A man is walking down the narrow riverside path that winds its way towards
the spot where a ferry crosses to the other bank. It is a summer evening,
after sunset. The traveler, Nikolas, is carrying a rucksack, and in his hand
a pair of fishing rods. He wants to spend his holiday in solitude, which is
why he has come to this remote region in search of peace.
He arrives at the old inn and finds the door closed. The inn is lying in
profound silence, as if all its occupants have gone to bed. Nikolas rattles
at the door, but it is well and truly locked. At this moment he sees a reaper
walking along with his scythe over his shoulder. He looks at the man
curiously as he walks down towards the ferry. He shouts after him:
Hello, you there!
But the reaper, not hearing his cry, continues on his way. The landscape is
bathed in a gray, dim twilight; every object has a tinge of unreality.
Nikolas goes round to the back of the house. There he discovers a window in
which a light can be seen. He comes nearer, knocks on the window pane and
listens; but not a sound reaches him. Simultaneously the light goes out.
Nikolas knocks again. Silence still. But now a window is opened quietly on
the floor above, and a timid child's voice asks:
Nikolas runs his eye up the facade of the house and discovers a little girl
of thirteen with a gentle, frightened face. She says to him:
I'll come down and open the door.
She gestures, indicating that he is to go to the front door. Then she
carefully closes the window.
As Nikolas stands waiting, he glances down in the direction of the ferry. The
ferryman - who has a white beard - boards the ferry-boat which begins
crossing the river. He goes backwards and forwards, pulling laboriously at
the iron chains which run rattling and squealing round the ungreased wheels.
Meanwhile the little girl has opened the door of the inn. She is a strange
child. She looks rather small for her age and wears spectacles. Her eyes are
moist, as if she has just been crying. When she talks to somebody she tilts
her head backwards.
Nikolas enters, and the girl shuts the door behind him. He slips his rucksack
from off his shoulders. As he is doing so a door opens a few inches and a
face appears, staring inquisitively. The little girl gives a sign to Nikolas
to follow her up the stair leading to the guest rooms. She lights a candle in
a little enamel candlestick of the kind found in country districts, and hands
him the candlestick.
On the floor above, the doors out onto the passage are standing open. The
rooms are poorly furnished, the beds without bedclothes, the windows dirty,
as if they have not been cleaned for a long time. The little girl conducts
Nikolas to a spartanly furnished room. On a table he finds a candlestick with
a half-used candle, beside which are lying another candle and a box of
matches. He lights the candle. The girl, who has remained standing in the
doorway, says with an inclination of the head:
Good night, sir!
The girl disappears and shuts the door behind her. He glances round the room.
Over the bed hangs one of those copperplate engravings, framed in glass, that
are so common in the country. Nikolas looks at the engraving for a moment. It
represents something like 'Death pays a call.' Then from a neighboring room
he hears a woman sobbing.
Close-up: Nikolas turning and listening. He opens the door a few inches. A
man's voice is heard trying to calm the woman, but she is incapable of
mastering her despair. She breaks out, in a voice choked with tears:
Oh, why did he have to die - why should I have
to lose him ... why, why?
My little boy, my little boy!
The weeping eases off.
Oh God, oh God!
We hear a door opening, followed by footsteps; then everything is quiet again.
Nikolas, who had lifted the light to look at the engraving, puts it down, and
after locking the door crosses to the window to pull down the blind. First,
however, he looks out across the river, where he sees the reaper with the
scythe sitting on the railing of the ferry-boat, while the ferryman continues
his monotonous progress up and down like the ferryman on the river separating
life and death. Then Nikolas draws down the blind. It is one of those blinds,
often seen in the country, that have some painted motif: a temple, a forest
or the like. He takes out his watch. The sound of the watch continues during
the following shot, which shows the shadow of the house creeping slowly over
the ground - a symbol of time passing.
A moment later we return to the room. Nikolas has been asleep for some time.
Somewhere in the house a clock strikes eleven; then we hear the footsteps of
somebody approaching and knocking on the door: two knocks - and again two
knocks. In his deep sleep Nikolas seems to hear the knocking without taking
it in fully. He reacts while still half asleep, turns his head towards the
door and sees the handle slowly turning. Then the door is opened, inch by
inch, as if by an invisible hand. A man enters the room, wearing a full-
length dressing-gown. Without a sound he approaches the bed and leans over
Are you asleep?
Almost unconsciously Nikolas opens his eyes and meets the stranger's
Nikolas looks at him in astonishment and asks, almost in a whisper:
Who are you!
The stranger, whose whole bearing and behavior indicate unease and
nervousness, straightens up, crosses the room, pulls up the blind, and stands
so that the moonlight falls on his face, which shows traces of recent
suffering. He takes out a handkerchief and mops his brow with a nervous
movement ... like a man dreading a catastrophe. Then he says:
Nikolas looks at him in growing amazement. The stranger continues to stand
there, as if his thoughts are somewhere quite apart. Then he seems to
remember where he is and why he has come. He again goes right up to the bed
and leans over Nikolas. In broken syllables he stammers out the words:
She mustn't die ... do you hear? ... She's
dying, she's dying!
The stranger speaks like a man in dire need, one who in his agony doesn't
know where to turn for help. Suddenly - without transition he turns away and
crosses to the door. There he stops, apparently absorbed in his own thoughts.
Absently he raises a thumb to his lips, looks at it and licks it. Then he puts
a hand in his dressing-gown pocket and takes out a parcel the size of a book.
He puts the parcel down, takes his leave with a polite inclination of the
head, and goes out.
Nikolas sits half up in bed, tormented by doubt. Has he been dreaming? Has
there really been anybody in his room? He lights a match and looks at his
watch. It is five past eleven. Then he gets up, goes to the door and tries
it; it is firmly locked. He looks at the blind; the blind is up. And on the
table lies the parcel. Some words are written on it:
To be opened after my death!
Nikolas is unable to go back to sleep. A dying man has called on him. He
cannot ignore this call! He must go and look for the man who has asked for
help. He starts putting his clothes on.
Outside, the shadow of the inn creeps further and further over the ground -
time is passing.
Nikolas has crept stealthily down the stairs and stolen out of the door
without waking the people in the inn. The moon is shining, so that everything
is clearly visible. He takes a few steps, then stops irresolutely. Which way
shall he go? It is, in truth, a hopeless task that he has undertaken, since
this stranger has given him no information whatsoever. As he stands like this,
he suddenly catches sight of a shadow gliding down the white road. It is the
shadow of a man - a man with a wooden leg - followed by the shadow of a dog.
Nikolas stands stock-still for a moment, utterly bewildered. Yes, it quite
definitely is a shadow - and only a shadow. There is no man or dog to
be seen. The man's shadow stops, turns slowly and looks all round. With
mounting astonishment Nikolas watches to see what will happen next.
The man's shadow walks on and joins a group of other shadows engaged in
digging a grave in the shadow of a tree. We see these shadows of grave
diggers as they dig their shovels deep in the earth and throw up shadows of
shovelfuls onto a heap of earth which likewise is a shadow. One of the
shadows in the grave stops when the shadow of the man with the dog comes up
to him. After a short conversation between the two men, the shadow of the man
with the dog turns, takes a few paces in the direction whence he came, and
beckons to somebody.
Nikolas looks in the same direction and sees a weird procession: two men's
shadows, sharply outlined against the light road, walking slowly along,
carrying a dead body. The limply hanging arms and dangling legs show clearly
that it is a human body. The whole procession of shadows is utterly fantastic.
Nikolas follows the happenings with the keenest attention; the shadow of the
man with the dog gives an order; they start laying the body in the grave;
then the shadow of the man with the dog moves away.
Nikolas has an impulse to follow this shadow. A voice inside him tells him
that there must be some connection between the apparition in the room of the
inn and this phenomenon of the shadows. He follows the shadow, which suddenly
leaves the road and disappears through a door or opening in the wall of a
factory. This factory is, strictly speaking, only the ruins of a factory
which has been derelict for many years. Half of the window panes are broken,
and those remaining are covered in dirt and cobwebs. The tumble-down factory
looks dismal and fantastic in the moonlight and makes one think of a gigantic
Nikolas enters the factory by the same opening through which the shadow
disappeared. The room Nikolas enters is a small, bare, square room, full of
rubble and stones, through which Nikolas carefully threads his way. There are
two doors. Nikolas tries one, which leads into a room with no other exit;
then he opens the other and comes into a room with another door. When Nikolas
opens this latter door, he finds a steep staircase behind it. Nikolas treads
gingerly on the stairs to see if they creak; then he goes up the stairs. When
he reaches the top, he finds himself facing another door. Just as he is about
to open this, he hears through the door footsteps echoing over the tiled
floor. Nikolas stands rooted to the spot. The steps come nearer, and as they
do so we see under the door a steadily increasing shaft of light. He can hear
that they are the footsteps of a man. He watches the door as if hypnotized.
The man on the other side has stopped; now the door handle moves, and a key
is turned. Then the footsteps die away.
Nikolas, who has hardly dared to draw breath for fear of giving himself away,
tries the door handle. To his surprise the door opens. The man, whose steps
can no longer be heard, has evidently unlocked the door for an expected visit.
