Up 583 this week

Signs of Life (1968)
"Lebenszeichen" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  December 1981 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,132 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 28 critic

On Crete, a wounded German paratrooper named Stroszek is sent to the quiet city of Kos with his wife Nora, a Greek nurse, and two other soldiers recovering from minor wounds. Billeted in a ... See full summary »



, (story)
0Check in

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 29 titles
created 01 Jan 2012
a list of 26 titles
created 10 months ago
list image
a list of 40 titles
created 10 months ago
a list of 31 titles
created 7 months ago
a list of 21 titles
created 4 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Signs of Life" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Signs of Life (1968)

Signs of Life (1968) on IMDb 7.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Signs of Life.

User Polls

2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

1984 documentary film directed by Werner Herzog about children soldiers in Nicaragua. The film focuses on a group of Miskito Indians who used children soldiers in their resistance against the Sandinistas.

Directors: Werner Herzog, Denis Reichle
Stars: Werner Herzog, Denis Reichle
Documentary | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Vietcong, recreating many events for the camera.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Dieter Dengler, Werner Herzog, Eugene Deatrick
Herdsmen of the Sun (TV Movie 1989)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Herzog's documentary of the Wodaabe people of the Sahara/Sahel region. Particular attention is given to the tribe's spectacular courtship rituals and 'beauty pageants', where eligible young... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog
My Best Fiend (1999)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Klaus Kinski, Ruy Guerra, Helena Rojo
Fitzcarraldo (1982)
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an extremely determined man who intends to build an opera house in the middle of a jungle.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, José Lewgoy
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Works, legend and murders of Carlo Gesualdo, a notorious Italian composer and murderer from 16th century.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Pasquale D'Onofrio, Salvatore Catorano, Angelo Carrabs
Documentary | Sci-Fi | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

This film shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames. In contrast to the common documentary film there are no comments and few interviews. What must have been the hell itself ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog
Handicapped Future (TV Movie 1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Rolf Illig, Adolf Ratzka, Werner Herzog
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Director: Werner Herzog
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Documentary examining Bokassa's rule in the Central African Republic using the testimony of witnesses and visits to key sites.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Michael Goldsmith, Werner Herzog, Augustine Assemat
Last Words (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The story of a solitary man who refuses to leave a Greek island (at one time a leper colony) is told by a strange variety of characters who don't have much to say except to repeat their ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Lefteris Daskalakis, Antonis Papadakis


Credited cast:
Peter Brogle ...
Wolfgang Reichmann ...
Athina Zacharopoulou ...
Wolfgang von Ungern-Sternberg ...
Wolfgang Stumpf ...
Henry van Lyck ...
Julio Pinheiro ...
Florian Fricke ...
Heinz Usener ...
Achmed Hafiz ...
Greek resident
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jannakis Frasakis
Eleni Katerinaki


On Crete, a wounded German paratrooper named Stroszek is sent to the quiet city of Kos with his wife Nora, a Greek nurse, and two other soldiers recovering from minor wounds. Billeted in a decaying fortress, they guard a munitions depot. There's little to do: Becker, a classicist, translates inscriptions on ancient tablets found in the fortress, Meinhart devises traps for cockroaches, Nora helps Stroszek make fireworks using gunpowder from grenades in the depot. Slowly, in the heat and torpor, Stroszek goes mad, drives the others from the fortress, and threatens the city with blowing up the depot. With care, the German command must figure out how to get him down. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




See all certifications »





Release Date:

December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Signs of Life  »

Box Office


DEM 25,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Werner Herzog:  one the soldiers at the beginning of the film that transports Stoszek to the hospital. See more »


Young Child: Now that I can talk, what shall I say?
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Herzog's Dialogue with Humanity Began Here
26 March 2009 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

Acknowledged as the film that inspired Stephen King's novel, The Shining, Signs of Life is a film which touches upon the rationality of insanity in a world gone mad. Set during the German occupation of Crete during World War II, the story centers around a German paratrooper (Stroszek played by Peter Brogle) who was injured during his first mission and sent to oversee an old fort in the uneventful city of Kos. Accompanied by his young Greek wife Nora (Athina Zacharopoulou), and two other German soldiers who do not fit well within the German military model (Wolfgang Reichmann as Meinhard and Wolfgang von Ungern-Sternberg as Becker), Stroszek is plagued by boredom and his own apparent uselessness. However, his young wife dutifully occupies her time learning German and taking care of domestic duties for the three men, Meinhard uses his engineering and creative skills to devise, among other things, a cockroach trap, and Becker studies Greek classical inscriptions and architecture, with which the fort is replete. Stroszek's only escape for the boredom of life at the fort is making Roman candles with Nora.

Typical for Herzog, Signs of Life portrays this boredom very effectively through content, pace and script, but without consigning its audience to the same fate. As with the equally excellent Heart of Glass, the passage of time seems at once extenuated and ambiguous in Signs of Life.

Stroszek becomes edgy, obsessive and unpredictable. Eventually he complains to his superiors that he has nothing to do and he is placed on a countryside patrol which is just as useless as sitting around at the fort. Surveying a beautiful countryside densely populated with a sea of windmills from a high vantage point, Stroszek finally snaps. He chases his wife and fellow soldiers out of the fort with a shotgun (though he clearly does not want to kill any of them) and begins an ominous stand-off with the occupation forces.

Herzog's frequent themes are mostly present in Signs of Life and are remarkably mature in this first major work of the master director. Stroszek is a familiar Herzog character - a man at war with society, reality and, ultimately, himself. Although it is fairly easy to write him off as a lunatic, Stroszek's part is written and acted well enough to permit a great deal of empathy. In later films dealing with similar characters and plots (i.e. Aguire: Wrath of God and Grizzly Man, etc) Herzog would take on less sympathetic crazies and examine them just as sensitively and even more powerfully. As in many of the great director's films, Herzog's anti-hero protagonist is as much a malignant product of social circumstance as a mirror of the insane implications of their own social context taken to extremes.

In Signs of Life, this is accomplished by an amazingly subtle treatment of the insanity of the German role in World War II and Stroszek's context as both a soldier and collateral casualty of that context. Subtle - because neither of these issues are examined at any point in the film, but rather - they permeate the entire film and provide the canvass for the story Herzog paints.

Herzog wrote and directed the film at the age of 25, with a paltry budget and a hand-held 35mm camera, setting sail on what has, so far, been one of the most interesting and productive career voyages in film. As usual, the sets are perfectly chosen and along with the cinematography, make the film a visual masterpiece. The script and acting are also exceptional, and though Signs of Life requires a good attention span, it does not fail to engage and entertain at many levels simultaneously.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Stroszek thecucumberninja
Discuss Signs of Life (1968) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: