Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was the author of Werther, the romantic novel that was transformed into a play during Goethe's lifetime and which initiated the whole German romantic movement. The book's story tells of young love and suicide. In this East German film, based on a book by Thomas Mann, Lotte (Lilli Palmer) was the woman who served as the model for the heroine in the novel Werther. She comes to Goethe's hometown for a visit, and her experiences there eerily re-create episodes from the book. Goethe comes across as a pompous old bore, and his friends as pandering sycophants, in this very proper communist party-sponsored, anti-heroic movie.