A Zed & Two Noughts (1985) Script

A swan?

What sort of a swan?

Leda? Who is Leda?

Is she the injured woman?

Laid by whom?

By Jupiter? Was that the cause of death?

A female swan?

How do you know it was female?

Eggs? Egg-bound?

Was it bald? Perhaps it was a goose.

Did it come from the zoo?

How fast does a woman decompose?

Six months. Maybe a year. Depends on the conditions.

Does being pregnant make any difference?


And the baby?

How far gone was she? Perhaps 10 weeks.

Then, you'd never know.

I cannot stand the idea of her rotting away.

What is the first thing that happens?

The first thing that happens is the bacteria set to work in the intestine.

What sort of bacteria? Bisocosis populi.

There are supposed to be 130,000 Bisocosis in each lick of a human tongue.

250,000 in a French kiss.

First exchange at the very beginning of creation when Adam kissed Eve.

Suppose Eve kissed Adam? Unlikely!

She used her first 100,000 on the apple.

If the evolutionary span of life on Earth is represented by a year of 365 days, then man made his first appearance on the evening of the 31st of December, just as the daylight was fading.

It had taken some 4,000 million years for that entrance to be made.

A very slow, uneven progress of life forms, changing and evolving in a long, continuous procession.

It's comparatively easy to comprehend how one species gave way to another.

But perhaps more difficult to understand the evolutionary leap necessary to bridge the most sophisticated of the apes, with man.

And more difficult, still, to contemplate how life could create itself, apparently, out of nothing.

The conditions for the origin of life on Earth can never be reproduced again.

The atmosphere is now rich in oxygen, the necessary ingredient for the respiratory life of all animals.

But in the beginning there was little or no oxygen.

There was methane, ammonia, carbon monoxide, water, electrical storms, ultraviolet light, the first carbon compounds.

And around volcanic springs like these, an abundance of hydrogen.

These conditions were advantageous for the formation of the first cyanophytes or blue-green algae.

Their Utilisation of hydrogen in water, using chlorophyll in the process of photosynthesis liberated oxygen in abundant quantities to change radically the atmosphere of the Earth.

Their arrival marks a major step towards the evolution of higher forms of life.

How are you feeling?

Short of a leg.

In the land of the legless, the one-legged woman is queen.

There was a legless whore in Marseilles during the war, who was very wealthy.

She seldom left her bed, because she couldn't.

She'd had both her legs amputated at the groin.

Imagine that, gentlemen, no limbs to hinder entry.

She was treated with great affection and regard and had a great many lovers.

She died young.

Some of her lovers thought, she might liked to be buried in a short coffin.

Others thought that the empty space should be filled with flowers.

In the end, of course, her family turned up and they had the corpse fitted with artificial legs.

Imagine that!

The body, in all its delicious detail, fading away, leaving a skeleton with iron legs.

Especially, since the legs had been made for a man called Felipe Arc-en-Ciel.

You've been very thorough in your research.

I made it up.

I have now to find a Felipe Arc-en-Ciel to stop my crying, to discover what it is to have your legs borrowed by a dead woman.

How is your daughter? Beta is fine.

She says, my leg has walked off with a Dutchman.

Morning, Venus! How are the zebras? Black and white.

Good morning, Milo, what are you doing?

Just come to see if you're looking after the animals properly.

You can come and take care of me.

Where could I do that? Back of the panda cages.

We might give them a little encouragement.

There's no bed there.

Since when have you needed a bed, Milo? Since my back ached, just now!

I'll give you...

..£5 and two pounds of zebra steak.

Do the owls go hungry for your pleasure?

Not yours.

Owls aren't that fussy. They'll eat anything, even a lizard.

Would you rather have a lizard or a zebra afterbirth?

Tell me, Milo!

Do you think a zebra is a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with white stripes?

Carry my shoes for me.

There used to be a bed in the back of the vulture cages.

Ah! You were younger then. Now you have less to bargain with.

Now I have experience. With animals?

All right, then!

I'll give you four pounds of cow's liver and a drink.

Or we might have to see about your licence to practise.

You only have to have a licence to start a zoo, not to stock it.

You could start a zoo, Hoyten.

Though you'd have to pay me to visit it.

You can keep your free meat.

I'll take £10 for half an hour and the tail feathers of an American bald eagle.

You're making a hat? No.

I'm writing a dirty story.

We don't have an American bald eagle.

Oh, I was forgetting, it's a black and white bird.

Then I'll settle for an introduction to Oliver and Oswald.

What do you want with them?

I could help. Their wives have died and I need a bath.

You can have a bath, provided I can watch.

Surprise, surprise!

That's what all we animals are here for, isn't it?

In a spoonful of pond water, there may be as many as 10,000 minute organisms.

In the seas there are uncountable numbers of creatures.

Myriads of simply structured organisms, whose ancestors began to appear some, 2,000 million years ago from among the primitive bacteria and the first algae.

Oliver, I'm sorry about your bad news.

Can the zoo help?

What are you watching? The beginnings of life.

It's cathartic. What is?

Watching life begin.

Yes? Yes!

'Cause I know how it ends.

How does it end? With a swan.

Oh, yes. And a white car, a Ford Mercury, registration number, NID26BW, driven by a woman with flaming red hair, surrounded by white feathers, called Alba Bewick.

Then I'm sorry that you'll find this film inaccurate.

Oh, don't ruin it for me, Fallast.

I'm going to take it in stages. Needs absorbing.

I'm sure I must have got it wrong before and I'm on the lookout for clues.

What sort of clues?

Gonna try and separate the true clues and the red herrings.

I'm told, that all eight parts of the second copy of this film are out on loan as well.

Perhaps someone else is also looking for red herrings.

Myriads of simply-structured organisms, whose ancestors began to appear some, 2,000 million years ago from among the primitive bacteria and the first algae.

Protozoa, primitive jellyfish, sponges, coral polyps, colonisers.

Innumerable individuals making the first oceans a rich soup, ripe for the further and more sophisticated development of life forms.

Oliver, entrez!

Where is Oswald? Uh, he's just working.

Work consoles him, I think.

How did you first know my wife?

I met her at the zoo with my daughter, when I took to Beta to the insect house to watch butterflies.

Your wife said they should be let free.

She didn't approve of zoos, did she?

Why is your daughter called Beta?

Alpha, Beta, Gamma. I wanted 26 children.

Beta wasn't the first. The first one died.

I had an infection, mercury poisoning.

Where I come from, you take mercury to procure an abortion.

There aren't 26 letters in the Greek alphabet, there's only 23.

What's Oswald Deuce doing here? Watching an apple fade away.

How original!

"A" is for... Angelfish.

"B" is for... Butterfly.

Do you think that's wise?

There are too many of them.

Will they survive the cold?

This zoo is too crowded.

Bit too many staff, for a start.

Haven't you got anything better to do than watch me?

Venus De Milo's been asking after you.

I cannot stand the idea of her body rotting away for nothing.

Or was it for some reason?

Where's this?

It's where I was born. It's called L'Escargot.

Tell me what happened, in detail.

You know what happened.

Paula and Griselda were shopping for china...

What was Griselda wearing? A green hat, black shoes.

We left there about 3:00... Was she wearing a scarf?

Yes. We turned out of the car park and then...

Why was she buying china?

She said she needed china. She bought 6 soup-bowls...

What were they like?

They were white with blue markings and an egg-timer and a milk-jug.

An egg-timer? What the hell did she want with an egg-timer?

I imagine, Oswald, to time eggs.

Well, why would she want to time eggs? Oswald, think what you're saying.

What else did she buy?

Paula wanted to go to the fishmonger.

I bought a lobster. Why did you buy a lobster for?

Oswald, this is getting silly. Did my wife buy anything?

Oh, yes, prawns.

Prawns? Yes!

Thank you! That will do for now.

But all this is a long way back in the story.

Oh, well. Thank you, for telling me.

Oswald, where are you going?

The variety of shape, form and structure in the development of animals at this time is extraordinary.

Side-scuttling crabs, slow-moving snails, animals that look like stones, that take on the colour of sand, animals that resemble plants, that scavenge, that develop poisons and stinging apparatus, that live on detritus and each other, creating systems of defence and attack, whose ingenuity is limitless.

Anything in the papers, then?

Why don't you sit down, Plate? Thanks very much, Oliver.

I heard you was in here.

There's a funny smell in here. It's me, I've stopped washing.

Now, I'm sorry, to hear about your wife.

So am I.

Venus De Milo has been asking after you.

Everyone's pimp and messenger, eh, Plate?

Suit yourself.

Milo, have you ever done it with animals?

If that's what you want, if it would help, I could invent for you.

It'll cost £5 a story.

That's what Anaïs Nin charged in 1927, only she did it professionally.

I haven't started professionally, yet.

£5 or an introduction to a publisher.

Or a credit note to a large bookshop... That's all right! All right, go on!

Once upon a time, there were three bears...

No nursery stories.

No? All right.

A circus owner in Anchorage kept a polar bear called Fairbanks to entertain Eskimo wives...

Unlikely! And how come you know about Alaska?

I was attentive in geography.

The bear had a narrow snout, a sweet nature, and a rough and probing tongue.

It also liked honey...

It's beginning to sound like a bedtime story.

Isn't that just what you wanted? And there are no bees in Alaska.

There are as many bees in Alaska as snails.

Why do you like snails?

They're a nice primitive form of life.

They helped the world decay and they're hermaphrodite and can satisfy their own sexual needs.

I don't believe it. Neither do I.

The circus owner by leasing out the bear with a jar of honey had two profitable sources of income.

God, Milo! This is another whingeing story about money.

And I disapprove of circuses. I disapprove of zoos.

Just shut up and get out.

But I haven't got to the erotic bit yet.

Get out!

Get out!

Get out!

Oh, mind your snail!


Get out! Go on!


♪ If you go down to the woods today You'd better go in disguise

♪ If you go down to the woods today Be sure of...

Be careful with those, you stupid idiot!

It's best mohair. I spent a lot of time on this suit.

♪ If you go down to the woods today You'd better go in disguise

♪ If you go down to the woods today Be sure of a big surprise What sort of stories does your brother Oswald like?

Why don't you go and ask him?

♪ At six o'clock their mummies and daddies

♪ Will take them home to bed

♪ Because they're tired

♪ Little teddy bears ♪

And leave those little snails alone, you dirty old man.

Oh, Lord! It's Oswald Deuce again!

What's he up to?

What's the connection between apples and prawns?

What do gone off prawns remind you of?

And what's the betting all of Oswald's wives smells like that there?

Maybe he enjoyed the smell so much, he's trying to recapture it.

You're disgusting!

You are too prim for words. Make him eat a prawn!

Oswald won't mind.

Take that off. Put this on.

It belongs to my wife.

And this hat.

Open the coat down the front.

Fold your arms.

All right, begin.

In Botswana, they kept a bull in a cave...

I've heard it.

You have? Hmm.


In the 1870s, in the Regent's Park Zoo in London there was an enclosure reserved for certain rare animals that came to be called, "The Obscene Animals Enclosure."

One of the animals, in this special enclosure, was a toad. At least it had the body of a toad.

It was all your bloody fault!

What was? The death of my wife!

I see.

I'm expected to have a pilot's licence? How could I anticipate swans?

You were wearing white feathers and you were driving a Ford Mercury.

So? You were asking for trouble.


You said you took mercury to procure an abortion.

You were pregnant.

How the hell did you know I was pregnant?

Pregnant women are notoriously unreliable.

Especially, when they're trying to procure an abortion.

It was all your fault, you bitch!


Was my story worth £10?

I normally get 25 for 4,000 words.

That's one-eighth of what Pauline Réage got for The Story of O.

Did I tell it well? Yes!

Write it down, I'll see it gets published.

That's what your brother said.

Is it?

Isn't it time you and he became a little more friendly?

How is he?

He's miserable like you.

Oliver says, that rot starts in the stomach.

With an apple?

In the intestines, in the liver, pancreas, the spleen, near the womb.

I'm going to see Oliver. Do you want me to give him a message?

