Saraband (2003) Script

to Ingrid

Marianne shows her photos

Johan became a multimillionaire in his old age.

A very old Danish aunt who'd once been a world-famous opera singer left her fortune to Johan.

When he found himself financially independent, he left his job at the university.

He bought his grandparents' summerhouse... a ramshackle, turn-of-the-century villa in the wilderness near Orsa.

He and I have had no contact... no contact at all, for many years.

Our daughters are far away... even from me.

Martha lives in a home, sinking ever deeper into the isolation of her disease.

I visit her now and then, but she doesn't recognize me.

And Sara married a successful lawyer.

They moved to Australia, where they work for a prestigious firm.

They have no children.


I'm still active in my profession, but at the pace I choose.

Mostly family disputes and divorces.

I've been thinking I ought to go... visit Johan.

ONE Marianne puts her plan into action

For a long time now I've been thinking...

I ought to come visit Johan.

And now I'm actually here.

He's sitting out there on the veranda.

And I've stood here... watching him and hesitating... for at least ten minutes.

Perhaps I should have ignored this completely irrational impulse.

I mean this trip.

I actually don't like irrational impulses.

I'm really not the impulsive type at all.

But here I am.

So I have to make up my mind.

Either I walk quietly back to my car parked down by the road... or I walk up to him.

Of course...

I could just stand here a bit longer and allow my confusion to run riot.

But not too long.

One more minute.

This minute is taking its sweet time.

Thirty-three seconds...

Forty-seven seconds...

Fifty-five seconds.

Did I wake you up? It's you, Marianne!


No, don't get up.

Typical, sneaking up on me.

I wasn't sneaking up on you at all.

We haven't seen each other in 30 years... 32 years.

We just lost track of each other. That's only natural.

People start out together, then they part ways and talk on the phone, and finally there's silence. It's so sad.

Is that a reproach? Not at all.

We just had nothing to say to each other.

Then you suddenly call and say you want to visit.

You didn't sound very enthusiastic.

Enthusiastic? I said no.

I still say no.

I don't want this. But you don't give a damn.

I had to come!

May I ask why?

I'm not telling.

You're laughing.


I drove 200 miles... and managed to find your lair deep in the forest.

But now that I've seen you, kissed you, and spoken to you, I can go.

No, you can't.

I can't?

You have to at least stay for dinner. Why?

I told Miss Nilsson a week ago that an ex-wife would be visiting this Thursday.

I can't suddenly say there's to be no dinner.

She'll be mad as hell.

Who is Miss Nilsson? Agda. Agda Nilsson.

Are you a couple?

Good God in heaven!

No, Lord protect us.

You two live out here all alone deep in the forest?

Miss Nilsson lives down in the village.

She spends four hours a day here cooking and cleaning, and then she goes home.

She's religious and mean-spirited.

So it's not exactly a romantic idyll.

I'm actually afraid of the old bitch.

Afraid of her? Yes.

She got it in her head somehow we'd be getting married.

Anyway, stay for dinner.

She made up the guest room too, so she expects you'll be spending the night.

I suppose I better accept.

I have such a confounded time getting out of this chair!

No, don't help!

What is it, Johan?

I intend to give you a hug.

Give me a hug?

Damn you, Johan!

You damned old fool!

And how old are you? Me?

I don't know. Do you? Eighty-six.

Not you! Me!

Fifty-five... or so.

I'm 63.

Really? That old?

And they took out my ovaries and uterus.

Does that bother you?

Yes... sometimes.

Let's sit on the bench.

It's so beautiful here.

"Where such beauty is itself revealing, in all that lives, in all creation stealing, what must the Source be, the Giver? Beauty forever."

You can recite from the hymnal!

Grandma taught me.

And Granddad rewarded me with tin soldiers.

We can enjoy the view... and hold hands if we like.

Hold hands?

Didn't we do that in the old days? I guess we did.

I haven't held anyone's hand since...

I guess I've stopped holding hands!

You certainly have a beautiful view.

Can you see the lake cottage from here?

You can see the light reflected off it there, beyond the rocks.

I passed by it on my way here.

It looks inhabited.

You might say that. What's that tone of voice?

Henrik lives there.

Yes, Henrik, my dear son. Mr. Assistant Professor.

So you two are finally talking.

Not exactly.

I got a brief letter announcing that he'd be moving in there for the summer.

He and his daughter Karin have been there since late April.

Doesn't sound like a thriving interaction.

Polite conversation if we happen to cross paths, and that's it.

Fat little Henrik!

He must be... Sixty-one.

My God! You can say that again.

And his daughter, Karin?

Karin is 19.

Her mother died of cancer two years ago.


Tell me.

Anna and Henrik were married for 20 years.

He's never gotten over her death.

He took an early retirement.

From what I hear, they were happy to be rid of him.

He claims he was "exploited, mistreated, and persecuted."

Like you at one point. Me? No.

Sure, I got tangled up in some of the usual academic hullabaloo.

But my honorary doctorate from the University of Michigan put an end to all that.

We were talking about Henrik.

He heads an orchestra called the Uppsala Chamber Soloists.

But I hear he'll be quitting that too.

He has to do something. I think he's writing a book.

And the daughter, Karin?

Karin also plays the cello.

She's auditioning for the conservatory this fall.

Henrik is her instructor.

They sit down there in the cottage with their cellos day after day.

I can tell you she's beautiful... like her mother.

And our daughters? I know nothing about them.

Sara moved to Australia.

Yes, Australia.

She certainly escaped the parental reach.

I happen to get letters and phone calls.

She's doing well.

A good law firm, a good husband.

She's happy with her life.

And poor Martha?

Martha is sinking further and further.

She doesn't recognize me.

She's no longer conscious in our sense of the word.

And you?

I can't complain.

But sometimes I look at my voluntary isolation here and think I'm in hell, that I've died and just don't realize it.

But I live a comfortable life. No cause for complaint.

I go back and forth over my past, now that I have the answer sheet.

Doesn't sound like much fun.

That's just it. It's no fun at all.

But who the hell said hell was supposed to be fun?

What does this "answer sheet" of yours say?

You really want to know? I asked, didn't I?

It says my life has been shit.

A stupid and thoroughly meaningless life.

Is our marriage part of your hell?

According to your answer sheet.

To be honest, yes.

Sorry to hear that.

An old priest once told me that a good relationship between a man and a woman has two components: a good friendship and unshakable eroticism.

No one can say you and I weren't good friends.

Solid friends.

It was a good friendship. Absolutely.

You were unfaithful.

I was so... I was too.

So sad. That was long ago.

It's still painful. Not for me.

No, I suppose not.

Dearest Marianne.

So you say.

Yes, so I say.

It's so nice sitting here with you... with you holding my hand as we look at the lovely view... and refrain from talk of painful things.

You're the one holding my hand.

Shit! Dinner!

You look terrified!

Miss Nilsson will be furious if we're late.

Johan, I need to freshen up.

I have to get my bag from the car!

I'm sorry I came...

TWO Almost a week has passed

Are you Karin?

You want to speak to your grandfather?

He and Miss Nilsson went to the dentist.

They'll be back tonight.

I'm Marianne. I was once married to your grandfather.

I'm visiting. I know.

Come sit down.

If you want, you can help me clean these mushrooms.

Here's a knife.

If you like, we can talk. Or we can just sit together.

You must know Henrik, my dad.

I've said hello, but I can't really say I know him.

My mother is dead. I know.

She died two years ago.

Your grandfather told me about her.

Dad retired and now he's devoting himself to music.

The cello, right?

He's writing on Bach's St. John Passion. And you play cello too?

I hope to get into the conservatory.

Your dad is the teacher, and you're the student.


You want to talk about it?

Do you know Paul Hindemith's Cello Sonata, Opus 25?

I know absolutely nothing about music.

Dad wants me to play it for the audition, but it's too hard!

But he doesn't think so?

How were you in the days just before a period?

I was a premenstrual monster.

I'd go to sleep an angel the night before... and wake up a devil.

My brain turns to mush. And I have trouble waking up.

Dad is a typical morning person.

And this morning you had a lesson? Did we ever!

I wore my nightgown in protest and yawned now and then.

We worked on the fourth movement. That damn Hindemith wrote:

"Lebhafte Viertel ohne jeden Ausdruck und stets pianissimo."

You understand? Sounds hard, whatever it is.

So I sat there with my brain a mush, trying to be lebhaft ohne Ausdruck.

I begged Dad to let me off the hook, but he was impossible.

He made me play the same measures at least 20 times!

Finally I said calmly, controlling my anger...

"I don't give a shit about this!"

I said it wasn't a lesson, it was animal torture.

Henrik was angry too, but he laughed and said to start again from the top, where it says...

"Lebhaft, sehr markiert, mit festen Bogenstrichen."

But I was so pissed off, I messed it up.

He said I screwed up on purpose.

So I said he was clueless as a teacher, which was terribly unfair of me.

Dad is the most patient, sensitive, caring teacher there is.

He said it wasn't about his teaching but about will and discipline, and that I was lazy!

He said I was lazy!

So I got up and carefully set the cello aside, because my whole body was shaking.

I said, "We're done for today.

I'm going for a walk by myself!"

He turned pale.

I've never seen him like that.

He said...

"You're not leaving this room."

I just put on my boots and headed for the door.

I didn't hear him coming after me, but he grabbed my shoulders...

You're not leaving!

You're not leaving!

I sat and cried.

And I said...

"Never again.

Never again.

Never again."

I cried and cried until I felt empty.

Then I thought...

"I'll go beg Grandfather to help me get away from that lunatic!"

I'd tell Grandfather that I've put up with lots of things but that I've had enough.

Now the old man can take care of his crazy son and send him to the funny farm or report him to the police or kill him!

Then I realized that from this point on...

I know nothing.

I know nothing about my life... what I'm going to do or be.

I thought about how Mom is hopelessly dead and gone... and how I can't ask her about anything anymore.

At that point I had such an attack of self-pity that I started bawling again.

You're probably thinking I'm very high-strung... but that's precisely what I'm not.

You think Henrik is suicidal? What's that mean?

That he might kill himself. Dad? Kill himself?

In an extreme situation like what you describe, might he harm himself?

You know, to be honest...

I don't know my dad very well.

I just know that deep down he's... well, a good man.

Or else Mom would never have...

Mom loved him, you know.

They loved each other.

And I guess I was sort of... shut out of that love.

Or so I think when I'm feeling sorry for myself and my boyfriends seem so dreary.

Why can't I feel a love like my mother's?

Were you afraid your dad might kill himself after her death?

I never gave him and his tragedy much thought.

But I tried to take care of Mom as much as she'd let me.

She was never much of a talker.

But on one of her last days...

She was usually half asleep from all the morphine.

On one of her last days, as I sat beside her... she opened her eyes and looked at me... and said very clearly...

"You know I love you.

You know I love you, Karin."

My mom never used that kind of language.

Many years ago Dad once said jokingly...

"Anna never says I love you... but she continually performs acts of love."

What if Grandfather and Miss Nilsson walked in now?

That's okay.

I have another bottle.

I can't see you married to Grandpa.

Is that so strange?

I'm having a hard time imagining it.

What kind of person is this Johan of yours?

Good question.

Did you love him?

I've pondered that question my whole life.

Was it that difficult?

We were married 16 years.

Then we got divorced.

He'd found someone else... some feather-brain named Paula.

I remarried.

He was a real bore, a glider pilot.

One day he glided off, quiet as could be.

He was never found again.

For some reason...

Johan and I got back together for several years.

Then I found out... he'd taken up with another woman... a real slut.

I was angry and hurt, and I broke up with him.

I suddenly realized I'd been the world's most deceived and cheated-on wife and lover ever.

Johan was notoriously and compulsively unfaithful.

You mean my grandfather...

He was a full-blown liar.

And he wrote poems.

A volume got published, but it was never successful.

My grandfather wrote verse? Yes!

Even love poems to me.

Did you keep them? No.

But you loved him?

I was so terribly naive.

I think it would be impossible today to be as childish and at the same time such an incredible know-it-all!

I think I loved him.

Utterly, without reservation.

You never suspected?

Not for a second.

What made you come here suddenly?

I don't really know.

You still love him!

Don't you?

If you had to be completely honest...

I hear people say... that Johan's like this or like that.

Mostly unkind things.

But I don't know the Johan they're talking about.

I've always thought he was a good man.

Almost helplessly good.

It was so easy to hurt him.

He could never defend himself.

I think Johan...

is a touching human being.

He's touching.

Are you crying?

A little.

For Grandfather?

I'm crying... for Johan and Marianne.

I understand.

This is crazy.

My dear girl, tell me:

What will you do now? Go back to Henrik.

You sure that's wise?

It has nothing to do with being wise.

I'll be here a few more days.

Let me know what happens.

You can count on it.

THREE About Anna

That can't ever happen again.

Ever. Ever.

We must have a serious talk.

We don't need to talk. We both know how everything is.

Nothing needs to be worked out.

I'm glad it's so simple!

I was scared to death. I can't put it any other way.

Scared to death.

Do you understand? Do you?

I'm very tired. I'm going to bed.

Are you asleep? No.

I had a similar situation with Anna once.

We weren't married then, but we were living together.

I may have been a little drunk.

I let loose with a bunch of nasty shit about the goddamn university... about my colleagues and our working conditions.

And of course about my father, the old bastard.

Anna didn't say a word, which got me even more riled up.

I remember thinking...

"What's she thinking about... mending her skirt there by the lamp?

What's she thinking?

Probably that I'm unbearable."

And then she said it.

"When you go on like that, I think...

'That's not the man I plan to marry."'

Then she went into the hall to get her coat and leave.

I went mad with fear or something. I just went mad.

I tried to stop her.

She didn't move... but a message passed from her body to mine.

It said, "I'm leaving.

