KONGRE TANZT, DER (1931, Germany)
directed by: Erik Charell


IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022034

Submitted by Charles O'Brien on 2006-11-16

Charles O'Brien's comment:
A big Ufa operetta from 1931, starring dream couple Lilian Harvey and Willy Fritsch, and directed by Erik Charell, the most famous of Berlin's music revue producers. The film was made also in French and English versions. 0.00: European leaders gather in Vienna for the 1815 Kongress, as distant cannon fire is heard offscreen; 2.10: Metternich (Conrad Veidt) is served tea and toast in bed; his assistant Pepi arrives; using an ear-horn device, Metternich and Pepi eavesdrop on a room of heads-of-state and diplomats; 7.30: inside a local glove shop, sales clerk Chrystal (Lilian Harvey) flirts with a young officer, when Pepi arrives, chasing away the officer; Chrystal and Pepi go outside to witness preparations for the Czar's visit; 10.50: children march down the street; 12.10: Chrystal, at the mirror, gets dressed, and then goes outside, where (through a dissolve indicating time elapse) she is joined by a crowd, all waiting for the Czar; the Czar's parade arrives; Chrystal throws a bouquet, which strikes the Czar, riding in an open carriage; Chrystal is arrested; 17.50: at the palace, the Czar meets with Bibikoff, his flunky; Bibikoff order Uralsky, a perfect double of the Czar, to appear at the balcony in place of the Czar; 22.00: Chrystal is prosecuted for assaulting the Czar and is sentenced; in jail, Chrystal prepares for punishment, but is saved by the Czar, who personally intervenes; 24.45: Uralsky, disguised as the Czar, appears on the palace balcony, and waves to the crowd; ballroom; prison; the Czar and Chrystal sit at table in a beer garden, where a man sings "Wien oder Wein," wandering from table to table, with the camera following; picking up the tune, Chrystal and the Czar join in, along with dozens of others; 33.10: the song, via an audio dissolve, mutates into the music for the Russian Ballet, performed at the court; 36.50: cut back to the beer garden, where "Wien oder Wein" continues; Chrystal, at the beer-garden table, recognizes the Czar's face on a coin; the beer-garden band plays a fast march, motivating the people to dance in procession down the street; Pepi waits outside Chrystal's window as the procession approaches; 41.40: Metternich again takes tea in bed, and again eavesdrops on Kongress gossip; in the glove shop Chrystal's shopgirl friends laugh at her story about meeting the Czar; at the shop, to everyone's shock, a carriage arrives to take Chrystal to her new Villa; 45.10: Chrystal sings "Das gibt's nut einmal" (post-synch) during a lengthy carriage ride to the Villa (including a 2.5 minute take); 49.50: Chrystal enters the Villa, the music continuing, concluding finally at 52.15: Pepi learns from Metternich that the Czar is enamored of Chrystal; Pepi visits Chrystal in the Villa, when Bibikoff arrives with a gift of flowers from the Czar; Pepi and Chrystal argue to the rhythm of an offscreen parade; Metternich is visited by the beautiful Countess; 57.05: Czar talks with Bibikoff; Uralsky is called by Bibikoff, who orders him to make several appearances tomorrow in the Czar's place; Uralsky visits Chrystal, who is mystified by his strange manner; 65.05: at the Kongress, Uralsky, still in disguise, meets with the Countess; 68.10: Metternich intercepts and reads Chrystal's letter to the Czar, with Pepi present; Pepi visits Chrystal; 73.00: at a ballroom dance, Chrystal sees Uralsky dancing with the Countess, mistaking Uralsky for the Czar; Uralsky kisses a long line of women, who mistakenly take him for the Czar; the Czar watches from a box, like a theatre spectator, and then, to his surprise, spies Chrystal waiting in the line of women; 79.30: "Es gibt's nur einmal" returns as Chrystal and the Czar dance; as the crowd in the ballroom dances, a soldier arrives to deliver a message to Metternich; 84.50: an announcement: Napoleon has landed in France!; 87.00: at the beer garden, the man sings "Wien oder Wein," while Chrystal and the Czar, at their secluded table, sing along; Biberkoff arrives at the beer garden to report Napoleon's landing to the Czar; the Czar sadly departs, leaving Chrystal behind; 90.50: the singer begins "Es gibt's nur einmal"; Ende.

Number of shots:
MSL 7 28.2 13.8 16.1 10.5
StDev 9.3 21.6 17.6 16.3 24.9
Min 1 4.7 2.3 1.6 0.8
Max 45.9 83.8 88.3 73.3 153.4
CV 0.92 0.58 0.92 0.78 1.44

Step: Vertical resolution: Height:
Degree of the trendline: Moving average : Color code?

Users' comments:

Author: Charles O'Brien Date: 2006-11-17

Distinguishing between "dialog" and "story" shots was tricky in the case of Der Kongress tanzt, with many of the film's long takes beginning as one sort of shot and ending as the other. One of Charell's favorite techniques (or maybe credit goes to the cinematographer) is to conclude an elaborate, spectacular tracking movement with an intimate bit of conversation between two characters--as in the beer garden scenes, which encompass dozens of singing patrons before ending on a two shot of Lilian Harvey and Willy Fritsch. I would end up classifying such shots as "dialog," which, in implying a clear difference from non-dialogue story shots, is perhaps misleading.

Regarding the story/dialogue distinction I felt on much firmer ground with the dialogue-heavy Paramount films of 1929-1930, which do seem informed by such a distinction, as if the film crew had it in mind while working on the film, constructing scenes around dialogue shots and then reserving non-dialogue images for inserts and establishing shots.

Author: Yuri Tsivian Date: 2006-11-22

Note that the ASL and the standard deviation are of the same value here, 17.3 seconds each. I remember having noticed another case like this ? a film in which the cutting rate and the cutting swing also coincided. I suggest we give this phenomenon a name and start thinking of it as an indicator of something. Let?s call this THE GREEK CROSS. In this type of cross the horizontal and the vertical bars are of equal length. I am not sure I know how to interpret this yet, but I feel we need to think about this, this looks like an important point of balance to me.

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