Never Look Away (2018) Script

Modern art.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen.

Until the National Socialists came to power, Germany had such a thing as "modern" art, which means... as one can conclude from the very name, a different kind of art every year.

What National Socialism wants is a return to German art, which like all the creative values of a people, must be based on timeless values.

But if it no longer represents these timeless values for our people, then it is without value even today.

THE WORLD IS ONE BIG BROTHEL German women are mocked and depicted as prostitutes.

Soldiers are presented as murderers or the victims of senseless slaughter in line with what they call the "Bolshevik class struggle."

Every attempt is made to eradicate from our hearts the deep-rooted respect we naturally have for a soldier's courage.

And madness, mental illness, is elevated to a defining principle.

Must one really assume that there are men who actually see their compatriots only as degenerate cretins?

People who see fields as blue, the sky as green and clouds as sulfur yellow?

They would, of course, insist I not say "see," but "perceive."

There are only two possibilities.

Either these so-called "artists" really do see things that way and consequently believe in what they depict.

Here it would be important to determine whether their flawed vision is the result of an accident or of hereditary disease.

In the former case, regrettable for these unfortunate individuals.

In the latter, information for the Reich Ministry of the Interior, which could at least ensure that such a gruesome ocular affliction is not passed on to future generations.

The other possibility is that they themselves do not believe in the reality of what they depict, but have other motives for pestering the nation with this nonsense.

In that case, such transgressions fall within the realm of criminal activity.

What does this have to do with art?

How does it elevate the soul? How does it show artistic ability?

For to produce art, one must be an artist.

I think you're artist enough to do this too.

Yes, you certainly could. Have a go.

And when you've finished, ask your parents if they'll give you ten cents for it.

Would you like to know how much they paid Mr. Vastly Kandinsky for this?

2,000 marks.

More than a year's wages for a German worker.

What does your dad do?

He doesn't have a job right now.

2,000 marks taken from taxes paid by the working German population.

We have seen to it here that the people...

Maybe I don't want to be a painter after all.

Don't tell anybody, but I like it.


Aunt Elisabeth, did you see the way they looked at you?

On Monday, nobody here will have eyes for me.

They'll all be cheering the fuhrer.

Good day. I think you're better than Hitler.

Good day. Good day, young lady.

You took your nephew on an outing.

Yes. Thank you.

I wish you a pleasant ride. Thank you.

Over there, that's where our apartment was.

What do you miss most about Dresden?

Sometimes it helps to talk about it.

I know who you miss most!

That little girl with the red braids.

What was her name again? Johanna?

Johanna, right? Your beloved. Right?

Not only Johanna.

Who else do you miss? The Schréders.

You know, the old couple in our building.

The ones that always hold hands like little kids.

I like them.

And their dachshund, Thilo.

He always comes to me when I call his name.

It's only 45 kilometers from us to Dresden.

You'll be able to visit them as often as you like.

But you're right. Dresden is unbeatable in its beauty.

You know what?

I find your father very strong for not joining the Nazi Party.

One signature, he could have kept his teaching job and the apartment.

He says it's criminal, the way the Nazis...

I know. You don't talk like this to anyone else, do you?

Mama says she'll get him to join anyways.

After the war, being a member will be his capitol.

That's "capital"!

Good-bye, Miss May. Good-bye.


Hold this for a moment.

Did you forget something, Aunt Elisabeth?

Hey, Eddie. The May girl is here again.

Let's make her happy.

Kai? Ready.

Good. All at the same time.

Good. On the count of three. One... two... three.

Take care.

Thank you.

To paint a picture which makes you feel that way.

That's what they're trying to do, those "degenerate" artists.

Elisabeth, you're late again. You look a mess!

Chest out! Chin up!

You, in the first row. Come.

You'll give him the bouquet.

Heil! Heil! Heil!

Don't look away.

Never look away, Kurt.

Everything that's true is beautiful.

This note.

It contains the whole power of music... of life itself, of the entire universe.

People look for the code of the world.

But here it is!


Do you hear that?

The A above middle C on the May's family piano in Großschönau.

And now that I've found it...

I can play it anywhere.

On the table.

Can you hear it?

Even on my head.

Aunt Elisabeth, you're bleeding. Even on my head.


For God's sake, what are you doing?

Playing a concert for the Führer!

"Youthful delusion." That almost sounds harmless.

"Mild schizophrenia, youthful delusion." I can hear you!

But nothing that can't be healed by some time away.

Time away in...

In an institution, yes.

Couldn't we try giving her some rest at home first?

She worked so hard to graduate and went straight into the secretarial course...


Perhaps it's simply overexertion.

Is this your wife?

You can't stand her, right? I can tell by your posture.


Kindly wait outside until we've finished talking.

I won't tell you again.

As schizophrenia is a hereditary condition, I'm obliged to ask.

Are there other cases of mental illness in your family?

For God's sake, no!

Depression? We're all cheerful people.

We doctors are the guardians of the flow of hereditary health.

I must report this to the Health Authority.

The decision on the committal may not be up to you.

Dr. Michaelis...


I knew your parents. Even your grandparents.


Don't report it.

As it's you, Mrs. May.

But tell me right away if her condition worsens.

Good-bye. Heil Hitler!

Of course. Heil Hitler. Heil Hitler.


Connect me with the Health Authority.

Good-bye. Good-bye, Günther.

Ms. May, we have to leave now.

Take care, sister. We'll miss you.

It is only for a couple of weeks.

We'll see each other soon.

Good-bye, Ehrenfried.

Good-bye. We'll miss you.

I don't want to, Mama.

Kurt, go back inside.


I don't want to go!

Grab her legs.

Got her? Yes.


Come. Hold her still.

She'll be quiet in a moment.

Scopolamine. It works quickly.

Let's strap her in.

Her suitcase!

Of course.

These are her things. Okay.

Never look away!

My dear colleagues, I'd like to congratulate you.

Since we introduced the law, the weakest percentile of the German population has been rendered infertile.

400,000 individuals.

A proud figure.

A contribution towards positive breeding that future generations will thank you for.

It is now my hope that we shall one day live in a world where the streets are completely free of mongoloids, the mentally ill, and other deformed individuals.

But it is time to shift into higher gear.

As a result of British air raids, we have an increased need for auxiliary hospital places.

We cannot permit a situation whereby a wounded German soldier is denied a place in a hospital because it is being used to take care of a useless life.

How can we help you? What can we do?

Thank you for asking that question, Carl.

Gentlemen, from now on you are not just doctors and SS officers.

You are experts at the Court of Hereditary Health.

What does this mean?

Well, any patient you have sterilized and whose medical file you mark with a blue minus sign... remains in the institution.

However, if we find a red plus sign on the file, we know that the life in question is a worthless one, and the patient will be transferred to one of three special institutions in the eastern part of the Reich and there will be relieved of a meaningless existence.

Your pen.

Your sword.

Examination and preliminary interview. Elisabeth May, 23 years old.

Sterilization appointment today, 3:45 p.m.

Thank you.

You may enter. The form of address is "Herr Professor."

You may sit down there.

Did your daughter paint that?

Why do you think you are here?

Because sometimes I don't think right.

Do you know what kind of hospital I am running here?

A gynecological hospital.

A very nice girl, your daughter.

I can see from the picture.

Not what you'd call artistically talented.

I suppose you might even be pleased by that?

But a lot of heart.

I have a nephew the same age.

Unfortunately, he's very talented.

I sometimes take him to exhibitions, to encourage him.


Now please get on the examination chair in the next room.

You may keep...

I insist on speaking to Professor Seeband!

Excuse me for a moment.

I've tried to get an appointment for weeks and received no response.

I'm entitled to speak with him!

Excuse me, Professor. I couldn't stop him.

Mr. Lohse-Wächtler.

You asked me if I wanted my daughter's suffering to be passed on to the next generation.

That is why I agreed to the operation.

But what about her suffering now?

You're a German man. Compose yourself!

And my suffering?

I will not tolerate this tone any longer!

I'll report you, Professor Seeband.

To the Reich Medical Board.

You do that, Mr. Lohse-Wächtler. You do that.

You're a doctor. You've sworn the Hippocratic Oath.

Let go of me!

One day, this will all catch up with you!


It will catch up with you!

It will catch up with you for sure!

It'll catch up with you, Professor Seeband!

One day!

You should not have looked at that.

My ancestry is sound. I know I'm healthy.

Three experts disagree.

No! Sit down!

You will first go to the examination room and then to the operating room.

And you will cooperate.

Otherwise we will have to strap you down, and it will be more difficult and more painful.

Please. Mr. Seeband.

Herr Professor, please.

For the fuhrer... I'll bear many children. Healthy, Aryan children.

I'll give them to the Führer, just as we are supposed to.

And my children will give their children to the Führer too.

For the war!

You need soldiers, don't you?

You must need more soldiers!

Who else will go to battle?

I'm only confused sometimes.

It's very seldom.

I don't want to go!

I need backup!

You're a father too.

Please, for your daughter. She paints too.

That's enough! I could be her sister.

You could be my father.

Please, Papa.

Please, Papa!




Please, Papa!

Papa, please!

Please, Papa!

- Anna. Yes, Herr Professor?

I will not perform the operation on Miss May.

Assign Blockmann.

But he's scheduled for the delivery room.

Then change the schedule!

Thank you.

You both look so handsome in your uniforms. Elisabeth will be pleased.



You know...

I know. After the war, it will be my capital.

And don't forget the salute, "Heil Hitler."

If you can't bring yourself to say it, just say "drei liter" quickly.

Nobody will notice.

And not a word about your incessant painting.

Especially the nudes!

Heil Hitler!

Drei liter. We have an appointment to visit... Elisabeth May.

I'm Johann Barnert, her brother-in-law.

Her brothers, Ehrenfried and Günther May.

Her sister, Waltraud.

And her mother, Malvine.

Please turn a little to the right.

Miss Elisabeth May was transferred the day before yesterday.

Transferred? That's impossible.

All look here, please.

Orders from the Central Office.

But where to?

Aren't two missing?

Käthe, we're waiting for you.

Where has she been transferred?

Großschweidnitz Hospital.


That's two days from here! How are we supposed to visit her?

We work, and the boys are on leave from the front.

I can't tell you any more than that.

I have to go now. Heil Hitler!

That's it.

I'll write to the Health Ministry.

Please look in this direction.

FEBRUARY 13, 1945

Tinfoil. I read about that.

It's to interfere with the radio and radar.

Johanna! Johanna! Wake up!

Mama! Mama!

This way! There's a slope up there.

Head down!



I like you.

I like you too.

MAY 8, 1945

Mr. Seeband?

Professor Seeband. Yes, that's me.

Mr. Seeband.

Professor Seeband.

What did he say?

He wants to be addressed as "Herr Professor."

All right.

Herr Professor.

Where is Burghart Kroll?


Burghart Kroll.

The head of the Reich Medical Work Group.

We know about your meetings in Berlin.

I have no idea what you're talking about. I do not know this man.

I still don't know him.

If my child were born with health problems, should it be put to death?

It so happens that space and resources on this earth are limited.

Who should have them? The healthy or the sick?

Soon there will be one more place available on this earth.

You have not indicated if you were a member of the Nazi Party.

Were you a member of the Party?

Principal, for many years...

