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Vienna, 1901. Alma and Gustav Klimt, the founder of the Vienna Secession movement.

KLIMT   Alma! 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? 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 understand if you don't speak to me? What deadly sin have I committed?

ALMA    Poor Gustl...

KLIMT    »Poor Gustl!« Is that an answer? 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'm a needy, unsightly, insignificant wretch...

ALMA    Don't be ridiculous!

KLIMT    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.

KLIMT    "Good friends"? Come on , are you joking, Alma? We kissed each other. Please don't forget that!

ALMA    Just once, Gustl. Just once!

KLIMT    "Just once"? "Once"?! It was the first time, don't forget that! It's the most intimate act there is, Alma! Far more intimate than the way Zemlinsky keeps pestering you with his fumbling and groping!

ALMA    Don't be vulgar!

KLIMT    But you have to see the difference , my God! - Or is it because I'm not a musician? That's ridiculous! Your father was a painter! What could be more natural ...

ALMA    Stop it, Gustl! I'm warning you!

KLIMT    You've compared me with him often enough.

ALMA    I was joking.

KLIMT    No, you weren't. You weren't joking at all!

ALMA    Such similarities have never interested me.

KLIMT    Oh but they do, my dear, in fact they interest you a great deal! More than you think! I know you well enough to be aware of that. You're after money, talent and fame...

ALMA    You have talent, and you know it . And you've got genius.

KLIMT    I'm not sure of that any more.

ALMA    Do you need more compliments? You're a genius, Gustl. I can assure you of that.

KLIMT    Alma! Don't leave me! I want you. I need you. I've got to have you, do you understand?! For ever! I want you for ever. You understand me?! - Don't let me beg like a little child. Do you really have so much to give that others always have to beg?

ALMA    Yes.

KLIMT    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 love!

KLIMT    If you don't give it to me -

ALMA    That's 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! Why can't you see that? If a man asks me for something - if he begs for it - then to me, he's dead.

KLIMT    And? Am I dead now?

ALMA    You are doing all you can to make it easier for me.

KLIMT    To make WHAT easier?! To make WHAT easier?!

ALMA    I have an awful dilemma.

KLIMT    Is there anybody...?

ALMA    Gustl... please!

KLIMT    So there is someone. Who is it? - Who is it? I want to know his name!

ALMA    It's Alex.

KLIMT    Zemlinsky? Why Zemlinsky? But you've got him already?!

ALMA    No, you idiot! I'm experimenting.

KLIMT    I know.

ALMA    No, I'm just experimenting with myself: I whisper »My love«, and it's always Zemlinsky's name that comes first.

KLIMT    And whose name comes second?

KLIMT    I can 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? - Is it Dr. Muhr with his sacks of money?

ALMA    No.

KLIMT    Who is it then? - You can't fool me, you horny little bitch. You want to sparkle like a star in the Viennese sky. For that you need a man who's handsome, rich and respectable. - What are you laughing at?!

ALMA    »A handsome Man!« Oh, God... If you only knew!

KLIMT    So he isn't handsome? Then he must be very rich.

ALMA    He isn't rich either.

KLIMT    Then he must be famous.

ALMA    Gustl, stop it. You're only making everything worse.

KLIMT    Is he famous? World famous?

ALMA    Not yet.

KLIMT    Ahhh! - Who is it?

ALMA    It's… (indistinctly) Gstlmll.

KLIMT    I beg your pardon?!

ALMA    (She can't bring herself to pronounce the name properly:) ' Stamlll...

KLIMT    Stop this nonsense. Who is it?

ALMA    I told you. Now leave me in peace, at last!

KLIMT    Don't make me crazy! (imitates her:) «Stamlll» Who's that supposed to be? - I want to know now, dammit! Who is it? Spell it out for me!

ALMA    Gustl! Stop it. You're getting on my nerves. Stop torturing me!

KLIMT    I'm torturing you?! You're torturing me! Who is this man? I want to know who it is! God dammed!!!

RESERL   (whispers) It's Gustav Mahler.

KLIMT    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.

KLIMT    Oh my God! He could be your grandfather!

RESERL   He could not be her grandfather. That's tasteless.

KLIMT    Or her father…

RESERL   He's forty-two. So what?

KLIMT    Forty-two? He's twenty years older than her!

ALMA    He loves me.

KLIMT    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! That tasteless smearer of notes...

ALMA    Alright, he's not a Beethoven, but he has some talent...

KLIMT    »Not a Beethoven«?! Tell me, are you totally crazy?! He's a sniveling scribbler of music!

ALMA    That's not true. His Lieder -

KLIMT    His Lieder! What do you know about them. ?

ALMA    He sent them to me.

KLIMT    Oh, so it's come to that has it. ! You've taken it that far already?!

ALMA    Calm down, I'm not saying I'm enthusiastic about his work. But some of his Lieder…

KLIMT    Stop it, will you! No-one in the world will believe you when you say that! As a composer he is a nothing, , and you know it! It's all pretension, posing and posturing! Alma! How can you? You're so intelligent, you have such refined taste. Your own music is far superior to anything this pretender ever 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's not his music. His music leaves me cold. It doesn't touch my senses at all, but - 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…

KLIMT    Yes, sure, I know. The “inexpressible ”, that »certain something«! That »je ne sais quoi«! - And then there's his position as Director of the Royal Opera. It's true, isn't it? He occupies a key position in Vienna's musical life. To be his wife means glamour! Power! Status! Don't cheat yourself, Alma. You little fool! 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 Vienna dances to your tune! But not with me! Not with me!!

Suddenly Klimt throws himself at Alma, trying to embrace and kiss her:

KLIMT    Alma... Alma! Come here, come to me!

ALMA    Stop it! Stop it, Gustl! No, don't kiss me! Gustl... Leave me... alone ! Don't touch me ...! Don't you dare ... Go away!! Go ... away!!! (pushes him away and spits out) Urrgh! If only I'd met him just three years earlier, my lips would never have been tainted by yours. !

KLIMT    Ahhhh... Now I understand you, Alma. At long last. It took me a long time. Your boundless vanity, your craving for pleasure, your ridiculous fantasies! You're dead! You're lost ...

ALMA    Quite the contrary, my dear. You can keep your advice to yourself. I won't need it any more. I will love him, my whole life . And I'll take care of him. And I will compose. I will even conduct! This man is pure oxygen for me! You can catch fire if you step too close to him!

KLIMT    And what about me? What have I been for you?

ALMA    Sulphur. It burns too, but it's stinkier.

KLIMT    Well, then…! Get out of my sight! Fuck yourself to fame and glory! That's what you were born for!

ALMA    That's not for you to judge, thank God.

KLIMT    Adieu ma vie, adieu mon coeur, adieu mon espérance! You will become the most important woman in the musical life of Vienna! Enjoy it! Go to your old Methuselah. Go to your Gustav! When you're fed up with the wet lips of your old prune , join us for a drink. You're always welcome. I have to drown my sorrows and break the news to our friends. All I need is a good drink, and some juicy jokes. Adieu Alma!