No, I've got nothing to say.

Yes, tell him to look after himself.


Oliver, what the hell are you doing?

I'm having breakfast.

Stop it, you bloody idiot!

You pathetic idiot! It's only ice.

Ice floats and you don't put ice in wine.

Since when has etiquette been your strong point?

Oh, all right. Phone for an ambulance, I've had enough.

Thank you.

Shall I call for Oswald? No!

All right, yes.

Tell him, I'm bleeding. He'll come.

He always used to come when I was bleeding.

What's Oliver looking for?

I don't know. I mean, look at all this stuff.

Maybe he's looking for an answer to his wife's death.

He will not find it here. This is just a straightforward account.

The squid is among the most intelligent of the invertebrates.

Darwin was a good storyteller.

Both brothers have taken out a copy.

Have I got to sit through them all?

There are eight parts. This is only the third.

God, it's all such a dreary fiction.

You were right. Though I didn't deserve this, okay?

How was he right?

I was pregnant.

I not only lost a leg in that crash, I lost a child.

Though I wasn't, by any means, trying to.

Gamma is not a very good name for a child.

I have yet to work out my greater loss.

But I know that I want another leg and another child.

As you can see, it was inferior china.

What do you want to keep those for?

Throw them away, you stupid boy!

I'd like to see this place.

Then go and see it.

And come back and tell me, how it's getting on.

The key is in my bag.

You could go together.

So who found you?

De Milo. Who is she?

Actually, her trade name is Venus, her clients call her De Milo.

The seamstress.

She's a beautiful stitcher.

When she's not watching the zebras, she meets her clients at the panda house.

Oh! And what's her speciality?


"J" is for... Jaguar.

"K" is for... Kangaroo.

"L" is for... Lion.

"M" is for... Monkey.

Mon dieu, Oswald! What's this?

Prawns on their way back.

Way back? To where they came from.

Ooze, slime, murk...

Ooh, I'm still alive.

Someone's being tampering with my experiment.

Or perhaps they were hungry.

Who the hell is he?

He's the surgeon who removed my leg.

He wants to be a painter, a Dutch painter.

In fact, the Dutch painter Vermeer, no less!

Vermeer only painted 26 paintings and three of those are dubious.

That's enough.

Obviously not! Van Meegeren tried to paint some more.

That's his name! Who's name?

The surgeon's. Pardon?

Van Meegeren.

He's the cousin of the faker who painted fake Vermeers.

What's his speciality?

Vermeer women.

Van Meegeren says, I look like the lady standing at a virginal.

I suspect it's because you never see her legs.

She's not standing really.

She's strapped and stitched to her music stool.

Van Meegeren has a great reputation for stitching.


Suturing. Sewing up wounds. Operations.

He's made a beautiful job on me.

Look. No, I can't.

Why not? Because...

You see what I mean?

I can see more than that.

Oh! That, well...

That's pretty redundant now, isn't it?

I mean, except to pee through.

I want you to make sure those two brothers don't get too close to Alba Bewick.

How do I do that?

Distract them.

As only you know how.

What's in it for me?

My patients...

Our patients that'd be.

And a continuing place in my operating theatre, and in my bed.


I was thinking, at the crash, which way was the wind blowing?

Was it blowing off the buildings at the north side, or the buildings on the south side?

Stop, Oliver, enough.

You've got to stop! What difference does it make?

You exhaust me with your obsessions. Both of you!

You're our only witness.

What sort of witness was I?

In searing pain? A face full of feathers? An egg yolk?

My leg smashed to pulp, bleeding. And you ask me for wind directions.


Where's Beta? She's with Oswald.

Look, it was an accident.

5,000 accidents happen every day.

This one's... Bizarre, tragic, farcical!

This one is different... They're acts of God!

Fit only to amaze the survivors and irritate the insurance company.

This one is different, for God's sake!

Is it?

The wives of two zoologists die in a car driven by a woman called Bewick, who's attacked by a swan on Swan's Way!

You are already beginning to build yourself a case for the supernatural.

But another set of details, from the same crash, could produce something completely different!

And what about me?

Don't I deserve some consideration?

With a daughter, who can't sit still, and why should she?

Take her out for me, will you?

Van Meegeren is going to fit me with an artificial leg tomorrow.

Kiss me.

I haven't been kissed since your wife kissed me a month ago.

Kiss me on the cheek.

Here, where she did.

And the ostrich eats anything at all.

And buries its head in the sand when it's afraid.

And the elephant lives to be 100. And never forgets a face.

So, you see between us, we know everything.

You don't know everything.

Between us, we do.

All right, then.

You see that woman over there?

What colour knickers is she wearing?

Red ones, to match her hat. No, she isn't.

How do you know? I know.

Well, Oliver, you could always go and ask and find out.

Go on, ask her.

Excuse me, madam, I'm sorry to bother you.

I think we may just have met before.

May I trouble you in the interest of that child's education?

May I ask you a few questions?

Like? Like? Uh...

Are these ostrich feathers?

Who are you exactly? Do I know you? I'm an animal behaviourist, madam.

Then your question doesn't sound very well informed.

What animals are you a behaviourist of? All animals. Madam...

Can I ask you a personal question?

Which do you prefer... What colour are your knickers?

Black and white striped. Thank you!

It's a pleasure.

You see, black and white stripes. You didn't know. I knew all the time.

You did? Yes, I saw them yesterday.

Well, why did you make me go through all that, then?

Excuse me.

Just in case you don't believe me, I can show you.

Ah! No, thank you very much! We believe you.

I insist! It's really quite all right. Thank you!

If you are both zoologists as you claim, you pride yourself on your powers of observation.

You must continue these experiments.

If you don't look at the evidence, you're cheating the child.

Come with me or I swear I'll kick this table over.

Go on, then.


And now I'll knock over this one, if you don't go with me at once.

All right! Where to?

Just follow me.

Go on, then.

Thanks very much.

All right, smart zoologist. Now see for yourself.

Go on.

That will cost you £40.

And there's another thing, Van Meegeren and I believe it's better for you and your precious brother not to see Alba Bewick, before it's too late.

Too late?

