Das Lied vom Leben

The Song of Life
Erika’s family has fallen on hard times and she has agreed to marry a rich baron. But during the extravagant betrothal celebration, she realises that the class she’s marrying into is morally corrupt and doomed. In despair, she flees to the harbour, intending to kill herself. But the engineer Igor prevents her from jumping into the Elbe river. His belief in life gives Erika new heart; she is soon pregnant with his child. There are complications during the delivery, but thanks to a caesarean, all goes well ... The experimental sound film was inspired by the French surrealists and enriched with critical songs by Walter Mehring and Hanns Eisler. Originally only approved for viewing by “doctors and medical professionals”, it sparked a battle with the censors, with Carl von Ossietzky becoming the film’s greatest advocate. He called it “a lyrical rhapsody on the rise and fade of life, [...] a hymn to the world, which is so much better than the society that foolish humans have erected as their own prison” (Weltbühne, March 24, 1931). At least measured against the contemporary German sound films of the time, he saw Das Lied vom Leben as “indisputably the most progressive avant-garde”.
by Alexis Granowsky
with Aribert Mog, Margot Ferra, Elsa Wagner, Ernst Busch, Harald Paulsen, Leo Monosson, Greta Keller, Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Liepmann
Germany 1931 German 55’ Black/White


  • Aribert Mog
  • Margot Ferra
  • Elsa Wagner
  • Ernst Busch
  • Harald Paulsen
  • Leo Monosson
  • Greta Keller
  • Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Liepmann


Director Alexis Granowsky
Screenplay Victor Trivas, H. Lechner
Dialogue Walter Mehring
Cinematography Viktor Trinkler, Heinrich Balasch
Editing Hans Oser
Music Franz Wachsmann, H. Adams [= Hanns Eisler], Friedrich Hollaender
Sound Hans Bittmann, Ernst Schulz

Produced by


Tonbild-Syndikat AG (Tobis)

Additional information

Film Print: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin