Comments > Treatment "The Colonelś daughter" ???

Dear Zina,

In 2002 I presented in Eureka Audiovisual meeting the filmtreatment "The Colonelś daughter". Mister Julian Fridman was the script consultant of this project. Is there any connections with Your book?
With best regards,
Toomas Sula
+372 5088697

The Colonel’s Daughter
by Toomas Sula

Estonia, 1944. Tartu, Girls’ Gymnasium. An English class is about to end. Liisi is about 10—12 years old. The teacher praises her in front of the class for having acquired a good knowledge of the language. The teacher also thanks the whole class for their year-long co-operation but hints that they needn’t meet again, in the autumn.

Walking out of the school, Liisi and her friend praise their teacher of English.

Outside the school, a merry group of boys are playing football. Seeing the girls come out, they hit the ball out into a bush and go to harass the girls. One of the boys calls out to Liisi who pretends not to hear and walks straight ahead. The boy runs after her and tears a ribbon out of her hair. There is a brief chase and a struggle, followed by a sharp argument. The girl calls names, saying the boy is a stupid dummy and so forth. She furiously threatens to tell her father. In the course of the argument and the struggle the boy angrily claims that his father was decorated for valour, during the war, but Liisi has not got a father, at all.

On their way home, the friend asks Liisi about who that boy was. Liisi explains that a short while ago, the boy moved next door to her. Liisi bursts out crying for sheer fury. The friend comforts her and promises to come visiting.

The children enter Liisi’s home. Liisi’s mother, a young and beautiful woman, is sensually speaking over the telephone in German. Liisi and her friend go to Liisi’s room. They begin to leaf books – for instance, pictures about far-away lands. The friend asks if the boy’s words about Liisi’s father are true – after all, every child must have a father. Her father, that’s true, once used to drink a lot and to quarrel with her mother all the time, but after he lost a foot in the war, he put an end to the drinking and quarrelling.

Liisi’s mother enters the room and starts to bustle around. They sit down to dinner, the mother asks the girls about the end of school-year. The friend thanks for the dinner and hurriedly takes her leave.

Mother and daughter are having an intimate chat. Liisi speaks about the incident with the boy next door. Her mother is visibly annoyed, she promises to have a serious talk with the boy’s mother. Liisi goes on to question her mother about her father. After all, she must have a father somewhere. The pretty woman gets quite upset, with tearful eyes she bursts out into hysterical abuse – what is the girl thinking, has she ever lacked anything, cannot she see that the mother has dedicated her whole life to her daughter, and so on. Liisi is deeply offended, a quarrel breaks out, after which they go each into her own room, banging the doors.

Liisi seems to have cried. She is lying on her bed and silently reading the fairy-tale about the ”Little Mermaid” to her teddy-bear. Her mother comes to the door and listens devoutly to her read. All of a sudden, the girl notices her mother standing there. The woman gets into bed nest to her daughter, takes the book and goes on reading. Liisi asks her why she is so sad. Mother replies that it’s because the fairy-tale is so beautiful and so sad. They hug – they have made up their quarrel. Mother puts out the light and leaves the room. Liisi quietly and secretly goes on telling her teddy stories about how the Mermaid had a father and how, certainly, the teddy must also have a teddy-father, and so on.

Liisi is woken up by muffled whispers and quiet footsteps. At first she stays in her bed, listening, turns this way and that for a while, finally gets out of the bed and sneaks to her mother’s door. She tries the door – it is locked and a sudden silence falls in the room behind it. Suddenly Liisi notices an officer’s coat and cap hung on the peg, tall boots lying on the floor. She tries one of the boots onto her own bare leg. It is huge. While trying it on, the girl accidentally sends something clattering down from the edge of the cupboard and quietly escapes into her own room.

It is morning. The girl comes out of her room into the dining room. Her mother is pleasantly excited. Seeing her daughter, she somewhat bashfully turns her gaze away. Liisi seems to be on the point of asking or saying something but mother cuts her short, suggesting that she run and fetch some bread, white bread and sugar. The girl is very pleased, picks up the money and cards from the table and is almost out of the door when mother stops her and gives her some more money. She says the girl may also buy sweets at the market. The girl happily trots away, forgetting about all she may have wanted to talk to her mother about.

Out in the street, she sees the boy next door wave at her from his window; he calls out some friendly remark. For a moment, the girl’s careless look disappears and she pulls a face at the boy, then runs on.

At the market. The girl comes out of a small shop, carrying bread and some buns in a sack. The people at the market are for the most part women and old folks. Occasionally one can see soldiers, some are wounded, others chat with girls. It is war-time, with all its characteristic features. All of a sudden, a whisper runs through the crowd – prisoners are being marched past. Everybody crowds closer to get a look, Liisi among them. A long straggling column shuffles past – bearded men in tattered clothes. Liisi chances to catch the eye of a tall bearded prisoner who is ogling the contents of her sack. Liisi takes two buns out of the sack, steps out of the crowd lining the column and quite unselfconsciously offers the buns to the prisoner. The man utters no thanks but expresses his gratitude with a look, then casts down his eyes. A fat overdressed and heavily made up crone screams that the stupid girl should rather feed swine than these pigs. Liisi is confused and runs back into the shelter of the crowd. A country woman strokes her hair and comforts her: after all, these hapless men also have a home somewhere, where they had wives and children to care for as husbands as fathers. Liisi is content. The woman is a vendor and offers her home-made sweets.

Liisi sets out for home. On a corner she notices a German officer, a tall colonel with a proud bearing, talking to another officer. Liisi stops gazing him. The man even has a Knight’s Cross dangling in his button-hole. Then she notices a photographer’s shop near by. She carefully counts her remaining money – an idea has occurred to her. When the other officer leaves, she steps up to the colonel and suggests that they take a picture together. He is stunned, but finally laughs and gives in. Liisi promises to pay for the photos herself and shows her money. They enter the shop.

In the photographer’s shop. Liisi combs and adjusts her appearance in front of the mirror like a real lady. The officer and the photographer, an old man, glance at her and chuckle by themselves. Liisi takes the preparations very seriously.

Finally they get to taking the photo. Without a trace of embarrassment, Liisi poses for a picture ”With Father”. When the photos have been taken, Liisi asks why the officer wears the cross. The officer explains to her about the Knight’s Cross, but Liisi understands nothing about it. In the corner, Liisi sees mannequins, one is wearing a tail-coat, the other a wedding dress. Liisi persuades the officer to put on the tail-coat; for a while, he tries to resist, but seeing that the girl won’t be put off, finally agrees. The photographer is amused, so is the officer. After all it’s just a game – so another picture is taken. Before they leave, regardless of Liisi’s protests, the officer pays for the pictures himself. Outside, the girl offers sweets to the officer. On being asked, the girl honestly replies that she has no father and the pictures are meant for the boy next door to see, so he would stop bullying her. The colonel is moved. The take leave from each other like real pals. Liisi is happy and satisfied. When alone, the colonel grows serious, sits to the car and lights a cigarette.

Back home, Liisi’s mother is talking over the telephone. Coming into the dining room, she discovers that the girl has forgotten the buns. Liisi explains that she gave them to the soldiers; these poor men also want some buns. Mother is satisfied with the explanation and relents.

Mother and daughter are on their way to the market. This time, Liisi gives a threatening shake of her fist in reply to the boy next door, who again waves at her from his window. Mother mildly rebukes her, insisting that she behave herself. What is fit for a boy to do is not fit for a girl. They chat about any number of things. The girl asks childish questions about death and war and so on. Mother tries to give some explanations, but on the whole answers evasively.

At the market. Mother is talking to one person and another. They speak about the war, about the White Ship and going away across the sea. The front is said to be drawing near. One of the mother’s friends invites her and her daughter to a café.

At the café. The two women chat carelessly. The girl is a bit bored; she asks if she may go back to the market. The mother has nothing against it.

The girl enters the photographer’s shop. The old photographer gives her excellent snapshots. The girl politely thanks and wants to leave. The old photographer quickly stuffs some sweets into her pocket.

The girl leaves the photographer’s shop and goes into a nearby park. She seats herself on a bench and takes out both the pictures and the sweets. Right next to her a company of German soldiers, wearing full gear, are lying on the grass, obviously waiting for transport. Further off, a few officers and civilians can be seen, walking around. A couple of the soldiers are playing the accordion and singing cheerful German songs. Liisi is content. She looks at her pictures, eats her sweets and listens to the songs. One of the accordionists steps up to her and asks a cheerful question in German; Liisi cannot speak German and answers something in English, which the soldier can’t understand, in his turn. Nevertheless, he takes up another merry song. Liisi likes it. All of a sudden, the air raid siren starts wailing. Everybody except Liisi and the soldiers runs off in a panic. One of the soldiers shrugs haughtily – there’s nothing new about the sirens. Liisi notices the boy next door, together with his mother, running among the trees, too. She waves her photos at the boy. The boy beckons invitingly – she should run off, too. Liisi sticks the photos back into her pocket, but nevertheless remains sitting on her bench, unconcerned.

Death is taking its toll. Liisi sees the soldiers drop down, one after another, in odd positions. Horror-stricken, she sits on her bench, surrounded by explosions and chaos. A smoking accordion is all that remains of the cheerful singer; a burning military cap flies past. And then she herself is hit. The picture fades…

A burial command is at work. The landscape is marked by huge bomb craters and dead bodies. In the distance, shouts, sirens and noise is heard. In one of the bomb craters, under the dead body of some soldier, Liisi is found, all covered with blood, the snapshots emerging from her pocket. One of the German soldiers picks up the snapshots and takes a look. He is deeply sorry for the dead girl and he shows the pictures to his comrades – look, her father is a high officer, decorated with the Knight’s Cross and all. They think the girl and her ”father” are Germans.

All of a sudden, the other soldier notices Liisi give a slight jerk. Immediately a couple of soldiers and a truck meant for transporting the dead are called in. The soldiers lift the unconscious girl into the car, onto the lap of other soldiers, and the car starts off for the hospital at top speed. The driver and his two companions, one of them wearing an officer’s uniform, speak about Liisi judging her to be a high officer’s daughter.

An officer hurriedly enters a military hospital’s corridor, followed by a soldier carrying in his arms Liisi, dripping with blood. At the reception desk they are met by a uniformed military doctor who protests that he cannot admit a child into a military hospital, it is against the rules and regulations. The girl must be taken into a civilian hospital, otherwise he will be punished. The officer convinces him that this is no ordinary case – the girl’s father is decorated with the Knight’s Cross, she is not an ordinary child. He shows the snapshots in proof of his words. The doctor – obviously in command of the hospital – will not yield. The girl’s half lifeless body twists in the soldier’s arms; the officer draws his gun and promises to shoot the doctor unless he promptly takes the girl into the hospital. The girl needs immediate help; it is clear that she will not make it to another hospital, alive. The doctor curses the war and the madness of the world, but begins to make arrangements for the operation without further delay. The soldier, himself covered with blood and looking like a butcher, carries the girl straight onto the operating table. The doctor commands the officer and the soldier out of the operating room, adding an altogether friendlier comment on the gun the officer is still holding. The operation begins.

Getting out of the operating room, the two men – the officer and the soldier – drop down to sit by the wall and burst out laughing with relief. Finally, they light cigarettes.

At the same time… The mother is searching for her daughter in panic. Near the park she meets the boy from next door who tells her that he saw Liisi in the park. Together with the boy and an old woman from the neighbourhood the mother runs into the park. Only bomb craters are to be seen. The burial command have finished their job, the dead bodies have been taken away. Rumours run that not a single person had been found alive, in the park; even bits and pieces of human bodies were rare. The mother stumbles onto the edge of a bomb crater, recognises her daughter’s shoe in a pool of blood and drops down, unconscious.

The doctor comes out of the operating room to the men waiting for him in the corridor and says it had really been the very last moment to operate, but nevertheless he cannot be sure the girl will survive. He asks for the girl’s name and family. The men are not able to answer. In the end, the officer recommends him to put down in his documents the name of any colonel (after all, the man in the photo is a colonel, all right). He argues that in this way, the doctor can avoid going against his regulations. With a sigh of relief, the doctor thus fills the papers necessary for admitting the girl into the hospital. The officer also hands him over the girls photos and asks him to keep them. Thus, in the bureaucracy of war, Liisi becomes the daughter of Colonel von …., with the anonymous life-saver as her god-father.

The old woman from the neighbourhood persuades Liisi’s mother, who in her grief and distress has taken to the bed, quickly to leave her native country. The front, as she explains, has come dangerously near. The mother remains apathetic. The old woman urges and cajoles her as best she can. Finally, the mother agrees.

At the port. The hospital is being evacuated to Germany. Out of a hospital car, a stretcher is pulled out and carried on board a ship; on the stretcher lies Liisi, more dead than alive, all swathed in bandages.

A military hospital in Germany, in the rear. The patients are all men – soldiers and officers, indiscriminately – and all of a sudden, among them a little girl. One morning Liisi opens her eyes. The whole hospital gives applause, those who are able to, sit or stand up. Quite obviously everybody has long expected her to recover. The girl can understand nothing: the men talk in German and the place is totally unknown to her. Looks around, then out of sheer amazement closes her eyes again. But in honour of her recovery, the patients form a choir. The German song sounds unexpectedly cheerful in the presentation of these sick men. Liisi quietly opens her eyes again. The chief doctor also enters the ward, alerted by the song, and watches the performance.

Everybody takes care of the girl – she is the apple of the eye of both the patients and the personnel of the hospital, and for a while people forget their personal griefs. Particular motherly care is lavished on the girl by an elderly nurse, a diligent and pedantic German who acts mother to the whole hospital. Only the man occupying the bed next to Liisi’s – an Estonian voluntary, former sailor and legionary Oss – at first invokes her enmity, since Oss’s only interests in this life, in her view, are to make war and to give free reign to that obscene mouth of his. In the given company Oss appears very introvert: he communicates only in harsh simple sentences, but the men respect him. Oss is fond of drinking, and in some mysterious way he succeeds in getting alcohol.

Since Liisi has lost ability to speak and cannot write, either, the whole hospital takes her for a German girl and talk to her only in German. So does Oss! But the girl only smiles with her eyes, without understanding a word.

Life in the hospital is routine, but Liisi begins to take interest in her surroundings. It is a tough men’s world, the patients play cards and talk in harsh voices. Oss is among the greatest gamesters. His second daily entertainment is taunting the nurse. The nurse replies to his remarks, but will not take offence – a sick man is a sick man.

Liisi is already able to move around; she bustles around without uttering a word – brings water to those unable to move and helps in small ways as best she can. Once, seeing his hand of cards, Oss breaks into dreadful curses in Estonian. Hearing her mother tongue, Liisi is struck with amazement and grows pale. She stands up. Oss can’t understand why the girl is so startled; to comfort her, he comes up and deals out cards to her, too. Passing by, the nurse tells Oss to get back into his bed. He mustn’t spoil girls with his indecent soldierly games. Oss shouts that the nurse is the Devil’s own grandmother, but nevertheless return to his bed. This curse finally upsets the nurse. She takes offence and leaves the ward, pulling the door to with a bang. Oss, however, digs up his bottle and takes a good swill quite openly.

Somebody sits up in his bed and rebukes Oss: this is no way to talk to a lady. The others join in and explain that her husband had fallen in the first year of the war, they had never had children, and all that remains to her is a huge mansion near the hospital. Oss pulls his blanket over his head. The soldiers mildly chaff him: You, gaffer, you’re quite old enough, yourself, what’s the point of cursing like this, you’d do much better to go set up house with her. Oss rails them, in his turn, but sounds much more benevolent. The soldiers grin merrily.

Time goes by. The doctor, accompanied by the nurse, is making his rounds through the wards. Stopping by Liisi’s bed, the doctor thoughtfully scratches his chin: the child is dumb. He offers her sweets and honey and tells the nurse that medication is of no use – she needs rest and recreation.

Liisi is growing fond of Oss. She even tries to help him, but this seems to go against the grain to the old sailor. Now and again Liisi can be spotted standing by Oss’s bed, looking at him with sad yearning eyes. It seems like she was expecting or pleading for something. Oss is at a loss about how to respond to her attention; the best he can do is to caress her with an unaccustomed hand and to offer his quiet comforting words in German. But to everybody’s surprise, these rough caresses seem to enliven Liisi. The Nurse doesn’t seem to appreciate this. She is the one who is supposed to know how to take care of Liisi. At the same time, however, Oss and the Nurse avoid each other, even though they no longer abuse each other.

One night, Oss wakes up to the sound of Liisi weeping quietly. He goes up to her bed, strokes her hair and comforts her in a whisper. At first he speaks in Estonian, then, realising that the colonel’s daughter would not understand him, he quickly translates his words into German. The girl stops weeping and hugs Oss. This is too much for the man. With a great effort he manages to remain composed, but wipes a tear off the corner of his eye. The girl closes her eyes.

Oss is walking restlessly to and fro in the ward. Having made up his mind, he goes out, finds the nurse and apologises. The nurse realises that he means it seriously. They speak about Liisi, who has apparently regained her health but is no longer able to speak. In reply to the nurse’s question, Oss speaks about his own life: how his wife got killed in strange circumstances, and how they had no children. Liisi, however, is destined for an orphanage, as far as the Nurse knows: there is no information about her parents. Oss grows even more serious.

One morning, the silent German in the bed next to Liisi’s dies. When they come to take the dead body away, Liisi sneaks close to Oss who takes her out for a walk.

By noon, Liisi has already got a new neighbour, who turns out to be a former African Corps fighter with injured legs. He is a man of about thirty five, of an extraordinarily merry disposition. When lifted into his bed, he greets the whole hospital in a loud voice and asks if there might per chance be any Estonians there. He is told about Oss, which makes him very glad. The soldiers ask about him, to find out what kind of a man he is. He tells them that several years before the beginning of the war he had emigrated into Brazil and made a fortune there. At the beginning of the war he had travelled to Germany to ”make business” there, but instead had got jailed. Later on he was released, but was sent to Africa to ”expiate his sins” at the front. His acquaintances had dubbed him The Brazilian.

Oss rushes into the ward, Liisi close on his heels. They have already heard about the Brazilian. Oss shouts out with pleasure, begins to shake the younger man’s hand, wildly cursing in Estonian with joy. Liisi, too, hurries up to the Brazilian. Seeing her, the Brazilian is startled and grows serious. So things have got so far that children must also do soldiers’ work. Oss tells him about ”the colonel’s daughter”. Liisi vigorously shakes her head and pulls Oss by his sleeve. The Brazilian looks deep into her eyes, takes her hand and asks: ”You’re an Estonian, aren’t you?” Liisi nods; Oss is shocked. The whole hospital is stunned. Oss behaves like a madman, claps his hands on his knees, laughs and swears like a lunatic.

The Brazilian himself is amazed at his successful guess. He asks Oss whether he hasn’t got an accordion hidden somewhere. And gaily explains to Liisi that his own best accordion had been destroyed by monkeys in Brazil, the second best had remained in North Africa, but the third one he has never had. Liisi goes out but returns quite soon with an accordion.

The Nurse brings medication to the Brazilian. Oss is enthusiastic; the Brazilian breaks into a rhythmic Latin American song. Soon everybody capable of raising their voice have joined him. The doctor hurries up and stands dumb-founded, watching the general merry-making. A veritable party is taking place. Liisi keeps gazing at the Brazilian. All of a sudden, everything brightens up in her mind’s eye. The hospital is bright and neat, the men are well shaved, wearing clean uniforms and singing while the Brazilian conducts them. Liisi herself is lying in her bed without any bandages and next to her sits her own mother. Everybody is singing for her – for Liisi and for her mother. This is how Liisi’s envisions things.

The song is broken off by a dark figure appearing in the door and croaking: ”Heil Hitler!”. Liisi’s dream is cut short by reality, struck with fear and terror she escapes into her bed, pulling the covers over her head. The men abruptly fall silent. A fat man enters limping on crutches, wearing the SD uniform.

The first to recover is the Brazilian who starts cursing at the SD-man: he has no business to come here and frighten a child; he’d better shut up and stick his Hitler up his ass. This is fuel for the fat man’s fire: he has no intention of shutting up; instead he requires order and obedience. Angry words are exchanged, until Oss puts an end to it, walking calmly up to the SD-man and knocking him out. He then walks back with equal calm to comfort Liisi.

A dreadful silence falls over the hospital. Men have evil forebodings. The personnel lift the fat man into a vacant bed. Everybody is waiting for what will happen next. The SD-man regains consciousness and begins, moaning and holding his head, to curse everything: the lowered morale and particularly the foreigners due to whom the Third Reich still has not been able to gain the conclusive victory. Threatens the adverse elements with concentration camp. Gazes at Oss and the Brazilian. But turns his hatred against a very young soldier sitting on the bed next to his, hits him with his crutch and tells him to stand at attention and to report. The boy blushes with shame, but obeys. The fat man tells the boy to stand at attention as long as he himself goes to take a leak. Then he picks up his crutches and straggles toward the door. The Brazilian grabs his own crutch and flings it after him, accompanying it with a strong four-letter word. The SD-man turns just to say: “You’re a dead man!” And draws his hand over his throat in demonstration. The same gesture he addresses to Oss. Oss makes no reply. The others keep silent – this was no joke. Only the Brazilian says carelessly that it’s not the first time he’s seen such cut-throats and threateners. Liisi has watched the whole scene with obvious horror. Oss recommends the Brazilian to stop picking quarrels: these “Golden Pheasants” are unpredictable: you never know what they may do.

The Brazilian turns his attention to Liisi and tells her a funny story, which captures Liisi so thoroughly that she bursts out laughing, in the end. The same happens to Oss. Now all three of them are laughing, freely and carelessly. The goddamn Estonians must all be off their heads, the others seem to be thinking. All of a sudden the Brazilian falls silent and his face turns wry. He is in pain. Oss gives him a glass of water and a pill which makes him sleep. Oss and Liisi busy themselves with his bed to make him feel more comfortable.

Together with the doctor, an officer arrives who has been at the hospital for a long while. He beckons Oss aside, for a while. They talk seriously, pointing toward the SD-man’s empty bed, from time to time. Oss grows very serious and lies down again on his own bed.

Night at the hospital. Liisi is awoken as the officer who had talked to Oss during the day wakes Oss up. Oss rises silently and takes his pillow with him. They creep up to the SD-man’s bed. A quiet struggle starts there. Soon everything is silent again. Oss returns to his bed. Liisi goes back to sleep.

Liisi wakes up again. It is dawning behind the windows. She sees Oss sitting on the edge of the Brazilian’s bed, listening to the Brazilian speaking quietly and with frequent pauses. Liisi goes back to sleep again, peacefully.

It is morning. Liisi opens her eyes and looks at Oss’s bed. It is messed up and empty. Then she looks at the Brazilian’s bed – this is empty, too. Only the accordion is sitting at the pillow of the neatly made up bed. Liisi stands up and notices that the SD-man’s bed is empty, too. She hurries into the corridor, looking for Oss, but cannot find him there. Liisi has an ominous foreboding, she panics. She rushes along the corridors like she was out of her head, her face is wet with tears. Oss is not to be found. Finally, she runs back to her own bed, pulls the covers over her head and shakes with sobbing. The soldiers are stunned, they gather around her bed.

