2d 1901 ADIEU MA VIE, ADIEU MAX
Vienna, 1901. Alma and Max Burckhard, director of the Vienna
What's the matter with you? Did I do something wrong? Alma,
stay here! Did I say something that hurt you? ... Alma!! Hold
it! Why are you so angry with me all of a sudden?, Remember,
Alma! Remember yesterday, won't you! Please, Alma! Have you
forgotten already? Nietzsche! Schopenhauer! Yesterday everything
was fine, so good between the two of us, and now, all of a
sudden...? Please don't run away, Alma! ... At least say something!
What did I do to deserve this. How could you change so brutally?
Alma, how can I possibly understand it if you don't speak
to me? What deadly sin have I committed?
ALMA My poor Max...
BURCKHARD »My poor Max!« Is that supposed to console
me? For what? Being poor? I know I'm poor. In every sense
of the word. You've always made it a point to remind me how
unimportant I was, how little I have. I am director of the
Vienna State Theatre and I'm an unsightly...
ALMA Don't be ridiculous!
BURCKHARD And to top it all off, now I'm ridiculous. - I am!
You said it! You can't take it back, it doesn't make it any
easier for me.
ALMA We've been such good friends! Let's leave it at that.
BURCKHARD Good friends?! Come on, are you joking, Alma? We're
birds of a feather! Please don't forget that! I've kept no
secrets and neither have you! Not a thing. ! I've touched
ALMA With your mind, Max. Only with your mind.
BURCKHARD "Only" with my mind? "Only"
that?! That's the most intimate thing there is, Alma! Far
more intimate than the way Zemlinsky continually pesters you
with his bestial advances! You shouldn't let yourself be soiled!
ALMA Don't be vulgar!
BURCKHARD Alma, I know I'm not Socrates -
ALMA Stop it, Max!
BURCKHARD Yes, you've said it to me many times.
ALMA I was joking.
BURCKHARD No, you weren't. You weren't joking at all! I know
what your admirers say about me, I'm not under any illusions.
I know what your friends tell you. It's true, it's all true
ALMA External appearances have never interested me.
BURCKHARD Oh but they do, my dear, in fact they interest you
a great deal! I know you well enough by now to be aware of
that. Charm, fame, talent... I have none of all these.
ALMA That isn't true. You have knowledge, and you know it
BURCKHARD I'm not sure of that either any more.
ALMA Do you really need to hear compliments? You do have knowledge,
Max. Let me assure you of that. And you've got a fantastic
mind! You might even be a genius ...?!
BURCKHARD I might be? I might be a genius? Now stop that!
You're killing me with your compliments. Of course I'm not
a genius. If you believed I were one, you wouldn't have given
up on me. But you have given up on me, haven't you? Alma!
I want to shape you, you see?! I want to form you! - Don't
leave me! I need you. - Don't let me beg like a little child.
Do you really have so much to give that others always have
to beg? - Well fine, I have nothing. I have to beg!
ALMA Stop it! Stop it right now!! I can't bear it! Do you
understand me?! Stop humiliating yourself right now. I can't
stand it. You must never, do you hear, never humiliate yourself
in front of me. You should never, never, never beg for my
BURCKHARD If you don't give it to me -
ALMA That is the most deadly killer of love, don't you understand
that? If someone asks for help, you shouldn't give it
to them. Because that means they aren't worthy of it!
You taught me that yourself, Max! If a man asks me for something
- if he begs for it - then to me, he's dead.
BURCKHARD So? Am I now dead to you?
ALMA You are doing all you can to make it easier for me.
BURCKHARD To make WHAT easier?! To make WHAT easier?! Is there
ALMA I have an awful dilemma.
BURCKHARD So there is someone.
ALMA My Max... my wonderful Max
BURCKHARD Who is it?
ALMA Please, Max
BURCKHARD Who is it?!! At least I tell his name!
ALMA It's Alex.
BURCKHARD Zemlinsky? Why Zemlinsky? you've got him already?!
ALMA No, you idiot! I'm experimenting.
BURCKHARD I know.
ALMA No, I'm just experimenting with myself: I whisper »My
love«, and it's always Zemlinsky's name that comes first.
BURCKHARD And whose name comes second, hmm? Whose name comes
BURCKHARD I can almost smell him on you! What has he got that
I haven't? Is he younger than me? Better-looking? Richer?
I thought you didn't attach any importance to external appearances?
- Ah! Is it Dr. Muhr with his sacks of money?
ALMA No. It's not Dr. Muhr.
BURCKHARD Who is it then, hmm? - I know you, Alma. You can't
fool me , you horny little bitch. You want to sparkle like
a star in the Viennese sky . The most beautiful, brightest
star in the firmament. The evening star. And for that you
need a man who is handsome, rich and respectable. I can't
offer you any of that. It's true. And you don't need love,
do you? And that's all I could give you. - What are you laughing
ALMA »A handsome Man!« Oh, God... If you only
BURCKHARD So he isn't handsome? Then he must be very rich.
ALMA He isn't rich either.
BURCKHARD Then he must be famous.
ALMA Max, stop it. You're only making things worse.
BURCKHARD Is he famous? World famous?
ALMA Not yet.
BURCKHARD Ahhh! - Who is it?
ALMA (She can't bring herself to pronounce the name properly:)
BURCKHARD Stop this nonsense. Who is the man?
ALMA I told you. Now leave me alone !
BURCKHARD Don't make me crazy! (imitates her:) «Sssmalla»
Who's that supposed to be? - I want to know , God dammed!
- Spell it out for me!
ALMA Max! Stop it. You're getting on my nerves. Stop torturing
BURCKHARD I'm torturing you?! You're torturing me! Who is
this man? I want to know who it is! God dammed!!!
ALMA (shows him a photograph of Gustav Mahler:) It's
BURCKHARD What? What?! - No! No, you're kidding! It can't
be... You don't mean... Gustav Mahler? That old fart?!
ALMA You would have to say that.
BURCKHARD Oh my God! He could be your grandfather!
ALMA He's forty-two. So what?
BURCKHARD Forty-two?! That's twenty years older than you!
ALMA He loves me.
BURCKHARD He loves you? That old, wrinkled, dried-up herring,
that haemorrhoidal ape? Terminally ill, debt-ridden and impotent?
Eats nothing but wholegrain bread and fruit, and that's exactly
how he composes, too!
ALMA Alright, he's not a Beethoven, but he has some talent...
BURCKHARD »Not a Beethoven«?! Tell me, are you
out of your mind ?! He's a Jew! A Jew, Alma! Even though he's
converted. You can't wash away a thing like that with a little
holy water! A Jew can never become a true artist..!
ALMA That's not true. His Lieder -
BURCKHARD His Lieder?! What do you know about them ?
ALMA He sent them to me.
BURCKHARD Oh, so it's come to that has it. ! His diet music!
With the irresistible charm of apple pie! It never fails to
work - as a laxative! Spare me!
ALMA Calm down, I'm not saying I'm enthusiastic about his
work. But some of his Lieder
BURCKHARD Stop it, will you! ! As a composer he is a nothing
, and you know it! It's all pretension, posing and posturing!
Alma! How can you? You are so intelligent, you have such refined
taste. Your own music is far superior to anything this pretender
has composed! Alma, in 22 years you've composed better things
than Gustav Mahler will cobble together in 200 years. Any
one of your Lieder reveals more musical talent than all of
his symphonies combined!
ALMA It isn't his music at all. His music leaves me cold,
do you understand? It doesn't touch my senses, but
him! Him! It's him that fascinates me. Only him. That's it.
Nothing else. It's... I don't know how to say
yes, sure, I know. The inexpressible, that »certain
something«! That »je ne sais quoi«! - And
his position as Director of the Royal Opera. Don't cheat yourself,
Alma. You little monkey! All you want to do is sit on the
hurdy-gurdy, all dressed up, with a little red cap, a bowl
of money in your hand, and Mr Mahler grinding the organ! While
all of Vienna dances to your tune! But not with me! Not with
Suddenly Burckhard throws himself at Alma, trying to embrace
and kiss her:
BURCKHARD Alma... Alma! Come here, come to me!
ALMA Stop it! Stop it, Max! Are you crazy?! Don't you dare
touch me! Leave me... alone ! Max
! Go away!! Go... away!!!
(she pushes him away and spits out) Urrgh! If only I'd met
him just three years earlier, my mind would never have been
tainted by yours. !
BURCKHARD Now I understand you , Alma. I've figured you out.
At last. It took me a long time. Your boundless vanity, your
craving for pleasure, your ridiculous fantasies! You're dead!
ALMA Quite the contrary, my dear. You can keep your advice
to yourself in future. I won't need it any more. I'll love
this man, my whole life . I will take care of him. I will
compose. And I will even conduct! This man is pure oxygen
for me! You can catch fire if you step too close to him!
BURCKHARD And me? What about me? What have I been for you?
ALMA Sulphur. It burns too, but it's stinkier.
BURCKHARD Well, then, get out of my sight! Fuck yourself to
fame and glory! That's the only thing you were born for!
ALMA That's not for you to judge, thank God.
BURCKHARD Adieu ma vie, adieu mon coeur, adieu mon espérance!
- Go to your old Jewish goat! Go to your Gustav. Become the
most important woman in Vienna! Enjoy it! When you're fed
up with the wet lips of your old prune, join us for a drink.
You're always welcome. - I'm going to drown my sorrows in
alcohol , and break the news to our friends. Adieu Alma!