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Werfel is sitting in his study in Santa Barbara. Alma comes to visit him. August 26th, 1945

ALMA   How are you today?

WERFEL   Very bad, thank you, but still much better than tomorrow.

ALMA   Shall I call Dr. Spinak?

WERFEL   No, you'd better offer me your breast and suckle me.

ALMA   I hate your jokes.

WERFEL   I hate them too. It's the eternal Jew in me taking revenge on the ephemeral Christian, that I've never been.

ALMA   That can be taken care of in no time. Shall I call Father Moenius?

WERFEL   Not as long as I live!

ALMA   Suit yourself. - Have you made any progress on the Epilogue?

WERFEL   No. I can't write anymore.

ALMA   You have to . It's the only thing that's going to save you.

WERFEL   It's worthless. No one is going to read it anyway.

ALMA   Where is that letter you've got from the publisher, Johannes Urzidil?

WERFEL   Leave me alone.

ALMA   You said he liked your Prolegomena.

WERFEL   It's my »Theologumena« not my »Prolegomena«.

ALMA   Will you read it to me?

WERFEL   No, I won't. It's boring.

ALMA   No, I mean Urzidil's letter -

WERFEL   I meant the letter too, goddamn it! You think I was talking about my Theologumena? They're even more boring.

ALMA   What's the matter with you, Franz? You've become so bitter. So unpleasant.

WERFEL   All you've got to do is avoid me, and you'll spare yourself from all this unpleasant afternoon spleen.

ALMA   What's going on, Franz? Something very negative is happening . I can't figure out what it is. I have to say, I'm alarmed.

WERFEL   You're alarmed, are you really? And you wonder what it is? Then let me tell you: I'm finally decided to give up being a suckling. I'm no longer the miserable breast-oriented male that I've been all my life, and especially since I met you. I'm starting to grow up. I've already reached puberty. I know it's a little late, but better later than never. You can sense that you're losing your grip on me, and that's making you panic.

ALMA   I see you indulging in your self-destructive tendencies, and that's a disheartening show, I have to admit. What's happening to you, Franz? When I took you in , you had more talent in your little finger than Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, Karl Kraus and Stefan Zweig put together. You were better than Joseph Roth, Ödön von Horvath, Franz Kafka. I was sure you were going to write a masterpiece that would put a mirror to our time and define the spiritual horizon of the twentieth century. Why didn't it work, Franzl? What did we do wrong?

WERFEL   My head is full of shit. Full of shit! How could I have postulated that the victim is guilty, and not the murderer! How could I have written that the Jews have only themselves to blame for everything, for being and behaving in a way that elicits the sin of anti-Semitism from the Christians.

ALMA   That was a bold idea!

WERFEL   That was not a bold idea, my dear. That was stupid crap , and you encouraged me to write it!

ALMA   You've lost your balls.

WERFEL   Bullshit! The idea was perverted in the first place. Now after what's happened in Europe - it stinks like shit.

ALMA   You're becoming too self critical.

WERFEL   I see what I'm producing. I'm no idiot! My “Great Masterpiece” is an ugly mixture of platitudes, gossip, science-fiction nonsense, and soap-opera aesthetics.

ALMA   That is the spirit of our time.

WERFEL   What do you know about the spirit of our time? What do I know about it? Nothing! You hear me? Nothing! We are living here in Hollywood in the most artificial environment man ever created. “Ah! Mrs. Werfel! Hello! How are you? Nice to meet you! You look wonderful! What a beautiful house!“ This is a Non-Place.

ALMA   This is the most beautiful place on earth.

WERFEL   Yes! It's a perfect fit for you and your empty heart! My only contact with reality is my daily visit to the movies. I'm killing what's left of my soul and my brains with the debilitating products of the most degenerate dream-factory ever constructed.

ALMA   I'm don't force you to go to the movies.

WERFEL   Oh, you don't, do you? Thank you very much. Then let me to ask you what other cultural alternatives this cursed place has to offer?

ALMA   You can always read a book or listen to good music.