Yes or no, Mr. Barnert?


But I'm not a Nazi.

Three quarters of all teachers were in the Party.

And it is to the remaining quarter that we shall entrust our children. Good day.

Too hot!

"The Patriotic War."

"The Patriotic War...

is... is special."




The preliminary contractions are too long.

The baby is in the wrong position. It can't come out!


Call the interpreter. Immediately.

He is suspicious. He asks why you want to help.

I want to help because I can.

You may go.

A gypsy woman predicted I'd never have children.

It's my fate.

Place her sideways. Turn her sideways across the bed.

Which week is she in?

The 36th.

Blood pressure?

110 over 70.

What a fool I am to believe I could trick fate and have children!

Tell her she will definitely have one child.

And if she wants, many more after that.

The child is in the transverse position.

During contractions, the uterus is too hard to turn the child.

I'll open the amniotic sac from inside.

In a pause between contractions, I'll turn the baby.

I'm a military interpreter.

Do it.

Gloves, please.

Vodka, please.

Don't dry them. Don't touch.

We'll do it without anesthesia.

I already have a leg.

We must wait for the next contraction.

Now I'm placing the index finger in the baby's mouth.

Pressing the chin against the chest.

And slowly pulling out the baby's head.

A boy. A healthy boy.

Alexander Mikhailovich!

And a beautiful, healthy mother.

Congratulations, Major.

Whoever saves a life saves the entire world.

You have saved my world, Herr Professor.

No one will harm a hair on your head.

You are now under my personal protection.

Prepare a guest room for the professor.

And bring him some decent clothes.

Look at him. This is our son.

Father. You don't have to worry any longer!

Now I understand! I understand.

What is it you understand?


How everything is connected. That everything is connected.

The code of the world.

' 'L I never have to worry again. I never have to be afraid again.

I'm untouchable.

That's nice.

No, Father, you don't understand.

You don't have to worry either. Really. And...

I don't even have to be an artist. I can choose any profession.

And I will find what's right, what's true!

I'm happy for you, really.

I need to preserve this moment somehow!

Somehow I need to preserve this moment.

Now I understand.

I know who it is you're thinking about.

But he's different.


Good morning, Father.

Good morning, my boy.

Check the alignment, colleague.

Do you do that so you can feel better than us?

Do what?


Drawing freehand while the rest of us sweat away with stencils.

Are you trying to make us look bad?

Why do you do it?

I do it because I can.

See you tomorrow, then.

You can take the pencils with you if you bring them back.

In January, they're accepting applications to the Academy of Art.

I'm content with this work.

What's the point of this?

Does stuff like this help the workingman?

Does it give your father strength to clean the stairs?

You want to help him, don't you?

You even arranged for him to get the job.

Been through a lot of shit, have you?

But does it help to wallow in it?

Will it help create a world where your kids have it better than you?

That's what communism is all about.

I'll support your application.

The girls at the academy are prettier than the ones here.

Can you see here that someone left all vanity aside and put himself in the service of the cause?

In the service of the people?

Work on your attitude.

Work on your craft.

And the right art will flow out of you on its own accord.

I would suggest Pablo Picasso as a cautionary example.

He created powerful realistic pictures that demonstrate genuine solidarity with the working classes.

But he soon slipped into a decadent, obscene formalism.


Because he wanted to be seen as an innovator, not a traditionalist.

Innovation. Creative independence. Artistic freedom.

Words that initially sound tempting to an artist.

Me, me, me.

But a modern artist can only achieve real freedom if he serves the interests of the people.

The "me, me, me" stance leads to misery.

At best, it will lead to being subsidized by decadent, wealthy collectors, exploiters of the workingman who delight in the fact that they have nothing in common with the people, not even the same taste in art.

Decay, mysticism, and pornography.

Empty forms, artificial constructions.

Splotches, lines, spheres, cones...

All that, just in order to be considered an innovator?

Yes, it's new.

But it's also wrong.

And vain and stupid, undemocratic, decadent.

Be different, gentlemen. Be different.

You had the hammer a little higher up before.

Right, it was quite a bit higher up.

Still higher.

Like this? The left hand was more in the middle.

And your right hand was much further to the front.

More. Further, further.

Still further.

Like this? Further, further...

Move the top to the front.

Exactly. Right about there, huh?

That's about right. Looks good.

No, it can't have been like that.

Cut the nonsense.

The hammer was higher up.

No. Lower down.

No, further up.

Further up.

Down, up, down, up.

Comrade Professor!

Comrade Professor, these young people are out of control.

They don't take me seriously. I have big responsibilities here, you know!

Are we in kindergarten here?

Yes, it looks like we are.

A girl in the Fashion Department is giving away Western pencils!

Excuse me!

Excuse me!

Excuse me!

Thanks. My pleasure.

Amazing. 2B. Thanks. Hello, Ernst.

Thanks for sharing. Of course. You're welcome.

Say hi to Lise for me. I will. Thanks.


Thanks, Elisabeth.

Don't get your hopes up. She's mine.

Watch and learn.

2B or 4B?


2B, but...

I'd like a date even more than a pencil.

Let's just leave it at a pencil for now.

Are you sure?


Your name's Elisabeth?

Do you want one too?

There's only...

4B left.


A golden pheasant like you shouldn't use a tin for an ashtray.

Golden pheasant?


I can't let you get away with that.

I completely agree.

How about a walk?

In the park?

So I can rectify my misapprehension?

I thought you wanted to talk with me?

Actually, I wanted to take a walk with you.

Very well.

Then I'll make conversation.

Socialist Realism, is that your thing?

Probably about as much as Lotte Ulbricht's fashion is your thing.

Why do you keep looking at me like that?

You remind me of somebody.

Would you like to paint me?

I don't know.

Would you like to make a suit for me?

I should be getting home.

Can I accompany you?

Just to the door.



You're taking dance lessons?

I live here.

The house belongs to us.

You're not really dispelling the whole golden pheasant thing.

We were just lucky. The house wasn't even hit once.

The whole street looked like this before the war.

Good-bye, Kurt.



Could I call you something else?

Maybe you have a nickname?

Everyone calls me Elisabeth, really.

"Really" mostly means the very opposite is true.

All right.

My father calls me "Ellie."

Good-bye, Ellie.


More volume.

You could have taken a bit more time off, Kurt.


That's enough for today.

Oh, yes, good.

Good night.

See you tomorrow.

A golden pheasant as the workingwoman?

You're my semester thesis now.

A suit.

For you.

I'll never take it off again.

You're so beautiful, it's almost unromantic.

It's far too easy to love you.

Do you love me?

Do you love me?

Otherwise it doesn't work for me.

Without love, it won't work.

I love you.



I love you!

I love you.

My parents!

I thought they lived in Chemnitz.

They do.

My father!

What will we do now?


Sound asleep.

She left a candle burning. When is she finally going to grow up?

Yes, youth...

So, how did you get the scratches?

Like I said, it's from garden work.

Yeah, I know about that kind of garden work.

Looks like you really have a green thumb.

Ah, here comes the "garden work."

Let's go, boys.

So how are things in your garden these days?

Mine suffers from drought.

Thanks for risking your life for my reputation.

But don't ever do anything so crazy again.

Did your parents...

They didn't notice a thing. Nothing at all.

They're moving back to Dresden.

My father will get his old job back as hospital director.

But he has to rent out a room in our house, or he'll get into trouble with the Residence Allocation Office.

He's going to put up a sign on Monday.

You wouldn't perhaps like to... be the first to discover that sign?

Quite by chance?

They couldn't really hold it against me if I fell in love with a tenant they chose themselves.

But your mother, won't she sense something?

Oh, Mama. She's such an innocent.

Don't worry about her. She won't suspect a thing.

Really, nothing at all.


I've come about the sign. ls the room still for rent?

We put the sign up a quarter of an hour ago.

Is that a yes?

Come in.

Short, short, long.

Mrs. Seeband? Yes?

Someone's here about the room.

That was quick.

Short, short and... arms up!

Short, short, long. Short, short, long.

Head up! Short, short, long.

Short, short, long. Short, short, long.

Short, short... arms up!

Barnert, Kurt.

What do you do for a living?

I'm a student.


Painting. Painting?

Mrs. Hellthaler, please come up.

Carl, there's a tenant for the room. Do come down.

You have facial paresis.

Partial facial paralysis.

The corner of your mouth hangs.

Did you have an accident or Lyme disease?

Kindly take this up to the office.

Then my husband can talk with the tenant.

My husband's a doctor. It's his passion. Occasionally one gets a free diagnosis.

You should have that examined.

Kurt comes with the best recommendations.

He's a student, a non-smoker...

We've already agreed on the rent.

But of course, it's your decision whether he gets the room.

Kurt wants to be a painter.

I am a painter.

The house's facade is starting to peel.

Maybe we could take the painting off the rent.

I'm not that kind of painter.

What kind are you?

A painter of pictures.

Socialist Realism?

Is there any other kind?

I hope not.

You can have the room anyway.

Thank you, Mr. Seeband.

Professor Seeband, please.

Nice suit.

What are you doing up so late?

I've... been out.


That can't be good for your work.

Now get to bed.

I don't like that Kurt.

We have to make sure Ellie doesn't get too friendly with him.


So she can make a good catch, of course.

Just as you made a good catch.

Professor Seeband, about yesterday... l... Of course, I'd never tell.

You have a new subject.


For the directors' gallery.

In that style, more or less.

We start tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. In my office at the hospital, all right?

Since the people of the GDR unanimously desire peace and the unification of Germany, Prime Minister Grotewohl presented the Bonn government...

The professor is coming. Please be seated.

...with proposals for free elections throughout the whole of Germany.

These proposals were rejected by the Western occupying powers and the Adenauer government, in line with their politics of confrontation.

As a further consequence of these politics, the government in Bonn and the Western occupying powers have introduced strict border controls at the demarcation line in order to emphasize their separation from the GDR and thus to perpetuate the division of Germany.

Thank you. Good day.


I thought you could put your easel... here.

The lack of any corresponding controls at GDR borders has been exploited by the Western powers to infiltrate our sector with an ever-increasing number of spies, terrorists, and smugglers.

Until now, once their criminal activities have been accomplished, they have been able to return without any obstacle across the demarcation line to West Germany.

Consequently, we are obliged to take measures to protect the peaceful interests of the population of the German Democratic Republic.

These measures have been entrusted to the Ministry of State Security.

That's exactly what I had in mind. Very good.

We'll continue tomorrow at 4:00.

Two sessions should be enough, right?

Why are you looking at those ancient photos again?

Why does the most idiotic snapshot have more reality than my painting?

Papa likes it.

That's just it.

Hardly anyone likes photos of themselves.

But everyone's supposed to like a painting.

So the photograph must be truer.

Why did your father go to work in Chemnitz anyway?

He was the hospital director here before.

He doesn't want us to talk about it.

During the war, Papa treated the wives of Goering and Goebbels.

Simply because he's the best gynecologist.

They traveled 200 kilometers from Berlin.

As if no one there was capable of doing a Pap smear. Just imagine!

As a reward, they made him an honorary member of the SS.

He couldn't refuse.

But after the war, it was hard to explain to the Russians that he didn't have anything else to do with the Nazis.

They combed through all the archives, but couldn't find anything against him.

Today, the professor called me... a "Willi Sitte" type of artist.

