The Living Corpse (1929 film)

The Living Corpse (German: Der lebende Leichnam, Russian: Живой труп, romanized: Zhivoy trup) is a 1929 German-Soviet silent drama film directed by Fyodor Otsep and starring Vsevolod Pudovkin, Maria Jacobini and Viola Garden.[1] It is based on the play The Living Corpse by Leo Tolstoy. It was made as a co-production between the Russian-based Mezhrabpomfilm and the Communist-backed German company Prometheus Film.[2]

The Living Corpse
Directed byFyodor Otsep
Written byLeo Tolstoy (play)
Boris Gusman
Anatoli Marienhof
Fyodor Otsep
StarringVsevolod Pudovkin
Maria Jacobini
Viola Garden
Music byWerner Schmidt-Boelcke
CinematographyAnatoli Golovnya
Phil Jutzi
Distributed byPrometheus-Film
Release date
  • March 26, 1929 (1929-03-26)
Running time
82 minutes
Soviet Union
German intertitles


At the center of the action is Fyodor Protassov whose marriage with his wife Liza is largely finished. As the Russian Orthodox Church does not tolerate divorce, he one day fakes his suicide so that his wife can be with her lover Viktor Karenin. While he begins to lead a life of illegality and subterfuge which despite his new companion does not make him content, this decisive step to the fake death which has made him a "living corpse" is no real happiness.

One day it is found out that Fyodor is still alive and that Liza is guilty of bigamy. She is accused and a sentence for her "offense" waits for her, which is in actuality Fyodor's. Protassov, who never wanted to take this so far, decides therefore to one last sacrifice: he now completes the deceived act and actually commits suicide by shooting himself.




  • Taylor, Richard. Film Propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. I.B.Tauris, 1998.

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