Chinese Roulette (1976) Script


Hello, Traunitz!

Hello, Madam! Hello, Mr. Kolbe!

Hello, my dear!

How are things?

All right, Daddy.

Strange, I could have sworn I saw the letter here yesterday.

Are you looking for something?

Yes, the letter from Gressmann in Basel.

I think... it's in the casket.

So it is.

And write him a stiff reply. OK. Have a good flight!

When's your plane? In 40 minutes.

I must hurry.

Yours leaves at 5:00, doesn't it?

Ten past 5:00.

When will you be in Oslo? Half past 5:00, I reckon.

I think we have a stopover in Hamburg.

Could you phone Farucci? Yes, if I have time.

Give him my regards.

Good luck in Milan!

Same to you.

See you Monday, my dear! Till Monday, Daddy!

Have a good time!

Your great-grandfather should have won the Battle of Katowice.


I'm late, I'm afraid.

It was my fault.

I asked the pilot to fly faster.

Thanks, my dear.

Are we going to the mountains? No, to the mansion.

Ariane has to go to Milan. It's nicer at the mansion.

I'm sure.

I almost flew to Paris on Wednesday. Really?

In the end, it wasn't important enough and Kolbe went.

You know, the dark, good-looking little guy.

Yes, I remember him.


Yes, it was a pity.

And your daughter?

She's well?

Yes, she's well.

What's the matter?

I forgot to tell the governess not to come to the country... this weekend.

Then you must phone them?

Yes. I must phone them.


Who? Oh it's you, Angela!

Is Mother still there?

Too bad! I forgot to tell her something.

Yes, I suppose I'll have to.

What are you doing over the weekend? Not much. We're going to the zoo.

Are you in Oslo already? In Oslo?

Yes, I've just landed in Oslo.

Is it cold?

Not specially.

As usual.

Have a nice time, Daddy!

We're going to the mansion today.

Hello, Mr. Christ!

Hello, Gabriel! Hello, Madam!

My mother has driven to town. I'll take your things upstairs.

Thanks. The red light came on. Have the oil checked!

We're going for a stroll.

I think it needs oil. And fill it up!

Anything else?



Has he arrived?

They've gone for a walk.

I've forgotten the cognac.

Will you drive back and get it?

Yes, Mother.

If you've forgotten it, of course I'll go.

Get Hennessy!

High time you checked. There's not a drop of oil.

Have you ever been in hell?



Hello, Mademoiselle!


What's for dinner, Kast? I've been looking forward to today for two weeks.

Wait and see!

Just a moment! It's locked.


Gabriel must have left it open.

He's so absent-minded sometimes.

Thank you.

Oh, Kast...

I'd better tell Kast to prepare more food.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful, too.

My wife is upstairs. How could it happen?

Your wife?

But your daughter phoned to say she wasn't coming.

My daughter!

Of course. Otherwise...

I'd have prevented it happening.

Ali Ben Basset was murdered in Paris last week.

We're the last two left now.

Does my wife often come here on her own?

And always... with the same man?

Well, anyway, there are more of us for dinner.

That monster!

Who? The nasty little cripple!

Why, Mama?

Well, it's happened at last. All four of them are here.

And do you remember that fat guy in Rome?

My God, yes.

He behaved as if he owned the whole city.

And he had hardly enough money to pay for the starters.

His girlfriend told me he used to fall asleep while screwing...

on his back!

Remember that Syrian restaurant where you can't order anything?

The place where the chef composes your meal using his intuition?

Yes, yes!

But he wasn't a Syrian, was he?

Of course he was.

Where do you have your eyes?

Anyway, everyone got the right things.

By the way, Kolbe, you didn't forget the letter to Gressmann?

No. I didn't forget it.

Before I forget, they're performing Tristan and Isolde on the 17th.

Oh, that's good!

The coffee will be up immediately. Thanks, Kast.

Ariane, isn't Petrovich coming on the 17th?

I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you.

Petrovich phoned to say his brother has been arrested.

Fine, then we can go to see Tristan.

The food was excellent, by the way.

Thank you.

Her enormous talents are wasted here, aren't they?

Yes, yes, of course.

Mademoiselle and Kolbe hardly touched a thing.

They're nervous, Mama.


Oh, nothing.

I wondered whether it would be wise to read to them... in the present atmosphere.

Don't be silly!

It was his idea. And it can't do any harm.

I'll take the coffee up, then.

And tell him you need a publisher.

He should take care of that.

Come in!

Thank you.

You have your manuscript with you, I see.

Gabriel writes heady prose, you know.

We know, dear.

Oh, of course.

I'm sorry.

Thank you.

I haven't made much progress lately.

Thinking sometimes strains me so much that I feel exhausted.

But I have got a bit farther.

"Yet a human being is not a god.

"And if Christ is God become man...

"he nevertheless died as a man...

"and not as God.

"Why should I not regard myself, then, as God become man?

"What should prevent me...

"attaching more weight to the godly element than the human one...

"crushing the man beneath the god?

"All my life...

