Klassenverhältnisse [Class Relations] (1984) dir. Straub-Huillet


CLASS RELATIONS My umbrella! Why are you pounding
on the door like a madman? I got lost. I didn’t notice it so much
during the crossing but this is
a terribly big ship. I’m not disturbing you? How could you be disturbing? You are a German? I am, I am.
Sit down on the bed. I’ve completely
forgotten my suitcase! Up on the deck. Do you really need the suitcase? Then why did you leave it? I’d forgotten my umbrella
and rushed off to get it, but I didn’t want to drag
the suitcase along. Then I got lost, too. You are alone? Yes, alone. And now
you’ve even lost the suitcase. Not to mention the umbrella. But I believe
the suitcase is not lost yet. Happy the believers… I’m leaving, too, in a little
while, so we’ll go together. Either the suitcase
has been stolen, then nothing can be done, or they left it standing. Then when the ship
is completely empty, we’ll find it all the better. The same with your umbrella. Do you know the ship well? I’m a ship’s stoker. I’ve always been
interested in machinery and I would surely
have become an engineer later, if I hadn’t had
to go to America. So why did you have to go? There must have been a reason. Now I could also
become a stoker. To my parents
it’s quite indifferent now. My place will be free. You’re leaving the ship? Yes, we break camp today. But why?
Don’t you like it? That’s how relations stand. It isn’t always decisive
whether a man likes it or not. But you’re right,
I don’t like it either. You’re probably not seriously
thinking of becoming a stoker but that’s just when
it’s easiest to become one. So I advise you
decidedly against it. If in Europe you wanted to study,
why don’t you want to here? The American universities
are incomparably better. That’s possible,
but I have almost no money for studying.
Besides, I wasn’t
particularly good in school. And the schools here
might be even stricter. I hardly know any English.
Besides, people here have a prejudice
against foreigners, I believe. Have you
learned that, too, already? Well, then that’s good.
Then you’re my man. You see, we
are on a German ship, why aren’t we
all Germans here? Why is the chief
machinist a Rumanian? His name is Schubal.
It is not to be believed. And this dirty dog torments us, us Germans,
on a German ship! I know that you have
no influence and are yourself a poor boy.
But it’s too much! I’ve already served
on so many ships and have distinguished myself,
been praised, was a worker
to the taste of my captains, and here on this tub, where everything is by the line
and no wits are needed at all, here I am worth nothing, here I am always
in Schubal’s way, am a loafer,
deserve to be thrown out, and only receive my pay
out of mercy. Do you understand that?
I don’t. Were you already
to see the captain? Have you already
sought justice from his part? Oh, go on,
just go away. You don’t listen to what I say
and give me advice. How should I go
to the captain then? Now everything is finished
and we can go. Now I am going to the office and I will tell my opinion
to these gentlemen. It’s time for pay,
do you want to come? Bring the money
to me here rather. Where did you find
this handsome lad? I permit myself to say
that in my opinion the stoker
has been done an injustice. There is a certain Schubal here
who bullies him. He himself has already served
and given full satisfaction on numerous ships, all of
which he can name to you, and one cannot see why,
just on this ship, where the service is not
excessively difficult, he should be badly suited. It can be nothing but slander that hinders his advancement and deprives him of the esteem
which he surely would not lack. All that is word for word correct. The man
is a notorious quarreler. He is in the cashier’s
more than in the engine room. How many times have you
been thrown out of the pay rooms as you deserve
with your wholly, completely and without
exception unjustified demands! How many times have you been told
for your own good that Schubal is your immediate superior
and that it is with him alone you as a subordinate
must come to terms. And now you come here
while the captain is present; you aren’t even ashamed
to bring as a mouthpiece, to recite by heart your insipid
accusations, this little one, whom I now see for the
first time on this ship! Let us listen to the man once. Schubal
is getting much too independent for me anyway
as time goes on. Mr. Schubal is unjust! Mr. Schubal favors
foreigners! Mr. Schubal expelled me
from the engine room and made me clean waterclosets, which was certainly
not my business! You must recount that
more clearly. The captain
cannot appreciate that as you are recounting it to him. To me you have always
depicted it so clearly. What is your name actually? I come because I believe
that the stoker is accusing me
of certain improbities. A girl from the kitchen
told me she had seen him on the way here. Captain, sir,
and all you gentlemen, I am ready
to refute each accusation with the aid of my writings, if necessary
with depositions by witnesses who are not prejudiced
or influenced. Then I am your uncle Jakob
and you are my dear nephew. What is your name? Comprehend, young man,
your luck. It is Senator Edward Jakob who has made himself known
to you as your uncle. I really do have
an uncle Jakob in America, but if I have well understood,
Jakob is only the last name
of the Senator. Well, my uncle Jakob,
who is the brother of my mother, has the first name of Jakob,
while his last name naturally would have to be the same
as that of my mother, who was born a Bendelmayer. I have lived for all the long
years of my sojourn in America – the word sojourn
is assuredly ill fitting here to the American citizen
which I am with all my soul – for all the long years I have lived completely separated
from my European relatives for reasons which, first,
do not belong here and which, second, it would truly
affect me too much to recount. My dear nephew
has been simply put aside by his parents as one throws a cat
out the door when it annoys. I do not wish to gild over
what my nephew did to be so punished, but his fault is such
that simply naming it already contains excuses enough. He was in fact
seduced by a servant, Johanna Brummer,
a person of about 35 years. Now this Brummer
has had a child by my nephew, which has received at baptism
the name Jakob, doubtless with a thought of
my humble person, which, even in surely quite peripheral
mentions by my nephew must have made a great
impression on the girl. Happily, say I.
For, as the parents, in order to avoid the alimentary
payments or all other scandal, transported their son,
my dear nephew, to America with irresponsibly
insufficient equipment, so that, without the signs and miracles
still alive in America, the boy would already be in perdition in
an alley of the port of New York, if this servant
had not communicated to me the whole story
in a letter, which arrived in my possession
the day before yesterday, and included a description
of my nephew’s person and, judiciously,
the name of the ship. And now I want to hear from you
if I am your uncle or not. You are my uncle. But… It is a special honor
for my ship to have supplied the place
for such a meeting. But the crossing
in steerage was no doubt very hard. We do everything possible to ease the crossing
for the people in steerage, much more, for example,
than the American lines, but we surely
have not yet succeeded in transforming such a crossing
into a pleasure. It did me no harm. It did him no harm. What will happen
to the stoker now? What he deserves and what the captain
deems good. I believe we have had enough and
more than enough of the stoker. But that isn’t important
in a matter of justice. Perhaps it is a
matter of justice, but at the same time
it is a matter of discipline. Both,
and particularly the latter, depend here on the judgement
of the captain. It is so. Furthermore, we have already
disturbed the captain so much in the business of his charge that it is high time
for us to leave the ship to avoid in addition
making an incident of this futile dispute
between two machinists. For the rest, I understand
perfectly your way of acting, but precisely that
gives me the right to conduct you hence
most quickly. Why do you say nothing?
Why do you stand for all this? You have been done an injustice
as no one else on this ship. But you must
defend yourself, say yes and no;
otherwise people have no idea of the truth. You must promise me that you will obey me, because
I have reason to believe I will no longer myself
be able to help you at all. You felt abandoned,
there you met the stoker, and now you are grateful to him;
that is very laudable. But don’t push that too far,
if only out of love for me, and learn
to comprehend your place. You have really come far. And I set it all up myself
thirty years ago. At that time I had
a small business and if five crates
were unloaded in one day that was a lot and
I would go home inflated. Today I have
the third-largest warehouses and the shop from that time is the dining room of the
65th group of my porters. That borders on the miraculous. All developments here
go on that fast. Mr. Pollunder has come to take you
to his country house. I didn’t know
it was to be today already, otherwise I would
already be prepared. If you are not prepared
perhaps we’d better put off the visit
for the time being. What preparations! A young man
is always prepared. He would still have to go to his
room and you would be detained. I foresaw a delay also
and closed my office early. You see what inconveniences
your visit is causing even now. You will miss your
riding lesson tomorrow; have you cancelled it already? No, I didn’t know… And in spite of that
you want to go? On the way we will stop at the riding school
and put the matter in order. But Mack will still
wait for you. He won’t wait for me
but he will surely come. But Klara is waiting
for him, too, and this very evening, and surely
she has precedence over Mack? Assuredly.
So run to your room. You will be back in the morning
for your English lesson? Can’t he stay out there
at least for the day tomorrow? I’ll bring him back in the
morning the day after tomorrow? That can’t be in any case. I cannot let his studies
fall into disorder. Later, when he has
a regulated professional life, I will very gladly allow him to defer to an invitation
so kind and so honourable. One must take
what one gets. It is strange
how unreadily he gave me
permission to visit you, even though you are his friend. He didn’t mean all that
so seriously. Your education is close to his heart. Did he tell you himself
that he did not mean the earlier things so seriously? Here is Mr. Jakob at last. My name is Rossmann. He is only Jakob’s nephew. That changes nothing
in our joy to have him here. You are Miss Klara? We also have one more
guest this evening. Mr. Green. It does no good at all
to live just outside New York; one is not spared
the disturbances. We absolutely must
move our residence still further away.
Even if I would have to drive half the night
before I get home. Perhaps he will leave soon. He has some grand business
for Papa, and the discussion will last a long time, for he
already threatened me jokingly that if I want to be a
polite mistress of the house, I will have to listen
until morning. So now that, too.