I'm leaving you."

Then I said, in a voice I didn't recognize...

"No one leaves me.

No one walks out on me.

No one turns around... and leaves me."

And I sat down on the floor and thought...

"It's over."

I closed my eyes and thought...

"Anna's leaving, and she's never coming back."

But then I heard her rummaging around in the kitchen.

She was making coffee.

But she didn't say a word.

Maybe the coffee was to sober me up.

She didn't say a word the rest of the evening.

She just kept on sewing.

Anna was the silent type anyway.

She was never very talkative.

But we didn't need to speak. We always knew...

I begged for forgiveness like a child to his mother.

"I'm sorry. I'll never do it again."

And that's just what I want to say to you now... but it sounds so ridiculous.

Anyone can say he's sorry. It doesn't cost a thing.

So nothing more was said that night.

It turned into a night of... a night of distance.

Anna fell sound asleep... but I lay awake, listening to her breathing.

I watched her in the light from a streetlamp outside the window.

I gazed at her for a long time... and wondered if... deep down inside... she knew how much I'd grown to be a part of her.

Or actually... how much she'd grown to be a part of me.

With Anna and me, it was a question of belonging.

You understand what I mean?

And that belonging was... a miracle.

I know that sounds pretentious... but there's no better word.

Toward morning I fell asleep, and when the alarm went off, we got up, had breakfast, and chatted as usual.

I went off to a class, and Anna went to the library.

All this is an explanation, not an excuse.

There is no excuse.

If you leave me...

I'll be destitute... or some better word that doesn't exist.

You'll have your freedom in due time.

You'll go to the conservatory and have real teachers, professional teachers, and a whole different life.

Things will be different for me too.

These months with you have been what scripture calls "a state of grace."

For me, not you.

It was kind of you to come back so quickly.

I don't know what to say.

It's all so tangled up.

We don't have to talk about that.

Sometimes I think that some inconceivable punishment lies just around the corner.

FOUR A week or so later, Henrik visits his father

S. Kierkegaard Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

Am I interrupting?

Oh, it's you.

It's been a while.

How are you doing?

Fine, thanks. And you?

At 60 you have six things wrong with you, at 70 you have seven, and so on.

It's a fairly good assessment.

Of course, it depends on your priorities.

I heard your ex-wife dropped by unexpectedly.

Typical Marianne.

She's known since the dawn of time that I hate improvisation.

Perhaps we'll meet.

She's out picking berries.

I don't know if you'll be here when she gets back.

Of course. I don't mean to bother you.

I appreciate it.

What do you want?

I need 890,000 kronor. Call it an advance on my inheritance.

So you need money again. I know. You loaned me 200,000.

Which you haven't begun to pay back.

You'll get your money.

I'm quite certain I'll never see that money.

It's amusing to call that a "loan."

If humiliating me amuses you, let's not leave out the fact I'm not paying any rent for the lake house.

We've been there for five months... and you haven't seen a cent.

Yet you could afford a new car. It's borrowed. The owner is abroad.

When he returns in October, I'll be without a car.

How's the book coming? Fine, thanks.

There's an exhaustive answer.

I've stood here for ten minutes and let you humiliate me.

If I didn't need the money, I'd have left long ago.

You can leave now.

It's not for me. It's for Karin.

Oh, right.

Marianne said you two had a fight.

Are you trying to get her to stay?

You think you can bribe her?

Sometimes I wonder how Anna put up with you.

Leave Anna out of this.

Don't utter Anna's name with that rotten old maw of yours.

I like you better... or dislike you less... when you use that tone.

It injects an honest dose of hatred into your general wishy-washiness.

It's like this:

There's a cello I can buy Karin, an 1815 Fagnola.

It's an excellent instrument, almost like a Guarneri.

Karin has a special talent. I'm not alone in saying that.

She could become a great musician.

The instruction I've provided so far has been adequate, but far short of what her talent calls for.

Likewise with her instrument. She has a passable German cello.

But she'll be auditioning for the conservatory soon.

How do you know this cello's as good as they say?

It wouldn't be the first time you were cheated.

It has a certificate of authenticity, and the seller is a decent man.

And his decency compels him to sell so cheaply?

He's old and sick and can't take care of it anymore.

He heard Karin play and said she'd be the perfect heir.

Isn't that touching!

Dad... where does all this hostility come from?

Speak for yourself.

When you were 18 or 19, I tried to get close to you.

You'd been seriously ill... and your mother wanted us to talk things out.

I said to you...

"I know I've been a bad father... and I want to do better."

And you screamed at me... yes, screamed...

"A bad father? You've never been a father at all!"

Then you said you could do without my forced exertions.

One should respect honest hatred... and I respect yours.

