The Princess and the Warrior


Bodo is standing at the railings on a motorway bridge, his arms are outstretched as if he were about to fly. At the closed psychiatric institution Birkenhof, Sissi receives a letter, which she studies with careful concentration, but doesn't open. The very first scenes leave viewers with the sense that these two people have secrets, and that the film will only reveal them gradually. There is no fast route into them, and instead, viewers are immediately bewitched. And as the scenes of their everyday lives follow one another, the threads of their fate are woven together into the very net in which they will become ensnarled.

Bodo (Benno Fürmann) is in his late twenties. He's come out of the army and is looking for a job. He starts working as a pallbearer, but when the tears begin streaming down his face at the sight of the coffin of an old woman he never knew, he gives up. He goes to the isolated little wooden house on the outskirts of Wuppertal, which he shares with his older brother Walter (Joachim Król). His brother assures him that it's not the end of the world, and anyway he has a plan: With Benno's help, he wants to rob the bank where he works as a security guard.

Simone, better known as Sissi (Franka Potente) is in her mid-twenties and works as a nurse in the Birkenhof closed psychiatric unit. It quickly becomes obvious that she is an object of attraction for many of the male patients, especially the blind man, Otto (Melchior Beslon) to whom she shows ice cubes and teaches about goose bumps, and Jörg Steinkohl, Steini (Lars Rudolph) for short, who calls her "my girl", and has a habit of asking her to 'satisfy' him in the evenings.

Bodo and Sissi move through their individual orbits like two stars. Two stars which have to collide with each another in order to be catapulted onto a new, and possibly mutual path.

Bodo runs through the streets of Wuppertal, trying to shake off two employees of a petrol station from which he has stolen some food. In his attempt to escape them, he jumps onto a tanker truck, the driver of which angrily tries to get rid of him. At the same time, Sissi is walking through the streets of Wuppertal with Otto on her way to collect the contents of a bank safe-deposit box for her friend who lives in the south of France. When the distracted truck driver fails to notice the red light in time, Sissi just has time to push Otto onto the pavement before she is hit by the tanker.

Sissi is suddenly lying under a huge red truck. While her body is still, her thoughts start to fly. Bodo, who although he doesn't know it, was partly responsible for the accident, goes to hide under the truck. When he sees Sissi gasping for breath, he reaches for his knife, and saves her life by cutting her windpipe. She carries him with her on the journey to hospital before he disappears into her tunnel of unconsciousness.

"They let me out after 53 days. The doctor said it was a miracle. But the man was gone. No-one saw him. I'm the only one who knows he was there." (Sissi)

There's a celebratory afternoon tea to mark Sissi's return to Birkenhof. "I'm afraid that nothing will be as it was before", Sissi says. But Otto knows better: "You're afraid that everything will stay as it was before."

Together, they set out to try and find the mysterious man who saved Sissi's life. In a weapons shop, they meet Schmatt (Jürgen Tarrach), who tells them the name of the man they are looking for. But when Sissi eventually comes face to face with him, Bodo wants nothing to do with her and rejects her gruffly.

She goes back at night, in the driving rain to tell him his behaviour is not on. Whilst she is there, Walter explains the reasons for Bodo's strange behaviour: His wife was killed in a gas station explosion when he was in the toilet. "He's always out there at the petrol station, sitting on the loo, waiting for it not to be true, to get off the toilet and for everything to be good again. Like it was before. That's why he has to get away from here, right away from here. Out of the toilet." When Bodo comes home, he even gets physical with Sissi in a bid to keep her from his body, heart and soul.

The next time they meet is in the bank. Sissi is having her friend's safety deposit-box opened, whilst down in the cellar, Bodo and Walter's robbery is going wrong. Instead of walking out of the bank with the other customers, she's magically drawn to Bodo. In an argument with the security guards, Walter is shot. Sissi helps the brothers to escape, takes Walter to hospital and Bodo to Birkenhof in order to hide him. Once there, he quickly becomes the object of mistrustful and jealous looks from the patients. The events escalate. When Bodo hears about his brother's death in the news, he loses control and is put in a cell to calm down. Steini calls the police and tries to murder his competitor.

In the end, Sissi and Bodo take a daring leap towards a new life, but before they can flee to the south of France, they have to leave the ghosts of their past behind…