living corpse

© 2014 William Ahearn

The title makes it sound as if it’s another horror film; it’s closer to a bureaucratic nightmare written by Franz Kafka. Based on Leo Tolstoy’s play and adapted by Boris Gusman, Anatoli Marienhof, and director Fyodor Otsep, the story is of a decent man trying to do a decent thing and that is divorce his wife because she loves another. With cinematography by a Russian and a German, Anatoli Golovnya and Phil Jutzi, respectively, the story of repression by the state and the church is as riveting as the style of the film.

The film was edited by Soviet film legend Vsevolod Pudovkin (and Otsep) and the story is set in Moscow. There was some cross-pollination between Soviet and German filmmakers around this time although this is the only film that I could find that shows a direct collaboration.

Fyodor Otsep also ended up in Hollywood where he directed an odd whodunit titled “Whispering City” that was shot in Québec. (Otsep also did a Canadian film in Canada titled “Fortress” that I haven’t seen.) Interesting note about “Whispering City” is that the significant clue also shows up in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner.”

“The Living Corpse” has been made numerous times and is no relation to Cel Tenny’s “The Curse of the Living Corpse” made in 1964.