Broken Lullaby

Synopsis: A young French soldier in World War I is overcome with guilt when he kills a German soldier who, like himself, is a musically gifted conscript, each having attended the same musical conservatory in France. The fact that the incident occurred in war does not assuage his guilt. He travels to Germany to meet the man's family.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Ernst Lubitsch
Production: Paramount Pictures
  1 nomination.
76 min


This is a day of joy and happiness for all of us.

Let us be thankful that peace has come.

Peace. Let us look to our tomorrows

and forget our yesterdays.

Peace on earth to men of goodwill.

Father, help me.

I can't get away from his eyes!

I killed a man.




I am waiting for your confession, my son.

Father, I wasn't born to be a murderer.

I was a musician,

I played in an orchestra, first violin.

Oh, I used to be so happy!

My whole life was devoted to music.

I wanted to bring beauty to this world.

And I brought... murder.

There's no music left.

Nothing in my ears,

but the sound of a dying man.

You killed a man.

Why did you kill?

Why? Why? I don't know.

For no reason, for no reason at all

And he didn't even raise a hand

to defend himself

He just looked at me,

looked at me...

I opened his coat

I found more letters.

They were in German.

I could read them.

They make German boys learn French

and French boys learn German

and when we grow up

they make us kill each other.

Walter Holderlin, 22 years old.

Fallsburgenbahn, Berg Street, number 64.

The man I killed.

My son,

the agony of your soul

is quite unnecessary.

You may go forth cleared

in a conscience without a stain.

You are free from crime

Oh, father,

how could I have done it?

You have done nothing but your duty.



Duty to kill!

Duty to kill!

Is this the only answer

I can get in the house of God?

I give you absolution.

Not only for your sins,

but for your blasphemy.

Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis

in nomine Patris, et Filii

et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

I came here to find peace

and you haven't given it to me.

She lost her Son.

And she forgave the murderers.

And God will help you, my boy.

Come with me.

Come, my son.

Son! Son!

Yes, he was somebody's son.

He had a mother, too.

You must forget, you must calm down.

You think his mother,

if I came to her on my knees...

Quiet, boy, quiet, quiet. you think she could forgive me?

Why, of course she could,

but now you must forget.

Father, I know his name,

I know where he comes from.

I could go there!

We'll talk about that tomorrow.

No, no, Father,

I'm going to his country!

Yes, yes...

I'll see his people.

Yes, yes...

Father, you think I'm mad. Am I?

Nine million people got slaughtered,

and they're already talking about another war

and the next time there'll be ninety million

and the world calls that sane.

Well, then I want to be insane.

I killed one man,

Walter Holderlin,

and I can't escape.

And God knows I'm not a madman!

Go there, my boy,

to his country.

Go to his people.

God is with you.


Now, Fritz, you be a good boy.

Behave yourself. No more fighting.

I didn't want to fight him. He was bigger than me.

But what shall I do,

when he calls me a Frenchman?

Then you give him a good...

No, no, don't do it, don't do it, Fritz.

Hold yourself in,

and save it up for a real Frenchman.

You understand?

No, father

You will, my son, you will.

Goodbye, young man.

But nobody's gonna call me a Frenchman!

Great boy, he'll do.

I hope so.



How do you do, Frulein Elsa?

Herr Schultz,

how many times have I told you?

Don't scold me, Frulein Elsa,

I didn't come here to see you.

I want to consult the doctor.

I'm a sick man, very sick!

Heart trouble.

Well, Herr Schultz, what's your trouble?

Doctor Holderlin,

I'm afraid I have to disappoint you.

I'm not a sick man.

On the contrary,

I wouldn't be here if I weren't

in perfect physical condition.

Doctor Holderlin, I came here to talk with you about Elsa.

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Samson Raphaelson

Samson Raphaelson (1894–1983) was a leading American playwright, screenwriter and fiction writer. While working as an advertising executive in New York, he wrote a short story based on the early life of Al Jolson, called The Day of Atonement, which he then converted into a play, The Jazz Singer. This would become the first talking picture, with Jolson as its star. He then worked as a screenwriter with Ernst Lubitsch on sophisticated comedies like Trouble in Paradise, The Shop Around the Corner, and Heaven Can Wait, and with Alfred Hitchcock on Suspicion. His short stories appeared in The Saturday Evening Post and other leading magazines, and he taught creative writing at the University of Illinois. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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