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Zed and Two Noughts, A (1985)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Two women are killed in a car crash with a swan. The accident occurs in front of a zoo, where the women's husbands, two zoologist brothers, work. The driver of the crashed car, Alba Bewick, is the only survivor. In an attempt to comprehend their grief, the brothers, Oliver and Oswald Deuce, watch natural history films about the development of life and begin unusual time-lapse photography experiments of decomposing animals. They also, individually, sleep with zoo prostitute and storyteller, Venus De Milo. She rescues Oliver when he attempts to take an overdose. Alba, the car crash survivor, has her leg amputated by surgeon, Van Meegeren. Van Meegeren is partially obsessed with the painter Vermeer, and he restages one of his paintings, with Alba as the subject.

Alba begins sexual relationships with both brothers, who it seems are twins. Continuing their time-lapse experiments, they begin freeing animals from their cages in the zoo. This brings them into conflict with the zoo director, Van Hoyten, whose obsession lies in the black and white animals in the zoo.

Alba announces she is pregnant and that either twin could be the father. The twins begin to dress increasingly similar. It transpires that Alba must have her other leg amputated. On her recovery from the operation, she meets with the twins, and they reveal to her scars demonstrating that they were once conjoined twins. Alba then meets her ex-lover, Arc-en-Ciel, and later gives birth to male twins.

Following their increasing recklessness with freeing animals, Oliver and Oswald are fired by Van Hoyten. Leaving the zoo, they retreat to the country estate of Alba Bewick. Tired of life, Alba passes away, leaving her newly born children to Arc-en-Ciel. Van Hoyten lets Venus de Milo into the zebra enclosure to meet her fate. The twin zoologists then set-up their final time-lapse experiment. Committing double suicide, the twins lie in front of the time-lapse camera, ready for it to record their decomposition. A short circuit in the camera set-up brings the experiment to a premature close.