But I really couldn't care less if you hate me.

You barely exist.

If it weren't for Karin, who thank God takes after her mother, you wouldn't exist for me at all.

So there's no hostility here, I assure you.

Give me the name and number of this cello owner and I'll look into it.


Thank you.

So what's your answer?

I'll let you know in good time.

So the audience has ended?

I'm leaving.

Can I say just one thing? If you absolutely must.

That story about an exchange of words 50 years ago is no excuse.

So that's what you think. Yes, it is.

Poor Anna.

Are you going to hit me now?


I hope I'm not interrupting.

No, I just finished.

I practice in the mornings.

It seems the regular organist is expecting, so I'm filling in. I thought you were a cellist.

I have a degree in organ.

In my day, it was a smart thing to have.

Lots of churches, few orchestras.

What were you playing?

Bach's Organ Sonata No. 1 in E-flat Major.

It was beautiful. This is a unique organ... a Cahman from 1728.

No one knows how it ended up in this wilderness.

Karin and I gave a concert here a few weeks ago.

Free, of course.

It was almost full. Will you give any more?

No, Karin's preparing for her audition, and I have to finish my book.

Your book?

Yes, I'm writing a book.

On Bach's St. John Passion.

I've met Karin a few times.

I hear she's very talented.

She's considered exceptional, and not just by her proud dad.

You're her teacher? It's turned out that way.

At the conservatory she'll be taught by the top European teachers. Won't it be hard letting her go?


You might say that.

You're very attached to Karin? Yes.

Forgive me. No, it's all right.

Karin is like Anna. Not in appearance.

What's wrong?

When I talk about Anna, I cry.

That's just how it is.

It can't be helped.

Anna's been gone over two years... and it still hurts just as bad.

That's just how it is.

Life itself has become a routine.

I don't know. No words can describe it.

I've become handicapped.

Just like that.


Karin is all that gives my life meaning.

And... well... there wouldn't be much meaning without her.

I think a lot about death these days.

I think like this...

One day I'm walking through the forest to the river.

It's a still and foggy autumn day.

Absolute silence.

Then I see someone by the gate... coming toward me.

She's wearing a blue denim skirt and blue jacket.

She's barefoot... and her hair's in a thick ponytail.

And she's walking toward me.

Anna is walking toward me... from the gate.

And then I realize I'm dead.

Then the strangest thing happens.

I think...

"Is it this easy?"

We spend our entire lives wondering about death... and what comes after this.

And then it's this easy.

In music I sometimes get just a glimmer. Like with Bach.

I think I understand.

Come over for dinner! A nice meal is guaranteed.

Karin and I are good cooks. I'd like that.

I must go. Karin and I have a lesson.

She's very punctual, just like her mother.

She gets angry if I'm late.

We'll see you soon.

Listen, I really don't think I can.

The old man would be upset, huh? Not exactly upset, but...

Why are you here really? I don't know.

You're a lawyer, aren't you? Yes. Why?

Can I take the old man to court?

Why would you want to do that?

The bastard's sitting on a fortune, and he won't die.

Probably mummified by his own cantankerousness.

I politely asked for an advance on my inheritance, but he only humiliated me.

I'd love to sue him. Not while he's mentally competent.

He's not crazy in that sense.

No, he's not particularly crazy.

Are you looking for a little money for an old abandoned wife?

Don't be angry.

It's natural to wonder.

You've had no contact for decades.

I'm not here to milk him for money.

Are you fucking him?

Do you hate him so much that you suddenly adopt that tone?

Forgive me for desecrating this place and spoiling our pleasant chat.

I hate him in every possible sense of the word.

I hate him so much I'd happily watch him die of some horrible disease.

I'd visit him daily... just to witness his torment, right down to his last breath.

No, he probably deserves my pity.

I mean, theoretically.

I see astonishment and disgust in your eyes.

As a lawyer, you should be used to the stupidity and vileness of this world.

Good-bye, Marianne. It was kind of you to listen.

Sometimes I think I'm not quite sane.

I'm in such pain all the time.


Karin! Hello, Grandfather.

Well... this is my study.

I haven't been here since I was little.

Anna and you would sometimes come say hi when you spent the summer at the cottage.

You smoked cigars back then. Did I?

Yes, you're right.

I gave them up after reading a biography of Freud.

He had 33 operations for mouth cancer.

And he still couldn't give up cigars.

But you're all right?

Unless you consider aging itself a disease, I'm fine.

That's a beautiful picture of Mom.

I saw it somewhere and asked for a copy.

I had it enlarged... and there it is.

I think of Mom every day... and dream of her at night.

I thought the grief would subside... but it doesn't.

But it doesn't hurt like in the beginning.