But that's good. He's successful.

A "Willi Sitte" type.

I think I have to get out of this place.

You don't mean to the West?

You can't be serious.

But things are going so well for us here.

I could never abandon Mama.


Your diploma thesis convinced the committee, and they chose you to paint the mural for the new History Museum.

The theme is "Unity of the Working Class."

A task that even a few professors wouldn't have minded getting.

A mural? Yes.

But I'm not a muralist.

Kurt, we both know you can do it.

No, I'm sorry, it's not for me. It's pure decoration.

You'd have guaranteed work. And even money.

It's just not me.

Me, me, me.

No, don't move. Please.

That way, I can imagine we're a single body.

I'm pregnant.

Then you belong to me completely now.

You belong with me, I mean.

We have to tell them, Ellie.

Maybe we should tell them we're together first.

To split the shock up into small parts.

I think your mother already suspects something.

It's not Mama I'm worried about.

It'll hit Papa completely out of the blue.

For him, I'll always be 12 years old.

I think Ellie's pregnant.


The temperature of her hand has been slightly elevated, but she shows no symptoms of a cold.

Yesterday she left the room twice at dinner, didn't touch her porridge at breakfast, and grabbed the chair for support when she got up.

Third month, I'd say.

Maybe the fourth.

My God, she's still a child herself!

The problem isn't her age, but the man.

But who could it be?

Leptosomic, melancholic, son of a man who took his life because he had to clean a few stairs.

My father would've called a man like that a "dead loss."

This is not the genetic material I want for our descendants.

We have to prevent it.

But how?

After 30 years as a gynecologist, I can tell you one thing.

An abortion has been known to end almost any dalliance.

No, I don't know that one. What's the difference?

The psychotic thinks two and two makes five, while the neurotic knows two and two make four.

But it worries him.

There's something we want to tell you.

About the Academy of Art? I'm always interested in that.

No. Although it's also about the academy.

Kurt has been commissioned to paint the mural in the History Museum.

Painting walls, after all?

The mural's theme is "Unity of the Working Class."

And on the subject of unity...

What is it, my child?

Nothing unpleasant, I hope.

My nerves, you know.


We're... together.

You're working on the mural too?

We're a couple. We have been for some time.

A couple of students?

A couple in a loving relationship.

And there's something else. That's big news.

Yes, and as well as that...

My God, I need to digest this first.

This is so totally unexpected.

Please bring the professor some water!

Thank you.

I'm happy you told us and told us early.

There's something about Ellie you need to know.

We didn't want to worry Ellie unnecessarily, so we never really fully explained it to her, but...

As a little girl, Ellie had a serious infection of the pelvis.

It left scar tissue in the fallopian tubes and caused considerable cilia damage.


Cilia are the tiny hairs in the mucus of the fallopian tubes which transport the fertilized egg to the uterus.

We've been looking for a way to correct her condition surgically.

But if she... were to become pregnant before we find one, she'd be at an extreme risk of having an extrauterine gravidity, an ectopic pregnancy.

A tubal pregnancy.

This could lead to severe internal bleeding.

So I have to warn you... though not for the same reason that fathers normally warn men pursuing their daughters, not to become intimate with her until we've relieved this condition.

A pregnancy at this point in time... could be life-threatening for Ellie.

You do understand? Life-threatening.

And if she were pregnant already?

Then I'd have to examine her immediately.

I must act immediately.

The pregnancy is considerably more advanced than I feared.

It's already the third month.

An abortion?

If I don't remove the fetus immediately, she won't survive the pregnancy.


We have a reputation to uphold.

Is it really the only way?


Do you doubt my professional ability?

Would I subject myself to this, and my daughter, if it were not absolutely necessary?

He had an SS uniform tailor-made.

For hours he would change positions in front of the mirror... trying different poses to find the best one.

He didn't care that I could see him.

I was just a little girl.

There was a skull on his cap.

In silver.

A skull.

A doctor is supposed to heal people.

He's supposed to heal.

Am I always going to be at his mercy?

...a gifted doctor, a humanist, an active co-creator of our Socialist Republic.

And a fine example for all members of his profession.

For these reasons, today, December 11, the GDR's Health Care Day, I'm proud to present him with the Robert Koch Medal and the title "Distinguished Doctor of the People."

Thank you, Comrade Minister, for the kind words, which I don't deserve.

As a doctor and a member of society, I am merely doing my duty.

I'm simply a cog in the huge machine of the international socialist movement.

Just as the painter of this far too flattering portrait of me is only a small cog, his style indistinguishable from the other painters here.

As all are just small cogs in a large apparatus, which with the help of the Soviet Union is heading steadily towards a joint goal...


Thank you.

What did he want?

I'm to report to KGB headquarters tomorrow. That's all he said.

Looks like that plan didn't work either. They're even closer than before.

Patience, Martha.

Just a bit of patience.

General Murawjow, Professor Seeband, as per your orders.

You may go.



Wait, I want to show you something.

Come and sit down.

Carl, I'm being transferred.

Back to Moscow.

I won't be able to protect you any longer.

All the others have been captured.

We are still hunting for Burghart Kroll and the "medical coordinator of the Dresden region for the euthanasia program," who is still officially unknown.

I can't guarantee that my successor won't question doctors and nurses again in this matter.

You should leave the country as well and never come back.

Apply for an emigration permit for you and your wife.

It will be approved.

No one will suspect the truth in the West.

Let's hope our side doesn't, either.


You can't tell me anything about Kroll?

Where he is?

Who else was at your meetings?

You'd be helping me a great deal.

I never met the man.

I don't know anything about him.

We shall never meet again, my friend.

I hope I have repaid my debt.

You may go.

Dear Ellie, dear Kurt.