"I am subject to these magnetic poles.

"On the one hand, God, on the other...

"the human being.

"And as man, a human king...

"and the Sun King.

"As a human king, man crowned...

"and he whom one robs of his crown.

"If I love anarchy...

"if I function as the firmament...

"that accelerates a latent state of anarchy, then anarchy is first of all...

"within me.

"It ravages my organism...

"and plunges my mind into a kind of precocious madness...

"which has a special name...

"in modern medical terminology.

"I am man and woman.

"I am man and woman...

"and sun worship...

"is the religion of the man...

"who, nevertheless, without woman, his double...

"in whom I am reflected...

"is capable of nothing.

"It is the religion of the single being who divides himself in two to act...

"and to be.

"The religion...

"of the primal division of the single being.

"The unity, duality united...

"in the first androgynous being...

"of which he is the man...

"and he the woman simultaneously...

"united in a single whole.

"A dual struggle wages within me. First...

"the unity that divides itself and yet remains a unity.

"Second, that of the Sun King...

"the man in whom is unable to reconcile himself...

"to being a human ego...

"that spits on man...

"and finally hurls him into the cesspool."

...and now the results of this week's lottery draw, 5, 6...

12, 15, 32, 33...

"I am a born anarchist...

"unable to accommodate myself to a crown...

"and all my actions as a king...

"are the actions of a born anarchist...

"of a public enemy of order...

"an enemy of public order.

"But I rehearse my anarchy on myself first...

"and in myself..."

Excuse me, I...

Don't hit the child!

Please leave us alone!


Yes? Will you come to my room... in half an hour?


I thought as much.

What now?

I think I should go.

That child!

Probably none of us imagined it would be like this.

"...even today he is not ashamed to admit...

"that he went down on his knees, overwhelmed by frenzied enthusiasm...

"to thank heaven with an overbrimming heart...

"for granting him the fortune to live in this age..."

Bring me my chocolates!

Sit down!

Tell me, Gabriel.

Would you want to sleep with a cripple?

You don't have to say anything. I know the answer.

I tell it to myself almost every day.

They hate me because I'm crippled.

But... No. Don't say anything.

I know all those lies.

You shouldn't have to lie.

Is your book coming on?


I like what you write.

Do you know how long Daddy has been cheating on Mother... with that woman?

Eleven years.

And do you know what happened 11 years ago?

I fell ill 11 years ago.

It's as simple as that.

Everything is simple.

Life itself is simple.

I learned that from Traunitz.

And Mother's been going with Kolbe for seven years... ever since the doctors said... they could do no more to help me.




In their hearts, they blame me for their messed-up lives.

How are we sleeping tonight?

As planned.

I'm not letting myself be terrorized by that child.

I love you.

You know I love you.

Yes... but... that's not important.

Are you happy?


Yes, I...

I like you.

Maybe we should... smooch, too?

You'll never change.

Leave me alone now!

Is it true they took lovers... when Angela fell sick?

What nonsense!

Tell me.

Who is Ali Ben Basset?

That's none of your business.



Well, well!

Do you have to do that?

Mother asked me to... and I don't mind.

Will you have breakfast with me?

Good morning!

Pick up my crutch!

Well, you old procuress.

There's no need for that!

I understand you perfectly, Kast.

Bravo! And don't boil the eggs too hard again!

I was reading Rimbaud.

"The ego...

"is something other.

"If the brass...

"wakes up as a trumpet...

"it is no fault of its own.

"That is quite evident to me.

"With active help...

"I partake in the exploration of my mind.

"I see...

"and hear it.

"I draw the bow over the strings...

"and in the depths...

"the harmony stirs...

"or comes suddenly...

"in a bound, onto the stage.

"The ego is something other."

Are you in there? Yes.

Open the door!

Did you have fun?

Why? What's that meant to mean?

Oh, nothing. I just asked.

You look as though you hadn't had enough sleep.

Could you imagine my being jealous?


Yes, I could imagine that.

Although I'd find it unsatisfactory.


Well, I never!

Come on, take the coffee upstairs.


Come in!

The coffee's ready. At last!


Excuse me, Mr. Christ. Well?

It's about my writing.

You... you have certain connections.

I'll see what I can do, Gabriel.

How do you want it? Black.

I'm sure I can help you.

Tell my wife the coffee's ready.

Do you love my wife?

Won't you answer me, Kolbe?

I asked you if you love my wife.


We've got used to each other.

Of course. But it was love?

Who knows? Maybe it still is!

But maybe that's love, too... getting used to someone.

Probably you're right.

Will you come for a walk with me? Traunitz is coming, too.

If you want.

How many employees do you have in Paris?

Twenty full-time... and the same number freelance usually.

How much money did Gerhard lend you?


I paid it back years ago.

Excuse me, the...


The coffee's ready, and the gentlemen are waiting.

We're coming.

Eavesdroppers often hear the false truth.

It's the days that count.

The nights are all alike.

Why did you lock your door last night?

I've longed for you so much these last two weeks.

I almost came to Munich.

