The German Monday Film Show will end this semester’s season with an early Ufa-sound film – Eric Charell’s original, capricious and extravagant operetta-film-musical

 

DER KONGRESS TANZT – CONGRESS DANCES (1931)

(Dir. Eric Charell, 92 min. starring Lilian Harvey, Willy Fritsch, Conrad Veidt, German with English subtitles)

 

DATE: 12 November

TIME: 5.00 p.m.

VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing, 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251

As it is usual for the last film show we’ll have a Bring which will be Shared before and during the screening.

 

About the film:

Prince Metternich is presiding over the congress of Vienna, in 1814. All the heads of the European powers have arrived in Vienna except for the czar of Russia. As the czar finally appears in his coach, the glove-maker Christl Weinzinger tosses him a bouquet. But the guards think she is trying to attack him and she is arrested. As the czar comes to visit her in her cell, she escapes with him to her home, since she mistakes him for the real attacker. In order to maintain his incognito, the czar lets himself be captured in Christl’s dwelling. The Czar, however, has his own plan–he hires a man who is his exact double to impersonate him and confuse the Austrians by appearing to be everywhere at once. In addition, both the Czar and his double fall for the same woman. And so after a while, all the misunderstandings are cleared up and everyone is ready for the happy end.

On the one hand the story concerns the efforts of the high and mighty to outmaneuver each other in the deal making that went on as Europe was reorganized after the Napoleonic upset. On the other we follow the fairy tale journey of the glove shop sales clerk (Lilian Harvey in her scintillating, elfin prime) into and out of the arms of the visiting Tsar Alexander (Willy Fritsch, excellent in a dual role as the Tsar and his oafish double). Prince Metternich (played smoothly by Conrad Veidt in a very unflattering pouffy looking wig) is busily manipulating the delegates by listening in on their conversations through a network of tubes connecting his bedroom to every corner of the palace, and reading their outgoing and incoming correspondence by placing the sealed envelopes on a backlit glass plate (there were clever spying mechanisms even back then). Much of the footage involves sweeping and elaborate camera movements through dense crowds in streets, palaces, a ballroom and a beer garden.

 

This first and only German film of Erik Charell is not only a classic of early German sound film, showing all the capabilities of the UFA, but also a promising start of a film career that was not to be realized: Charell had to leave Nazi-Germany and was unable to continue his career as a film director abroad. It is curious that the film was banned by Goebbels only but in October 1937.

 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

 

For further details please contact:: 

 

Dr Marion Pape

Head, German Studies

University of KwaZulu-Natal

School of Arts

Durban, 4041

Email: papem@ukzn.ac.za

Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380

Fax: 0027-31-260 1242

 

Posted on