So now you have been my son-in-law for two hours.

I'll be leaving my daughter in your hands when we leave the GDR at the end of the month.

There is only one thing I'd like to tell you for your life's journey.

It's not enough to be "good."

I've seen many men who were just "good" be passed over, dispossessed, even eradicated.

If you want security in this world, no matter what you do, you have to be the best.

Not one of the best.

The best.

To the married couple!



"...thus I'm now in Oldenburg, in the Sanderbusch Clinic, with every prospect of taking charge when Erkner retires two years from now.

Take care of yourself, your Papa."

It looks as though he's landed on his feet again.

How much would you give me for the Wartburg?

Are you out of your mind?

Do you know how long an ordinary mortal has to wait to get a car like that?

I just don't like it anymore.

300 marks?

Kurt. They don't even paint anymore in the West.

They consider painting bourgeois.

Don't they find "bourgeois" good?

Oh, what do I know?

Of course we all want to get rid of you. Of course.

But you've got a life here.

You have money. You're becoming famous.

I mean, girls have gone to bed with me because I'm your assistant.

You can handle the apparatchiks like nobody else.

You're about to turn 30, not that young anymore.



Because none of that matters.

Then what does matter?

The truth.

And who says what's true?

Me, me, me.



Do you need canvases?

You've got some?

In my studio, with pictures on them.


Paint over all of them, please. I never want to see them again.

Believe me, nothing I've ever painted is right.

...the idea of Socialist Realism. Visit from Normannenstraße.

What about the murals?

You can't destroy them.

...depicted as an unstoppable train.

Comrades, were you in charge of...

Other people will take care of that for me.

We've been here right from the start and can testify that all involved have impeccable views.

MARCH 13, 1961


Stop. Stay there!

What's in that suitcase?

Those are things that belong to my brother-in-law.

Incoming train to Zoologischer Garten.

Stand back, please.

They make it almost too easy.

Not for much longer.

Next station, Zoologischer Garten.

Your name? Barnert, Kurt.

Please fill this out.

Your beds are over there. I'll come to you.

Mrs. Müller? Mrs. Müller!

Thank you. Good day.

There you go. Thank you.

Dear Professor.

By the time you read this, I shall be in the West.

I couldn't talk to you about it before. It would've involved you in a criminal act.

You were always very good to me, so I hope you will believe me when I tell you that I haven't made this decision lightly.

Hello. I'm Kurt.

Should I come back later?

No, come in.

Klaus, stay still.

You'll spoil your father's birthday present for Mommy.

How old are you again?

Twenty-nine. Almost 30.

You look younger.

As I said, Munich's a good idea.

People there have plenty of money and constantly need portraits and landscapes.

The same goes for Hamburg.

What I'd advise you against is Dusseldorf.


It's all modern art there. You know, avant-garde.

If you didn't study at their academy, you don't stand a chance.

It's a kind of mafia.

Munich is good.

Hamburg is good.

Berlin is middling.

As you can see for yourself.

Klaus, stay still.

DUSSELDORF ART ACADEMY OPEN HOUSE Good day. My name is Kurt Barnert.

I called about a guided tour.

He punched him in the nose in the middle of the lecture.

He gave the Hitler salute!

Claimed it was just a provocation. How tasteless!

...paid 9,000 marks for a lump of soil.


You're still under 26, I hope?

Good, and what do you want to do?

Performances? Installations? Sculpture?

Well, to be honest, painting. "Painting"?

No offense, I'm from the East myself. Mecklenburg. Harry, Harry Preußer.


Nobody here paints anymore.

People want something new. An idea.

An idea? Yes. But not something like that.

Something new, or at least in new packaging.

Like Yves Klein, who says, "I'm claiming ultramarine for myself.

I'm even going to patent it.

It's now called Yves Klein Blue. I'll only express myself in it.

I'll paint the breasts of a beautiful woman with Yves Klein Blue.

She'll smear the paint on the breasts of another beautiful woman.

I'll paint sponges with Yves Klein Blue and use it to stick them to canvases."

Of course, it's no good if someone else had the idea first.

Lucio Fontana's been slashing canvases for six years.

But Katrin is hot as hell, so she can do whatever she likes.

Let us focus not on what is obvious, but on things more spurious.

Let profoundness emerge.

That's Adrian Schimmel.

The name says it all... "Adrian Mold."

His real name is Adrian Finck, son of the Mannesmann CEO.

A little snot. But he can talk, that's for sure.

But is the wallpaper idea enough?

To put it differently, what does the entire composition say to you?

Yes, I think it's very nice.

But it's still what you might call... wallpaper.

I'm so sorry. Yes.


But you see, it only looks that way.

That's what we artists are searching for.

What's hidden behind the decorative.

Look. The emptiness, expressed by the white, which I placed between the stencils.

The banality represented by the recurring pattern I applied to my work.

The senseless stridency visible in the neon colors.

That's exactly what has brought you here.

You have a deep sense of the artistic. Otherwise you wouldn't have ended up here.

Your friends see pretty wallpaper.

You see the dimension behind it.


And... is it possible to purchase something like this?

It is. That's what's so magnificent about art.

Money makes money. You know how it goes.

But an artist shouldn't have to talk about his work like that.

He wants to prove to his successful family that he's a success even without them.

Money is all that counts for them.

I want to prove to my unsuccessful family that I'm a success in spite of them.

Money is all that counts there, too.

Families. What a load of crap!

But you must be 26 at most when you have the idea, or forget it!


Just think. Picasso was 26 when he painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Duchamp was 25 when he painted Nude Descending a Staircase.

And Michelangelo was 24 when he did the Pietà.

Good-bye. Good-bye.

What do you call it? Potato Pendulum.

No more dots?