Now it's right here... like a part of me.

I wouldn't want to be without it.

I can tell you I miss her... painfully.

We didn't see much of each other, because Henrik and I...

Well, you know.

Anna tried and tried, but Henrik and I could never...

Well, you know.

You wanted to speak to me? I did indeed.

Have a seat.

Miss Nilsson appeared with a letter last night that she insisted on handing to me, meaning Dad wasn't to...

That's exactly right.

Dad's in Uppsala with his orchestra.

Listen... this letter arrived a few days ago, and it concerns you.

Have you heard of Ivan Chablov?

Sure! He's principal conductor in St. Petersburg.

He was on tour here recently.

Conducting the philharmonic. They were fantastic!

I happen to know him from my years in Leningrad.

This letter is from him.

"Johan, my dear friend and brother... excuse me to write to you in my lousy English and bad German.

But my wonderful secretary... just gave birth to twins.

But I feel important to write to you... my dear friend... and the reason is the following reason:

One free night, I visited a concert for very young musicians.

I must say I was surprised and happy.

One very young lady played the cello there.

She played a solo by Zoltán Kodály.

And I was surprised at that very young musician's unusual talent, her maturity, her craft, and courage."

Well, I'll be!

"The head of the school told me her name and that her father was her primary teacher.

I got in contact with the father.

He almost turned me away curtly... not to say arrogantly.

I know that you, my dear Johan... are that girl's grandfather... and that is the reason why I now write to you.

The young person's technique is very risky, partly deficient... and can in the soon future come to catastrophic consequences.

I am, as you perhaps not know, guest professor at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, one of the best schools in Europe.

I have very good contact with the president and the teachers, and we can, after an obligatory audition, give our young, talented cellist instruction of the quality... that your highly talented granddaughter deserves.

Please tell me your reactions as soon as possible.

A warm embrace... Ivan."

Well, what do you say?

I should add that I will, of course, cover your expenses for as long as you need.

I've also spoken to the cello seller and made him a good offer, better than his asking price.

So if you want the cello, it's yours.

Assuming, of course... that you accept Chablov's generous offer.

What do you say?

I don't know what to say.

It's all so overwhelming.

I understand that this letter puts you in an awkward situation.

I'll write and tell him you're...


...but that your decision affects certain persons around you.

"Certain persons"?

That's right. Your dad, if I must be specific.

I need to rest now. Good-bye, Karin.

Thanks for the talk.

Marianne used to say I was a terrible judge of people, that I didn't understand emotions.

She said that?

But even an emotional cripple like myself understands one thing:

Your mother lived on this earth to make it less unbearable.

The darkness grew darker and the light grew dimmer when Anna died.

It's hard for Henrik just to go on living.

Regardless, I've always said you're like your mother.

I'm fond of you... my little Kajsa.

Good-bye, Karin.

Good-bye, Grandfather.


To Henrik from Anna? From your mom to your dad?

I found that letter in a book.

"The 18th of May." You mother wrote this...

A week before she died.

I'd like you to read it.

I can't make out Anna's writing.

Will you read it to me?

I'll try.

Here, have a bit of my whiskey.

Mom had learned a few days earlier that she didn't have much time left.

She wrote this letter because Henrik had a cold and wasn't allowed to visit.

It says...

"The fact you can't visit me is perhaps a relief for us both.

We read each other too well.

You open the door.

I make an effort. You make an effort.

But I can still see in your face how sick I am."

This is the difficult part.

She writes about me and Dad.

And that's painful? Yes.

When you were with her at the hospital... did you talk about the things in this letter?

No, never.

What did she write?

"Dearest Henrik...

I must write to you about something you and I have never discussed.

I've sometimes thought I should talk to you about Karin... but it was never necessary... because I was always there.

Then I fell ill, and I wasn't there anymore.

Of course I was there... but I was pushed aside.

You and I loved each other.

I was sure about our love, if you know what I mean.

But no love is strong enough to emerge unscathed from something as devastating as my illness.

I see that you love Karin... but also that you're binding her to you.

It's good that you've been her teacher... but there is a limit.

When I'm gone, that limit will become unclear.

I know that Karin loves you... but you mustn't use her love for your own purposes.

You'll harm her.

You could harm her for good.

That's why I'm asking you to set her free.

You mustn't take advantage of the affinities you two share.

You mustn't take advantage of her through music and through your self-appointed role as teacher.

Dearest Henrik... you're so sensitive... so considerate... so loving.

I know all that without a doubt from all our years together.

But you must be careful of the danger in heaping upon Karin the orphaned love that will remain when I am gone."

There's more... but I don't want to read any more.

I can't! It hurts too much!

I can hear my mom's voice!

Why did you come to me now?

