Tertium non datur

39 min


First take out the straws.

The Germans can't stand the hoe,

- the general said.

Only at dawn did Mitic

find the piano buried in the hay.

All night long we could hear the cracking

sounds of lice roasting in the fire.

In the morning we were ready

to welcome our guests.

It was during the last months

of the war.

We were caught in a trap, somewhere

in the Ukrainian steppe.

We were waiting

for the final catastrophe.

At 10.00 sharp, just as announced,

the car of our German allies

drew up in front of our barracks.

Our hope was born again,

our dislike of them, put on hold.

What were they coming for?

What were they up to?

Was it that in the end these arrogant

jerks were the ones to save us?

We might yet see, why not, a miracle!

What's with this hoopla?

Is it your national holiday?

Do we have to shout from the rooftops

that I've come to Ukraine?

To our surprise and humiliation,

we immediately understood it was

no military project to save the day,

but a mere stopover {or a snack.

Eine Vorspeise (an appetizer in German)...

Just a bite at an Ukrainian inn

on the way oi this hungry

redneck oi a samurai,

accompanied by a young major,

elegant and slender as a movie star.

Come... Come on, please!

Sit down, please!

This hare... It's for you alone.

We're having beans...

beans... beans...

- Would you like some hare?

- No, I love beans.

I just need to open my can.

This hare...

We've got... Neither wine...

Nor beer... Or uica (Romanian plum brandy)...

We've got... water only.

Hans! Bring the box.

This hare...

That's exactly what the General

wanted to warn you about.

This hare is trimmed with bullets.

There's a crazy Russian here,

every evening he hunts down hares

with a Kalashnikov.

When there are no hares,

he'll settle for people.

Gentlemen, a present from the General.

But on one condition, ok?

We have to drink this here.

- Who among you has been to Paris?

- Captain Mitic!

Gentlemen, I confess I have French blood

running through my veins.

I studied in Paris.

In the Sorbonne during the day,

and at nighttime at the One Two Two.

- Do you know what the One Two Two is '?

- I know what One Two Two is!

Then you tell them

what One Two Two is.

Do y'all know what One Two Two is?

It's a whore-house,

like our Stone Cross, only classier.

Do you know why it's called

One Two Two'?

Cause it's on One Two Two Rue de Provence!

Tell them who used to go there:

Charlie Chaplin, Jean Gabin, Leopold...

the king of Belgium.

Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo...

Greta Garbo...

How's that? That angel '?

Why, don't the angel have a dick?

They don't. man...

Marlene Dietrich, Marlene Dietrich

was into agelation. Edith Piaf...

- But why women... what was they after?

- Women, of course.

The General's health!

Do you know when I last had

Veuve Clicquot in Paris?

It was in '38, at the One Two Two.

Charles Trenet had just

premiered La Polka du Roi...

I also have some Romanian blood.

How's that?

On the female side, my family comes

from a Moldavian princess... Klarenfeld.

Von Klarenfeld is my name.

We are an aristocratic family.

So at the beginning there was

this Moldavian princess,

who married a Lithuanian prince

in the 17th century.

You have Lithuanian blood, too?

Yes... yes... Lithuanian blood.

I also have Ethiopian blood.

One of my ancestors was fascinated

with the Orient and with Ethiopia...

You're familiar

with Pushkin's case, right?

Check my profile.

In time we've all germanized.

But originally we're Romanians.

Look, I have proof...

If you press this like dough,

you see the aurochs head in relief.

- Which of you is a stamp collector?

- Captain Mitic!

Do you know anything

about the aurochs-head stamps?

Too little. I've never had a chance

to take the aurochs by the horns.

All I know is out of catalogs

and conversations.

Too bad. Still, have you heard

this stamp mentioned,

the rarest and most expensive stamp

in the world?

After all, it's an honor

for your country...

The first token of your liberation

from the Ottoman rule.

I've heard that an American billionaire has

a unique aurochs head worth 27 big ones.

I think it's just a legend...

That's no legend.

It's perfectly true.

And it seems that it's the only one

in the world...

It's peach-colored, not yellow-orange,

like the other ones in the series.

If that's so,

there have to be others, too.

I think they haven't searched

deep enough

into the archives

of the old Romanian families.

I mean, they had no system,

they were chaotic...

You're right.

It was quite chaotic.

This stamp

is an old obsession of mine,

but I've only started researching it

in Bucharest.

I got there a few months after

the synagogue had been burned down

and after the horrors

at the slaughterhouse.

The Jews were lost, the billionaires

wanted to emigrate, but where to?

Siberia, where Stalin had settled them?

Their chance was in Romania, though.

I tracked down a stamp in Iai.

I settled there

and started investigating.

All the information led to Brlad,

apparently to the Costcheti,

an old boyar family.

I was too late. They had sold it

to a rich Jew in Chernovtsy.

I ran to Chernovtsy.

But the aurochs head had emigrated abroad,

to Lwow (town in Poland).

I ew over to Lwow,

the aurochs head eludes me,

disappears into Moldova,

I track it down in Iai,

during the night it disappears

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Lucian Pintilie

Lucian Pintilie (Romanian pronunciation: [lut͡ʃiˈan pintiˈli.e]; 9 November 1933 – 16 May 2018) was a Romanian film director and screenwriter. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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