He will stay all night! After supper, if it is
all right with you, we will go immediately
to my rooms and you will do me the kindness
of playing for me on the piano, for Papa has already told me
how well you do that, but I am sadly incapable of making music
and do not touch my piano, although in fact
I love music very much. She is so old
that even the way from the door to my table is difficult for her… Only recently have I succeeded
in getting the servant to carry the platters as far as
the door of the dining room, but the way
from the door to my table belongs to her,
as far as I understand her. My God, that is loyalty! Yes, there is still
loyalty in this world. Don’t you like it
at all with us? Come,
I want to make the last attempt. So far
the new electric wiring has only been
introduced downstairs. We bought this house
only recently. There are already old houses
in America, too. You will sleep here. Well, do you want
to come with me or not? Now I might have fallen out! A pity
that it didn’t happen! It tempts me enormously
to slap you as you are lying there now. And I naturally won’t
content myself with a slap, but will hit to the right and
left until your cheeks swell up. And perhaps
you are a man of honour and you wouldn’t want to continue to live
with these slaps. But why
were you so against me? Don’t you like me perhaps? Perhaps you’ll get the desire
to come see me later. The door to my rooms is the fourth
counting from this door, on this side of the corridor. I won’t exactly
wait for you, but if you want to come,
then come. Remember that you promised
to play the piano for me. Yes, a lantern
is much more practical. Why is there
such a draft here? There is still
much to build here; especially
near the chapel the draft
is unbearable. If I did not have
my ears full of cotton, I could not endure. Then I must speak louder? No, you have a clear voice. The chapel
is worth seeing; if it hadn’t been for that,
Mr. Mack would not have bought the house. I thought the house
belonged to Mr. Pollunder? Assuredly, but Mr. Mack made
the decision for the purchase. You do not know
Mr. Mack? But what connection does
he have to Mr. Pollunder? He is the fiancé
of the young lady. Does that put you
in such astonishment? When one doesn’t
know of such relationships one can make
the biggest mistakes. Apparently
it was thought that you knew, for it is no novelty. If you will,
I shall wait for you here and will then
take you to your room. I will not return
to my room. But I think that
I will still need your help. So I will wait here. The candle
you can also leave with me. I am quite distracted. I have a request
which you must not misunderstand. It is naturally
already fulfilled. I request that you let me –
now in the night – return home. You know that my uncle did not readily give me
permission for this visit. And as long as
my English studies are not finished and I
have not looked around enough in practical dealings
I am completely dependent on the goodness of my uncle. You cannot believe
that I could already earn my bread
honestly somewhere – and God preserve me
from all else. That is why, to repair
only halfway the error
I have committed, I must go home immediately. Don’t you want to
say something to him? It is very laudable that he wishes to return to his
uncle, and one could believe that he would thereby give
his uncle a special joy. Unless his disobedience had already made his uncle
too angry… I hear from your words that you, too, think it best
that I return right away. I did not say that at all. Dear Mr. Rossmann,
you will not believe that I would hold you
here against your will. I cannot put the automobile
at your disposal because it is far from here
in a public garage, since I have not yet
had the time to set up
a personal garage here. The chauffeur does not sleep
here at the house either, but near the garage;
I don’t know myself where. But all that
would be no obstacle to your momentary return,
for if you insist, I will accompany you immediately
to the nearest subway station. I had not even thought
of the subway. But you must not
accompany me in any case. Outside is a servant
who will readily accompany me. Now I must only
look for my hat. Could I help you out
with a cap? But I won’t
take your cap from you! I can go bareheaded very well. It is not my cap.
Just take it. Then I thank you. It fits so well! Now it is eleven-fifteen.
Before you go you must take leave
of Miss Klara. I have something interesting
to tell you which could be decisive
also for your return. Unfortunately I am bound
by higher orders to betray nothing to you
before midnight. I can finish discussing
my business with Mr. Pollunder and you can spend a nice while
with Miss Klara. At twelve sharp
you will present yourself here, where you will learn
what is necessary. Conduct this young man
to Miss Klara. No, you must
go to Miss Klara. I would
stay here only a moment. Don’t hinder me in
carrying out my charge. Come along, young man. Not everything goes
as one wishes. You will wait for me
right outside this door. Permit me to take my leave, for at twelve sharp
I must be downstairs. What urgent affairs you have! Couldn’t you still
play the piano a little? But isn’t it too late by now? I definitely hope to come again, or you should visit my uncle
some time and at that opportunity look in at my room.
I have a magnificent piano. My uncle gave it to me
and he will soon engage a famous teacher for me
since I can’t play at all yet. Perhaps you should play now
anyway. Wait. Pardon me, I have just been
recalled and can no longer wait. Do you want to have music? Thank you, but I can’t
even read music properly. There is still someone listening! Until now I knew only your riding talents. I am as bad
at one as the other. If I had known you were listening
I would not have played. You play quite like a beginner,
but it pleased me very much, aside from the fact that
I scorn the playing of no one. But won’t you
sit down and stay with us? I thank you.
I cannot stay, as much as
I would like to stay. I promised you something
interesting for midnight and am already here with it. From my uncle!
I expected it. Just read. Are you finished? Have you brought me
the suitcase and umbrella? What kind of strange
suitcase is that? It is my father’s
old army suitcase. Besides, it is quite practical. I am also giving you a third class ticket
to San Francisco. I decided on this trip for you because the earning opportunities are much better
for you in the west, and because your uncle has his hands in all the things that could come into
consideration for you here… In Frisco you can
work undisturbed. Start
at the very bottom and try to work your way up gradually. You must explain to me
one thing: on the envelope it only says that
I am to receive it at midnight, wherever I am found. Why did you hold me back then,
on the grounds of this letter, when I wanted to leave
at eleven-fifteen? There you went beyond
your charge. If I had not held you back,
I would have had to deliver the letter to you
at midnight on the highway. That is not quite so. On the envelope it says,
“To be delivered at midnight.” If you were too tired, you may
not have been able to follow me, or I might have already arrived
at my uncle’s by midnight, or in the end it might
have been your duty to bring me back
to my uncle in your automobile, since I desired it so. Doesn’t the inscription
say quite distinctly that midnight was
to be my last reprieve? And you are the one who bears
the guilt for my missing it. Would you be so kind
as to show me the way out and then lead me onto the way by which I will come
to the nearest inn? But quickly. You
are giving me no small bother. My name is Karl Rossmann
and I am a German. Please tell me, since we have
a common room, your name and
your nationality also. I declare as well
that I have no claim to a bed and that I have absolutely
no intention of sleeping. Furthermore, you must not
be put off by my handsome suit. I am fully poor
and without prospects. That one is called Robinson
and is Irish. My name is Delamarche. I am French
and now demand quiet. Why did you
become a machinist if you now want
to go pan for gold? Why I
became a machinist? Certainly not
so that my mother’s son should starve at it. There are
fine earnings in the placer mines. Were once. Still are. We will be sure to
find jobs in Butterford. You are a German,
aren’t you, little one? I have not been
in America long. Bacon, bread and beer. No, thank you,
but for three persons. But that is a meal
for convicts! Do you still have a long march? As far as Butterford. That is still very far? One more day’s journey. Why do you want
to spend the night outdoors? Sleep here in the hotel. I have my baggage outside. You have only to bring it here. But my comrades! They naturally can
spend the night here, too. For the rest, my comrades are good people,
but they are not clean. To us really
the worst can come. I will have
three beds prepared. I cannot bring my comrades along. Then leave
your comrades outside and come in alone. I can’t do that, I can’t do that;
they are my comrades and I must remain with them. You are headstrong.
One means well by you and you defend yourself
with all your might. My best thanks
for your kindness. What sum do I owe you? Pay it when
you return the basket to me. Good night.
But you are not acting rightly. Get up! You sleep and in the meantime
thieves have been there. Is something missing? I don’t know,
but the suitcase is open. We were hungry, thought
that in your suitcase you could have something
to eat, and tickled the lock
until it opened. He seems to be moody. I am not moody, but I will spend
the night at the hotel and am not going to Butterford. Eat quickly,
I have to give back the basket. You see, Robinson, we gave him
our trust, we dragged him with us
a whole day, and now – because someone
down at the hotel lured him on – he simply takes his leave. But because he is
a deceitful German he doesn’t do this
openly but looks for
the pretext of the suitcase. You have nothing,
and that lowers you in my eyes
not in the least, but you begrudge me my little property and
therefore try to humiliate me. And now,
after breaking open my suitcase, you haven’t a word
to excuse yourselves, but yet you insult me
and insult my people. We envy him
his property, he thinks. One day of work in Butterford – to say nothing
of California – and we will have ten times
more than you could have still hidden
in your coat lining. So, watch your mouth! You seem as if you’d like
to give me a beating. All patience has an end. You had better be quiet,
Robinson. Inwardly
you give me the right, but on the outside you must
hold with Delamarche! Do you want to
bribe him perhaps? Wouldn’t think of it.
I am glad to leave and want to have
no more to do with either of you. The Head Cook
says to tell you that she urgently needs
the basket she lent you. Then the Head Cook
says to ask you if you don’t want to spend
the night at the hotel after all. The night is warm but it is not without danger
to sleep here on the slope. One often finds snakes. In this case it is my charge to conduct you to the hotel
and to carry your baggage. I cannot find
the photograph. The photograph of my parents. We have seen
no photograph. There was no photograph
inside, Mr. Rossmann. But that is impossible.
It was lying on top and now it is gone. If only you had not
fooled with the suitcase. All error is out of the question.
There was no photograph. It is irreplaceable.
I will not get another. It was the only picture
I possessed of my parents. Perhaps
we could still search the pockets of these gentlemen? They probably have torn up the photograph
and thrown away the pieces. I thought they were friends,
but in secret they only wanted to harm me. Listen!
If one of you should still have the photograph
and would bring it to me, he will get
the whole suitcase full and, I swear it,
will not be reported. It is nice
that you have come after all. And your comrades? We have parted
in discord. Then you are free? Yes, free I am. Won’t you accept
a place here in the hotel instead of rambling
through the world that way? For example, would you like
to become an elevator boy? Just say yes
and you are one. You come into contact
with all the guests, you are always seen, you
are given small charges; in short, every day you have
the possibility of advancement. I would quite gladly
be an elevator boy. Isn’t a knowledge
of languages required? You speak German and English.
That suffices fully. English I have only learned
in two months in America. That alone speaks for you enough.
When I think what difficulties
English gave me! Only yesterday I was talking about it.
Yesterday was my 50th birthday. Then I wish you
much luck. That one can always use. Come, I will
take you to your room. A work period
of ten to twelve hours is a little too much
for such a boy. He arrived
only six months ago with his parents.
He is Italian. But you are a strong
boy, so take courage! If you had come with
your comrades, I would have had beds given you
in the servants’ dormitory, but since you are alone I think that
it will suit you better here… When you come
to wake me in the morning, you must come
through the corridor. There is a guest sleeping here.
He is dead tired. For several years I have been
sleeping uncommonly badly. Now I can be
satisfied with my position and need have no more worries. But it must be the effects
of my earlier worries that cause me this insomnia. If I fall asleep at three o’clock
I can be glad. But since I must be at my place at half
past five at the latest, I must have someone wake me,
and with special care, in order not to become
even more nervous. And so it is Therese
who wakes me. Do you wish something? Won’t you open the door? I must get dressed first. That is not necessary. Open
the door and get into bed. I will wait a little. Pardon me and
don’t betray me, please. Will you stay here long? It is not yet wholly
decided, but I think that I will stay. That would be very good.
