Berlinale: Programme

Film File


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”.

Alexis Granowsky

Germany 1931


55’ · Black/White · 35 mm


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


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

Produced by


Tonbild-Syndikat AG (Tobis)

Film Print: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin