive?
- Tomorrow afternoon.
When ready,
put out the candles and go to bed.
Very well, Madame.
You too. Good night.
Go to sleep, Wilhelm.
I won't be needing you.
And take the light with you.
Good night.
- Shall I go home?
- It's much too late for that.
Please read what I laid out
on the table for you.
It's the start of a novelette of mine.
I'd like your honest opinion.
To boost your honesty,
I'll make us some punch.
It's my mother's recipe,
who had it from her mother and so on.
Whoever drinks it
speaks the truth without fail, we say.
Originally my mother only wanted
to reveal the recipe in her will.
But she blabbed during an afternoon nap.
I wrote it down.
There's nothing special in it,
it's all a matter of quantity.
What will you do with the secret?
- Leave it to your children?
- I won't have any children, I sense it.
But if you were to have any, Fritz,
I'd leave the recipe to them.
- If they're nice children.
- Children...
Never thought about them.
I'd like to call you Fritz.
My husband's name is Friedrich,
and tonight I don't want to say his name.
Your judgment now. So?
Simply written, yet deep.
My only complaints are minor details
that I scribbled on this note.
You'll write magnificent prose, Caroline.
Your male colleagues will be amazed.
I'm telling the truth.
I must prevent this praise
from going to my head.
Go to Charlotte in Weimar.
Offer to marry her. You'll be happy.
What will become of our triangle?
I told Lollo I won't be losing a sister
but gaining a brother.
What about us?
I won't relinquish you.
And in thanks for your praise,
I can offer you a deepening
of our friendship tonight.
I won't undress.
I'm expecting my husband any moment.
If he says he'll be here in the afternoon,
he arrives in the morning.
It's always like that.
Et voil. Yes?
Quick, Madame. Your mother met your
husband at a coach stand this morning.
She sent me ahead in secret.
- Does he suspect anything?
- Your mother said he looked opaque.
Where did she pick up that word?
Look. Look...
That's us.
- Am I hurting you?
- No, no.
It's all very enjoyable.
Leave it, it'll pass.
Love of my life,
now leave me so you can return.
- Where's my wife?
- Asleep.
Stay, I'll go to her.
She sleeps in the rear house
in her sister's room.
Does she miss Charlotte that much?
"Last night, or rather this morning,
things were beyond my control,"
and this evening I may be invited
to a late dinner by Rengmann,
the doctor who's been treating me here,
"but later on
I will try to steal away to you."
"No, I implore you, stay away from
our house today and the next few days."
But you're invited to come
next Sunday, because then,
if I read all the signs correctly,
you will meet a certain man
"who has been avoiding you until now."
- I think he just said "world".
- No, he said "width".
You'd need a lip reader.
Schiller wears his frock
as if he'd found it on a compost heap.
- Yet it wasn't cheap.
- But second-hand.
Should I have bought him a new one?
Poets. However you dress them,
they still look like beggars.
Show a little generosity.
After all, they are geniuses.
The Prince!
Those two are among
the most important people of our age.
When the two great poets first meet,
a humid, late-summer sun
shines on the Saale.
Schiller freezes nonetheless,
and Goethe talks verbosely to overcome
the awkwardness between them.
The younger one feels as if
he's standing before a craggy rock-face.
Charlotte, who'd come to Rudolstadt
with Frau von Stein for a day,
leaves her sister saying,
"That wasn't his happiest day.
In future we must protect him
and support him when he is lonely."
Caroline agrees.
That same evening Goethe leaves for
Weimar with Knebel and Madame Stein,
citing important business.
It leaves a tone in the air
that instills in Schiller an impression
of rejection and non-recognition.
"The presumptuousness
of the Inquisition verdicts"
could only be surpassed
by the inhumanity of their enforcement.
By joining the risible and the frightful,
they drown pity in mockery and contempt.
With pomp the criminal
was led to his place of execution,
a red banner leading the way.
The ringing of all bells
accompanied the procession.
First came a priest in his chasuble,
followed by the sinner in a yellow
garment decorated with black devils.
On his head a paper hat.
Facing away from the condemned:
The image of Christ on the cross.
He could no longer expect salvation.
His mortal flesh belonged to the fire,
his immortal soul to the flames of Hell.
A gag blocked his mouth.
You'd have thought it was a corpse
being led to its grave,
"yet it was a living man whose torments
were to gruesomely entertain the people."
Forgive me, I'll break off here.
Will you amuse us now with details
of an execution during the Inquisition?
No, I beg your pardon.
I'm deeply impressed.
Your language has clarity and force.
Where can the book be ordered?
Beg your pardon.
The book comes out
in Weimar in the autumn.
Why aren't you teaching in Jena?
Or Berlin?
No one describes history
in German like you do.
At least I haven't read anything like it.
So literally true.
I actually applied in Jena.
This book, or rather the research for it,
was the basis for my play "Don Carlos".
His art even scares our Weimar Giant.
That's why he left here in such a hurry.
My dear Herr Wolzogen,
there's no need to promote your friend.
He has put me under his spell.
May I excuse myself?
I'm having trouble speaking today.
I don't want to be a burden to you.
Well, he has no manners.
- Am I that boring?
- No. The rest of us are boring.
You showed him your admiration.
Thank you.
But I'm enthralled by his writing.
I'll see if his toothache hasn't caused
our friend to fall down the stairs.
"Propose to 'Triangle' in Weimar.
Don't forget.
Eternallygrateful, 'Circle. '"
Having returned
to his poet's life in Weimar,
Schiller is reproached
by his worried friends,
especially the loyal Krner.
I advise you not to end your relationship
with Madame von Kalb.
I want to stand on my own two feet.
And stop shouting.
What you need
is free time without worries.
That's exactly what von Kalb gave you.
It's obvious I can't let any decision
on how to behave depend on advice.
You never met the sisters.
All bitterness in my life has one cause:
My loneliness.
I thought I was not suited to love.
But this summer I started to doubt
this unsuitability for the first time.
It made me happy.
Come here.
That's why I ask you alone
and before God
if you have even the slightest inclination
to become my wife.
What is it?
Do you love me?
Didn't I say so?
Charlotte, yes, it's the truth.
But does love torment you so?
- It's the inheritance from Batavia.
- What about it?
It prevents me
from showing you my love.
I constantly hear new plans
being made with it.
The poor beggar within me
feels like a legacy hunter.
My love for you
is unhesitating and true.
You can rely on me like a tree
that looks strong and verdant every day.
For you.
Never think that you hurt me.
Be free with me.
Be with me the way you will.
My Charlotte. There it is again:
The modesty and the wisdom.
- With ourselves and God as witnesses...
- Yes?
We are engaged.
It is our secret. And I'll make sure
we get my mother's approval.
I will tell no one.
Not even a friend.
But one person must know.
"Dearest Line. We were all alone."
I'd made sure
no servant could surprise us.
Madame was still in Kochberg,
so no one overheard our secret.
You, dearest Line,
are the only one who knows.
I'm proud to tell you
we didn't make fools of ourselves.
But a kneeling man is a strange sight.
"I had to join him
so he didn't look silly."
"I'm so happy. I will come soon,
then we three can celebrate in secret.
But keep it quiet for now so nothing
gets out and no tongues can wag."
"Do you want to speak to Maman
about our marriage?
When will you speak to Maman?"
"I haven't been able to talk to her
since her return from Weimar."
Her eyes hurt,
and she was in a foul mood.
She wanted to go away with Knebel,
but the roads were waterlogged
and no coaches were running.
"She was peeved."
"Fritz and I see each other every day.
We're very loving to each other.
When will you speak to Maman?
When are you coming?"
"Lollo, our oath still holds
that we share everything, doesn't it?
- I share with you, and you with me?"
- "That was our oath by the Rhine Falls."
"But will it hold? Will it hold, Lollo?"
"Do you think Fritz
will ever be acceptable to Maman?
His imminent professorship in Jena
is now being openly discussed here.
"Will this little financial security
make him eligible to Maman?"
"I wouldn't tell her yet.
He has no official appointment in Jena."
And you know the Batavia inheritance
will cost her more in lawyers' fees
than it will bring her.
What a mess.
"Tell me, Fritz,
what happened between us?"
There is something, I can feel it.
I cannot endure gathering clouds.
"Between us there must be blue skies."
"Dear Caroline,
I'm happy about Charlotte,"
but I long to see, speak
and laugh with you again soon.
face Mecca when they pray.
I will buy a new desk so I can face
Rudolstadt, seat of my faith and prophet.
But as far as next summer is concerned,
"should I go to Jena as a professor,
I will lose all control of my time."
"Then I will come to you.
God willing, to both of you,
and I'll throw myself in your arms."
Would you like a child next summer?
"You never wrote back, Line."
Do you think Schiller
will be acceptable to Maman?
It is clear now that he'll go to Jena.
He wrote to you about it.
Will this little financial security
make him eligible to Maman?
No one knows of our engagement,
is that right?
"Answer me.
Dearest, answer me."
"I can't tell Maman now.
Her eye complaint is getting worse.
Despite the autumn sun,
her blinds remain shut.
And with Knebel away, she's upset.
I can't ask her now.
"I fear I'm pregnant by Beulwitz.
It's driving me insane."
Dear Charlotte,
what are you thinking about?
The first time
Schiller passed by my window.
- When the trees were still green.
- Yes.
And from behind you could see
how shabby his coat was.
We are secretly engaged.
- Since when?
- September.
When you were in Kochberg
and I went back ahead of you,
we met in the salon
and pledged our love.
I will marry him.
My God.
This beggar of a man and you.
You don't want it kept a secret anymore?
I do.
Then why tell me about it?
When you go home now,
will you see him there?
Will he come?
No. I'll see him in Jena
when he introduces himself.
I see.
He's finally getting the professorship.
So when will he ask Dear Mother
for your hand in marriage?
My sister was supposed
to prepare the way, but...
But apparently the whole thing
is somewhat up in the air, right?
And your sister
seems a little changeable.
You spoke of her mood swings.
I love my sister. I admire...
And Monsieur?
Schiller himself?
I think you're right, Lollo.
No more secrets.
Nail him down in public.
Or he'll leave you in the lurch,
this Schiller.
Great minds drain one's soul.
Dear child, the man's a commoner
and doesn't have a penny.
That's what Maman says,
but what's the meaning of love?
The meaning of love?
For an artist? A male mistress?
As far as I know, there are other
ladies in town who lay claim to Schiller
and will make this claim in public.
Wasn't their touch gentle enough?
Shall I cut them off?
- Don't hurt yourself. I can't stand it.
- But it's all over. All these years.
No one can take away our years together.
It's a treasure we can draw on.
Why didn't you tell me you got engaged
so I'd have known before all the others?
- It's humiliating.
- It was a secret.
A secret?
- Is that a joke?
- In Weimar it is, apparently.
Go on humiliating me, in whatever way.
I'll pay you a life annuity for it.
My husband will forget about
his little jealousies and flatteries.
All our years together.
It mustn't be finished!
First in Mannheim, now here.
You came here for me,
remember that.
I came here after I'd been exiled
because I didn't know where to go.
This is no good. Your marriage,
my dependence, it can't go on.
It can!
Stay with me for another year.
After that I'll kill myself.
I'll make that promise.
You'll be free and get my inheritance.
You can't be serious.
We'll put it in writing.
Only remember what the poet says,
"'I'm a human being too, ' says the dust.
'I'm a spirit too, ' says the universe."
"I warn you emphatically
of Schiller's dark side."
He is unfaithful.
He visits houses of ill repute.
He takes other people's money
withoutgiving thanks.
He wears the clothes of his lover's
husband outdoors and pawns them off.
I'm not saying he steals them.
Next to his genius that can move the soul,
and next to his vulnerability
"there is a fundamental wantonness
about him that should repel one."
Your hands are freezing.
Why don't you come up?
There's a terrible draft here.
No, I can't come up to your room.
That would be compromising.
I've received a letter.
"A friend".
I will see to this. Immediately.
"I warn you emphatically
of Schiller's dark side."
He is unfaithful.
He visits houses of ill repute.
He takes other people's money
without giving thanks.
He wears the clothes
of his lover's husband.
I'm not saying he steals them.
Next to his genius that can move the soul,
and next to his vulnerability
"there is a fundamental wantonness
about him that should repel one."
Did you write this?
Your intuition and knowledge of my
style of writing should tell you I didn't.
"Wantonness" is a word I wouldn't use.
I'd have to call myself that.
Anyway, during our affair,
I violated every possible moral norm,
emotional and physical.
So it's idiotic to put moral judgments
like "wantonness" into my mouth.
But I must admit that the writer
contrived this affair against me well.
You want to believe I wrote the letter
so you can break off our friendship.
You have to believe it
to be able to reorganize your life.
Even though you will destroy mine.
I want you to take your letters back.
And I know whom I must thank
for my professorship in Jena.
You overestimate my influence.
Many others were involved.
the governor of Erfurt and Mainz.
You know him from the past.
But also the Privy Councillor himself,
whom you impressed in Rudolstadt,
and last but not least, the Duke.
Your good deed seals my final step
towards an independent life
as an academic and author.
I owe you eternal gratitude.
"Line, I was shocked at myself."
How well I could perform
such a base drama.
I keep thinking I did it for you too.
"I feel dirty.
I will tell you everything."
And I'm not pregnant, thank God.
"So after all the conversations
and meetings here in Jena,"
I can say no more and no less
than that I will assume my professorship
in history proudly and humbly next year.
My first lecture has been going through
my mind since 11 o'clock this morning.
And I keep thinking about
our evening at the Lengefeld house
"when you said, seeing the twilight,
'The Swedes are coming.'"
I said that.
No, you're right, you said it.
- What are you grinning at?
- I was grinning?
- You've been grinning all day.
- Forgive me, I will stop at once.
"Give my best regards
to your dearest mother."
I imagine her sitting in the salon
wearing dark glasses
that protect her from the winter light,
listening to you reading the letter.
And when she hears this,
I would ask her to nod her head just once.
She'll know why and what
she's giving her blessing to, am I right?
"Then everything will be all right,
my Wisdom Lollo."
Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller,
do you take
Charlotte Luise Antoinette von Lengefeld
to be your wedded wife,
to have and to hold from this day forward
until death do you part?
Then answer,
"I do, so help me God."
I do. So help me God.
Charlotte Luise Antoinette von Lengefeld,
do you take
Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller
to be your wedded husband,
to have and to hold from this day forward
until death do you part?
I do.
I do. So help me God.
What God has joined together,
let not man separate.
In as much as
Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller
and Charlotte Luise
Antoinette von Lengefeld
have consented to live forever
together in wedlock
and have witnessed the same
before this company,
I pronounce that they
are husband and wife.
In the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Do the middle part again.
- How much sleep last night?
- Five hours.
- That's too little.
- But deep.
That's true. I could barely wake him.
A typical symptom:
A deep sleep before dawn.
Open your mouth.
Stick your tongue out.
You're not yet fit, man.
- I can't remember ever having been fit.
- Breathe in and out again.
So have it changed.
Pull your trousers down.
Let's go in here. Are you coming?
- Not back there?
- Come on.
- No ladies under 50 years of age.
- You wish.
The ladies do realize that women
are banned from all university buildings?
What? Do you want
to introduce that here too?
This is a reputable guesthouse.
Only married couples may live here.
- The man's naked.
- I am.
Be warned: We are thoroughly prepared
for the ban on women during the lecture.
Schiller, did you know you were declared
dead last week in a Berlin paper?
That's what made him fit again.
"Jena. The darling of all German Muses,
Privy Councillor Schiller, died here."
I was a little piqued.
The doctor went to so much trouble.
Thank you.
Thank you for saving our master.
Dear Sister-in-law,
as a result a Danish poets' society
wants to grant me a yearly annuity.
The letter's on the table.
- An annuity? How much?
- Can't remember.
But it's all that matters.
Now please leave us alone.
You go ahead. There's an hour left.
Yes, go on.
I won't flee, I promise.
- Go sit at the front.
- Get well soon, all right?
Come on.
I escaped from Beulwitz.
He wanted to lock me
in the tower in Rudolstadt,
but I escaped at the last moment.
My compliments.
What are you looking for?
Schiller's inaugural lecture, "What is
universal history and why study it?"
It's been relocated. Second floor.
There's another lecture hall.
What is universal history
and why study it?
It is a joy and an honor
to explore a field with you
that offers the thinking observer
many educational topics,
the active man of the world
wonderful examples,
the philosopher important concepts,
and everyone rich sources
of the noblest pleasures.
The entire field of general history
and the sight
of so many splendid young men
whose noble thirst for knowledge
assembled them here,
while in their midst many a genius
for the coming era is present,
make my duty a pleasure.
Hear, hear!
It is a great gift I bring you.
Is there a greater gift than the truth?
The field of history is
fertile and extensive.
Its sphere contains
all of the moral world.
History speaks to man incessantly...
"The Swedes are coming."
Generations of common people
have greeted the dusk this way
when it spread its beautiful red ribbon
across the horizon.
"The Swedes are coming."
An image of horror.
Like a furrow, the horror of history,
in this case the Thirty Years' War,
is seared into man's memory, dreams
and language, wittingly and unwittingly.
But all preceding ages sought
to bring about our more human age
without knowing it
or without achieving it.
Ours are the treasures that mind
and genius, reason and experience
have finally brought
forth after all this time.
Only history will teach you
to appreciate these values.
Habit and possession can easily
rob us of our gratitude for them.
Precious values, stained
with the blood of the best and noblest,
that had to be won
by the toil of so many generations.
However diverse the situations
that await you in civil society,
every act of service
opens a path to immortality.
To true immortality, I mean,
where the deed lives on,
even if the name
of its author stays behind.
Forgive me.
Come on,
put your hat back on, old man.
Lollo, come and dance with us.
Why aren't you dancing?
Do you know
what I just told my husband?
"A couple as happy as you two
is a rare sight."