The Nurse pushes her way through the crowd of men, sits on Liisi’s bedside and begins to comfort her quietly. She gently pulls off the blanket, strokes the child’s head. All of a sudden Liisi raises her eyes and asks out aloud, in Estonian: “Where are the Brazilian and Oss? Are they dead?” Everybody is shocked – the child has started to speak. Nobody understands the question nor is able to answer it, they just look at Liisi with inquisitive eyes. Liisi hides her face in her hands. The Nurse says something to the men and soon Oss is lead onto the scene, drunk as a lord; he sits down next to Liisi and asks: “So what happened?” Liisi, hearing Oss’s voice, flings her arms around his neck and inquires: “Is the Brazilian dead?” Oss answers yes, he is dead all right; then is struck, hearing the child’s voice, and sobers up with surprise. What, Liisi is speaking?! Oss begins to stammer, looks inquisitively at the people surrounding them. The girl keeps hugging Oss and weeps: “I thought you were dead, too.” Tears roll down Oss’s eyes as he answers: “Me dead? – No, it’s too early yet for me to die.” The men are still standing in amazement around Oss and the girl. Oss comforts her: “The Brazilian is dead – he is no longer in pain, so don’t you cry any more, either.” The Nurse begins quietly to scatter the crowd of men. All of a sudden Oss asks for the girl’s name. Liisi tells him. Regardless of the Nurse’s pleading the girl refuses to leave Oss’s lap and lie down on her bed. Thus, refusing to be parted, they sit and talk quietly for a long while.

In the doctor’s study Oss and the doctor are speaking about Liisi. The Nurse listens to the talk from afar. Liisi is healthy, she will be sent to an orphanage. Estonia is far away, on the other side of the front, and it is impossible to find her parents. Oss is gloomy. It appears that Oss, too, will get out of the hospital, he will get a leave and then, fully recovered, return to the front. Oss offers that he may take the child to the orphanage himself – the Estonian girl understands no German. The Nurse joins the conversation and suggests that Oss and the girl might recover in her mansion. Oss thinks about it. The doctor says it is a good idea and Oss agrees.

Early spring, 1945. Oss and Liisi leave the hospital. All the patients are at the windows, saying farewell. They start walking. Liisi grows sad and tells him about her mother and her home. Oss says it is very doubtful that Liisi’s mother could still be alive. Estonia is far away and one can’t get back there. Liisi resolutely argues against that, but seems to put up with the situation for the time being.

Germany, the Nurse’s mansion. Sun is shining and the nature is budding. Oss and Liisi are fishing at a river flowing past the farmstead. Oss is listening. Liisi asks him about all sorts of things – the war, death, and so on. Oss answers as best he can. Liisi tells Oss the fairy tale about the Little Mermaid. Both fall into a thoughtful silence for a long time. All of a sudden Oss says: “Damn it, I’d like to get back to the sea.” – “Where the Little Mermaid is?” Liisi asks. Oss: “Yeah, right there.” Liisi: “But you will have to take me along, too.” Oss is silent. A little while later he fishes a paper out of his pocket and hands it over to Liisi: “When you find your mother, give this paper to her.” The girl studies the paper. There are some words in a foreign language and numbers; Liisi cannot understand it. “But if I find my father,” Liisi asks, “may I then give the paper to him?” Oss shakes his head doubtfully, but replies: “Yes, you may then give it to him, too.” – “Then I will give it back to you,” Liisi says and offers the paper to Oss. “If the Brazilian had lived, I would have given the paper to him,” Liisi says. Oss will not take the paper and grows all more and more serious. “Listen, Liisi, you put this into your pocket right now and see that you don’t lose it, it is a serious matter.” The girl puts the paper into her pocket and promises to keep it. But Oss tells her that the next day; he must go back to the front. The girl says that she will surely go with him. Oss says that the front is not a place for children; the war is not a game. The girl is sad. Oss comforts her, promising to come back once the war is over. Till then, Liisi must stay with the Nurse and be a good girl. The girl doesn’t want Oss to go to the war.

It is morning. Liisi and the Nurse are seeing Oss off on his way to the front. The Nurse cajoles him to stay, not to go anywhere, because the war will soon be over anyway. Oss replies that he is a soldier. Then, between the two of them, Oss tells the Nurse that if anything should happen to him, the Nurse must take good care of Liisi. Oss leaves.

The farmstead. Liisi is busy in the kitchen. The radio is on. BBC sends the latest news of the war. There is talk about the inevitable end of the war; also, the Estonian Division is mentioned, which is located in Falkenberg and has suffered heavy casualties. Liisi takes an old atlas and studies it. An old postman rides past the window on his bicycle, ringing his bell; when Liisi runs to the window, he shakes his head – no, there are no letters today. Liisi sits at the table and falls into deep thoughts.

A road near Falkenberg. Liisi is walking along the road. Not a soul can be seen near by. A noise from afar. A motorcycle and a jeep full of soldiers emerge from a cloud of dust. Liisi hides into the ditch by the highway, but she has been spotted already. The vehicles stop, the soldiers pull the girl out of the ditch and take her to their officer – it is the same German colonel Liisi once had herself photographed with. At first glance the colonel doesn’t recognise Liisi. Liisi greets him in Estonian. The colonel is surprised – an Estonian girl alone here in Germany! The girl shows him the photo they took together. Now the colonel recognises Liisi. The girl tells him that she is looking for Oss. The colonel knows where the Estonian division stops and decides to send her there – at least she won’t then be roaming along the front alone. He himself is in a hurry; the Estonians must decide themselves, what to do with her. The girl is seated in the motorcycle’s sidecar, the colonel gives commands to his soldiers. The ride begins. At a spot where the road forks into two, the car with the colonel inside turns one way, the motorcycle with Liisi the other. The girl merrily waves at the colonel. The colonel shakes his head but waves back.

A castle near Falkenberg. An odd company of men is playing cards in a huge hall decorated with paintings: some of the men are wearing tail coats, others uniforms, some are dressed up like for a carnival. Old silver cups are used for drinking, loud talk and drinking songs are heard.

Liisi and a soldier appear at the door. She greets the men in a loud voice in Estonian. Everybody is shocked: is it an angel in hell? What does this mean – an Estonian girl here? The soldier asks about Oss, the men direct him into the cellar. The soldier takes Liisi by her hand and they set off through the castle in search of Oss. It is a veritably surreal walk. Some men are sleeping in uniforms and muddy boots between silken bed-sheets, others, wearing civilian suits, doze off on top of ammunition boxes. Very old books are lying around in the midst of weapons and ammunition. Liisi watches the scenes like she was dreaming.

Finally they reach the cellar which looks like the entrance to hell. In one corner, moonshine is being made; in another, men try to heat sauna, sooty all over. In yet another corner, Oss is finally found, cleaning a machine-gun. Seeing Liisi, Oss is taken aback: How did you get here? Liisi tells him. Oss is very serious: it is the front here. Liisi invites him to go back home. Oss explains that he must stay where he is. Liisi declares that she will not leave Oss again and promises to stay with him. Oss says this is impossible and so on…

All of a sudden, shooting begins outside. A soldier in tail coat rushes up to Oss and shouts that the enemy offensive has begun. Oss leaps up, grabs his machine gun, but Liisi is hanging on his sleeve: let’s go home, otherwise they will kill you! For a moment, Oss is confused, but the sound of fighting outside grow all more intensive and he regains his old self. He stuffs hand grenades and ammunition into his belt, grabs the machine gun with one hand, the frightened Liisi hangs on to his other hand. Oss tells her to be a brave girl and stay all the time behind Oss’s back. They go upstairs. The whole castle is in a turmoil. There is no sign of the peaceful drinking any longer; the fighting is at its peak.

Outside the castle, Oss and Liisi are caught in the very middle of furious shooting. Oss shoots as he runs, like Rambo. Liisi tries to be brave, runs along behind his back. The officer shouts out that in another minute, they will be surrounded. Oss must save Liisi – it is an order. Oss shouts back that he must hold on and resist, but at that moment the officer is shot. Oss takes Liisi by the hand, while with the other hand he keeps shooting. They’re running desperately for their dear lives, death and war all around them.

The Nurse’s mansion. Oss and the Nurse are sitting at the table, Liisi is laying it. The war is over and Germany has been divided into zones. They are speaking about the peace which now finally has come. The Nurse proposes that Oss and Liisi might well stay with her on the farm. Oss is serious, he speaks about screening: one day they will certainly catch him and cast him into jail, there is nowhere for him to hide. Estonia, his homeland, can only be dreamt of. But Liisi will certainly feel at home and be safe on the farm. At last the Nurse stands up, it is time for her to go to work.

A British open military truck turns into the courtyard, in it a number of men, some in civilian clothes, others still wearing German uniforms, all guarded by armed soldiers. Oss hides himself, Liisi goes out to do “reconnaissance”. A British officer gets out of the car and politely asks for drinking water. On their way to the well, Liisi asks who the men in the truck are. The officer replies that they are all imprisoned German war criminals. The prisoners are lead to the well under close guard by the armed soldiers. Liisi and the officer stand a little way off and watch them. All of a sudden, Liisi notices the Colonel, wearing civilian clothes, in the midst of the men. She shouts out in Estonian: “Daddy! Daddy!”, and runs up to the Colonel. The Colonel almost jumps with surprise, but quickly collects himself. Liisi asks in a whisper where they are being taken. The Colonel answers that he has no idea. The British officer approaches to see what is going on. He asks if the girl knows that man. Liisi says yes and takes the Colonel’s hand – he is my father. The British officer eyes Liisi suspiciously. Liisi runs off toward the house, the British officer follows her. Before the officer has made it to the house, Liisi already comes out again and shows him the photo where she is together with the Colonel who wears a tail coat. The Englishman is confused. He compares the photo to Liisi and the Colonel – these are certainly the same persons. At the back of the photo, there is the address of the Estonian photographer’s shop and the date. Liisi once again claims that the Colonel is her father – an Estonian. Finally, the Englishman is convinced and orders that the Colonel be released. Being a gentleman, he apologises to the Colonel and explains that all this has been a terrible mistake – he has been mistaken for an important German colonel. The Colonel likewise thanks the officer. The Englishman says that he knows Estonians, he himself has close relations with an Estonian lady, and therefore he has great respect for that nation. He gives them his address in town and tells the Colonel to drop by, he will fill in all the documents for his release. Hands are shaken and the truck takes off. For a moment, the Colonel is struck dumb, then he thanks Liisi and swears that for the rest of his days he will always remember that he owes his life to Liisi.

