Princess and The Warrior, The (2000) - Synopsis

The Princess and The Warrior - synopsis heading

Bodo is standing at the railings of a motorway bridge with his arms outspread, as if he were about to fly away. Inside the closed-off Birkenhof psychiatric clinic Sissi receives a letter, at which she gazes with great concentration, but without opening it. Right from the first scenes we feel that these two people have secrets, and that the film will take its time revealing them. They shut themselves off from rapid comprehension, and yet put us under their spell. While the scenes from the everyday life of the two characters follow one another, beneath the surface the threads of fate are coming together to form the net in which they will be caught.

Bodo (Benno Fürmann) is in his late twenties, has been in the army and is now looking for a job. His attempt to work as a pallbearer came to nothing: By the coffin of an old woman who was a complete stranger to him the tears ran down his face. He goes off to the little out-of-the-way wooden house where he lives with his elder brother Walter (Joachim Król). "Doesn't matter", says Walter, because he has a plan: with Benno's help he wants to hold up the bank where he works as night watchman.

Simone, known as Sissi, (Franka Potente) is in her middle twenties and works as a nurse in the closed-off Birkenhof psychiatric clinic. There it rapidly becomes apparent that the male patients are strongly attracted to her, particularly blind Otto (Melchior Beslon), to whom she shows what gooseflesh is, using ice cubes, and Jörg Steinkohl, known as Steini (Lars Rudolph), who calls her My Girl, and in the evening - obviously not for the first time - asks her to satisfy him.

Bodo and Sissi: like two stars they move in their preordained paths. Two stars that must collide in order to catapult themselves into a new, possibly common, orbit.

Bodo is running through the streets of Wuppertal to escape two employees in whose filling station he has stolen some food. In his flight he jumps on to a tanker lorry, but the driver angrily drives him off. At the same time, Sissi is walking through the streets of Wuppertal with Otto, to fetch the contents of a safe-deposit box for her friend who lives in the south of France. When the driver, distracted by the incident, sees the traffic light too late, she is just able to shove Otto on to the sidewalk before she is run over.

So Sissi is suddenly lying under a gigantic red tanker. While her body is motionless, her thoughts begin to fly. Bodo, who without knowing it was a contributory cause of the accident, tries to hide under the tanker. When he sees that Sissi is struggling for breath, he grabs his knife and saves her life with a tracheotomy. He goes with her when she is taken to hospital, before disappearing in the tunnel of her unconsciousness.

"They let me out after 53 days. The doctor says it's a miracle. But the man had disappeared. Nobody saw him. I'm the only one who knows he was there. " (Sissi)

At the Birkenhof Sissi is welcomed with a party. "I'm afraid everything's never going to be the same as before" says Sissi, but Otto knows better: "You're afraid that everything will be the same as before". Together they set out in search of the mysterious man who saved Sissi's life. In a gun shop they come across Schmatt (Jürgen Tarrach) and from him learn the name of the stranger. But when Sissi is finally once more face to face with him, Bodo does not want to know, and gruffly tells her to go away.

At night, in the rain, she goes there again. "This isn't right", she says, and learns from Walter the background to Bodo's strange behavior: his wife died when a filling station exploded while he was on the toilet. "Really, he's still out there at the filling station and sitting on the can. He's waiting for it all to be not true, he's waiting to come out of the loo and find everything's all right. Like it used to be. That's why he's got to get away from here. Right away. Out- out of the loo". When Bodo comes home he becomes actually violent, to keep Sissi away from his body, soul and heart.

The next time they meet is in the bank, where Sissi is having her friend's safe-deposit box opened, while at the same time in the basement Walter and Bodo's hold-up is going wrong. Instead of running out of the bank with the other customers, she is magically attracted to Bodo. In the confrontation with the watchmen, Walter is shot at.

Sissi helps the brothers to escape, takes Walter to hospital and Bodo to Birkenhof to hide him. There he is soon the object of the suspicious and jealous glances of the patients. The incidents escalate. When Bodo learns of his brother's death on the news, he cracks up and is immobilized in a cell. Steini calls the police and tries to murder his rival.

At the end Sissi and Bodo plunge with a mighty leap into their new life. But before they flee to the south of France they still have to leave the ghosts of the past behind them.