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Congress Dances (Kongress tanzt, Der)

Congress Dances
Scene from "Congress Dances" (photo courtesy of Filmmuseum Berlin/Deutsche Kinemathek)

After Napoleon’s exile to the island of Elba, the princes and kings of Europe gather for the Congress of Vienna to divide up the land and determine new borders. Vienna is the center of a great sensation, all of the crowned leaders are welcomed with military pomp. The glove-maker Christel Weinzinger uses the occasion to advertise for her shop and throws flower bouquets with information about her gloves. However, the Austrian State Chancellor Prince Metternich doesn’t take well to Christel’s tactics and orders his private secretary Pepi, who happens to be in love with Christel, to prevent her from doing such things again. But Christel doesn’t pay much attention to Pepi or the Prince’s ban. When the Russian Tsar Alexander passes by, she throws another bouquet, but it misses the carriage and hits his helmet. Under the suspicion that she meant it as an assassination attempt, Christel is arrested and sentenced to 25 blows with a wooden paddle. Pepi tries to prevent the punishment by reporting to the Tsar what exactly happened. When the Tsar steps in and sees Christel in her cell, he immediately falls in love with her, which suits Metternich just fine, as he doesn’t really want to have the Tsar participate at the convention. Bibikoff, the Tsar’s adjutant, has brought one of Alexander’s doppelgangers to Vienna and sends him to the congress to represent the Tsar. Heartbroken, Pepi watches on as Christel falls in the love with the Tsar, goes out with him to local wine bars, and is picked up by a luxurious coach which takes her to a charming little castle in the Vienna Forest. The more unhappy Pepi becomes, the happier Metternich is as he sees his plan taking shape. While the congress ball reaches its climax, a messenger brings the news that Napoleon has occupied France, bringing the congress to an abrupt end. The Tsar departs and leaves Christel behind, whose dreams are shattered when she realizes that she will never become Empress of Russia. Crying, she listens to the singer at the wine bar: "there’s only one chance, it will never come again..."
Genre History, Music, Love Story
Category Feature
Year of Production 1931
Director Eric Charell
Screenplay Norbert Falk, Robert Liebmann
Cinematography Carl Hoffmann
Viktor Gertler
Werner Richard Heymann
Robert Herlth, Walter Roehrig
Cast Lilian Harvey, Willy Fritsch, Otto Wallburg, Conrad Veidt, Carl-Heinz Schroth, Lil Dagover, Alfred Abel, Eugen Rex, Alfred Gerasch, Adele Sandrock, Margarete Kupfer, Julius Falkenstein, Max Guelstorff, Paul Hoerbiger
Producer Erich Pommer
Production Company Universum-Film (Ufa)/Berlin
Length 97 min
Format 35 mm, b&w
Original Version
 German
Sound Technology Mono
German Distributor Transit Film/Munich

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