It is evening. The Colonel and Oss are discussing how to save themselves. Without documents it is impossible to move around. Liisi offers to go after the documents herself, nobody would want to imprison her. The men do not want to take such a risk. Liisi is stubborn; she thinks may be she can even get documents for Oss. Oss might be her Grandpa, for example. They agree that the next day, Liisi will go to town together with the Nurse who has got acquaintances there.

Everybody is about to go to bed when all of a sudden a car stops in front of the house. In the twilight, the same English officer and another figure can be discerned. Oss decides that they won’t be taken without a fight and grabs his gun, releases the safety-catch. Liisi, on the other hand, recommends them to hide themselves and promises to say that the Colonel has already departed. The men take shelter. An insistent knock on the door. Liisi opens. In the doorway she sees the Englishman – and her own mother.

Liisi stands like paralysed, the mother grabs her into her arms. Meeting of mother and daughter. Mother hugs her daughter, like they never meant to let go of each other any more. The Englishman hands Liisi the photo: “You can take it back, I unwittingly kept it. You pulled my leg – but the good thing is that your mother recognised you by the photo.”

They seat themselves at the table. Liisi asks whether the Englishman came to take the Colonel a prisoner again. Mother says no and asks how the girl knows the Colonel, at all. Liisi tells her that the man had saved her in the war. Mother whispers something to the Englishman. The Englishman starts to laugh – he had even prepared the documents for the Colonel, already. The war is over, anyway, and he personally bears no grudges for anyone. As for himself, he intends to retire, anyway. All he still cares for is Liisi’s mother – and now also Liisi herself. Liisi remains serious, insists that the Englishman give his word of honour that he will not harm anyone, any more. The Englishman gives his word of honour. So Liisi calls for the Colonel to come out of hiding. The men look at each other. The Englishman takes the documents from his pocket and hands them to the Colonel – saving a child in war in itself is an act that deserves a prize. The Colonel thanks him and takes a seat. Mother again hugs Liisi and asks if she is quite healthy now. Now Oss appears, in full uniform. He is holding his gun by the barrel and now hands it over to the Englishman. Mother and the Englishman are amazed. Mother manages to ask who that is supposed to be. Oss: “Übergrenadier Osvald Timmermann, giving himself up as prisoner of war. I only fought for the freedom of Estonia, my homeland.” Mother quickly translates Oss’s words to the Englishman. Liisi leaps to hug Oss and declares that he mustn’t leave her, that’s not fair game. Oss is embarrassed. Liisi defiantly tells her mother that if Oss is imprisoned, she will go to prison with him, too. Oss never left her behind, she cannot leave him, either. Mother can understand nothing. The Englishman calms everybody down and asks them to sit and tell their stories.

It is daybreak, getting lighter. The Nurse returning from work finds the odd company in her kitchen. The Colonel introduces everybody present. The Nurse is struck dumb, tears are rolling down her cheeks. Oss calms her down – everything is all right. The Englishman promises to prepare documents for Oss before he retires and asks what Oss means to do. Oss is confused. Finally, after a long pause, he says he will stay where he is – on the farm. Liisi cheerfully suggests that everybody might stay on the farm. Silence. Then the Englishman asks the Colonel what he intends to do. The Colonel gives a clever smile and says he will leave Germany. Where to, the Englishman asks. “To Rio – I still lack one fairy tale more”. And the Colonel asks Liisi to give the photo to him for remembrance, because it brings him good luck. Liisi gives it to him. The Colonel, in his turn, gives her his Knight’s Cross. This impresses even the Englishman. Seeing that, Oss nudges Liisi and tells her something. Liisi digs out of her pocket the document in a foreign language that Oss had given her when they were fishing. Oss takes the paper and then hands it to Liisi’s mother. Mother looks at it and grows pale: “Where did you get that?” Oss is very serious and replies that the Brazilian had given it to him – for the girl. Mother gazes at Oss and Liisi. She is quite beside herself: “And is he alive, that – Brazilian?” Liisi sadly answers: “No, he is dead, quite dead, but he sang so beautifully.” – “I quite believe he did,” Mother says and begins silently to weep. The Englishman cannot make out what’s happening. He picks up the paper and takes a look. It’s a banknote.
“Jesus! Half a million of dollars! This really is an amazing fairy tale!”
The End

December 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterToomas Sula