I am so alone here. The Head Cook
is very kind to you. You must not believe
that I am ungrateful. Without the Head Cook it would
be much worse for me. Earlier, I was a kitchen girl
here at the hotel and already in great danger of being let go because I could not
perform the heavy work. But there
I really had luck. The Head Cook
needed a girl once to arrange
the serviettes for a banquet. I was right at hand
and gave her full satisfaction for I’ve always
known about preparing serviettes. And so from there on she has kept me near her and gradually
trained me as her secretary. I have learned much at it. Is there
so much to write? Oh, very much… Of course I don’t write
continuously, but I also have many purchases
to make in the city. Is it a large city? Very large, I don’t go there gladly.
But don’t you want to sleep? No, no, I still don’t know
why you came in. Because I can talk
with no one. I only wanted to say
that the Head Cook is kind to me
as only my mother was. But there is too great
a difference in our position for me to be able
to talk freely with her. And it sometimes seems to me that
my present work is more strain on me than what I did earlier, that I don’t even carry it out
as well as what I did earlier, and that the Head Cook keeps me in my place
only out of pity. It is a sin to say it, but often and often
I am afraid of becoming insane. For the love of God, you must not say a word
of this to the Head Cook. It goes without saying
that I will tell her nothing. From the moment I saw you I had trust in you.
And in spite of that I was afraid
that the Head Cook could make you secretary
in my place and let me go. The matter is already in order. I will be an elevator boy
and you will remain secretary. These snowstorms in the
long, straight New York streets! If you walk against the wind you cannot open your eyes. Continuously the wind
grinds the snow on your face. You run but you don’t go forward.
It is something desperate. Mother had already been
two days without work. The day was passed
in the open and in our bundles we dragged
unusable rags around with us. For the following morning
she had been given the prospect of work on a
building site, but she feared being unable to make use
of the favourable opportunity, for already that morning, to the
fright of passers-by, she had coughed a lot of blood,
and her only desire was to get into the warm somewhere
and rest herself. And just on that evening it was
impossible to find a place. Certainly we would have been able,
late in the night when no one insisted
on his rights any more, to find a way into
one of the public dormitories rented by entrepreneurs, but I did not understand it
and Mother no longer wanted rest. In the morning, the beginning
of a beautiful winter’s day, we were leaning
against the wall of a house, and there perhaps we had
slept a little, or perhaps, with eyes open,
only stared around us. We continued through
the streets coming to life, passed over a bridge, and finally arrived at
the building site where Mother had been summoned
for that morning. I sat on a pile of bricks
and watched her take a multi-coloured rag
and wrap it around the scarf that she had worn
on her head all night. Without reporting
at the building hut she climbed up a ladder as if she already knew
what work had been assigned her. I was astonished,
for the female labourers are usually occupied
with simple work below. That made me think
that she wanted to carry out better paid work,
and I smiled sleepily up at her… Above she went
ably around the masons who were laying brick upon brick
and incomprehensibly demanded no
explanation of her. She held on cautiously
to a wooden partition that served as a railing. But now she came
to a small pile of bricks in front of which the railing and probably also
the walkway ended. She took no notice of that, went
right onto the pile of bricks. Her ability
appeared to have abandoned her. She knocked over the pile
of bricks and fell over it into the depths. Many bricks
rolled after her and a long while later
a heavy plank came loose and crashed down on her. Now people
ran together from all sides and from the building above
a man furiously shouted something
downwards. Good evening, Mr. Rossmann,
it’s me, Robinson. But you have changed! Yes, it’s going well for me. But you drink. It is only to fortify myself
when I am on the road. I no longer want
to better you. Rossmann, won’t you
come visit us once? We live with Brunelda,
a splendid singer. Are you inviting me,
or Delamarche? I and Delamarche.
In that we are agreed. Then I say to you and ask you
to communicate to Delamarche: Our parting
was final. You two
have done me more hurt than anyone. But we are
your comrades. And you have
such a fine position here. Could you
let me have some money? You have received from Delamarche the charge
of bringing back money. I will give you money
but only on the condition that you leave immediately
and never again visit me here. Do you want money
on this condition? Yes or no? Rossmann,
I feel very sick. I will not be able to leave.
I will die here. When I sit like this
I can still bear it, but I cannot stand up. Robinson, if you want
me to take care of you, then make an effort. You are really a good boy. I will do
everything you consider right… You must please
replace me here a while. Why did you leave?
Why didn’t you report it? But I did tell him
that he had to replace me. Don’t you know
that one must report even the shortest absence
in the office of the Head Waiter? Well, just then
the Head Waiter passes by, asks me where you’re hiding.
I have no idea – you didn’t tell me where you went –
so he telephones the dormitory that another boy
should come right away. I said that you
asked me to replace you, but apparently you
do not know him yet. I am to tell you that you should
go to the office right away. It is the first time
I have abandoned my post. That is always so,
only no one believes it. By no means say that you suddenly felt sick.
He will laugh in your face. It is better to say
that a guest gave you an urgent message
for another guest and that you no longer know
who the first guest was and could not
find the second. You have abandoned
your post without permission. Do you know what that means?
That means dismissal. Did you perhaps feel sick? I did not know that one must
ask for permission. I know the paragraph. I received and closely read
the regulations. But precisely such a
disposition one never uses – one forgets it. I have never
abandoned my post. For that you will
abandon it now. Besides, I also know you. You are the only boy who
on principle doesn’t salute me. Mr. Head Porter, sir,
I salute you most certainly. I have saluted you
every day several times. But naturally not
every time I have seen you, since I pass by you
a hundred times a day. You are to salute me
each time without exception. You are to address me always
as “Head Porter” and not “you.” And all that
each time and each time. In your next situation you will
know how to salute the porter, even if it is
perhaps in some miserable hole. This is Head Waiter Isbary.
Good morning. I have not
waked you after all! Yes, yes,
but I am sincerely sorry to have startled you. No, truly
I have no excuse, particularly in view of
the insignificance of the matter about which I am speaking to you. She must have run to the
telephone in her nightdress. I really did wake her. There is here
an elevator boy by the name of – by the name of Karl Rossmann. Unfortunately he has
repaid your kindness badly. He has abandoned
his post without permission and I have therefore this moment
dismissed him. I hope you do not take
the matter tragically. No, there I really
cannot yield to you. It concerns my authority.
There is much at stake. Such a boy
will spoil the whole band for me. No, no. He will not be transferred
to other work, he is completely unusable. For the rest, other grievances
run against him as well. The Head Porter, for example –
yes, Feodor – complains of the impoliteness
and insolence of this boy. What, that should not suffice? My dear madam, you renounce your character
because of this boy. Every night free of service
he runs into the city. To speak frankly
I would not have believed you were such a poor
judge of character. I have this moment learned
something about your young angel that will fundamentally
change your opinion. Well, this fine boy whom you call
a model of decency does not let one night
free of service pass without running into the city
and not returning before morning. Yes, yes,
it is proven by witnesses, irrefutable witnesses. Can you now
tell me where he gets the money for these enjoyments? And how he can preserve
his attentiveness to his service? But, Mr. Head Waiter, every night free of service
I am in the dormitory. All the boys
can testify to that. When I am not sleeping I study
commercial correspondence. The Head Porter
evidently is confusing me with someone else,
and now I understand also why he believes
I do not salute him. You will be silent at once! Then I can no longer
be Head Porter if I confuse people. Leave it, Feodor! He would like perhaps
before his departure to occasion some grand inquest
on his nocturnal occupations. Let us
rather not do that. The Head Cook,
this good woman, he has already duped her
and that should be enough. That’s unheard of!
I’ll come at once. Keep this fellow a little;
we will have more to say to him. Do I not
confuse him now? Mr. Head Porter,
please, let him free at once.
You are hurting him. What pleasure can it
give you to torture him? Orders,
little miss, orders. Please, Therese,
don’t stay here; go upstairs. I will come take leave of you. But Rossmann,
what are you thinking of? You will stay with us… Let him loose;
he is no murderer! Above all I want to tell you
that I still have complete trust in you. The Head Waiter also
is a just man. Forget therefore what
has been said to you until now. Above all, what the Head Porter
perhaps has said to you. He is indeed
an irritable man, which in view of his service
is no wonder, but he also has a wife
and children and knows that a boy with only himself to depend on
must not be tormented needlessly, but that the rest of the world
will furnish enough of that. I say this in order that
you answer without inhibition, which you probably
would have done in any case. The cause of your protégé
becomes continually worse. In a bed
in the boys’ dormitory was found a man heavily drunk
and totally unknown. Naturally he was waked
and was to be removed. But this man
began to shout over and over that the dormitory
belonged to Karl Rossmann, whose guest he was, and who would punish
whoever dared to touch him. Besides, he said he also
had to wait for Karl Rossmann because this one
had promised him money and had only gone to get it. Pay attention,
please, to this: had promised him money
and had gone to get it. You can also
pay attention, Rossmann: The man said further
that you two, after your return, would make a nocturnal visit
to some singer. And the boys
being what they are, at first they laughed at the man, then they
began a dispute with him, and he was simply knocked out. It is true that I brought
the man into the dormitory. He came here to pay me a visit,
but was so drunk that he could not
go away again alone. One must help
the brother in drunkenness. Guilty
I am, then. I am guilty
only in that I brought the man – his name is Robinson:
he’s an Irishman – into the dormitory.
All that he said otherwise, he said out of drunkenness
and it is not correct. You promised him
no money, then? Yes, because he asked me for it. But I did not want
to go get it, but to give him the tips
I had earned tonight. You are going
further and further astray. First you brought the man
– I don’t even believe the name Robinson;
since there has been an Ireland no Irishman
has been called that – so first you only
brought him into the dormitory. Then,
when one asks you by surprise, you did promise him money. And first you didn’t want
to go get the money, but give him
your tips from today. But then it is demonstrated
that you still have this money, so obviously you did want
to go get other money. In the end
that would be nothing peculiar, but that you deny it,
that is something peculiar. Also that you want
to keep quiet that you made
the man drunk here in the hotel, of which there is
not the least doubt, for you yourself admitted
that he came alone but could not go away alone,
and he himself shouted in the dormitory
that he is your guest. In question then
remain only two things: how did you gain access to
the storerooms and how did you gather together
money that you could give away? Tell me, Therese,
have I in your opinion failed to do
something for him? Madam Head Cook,
I do not believe that I have done you disgrace in any way
and after an exact inquest, all others
would have to find it so also. No, Karl, no, no! Things that are just
also have a particular look, and your cause,
I must admit, does not. How could you, Karl,
hide all these things from me? If the common dormitory
was perhaps unbearable for you and you at first began
on these innocent grounds with your nocturnal caprices, why did you
not say a word to me? You know I wanted
to procure your own room for you. You must now leave the hotel,
and as quickly as possible, otherwise an inquest perhaps
would be unavoidable. Go directly
to the Pension Brenner. On my recommendation
they will take you in for nothing. Tomorrow
I will come to Brenner’s and we will see what we can
further do for you. I will not abandon you. Aren’t you glad at all that
everything turned out so well? Rossmann, the man
is writhing in the entrance and will not
let himself be removed. He struggles
and claims that you would never tolerate
his going to the hospital. Someone is to take an automobile
and send him home. You would pay for the automobile.