Nikolas opens the door wide and goes in. He finds himself in a room resembling
a corridor. A little way along there is a door. Nikolas tiptoes up to it and
opens it. The room into which it leads is empty. Nikolas is about to turn
back into the corridor when he hears a door slam. He peeps out through the
partly open door. There now enters, by the door through which he himself has
passed a moment ago, an old woman of erect bearing, who holds her head high
and proudly. She must be very old. Her skin is pale as wax, yellowish and
drawn tight over her cheek-bones. Her movements are stiff and resolute; she
supports herself on a stick, which strikes the tiles with sharp, regular
clicks. The old woman is blind. Her eyes are covered with a film and have a
dead look. Her lips are thin. Her whole face bears the stamp of cruelty.
The moonlight shines through the window, outlining its cruciform frame
sharply on the floor or the wall. When the blind woman reaches the window,
she opens it with her stick before continuing on her way, and the shadow of
the cross disappears. She goes through the door behind which Nikolas has
hidden, and he decides to follow her. Suddenly she stops, throws her head
back and sniffs the air like a dog. Nikolas stops too. She turns abruptly and
Nikolas waits as quiet as a mouse. The blind woman is reassured and walks on.
Nikolas follows. But at the first turn of the corridor she vanishes.
Nikolas stands speechless for a moment. Then another remarkable thing
happens: a sound which has no connection with the preceding scene reaches his
ear. It is the sound of music, and the tune being played has a dancing
rhythm, faintly reminiscent of a slow mazurka. Nikolas listens for a second,
then takes a few steps in the direction of the sound and turns into a
corridor, at the end of which there is a door. When he opens this, it is as
if the music, cooped up behind the closed door, now rushes at him like a wave
falling back to its original level. The music seems to come from some
apertures in the wall. They are like organ pipes; at all events the music
swells from them as from an enormous organ. The same blind woman now appears
in a corner of the room. She stops. She makes a sign with her stick, and the
From the opposite corner of the room a curious figure now comes towards her:
a lame man as thin as a beanstalk. But in spite of his lameness he moves with
great agility; he looks remarkably like a great wading bird. Involuntarily he
uncovers his head and holds his hat in his hand while talking to the blind
woman. She gives him a curt order and walks on, finally disappearing in the
factory's labyrinth of passages and corridors.
The shadow of the man with the wooden leg sits down on a bench on which his
real 'ego' is also sitting ... A man comes up to him. They whisper together.
The new arrival is an unpleasant character with pig's eyes, a flat nose, a
low forehead and sparse, stiff bristles. He has an underhung jaw and a
powerful chin. There is something bestial about his appearance. The two men
walk over to a window niche, where a man is lying asleep on the floor,
huddled up like a dog. As the one-legged man wakes the sleeper with a kick
from his wooden leg, the man with the pig's eyes pulls out his knife and
tests the cutting edge with his thumb. The sleeper has sharp features and a
hardened expression, as if his face has been carved in wood. As he gets up he
scratches his unshaven cheek with a bent forefinger. Then all three disappear.
Nikolas catches sight of a little house, an old, deserted dwelling with
windows which have been painted over white, and which in the moonlight
resemble glass eyes.
He goes into the house and enters a corridor. There is a smell of mold.
Everything is old, dirty and dilapidated. Dust and cobwebs in every corner.
Perhaps inhabited, perhaps not, very little furniture. An old cupboard, a
chair, an umbrella lacking its cover, a greasy hat on a hat rack. In the
corridor there is a door with reinforced panes of glass; the corridor leads
to a staircase descending to the gloomy depths of a cellar. There is a death-
like hush in the house.
Is there anybody here?
asks Nikolas in a loud voice.
No answer. The silence seems even deeper after the sound of his own voice.
Opposite the staircase a door is standing ajar. Nikolas opens it cautiously.
The room he looks into is peculiar in the extreme. It is depressingly untidy
and dirty. Collections of eggs, birds and mussel shells, distilling-flasks
and glasses of all sizes, dusty and filthy, some spiders under glass cases, a
doctor's scales with weights the color of verdigris, books, apothecary's
glasses containing leeches and other crawling things. The skeleton of a
child. A parrot on its perch. But not a single living human being.
Nikolas goes through a door into another room. As he does so he gets the
feeling that there must have been people here quite recently. In the middle
of the floor stands a black wooden coffin on two wooden trestles. On the
floor wood shavings and bricks; on the window ledge a bowl of dirty water,
soap, a brush and a comb; and, standing against the wall, a saw and other
carpenter's tools. Nikolas goes through this room in turn. The house's
inhospitable atmosphere is beginning to oppress him; he has the feeling that
he is not alone, even if the room is empty. He walks on tiptoe, looks all
round, and opens and closes the doors cautiously.
The third room is completely empty. Dust is lying so thick that it muffles
the sound of his footsteps. Flakes of plaster are lying on the floor; they
have peeled off from the wall and ceiling, on which there are rusty stains
made by the rain dripping from the leaky roof. In the window there is a
potted plant hanging, withered, from its stake.
Facing him a door. This leads into a room with a tiled floor which makes the
echo sound harsh and cold. Some large boxes bar his way. Then he suddenly
thinks he sees, directly opposite, a long corridor opening out of a wall with
no door in it.
When he reaches it, there is no entrance after all, but an uninterrupted
wall, into which he has bumped; he lights a cigarette, by the light of which
he sees that he is standing close up against a whitewashed wall which is
split, cracked and full of mold. He turns round and discovers that he is now
in an old laundry room. It has not been used since time immemorial.
Everything is covered in dust. On the copper are standing some rusty bird-
cages and mousetraps. Old paraffin lamps are lying in a heap on the floor;
but what astonishes Nikolas most is a collection of children's clogs standing
neatly in rows. They are not quite as dusty as the other things in the old
For this reason he goes through the empty room and back to the spot where a
door leads out to the staircase. There he stops, and now he hears - in the
quivering stillness of the old house - hounds baying and a child weeping.
Then a scream, a half-suppressed child's scream, as if a hand had closed over
the mouth of the screamer.
It comes from the cellar, but just as Nikolas is about to descend he hears
steps on the staircase above. Somebody is coming down. He sees only this
person's hand, as it fumbles its way slowly down the handrail. He can only
guess at the owner of the hand. The hand continues to glide down, and
Nikolas, summoning all his courage, says:
But the hand only rises and gestures to him to be quiet. The person stops on
the staircase. Not a sound. Then the hand resumes its downward gliding
movement. Nikolas realizes that it is the hand of an old man. The figure
continues down to the staircase landing, and Nikolas takes a few steps
towards him. He sees that it is a slender, elderly man. His hair hangs in
tangled wisps. He pokes his head forward in an attentive attitude. He is
wearing spectacles, and his face is marked by unctuous servility, coupled
with relentless malignity. He looks like a usurer. This man is Marc. At this
moment everything about him indicates that he is listening.
But Marc interrupts him with a violent movement and bid him be quiet.
He continues to the staircase leading down to the cellar, descends two steps
and leans over the handrail - we see his neck - and stands there for a long
time listening, as he leans towards the depths. Then he comes back up to
Nikolas, and his gaze is fixed and tense.
Did you hear?
Yes, the child ...
But now Marc's bearing changes. He looks as if he has woken from the hypnotic
state which his intense interest in the cellar has induced. He suddenly
becomes aware that he is facing a stranger. His face clouds over with
There's no child here.
But ... the dogs...
During this exchange he has more or less pushed Nikolas before him to the
front door, without ever actually touching him. But his intention is clear
There's no child here, and no dogs either.
(opening the front door)
Marc has succeeded in getting rid of Nikolas, and without further comment he
shuts the door.
Nikolas stands irresolutely for a moment outside the door, while he reflects
on his visit to this extraordinary house. Then he sets off slowly down the
road, until at a turn of the road he catches sight of the three disembodied
shadows that took their orders in the factory from the blind woman. The group
is recognizable by the man with the wooden leg. Nikolas follows the three
shadows, feeling instinctively that they will lead him to the man who has
asked him for help.
In the house, meanwhile, Marc has turned back to the stairs. From the depths
of the cellar he hears steps approaching and the sound of a stick striking
the ground; with great servility he greets the blind woman as she comes up
Marc follows her with exaggerated and ill-placed attentiveness. He opens for
her the door into the consulting-room, and closes it behind her. The blind
woman continues on her way without taking any notice of him. Her head is
tilted back slightly, as is often done by blind people. She moves forward,
cold and unbending. As she crosses the consulting-room, she is on the point
of stumbling over a large box lying open on the floor. Marc kicks it
hurriedly aside and draws up a chair for her at the table. She ignores him
completely. When she sits down, he takes her stick and puts it carefully on
the table. Marc stands motionless and expectant. Then she slowly takes a
medicine bottle from her pocket. With her bony hand she holds it out to Marc.
When he takes it she raises her face towards him for the first time. He looks
at her; they appear to exchange a conspiratorial glance: an order is given
At this moment an explosion of laughter is heard from the parrot. Marc tears
off his spectacles - which rest a little way down his nose - polishes them
and gives the parrot a near-sighted, malicious and knowing look. Then he goes
to a shelf on which he places the medicine bottle with the poison label.
We go from the sinister house to a neighboring castle. A shot of the road,
where we see Nikolas on his way to the castle.
The camera moves to a certain window on the ground floor of the castle,
behind which we see a man getting up and taking a lamp. This is the man who,
at the inn, visited Nikolas in a dream. We can call him Bernard. He leaves
THE INTERIOR OF THE CASTLE
Bernard enters a room arranged as a sick-room. A woman is lying there in bed;
it is his daughter, whose name is Léone. A nurse is looking after her. Léone
is a woman of twenty-six. She is very pale, as if suffering from anemia.
Bernard goes up to the bed. The nurse stands beside him and says:
The wounds are nearly healed!
Bernard holds the lamp so that the light falls on Léone's throat. In the
middle of her throat, where the jugular vein shows blue under the white skin,
we see two small marks, reminiscent of those that appear after a cat- or rat-
bite. There have been two wounds, but they are now closing and healing.
Bernard prepares to go. He turns in the door, because Léone has stirred. She
moves her lips as if in a horrible dream, and her face takes on an expression
of terror. She stammers out:
The blood! ... The blood! ...
Then she seems to calm down. Bernard goes back to the bed. Léone opens her
eyes, recognizes her father, gives him a feeble smile and takes his hand.
Bernard looks at her with intensely serious eyes. It is evident that even if
he does not know the cause of her condition, he has his suspicions about it.
He takes a last look at his daughter and goes. In the door he turns to the
You mustn't lie down and go to sleep until the
doctor has been here!
The nurse promises not to do so. As he closes the door, Léone moves again.
The nurse watches her closely.
Léone's sick-room. The nurse puts a chair by the bed.
THE PARK OF THE CASTLE
Nikolas jumps up on the wall ringing the castle. When he appears on the wall,
his body forms a ghostly silhouette against the night sky (to suggest the
shadows he is pursuing).
The three shadows emerge from the shadow of the trees, steal across the
moonlit courtyard and disappear into the deep shadows of the castle.
Bernard in the corridor, outside the door of his room. He still has the lamp
in his hand. He goes into his room.
Enter Nikolas (from another direction than the three shadows we saw in an
earlier shot). He finds himself under the room that Bernard has just entered.
Through the lighted window he sees Bernard putting down his lamp and
recognizes him as the man who visited him in his dreams. At the same moment
he sees the three shadows going diagonally across the ceiling of the room; at
that moment Bernard leaves the window and goes across to a bookshelf. Nikolas
rushes to the main door of the castle. He rings vigorously at the door. The
bell gives a feeble ring. The echo dies away, and everything is quiet again.
Nikolas rings again. Now he hears behind the door an old person's shuffling
steps. He tugs at the door and shouts:
Open up ... open up quickly ... hurry!
The door remains closed, but inside he hears
Who is it?
For God's sake ... hurry .. . they're killing
Then the door opens, but only a few inches. Through the chink we see old
Joseph, a faithful manservant. He is wearing only trousers and a shirt, which
is open at the neck. His braces are hanging down his back. He is carrying a
lamp in his hand. The manservant wants to know more, but at this very moment
a long-drawn-out scream is heard, hideous and horrifying. For a moment this
scream seems to paralyze the two men. The manservant puts his hand to his
mouth in order not to scream himself. Mechanically he opens the door wide.
The two men rush into the house.
THE STAIRCASE LANDING OUTSIDE LÉONE'S ROOM
The nurse opens the door in terror. Her facial contortions show that the
invalid has heard nothing, but that on the other hand she dare not leave her
This adjoins Bernard's room. The manservant and Nikolas try to open the door
into Bernard's room, but the body of the dying man is lying just behind the
door, preventing them from opening it more than a few inches. The dying man's
screams fill them with horror.
The other door!
He gives Nikolas the lamp and hurries out to the other entrance to the room
containing the dying man. When the manservant goes into the room, he finds
his master slumped up against the door, with one hand still clutching the
door handle convulsively, as if trying to escape the lethal weapon which has
struck him just as he reached the door. His screams give way to gasps, and he
has difficulty in breathing. Nikolas has put the lamp on the piece of
furniture nearest the door. Now he comes up, and at a sign from the
manservant makes the murdered man release his grip on the door handle. The
dying man tries desperately to open his eyes and speak. Then it grows quiet,
and in the silence only his labored breathing can be heard. Suddenly he gives
a deep sigh, at the same time opening his eyes and looking frantically
around. He looks up at Nikolas. An expression of surprise lights up his face
for a moment. The manservant has intercepted this look and glances curiously
at Nikolas. But the dying man's stare again becomes fixed and glassy. He
Nikolas gets up; on a table he finds a tray with cups and a jug of linden
tea. He pours out a little tea in a cup, which he lowers to the dying man.
With a teaspoon he moistens the dying man's lips.
While Nikolas has been occupied with the tray, an old serving woman has
arrived at the door connecting the death-room with the drawing-room. It is
the housekeeper of the castle, the wife of the old manservant; they tell her
to come in by the other door. She enters with the chamber-maid. The old
housekeeper moves her hands incessantly under her motley apron.
On the staircase landing the nurse is still standing, terror-stricken,
outside the open door of Léone's room, listening and staring out into the
darkness. Then Gisèle appears, wearing an apron-like dress, the sleeves of
which are gathered in a tight band round her wrists. A very simple and
slightly old-fashioned dress, which can easily be turned into a kimono. She
thinks the scream has come from the sick-room, and is surprised to find the
nurse on the stairs.
Wasn't it her?
No, it's down there.
The nurse listens for sounds in Léone's room, while Gisèle runs down the
Enter Gisèle. She stops dead by the door, paralyzed by the sight of her
father lying on the point of death. She looks at the chamber-maid and the old
housekeeper, who are clinging to each other, while the tears run down their
cheeks. Beside herself, and with eyes dilated with terror, she goes to her
father and kneels by his side. He understands that she is there. His face
lights up for a moment, after which he closes his eyes again for a while, as
if trying to draw breath for the few words he wants to say; but he has not
sufficient strength left. He uses his last ounce of strength to draw a ring
from his finger. He hands the ring to Gisèle, who recognizes it. It is a
signet ring, the signet of which is formed like a tiny gold cross. She holds
it in the hollow of her hand, while her eyes fill with tears. The dying man
catches Gisèle's eye and, as it were, guides it over to Nikolas as if to say:
'This man will protect you.' His gaze becomes vacant, without consciousness,
fixed and glassy. His breathing comes in jerks. Nikolas tries to moisten his
lips but the liquid runs down his chin and thence onto his breast. His teeth
are firmly clenched, and the corners of his mouth are sagging. The brief
death-struggle has begun. While we see the little group by the door, which
has been joined by the old coachman, we hear the dying man's death-rattle.
Tears run down the coachman's furrowed cheeks.
ON THE LANDING
The nurse is still standing there. The death-rattle reaches her ears. She
goes into Léone's room and shuts the door behind her.
Here the silence of death prevails. The group by the door follows with bated
breath the last spasms of the death-struggle. Now the murdered lord of the
castle is drawing his last gasp. The old housekeeper goes up to Gisèle, who
is no longer weeping but merely stares uncomprehendingly at her father's
lifeless body. The old housekeeper calls to her gently. Gisèle looks at her
Is he dead?
The old woman nods. Gisèle looks once more at her father's face, then bursts
into tears and without offering any resistance lets herself be led across to
the wall, where she collapses into a chair, throwing her arms round the old
woman and clinging to her hand. She says nothing. She only weeps and weeps.
The coachman goes out.
Nikolas and the manservant carry the dead man across to a sofa. While the
manservant is still in the room, Nikolas goes up to Gisèle. He helps the maid
to lead Gisèle away. The latter is led out unresisting. He takes her by the
arm. She hides her face in her hands and weeps heart-rendingly. The
manservant remains in the room. He walks round in a curiously restless way;
he makes a number of unconscious movements with his hands, as if wanting to
make somebody or other keep quiet.
The coachman crosses the courtyard, opens the door of the carriage entrance,
and draws out a hunting carriage. He pulls it slowly and carefully, as if
wanting to muffle the sound.
The old housekeeper has gone on ahead in order to light a lamp. Nikolas gets
Gisèle to sit down. Her gaze is vacant, and the only sound that comes from
her is a suppressed sobbing.
Nikolas walks to and fro in this ante-chamber of death, deeply disturbed by
the scene he has just witnessed. As he reaches the door, the old housekeeper
is standing in front of him.
(in a low voice)
Couldn't you stay here ... until ...
Nikolas replies with a movement of his head, then continues to pace the
The coachman leads a horse from the stable.
Nikolas stops in front of Gisèle's chair and looks compassionately at her.
She is sitting as motionless as a stone. Only her lips are trembling, as if
she is praying quietly. Suddenly she senses his presence. She looks up at him
imploringly and says in a voice choked with tears:
It's so dark here!
He takes out some matches and lights the lamps on an old piano, which is
covered with a faded green silk cloth. The only sound is the monotonous tick-
tock of an old clock, which suggests the dull beating of an almost exhausted
The coachman is hitching the horses.
Nikolas lights another lamp, and as he puts out the match he looks at Gisèle.
She is sitting with her hands in her lap, rocking her head backwards and
forwards. Her eyes are glazed. She is doing all she can to prevent herself
from breaking down completely, but when the first tears trickle down her
cheeks she breaks into sobs. She lifts her clenched hands to her eyes and
weeps. Nikolas goes over to her. He knows that he can do absolutely nothing,
however much he wants to quench her sorrow. He bends over her, as if wanting
to speak the words of consolation that she needs, but before he can say
anything she bursts out:
How can anyone endure to live here?
Nikolas strokes her hair and goes to the window, from which he sees
The coachman is putting on his cloak; he sits up and drives the carriage out.
Gisèle jumps up at the sound of the carriage. In her anxious and overwrought
condition she endows every sound with meaning. She goes to the window, looks
out and asks:
Where is he going?
To fetch the police!
The sound of the carriage dies away, but Gisèle remains standing with her
face pressed against the window pane. Nikolas goes to a lamp, by the light of
which he takes out the sealed parcel that the stranger gave him in the inn,
breaks the seal and finds a book. Nikolas tiptoes over to a chair, lifts it
carefully, turns it towards the lamplight, and sits down without a sound.
Sitting there, he begins to read the book from the beginning.
Léone is lying in bed. The nurse is sitting in the room with her sewing
things. Suddenly she raises her eyes. A number of little furrows have
appeared on Léone's forehead. Her breathing becomes irregular and labored.
Her face is twisted, as if she is tormented by fear and uncertainty. She
opens her eyes, and her gaze is fixed and distant, as if held by someone a
long way away. She looks like a medium under hypnosis. She is visibly no
longer master of her own will, or she is under the influence of a power
stronger than her own. In spite of her weakened condition she raises herself
on her elbow and shouts very loudly:
Yes ... yes!
as if someone has called to her. The nurse has put aside her sewing things
and is throwing off the blanket in which she has wrapped herself for the
night. Outside the dog howls - penetrating, long-drawn-out howls. Léone
raises herself still further until she is sitting on the edge of the bed.
Yes ... I'm coming!
The nurse hurries over to her, but Léone, who moves just like somebody
hypnotized, is on her way to the door. The nurse blocks her path by pushing a
chair in front of her. The nurse stands before her and stares hard at her to
catch her eye. The chair prevents Léone from advancing. The nurse tries
gently to wake her, as one talks to a child crying in its sleep.
You're dreaming ... you're dreaming!
Now a remarkable change comes over Léone; her tense expression relaxes. The
hypnotic suggestion gradually seems to lose its hold on her, as if the other
party has suddenly reconsidered and decided to wait for a better opportunity.
She returns to her normal state of mind. She looks in surprise at the nurse,
who leads her gently back to bed. Léone offers no resistance and even
cooperates actively in getting into bed. The nurse sits down beside her.
What were you dreaming about?
A voice ...
That spoke to you?
That called ... commanded ...
What did it say?
Léone makes no reply.
Her eyelids close again. To all appearances she is sleeping the deep, sound
sleep of an over-tired child. The nurse watches her anxiously. This peaceful
and apparently quite normal sleep inspires her with fear rather than
confidence. She goes into the adjoining room to rinse some medicine bottles
and the like. At almost the same moment Léone wakes up with a start. She
listens intently for the previous distant call; without a word she hurriedly
throws off the blanket and steals out - so quietly that the nurse suspects
Gisèle at the window with her forehead pressed against the cold pane. Nikolas
is sitting reading the book.
Gisèle suddenly raises her head and looks out in the park.
Nikolas looks up.
Look! ... Look! ... There, in the park!
Nikolas hurries over to the window. The next moment they rush out into the
hall; here they are joined by the manservant and the nurse, who come down the
stairs in great agitation.
Take the lantern!
He points to the lantern which the coachman has left at the foot of the
stairs. The manservant's wife, the old housekeeper, comes in with her
husband's jacket. He hastily puts it on. Then they all hurry out to
By the time they are out there, Léone is nowhere to be seen. They begin a
thorough search of the park, which looks ghostly with its moonlit sandstone
statues. Some of the tree trunks are painted white. They look like skeletons,
swaying backwards and forwards. Spiders' webs shine like silver. From time to
time a bird flies off in alarm. We begin by following the manservant, as he
makes his way through bushes and undergrowth with the lantern held high over
his head like a luminous hour-glass. With his free hand he holds his jacket
tightly round his neck. In the distance we hear Gisèle shouting anxiously:
Léone! ... Léone!
We see the old housekeeper standing on the stairs and looking out into the
park. Gisèle's cries can still be heard. Now we follow Nikolas and Gisèle,
who are together. Suddenly Nikolas stops and calls to Gisèle. He points out a
group at some distance from them. On a stone table covered with ivy a white
figure is lying prostrate. Bending over her a dark shape can be dimly
discerned - as far as can be judged, that of an old woman. The white figure
is lying in such a way that its head hangs over the edge of the table, and
the attitude of the dark figure suggests that its lips must be in contact
with the prostrate woman's throat.
Nikolas and Gisèle, terror-stricken, make for the spot. Now the dark figure
appears to notice them. Like a dog when it is disturbed, the figure turns its
head irritably and stares at the newcomers with the dead eyes of a blind
person. With a grimace resembling nothing so much as a snarl, it bends down
again over Léone, but straightens up once more as if abandoning its plan, and
just as it looks as if it will turn away and go it dissolves into thin air.
Nikolas and Gisèle have reached the stone table. It is indeed Léone. Gisèle
is already at her side. She looks in perplexity at Léone's thrown-back head.
There is a gentle expression on Léone's lips, which are parted in a peaceful
smile. Her hands are hanging down, white and limp. She looks in every respect
as if she is dead. Nikolas puts his ear to her mouth to listen to her
breathing ... which is very weak ... Gisèle cups Léone's face carefully in
her hands and turns it towards her.
Léone slowly opens her eyes and looks for a long time in astonishment at
Gisèle, who says in a disappointed, imploring voice:
But it's me ... Gisèle!
Léone's eyelids close again. Only a narrow strip of white can be seen between
the closed eyelids. Gisèle shows signs of wanting to call Léone back to
Don't wake her!
At the same moment the manservant comes up, and Nikolas takes the lantern
from his hand, letting the light fall on Léone's face.
Look ... blood! ...
And she points at Léone's throat. The manservant opens his eyes wide and
leans forward to look. Then he takes Léone in his arms, as if she was a
child, and carries her to the castle. At the entrance the housekeeper is
waiting. The nurse brings her a shawl or blanket; the housekeeper runs to
meet the group and wraps Léone in the blanket. The little procession is now
approaching the house. Nikolas runs on ahead to open the double door. The
nurse goes up to the sick-room, shuts the windows and arranges the bed.
Meanwhile the manservant carries Léone up the stairs. Gisèle follows behind.
Nikolas shuts the double door, goes into the drawing-room and continues his
reading of the diary. His jaw is set in determination. A page of the book is
The manservant has laid Léone on the bed and now goes out. The nurse settles
Léone and discovers the wound in her throat; she takes a wad of cotton-wool,
moistens it with a disinfectant rinse from a bottle, and dabs the liquid on
the wound. Léone shudders convulsively, puts her hand on the wound and
groans. The nurse goes out.
Léone! ... Léone ...
Léone wakes up, but seems not to recognize Gisèle. She looks at her sister as
if she has just woken from an evil and hideous dream. Then suddenly she seems
to realize where she is. She shivers, puts her transparent hands to her face
and weeps silently.
(bending over her)
Why are you crying?
Léone continues weeping for a little; then she says:
I wish I was dead!
No, no ... Léone!
(still weeping behind
her white hands)
Yes, yes, yes ... I am lost ... I am sinking
deeper and deeper into the darkness ... I am
afraid ... I am afraid! ...
Gisèle gives her a comforting pat on the arm. Léone takes her hands from her
face. The nurse returns. Léone glances round the room, as if looking for
Where is ... ?
Gisèle hardly knows how to answer; she looks enquiringly at the nurse, who
The master ... is asleep!
Léone smiles, gives a sigh of contentment and closes her eyes. She sighs
again with relief and lies peacefully for a moment with closed eyes. Then a
remarkable transformation occurs. A deathly pallor spreads across her face.
Her breathing becomes more rapid. Her mouth opens. Her lips tighten. Then she
opens her eyes. They are now hard, almost malevolent. Her face takes on an
expression of lust when she sees Gisèle. The latter shrinks away
uncomprehendingly, seized with fear and pain. The nurse gives her to
understand that she had better go.
Nikolas is there with the old housekeeper, who with old-world courtesy brings
him a cup of strong coffee. Just as she is handing Nikolas the cup, Gisèle
comes in. With a distracted expression she shuts the door mechanically and
goes and sits down. The old housekeeper puts the other cup down beside
Gisèle, who is completely absorbed by her recent strange experience. The
other two look at her enquiringly.
(back in the present)
I think Léone is dying!
