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1916. Gropius and Alma, Walter's voice comes from the distance, as if it came over a bad telephone line. Alma answers him shouting back, to overcome the bad line.

WALTER   Alma! Can you hear me?

ALMA   Walter? The line is very bad! Speak louder!

WALTER   Can you hear me now?

ALMA   Yes! Now I hear you. But there's a lot of noise.

WALTER   It's the artillery barrage.

ALMA   Where are you, Walter?

WALTER   I'm in a field hospital.

ALMA   Did you say “A field hospital”?

WALTER   Yes! It's a field hospital in Zonnebeke,

ALMA   Where is it?

WALTER   It's a small village, east of Ypres.

ALMA   What happened? Are you all right?

WALTER   I'm alive.

ALMA   Are you badly injured?

WALTER   I'll be all right. I received a medal!

ALMA   A medal? I'm so proud of you! But I must see you! I must! I've some good news to tell you. Very good news! I have got a lot to tell you. You said the name of the village was Zonnebeke? It's a field hospital in Zonnebeke? I'll find you there! We must get together! Don't worry for me. I'll take care. I'll find you. (She addresses the people around her:) Does anybody know where's Zonnebeke? It must be a small village near Ypres. Does anybody know where's Ypres? It must be somewhere in Belgium, near the French border. I hear there's a fierce battle going on there. I must get there. My husband is being treated there in a military field hospital in Zonnebeke. Can anybody tell me how I can get there?… Walter! Walter!…

Walter Gropius is wearing the Bavarian Order of Merit, 4th Class, with swords to indicate exceptional bravery.

ALMA   Walter, I'm so proud of you!

GROPIUS   I don't know what got into me. Actually it was suicidal.

ALMA   What?

GROPIUS   Walking bolt upright into enemy fire. I must have had a guardian angel.

ALMA   Of course you did. But just don't let your superiors know, or they'll take back your medal.

GROPIUS   I've been literally circumscribed by bullets during this war. One in my cap, one in the sole of my boots, two through my overcoat - one on the right, one on the left; those ghastly grenades.

ALMA   I've got a surprise for you too. Guess what?

GROPIUS   You're going to leave me?

ALMA   What? Why should I leave you?

GROPIUS   Because you want to go back to Kokoschka.

ALMA   Idiot.

GROPIUS   Then what is it?

ALMA   Have you looked at me yet today? I mean, properly. Look at me! Can you see any difference?

GROPIUS   New haircut? No make-up? Unwashed?

ALMA   How stupid you are, Walter. How divinely stupid. - Look in my eyes. What do you see?

GROPIUS   Myself.

ALMA   What else?

GROPIUS   I don't know.

ALMA   Something that wasn't there before.

GROPIUS   I don't know what you mean.

ALMA   I… am .... pregnant .

GROPIUS   So it's Kokoschka.

ALMA   No, not Kokoschka.

GROPIUS   Not Kokoschka? Who, then, holy Christ?

ALMA   Well, who do you think?

GROPIUS   Come on, come on, stop that, we've only been together for two days.

ALMA   So what? You think you can't get pregnant in two days? That's pretty naive. All you need is one good night. One good minute. Even in a second - if it's blessed by God. And done properly…

ALMA   You can live for seven years with a man, and nothing happens. You have children, but you've never got pregnant. And then, suddenly - !

GROPIUS   Come on, you're pulling my leg! Is it Oscar's? We can get rid of it, you know.

ALMA   But I don't want to get rid of it, you hear?! I want to keep the child. It's the first time I've ever wanted to keep a child. It's your child, Walter!

GROPIUS   That's idiotic. How can you be so sure?

ALMA   A woman knows when she gets pregnant.

GROPIUS   How does a woman know?

ALMA   It's simple. But it's a secret among women. Don't tell any other men!

GROPIUS   I won't.

ALMA   You swear?

GROPIUS   I swear.

ALMA   When you're pregnant - the colours change...! When I get pregnant, I see the world in rosy colors. For instance: now I see you all rose-colored.

GROPIUS   All right. That doesn't prove anything. My skin is naturally rosy. But what about my eyes?

ALMA   Your eyes, they are rosy too..

GROPIUS   My eyes?!

ALMA   Yes. Your eyes are rosy.

GROPIUS   Well, thank you. Should I be worried?

ALMA   On the contrary. They are very beautiful.

GROPIUS   You should see them from my point of view.

ALMA   You're resisting what I'm telling you.

GROPIUS   Have you got any more signs?

ALMA   Everything tastes sweet.

GROPIUS   What for instance?

ALMA   You, for instance. You are as sweet as Oskar.

GROPIUS   What?!

ALMA   Sugar. I wanted to say sugar. You taste as sweet as sugar.

GROPIUS   (licks his hand) Wrong. I taste salty.

ALMA   You see? It only proves you're not pregnant.

GROPIUS   (laughs) What shall we call her?

ALMA   I hope it's a him, not a her. I don't want to bring another girl into this world. This time I wish it were a boy. I want a boy. Whatever happens.

GROPIUS   Are you crazy? You want to put another man between the two of us. Or are you already fed up with me?

ALMA   Maybe. You've fulfilled your mission. Brilliantly. You're used up already. Why should I settle for a second-hand man when I can have the latest model? Why should I settle for a worker when I've got the product? Why should I still be interested in the artist once I'm carrying his masterpiece inside my womb?

GROPIUS   All right. Which way to the dustbin? Or do you want me to dive into the toilet so you can flush me down the drain?

ALMA   Oh no, you sweet, Aryan piece of shit! You misunderstand me completely. You tried to run away once, but this time I'm not going to let you. You can bet on it! You can bet on it! (pointing to her belly) The fact that a new object draws my attention doesn't mean I have to throw the old one. On the contrary! I always say: never throw away a man once you've had him. One day I could use you or even desire you again. Who knows? If I lose interest in you, and have no use for you any more, I'd rather put you aside carefully to rest for a while in the corner, within my reach. And if your time comes again… Well…? Who can say whether it will come. Who can say when it will come? But the possibility does exist, doesn't it?!

GROPIUS   What am I to you, Alma, hmm?! Tell me! Tell me, for Christ's sake! I feel as if I'm a pure-blooded Aryan. A thoroughbred. Am I actually a person to you?! Will I ever match the depth of feeling that you revealed to Oskar and Gustav? I will never reach the depth of feelings that those two did, and I'll never be able to awaken your emotions the way they did.

ALMA   Oscar… is lost to me! I can't find him inside me any more. He has become a stranger.. He so completely isolated me from the world that learned how little one is really needed in it. I know he'll go further, and probably be better off, without me. We almost killed each other with our love. He and I were compatible to the last fiber of our being. He had everything a person needs to be great. I loved him for that, and I loved the ill-bred, stubborn child in him. We rubbed up against each other, and now he can live in peace and quiet. No-one's getting on his nerves any more. No-one. I want to forget him. You have to help me do that. You have to help me. You have to help me.

GROPIUS   You loved him?

ALMA   Yes, I did. I loved him like crazy. Unimaginably. That big kid. He robbed me of all my reason. He's the only one I ever let do that to me. I wish I'd never met him. You just can't imagine how much he needed my love. I wanted to kill him with my love. I wanted him to die in my arms while I was on top of him. I wanted to feel him die inside me. I'm sorry I didn't succeed…

GROPIUS   You make me shudder. I can already hear you speaking about me the same way one day. I hate him. I hate him. I could kill him right away.

ALMA   It's no use. He's been killed already.

GROPIUS   What? You've already...? That's not possible!

ALMA   I didn't have to do it. Thank God. The Russians did it for me.

GROPIUS   The Russians?!

ALMA   I didn't tell you; it's too dreadful. But now, since it's in all the newspapers: »A bullet penetrated his ear canal and exited through his neck.«

GROPIUS   Alma, what are you talking about?

ALMA   Oscar. He's fallen. May his soul rest in peace.

