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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:
Beautiful; Herzog's first feature film 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)

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

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?

The screenplay is based on a story by (Ludwig) Achim von Arnim, which he wrote in 1818 and is called "Der tolle Invalide auf dem Fort Ratonneau" (The Mad Invalid at Fort Rattoneau). Until 1997 it was the only story written by Arnim that was previously translated into English.See more »
Young Child:Now that I can talk, what shall I say?See more »


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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Beautiful; Herzog's first feature film, 3 July 2010
Author: Ricardo B. from Portugal

I guess it should come as no surprise that there are no more than 8 reviews on IMDb about this film. The comfortably habitual Hollywood formula, which in so many ways as found itself in far more than Hollywood pictures, makes it hard for people to appreciate works such as this. This movie premiers Herzog's love for pictures and his rare ability to search them in the most mundane environments-a picture of a statue's foot embedded in the wall, a car slowly crossing a dancing road over a hill disappearing and appearing, two grown man entertained by the mysterious motion of the ears of a small owl toy figure...the list goes on forever.

It tells the story of a soldier who, after being wounded, is sent to recover in a small and peaceful Greek island where he and 3 others are ordered to care for a fort. That reveals itself a boring job and as time passes, the mundane days start slowly removing the sanity from the soldier. The story of a soldier gone mad is hardly novelty, but in Lebenszeichen the soldier goes mad from boredom and the location seems to be the cause of that and that's why we are shown the quiet little island. And it seems Herzog wants us in quiet observance of this routine, just so that he can slap us awake by the impending insanity of the character. My favorite scene is when we observe a landscape of windmills, which is usually used to portray a sense of quietude and peace, and over the hill, on the background of the picture, in small size, we see the soldier losing his mind, waving around like a madmen as if he was being tortured. That duality seems to display the despair in a higher note.

This is not an easy movie to understand and interpret, because it hides more than it shows, it indicates more than it reveals, it searches as much as it offers. Its a beautiful movie and while its not as great as some of Herzog's best efforts, it is certainly worthwhile and memorable.

PS: another reviewer seems to offer the idea that the movie might have been influenced the Stephen King's "The Shinning", but the film predates that novel by 9 years.

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