5c 1924 ON THE ROAD TO PALESTINE
Palestine 1925. Alma, Franz Werfel, the young pioneer Hulda,
and the chauffeur Paul in a truck. Alma is having problems
with her luggage.
Werfel:) So this is your Palestine!
same thing could have happened if we'd gone to your
the moment we set foot in this Godamn country of yours it's
been nothing but trouble!
don't know what's wrong with you, Alma? For me it's been one
wonderful experience after another.
ALMA Oh yes!
What an experience! What a wonderful experience that rotten
trip on that shabby train from Cairo to El Arish. And what
a wonderful experience it was that ice-cold storm at midnight
in the dark stinking railway station in El Kantara. And that
wonderfully endless waltz of passport-and-custom-control!
And then that wonderfully ridiculous Russian Jew who was sent
to help us!
was not ridiculous. He was very charming.
ALMA Oh yes!
Very charming indeed! Until he found out I wasn't Jewish.
Then he really turned on the charm, , that repulsive xenophobic
only fault was his sense of humour.
what a sense of humour! Look, Mrs. Werfel, you don't
have to worry. As long as you are with Mr. Werfel, for us
you are Jewish too ! Hilarious!
typical Jewish humour.
ALMA In my
mind it's nothing but ugly, repulsive nationalism.
I think you're getting a little carried away. The people here
are going out of their way to give us a good time.
asked them? Who asked them to send down that tedious Seligmann
who did nothing but bore us with stories about his silly family
was only trying to find out if we had any common relatives.
should you be any relation to him, hmm? It's ridiculous! What
right's he got to poke his long nose into our genealogy?
mine, my dear. Only into mine.
I'm your wife now. It's my concern too. .
are looking at the fruits of Diaspora! These are dispersed
People! Scattered all over the globe! Without hope! Without
a country! They can't resist the temptation to retrace of
their parents' path so they can put their ears to the earth
and listen to the footsteps of catastrophe.
How poetic! How very poetic! It's been quite a while since
you've written any poetry at all, Franz. Congratulation!
can I write poetry, my love, with you reminding me from morning
to night that I'm not yet a Thomas Mann!
it's the truth. The bitter truth: you aren't Thomas Mann,
although you've got much more talent than he has. !
don't want to be a Thomas Mann! You understand?! I don't!
All I want to be is Franz Werfel!
ALMA In that
case you won't have to exert yourself. Just relax, eat and
drink without restraint, and in no time at all you'll end
up as Franz Werfel: fat, squashy and disgusting
who's talking ! Piggy Twiggy!
ALMA Oi oi
oi, what's the matter with you all of a sudden, Franzl? I've
never seen you so vulgar and aggressive. I wonder why you're
suddenly so bold and daring.
It's being among my people, eh? Is that what you're trying
to insinuate so delicately?
seem to be enjoying it enormously, being among your
never felt so close to myself! I want to learn Hebrew, keep
silent for five years - and then write in Hebrew, a book born
out of that silence.
mother tongue is German! A true writer cannot write a work
of value in a foreign language.
is not a foreign language for me. Its music resonates inside
me whenever I hear the children in this country speaking it.
- stay here! Learn Hebrew! Break your teeth on that strange
and weird language! Yes! It's' Strange and weird ! But don't
wax starry-eyed about its music. Your enthusiasm will dry
up soon enough. Then will come the dreary days, days of mental
desolation. Your soul will cry at night in German! I'm telling
you the painful truth. .
You see before you the greatest adventure of our century !
A new culture is being born right here in front of your eyes!
dreaming! A new culture
(She yells like a jackal) a
new culture! Really! This place is so poor, so depressing-
of supporting me at this painful moment in my career as a
writer you're demoralizing me.
A small explosion, a puff of smoke, the car comes to a stop.
the matter? What's going on?!
afraid we're stuck.
What the hell does that mean?
sorry to say it - but our car is dead.
What do you mean dead?!
PAUL It means
the engine is extinct, inanimate, no sign of life, in a word:
dead! - Hulda, will you help me?
the cover of the engine and starts to mess with the motor.
mean we can't go any further? (to Hulda:) That means we'll
miss your group reunion and the political discussion?
why do you have to miss anything? We can leave the car here,
and go on foot up the hill to the settlement. It's only a
two hours walk.
good! Let's go then!
anything you say. anything you say.
go! You reckless egoist! I hope you get lost on the way and
going with you. I'll show you the way.
the matter with you?! Are you coming, Alma?
I am not coming! I'm staying here.
please! You can't stay alone in the middle of nowhere!
ALMA I don't
care! This car is the last vestige of civilisation in this
godforsaken place, and I'm going to stick to it even if it
costs me my life!
worry, I'll stay with her. I'll try to fix the car . Maybe
we'll get lucky.
for the last time...
go, go! Get lost! You selfish Judas! You brute!
well. Anything you say. ! Anything you say ! Adieu! Adieu!!
Werfel and Hulda leave. Alma stays with Paul.