Der Kongress Amusiert Sich (1966)

aka The Congress of Love
Article 4976 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-2-2015
Directed by Geza von Radvanyi
Featuring Lilli Palmer, Curd Jurgens, Paul Meurisse
Country: West Germany / Austria / France
What it is: Historical comedy

After the Napoleonic Wars, a congress is convened by the various nations to restore the balance of power. The various members of the congress engage in political manipulation and interact with their lovers.

The fantastic content in this movie manifests itself early in the movie; the action opens in a modern-day wax museum where the figure of Prince Metternich comes to life and then walks into the past where most of the action of the movie takes place. The end of the movie also takes place in the present, and there is a fleeting moment in the middle which also bridges the past and the present; this one almost got by me until it hit me that automobiles weren’t period. Whether this time transition is a cinematic trick or is inherent to the story thematically is a question I can’t answer; the only copy of the movie I’ve been able to find is in German without English subtitles. Given the subject matter, I’m not sure whether the subtitles would have helped or not; I suspect that it would be necessary to have a solid grounding in the historical place, time and characters of the action to appreciate it. It seems to be well produced; the sets and costumes are quite impressive, and there’s a lot of music to the story (including one of the more obvious comic touches involving a badly played string bass). But I found it impossible to follow the story, and its 5.0 rating on IMDB doesn’t exactly make it sound that it’s really worth the effort to sort it out. It was a remake of a movie called THE CONGRESS DANCES, of which there were two versions. However, it does not appear that these earlier movie had any fantastic content to speak of.

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