If you both feel so lonely, you can't help yourself, come and see me.

Together, if you must. And I don't tell dirty stories.

Don't press too hard, my back aches.

Where does it ache? Across the hips and along the spine.

Don't worry. It's a natural condition. Let's have you in a sitting position.

Tell me, what happened to my leg? What do you mean?

Where is it now? Have you sold it? It was incinerated.

Where? Don't concern yourself with it.

Where? In the hospital incinerator.

What is your connection with the zoo?

I am veterinarian consultant. Why do you ask?

Do you perform amputations on animals? If they are necessary.

Do you fit animals with artificial limbs?

Where are these questions leading, Alba?

Is animal surgery so different from human surgery?

There are many similarities.

What's this for? It's for a surprise.

What sort of a surprise?

Don't be alarmed. I'm sure you'll like it.

What sort of surprise will it be if we tell you?

You take too many liberties. I do. They're all in your interest.

Is that a real angelfish? Yes.

Can it fly?

Well, if it could, it still couldn't escape.

It's a caged fish.

Can it swim away? Where would it swim to?

The Sargasso sea. That's where all fish go.

Is it?

Yes, that's where my mother's leg has gone.

How come? It was taken by a shark.

Called Van Meegeren, perhaps.

Who's he? Oh, just a keeper of legs.

Do you keep lots of black and white fish?

Yes. Zebra-fish?

We also have parrot-fish, elephant-fish, rat-fish and tiger-sharks.

You see, fish anticipated everything that was to come.

I don't know why evolution bothered to go on. Why go further?

There are no swan-fish.

Oliver? Oswald?

What are you doing here so late?


I want to tell you about...

Sit here.

Reptiles differed from their immediate amphibious ancestors by having a skin capable of retaining body moisture.

Which meant that animals for the first time...

Isn't it a bit late to be watching reptiles?

400 million years too late.

What's all this watching for? I'm trying to work it out.

What out?

Why we should come all this way, slowly and painfully, inch by inch, fraction by fraction, second by second, so that my wife should die by a swan?

Very personal view of evolution.

What have a swan and my wife got in common?

Me! You?

And my car, my amputated leg, my lost child.

Before the vast majority of reptiles died out mysteriously...

Reptiles didn't die out.

They grew feathers and became birds.

So our swan was a flying lizard?

Did Jupiter know that when he raped Leda?

He didn't rape her. She was willing.

Mon dieu, Oswald! Are you implying I was?

What do you mean?

You've been trying to tell me, you and Oliver, that I was responsible for your wife's death.

No, we haven't.

And things have suddenly changed.

Forcing the development of new sexual apparatus...

Where is Oliver?

He's working.

He keeps stealing snails, letting butterflies free.

He should go there. It's full of snails and butterflies.

If you left a bicycle by the back door, and you went indoors to use the toilet, when you came out, the saddle was covered in snails, licking up your sweat.

I haven't been there for 15 years.

I'd quite like to die there.

You must go there for me. You might find my Felipe Arc-en-Ciel.

The key is in my bag.


Good Lord, Alba! Which one? Oh! I don't know, I've forgotten.

You'd better try them all.

Ah! Start with this one. It looks right.

Why'd you keep all these? I've always had them.

You must never throw a key away. Did you know that?

Kiss me.

Crocodiles and their relatives, the gharials, alligators and caimans...

Your leg. What leg?

Don't be so sensitive.

You'd be surprised, what a novelty it is.

Come on. I want more than a kiss.

You might like it. Your brother did.

What's the charge? Charge?

The charge is £30.

Do you think the zebra was a mistake?


Do you think that black and white stripes are useful?

I'm sure they are.

Since the zebra is such a beautiful animal, you'd have thought, perhaps, that man would have invented a fanciful hybrid.

Wouldn't you?

You know, like a centaur.

A black and white centaur, half-woman, half-zebra, with striped breasts, ever-ready haunches and a white tail.

No black hair.

They'd only put it in a zoo.

Next to the unicorn. And the mermaid.

Animals are always kept for profit.

Maybe that's what they are for.

There are many ways of making a profit.

If I had the money to own a zoo, I would stock it with mythological animals.

And where would you find them?

I would ask you to help me.

Oh, I'm very expensive.

You don't seem to have protected Alba from the attentions of Oliver and Oswald.

I can't patrol the world like a sentry.

You could surely offer more attractive alternatives than a woman with one leg.

Would they be interested in a woman with no legs at all?

Since you, obviously, put more interest in her than you do in me, you ought to be able to answer the question yourself.

Captain Hook had one leg. It was his arm.

And Long John Silver.

They were both fictional, so they don't count.

And Victor Hugo's father. He wrote fiction, so he doesn't count.

It was a cork leg.


Oh, I wonder if he had as much trouble having it fitting as I am?

Next time you two must come with me. Why?

To protect to me from unnecessary attentions.

Oh, you're imagining it. Pinocchio's legs were wooden.

Well, Toulouse-Lautrec.

He had legs, they were just a little short.

Now, his father kept horses.

So? Marie Antoinette's father kept pigs. Look what happened to her.

Marie Antoinette's father didn't keep pigs!

Somebody's father did.

You two are improving, aren't you?

Who would have thought you knew one another?

Yeah, Beta.

Shall we jump in now or later? What would we taste like?

Grief doesn't flavour anything. It's just sour.

Excuse me, can I have a word with you? Go ahead.

Wouldn't you like to speak to me alone? No.

Oh, dear! Grief is a great healer.

I hear you might be looking for some dead animals.

I may be.

Well, what exactly are you looking for? Reptiles.

Would something a bit bigger do? Not yet.

Would a crocodile do?

Well, it might, but I'm unlikely to find one.

How much would you pay? Pay? I haven't thought.

What all you'll bought with the insurance money, you're not badly off.

That's none of your business.

£40. That seems a lot.

All right, £35. Where did you get that?

In a zoo community of 7,000 animals, there are deaths every day.

I mean, crocodiles are not immortal.

De Milo, with my instructions, has made you a dress.

It's a copy in every detail, of the one worn by Madame Van Ees, in both The Concert and The Music Lesson.

We now nearly have the entire wardrobe seen in Vermeer's paintings.

I came for an artificial leg, not an artificial dress.

Just to please me. Milo, help Alba with the dress.

Have you two met?

I know enough, Milo, to know that you favour black and plan to earn your living as a writer.

I know a publisher.

You must come and tell me some dirty stories.

Oh, what you would like? I could tell you about what Venus did to the unicorn in Beardsley's Under the Hill.

Milo... He got paid 60 guineas.

What do you think 60 guineas was worth?

Milo, put the dress on.

In this room, as you can see, I'm only used for holding pins.

Do I really have to?

Come on, sit at the piano. Can you play?

Nothing very complicated.

It needs a tuck here.

There's not enough spread. A pity about the hair.

Get me out of here.

C'est terrible!

What's so terrible?

I'm an excuse for medical experiments and art theory.

You must get me out of here and out of the hospital.

They are trying to help you.

Help me, for God's sake! What are you thinking?

I'm stitched and sewn to the music stool.

Look, I'm imprisoned!

This is one of the most specialised of birds, which has evolved during the past few million years to exploit this one particular environment.

The shallow alkaline lakes and lagoons swarming with microscopic life.

Why not?

It's beautiful!

Does Alba really know what she's got here?

I'm sure of it.

Does she really know what she's doing? She's trying to start all over again.

By sleeping with two brothers who can't tell the difference between pleasure and grief and take advantage of her loneliness.

My impression was she was taking advantage of our loneliness.


Who's gaining most out of this mutual exploitation?

At the moment, I am. Why you?

'Cause I'm enjoying this!

You're here but worried about exploitation.

And Alba's not here but in bed without a leg.

Now, open your eyes.

We've not found your Felipe Arc-en-Ciel, but we have found you an apartment.

Now you'll be safe from art and medicine.

It looks very expensive!

And a little bit vulgar.

It's certainly convenient for the zoo. And who's going to pay for all this?

We are!

And here is a reminder of how it really goes.

♪ If you go down in the woods today

♪ You're sure of a big surprise ♪ I see, exchanging one prison for another.

But the music is still the same.

So, I am to be a kept woman? Not so you'd notice.

Will I be able to escape if I want to?

Of course! You know, I don't believe in cages.

Suppose, I don't want to escape. Good grief, Alba!

You're free to come and go, as you please.

Good! Just want to get that straight.

You know they clip the wings of birds in the zoo.

Yeah, but they always grow again.

Now that wasn't a such a bright thing to say in the circumstances, was it?


Who has the keys? You can have the keys.

The keys aren't in it. Look, you are as free as a bird!

Just like Leda.

Prove I'm as free as a bird.

Prove it? Mmm-hmm.

All right.

All right, you just sit on your balcony at 9:00 tomorrow morning and I'll show you how easy it is to free birds.

Okay, let's see how all that changes in the face of new evidence.

I am about to become a mother, and you are about to become a father.

Or fathers. You what?

You are? I am.

Good Lord. Why not?

You can? Of course.

Is leglessness a form of contraception? I'm not sure.

You're not sure? I'm delighted.

You're delighted. A pregnant cripple and you're delighted?

Think of what it will do to my sense of balance.

It might help give you more stability. Then you recommend it.

Recommendation's one thing, a woman on crutches is another.

So, who's the father?

Well, well, well.

Why don't you discuss it between yourselves?

Well, don't you know?

Grand dieu, does an animal behaviourist need to ask such questions?

As far as I'm concerned you both are.

But you're... No buts!

You are brothers, aren't you?

What's a few spermatozoa among brothers?

Oliver, invigorating as the sight may be to you, perhaps you can tell me something about their escape.

You think I should know?

I understand that you are critical about my custody of birds.

They look like twins. Could they fly like that, do you think?

Joined together like that? They could learn.

Could my fish learn? I'm sure.

It's lonely.

I'll show you what to do. Come with me.

Both the tiger and the zebra carry their own prison bars.

But whereas the tiger's stripes, undoubtedly serve as camouflage, the stripes of the zebra are now no longer believed to be protective colouring.

The flamingo, Jerome, lives on crustaceans.

The richer the diet, the pinker the feathers.

Your birds are too pale.

Fresh prawns are rather difficult to keep as I'm sure you understand.

A flamingo enclosure is 10 feet by 12.

You have 123 birds which gives each bird one square foot each.

Flamingos normally roost standing on one another's feet.

There you are, a mirror image. It's not that impossible to find.

Flamingos never experience a temperature lower than five degrees centigrade.

Nor do they respect traffic signals.

Your fugitive cold and anaemic flamingos don't look terribly at home waiting for a taxi, do they?

Well, you've got it wrong. They're waiting for a bus to Africa.

How charming. Oliver, a warning.

Snails, butterflies and now birds have escaped from the zoo.

I can't prove that you're responsible, Oliver, but I'm sure my suspicions are not too far from the truth.

Be careful.

♪ A horse, of course Is such a noble beast ♪ I've got to go back to the hospital.

Why? I'm going to lose the other one.

Other what?

This one.

What's the matter with you?

It looks all right, doesn't it? Of course, it does.

What's wrong with it? It's got to go.

Oh, you're joking. You can't be serious.

You pulling my leg?

It's dying.

How can it be dying?

It's all on its own.

It's lonely.

You never see a female leg in a Vermeer.

Have you noticed?

Do you think it's a conspiracy by Van Meegeren?

It's Van Meegeren who says, it's got to come off.

He says it's a shock to the spine.

I'm getting sore, that I can hardly move.

Feel it. It's cold, don't you think?

How could you both love this leg as much as me?

It's the only leg I've got left.

How much of your body can you lose and still recognise yourself?

Two legs look so good together, don't you think?

They complement one another.

It's sad, just, they were made for each other.

Like us.

Like your legs, Alba.

We are complementary.

Of course, you are.

Oh! What's the name of the piece at the back of the knee?

Hasn't got a name. Oh, then I won't miss it.

Lots of other common features haven't got names like this small piece of gristle that separates the nostrils.

It also keeps them together.

Why do we have to have two nostrils?

Why do we have to have two of everything?

Symmetry is all. We're twins.

I know you are.

Just because you've chosen now to reveal your amazing secret, doesn't mean I have to be surprised.

Who told you? No one.

I guessed.

Not even your wives told me. They didn't know.

They didn't know? Come on.

They didn't know. They knew we were brothers, but they were never told that we were twins.

Well, now, that is a surprise.


They can't torture me any more by burning straws between my toes.

I can't be tickled to death on the soles of my feet.

I can't be kneecapped.

Or get housemaid's knee or athlete's foot.

Or verruca. You can get verrucas on your hands.

Say goodbye to my leg.

Both of you.

Bye, leg.

Go on, Oswald.

Goodbye, leg.

Kiss it.

It needs a send-off.

Here and here.

Pauvre jambe.

Come to the window.

Turn out the light.

What are you watching? It's a convalescence present, to celebrate your return to the zoo hotel.

I turned out the rhino.

It followed me to the corner. And you abandoned it.

It'll be all right. Supposing it attacks someone?

It won't. It's short-sighted.

Carry me to the window. I've never been to Africa.

The rhino seems able to look after itself.

Take me back to bed.

Come and join me.

Now, how about changing sides?

No, I'm happy on the left.

I exactly know my place and feel very comfortable in it.

Though it's possibly only tonight, for the first time, that I am prepared to acknowledge it.

Know your place? Since before I was three.

You have a long memory. And a few scars to prove it.

Prove it?

Below the ear.

At the shoulder.

Along the hip.

And along the shin.

Oswald and Oliver, Siamese twins.

Why haven't you acknowledged it before?

Paternal advice. Say nothing and nobody will ever know.

But it's something special to shout about, isn't it?

Was it?

Freaks and rarities used to be kept in circuses.

Now all civilised, they're kept in zoos.

Our mother didn't like the idea of us being a rare species... in a zoo.

You have no right to use zoo equipment for any old animal you find in the streets.

Specially not a black and white one, knocked down by a malicious driver?

What is it, Hoyten, about black and white animals that you must reserve your special animosity for them?

Nothing! What did you say?

Unless you pay me £200 for the use of that dog...

Hoyten, it's not yours to sell.

And if we can prove you killed it, it's you who'll do the paying.

I shall report this misuse of zoo property to Fallast.

You do that.

Come on, lad.

I sit here for hours.

It's like sitting amongst lighthouses.

Each lighthouse is giving you a bearing on lost spaces of time.

There are tens of thousands of photographs taken here.

All taken very patiently. Because decay can be very slow.

Nine months for the human body, they say.

Why are zebras always given for the last letter of the alphabet?

Can you think of a better word?

What did they use for "Z" before they knew zebras existed?

That was so long ago, nobody needed an alphabet.

I think the letter "Z" was invented especially for zebras.

What is your name?


Felipe Arc-en-Ciel.

If you've got any control over it, I want to be buried here.

It's not consecrated ground.

Well, we could make it consecrated ground.

I'll be cremated and you can scatter my ashes here.

Snails don't like ashes.

They'll just have to put up with them.

By the way, you still owe me a cripple.


I said you could only come here, if you find me a cripple to cherish.

And I expect you to find him before I deliver.

Are we likely to find him for you?

You intend to make him push us out? Push you out?

You are both zoologists. I want you to be there when I deliver.

It might cure you with your obsession with decay.

Keep looking.

"P" is for... Penguin.

"Q" is for... Quagga.

"R" is for... Rhinoceros.

"S" is for... Swan.

I'm told Vermeer's wife never sat for him.

Vermeer's wife, Catharina Bolnes, gave him 14 children.

My Catharina Bolnes is barren.

Your Catharina Bolnes...

She changed her name by a deed poll because I asked her to.

Oh, dear, what an influence you must have.

I understand that you are now called Leda?

It is an affectionate joke with no strings.

I'm glad.

You're glad?

Dear Alba, I've been very close to you on the operating table.

With just a little encouragement from you I could be as close again.

Take your arm off!

Come on, Alba. What excitements can a legless woman come by?

Enough to make your attention superfluous.

Get off, Meegeren, you fake!

Your shoes are muddy.

I can always take my shoes off.

If that was calculated to be cruel, you certainly don't know how to make an appeal, even on the poorest level!

Now leave and take Vermeer with you!

Your Catharina Bolnes is waiting for you, barren or not!

I've got this new story for you about the origin of the sphinx.

You know, what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at midday and three legs in the afternoon?

Do you think Alba would like it? It's yours for £25.

We want you to make us a suit. I know. Plenty of measuring inside leg?

God, Milo, you've got a one track mind.

That would mean you've got two, one each.

We want you to make us a suit.

There are plenty of respectable tailors.

A three-piece suit. Oh! Who's the third part for?

All three parts are for us, Milo.

But are you capable of handling the inside arms?

All right. I'll strike a bargain with you.

You get me a story published, and I'll make the underwear to go with the suit.

Zebras die here with unfailing regularity.

Why is that?

It's about the only black and white animal left in the zoo.

What about the panda? It's stuffed.

It isn't. It is, ask Plate.

He moves it about daily on the bamboo shoots.

How often did you see it move? It was always asleep.

It's permanently asleep.

Plate makes dung pellets out of plasticine, scatters them about the cage each afternoon.

He doesn't. He does.

The only trouble is he gets the colour wrong.

They're a different colour every day.

But don't worry. The kids know exactly what is going on.

I bet if you ask Beta she'd tell you. What a fake!

How could they get away with it?

They can get away with this all the time.

Haven't you noticed?

Catharina Bolnes is never the same twice.

I can only recognise her by that dreadful hat.

I'm not so certain whether Van Hoyten is always the same person.

The clothes are the same.

You're always supposed to recognise him.

You can never fail to recognise a zebra.

Or an angel.


I thought you said he had legs.

He's taken them off to meet you on an equal footing.

Felipe Arc-en-Ciel!


I'm a whore for freaks, separated Siamese twins, a speciality!

I have been told, madame, of your enjoyments. I sympathise.

I, madame, am an inordinate admirer of horses.

Pregnant mares, especially.

I've always wished that I could've served a white pregnant mare.

And have you tried?

In this present maimed company I can admit to anything.

A white mare was my downfall, literally.

I was tossed and kicked, but I still lust after riding her.

Her name was Hortensia.

I'm jealous already.

Doesn't a horse have four legs?

Then that, madame, is just enough for both of us.

And this, Milo, is for you, for bringing us together.

Come on, Oliver, you've done enough.


This tiger walks 10 miles up and down this cage every day.

Do you really think it will walk fewer miles with you inside him?

In a striped, flannel suit, with a crease in your trousers?

Maybe I should take a few clothes off!

Make it easier!

You're supposed to let the animals out, not go in there with them.

How can I let out the tiger? They'd only shoot it.

Oliver, if you don't come out we'll shoot it anyway.

There's not enough room in this bloody cage for a strip-tease.

Enough room in there for what you've got.

Look, I think I'd better join you. Oswald, one fool in there is enough!

Stop him! What on earth are they trying to prove?

The tiger was obviously making a prophetic gesture.

I can't consider the possibilities of joining you together, but between us, could we satisfy the experts?

You seem to have satisfied the experts before.


By providing the zoo with a one-legged gorilla.

Do you feel that the gorilla was ill-used?

If you feel that my care is incomplete, I must look at the animal again.

What for? To amputate its other leg?

If it's painful, cut it off. Is that your answer?

Animals on the whole are designed with a view of symmetry.

Surely in your experiments you must have seen it.

One of decay's first characteristics is to spoil that symmetry, wouldn't you say? You leave that animal alone, Meegeren!

Dear me, what do you think I am? You're certainly not Vermeer.

Was it really necessary to amputate a second time on Alba Bewick?

Yes, it was!

And if you doubt my abilities, I wonder why you're here.

Why do you want it done?



I will do it for nothing, though I understand that you're rich.

That's just not true!

But don't tell me.


For a start, let me be the father of her child.

No! No!

I could help you, maybe even more.

I noticed, Oswald, that all your experimental subjects have been female.

Do you envisage taking your photographic experiment to completion?

See, Milo is a good friend of mine.

She weighs 126 pounds. She's 5'6" in her stocking feet.

That's one inch shorter than your wife, I believe.

Like your wife, she's now 10 weeks pregnant.

The child is mine.

She may very well have an abortion.

I can perform it. There could be complications, and I can juggle the outcome.

You see how much I am prepared to bargain for.

Stand together.

You see, it could be made to work. I could stitch you together, for a price.

Evolution as you know it, Oswald, undoubtedly, and for the moment, ends with man.

Some say a woman. And an apple.

How do you anticipate completing you inquiries?

How much would you pay, do you think, for a human corpse?

God, Hoyten, I really believe you mean it.

Milo is about your wife's build, and age and wit.

And she is pregnant with my child.

And what's so amusing?

That Venus De Milo is unusually fertile.

Or rather careless. For someone without arms.

A little persuasion and I know that Milo is ready to visit the zebras.

Now zebras are notoriously fickle, very possessive of their mares.

Especially Grevy's zebra.

You know, the one with the soft eyes and the sharp hooves, and the vicious kick. And the big prick!

You deceive yourself, Hoyten.

Just to thwart you're alone, I'd make sure Milo never died.

Here's your £400 for one female zebra.

Killed no doubt, in a corner, but for the same 400, you must put in a tranquilliser gun.

Good Lord!

You're not thinking of doing your own killing, are you?

I strongly advise against it.

Do you have a flat piece of plastic?


Do you have a sharpened pencil?

No! No!

You are well equipped.

Why are you doing this for us?

Isn't it obvious? Venus locks me into the hearts of men, and monkeys.

What makes you two think you can behave so cavalierly in this zoo?

We have saved this gorilla from further mutilation.

By killing it?

Thanks to you, it was ailing. Has been for the last three years.

Is that for you to decide?

This zoo is run by incompetents and mountebanks.

I wonder why you've stayed here so long?

You needn't stay any longer. You're fired!

On what excuse?

Maltreatment of animals, for one. Misuse of zoo property, for another.

Unauthorised freeing of animals.

We haven't finished. Finished what?

Some bogus experiment that satisfies your obsessional grief?

What valuable conclusion can be gained from all this rotting meat?


How can you measure decay? By degrees of grief, perhaps.

Or by planning a zoo devoted to black and white animals because you're colour-blind.

And making sure there's no opposition by killing off all the black and white animals that aren't yours.

Or by using a zoo for some exotic game of barter and blackmail.

Or by maiming animals so that they can be expensively patched up!

Good grief, Alba! You kept that quiet.

How did you manage one each?

I thought I had failed. After all they are not Siamese!


So where've you been? We were busy.

How did you do it? I just sat on the eggs.

What did you mean you were busy? What are you going to call them?

Castor and Polydeuces? From the rape of the swan.

Too obvious.

Gamma and Delta. Wrong sex.

Do Greek letters have a sex?

What's the excuse for the bruises?

It's not important.

Did you know? You must've known.

No, I can safely say I didn't.

But I should have guessed. And what's not important?

We've been fired. Sacked, dismissed, turned out.

From the zoo?

What was the last straw?

Did you photograph a camel with a broken back?

How are you? Tired.

And my feet ache, so does my back.

Sorry, we weren't here. So am I.

Are you pleased? Of course.

Now give them back.

What are you going to do now?


Where and with what?

We thought you wouldn't mind us working at L'Escargot.

What are you doing? Making a zoo.

Can I look? Only if you pay.

The old story.

But with a brand new taxonomy, eh?

Only an innocent would put a spider and a fly in the same cage because they were both brown.

Well, putting them together will probably tell an innocent more about spiders and flies, than keeping them apart.

And you mustn't cheat.

Cheat? Cheat?

I must mark the back of your hand with ink to make sure you've paid.

Whatever for?

Now you look so alike, I can't tell the difference between you any more.

We have L'Escargot ready.

When will you be allowed to come?

I'm well enough, but I'm not coming.

Why ever not? I'm ill.

Van Meegeren says my spine is damaged. God, why listen to him?