Will you? The man has trust in you. I am also to ask you
if you want to go with him. He will not go with him. So, Rossmann,
you are dismissed on the spot. The grounds for your dismissal
I cannot pronounce aloud,
otherwise I would have to have you locked up.
Now go, change, turn in your livery
and leave the premises at once. Leave me, I want nothing
more to do with you. I can scream. And I can stop your mouth. I am indeed convinced
that I will find nothing, but you must be searched. But now it is enough. Rossmann, why do you
let me wait so long? I wish that you had seen
how I bled from the nose. My vest
is completely ruined; besides, I left it there. My trousers are in shreds;
I am in underdrawers. What will become of me? Do you really live here? Then I can go. In shirtsleeves? I will be sure to
earn another jacket. You must
give him something more. I had to wait for you
so long there. I can only
look to you. From this sick man
I can demand nothing. Yes, if only
I had something more. Robinson is a little sick, but he will be able
to climb the stairs. The driver here
still wants a supplement to the fare,
which I already paid. And now I am going. I say you stay! What is your name? Rossmann.
Show your identification papers. So you have
no identification papers. Not with me. That is serious. I was an elevator boy. You were
an elevator boy, so you are one no longer.
And from what do you live now? Now I will
look for other work. Yes, were you dismissed, then? Yes, an hour ago. And without a jacket
you were dismissed? In what
hotel were you employed? He was employed
at the Hotel Occidental. No, it is not true. You know the boy? I have done him
much good in his time, but he has
thanked me very badly. He seems to be an obdurate boy. But that is
still not his worst quality. Yes, that is one fine shark. We dragged him with us,
explained everything to him, thought, in spite of all
the signs that spoke against it, to still make of him
a usable human being. Then he disappeared
once in the night, under accompanying circumstances
I prefer not to utter. In any case
I will take him along and have him given back
to the Hotel Occidental. May I venture to request
that you provisorily leave me the boy. I have some
things to put in order with him. I will take it upon myself
to conduct him back to the hotel. I cannot do that. I must learn why
he was suddenly dismissed. But he is not at all dismissed! On the contrary,
he has a good post there. He is always
in with the Head Waiter, with the Head Cook,
and is a trusted person. How can he be dismissed? I was gravely injured in the
hotel and he received the charge to get me home
and since he was without a jacket he just came with me
without a jacket. But is that also true?
And if it is true, why does the boy pretend
to be dismissed? Stop him! Is she asleep? I believe not, but I
preferred to wait until you came. She is sitting on the sofa,
but perhaps she is asleep. Is she ill? He does not know her. Yes, can we come in? What heat, Delamarche! Should I perhaps
have the curtain raised? Anything but that.
Then it becomes still worse. Wait, I will make it
a little comfortable for you. Who is that? Why
does he stare at me so? It is only the boy
I brought for your service. But I want
to have no one. But all the time you wish
for someone at your service. Oh, Delamarche,
you do not understand me. I really don’t understand you. But nothing has happened. If you will,
he shall go away this instant. If he is already here,
he shall stay. I thank you for wanting
to leave me here yet a little. I am frightfully tired. I don’t
at all rightly know where I am. But when I have slept
a few hours, you can send me away
without taking any regard. You can stay here.
Room we have
in overabundance, as you see. So you must go. No, he shall stay. Delamarche, I cannot endure the heat.
I am burning; I must undress;
I must bathe. Send the two
out of the room. They are a burden to me;
they weigh upon my breast; if I succumb
it is because of them. You must both
go out on the balcony. I am wholly pushed aside.
That so amuses Brunelda. Once she wants to comb her hair, once
she wants to open her corset, once she wants to put it on, and always
I am sent onto the balcony. Earlier I often
pulled the curtain a little and looked, but since one time
Delamarche hit me in the face
with the whip several times, I don’t dare look any more.
And so I lie here on the balcony and have
no pleasure besides eating. Why do you stay here then,
if they treat you so? Pardon, Rossmann, that is not
a very judicious question. You will stay here also, even
if you are treated still worse. No, I will go,
and yet this evening if possible. And how will you arrange
to go this evening when you don’t even have
the right to enter the room? As long as there
has been no bell, we do not have
the right to enter. Earlier
I had the right to ask if I could enter yet,
and I would be answered yes or no
according to circumstances, but then I apparently
made too much use of this, and so it was decided
that when I can enter the table bell is pressed. So, there has been no bell yet today, and once it doesn’t ring
for so long, then it can still last
a very long time. Yes, but what applies to you still need not
apply to me. Besides,
such a thing only applies to the one
who lets it. Is that a life? Wouldn’t it be better
in Butterford? Or even in California
where you have friends? When you
so vilely deserted us, it went very badly for us.
