Magic Hunter (Freischutz)

Institute History

  • 1993 June Screenwriters Lab


FREISCHUTZ is inspired by the Opera Der Freischutz by Weber and is set in present-day Budapest. Max is a young, strong, dynamic policeman. He is married to Eva with whom he is deeply in love; they have a daughter, aged three. Max is an expert marksman whose approach to life is fearless; he takes risks and wins. Like many of the bold, he has luck on his side.

Then one day without warning his luck deserts him, perhaps for good. A series of mishaps befall him. He makes mistakes, and his aim is no longer true, his reflexes are slow. His superior at work gives him one last chance to improve and assigns him to a delicate case. A grand chess master is arriving in town to participate in a tournament; he is the target of an assassination attempt. Max is sent to protect him. Who, where, and when the event is to take place is a mystery. Oddly, Maxim, the chess master, refuses to cooperate with the police; therefore Max is sent covertly, as a spy.

For the first time in his life, Max feels fear and apprehension. An envious fellow officer named Kaspar is aware of Max's apprehension and takes advantage of his weakening fellow officer and he offers to help Max with his new assignment. Kaspar leads Max into another time and place, an eerie cave in the 17th century. Here Kaspar convinces Max to make a pact with the devil. In return, Max receives seven magic bullets which never miss their mark, but what Max doesn't know is that the seventh bullet belongs to the Devil. The firing of this bullet will unleash disaster.

Max remains unaware of his pending doom; he retains his self-confidence. He goes to await the arrival of Maxim, the charismatic chess player. As per his instructions, Max shadows Maxim, following him throughout the city. During lunch on the second day of the tournament while Max is watching Maxim, he notices his wife, Eva, and his daughter playing with a ball in the park. In one quick moment the ball gets away from them in the direction of Maxim's head; to protect Maxim from the blow, Max fires his gun at the ball, using one of his seven bullets. Eva and Max's daughter run to apologize for the mishap and wind up sitting and talking with Maxim. At the end of the day, embarrassed by the turn of events, Max fictionalizes the events that took place that day in his police report.

Something has changed between he and Eva. Max feels ill at ease with her. He cannot speak of his work, and, in any case, what happened at the park was completely innocent, there is no point in even mentioning it. He feels hurt, but cannot say why. From this moment on, there is tension between them, which Eva senses but does not understand, and which Max tries vainly to dispel.

Soon after the incident at the park other accidents occur; these ones, however, are intentional. Maxim takes an interest in Eva and visits the park whenever he gets the chance. He begins to court her in a cautious, gentlemanly fashion. Max watches them; shame and resentment begin to grow within him every day. At night, Max continues to fictionalize the address where Maxim is going everyday; Max's superior officer becomes suspicious. As Max continues to brood and lie, his magic bullets begin to disappear one by one. He is soon left with only one.

One day Max accidentally runs into Maxim and Eva together. Perversely, he asks Maxim up to their apartment for coffee, and, after an argument with Eva, ends up telling both of them what has been going on. Maxim agrees to cooperate with Max and the two men leave. Eva remains behind, distraught. Max, having been ordered to check out the fictional address, finds that it actually exists. He and Maxim go for lunch at the restaurant terrace there. Max notices a gun barrel appear in the window of the opposite house. Max reacts with the faultless reflexes of the old. He aims and fires.

With an infinite slowness, the bullet leaves the gun, heading for the forehead of the assassin. Suddenly, Eva arrives to ask for forgiveness from Max. She comes between the bullet and its target. Nothing can stop it.

In this infinitely drawn out moment, all of our story set in the past comes to fruition, and, in the most astonishing manner, is brought to bear on the present. The Virgin Mary in her appointed spot sees the bullet pass in front of her. Leaping out of the painting and taking off after it, Mary crosses time and space, growing younger and younger as she tears after the speeding bullet. Then, as a tiny girl of three, out of breath, covered in mud and dust, she races onto the terrace and, before the bullet reaches Eva's heart, miraculously Mary plucks the bullet from mid-air.


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