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Liebeskonzil (1982)
  • Director:
    Werner Schroeter
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Dietrich Kuhlbrodt,Horst Alexander
  • Cast:
    Antonio Salines,Magdalena Montezuma,Kurt Raab
  • Time:
    1h 32min
  • Year:
The playwright Oskar Panizzi was imprisoned by a Bavarian court in 1895 and committed to an insane asylum in 1904, for the rest of his life. The film covers his trial and a performance of his play.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Antonio Salines Antonio Salines - Teufel / Dr. Panizza
Magdalena Montezuma Magdalena Montezuma - Doppelzeugin
Kurt Raab Kurt Raab - Gerichtspräsident
Agnès Nobecourt Agnès Nobecourt - Maria
Renzo Rinaldi Renzo Rinaldi - Gottvater
Margit Carstensen Margit Carstensen - Staatsanwältin
Roberto Tesconi Roberto Tesconi - Jesus von Nazareth
Kristina van Eyck Kristina van Eyck - Agrippina
Heinrich Giskes Heinrich Giskes - Verteidiger
Gabriela Gomez-Ortega Gabriela Gomez-Ortega - Dona Sifilide
Laura Versari Laura Versari - Cherubin
Patrizia La Fonte Patrizia La Fonte - Selbstmörderengel
Nicoletta Rigoni Nicoletta Rigoni - Engel
Paola Mazzaro Paola Mazzaro - Engel
Guido Polito Guido Polito - Engel

Liebeskonzil (1982)
Scenes are the heaven, the hell and the court of pope Alexander VI alias Rodrigo Borgia in the year 1495. Godfather, a senile old fool, his debile and sick son Jesus Christ, and slutty Marie, who has a relationship with the devil, get message about the scandalous events on earth, especially the orgies celebrated at the court of the pope. They make up a plan to punish humankind directly after having had sexual contact, but so that they stay capable for salvation. The devil gets the job to find out a successful poison. He creates syphilis and fathers together with Salome, the most intriguing girl in hell, "the woman" who will infect with her disease first the pope, then the cardinals and finally the rest of the church hierarchy.

"Das Liebeskonzil" ("The Council of Love") was written by the German psychiatrist Dr. Oskar Panizza (1853-1921) who was sentenced for publishing his play to serve one year of hard prison because of blasphemy. Panizza was found guilty in 93 points, and this did not happen in the Middles Ages, but in Germany of the end of the 19th century. After having been released from prison, Panizza was a broken man who should end later in a psychiatric clinic. Panizza already portraited a human-like "Saint Family" in his story "Das Wirtshaus zur Dreifaltigkeit" ("The 'Trinity' Inn"), and what he attacked was not the belief itself, but the catholic custom of religious anthropomorphism and multiplication of the Christian trinity into three persons. In his speech of defense before the court, Panizza also mentioned that he followed in his play exactly the historical truth concerning the rise of syphilis and the events at the court of Alexander VI, but in vain.

When Jes Petersen newly edited the Council of Love in 1962, he was arrested by the police, his house was searched and he was accused of having published pornographic writings. The premiere of the Council of Love was therefore only in 1967 - 74 years after the play appeared - under the direction of Jorge Lavelli in Paris. When Antonio Salines (who plays the main role in Schroeter's film) put the play again on stage, in 1981 in Rome, a scandal broke out in Italy. In 1985, the highest Tyrolian courthouse forbade Panizza's play because it allegedly insults Christian religion. Shortly after, Werner Schroeters movie - in which the pornographic scenes are let away - was banned in Austria, and in 1994, the European Courthouse in The Hague confirmed this decision. As one sees, Oskar Panizza, whose literary and philosophical work is almost forgotten - despite a renaissance in the 80ies -, keeps to be provocative - and as John Le Carré wrote: It is only provocation that makes the human think.
This is the kind of pretentious, self-indulgent, avantgarde art house cinema that killed attendance in German movie theatres at the time it came out.

It comes under the header of stage adaptation, but it retains a sense of staginess that inflicts upon you a feeling that you should be watching this in a theatre, not a movie theatre - except that I prefer root canal treatment over watching this any day in any form. A storyline may have existed at some point, but it is completely buried under a heap of surreal settings and over-the-top performances. The surrealism has no real function here, as it does not merely transcend reality, it disconnects from it. As a consequence, there are no identifiable characters either - the thing is just mystifying without sporting a mystery that keeps you interested.

Recremental bourgeois dross of this kind makes me envy China its cultural revolution.