The old housekeeper goes. Gisèle shakes her head like somebody trying to get
to the bottom of an insoluble mystery. Nikolas takes the cup and puts it in
her hand. Mechanically she takes a gulp and puts the cup down; then she gives
a sudden start, as if she has heard a piercing death-scream. She sits for a
moment with her mouth agape and her eyes wide open. Then she stands up,
rushes to the window and looks out. She seems surprised at not seeing
anything and turns towards Nikolas.
Didn't you hear something?
Nikolas shakes his head, goes up to her and forces her to sit down on a
chair; but she cannot refrain from turning towards the window.
He glances at her and turns back to his cup of coffee, which he put down a
moment ago. Now he puts it very carefully on the table. An oppressive silence
has settled over the house.
Oh, the silence!
She presses her extended fingers against her breast, as if trying to free it
from the pressure of the silence. Nikolas watches her for a little. Then he
goes to the piano and begins to play. At the first touch she rises, goes
slowly across the room and stands behind him. She stands there with her hands
behind her back, until the music finishes. Then she says very quietly:
A moment later she adds:
I'll try to get a little sleep!
She takes a few steps, turns and says:
You're not leaving us, I hope?
Nikolas rises and goes close up to her. She looks into his eyes like a
trusting child. He gazes at her with infinite tenderness. Then he bends down
and kisses her impulsively on the forehead. She gives him a smile of
gratitude and goes into the adjoining room, where she lies down on the sofa
and draws up a blanket over her. Nikolas stands gazing after her. A tear
trickles from the corner of his eye down his cheek. From the other room he
hears her voice:
Play something more!
He turns back to the piano and plays the same tune again. Gisèle's eyelids
close. She sleeps.
As the last notes die away, the old manservant enters the drawing-room.
Nikolas hastily turns towards him and puts his finger to his lips as a
warning not to make any noise. The manservant says quietly:
The police are here.
Outside can be heard faintly the noise of a carriage rumbling over the
cobbles in the courtyard. Nikolas leaves the room, together with the
The two men emerge from the house and stand at the head of the steps. The
carriage drives up the last few yards. The horse walks as if sunk in its own
thoughts; then it stops abruptly. Joseph takes the lantern, which has been
left on the steps, and slowly approaches the carriage. After a few paces he
stops. Now he can see the whole carriage clearly and the coachman is alone.
Are you alone?
No answer! He takes a few more steps and repeats his question:
Are you alone?
Still no answer. Joseph turns to Nikolas, who in the meantime has come
nearer. They look more closely at the coachman, who is sitting in a curious
position with his legs stretched out stiffly against the dashboard of the
carriage. He has the reins in his hand, but they are hanging loose. Joseph
goes still nearer to the carriage and lifts the lantern. The coachman is
sitting as if asleep. Nikolas clambers up behind the coachman's seat. Joseph
hands him the lantern, which he holds in front of the coachman's face. He
sees two staring, glassy eyes. Half-paralyzed with terror, Nikolas hands the
lantern back to Joseph. In the hope that the coachman is merely asleep,
Nikolas puts his hand on his shoulder to waken him. But at the first touch
the coachman's head sinks on his breast, and his whole body slumps forward.
Meanwhile the manservant has placed the lantern on the ground, and as soon as
Nikolas has got down from the carriage the manservant draws his attention to
blood dripping from the floor of the carriage - drip! drip!
Both men stand for a moment as if hypnotized by this fearful new discovery.
Then Nikolas hurries into the house. During all this the other servants have
gathered round the carriage. They shudder at the sight of the dead coachman
and stare at the horse, which - with a corpse at the reins - has found its
way home unaided. Joseph gets up onto the carriage ...
Enter Nikolas. He shuts the door very quietly behind him as if afraid that by
making the slightest noise he will bring about still worse misfortunes. He
tiptoes to the piano and extinguishes the two lights on it. As he is doing
this, he cocks an ear to listen for Gisèle's breathing; then he resumes his
reading of the diary, a page of which is shown. As he reads we hear in the
distance the sound of horses' hooves on the paving stones ... also the sound
of the carriage being put away. Then silence reigns again around the old
house. Nikolas listens out into the silence. Is he awake, or are all these
fearful happenings merely a long, horrible nightmare? The heart of the old
clock is still beating. After a moment a deep sigh is heard from a corner of
the room. Nikolas looks in that direction. A cello is standing there. One of
the strings has slipped, and as he looks at it another string breaks. Then
silence again wraps its mantle round the room.
Nikolas begins reading again, but now the hideous, piercing screech of the
doorbell is heard throughout the house. Nikolas puts down his book, goes to
the window and looks out. There he sees a man, who turns his back on him.
Joseph comes running from the stable buildings. Nikolas gathers that the
stranger must be the doctor, for he and Joseph start discussing Léone's
How is she?
Joseph explains to him that things are going rather badly. The young lady has
been found in the park. In answer to the doctor's exclamation of surprise
Joseph explains that she has climbed out of a window.
Was she alone, then?
Yes, just for a moment.
Meanwhile the doctor has come in, followed by the manservant, who is carrying
his bag for him. When the doctor enters the ante-room, Nikolas opens the
door. The stranger, who has hung up his hat, turns round. It is Marc, whom
Nikolas met in the little house behind the factory. They look hard at each
other for a moment.
answers the doctor, and it is he who eases the tension of the situation by
saying to the manservant:
Let's go try ... it's high time ...
The doctor hurries to get in front of the manservant. As soon as his back is
turned, Nikolas goes up to the manservant and makes him understand that he is
to go in to Gisèle. The manservant goes into the drawing-room. Nikolas runs
up the stairs behind the doctor.
The doctor hurries in and goes straight to the bed. The nurse's face takes on
an expression of fear. She is giving the patient camphor. Léone is paler than
before. Her features are hard and sharp, her lips blue. It is painful to see
her and hear her breathing. Beside herself, the nurse turns to the doctor and
It's going very badly!
The doctor lifts the patient's eyelids, then examines her lips and gums. Next
he takes Léone's wrist to feel her pulse. As he does so, he glances towards
the door, where Nikolas is standing. An expression of surprise passes across
the doctor's face; then he smiles the most fleeting of smiles. He lets go of
Léone's hand and looks closely at her face. The nurse, who has been following
his slightest movement, asks anxiously:
Is she dying?
He takes a few steps away from the bed and seems to fall into deep thought
then he says, as if talking to himself:
Perhaps we could save her ...
Nikolas and the nurse follow him with their eyes. He speaks as if adding a
link to the chain of thought he is forging for himself.
Will you give her blood?
The question is addressed to Nikolas. He looks across at Léone. He feels
certain the doctor is right, and if he does not immediately declare himself
willing, it is because his feelings are divided between the obvious need to
save Léone and his fear and uncertainty about this man. He looks at the
nurse. Her anxiety has disappeared, and a gleam of confidence and hope shines
in her eyes.
The doctor comes a step nearer and says, emphasizing each word:
Immediately ... this very moment!
Nikolas makes no reply. He almost fails to notice the nurse, whose face
reflects disappointment and sorrow. The doctor looks at him for a moment,
then turns away and shrugs his shoulders.
Nikolas straightens up, takes off his coat, and rolls up one of his shirt
sleeves. The nurse gets up with a happy smile and crosses to the table on
which are bottles and instruments. The doctor, however, closes the door
behind Nikolas, who has the feeling that he has let himself be caught in a
Joseph goes to the door of the room where Gisèle is. His face shows surprise
when he discovers Gisèle on the sofa; she is sitting motionless, with her
legs drawn up under her and her head leaning back against the wall, staring
fixedly at him with wide-open, startled eyes. As if talking to herself, she
Why does the doctor always come at night?
The manservant goes up to her in order to calm her.
By the time we return there, all the preparations for the blood transfusion
Joseph returns from the room where Gisèle is. He has evidently succeeded in
calming her. He goes and sits in the chair where Nikolas sat. He rests his
head in his hand. He sees the open diary and begins reading it.
The blood transfusion is now in progress. The only words are curt orders
like: 'Now! - Quickly! - That's enough! - Give it to me! - Sit still!' etc.
Joseph is reading the diary, which arouses his interest more and more. It is
as if he finds a connection between what he reads and the fearful events that
have taken place around him. An extract from the diary is shown.
The blood transfusion continues. Marc has positioned himself outside the
circle of light from the lamp, so that he can see Nikolas in bright light,
while he himself sits in the dark. Nikolas watches Léone's face anxiously and
closely during her struggle with death. Life slowly seems to return to her,
and her breathing becomes more peaceful. She opens her eyes and looks at the
people round her, but she is much too enfeebled to speak, and closes her eyes
again. Marc keeps a close watch on Nikolas, who grows paler and paler. His
eyes swivel slowly from Nikolas to the patient and back to Nikolas again.
Another fragment of the diary is shown [having to do with vampires].
The blood transfusion is completed. While Marc himself is looking after the
patient, the nurse leads Nikolas into an adjoining room, where she makes him
sit down and prepares his bandage. The doctor stands bending over Léone.
Is he in a bad way?
(as she bandages Nikolas)
Give him a tablet!
The nurse brings a tablet which she gives to Nikolas with a glass of water.