Thank you.
On 14 July 1789,
1, 000 km away from Thuringia, in Paris,
the Bastille was stormed.
Humankind's heritage,
the desire for truth, morality and freedom
that Schiller spoke about,
began a new, heroic chapter this day.
But to do this, the old world order
had to be executed first.
Skirt. My skirt.
Up you go.
- Oh no, my hat!
- Here's mine.
Here's mine.
Thank you, men.
One of us sneaks in to him.
One of us goes to him, he won't notice.
And tomorrow we'll tell him
who spent the night with him.
What's wrong?
We've both been expecting you.
Each in his own way.
I wanted to be a bridge between you.
We live in the same quarters,
but not as man and wife.
We live like sister and brother.
I could never have received
the man you love so much.
You've done so much
for Maman and me.
For you, I'd be willing
to live my life in the shadows.
But don't you want him? With you?
Why not, I thought you...
Thank you.
I'll follow you tomorrow evening
by stagecoach.
Yes, you do that.
"We won't see each other
for quite a while, dearest sister."
Our father's ring that Mother left me
is now yours.
You're the best person in the world.
But you must find
your own way together.
I will no longer be in your way.
The cruel pact we made
is null and void, Lollo.
I've been shortsighted, selfish
and ignorant. Forgive me if you can.
"Love always, Caroline."
Line, stay with me!
Let's suppose it was like this:
On a dusty summer's day in 1793,
Schiller meets his sister-in-law Caroline
again for the first time.
Come, I'll show you
how a matrix is made.
While printing developments
are being explained to him,
in which the page layouts are fired
in an oven, using plaster matrices
that can then be stored, allowing
countless copies to be made anytime...
The pamphlets that
spurred on the Paris revolution.
As the printer drones on,
Schiller hears her voice over the noise
of the presses for a fleeting moment,
but initially thinks he's hallucinating.
Thousands and thousands of copies
that inspired the revolution in Paris.
It'd never have taken place
but for the invention of the stereotype.
But when he actually sees her,
his heart skips a beat.
Herr Cotta has an instinct for it.
I'll take you to him.
This is Herr Seeliger.
He was announced.
For the first time ever, he's glad
he must stay incognito in Wrttemberg,
due to the ban
the Duke imposed years before,
because no one
must see his emotions at this moment.
How is it being home again?
Familiar again after four weeks.
It's good you're back.
Such wonderful cloth. Where is it from?
From my dear wife.
Chinese silk, she says.
It's my incognito.
She stitched F.S. inside.
- What's your wife's condition?
- The heat bothers her.
She's gone seven months.
She's fine, the doctor says.
I trust him.
He delivered my younger sisters too.
We came to Ludwigsburg to see him.
I beg your pardon, Cotta,
we just dropped in, we didn't know...
Who was that man?
You're not serious? Dalberg.
Wasn't he your benefactor
in Mannheim and Weimar?
- God, I have to apologize right away.
- Stay. He didn't recognize you either.
What you bring me is tremendous.
They all did as you asked
and wrote articles for our journal.
and Goethe.
I know, I'm really pleased too.
A great start to our journal "Die Horen".
It'll cause a sensation.
Germany's future.
They all take part
because they feel humanity's soul
is being enslaved by the current uproar.
Only the pursuit of beauty can free us.
There's no political discourse here,
only aesthetics and history,
art and philosophy.
Just the way it should be.
Forgive me for interrupting again.
Herr Dalberg,
sorry for not recognizing you.
Herr Schiller, you here?
My dear Schiller.
- How long will you stay in Tbingen?
- Just one night.
I'm in haste, may I cut in?
- Certainly.
- Thank you.
Cotta, I intend to let you
have some of the pieces I've revised.
What are you reading?
Don't you recognize me, Line?
How should I recognize you?
You don't make it easy, no greeting...
I have to disguise myself here.
The Duke renewed my ban
a year ago, as you know.
The Duke is gravely ill.
I didn't know you were in Wrttemberg.
Charlotte never said.
She doesn't know.
Nor does Maman.
The Duke is so ill, he'll have forgotten
the ban and what you look like.
I doubt that.
He'll hate me until his last breath.
Don't take yourself so seriously.
The world turns, even without you.
So we meet again:
Me in exile
and you returned home.
How's your husband?
Beulwitz? He wants to get rid of me.
No, I want to get rid of him.
But I can't find anyone who'll have me.
We support each other.
He is grateful for my company.
For now.
What did you ask me?
- I asked you what you're reading.
- "Cllie" by Madeleine de Scudry.
- Do you know it?
- No.
I was never interested
in courtly women's literature.
It contains a map of
"The Kingdom of Love".
Along the river that flows into the
Sea of Dangers, there are villages.
They have names like,
"Love Letter",
"Impatience", "Mutual Pleasures",
"Secret Message", "Indiscretion",
"Treachery", "Loneliness".
There's also a "Lake of Indifference".
Beyond the Sea of Dangers
lies the Unknown Country.
Madame de Scudry
was a noblewoman from Brittany
who came to great fame
in Paris 150 years ago.
She had many lovers,
but only her work made her happy.
She advocated a Kingdom of Love
in which passion is forever subdued
and where deep sympathies
of the soul reign instead.
Just this once. Let your heart
give me shelter and your body protection.
Just this once. Let your heart
give me shelter and your body protection.
- One last time.
- But why?
Forgive me my desire.
I will never mention it again.
- Why one last time?
- I promise.
I promise.
Karl Eugen,
proud Duke of Wrttemberg,
is dead.
The Duke is dead.
My veneration, Master.
Many thanks.
Now I no longer have to hide.
It's Schiller.
I've arrived home.
She says she's writing a novel.
She wants your help.
A novel.
As if just anyone could write one.
And she wants to publish it anonymously,
so she doesn't believe in it herself.
It's just Madame von Beulwitz's way of
emancipating herself from her husband.
She has great respect
for the art of writing.
You once said she's talented yourself.
That involved short stories.
Pithy little observations.
A novel is something very different.
Still, I'd like to have her around me.
She could help us so much.