Don't you think you're pretty heavily involved?

Yes, I suppose.

And you know Grandfather's plans. Yes, he told me.

I don't expect you to give me good advice.

I just need to think out loud.

I think things will become clear if I do.

Go ahead.

Mom saw.

Yes, I think she did.

And everything she warned about has happened!

I can't accept Grandfather's offer.

You can't? No, I can't!

Why on earth not?

If I abandon Henrik, he'll die!

If I leave him, he'll die. I'm sure of that.

Marianne, he doesn't even have the orchestra anymore that he's worked with for 30 years!

He can stay on as a musician, but there's this huge reorganization going on, and Dad even won't be part of administration or planning.

He says in that case he's quitting.

I can't leave him now.

Sometimes I'm so goddamned tired of him!

I know it's my future and all that.

But Mom is dead now, and Henrik can't manage his own life.

If anything happened to Dad... how do you think I'd live with the guilt?

No, my future and Henrik's are hopelessly entangled for now.

At least you say "for now."

Only to console myself.

I want you to know I don't agree.

No, I'm sure you don't.

Anna's love...

This letter is what love is.

Isn't it?

I don't know.


Back already?

There wasn't much to do in Uppsala.

Hello, Dad. Hello, little Kajsa.

What's that sheet music?

Bach's cello suites!

You're crazy.

Just listen.

Anderberg suggested you and I give a concert at the university on November 15.

This is too hard for me.

We'll play together.

What do you mean?

Like a dialogue, facing each other.

You'll play the parts you can, and I'll do the hard ones.

Like the sixth suite, especially the prelude.

It'll be fantastic!

What parts can I handle? You're crazy.

The sarabands, for instance.

It takes a lifetime to master them.

So we start practicing now. We have three months.

What about my audition? You're almost ready.

And students get permission to play concerts.

I already spoke to Börtz. He says hello, by the way.

This will be good for both of us, now that I'm not busy with the orchestra.

I won't even be concertmaster anymore!

You must be furious!

A little, but I tell myself I'll have more time for you now.

I can help you on a whole other level.

Right. Sure.

That wasn't too encouraging.

Hey, my little Kajsa.

I have the feeling some sort of discussion is coming on.

What is it, little Kajsa? I don't know.

You don't know? No.

I mean, I guess I know, but I don't know how to...

I understand you spoke to your grandfather, right?


And with that bitch... I mean Marianne?


I see.

That was all slickly arranged. I don't mean by you.

I have to make up my mind.

I thought you already had. No, you decided.


Is that what you think?

Dad, I haven't bothered to think.

I've just thought, "Dad knows what's best for me."

Perhaps you've already come to some kind of decision.

Have you?

Are you going to accept Grandfather's offer?

You read this? Yes, I did.

You read Mom's letter to me?

Don't get so angry. It's about me!

But it was to me! And you read it, just like that.

You think it's all right to read Anna's letter to me because it's about you?

If you're going to be like that, there's no point talking about it.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

I said I'm sorry, damn it! Sorry for what?

Shall we get to work, or is there something else?

Dad... this is going to hurt.

Hurt you or me? That may sound stupid, but your tone frightens me.

I've made up my mind.

For the first time ever, it's my own decision.

But you're sad? Yes, I am sad.

If you had told me you'd received that letter from Mom... if you had let me read the letter... we could have...

You never told me.

You should have said...

Now it's the way it is.

What's the way it is?

I'm going to Hamburg next week with Emma.

We're going to a school for young orchestral players.

Claudio Abbado is coming in October, and we're all going to Munich.

It's for young musicians from all over Europe.

You can't be older than 22.

Abbado will work with us for six weeks, and then we'll give four concerts.

Emma made a video.

She sent it to the admissions committee as a lark.

We were playing Brahms.

She and I got a letter saying we were accepted... to that school.

That we're welcome there.

And that...

is exactly what I want to do.

And it's exactly what I've decided to do.

And the conservatory?

How long is this Hamburg course?

Two years.

Then there's a paid internship with a German or Austrian orchestra.

Three years.

How do you plan to finance this? I have my inheritance.

You've given this a lot of thought.

I told Emma it was hopeless.

That you'd already made up your mind.

Dear God...

Dear God...


I don't want to be a soloist. I don't consider myself a soloist.

I want to be an orchestral player, enveloped in that body of sound, in that great communal effort, and not sitting alone and exposed on a stage.

I don't want others telling me I'm not good enough.

I want to decide my own future.

I want a simple life.

I want to settle down somewhere and live an ordinary life.

I don't want to be a poor surrogate for Mom who gets your praise for being something I'm not.

It has to end.

And now it's ended.

At least give it the perfect ending.

What do you mean?

Would you play the fifth saraband?