We could find no work
in the first days. Besides, Delamarche
wanted no work. Then he said we should go
beg in the dwellings. So we went begging, and in order that it
would look better, I sang in front of
the doors of the dwellings. And as Delamarche
always has good luck, once while we were standing
in front of a dwelling, a very rich dwelling,
on the ground floor, and at the door were singing something
to the cook and the servant, there comes the lady to whom
this dwelling belongs, even Brunelda,
up the stairs. She was perhaps laced
too tightly and could not come up the few steps.
But how beautiful she looked! Naturally the maid
and the servant ran to meet her
and almost carried her up. She stayed immobile a little because she still
didn’t have enough breath, and I don’t know
how it happened – because of hunger I was not
wholly in my right mind, and nearby she was
even more beautiful – in short,
I touched her a little behind,
but very lightly, you know, only touched, like that. Naturally
one cannot tolerate that a beggar touches a rich lady. Who knows how badly that would
have turned out if Delamarche had not at once
given me a slap, and such a slap that I at once needed
both my hands for my cheeks. Didn’t you say
that Brunelda is a singer? But we did not yet
know that then. We only saw
that it was a rich
and very distinguished lady. She acted
as if nothing had happened. Without cease
she contemplated Delamarche, who in return
looked straight into her eyes. Thereupon she said to him:
“Come in a little while,” and with her parasol pointed
inside the dwelling. They forgot me outside and
I sat down on the steps to wait for Delamarche. But instead of Delamarche
the servant came out and brought me
a whole tureen of soup. The servant stayed with me a little while
as I ate and recounted to me things about Brunelda. She was a divorced woman. Her husband, a cocoa manufacturer,
indeed still loved her, but she did not want
to hear of him in the least. The servant did not dare,
despite the largest tip, ask Brunelda
if she would receive him, for he had already
asked several times and always Brunelda had thrown in his face
whatever she had at hand. What has the man
done to her? Nothing in particular, I believe;
at least he himself doesn’t know. He waits for me daily
there on the street corner. When I come, I have
to recount novelties to him. If I cannot come, he waits half an hour
and then goes away again. It was for me
a good supplementary revenue, but since
Delamarche learned of it, I must deliver everything to him,
and so I go more seldom. But what does
the man want to have? He hears
that she does not want him. What does it matter to me?
I only know he would give much money to be able to lie here
on the balcony like us. Tomorrow a judge
will be elected in our district, and the one they are carrying
down there is a candidate. Don’t you want to
look through the glasses? I see enough. Try it anyway,
you will see better. I have good eyes;
I see everything. I don’t see anything. No, no, no!
Please, let me go. Leave him, he will stay. Be glad
you are not thrown out. An escaped thief
is not thrown out, he is delivered to the police.
And that can happen to him as early as tomorrow morning,
if he does not keep quiet. Now you have seen enough.
Go into the room, make the beds, and prepare
everything for the night. Your way of staring at me
disturbs me horribly. Do you want
something of me? You are studying? First,
you have already disturbed me. But second, I always make a pause
at three o’clock. Who are you?
How do you come to these people? I hate them
all three. That is quite simple.
Delamarche wants me to become his servant. But I don’t want to. Do you have another situation? No, but that is nothing to me, if only
I were away from here. Why don’t you want to
stay with these people? Delamarche is a bad man. If all servants
in choosing their masters wanted to be as
difficult as you? During the day I am a salesman
in Montly’s department store. This Montly
is doubtless a scoundrel but that leaves me at rest. I am only furious
at being so miserably paid. By day you are a salesman
and you study in the night? But when do you sleep? Yes, sleep! I will sleep
when I have finished my studies. Provisorily
I drink black coffee. I don’t like black coffee. Without the black coffee
Montly would not keep me an instant, for believe me,
I would soon lie behind the counter
and sleep. I always say Montly,
although he naturally has not the slightest idea
that I am in the world. I wanted to study also. For years
I myself have actually only been studying
out of consistency. I have little satisfaction
from it and still less
prospects for the future. Could I not
perhaps also obtain a place
in the department store? Having obtained my post
at Montly’s has been until now the greatest success
of my life. Ah, what are you thinking! It is easier
to become a district judge here than a door opener at Montly’s. You saw this evening
the demonstration below? I understand
nothing of politics. That is a fault.
But aside from that you do have
eyes and ears. Come to us one evening, naturally only
if you would like. You advise me then
to stay with Delamarche? Absolutely. On the racecourse
in Clayton, today from six o’clock a.m.
to midnight, personnel will be recruited
for the Theatre of Oklahoma! The Great Theater of Oklahoma
calls you! Who now misses the opportunity, misses it forever. Everyone is welcome! Whoever wishes to become
an artist should report! We are the theater that can use everyone,
everyone in his place! But hurry
to be received before midnight! At midnight all will be closed
and opened no more. Accursed be
who does not believe us! On to Clayton! You were without a situation? Where were you employed
at the last? At the last! In an office. Where you satisfied there? To what post
do you feel yourself apt? I read the placard in the city
and since it said there that everyone could be used,
I reported. What did you originally
want to study? In Europe, I mean. I wanted to become an engineer. An engineer
you cannot become right away. But perhaps
provisorily it would be suitable to you to perform
some minor technical work. So we are finished, then.
In Oklahoma everything will yet be reexamined.
Do our recruiting troupe honour! Translation: Barton Byg

1 thought on “Klassenverhältnisse [Class Relations] (1984) dir. Straub-Huillet”

  1. Thank you for this! I've been trying to get into Straub-Huillet but their works can be pretty difficult to find, so I really appreciate this 🙂

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