I'm more interested in potatoes now.

This is Kurt. He's from the East, too. Wants to study here.

I guess you've already had to listen to Harry's speech about "the idea"?

You don't believe it?

I'm really much more interested in... potatoes.

Come on, before you get corrupted.

Arendt No.

What he wants, nobody knows.

He used to do everything in big dots, all the same color, that he printed on boards.

Could have been a real idea.

And now that.

In two months, it'll be something completely different again.

Our professor...

Antonius van Verten. Guess you've heard of him, even in Saxony.

A true original.

Though I'm sure he'd prefer the term "legend."

He always wears that hat.

One time a very pretty student seduced him, just to see him without the hat.

He kept it on, even in bed.

Only works with felt and grease.

And Why?

That remains his big, legendary secret.

We have to go to all his lectures, but he never looks at anything we do.

He says you're the only one who knows if you're doing it right.

I think he simply doesn't care about us.

Well, we don't care about him either.

But whether you're accepted, or get a studio, it's all completely up to that maniac.

Come on, he's not really that interesting.


You haven't submitted a portfolio.

I couldn't bring anything with me.

What have you done up to now?


In East Germany? Yes.

Socialist Realism.

WALL SURROUNDS EAST BERLIN! TEAR GAS AND TANKS So now they really have built a wall.

Did you feel that coming?

"Nobody has the intention." It usually means the opposite is true.

But somehow it's almost art, that wall.

A piece of landscape art.

The craftsmanship involved is secondary.

Hundreds of thousands have a problem with it.

Consistent German madness.

What do you like in art?

Don't like talking about yourself, do you?

But your eyes tell me that you've seen more than any of us.


STUDIO SPACE These are the only conditions for you, like everyone else.

That you come to the lectures.

And that you never ask me to look at anything you do.


In any case, you're the only one who knows if it's good or not.

One step forward, two steps back.

Oh, come on.

You can do anything you like here.

If I only knew what that was.





Who will you vote for? CDU!

FDP! German Peace Union!

They're criminals.

As if they'd do it any better. SPD!

Don't vote for anyone.

Never vote for another party again.

Vote for art.

It's either-or.

In art only, freedom is not an illusion.

After the Nazi catastrophe, only the artist can give people back their sense of freedom.

Every individual, whether he's a garbage man or a farmer, has the chance to be an artist... if he develops his own subjective abilities without external guidelines.

If you aren't free... completely free, then nobody else will be.

By making yourselves free, you are liberating the world.

You are priests.

You are revolutionaries.

You are liberators.

Make your burnt offerings!

Don't tell me you've joined the slashers.

That's almost an idea.

You learn fast.

I lost it.

I went to see the doctor.

I won't be able to have children.

And you know what he said?

It was the abortion.

Not cilia damage.

The supporting structures have been damaged.

"Cervical insufficiency."

We're never going to make it past the third month.

Because he wanted to keep it so pure... he only succeeded in extinguishing his own bloodline.

We won't have any children, Kurt.

Your pictures...

Your pictures have to be our children, okay?



Last time we went over...

No.No, no.

Have you all studied Lehmbruck?

Better to look at this with the episcope.

So, Lehmbruck.

He said that each work of art must retain something from the first days of Creation.

As if...

Almost as if it were still divine...

As if it were only just emerging... from the primeval mass, from the rib...


No, a different approach.

Has anyone had an insight this week?

A realization... you'd perhaps like to share?

Lottery numbers.

No, really. The lottery numbers.

If I tell you six numbers at random...

5, 7, 23, 29, 44, 11... that's just stupid.

But if I read you the winning numbers from the lottery...

May I?

"2, 17, 19, 25, 45, 48."

Suddenly they have a true quality, something imperative, almost beautiful.

That was it.

That was my... insight.

You can go. I have nothing for you today.

Kurt, would you come here for a minute?


I'd like to see your art.


Whenever you like, and if you like.

Just let me know.

What is there to think about?

If he likes your art, you'll get a gallery.

Then you can buy your girlfriend a car. I'm married.

Then you can buy your wife and your girlfriend a oar.

I just don't know if what I'm doing is good enough.

Somehow it isn't.

But it's all subjective anyway.

And if it weren't subjective, it'd be craft.

It's also a matter of luck, you know?

He's interested in your work, for whatever reason. So you're in luck.

He doesn't want to be wrong. He's ready to see something brilliant in your work.

Don't stand in your own way.

It's good, your work. Really.

It's good.

During the war, I was a Luftwaffe radio operator.

I was a terrible radio operator, and my pilot was a terrible pilot.

Well, we only had four weeks training.

We were shot down on our second sortie over the Crimea.

The pilot was killed immediately.

Tatar nomads recovered me from the wreckage with burns that really should have killed me.

These peasants, the very same peasants I was supposed to bomb, pulled me out of the wreckage... and looked after me as best they could.

They rubbed grease into my wounds... and wrapped me in felt blankets.

I stayed with them for a year.

Then I surrendered to the Americans as a POW.

If I ask myself what I truly know, what I've truly experienced in life, what I can claim without lying...

it's the grease on my skin.

The home that is grease and felt.

When other people tell me about love... for their wives, for their children, or about sex, I know what they mean... only because I experienced grease and felt on my skin.

My life until then was uneventful.

My childhood was happy and sheltered.

A couple of slaps across the ears, not many.

My teachers liked me.

I wanted to be a businessman, like my dad.

I had no "artistic talent."

And my life since was pretty uneventful.

I'm still cheerful.

I spent the last days of the war in an army hospital with friendly nurses, very friendly nurses.

Afterwards, fairly quick success and this professorship here.


the grease and the felt... those I absorbed and understood so thoroughly... like Descartes understood that he existed.

