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Signs of Life (1968) More at IMDbPro »Lebenszeichen (original title)


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Werner Herzog (writer)
Achim von Arnim (story)
View company contact information for Signs of Life on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
December 1981 (USA) See more »
On Crete, a wounded German paratrooper named Stroszek is sent to the quiet city of Kos with his wife Nora... See more » | Add synopsis »
2 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Herzog's impressive debut about isolation and madness See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order)
Peter Brogle ... Stroszek
Wolfgang Reichmann ... Meinhard
Athina Zacharopoulou ... Nora
Wolfgang von Ungern-Sternberg ... Becker
Wolfgang Stumpf ... Captain
Henry van Lyck ... Lieutenant
Julio Pinheiro ... Gypsy
Florian Fricke ... Pianist
Heinz Usener ... Doctor
Achmed Hafiz ... Greek resident
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jannakis Frasakis
Eleni Katerinaki

Werner Herzog ... Soldat (uncredited)
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Directed by
Werner Herzog 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Werner Herzog  writer
Achim von Arnim  story

Produced by
Werner Herzog .... producer
Original Music by
Stavros Xarhakos 
Cinematography by
Thomas Mauch 
Film Editing by
Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus 
Production Management
Nicholas Triandafyllidis .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Martje Grohmann .... assistant director
Sound Department
Herbert Prasch .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Dietrich Lohmann .... assistant camera
Bettina von Waldthausen .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Maximiliane Mainka .... assistant editor
Other crew
Ina Fritsche .... continuity

Production CompaniesDistributors
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Lebenszeichen" - West Germany (original title)
See more »
USA:91 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Director Cameo: [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 »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Portrait Werner Herzog (1986)See more »


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Herzog's impressive debut about isolation and madness, 26 February 2012
Author: tomgillespie2002 from United Kingdom

Werner Herzog's debut feature tells the story of a wounded German paratrooper Stroszek (Peter Brogle) who is transported to the Greek island of Kos to recover physically and mentally. Already there are fellow soldiers Meinhard (Wolfgang Reichmann) and Becker (Wolfgang Von Ungern-Sterngberg), who are taking life easy in the sun with little to nothing to do. Stroszek sets them to work, but soon, as the work begins to dry up, he becomes more and more unstable in the isolation and loneliness.

Nobody really knows what goes through Herzog's head, but it is clear he is a film-making genius and has one of the finest eyes for visuals in cinema. Signs of Life explores themes that Herzog would later become engrossed and almost obsessed with - isolation, obsession and madness. While he would later employ Klaus Kinski as the face of wide-eyed insanity, here the tone is quiet, contemplative and often very funny. The opening half of the film concentrates mainly on the three soldiers trying to find things to do. Meinhard becomes frustrated with the presence of cockroaches in their apartment and builds a trap to catch them. The feeling of being trapped appears throughout the film, usually using animals - the soldiers are given a strange toy that seems to move on its own, until they open it and find out that it's full of trapped flies; and we are shown how a hen is hypnotised.

But the comedy is soon put aside as Stroszek begins his descent into madness, holding himself up in the 14th century fortress where the soldiers are stationed with a horde of ammunition. It's in the second half that Herzog shows us the images he can conjure. It's breathtaking what he achieves with a stolen 35mm camera and a micro-budget. Amongst other things, we see a seemingly endless field of windmills, and fireworks set off into the night sky. The grainy black-and-white imagery gives the whole thing a fresh beauty. This is far from the greatest debut in cinema, but a very clear indication of a director's raw skill, and of course, Herzog would go on to make many fine films.

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