You know that one. Right now?

Yes, please.

NINE Yes, he's here. THE CRUCIAL MOMENT Thank you.

May I ask who that was? The hospital.

Henrik tried to commit suicide with pills and then slashed his wrists and throat with a razor blade.

He's in intensive care.

Call this number and ask for Nurse Ingegerd.

Good God!

The doctor said he was found at the last minute.

A Mrs. Berg was passing by the cottage and looked in the window and saw a naked person on the floor. Goddamn it!

The door was unlocked.

She tried to revive him, but he was unconscious... and he was bleeding.

The ambulance took 20 minutes.

My God!

I should call Karin, but she's on her way to Hamburg.

Henrik consistently fails at everything.

He can't even kill himself properly.

Say something, damn it! You want an answer to that?

Anything. Tell me off. Say something spontaneous for once.

I can't. You can't.

Sometimes you act like a forgotten character out of some stupid old movie.

You can't be for real.

You don't say.

Right now... No, let's drop it.

Go on. Finish it.

Where did all this contempt come from?

I don't remember you like this. You're a contemptuous old man!

Contempt? That's right!

I don't know.

If I feel contempt for anyone, it's myself.

I don't know.

I've never really thought about it.

And that poor boy.


Oh, you mean Henrik.

I probably realized he was too much like me.

No, I never did like him. I thought he looked ridiculous, meek and overweight.

He surrounded me with a sticky kind of love, and I admit I ignored that love.

He was as devoted as a dog. I wanted to kick him.

Figuratively, of course!

What happens now? How will Karin take this?

She'll blame herself, of course.

He should have thought of that. Damn it!

You think she'll change her mind?

You think she'll return home?

I don't know. Will you talk to her?

If we find her.

I'll hire you as my agent!

What do you charge? Money is no object... as long as you lock her guilt away in your safe.

What if she returns home?

She's so attached to that miserable bastard.

That would be a disaster!

Yes, I think so.

What can I say?

I was so attached to Anna.

It was dreadful when she was taken from us.

For me too... though I was sort of on the periphery of that catastrophe.

It's incomprehensible that Henrik got the privilege of loving Anna.

And that she loved him.

I'm sure you're smiling ironically.


I'm not smiling at all.

I'm trying not to cry.

You have nothing to cry about. Yes, I do... but I don't intend to explain it.


Sorry to wake you up.

It's all right. I'll fall back asleep.

Johan, is something wrong?

I don't know.

I think it's some kind of anxiety.

Anxiety? What kind of anxiety?

Now I see. You're sad...

I'm not sad.

It's worse. It's some hellish anxiety.

It's bigger than me.

It's trying to push its way out through every orifice... my eyes, my skin, my asshole.

It's like a gigantic, total mental diarrhea!

It's coming out everywhere. I'm too small for my anxiety.

Are you afraid of death?

More than anything, I'd just like to scream.

What do you do with a bawling baby that won't be comforted?

Come lie next to me. There's no room.

We've slept in narrower beds!

We won't be able to sleep.

As if that makes any difference in these last days.

I have to take off my nightshirt.

It's damp from my... indisposition.

Go ahead.

You have to take yours off too.

I do?

All right.

Come on, Johan.


Good night, Marianne.

Good night.

Can you explain once and for all this sudden visit here?

I thought you were calling me.

I've never called anyone.

I got it into my head.

It's very strange. I don't understand.

I understand that you don't understand.

How long will you stay?

I have a case on the 27th.

Of November?


Good night again.

Good night.

Perhaps you're wondering how things turned out.

I stayed at Johan's until early October.

Our time together was pleasantly relaxing.

We rarely spoke about

"sensitive issues."

We celebrated on the last night.

Nothing grand, but just enough.

We promised to keep in touch.

I think we even fantasized about a trip to Florence the next spring.

The trip never happened, of course.

But we continued talking on the phone.

It became a Sunday custom.

Then one day Miss Nilsson answered.

She said that unfortunately Johan couldn't take any calls but that he would write.

I asked if he was all right, and she said yes, as far as she could tell, but he was a little tired and he'd write.

Of course I never got a letter.

I wrote but didn't get an answer.

And then there was silence.

Things are as always with me. In good order.

Everything in its place.

Perhaps I'm a bit lonely.

I don't know.

Sometimes... I think about Anna.

I wonder how she managed her life.

How she spoke...

how she moved.

Her gaze... that almost imperceptible smile.

Anna's feelings.

Anna's love.

You know...

something unusual happened to me that might have something to do with all this.

When I got back, I visited my daughter Martha at the home.

And I thought... about the mysterious fact...

that for the first time in our life together...

I realized...

I felt...

that I was touching my daughter.

My child.