Why not write to me directly if she wants
to use me as midwife for her novel?
She just wants to hide
from the chaos in her life.
The planned divorce...
The almost public love affair
with Dalberg in Mannheim.
A new love here, there...
- Her husband mustn't know.
- Or he won't agree to a divorce.
No, I'm not in favor of her coming here.
- How much higher?
- Fourth or fifth floor.
- And who are you?
- She's my sister.
- What can I do?
- The midwife is on the way.
Get some hot water
and towels for the birth.
They're in the study.
Don't wake him up, please,
he's been working all night.
Hurry up!
- I'm so scared, Line.
- Breathe in.
And breathe out, slowly.
Lollo, you have to scream.
Yes, you have to scream.
Scream or I'll pinch your cheeks.
Lollo, breathe, faster.
Can you see anything yet?
- Do come in.
- How's it going?
We've done it.
That's right.
Like that. That's exactly right.
What a wife you have there.
And what a sister she has.
Don't you want to put your son's
birth announcement in the journal?
Why not? Good idea.
On September 14th...
On September 14th, 1793,
after four years of marriage, Charlotte
and Friedrich had their first son,
Karl Friedrich Ludwig Schiller.
A s Caroline promptly observed, that day,
according to the new French calendar,
was the 22nd day of the month Fructidor
in the second year of the Republic.
- We have to hurry, dear man.
- The coach is mighty drafty, mind.
I have to make sure
the leaflets get to Tbingen.
You've given me
the greatest day of my life.
I gave her some more money.
The money is Dalberg's.
Beulwitz will never know.
Lollo, I won't go back to him. I can't.
There's no more respect between us.
We stopped being a couple ages ago,
but he refuses to agree to a divorce.
He will. Be patient.
Just stay with us.
We've doubled the print run.
People are snatching them
out of our hands.
It'll be even better
than the first issue.
Dear Lord, make him return
in good health to us both.
- To all three of us.
- Yes, to all three of us.
But why?
Why one last time?
You know what?
You look like you've grown taller.
He's so proud.
And he can be.
He's such a sweet boy.
Want some tea?
You really should ask your mother-in-law
for some money.
Her two daughters
both live with you now.
You feed them, don't you?
I mean...
Am I not allowed to say that?
That one hangs around here all day.
Without doing any work.
Mama, that's enough.
What is this?
I'll tell you something,
Caroline's paid three thalers a week
since she got here.
And where does she get that money?
Not from her husband, that's obvious.
Lunch is ready.
Requesting to be excused
from household work for a few hours.
Won't you eat with us?
No, thank you.
There's some tea left
on the stove, Lollo.
- I'll heat up the stove.
- I did that two hours ago.
He bit me.
Just like you always did.
Money, money, money.
Don't you start.
My student attendance in Jena
has dropped recently from 400 to 30.
For every lecture
I get five thalers less than before.
The audience will fit
in our quarters one day.
Fritz, the baby's sleeping.
Come in. That was fast.
Come in, eat some lunch.
Have a seat.
- How kind.
- Leave the door open.
I promised Wolzogen and Krner
to write, within five years,
two classical tragedies
and half a dozen long poems,
if you can find me a rich patron.
I'm fed up with begging.
Years later Caroline will remember
how hot it was that November day
when Schiller
read the first draft of her novel.
The heat has been
building up in the attic flat.
She's had a headache all morning.
She doesn't really know
whether it's the weather or her nerves.
Your prose handwriting
is different from that in your letters.
Why "Agnes von Lilien"? (of Lilies)
Make the sentences shorter.
This relative clause is redundant.
Why not put the foster-father's tale
in direct speech?
From here.
I'd have to put it all in direct speech.
No, don't use consistent concepts.
Do it differently every time.
Literature can cope with inconsistencies.
And don't adopt this fateful female tone
every time you want to generate tension.
In the scene by the fireplace the reader
gets all the dark forebodings he needs
to expect the next installment eagerly.
- Trust your talent.
- You trust my talent, then I will too.
- Can I take it out?
- Certainly.
"A big illuminated house
showed me the way in the dark night."
It lay in solitude,
surrounded by only few outbuildings.
"'This is where you will see your mother, '
Charles said to me."
Are you listening?
The mother.
"'We have nearly
reached our destination.'"
The small door led to a long corridor
sparingly lit by a single lamp.
"Charles opened a side door
and told me to go in."
"I entered a dark room."
Charles locked the door behind me,
ordering me to wait.
A few moments later
a door opened opposite me,
"revealing a dim light,
and a voice called out to me..."
"'Come in, my dear Agnes,
your mother is expecting you impatiently.'"
That's all for this month, my friends.
To be continued.
- No, no.
- Well, yes.
God, I'm aching
for the next installments.
I'm deeply moved.
What charming brazenness to stop there.
It's like music taking you
on its wings and carrying you away.
Must I wait another week
for it to continue?
No, a month, my son.
Yes, Father.
But how damned modern.
I bet the author is a big name.
A really big name.
This play with destiny and the readers'
hearts could be by you, n'est-ce pas?
Madame, I wish I had written it,
but unfortunately...
maybe it's someone we both know
and who is laughing up his sleeve.
Who could be the master
who wrote this novel?
Caroline, remember I told you,
"You will write glorious prose, Madame,
and amaze all your male colleagues."
Why else sign it "Anonymous"?
May I open a window to relieve
our collective breathing organs
from this unbearable tension
of suspense and concern?
I knew it!
The print run's been increased sixfold!
Line, it's freezing in here.
Keep the door to the stairs closed.
It's still going,
but you have to put wood on it.
I'm so happy to be here.
I can write. He's helping me.
Let me stay a while longer.
You can stay as long as you like.
Yes, Line. Do you have all you need?
Lollo, let her finish this chapter.
She has to take the pages
to Tbingen tonight.
On those icy roads?
Never mind. I know the way.
Put it on the floor, Mother.
It doesn't matter.
Line, close the door.
It'll get cold in there.
- I'm coming.
- Very good, Madame.
- I'll see you down.
- Thank you.
Why not stay here, Madame? I can take
the manuscript to Tbingen by myself.
