Director: Kurt Hoffman
The scene is set: we meet three youngsters; one of ihem finds an old testament, another takes 'Das Kapital' from a corpse; both of them come under the spell of the varied teachings of these books, while the third boy, a young nobleman, is brought up in a religious atmosphere. When we meet them some ten years later, the first two are working in a brothel, but have developed a conviction that the world can be saved; the young nobleman is a doctor and also wants to improve the lot of mankind. Their formulae differ slightly: the first wants to bring salvation through the enforcement of the doctrines of the Old Testament, the second through world revolution, and the young Count through love.
Their lives are interwoven both personally and politically: all three get involved with an attractive young woman and the first two become opponents in their fight for power. The film watches these entanglements and, through an intricate maze of incidents brings each man's story to its logical conclusion.
Durrenmatt, the celebrated Swiss playwright who adapted his stage play to the screen, makes wry comment on the vanities and corruption of the world, and on the fate of idealists who choose the wrong means to attain their goals. Under the wit and polish of the dialogue lurks the bitterness of the disillusioned European intellectual. The author
stage-manages his characters with the consummate skill of a puppeteer, while the director of the film commands excellent, slightly stylised, performances from all the actors. Photography and lavish decor add to the effectiveness of this bravura piece from Switzerland and Germany.