GROPIUS   My God, I thought you were talking about our baby !

ALMA   You're still fixated on that baby? Then why did you say you wanted to kill him? That you hate him?! Were you struck in the head too?!

GROPIUS   I don't want another man between the two of us. And that's why I want it to be a girl.

ALMA   I don't want a girl!! I don't want her to suffer what I have suffered from all these crazy, tyrannical men!

GROPIUS   No, no, we will raise her in total freedom. We will develop her talents. I will never do to her what Gustav did to you, and I will not let any stupid man do it to her! I can already see what she will look like. She is going to be a stunning beauty, with long legs like a gazelle, and a thin waist, and golden hair. With little tight breasts with two roses for nipples, and her lips will be velvet, and sweet and sensual...!!!

ALMA   Aha! It sounds like you're already dreaming about your next mistress! If you're fed up with me, say it! And you won't see me any more!

GROPIUS   I'm talking about you, stupid!!

ALMA   I know it's going to be a girl. Whenever I am pregnant with a girl, I love my men twice as much as before.

GROPIUS   Aha. That was the case with Gustav?! You had two girls with him. Did you love him four times as much?! How can I keep pace with that? I hope we have triplets.!

ALMA   Gustav again?! I thought we'd finished with him -

GROPIUS   No, we haven't. He is still there, between the two of us.

ALMA   What nonsense! Gustav is dead and buried! Enough is enough! This girl is going to be different from all my aborted children. Your spirit and my body - your magnificent Aryan blood has merged with mine. She'll be half goddess!! To cherish and nurture her will be my holy duty in this world.

GROPIUS   I know what I want her to be called. Manon.

ALMA   Do you want to humiliate me?! Tell me, Walter, do you want to take my child away?! Manon is your mother's name! You know she hates me. Your entire family hates my guts. They want to separate us.

GROPIUS   No, they adore you. They say you transform any room the moment you cross the threshold. You change the physical dynamics of a place… Everything floats above reality as soon as you appear... They love your wonderful sense of humor, your way of talking, your impassioned way of listening ...

ALMA   Stop making fun of me, will you?! "Impassioned way of listening"! You know very well I'm deaf in one ear, so don't mock me.!

GROPIUS   Who's mocking you ? I've never been so serious ...*

ALMA   Cut the crap! Keep your nonsense to yourself, till you're 90 years old, sitting by the fire in the old folks' home; then you can bore your geriatric friends with it all. !

GROPIUS   I can see her! I look at you and I can see Manon! The way she'll look when she is 16 years old!

ALMA   You men! You're always looking for a fountain of youth! You remind me of Gustav! We're never young enough for you. 16, is that OK? - No? So wait a minute (plays a girl of 14) Does that turn you on? A girl of 14? No? How about 12 ? Shall I shave for you? (puts on the courtesan dress for Oscar's party) Listen, face reality, my dear life-strategist, you can't have a 36-year-old pregnant woman for the rest of your life! I warn you! My breasts are going to swell and sag, folds of flesh will cover my stomach, my face is going to change - it will droop into deep folds like a fan, my whole body will decline, I'll rot away, I'll deteriorate! It will give you a chance to prove your love to me. That's when I'll need your love. Make your decision. It's your last chance! Leave me! Go away! Go away!

GROPIUS   Alma, stop it! Stop it!!! I made up my mind a long time ago. When I first saw you in Tobelbad. When we first touched one another. On that blessed evening of 4th June, my whole life changed. All that counts from now on are the moments we are going to spend together. It started for me very suddenly , I have to admit. During that moonlit walk we took along the little stream that night ... Alma my soul, my life, I cannot live without you. If you have any feeling at all for me, you've got to abandon everything and come to live with me. Alma my blood, my body, my life! I can't exist without you. I'll marry you. You'll be my wife. Alma Maria Gropius. Alma Maria Gropius!

Alma leaves. Father Hollnsteiner starts his description of Manon Gropius' agony and death.

The music of Mahler's First Symphony calls everybody to Kokoschka's Masked Ball.