It is carnival time in Munich and participants are overindulging in alcohol and sensual pleasures. "Follow us into madness" beckons Lys who is drunk on life, but the sensitive Henry does not follow him. Lys has betrayed his fiance, as Henry once betrayed his lost love Anna. In memory of Anna and his cruel Dickensian childhood, Henry challenges Lys to a duel to try to appease his guilt.
Kissing seems to be a popular activity in this Swiss epic costume drama based on an 1880 novel. The story begins in Munich with lots of people vigorously kissing in the midst of a bacchanalia carnival. Two men, Lys and Henry are even going at it. Henry, a sensitive artist, is wearing a green suit which symbolizes his jealousy and immaturity. He, angry at Lys for cheating on his fiancee, challenges Lys to a duel upon the morrow. What Henry is really angry at is his own failure to marry his true love. The movie jumps back to Switzerland during Henry''s childhood soon after he lost his father. He wants his mother''s love, but she remains strict and aloof. At school Henry is picked on and it is only when he finds the theater that he meets the beautiful actress Judith. He becomes enamored and forgets all about his love affair with cousin Anna. Time passes quickly and an older Henry returns home to find dear Anna. His attentions are again diverted when the ageless Judith again appears. He does not realize that beloved but unappreciated Anna is soon to die of tuberculosis. Tragedy ensues.