I want us all to dine together tonight, including Gabriel and you.

And what do your parents say?

You know my parents rarely refuse my wishes.

Who's winning?

We're both playing equally badly. It makes no difference.


we could make a wager... or play a game.

The loser would have to talk about himself for an hour... about his wishes... and fears.

What game should we play?

Who can hold his breath longest... or something?

We could do target practice.

Who hits the bull's-eye most.

With pistols...

and living targets.

That would be fun.

Well then?

Shall we play Chinese roulette?

Angela, today of all days! And besides...

But I want to play...

and today of all days, Father.

What is...

Chinese roulette?

Quite simple.

We divide ourselves into two groups.

One group chooses one of the people present, you or me, say... and the other group asks questions. For instance, if the person were a car... what kind of car would he or she be?

Shall we draw lots for the groups? No, I have already divided us up.

And how... if I may ask?

You may.

One group consists of...



Mr. Kolbe... and Mlle. Cartisse.

Father, Traunitz, Gabriel and I... are the other group.

Who wants to choose a person first?

You begin.

You wanted to play.

Very well.

Traunitz... help Gabriel carry the table out.

Well, who are we going to choose?

She hates us.

She has every right to.

Who will she choose?

Have you ever played this before?


You are a beautiful woman.

You can start.

Will you begin?

You know the game.

If the person were a coin... what coin would he or she be?

A two pfennig coin.

A louis d'or.

A fifty pfennig coin.

Traunitz says... an Indian coin... with a hole in the middle.

And if the person were an animal?

An electric eel.

A tiger.

A Pekingese.

Traunitz says a muskrat.

A muskrat?

If this person were to be cast away... forever on an island, what would he or she take along?

Another person, a book... or things?

A person.

Yes, certainly... a person.

A mirror... a precious gilded mirror.

Traunitz says a telephone, and I agree with Gabriel.

I think a mirror, too.

It's your turn.

How many questions do we have?

Each of you has two. That's eight, plus one you can think out between you.

Nine altogether.

If you were to paint this person...

what would we see in the picture?

Bomb ruins... with a half-burnt doll.

A carnivorous plant devouring a dragonfly.


I'd paint a face... a face made up... of costly materials.

Marble... and alabaster... and gold.

And Traunitz?

Traunitz says... a worm-eaten apple.

What writer might have invented this person?


Johann Wolfgang von.

Nietzsche, maybe.


I'd say Oscar Wilde... and Traunitz thinks Hanns Heinz Ewers.

What kind of death would be fitting for this person?


Let her!

You can go too far!

But if you think so.

Death by garrotting.

What's that?

A Spanish execution instrument.

By screwing tight an iron collar... the victim's neck is slowly broken.

Your daughter's governess seems to be very versatile, my dear.

Go on!

I mean the form of death.

Maybe... in a plane crash.

Yes, I think I can imagine that.


I think a slow, natural death.

Very slow... and very conscious.

And Traunitz...

says this person helps... to prove the mortality of the soul.

Which means she's already dead, Mademoiselle.

Yes, I know.

Would this person make a good mother... whore... or saint?

Saint... whore... mother.

Traunitz and I opt for the mother.

Yes, the mother.

I'd say...

a saint.

And I... a whore!

It's your turn.

Let's assume we were attacked...

by a death squad or something... and the person you have chosen... could decide which of us eight should survive.

Who would that person select?

I'd say... although it's very difficult...

I'd say Angela.

I'd say Mademoiselle, Mama.

Traunitz and I agree.

We would say...





Without doubt.

I have no idea.

You have one more question.

Who's going to ask it?

Would you like to?

No, I'd rather not.

You know the game better.

There's still our famous question to ask, my dear.

Shall I? Of course.


All right.

What would this person have been in the Third Reich?

The same as he or she is now.


Probably a professor working in euthanasia... or... Don't change it!

That's quite OK.


What do you say?

Traunitz thinks a clerk at Gestapo headquarters... and I say... concentration camp commandant in Belsen.

Do you know who it is?

I think...

I think they mean me.

You're probably right.

I'd say it's Kast, too. How about you?

Maybe, I...

You have to decide on someone.

Yes, then I agree with you.

It's probably Kast.

What do you think, Mother?

I don't think your answers are very good... but I, too, think it's Kast.

No... you're wrong.

You all picked... in a cowardly way on the most harmless person.

It's certainly not Kast, Mother.

It's you.

What's the matter with you?

You're a monster!

You're a horror. A dirty, revolting little beast!

Stop laughing!

Will you stop laughing?



Emergency ambulance service? This is Traunitz Manor.

Please come at once!

Help me, Mama!

Dr. Berndt?

Gerhard Christ speaking.

My wife... has done something rather foolish.

We need the advice of a lawyer, urgently.

Thank you.

My dearest. I love you so much.

You're the only one I love.

Just a flesh wound. A minor operation. That's all.

You knew something like this would happen, didn't you?

But you wanted her to shoot you.

I've known for two years that you don't write, yourself.

For two years, I've known that you steal it all.