"I think, therefore I am."

He questioned everything. Everything.

Everything could be an illusion, a trick, his imagination.

But then he realized that something was thinking those thoughts.

So consequently, something must exist.

And that something, he decided to call "myself."

But who are you?

What are you?


This is not you.

How was your day?


Villa Cimbrone.

That's also Villa Cimbrone. No, Villa Rufolo.

But also in Ravello.

Such a beautiful car!

Our hotel.

Le Sirenuse.

Oh God, Pompeii.

Still a student at 30?

When I was 30, I was senior physician in Dresden.

When Mozart was 30... he was dead.

I understand you no longer want my financial support.

And I find that laudable.

So I have a suggestion.

I know the director of the gynecology clinic in Dusseldorf.

I'm frequently invited there for consultations.

I'll ask him to give you a part-time job there.

Something suitable.

Maybe three hours each morning?

Then you'll have an income, and you'll still have ample time to... paint.

Can't he just leave us alone?

Can't he just vanish from our lives?

Perhaps the job in the clinic will help with that.


White on a white background?

Is this modern art?

Allegory of Emptiness. That could be the title.

Maybe it will cause a sensation.

Come on, I'll take you to dinner. My driver's waiting outside.

This has to be taken to the passport office in Bonn so they can issue me a permanent document.

It's ready to be picked up. Here's your authorization.

I was thinking, you live close to Bonn. Why don't you do it for me?

That way you can earn a bit more money.

I'll come by next week to pick up the passport. All right?

Can I bring you a coffee, Professor? Yes, thank you.

Burghart Kroll arrested!

Head of euthanasia program lived undisturbed for ten years as consultant in Schleswig-Holstein.

Ten cents.

Thank you.

Murderer of the sick.

Murderer of the sick. Ten cents.

Thank you, sir. Good-bye. Ciao, my boy.

Professor, your coffee. Thanks.

You smoke?

Sixty-three is the right age to start.

The consequences will hardly catch up with me.

You finish your meal. I'm afraid I have to dash.

Give my best to Ellie.

Good night. Good night, Professor.

May I have a look?

Keep it. I only need the sports pages.

Thank you.

"White On White."

Allegory of Emptiness.

Your father-in-law?

What an asshole.

You know, for the first time, I want success for another more than for myself.

Your mistake is clinging to an easel and canvas.

Painting is dead.

Just like folk dancing and lace-making and silent movies.

I only want what's best for you, or I'd just let you carry on.

It's too late for us to become doctors now.




Hello. Hello.

What's this?

I don't know either, but I think that's it.

Painted copies of photographs?

Excuse me.

Overall, I am content with the construction.

That's good to hear, Professor Seeband.

I've explained what concerns me. Yes.

The clear door width to the operating rooms must be augmented by 25 centimeters on both sides.

That way, the larger beds can still fit through comfortably.

That's correct. Thank you for your suggestion, Professor.

I think you understand why I didn't introduce you this morning.

It wouldn't have been appropriate.

How's the world of art? And, more importantly, do you have my passport?


Unfortunately, I have to go.


Excuse me.

Have you ever seen anything like that?

What did you say to him? What's wrong with him?

If you only knew how beautiful you look right now.

I'm pregnant.

In the fourth month!

I went to the doctor. We're going to be parents!

We're going to be parents after all!

It's Sunday. There's nobody here. I promise.

Please, there's no one here.

Please, like yesterday.

Tell me again and then come down the stairs.

I'm pregnant.

It's not potatoes, is it?

How about I become your gallerist?

Adrian Schimmel, the gallerist?

Adrian Finck.

We should begin.

Are there any questions for Kurt Barnert?

Then perhaps I will pose the first question.

Mr. Barnert, many of your paintings are based on amateur photographs or magazines.

But the picture Nude Descending a Staircase... is surely a homage to Duchamp?


Heinz Viersen, Westdeutsche Zeitung.

Mr. Barnert, in your magnificent painting Mother and Child, which we see here, who is depicted?

You and your mother?

No, it's just an amateur snapshot.

It doesn't really matter to me who I paint.

But if you paint a portrait, you must know the person.

It's actually better if I don't know them.

Then I see better what's really there.

Is that the reason behind the passport photos from a photo booth?

A photograph without an author?


So by painting a Wehrmacht officer, you aren't making a statement about the Wehrmacht?

No, I don't make statements. I make pictures.

Photographs... Photographs by other means.

Hermann Schreiber, SDR.

You take the exact composition from a snapshot.

Surely that means everything is random.

Not random.

Real. Coherent. Consistent.

Only reality is consistent.

Every reality is consistent.

Everything that's true is beautiful.

What do you mean by that?

Let's suppose I say six numbers to you now.

It's just stupid. Pointless.

But if the six numbers are the winning lottery numbers, then they mean something.

They have consistency, value, almost beauty.

It's the same with the photographs.

I want the truth.

Yes, Mr. Meybert?

Urs Meybert, Kunstchronik.

What will be next for you? More painted, blurry copies of photographs?

No, I've had enough of them for a while.

I'm more interested in color charts now.

Color charts?


That'll get us into trouble.

That'll get us into trouble too.

Magazine images chosen at random, photo booth passport photos, snapshots from family albums.

All reproduced in painting, but blurred.

With these pictures, which have genuine force in some mysterious way, Kurt Barnert seems to be developing into the leading artist of his generation.

And that while working in a medium that is often considered dead. Painting.

But, like many of his generation, he has no stories to tell, nothing to say.

He parts with artistic tradition, breaks with an autobiographical approach to art.

So for the first time in the history of art, we can speak of a work without an author.

Was that good?


Sure I can't drive you to your hotel?

I'd like to walk a bit.

You were good today.

It was good.

It's going to be good.