He puts the glass down on a table near him. Then she covers him up, puts out
the lamp and goes into the sick-room, the door of which is ajar, leaving a
strip of light visible. Meanwhile the nurse has been moving about, putting
Léone's room straight. The doctor looks at her for a moment; then he says:
You can lie down now and sleep. I'll keep watch!
The nurse continues working with great zeal. The doctor now says to her in a
cutting, almost hissing, tone:
Did you hear what I said?
The nurse looks at him in astonishment and encounters a cold stare. She
realizes that there is no use in protesting; it would be in vain. She puts
aside what she has in her hands, and goes off. The doctor closes the door
after her and looks round the room.
In the adjoining room Nikolas has dozed off. He feels very weak. In this
weakened condition he feels as if he is fainting, which is curious, because
at one and the same time he is both fully conscious and far away. Suddenly he
wakes from his doze and stares, open-mouthed, at his bandaged arm. The blood
can be seen seeping through the bandage. The wound is throbbing.
From the next room can be heard the doctor's cold, biting voice:
What is it?
The wound is bleeding!
Go to sleep!
Nikolas lets his arm fall into the same position as before, dangling over the
arm of the chair. In his semi-conscious state he hears the doctor's voice,
which has taken on quite a different tone; he whispers seductively and
reassuringly, as if trying to convince a child and overcome its resistance by
means of gentleness - or as one talks to somebody one wants to hypnotize. In
his drowsy condition Nikolas hears only a few isolated words of this
monologue, which in its entirety sounds something like this:
You are suffering ... you are tired ... come
with me ... we shall become one ... bodies,
souls, blood ... there is only one way of
escaping from your suffering and finding peace
... follow me ... you will not be freed until
you have taken your own life ... come ... I am
waiting for you ...
Then everything is quiet. In the silence Nikolas hears a sound: drip, drip!
He leans forward and looks down. On the floor he sees the lantern - which
Joseph was carrying when the coachman arrived, apparently dead. The sound of
dripping comes from somewhere near the lantern ... and now he sees what it
is: blood running from his wound down onto his fingers and thence to the
floor, where a regular pool has already formed. With an expression of
bewilderment he looks towards the door into the sick-room and calls:
Again the doctor answers in an ice-cold, hissing voice:
What is it now?
I'm losing my blood!
You're losing your blood?
(slowly and emphatically)
Nonsense! ... It's here! ... Your blood ...
Nikolas sits there for a moment - uncomprehending and irresolute then he
leans forward and looks down. The sound of dripping has ceased, the pool of
blood and the lantern have disappeared. When he lifts his hand he sees that
it is completely white, and that the bandage is in order. With a weary smile
he settles himself comfortably in the easy chair. He both sees and does not
see the light behind the door of the sick-room moving away and disappearing.
Here the old manservant is sitting, completely absorbed in the diary.
Suddenly he raises his head, as if he has heard a sound. He starts to his
feet, with an overwhelming sense of dread and foreboding. He is filled with a
presentiment of some horror or other. He goes to the window and sees on the
paving stones the shadow of a window on the first floor. There is a light
behind the window and the light is moving. He goes cautiously into the hall.
When he has climbed a few steps of the staircase he can see Marc in the
window. In his hand he is holding a lamp which he moves backwards and
forwards several times. The manservant stands there motionless and with bated
A remarkable change is taking place in Nikolas. His lips open. His breathing
becomes more rapid. He is apparently in the throes of a sort of paroxysm, as
if some stranger's will is trying to gain control over him.
Now Nikolas wakes with a start, filled with terror, depression, anxiety and
despondency. He looks up. The manservant is standing at his side with the
glass of water that the nurse brought for him earlier, when he was on the
point of fainting. At the same moment he realizes what has happened: it was
his own blood that spoke to him in his dream, which is therefore nothing but
a horrible mirror-image of what has occurred at Léone's bedside. He pushes
the glass of water away, and makes his way past the manservant to the sick-
room, which is almost completely dark, being lit only by a single small
nightlight. He tears the door open.
On entering, he sees Marc coming from the door leading out to the stairs.
When he sees Nikolas, Marc's expression becomes hard and malevolent, and he
increases his pace. Nikolas, however, reaches the bed first. He turns ice-
cold with horror at the sight of Léone. She is lying there almost lifeless.
She is whiter even than the bed-linen covering her. Her face is heavy with
sleep and relaxed, as if from the caress of a gentle hand. The little
medicine bottle with the poison label, which we recognize from earlier
scenes, is held in her hand, and with her last remaining strength she is
trying to raise it to her mouth. At the very moment when the bottle touches
her lips, Nikolas succeeds in snatching it from her. He throws it into a
corner of the room, where it smashes. Then he hurries to Léone, and uses his
handkerchief to wipe a drop of poison from her lips.
Somewhere in the house a crash is heard, as if somebody has slammed the main
door violently to, then another crash, but less violent than before. The
manservant seizes Nikolas involuntarily by the arm.
And he hurries out of the room. From the staircase landing he sees a light at
the foot of the stairs. The light is whirling round. The shadow of the
handrail flickers nervously on the wall. Nikolas is seized by a new fear: he
is uneasy about Gisèle and hurries down. The nurse, who has been woken by the
noise, darts into Léone's room. Nikolas rushes through the drawing-room into
Gisèle's room. She is not there. He listens for her breathing, but not a
sound reaches him. He lights a match. Her bed is empty. The blanket has been
thrown back. He hurriedly searches the adjoining rooms, which are lying in
darkness behind closed shutters, and returns to the hall.
From the moment he set off down the stairs, a penetrating, continuous howling
has been audible outside. He goes to the door, under which at the same moment
a white paper appears. He picks it up and reads the inscription: 'Dust thou
art, unto dust thou shalt return.' He opens the door just quickly enough to
see the shadow of the man with the wooden leg moving off the white paving
stones of the courtyard and disappearing into the shadows of the trees.
Nikolas hurries off in the same direction.
The nurse stands leaning over Léone. It is evident that the patient's
strength is ebbing away. The nurse and the manservant are aware that
everything will soon be over. Léone realizes it herself. She moans, sobs and
wails. The nurse consoles her as best she can. As for the manservant, he
appears to be maturing in his mind some great project or other. Léone, who
has great difficulty in getting the words out, says:
I am damned ... oh God, oh my God!
The manservant's mouth is twitching, which shows clearly that he is faced
with an important decision, and he gives a deep sigh, like a man who knows
that he is playing with life and death. Then he calls the nurse over to the
door and says:
She must not die now ... you must keep her
alive until morning comes ...
The nurse nods. Then the manservant goes. On the threshold he stops.
God help me!
He makes the sign of the cross and goes. The nurse returns to Léone's bed.
She puts her hands up to her face, presses her fingers hard against her eyes
and sobs quietly.
Nikolas is running in the direction of the factory.
The manservant comes pushing a wheelbarrow and stops in front of a tool-shed,
from which by the light of a lantern he takes a pick-axe and a shovel; he
puts these in the wheelbarrow. He is just about to go when he realizes that
he has forgotten something. He goes back into the shed and takes a long
crowbar and a wooden mallet. These objects likewise he puts in the
wheelbarrow, fastens the lantern on the handle of the wheelbarrow, and sets
Nikolas enters at a run and suddenly falls headlong.
OUTSIDE THE CHURCHYARD
The manservant pushes his wheelbarrow along the wall. He makes for the
Nikolas is lying on the spot where he fell. Suddenly his body divides in two.
One part (his 'ego') remains lying unconscious, while the other (his dream)
gets up with evident difficulty. He slowly comes to and looks round in
amazement. Not far off he notices an object on the ground. It is Gisèle's
ring - the ring with the cross which her father gave her. He picks it up and
examines it carefully, as if Gisèle has sent him a message by means of the
ring; he looks round in the hope of finding a clue which direction to go in
order to find her again. Then he discovers some footsteps in the sandy earth,
looking as if they have just been made before his very eyes by a pair of
invisible feet - Gisèle's feet. He gets up and follows these footsteps. They
lead him to
THE BLIND WOMAN'S HOUSE
He goes in at the door, which opens easily, and finds himself in a dark yard
at the back of the house. He gropes his way forward in the shadow of the
house, until he finds a door without a handle. He opens this in turn. He now
finds himself in the old laundry room, which he recognizes from his previous
visit. From here he knows the way into the house and goes straight to the
door at the other end of the laundry room. He enters the empty room adjoining
it. Here everything is as he last saw it. His own footsteps are clearly
visible in the dust on the floor; nobody has been here. He listens. Not a
sound in the house. He looks for the door into the room where the coffin
stood before. It is locked. So something has happened since his last visit.
He tries hard to open the door, but in vain.
He must and shall continue! From the staircase landing he discovers that the
door into the consulting-room is open. The moon throws a white beam on the
Is there someone in there? He steals along on tiptoe, holding on to the
handrail, and reaches a point from which he can see most of the room. Inch by
inch his view of the room increases, but there is nobody to be seen. On the
other hand a large box or something of the kind is standing in the middle of
the floor. It is covered by a white cloth. He goes into the room. The door
into the adjoining room is open. It was there that he saw the coffin before -
and this must be the coffin - surely it must be the coffin under the white
cloth. He goes up to it. The cloth is draped over somebody lying in the open
coffin. The lid is leaning up against the wall. Merciful God! Gisèle! What
has happened? Has he come too late! He looks again at the lid of the coffin
standing by the wall. Something is painted on it in large capital letters. He
reads: 'Dust thou art, unto dust thou shalt return.'
