The Great Sacrifice (1944) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • Albrecht is a son in a family of wealthy intellectuals that has a seaside estate near Hamburg. In early adulthood, when he returns from his around the world trip, he is expected to settle down and marry the beautiful Octavia. One day while rowing alone, Albrecht meets the similarly ravishing Äls, a Finnish woman who migrates to Germany annually for her medical treatment, as she is probably terminally ill. It turns out they live near each other, and subsequently both go horse riding together often. Albrecht becomes very friendly with Äls, and Äls begins to love Albrecht. Albrecht marries Octavia and the married couple move from Hamburg to Düsseldorf. The Düsseldorf lifestyle or society does not agree with Octavia and so they move back to another estate near Hamburg, and very near Octavia. Over time Äls' health slowly deteriorates and Albrecht visits her estate's front gate each day on horseback, where Äls can see Albrecht through the window from her sickbed. An outbreak of Typhoid occurs in a poor quarter of Hamburg (Dovenfleet) and Äls is too sick to collect her 5 year old foster daughter who is living in Dovenfleet and in danger of the contagion. Albrecht ventures into the infected area to bring out the daughter, and in the process catches typhoid himself, but the daughter is safe. Albrecht is confined to a quarantine ward in a hospital, where he is treated by the same medical specialist handling Äls. Both Albrecht and Äls are now in danger of dying from their respective illnesses. Octavia realises how Äls feels about her husband Albrecht (i.e. Äls is the other woman). She starts dressing as her sick bed-ridden husband and riding her husband's horse to Äls' front gate each day, rain or shine, so that Äls may think she is seeing Albrecht, and lift Äls' spirits in the hope that Äls pulls through.

    - Written by Donald Bruce Telfer
  • Albrecht & Octavia & Äls, form a triangle from families of idle intellectuals, prone to Neitsche. Nature loving Äls is gravely ill. Further tragedy looms as Albrecht contracts typhoid bringing Äls' foster child out of an infected area.

    - Written by Donald Bruce Telfer


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