No. It's my carriage, my horse. I'll drive.
And it's my manuscript.
You're just there for safety.
Is Dalberg on his way from Mainz
to Tbingen? Is he waiting for you?
Will you see each other tonight
in the same hotel room with the lilies?
He's rented the room
for your rendezvous.
I made inquiries.
All of literate Germany is wondering
who the author of "Agnes" could be,
never suspecting Anonymous
is in bed with theater director Dalberg.
You have no idea what it's like
living in a marriage like mine.
You two are one heart and soul.
But I don't want to go back to
Rudolstadt before I'm divorced.
I'll write to your husband,
he must see this can't go on.
Fritz, we three are coming back together
from great distances.
I missed you both desperately.
When I gave you both up in Jena,
it tore out my heart, my life.
When my novel is finished,
I'll be a free woman, a single woman.
We'll give a reception together,
all three of us, in Weimar, all right?
And you will tell everyone
who wrote "Agnes".
I could stand here
for hours on end with you.
Will it ever be like it was in Tbingen?
No, don't. Not here.
Wait till we're back in Weimar
and we're all living together at last.
I want us three to welcome the best and
greatest poets in our own house. Right?
Go inside. I'm afraid for you.
Remember how ill you were last year.
Come in.
"Please release your wife,
Caroline ne Lengefeld."
"Please release your wife..."
"For the benefit of all concerned,"
exchange a notoriously elusive bed and
table companion for one who is faithful,
"who is willing to bear
the offspring you so desire."
Isn't that too direct, chre Maman?
What do you say?
Has the writer gone mad?
Is he in bed with my wife?
It is with certainty that I can...
Assure you that no one
instructed Schiller to write this letter.
He speaks for himself.
He only meant well.
But as usual
he completely missed the target.
He has the opposite effect on me,
that much is certain.
"Dear child, Line,
why can't you prevent your brother-in-law"
from helping you in your private affairs
in such a clumsy manner?
Yours and Beulwitz's
is a marriage of convenience,
not some ridiculous,
petty marriage for love
that's over as soon as
love's out the window.
Schiller's letter is on a servants' level.
"Your marriage
has been seriously endangered."
Madame, I...
- "Your husband doesn't deserve this."
- Deserve...
"And I'm not happy about your
mnage trois in Ludwigsburg."
Your worried, loving Maman
Why so formal, Madame?
Have courage, even when ending things.
Haven't we always said
one sign is enough to consign
our little mutual agreement to history?
But I do have one last request.
The shame Caroline feels
penetrates her soul,
but she considers it just punishment
for betraying her sister in this very room.
Dalberg is a clever man.
He turns the hurt
caused by the separation around
and pays her better
than ever for her nakedness,
knowing it will intensify
her bad conscience and loneliness.
"'How generous of you, ' said the Prince,"
'to honor independence and the
freedom of his assignment so much
"that you let him go.'"
That could be tighter.
It's about Agnes, right?
On the next page you manage just that.
"Bright as nature
should our soul be in parting."
That's wonderful.
You can find a better solution
for this problem.
I don't know what you mean!
I like it the way it is.
What's wrong with, "Independence
and the freedom of his assignment"?
I want it to stay like that.
No, you can do better, I know.
"The free area of his action."
Or even better:
"The free circle of his action".
The circle tells us
he will come back to her.
That's how it must be.
I feel inferior and I hate that.
What can I do about it?
Do you want me to write?
Who's that?
Who is that? Well, I never!
Hey, young dad, protector of the herd,
come into my arms.
- Where does the man come from?
- Paris.
Five days of shaking and rattling,
but I'll have bigger carriages designed.
They're already
breeding bigger horses for you.
Who knew he was coming?
- It was supposed to be a surprise.
- That's what I call a surprise.
Look who's coming.
Look who's here.
Well, who do we have here?
He just woke up.
It's beyond words what's going on there.
Massacre, murder...
These words don't begin
to describe what's happening.
Guilty or innocent,
everyone's sent to the guillotine,
slit open alive in the
middle of the street,
kicked to death, ripped apart by horses
like in the Middle Ages.
A mob rules, whose evil is so abysmal,
whose lust for blood is more gruesome
than anything humanity has ever seen.
Shouldn't we have known, Wilhelm?
Everyone who rang the bell for renewal
should have known.
It's what I believe, having been there.
Nothing but baseness
and hoping for the next blood frenzy.
You can buy them all over town.
Drawn from real life. No talent,
but in keeping with reality, you could say.
For the visitors of the Revolution.
The copies run into the thousands.
The proceeds go to the murderers.
This man's face was cut off.
He was guillotined back to front
because he fought back.
Crude. I don't want this.
Didn't you once read to us
about the Inquisition?
It's like that again.
Some evenings
I no longer wanted to live.
I hid in the hotel's cellar. I even
changed my aristocratic name for fear.
They often quarrel nowadays.
It's new to me.
I'll join you.
The little one has to sleep.
I know,
the floorboards in the kitchen creak.
May I sit on the bed?
I'm with child, Fritz.
I'm 4 or 5 months gone. I'm not sure.
I miss my period when I have cramps.
Her condition should be kept secret.
Otherwise Beulwitz
could annul the divorce.
Is he willing then?
He wrote that he doesn't want to talk
anymore. He wants a divorce right away.
If he found out Line is pregnant
and not by him,
he could go back on his decision.
Yes. That's true, yes.
To him it was always about progeny.
What about your mother?
Will she move out of the Beulwitz house?
She's doing it now.
We share the same roof
yet know so little about each other.
Your arrival here is linked to this too?
Do you want to have the child?
Why not? She has...
Because I'm not sure
I'll ever be pregnant again.
Our dear doctor says
I have a disposition to pneumonia.
My skin is as thin as a redhead's.
I don't want to die without having known
the same happiness as you.
And where will you
have the child? Here?
Are you hostile?
I know a village teacher
near Schaffhausen. Herr Roll.
I'll write him. He might care for the baby
until the divorce comes through.
But you're only in the fifth month.
The divorce will take at least a year,
my lawyer says.
Until then Caroline
shouldn't take any unnecessary risks.
There's too much at stake.
A lot of money too, unfortunately.
You won't travel alone.
I will travel with her.
I have no obligations here and I want
to forget what happened in Paris.
Helping a young pregnant woman
might restore my faith in humanity.
- How much is Dalberg paying?
- Dalberg? Nothing.
He doesn't know.
I broke up with him.
We had a pact, Line.
It meant telling each other everything.
That you and I are closer to each other
than we'll ever be to our men.
This oath is no longer valid.
Was that too much of a fait accompli?
I'm no good at practical life.
I even slept through my son's birth.
Wilhelm's made of other stuff.
He's pragmatic, down-to-earth.
He's glad he can help a friend.
What will become of our "Agnes"?
I'll start the new chapters myself
in Switzerland and send you them.
Are you fleeing?
I can't stay here.
I sense she despises me.
No, why?
I never told her we saw
each other again in Tbingen.
Neither did I.
She feels betrayed.
There is one question
I will certainly not ask you.
Then don't.
I would answer if possible and scream.
If you're looking for gentleness,
it's over there in that room.
- All I want is you. You're my life.
- I'm not all you want.
I'm not good enough.
In Tbingen I was accosted
in the middle of the street.
I have the smell
of prostitution about me now.
I can't even remember
whether Dalberg jilted me or I him.
Which men have I been with
these past months I can't remember.
- Don't hurt yourself.
- I have to, or I can't leave.
There's nothing honorable
about feeling guilty, dirty and unhappy.
Trying to be happy is worth the effort.
I'll write the letter to the teacher.
You'll find it on the kitchen table
in the morning.
Wake me up when you leave.
- You'll be back in six months, right?
- In Weimar. When I'm free.
We'll write every day.
I have to know how you are.
Let all three of us live the dream, please.
In Weimar.
Then we'll all be back together again.
We'll write to you.
"Still, I'd like to know, if you are well.
And whether Wilhelm has been
a good help, which I don't doubt."
"Everything is fine here, Line."
The boy was stung by a wasp
and ran a fever.
Charlotte has found
a fitting name for you:
"'Mary and Joseph looking for a stable. '"
"Wilhelm, I'm writing directly to you now."
Charlotte and I get the feeling
we're calling your names into the cosmos.
Tell Caroline I ended up writing
the last chapters of 'Agnes' myself.
Herr Roll wrote that you left him
to return in October, is that true?
"Is that true?"
Do you hear that?
The force? Nature?
I love him. I love him so much!
He belongs to me!
Save me, Wilhelm, protect me.
- From what?
- From myself. My passion. Save me.
- "Are you well?"
- Scream.
"Are you in discomfort?
You should have given birth by now."
Send me an answer.
"Charlotte is very worried now too.
Has anything happened to you?"
August 16th,
A boy.
"Roll wrote that the birth went well."
Why don't I hear from you?
Have you forgotten how to write?
Have you lost Wolzogen?
Even in those Swiss mountain villages
there are scribes
who write letters for those who can't.
"Find someone like that."
This should be enough for now.
"Caroline, damn it, where are you?
Caroline, why don't you come back?"
When he's old enough to understand,
tell him I will come.
His mother will come for him, soon.
Caroline von Beulwitz,
presently in Geneva, Switzerland.
At least nothing's happened to her.
But what a melodrama!
Beulwitz, meanwhile,
had agreed to a divorce.
The official records in
Rudolstadt state as a reason:
"A ten-year marital incompatibility."
Caroline von Lengefeld receives
no compensation from her first husband.
But upon informing
the Schillers of her divorce,
she also announces her imminent
marriage to Wolzogen in Switzerland.
"She writes, "Wilhelm has proven
himself a loyal, loving companion.
He is the man and protector I have
always looked for. Be happy for me."
It is striking that
she makes no mention of her child.
The child that the Schiller's know
was born and taken in by teacher Roll.
From this day on
Schiller will call Caroline,
"The woman who can't say yes".
One year later
Adolf's date of birth is changed to
1795 in the Schaffhausen register.
Probably to hide the fact that
Caroline's son was born illegitimate.
This dress has to be packed too.
If I should die in Weimar,
I want to be laid out in that dress.
Very well, Madame.
I shall put it all in writing, Schwenke,
so you don't have to argue
with my daughters over any details,
if it comes to the worst.
Very well.
I want to be surrounded
by my ten favorite books.
- The Voltaire.
- Voltaire.
And the edition of my husband's writings.
And the New Testament and...
I'd like to leave this set
to Charlotte.
Wrap it up carefully in rags,
clean the two silver jugs that go with it
and put it all on the balcony.
Very well.
So the stench of the polish is gone
before we arrive in Weimar.
Schwenke, the letter.
Don't cry, Schwenke,
or you'll have to write it again.
"My dear children,"
I'm writing the same letter to you both
"to prevent future disagreements."
"My doctor informed me
I have only a short time to live,"
owing to an incurable kidney ailment
that he diagnosed with absolute certainty.
So he urged me
to put all my worldly affairs in order
while I am still able.
Besides all things
financial and material,
I want to clear up our relationships,
especially yours.
"In two days' time I'll
travel to Weimar..."
- The tableware.
- Calm, boy.
Schwenke, the tableware.
"... and I wish to see you two,
Charlotte and Caroline, there together."
Caroline can put her nightdress on.
Come on, little Caroline.
Good night.
It's remarkable how rarely
one meets in Weimar
while living only 500 paces apart.
Yes, Weimar is a labyrinth,
as Fritz can tell you.
Ernst, come here.
What do you think of my beard?
I'm growing it just for you.
Is it soft enough?
Privy Councillor Goethe asks if your
mother-in-law has arrived in good health.
- What should I tell him?
- The truth. We're waiting anxiously.
- I'll write to him. Where's my pen?
- I'll get it.
No, wait. I'll write it over there.
How can I carry on reading like this?
Karl, this is a story about you two.
Your father wrote a story
about a Karl and an Ernst,
two boys who were full of mischief.
The two ruffians tore up...
I believe everything a genius does
as a genius, he does unknowingly.
- Good evening.
- Evening.
I bring a message for
Privy Councillor Schiller and family.
So where were we?
Madame von Lengefeld's carriage
got stuck in the mud halfway here.
Everyone is well, and hot drinks
have been provided.
But they can't leave before tomorrow.
- They're staying in the coach?
- Yes.
Maman was lucky.
- I'll ride out to them.
- No, stay here.
Let's write that letter
to the privy councillor first.
Anna, help me put the children to bed.
We'll be back when Maman arrives.
We're going home.
We'll be home soon.
- Well, then...
- Same time, same procedure.
Till tomorrow.
Why does she put that display cabinet
in the entrance hall?
It's so petit bourgeois.
As if she won the stuff in a lottery.
Maman, we're so glad
to have you with us again.
I notice that you still resemble
no one but your mother.
Doesn't your father regret it?
He's fine the way he is.
- How old are you now, Adolf?
- I am six, Chre Mre.
You're tall for your age.
Do you remember
your first four years in Switzerland,
before your mother brought you here?
Not even the great Rhine Falls?
Were you never there?
Yes. I do remember that, Chre Mre.
I have memories of the Rhine Falls too.
When your mother and your aunt
were still very young
and loved each other dearly.
They were always whispering in secret,
your mother chattering all the time,
while your aunt was always nodding.
Like this.
Your grandfather...
Look, that's him on the wall over there.
He died young,
and the girls really needed each other.
Your aunt used to ask me,
"Are we poor now?"
And I said, "No, not yet."
When we only have one of our
twelve 26-piece dinner sets left,
"yes, then we are poor."
Do you remember, my dear?
You see? And now I have brought you
the last set I have.
Schwenke, show it to them.
And now I am poor.
But I don't need it anymore.
And the dear Lord
will make me rich again soon enough.
Maman, dear.
But I want you to drink from it
together with your sister.
That you often speak to each other again.
And love each other like you used to.
And that my dear son-in-law,
Herr Schiller,
whose steadily growing fame
makes this old lady very, very happy,
but also very ashamed of not having
anticipated this fame at the time,
when he first came to visit us
in Rudolstadt that summer,
13 years ago.
I want you to stop quarreling!
We don't quarrel.
You don't talk to each other.
You write polite cards and invitations,
send back polite refusals,
making sure you avoid
each other on the street.
It must stop.
I don't want to leave this life
feeling I've left a battlefield behind.
That's why I'm here.
You've hurt yourself now.
Yes, that hurt.
Have you forgiven me?
- Why did you never ask?
- Ask you what?
It's my last tableware.
- What should I have asked?
- One question.
- Which one?
- "Who is Adolf's father?"
Why ask?
You didn't know yourself,
with all your affairs at the time.
- But I do know.
- No, you don't.
- Yes, I do know!
- No, you don't!
Yes, I do.
- Don't you want to know too?
- No!
- Why not?
- It's none of my concern.
But what if it is?
I don't want to know!
- It's none of my concern!
- Why doesn't anyone do anything?
Yes, good, clever Charlotte
has to cover her ears now.
You begrudged me this baby.
Your face, when we spoke about this
in Ludwigsburg,
I'll never forget it, never!
And now? You've won.
You've got him all to yourself.
How can you burden such a man
with your vulgar little ideas of love?
How could you be so stupid
and ignore reality?
You walked out on my husband
every time things got serious!
You threw yourself at him
and then you ran off.
We swore an oath to share everything.
What was I to share with you?
The night you spent
together in Tbingen?
The men you keep on a leash like a dog?
You lead the love life
of a bankrupt feudal mistress.
In France you'd be put to the guillotine.
Right, because there
they buried freedom
instead of having it rule
like they promised.
They were too small for real freedom.
They didn't mean freedom in bed.
Look at your husband.
So sad. This strong, confident man
remaining silent while you live it up.
Ladies, ladies,
we all like to witness your passion.
It's most entertaining to hear you insult
each other, but leave your men out of it.
A doctor! Someone get a doctor!
- This attack seems worse than ever.
- It was always like this.
Not like this.
- I get scared when the snow melts.
- But it melted long ago, dearest.
Let me help.
Get him into bed.
Schwenke, take out the bowl, please.
I'll stay here today.
We'll have to wait through the night.
Come on, I'll show you your bed.
I'll manage.
I'll sleep in the other room.
Let them talk and move about
and rattle around.
I like the sound of it.
And maybe some more singing.
Thank you, Hans.
The women in the von Lengefeld family
all have a curious talent.
Choosing men
who lead the way to eternal life.
They'll end up together,
all three of them widows.
And together they will lovingly
remember their late husbands.
Maybe that really is
what keeps them together.
Something they themselves
don't understand.
Because, despite everything,
it seems natural to them.
It's this trinity
Schiller's always been looking for.
Their women's community,
which they allowed him to enter,
back in the summer of 1788.
Then they sent him not to paradise but
to the solitary confinement of marriage.
Now, at this very moment,
in the face of his deadly illness,
they understand once again,
that he is a refugee
on a cold and barren planet,
a stranger to this world, and lonely.
He never searched for a home,
but found one among them.
Friedrich von Schiller recovers from this
bout of illness as so often before.
It isn't until three years later
that his weakened body surrenders,
and he dies in May 1805,
only 45 years old.
In old age Caroline von Wolzogen
writes her lifelong friend's biography.
The new printing techniques
have long since triumphed
and editions were published in numbers
even Schiller couldn't have dreamt of.
Maybe the vast readership's expectations
made Caroline fear indiscretion,
for she withholds any kind of intimate
detail about her life in the biography.
And shortly before her death she destroys
all written evidence of the past.
Knowing that posterity
will never be able to learn
what really happened
between the three of them
must have been a comfort to her.
Against her will, however,
one single note was preserved,
the one she received in
Rudolstadt in the summer of 1788.
"Last night, or rather this morning,
things were beyond my control,"
and this evening I may be invited
to a late dinner by Rengmann,
the doctor who's been treating me here,
"but later on I will try
to steal away to you."