So these words were intended for her, not for him. He must make certain; he
goes back to the coffin and carefully draws aside the cloth covering the
corpse's face. But it is not Gisèle that he sees. It is his own face, rigid
and open-eyed; his own head that rests wax-pale on the shavings in the black
coffin. In bewilderment he bends over his own corpse. How can this be! What
can it mean? Tentatively he puts out a hand in the direction of the dead face
in order to make sure, but his courage fails and he pulls away his hand. He
gets up and stands there motionless, paralyzed, petrified. Cold shivers run
down his spine.
Then we hear a key turning in a lock and a door opening and closing. Next we
hear footsteps and the sound of a stick striking the ground at intervals. The
sound at once disappears down to the cellar. He rushes to the staircase
landing. There is the door. It is a door with reinforced glass panes. The
glass is murky and dusty, but sufficiently transparent for him to see that
there is somebody in the room, somebody who has been dumped, hands tied
together, on a large iron bed with no bedclothes. It is Gisèle! The door is
locked and he is just about to look for something with which to break it open
when he hears somebody unlocking the main door. Through the murky little pane
at the top of the door he can see enough to ascertain that it is Marc coming.
There is nothing for it but to return to the consulting-room, and from here
he sees Marc approaching the door between him and Gisèle - he is just putting
the key in the lock - when we again hear footsteps of somebody with a wooden
leg or a stick. The footsteps come down the stairs. Marc abandons his plan
and slips the key back in its hiding-place, which is evidently unknown to the
The man with the wooden leg comes limping down the stairs. Under his arm he
is carrying a small tool box. The two men meet and together make for the
consulting-room, from which Nikolas has followed everything through the half-
open door. Now he is obliged to retreat further. He has access only to the
room where the coffin stood before.
Marc and the man with the wooden leg now stand beside the coffin.
Nikolas has hidden behind the door of the next room, and as he stands there
he discovers an open trap-door leading down to the cellar. Standing right
beside the trap-door and peeping through the crack of the door, he is able to
follow what the two men are up to.
Marc finds the stump of a cigar on the edge of his writing-desk. He looks
questioningly at the other: has he any matches? The other shakes the box to
show that it is not empty. Marc lights the cigar. The man with the wooden leg
searches for his screwdriver. Obviously it must be with the other tools in
the room where Nikolas is. The man goes into this room and makes straight for
the wall opposite the door. To avoid being seen as the man returns past him,
Nikolas descends the ladder to the cellar, and when he is alone in the room
again he is able to stick his head up and see something of what is happening
beside the coffin.
There the man is engaged in putting the lid on Nikolas's coffin. Marc stands
there, enveloped in tobacco smoke, rocking backwards and forwards on his
heels. He has stuck his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, and his
watchful, malevolent gaze flits rapidly across the coffin and the dead body.
[NIKOLAS' NEW POV - FROM INSIDE THE COFFIN]
The lid of the coffin has a square pane of glass just over the dead man's
From down in the coffin Nikolas sees the lid dropped into position over him.
He hears the dull blows, first of a hand, then of a hammer, before the lid
slips into the groove. He sees alternately something of Marc and of the man
at work. Both of them peer down at him. Marc is in high spirits, whereas the
other man's face reflects only the craftsman taking care that nothing goes
Now Nikolas hears, as he lies in the coffin, the lid being screwed down,
hears the cutting and screeching noises of the screws, as one by one they
bore into the wood. It is impossible to imagine a death sentence having a
more paralyzing effect than this sound. At intervals he sees through the
glass the elbow of the arm turning the screw. He hears the men's footsteps on
the floor; then everything is quiet. Now we hear the sound of the blind
woman's footsteps and her stick. She is in the room, standing by the coffin.
One hand holds a candle over the glass, the other lights it with a match, and
now the blind woman's bony hand grasps the light. She bends her hideous face
over the glass in the gleam of the candle. Her blind eyes are unable to see
the dead man, but he can see her: she is taking her last leave of him.
Nikolas sees Marc moistening two fingers with his tongue and putting out the
light. The blind woman's footsteps die away from the room, and now various
men can be seen coming and stationing themselves on either side of the
The coffin is to be carried through the adjoining room, where at this moment
Nikolas is hiding under the trap-door. To clear the way the man with the
wooden leg goes over to the trap-door. With his wooden leg he kicks away the
wooden block holding the trap-door open, and the trap-door closes over
Nikolas. The man gives the door a push so that it comes directly over the
trap-door, which in consequence cannot be opened.
Through the square of glass in his coffin Nikolas sees his surroundings
change, and realizes that he is being carried out. Ceilings, damp patches,
door frames, cobwebs and more door frames pass rhythmically over his field of
vision. Then open sky and branches; he is being carried out of the house,
round the church, out of the village, away across the fields.
Marc remains standing in the doorway. He throws away the butt of his cigar
and searches in his pocket for his pipe, before going back into the room,
from the window of which he takes a last look at the coffin.
Nikolas (his 'ego') is lying on the ground, as when we last saw him. He
begins to return to consciousness. The dream he has just had enters his semi-
consciousness. He opens his eyes a fraction, as if drowned in sleep, and sees
the procession from his dream - at first making straight for him, but
presently turning away. He turns to watch it, and discovers that he is lying
on the ground outside the churchyard. The funeral procession is making for
Suddenly he is awake - and the dream disappears; the strange procession
literally vanishes into empty air. He asks himself whether the whole of this
dream may not be a message from Gisèle, and if so what she is trying to tell
him. He gets up and goes to
THE ENTRANCE TO THE CHURCHYARD
and looks in. There he sees the old manservant, who is pushing away a large
flat stone from over a grave. The coffin in the grave is revealed. It is an
old, rotten coffin. The manservant now throws away his shovel, and uses his
pick-axe to try and get the lid off. Nikolas has caught up with him. The two
men exchange meaningful nods. Then Nikolas jumps down in the grave to help
The dying Léone wakes up with a start. Her great eyes stare up at the
ceiling, and her face expresses unspeakable and speechless astonishment. The
nurse bends over her and asks:
What is it you can see?
Léone answers, almost ecstatically:
Now death is coming for me ... I shall not
suffer any more!
Nikolas and the manservant have succeeded in getting the lid off the coffin.
They look with horror at the sight that meets their eyes. In the coffin is
lying the old blind woman. Her face is completely untouched, as if she is
still alive. She is preternaturally pale and sallow. Neither her breathing
nor her heartbeat can be heard. Nikolas looks at her by the light of the
Léone looks like somebody waiting and listening. The nurse again bends over
her and asks:
What do you hear?
Léone grips the nurse's hand and answers:
My father ... is calling for me! ...
Her face still has the same expectant, startled expression.
The manservant gives the crowbar to Nikolas and himself takes the mallet.
Nikolas lifts the crowbar and directs the point at the blind woman's heart.
He raises and lowers the crowbar several times in order to take careful aim.
Then he lifts it and, turning his face away, plunges it with all his strength
into her heart. Nikolas signals to the manservant, who comes up and hammers
the crowbar further and further in with the mallet. They both look very
serious. Blow after blow echoes around. As soon as the crowbar is hammered
home the two men break off from their work and take a step back. They stare
down at the grave in consternation. The blind woman's body has disappeared,
and in the place where she lay there is now only a bare white skeleton.
Léone as before. The tension and suffering seem to have gone from her face.
Staring straight ahead, she whispers as if in a trance:
Now I feel strong ... my soul is free!
The gravestone is being pushed back into place. In this shot we see only the
coffin, the gravestone and the manservant's hands at work.
THE BLIND WOMAN'S HOUSE
There is a fire in the grate. Marc is lighting another cigar. The man with
the wooden leg brings him a cup of coffee. Marc brushes some ash from his
trousers and takes a gulp of coffee. Suddenly he raises his head and looks
towards the window. The man with the wooden leg observes his movements and
goes up to him. They both look at the window, where a face now comes into
view. It is Bernard, the man who was murdered at the castle earlier in the
night under such mysterious circumstances. The face moves and looks in
anxiously, while Bernard's hands protect his eyes against the moonlight. The
two men in the room are seized with terror. Marc bends forward, and hastily
puts out the light, at the same time signaling to the man with the wooden leg
to put out the fire in the grate. The latter pours water over the fire, which
gives out a hissing cloud of steam.
Go and see the door is properly shut!
The man with the wooden leg goes, leaving the door of the room open, but it
bangs behind him, as if blown by a draught. Above the door is a large window.
Marc recalls the man with the wooden leg, as if regretting his order. The man
turns back hurriedly, but finds the door closed. In surprise he steps back a
pace, and through the window above the door he sees a flickering light moving
to and fro in the room. In his bewilderment he remains rooted to the spot.
Then he hears a sound resembling that of a mother crooning a gentle lullaby
over her child, or of a doctor trying to reassure his patient during an
operation. At the same time one senses beneath the ingratiating and
affectionate tone something threatening, hard and almost ironic - a threat of
revenge. Then we hear Marc's voice:
Oh! Oh! Oh!
On the dirty white pane the shadow of the parrot can be seen in silhouette
rocking to and fro, while the silence is suddenly shattered by the parrot's
mocking, teasing laughter. The strangely soporific, monotonous voice now
begins speaking again; then there is a piercing cry of terror, so frightful
and horrifying that the man with the wooden leg rushes in utter panic to the
door, tugs at it, hammers on it and throws himself against it with all his
strength. Meanwhile scream upon scream resounds, each more frenzied and hair-
raising than the last.
Suddenly it is as if an invisible hand seizes the man with the wooden leg and
hurls him against the wall opposite the door. The light over the door moves
again. The door is opened violently. Marc comes out with every sign of
consternation depicted in his face. A sudden gleam of light illumines the
room. The parrot, terrified, takes to flight. Marc hurries through the house,
rushes out and flees without pausing for a single moment.
But the man with the wooden leg lies motionless on the spot where he was
thrown to the ground. His hands grip the handrail convulsively. His face is
white, his look bewildered, and his under-jaw hangs down. His eyes are open
and have a fixed, vacant expression, as if still seeing the fearful events of
The manservant has tidied up the grave and is now putting back the tombstone,
on which can be read the following curious inscription: Here lies Marguerite
Chopin, born 4 February 1809, died 13 June 1867. Then a catalogue of her
THE BLIND WOMAN'S HOUSE
We see Nikolas's hand inserting the key in the door guarding Gisèle. He finds
it behind the piece of furniture where it is hidden, and inserts it in the
lock. The shot is taken in such a way that the spectator is uncertain whether
the hand is real or not.
Marc is running at full speed like a man pursued. He keeps turning round, as
if expecting to see his pursuer at every moment.
THE BLIND WOMAN'S HOUSE
Gisèle is lying on her bed, leaning against the wall, with her legs drawn up
under her. Her hands are tied behind her back. Nikolas's hands appear on the
screen attempting to loosen her bonds. When the knot refuses to yield, he
uses his teeth. Both the hands and Nikolas's profile are taken as in the
previous shot, i.e., in such a way that the spectator is uncertain whether
they are real or not.
Marc is running away like a man who has lost his reason. Where he is running
there is no road or path.
Léone is at the point of death. She is quite calm. An angelic beauty suffuses
her face. She smiles. Then she slowly closes her eyes. She gives a deep sigh,
like a child just before it falls asleep. She has expired. A hand lays a
little gold crucifix on her closed lips.
Marc has run right across the fields, still pursued by his invisible pursuer.
Suddenly he is enveloped in mist. It is like steam rising from the earth. The
mist gives everything a ghostly appearance. Marc is seized with terror. He
does not know where he is. He can neither see nor hear. He is so confused and
agitated that he does not know which way to take. He runs first in one
direction, then in another, tries to retrace his steps, but is unable to see
them because of the mist. He runs in a more and more random manner. He stops
for a moment. Then he sees, a short distance away, a light, which seems to
come from a lantern, and the faint outlines of a gray shadow, which might be
the shadow of a man. He calls, but instead of answering the shadow merely
moves away from him. He runs in pursuit of it; but in spite of all his
exertions the distance between them remains the same. Speechless with terror,
he pursues his frenzied course with his hands spread out in front of him, as
if trying to scatter the mist.
Out of the mist there suddenly looms up a great, dense shadow - the shadow of
a house which the doctor recognizes: it must be the mill beside the river.
The doctor decides to try and hide in the mill. He will be safe there.
Listening intently, he opens the door and ventures in, step by step. He
passes the room containing the great mill-wheel, which sets the rest of the
mill's machinery in motion. At the moment the mill-wheel is completely at
rest. So the doctor continues past it, on into the mill's interior, where the
white walls look as if they have been seared by a white-hot fire. Absolute
stillness reigns everywhere. The doctor arrives at the little square room
where the sacks are filled with the finely ground flour. He enters the room
and peers around. The ceiling of this little room consists of a sieve, which
can be made to oscillate backwards and forwards, and through which the newly
ground flour must pass before it can fall into the open sacks.
The doctor is about to leave this room when the grated door behind him bangs
shut. At the same time the mill-wheel starts turning as if set in motion by
an invisible hand. The grinding rhythm of the mill-wheel is transmitted to
the many other wheels in the mill and blends with them into a dismal,
monotonous drone, which penetrates to the marrow and strikes the doctor as
ominous. He becomes still more uneasy on realizing that the sieve above his
head is beginning to oscillate backwards and forwards, shaking one load of
flour after another over him with clockwork regularity. Suddenly he sees
through the sieve the shadow of the old manservant Joseph, to whom he calls,
holding his hand over his eyes to protect them. But Joseph remains silent and
ignores the doctor, who is caught in his trap. In his frustration the doctor
tugs at the grated door, but all in vain.
The flour drifts down and down. It is already up to the doctor's knees, and
he is almost completely out of breath. He is seized with ungovernable rage,
and with clenched fists he threatens the silent and invisible pursuers who
are incarcerating him in this white terror. He stares straight ahead, as if
hoping to penetrate the flour dust's white darkness with his gaze. The flour
rises higher and higher in the cage with its many gratings, and has now
reached the doctor's chest. He writhes and struggles desperately, with his
one free hand he digs like a madman. All without result. The flour has
powdered his hair and eyebrows completely white. He shouts - is silent for a
moment - shouts again - but nobody answers. His fate is inexorable. He weeps
and screams for help. The flour is up to his face, he closes his mouth and
presses his lips together. The flour reaches his mouth. His head slowly
disappears. His last expression is a malevolent grimace. A reflection of
light gleams in one of his glasses. When it too is extinguished.
Cross-cutting with the scenes described above recording Marc's death are
scenes showing Nikolas and Gisèle on their way down to the river. When they
reach the bank, they find it veiled in a white mist so thick as almost to
blot out the opposite bank. A boat is lying right at their feet. They jump
down in it, and Nikolas seizes the oars and starts rowing. When he has taken
a few pulls out into the river, the mist grows thicker; but he continues to
row. Now they cannot even see the bank they have just left. Gisèle stares
anxiously around, and Nikolas rests on the oars to get his bearings. But they
see that they are completely enveloped in mist. They are somewhat uneasy and
confused. Nikolas puts his hands up to his mouth as a megaphone and calls:
Nikolas calls again, and Gisèle joins in:
NIKOLAS AND GISÈLE
Far away a man's voice can be heard answering:
Nikolas stands up and shouts:
We're completely lost!
After a short pause he adds:
Where are we?
The voice from the other bank:
He sits down again and begins to row. He rows in silence for a moment without
getting any closer to the bank. Gisèle is kneeling in the bow keeping a look-
out. The mist is now so thick that Nikolas can only distinguish her as a dark
shadow. She says:
Do you think it's that way?
He rests on the oars, and the boat drifts with the gentle current. An eddy
catches it, and it starts spinning round and round. Nikolas shouts:
The reply comes from a completely different direction from what he had
expected, and is much further away than the first time.
Nikolas and Gisèle shout together: Hullo!
... This way!
Where are you?
a word at a time)
Wait ... we ... will ... light ... a ... fire!
Nikolas stays where he is, but backs water so as not to be carried further
away by the current. On the bank we see the ferryman, whom we recognize from
the opening of the film; he is signaling to a number of small boys to collect
straw and wood for a bonfire. Presently a strong flame shoots up, but the
light from the fire, instead of piercing the blanket of mist, seems able only
to make it shine like a white wall.
In the boat Nikolas and Gisèle keep their eyes fixed on the place where they
think the bank must be. Nikolas shouts impatiently:
Can you see there?
What did you say?
Can you see the fire?
The ferryman stands and ponders for a moment. Then he goes to the bonfire
himself to throw a bit more straw on it, saying to the boys:
The boys exchange slightly embarrassed glances; then one of them begins to
sing, and the others join in. A number of women, who have arrived on the
scene, also join in the singing. The verse which they sing is:
Hark, an angel bears its light
Through the gates of heaven.
By God's angel's beams so bright
All the black nocturnal shades are driven.
During the singing the boat has come close in to the bank. For the two people
in the boat the singing sounds curiously muffled, even if they can hear it
distinctly. Then it ceases. The ferryman hears the oars on the water. Nikolas
and Gisèle now see the fire and the ferryman, who is walking along the bank,
following the rhythmical sound of the oars and the creaking of the rowlocks.
Now the boat pulls into the bank, and the ferryman wades out into the water
in order to catch hold of the prow and pull the boat ashore.
Nikolas and Gisèle jump ashore. When they reach the top of the bank, the mist
melts away. The path leads them into a little cluster of birches. The sun
breaks through the clouds. They have left the night and the shadows behind
them. In front of them are mountain ranges and light. They still hear, as if
proclaimed by heavenly bells:
Hark, an angel bears its light ...
Screenplay by Carl Dreyer