WERFEL   I can't! I can't! That's the whole point, don't you understand?!! I can't!! I need distraction! Distraction! You know why? Because I'm toiling away eight hours a day on bad writing. I'm working without inspiration, without pleasure, with a bad conscience on my »masterpiece« - my masturbation-piece - my great novel about the future! It's nothing but false pretences and hot air. ! It makes me puke when I think of it. I've wasted the best years of my life writing the wrong things. Yes, there was a moment when I was standing on a cross-road. It was the most meaningful moment in my life - and I let the opportunity slip away.

ALMA   When was it?

WERFEL   When we were in Palestine, twenty years ago. I could have stayed there. I could have connected myself to a place where history was being made. The most meaningful event in the history of my people, and maybe of all time. ! The most dramatic encounter that has ever taken place between a new, sovereign Judaism on the one hand, and Christianity and Islam on the other. This is humanity's critical opportunity for either historical reconciliation or total destruction. I could have taken part in it! I could have been where everything was happening. I could have sensed, experienced - and expressed it. What did I do instead? I tore myself away from the heart of the world-drama to live out my life in this fake, artificial paradise, where all I can do is live a travesty of an existence, and reproduce a counterfeit depiction of artificial feelings and thoughts. And you're the one who talked me into it. It's all your fault.

ALMA   Franz, is there another woman behind all this?

WERFEL   What?

ALMA   I've been feeling for a while that I was losing you. That you weren't looking at me the way you used to. That you were avoiding me. I didn't know what to think.

WERFEL   What are you talking about?!

ALMA   My God! How could I be so blind! Now it's all clear to me. There is another woman in your life. Franz! I know it.

WERFEL   My God, you're such a dimwit. !

ALMA   Tell me the truth! Who is she?

WERFEL   That's all you can think about: »another woman«? Are you serious? You are incorrigible! Your entire existence was like a cheap, miserable, pathetic Viennese operetta. And I was stupid enough to play a part in it. I can't believe it! I'm dying! And all you can think about is »another woman«! My God! My God! My God!

ALMA   Calm down. Calm down! It's just a fit of bad temper. It's only temporary. You'll overcome it. You're young. You're only fifty five. That's the golden age for a writer. It's the prime of your career. You've had a success in Hollywood with your “Jacobowsky and the Colonel”. You have at least another twenty years to write. You'll overcome this crisis and realize that your best novels and plays are still to come! You will tell the story of the decline and fall of our civilization! You will write a titanic masterpiece that will describe the destruction of humanity! You've got what it takes! You have a fiery style, a subtle and sensitive feel for language. You have the hunger! The fever! The madness! And above all a tremendous lust for life! I feel it! I know it!! You will be greater and much more important than Thomas Mann. You will get the Nobel Prize! Yes, you will! You have to ! You have to !

WERFEL   You have been my life's great catastrophe. It took me years to understand, but now I can see that I've been your slave for years. Now it's finished. I'm finally free. Free of you. Nothing can stop me. Nothing at all. I'm free! I am I! I am…

Werfel topples over his desk. He is dead.

ALMA   Moenius! Father Moenius!

Father Georg Moenius enters.

MOENIUS   Did you call me, my child?

ALMA   Look. He passed away.

MOENIUS   My poor child! (He caresses her) How terrible it must be for you!

ALMA   I've had lots of experience being widowed.

MOENIUS   Allow me to express my sincere condolences.

ALMA   First of all you have to give him an urgent emergency baptism. We can't bury him as a Jew.

MOENIUS   With my greatest pleasure! - Did he ask for it?

ALMA   You could say so, yes. In his own personal way. In any case, I can't bear the thought of my Franzl appearing before God as a Jew.

MOENIUS   Why should he? It's so simple to fix!

Moenius sprinkles Werfel with some water, and murmurs some Latin benediction.

MOENIUS   Now, my sister in sorrow, that's been taken care off. Is there anything else I can do for you, Madam?

ALMA   Help me prepare the ceremony.