Haven't you had enough of him? I'm not coming.

I want to stay here, near the hospital.

Near the zoo.

But I'm well enough to tell you something, that I know you are not going to like.

I don't want you to be the legal father of my children.

You what?

Van Meegeren has squeezed that out of you.

We are the father!

You see?

Well, bad grammar doesn't signify anything.

They went in, in two's, and they came out in two's.

It stopped raining. I found my Arc-en-Ciel.

I cannot have my children having three parents.

What difference does that make?

Listen, you found Felipe for me. You and Milo.

He's an ideal father.

Grief has made you unreliable. On your own admission, you are jobless.

I cannot risk your extreme behaviour. You risked it before.

It's too much responsibility for you.

And you will be prevented from being together.

Nonsense! Felipe will make a better father.

He's legless!

Did that stop me being a mother? Motherhood is involuntary!

We'll take legal action. Oswald, stop being petulant.

What would you gain?

I'm sure that unmarried male twins don't make a good legal precedent.

Beta now can't even tell which of you is which.

In the courtroom, I can't imagine that you would win. And if you did, you would know it was against my wishes.

Do you think Adam was a Siamese twin?

What happened to his brother?

Perhaps for some minds, the most difficult step to comprehend in the theory of natural selection, is the enormous leap from the higher apes to 20th century man.

All that way to bring me to this.

Now I want you to be here tonight, and I mean it. No prior engagements.

Bring Beta's record and you can watch me go.

Go? Where are you going?

I've had enough. What do you mean?

My children are now spoken for, aren't they?

Aren't they?

And I am exhausted.

The swan succeeded in the end.

I'm busy tonight, so you can't go tonight.

Oh! What are you doing that's so important?

I'm grieving. Still?


I'm now childless, as well as wifeless. You've forgotten jobless and homeless.

Let's strike a bargain.

Thanks for 30 seconds of your sympathy.

No bargains! No record!

No record?

I'm not going to bargain over a gramophone record.

You can stay away. We'll come on one condition.

Don't tell me. I know.

You want my corpse.

Mon dieu, my body for a gramophone record, and a visit from a pair of Siamese twins.

Haven't you had enough of my body?

You're our last chance! And you were my first choice.

Well, thank you both.

And we need the use of the garden of L'Escargot for nine months.

A significant period. Or longer.

We feel we can ask this because we've given up legal parenthood.

You've learned a thing or two from that zoo, haven't you?

Even if it's only how to bargain.

All right.

In the interest of science...

Some science, you can have it.

If you can get it.

But I know you won't get it because now I have a family.

And you know what families are for.

With your permission in writing, how can they stop us?

Oh, easily. They could write the words "insanity" or "insanitary".

It has long been respectable to leave your body to medical science.

What's scientific about watching a body rot?

You always said you wanted to go back to L'Escargot, so we'll take you.

And you'll lie quietly in the garden.

With you watching? Only the camera will be watching.

What's the point of watching me?

My body's only half here.

Then you'll fit better into the film frame.

A fine epitaph.

"Here lies a body cut down to fit the picture."

to share his intelligence.

And whatever the system he has used, the ability to store and pass on his knowledge, is the key to his success.

"X" is for...

There aren't any animals beginning with "X".

"Y" is for... Yak.

It's a sort of ox.

And "Z" is for... Zebra.

Good evening, Milo! It's a clear night.

It's not like you to speculate on the weather.

Just the sort of night you've been waiting for, perhaps.

Isn't it time you decided to do what you've been wanting to do ever since I've known you, Milo?

Have you got a flat piece of plastic? Yes.

A sharpened pencil? Yes.

You are well equipped. Yes, I am.

Hold these.

Well, here we go.

What's the time? 1:00.

You won't be long.

I didn't mother 26 children of the alphabet.

You made an encouraging last fling.

I am the last at L'Escargot.

From here on, it's yours, along with my corpse.

Don't worry, the papers are signed and sealed.

If you are the last then we are already finished.

A zed and two noughts, what a zoo!

All right!

Don't do anything with my body I wouldn't do.

Now I want to lie still and quiet.

Put on Beta's record.

♪ Dogs were born for howling

♪ Cats are always prowling

♪ Beasts are always growling

♪ Nature makes them do it

♪ All the jungle folk have habits of their own

♪ A worm will turn in quite the nicest way Oh, God!

She's gone!

And what are the signs?

No pulse.

No eye movement.

No breathing.

No heartbeat.

The skin pales and becomes stiff.

Turn off that awful record!

Wait until it's finished!

♪ A horse, of course Is such a noble beast

♪ It never shirks, but works and works And doesn't mind the least

♪ It shocks an ox To treat it like your pet

♪ The beasts that live can all forgive But an elephant never forgets ♪

Now what? We take her to L'Escargot.

In a coffin?

For decency's sake, we take her in a coffin.

In a long or a short coffin?

I'm sure Alba would've been amused by a short coffin.

At least it leaves no room for artificial legs.

In a long or a short coffin?

I don't think that'll be for us to decide.

The family have arrived.

I'm sure they'll want a long coffin.

Now, I see that you're upset and you like animals.

So I give you this as a present.

And we'll not be taking Alba to L'Escargot to film her decay?

♪ If you go down in the woods today You're sure of a big surprise

♪ If you go down in the woods today You'd better go in disguise

♪ For every bear that ever there was Will gather there for certain because

♪ Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic

♪ Every teddy bear who's been good is sure of a treat today

♪ There's lots of marvellous things to eat and wonderful games to play

♪ Beneath the trees where nobody sees

♪ They'll hide and seek as long as they please

♪ That's the way the teddy bears have their picnic

♪ Picnic time for teddy bears

♪ The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today

♪ Watch them, catch them unawares

♪ And see them picnic on their holiday

♪ See them gaily gad about

♪ They love to play and shout They never have any cares

♪ At 6:00 their mummies and daddies

♪ Will take them home to bed 'Cause they're tired little teddy bears

♪ If you go down in the woods today You'd better not go alone

♪ It's lovely down in the woods today But safer to stay at home God! This floor is hard.

♪ Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic ♪