Signum Laudis





Production year



31 October 1980


85 min






featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Signum laudis

Czech title

Signum laudis

English title

Signum Laudis


Directed by Martin Hollý, Signum laudis (1980) is a drama set during the First World War, whose central protagonist is a fanatical commander who has no qualms about sending his soldiers off to die in the name of victory for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Corporal Hoferik is even decorated with the Signum laudis, the Austrian Military Medal of Merit. Decorated or not, the corporal’s subordinates despise Hoferik – and when push comes to shove, the corporal’s superiors begin to feel the same way, preferring to end the desperate situation of the troops on the Russian front via a timely surrender. But capitulation is intolerable for the corporal. And so the only path towards surrender and capture by the enemy is through the death of Hoferika, who is completely mystified about why he has been subjected to a court martial… Screenwriter Jiří Křižan (along with Vladimír Kalina, who devised the story) played a major part in ensuring the success of this psychological drama, replete with the theme of futile obsession about a perceived military “mission”. Asides from this work, Křižan’s 1970s filmography is also dominated by Stíny horkého léta (Shadows of a Hot Summer, 1977) directed by František Vláčil. Featuring a terrific leading performance from Slovak actor Vlado Müller, Signum laudis was awarded the Grand Prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Despite the film’s subtext being critical of the authoritarian regime of the time, screenwriter Křižan was nonetheless nominated for the Klement Gottwald State Award. But the writer ultimately declined this award, because it was named after a man who had signed his father’s death sentence. This gesture inevitably meant that the screenwriter was blocked from future work at Prague's Barrandov film studios, but he was able to have scripts filmed at Gottwaldov Film Studios (today Zlín) and in Slovakia. Křižan also collaborated with director Martin Hollý on Mrtví učia živých (The Dead Teach the Living, 1983) and Tichá bolest (Silent Pain, 1990). Despite the film being a cooperation between Barrandov and Slovakia’s Bratislava Film Studios, it is primarily Czech actors that appear in Signum laudis. Josef Bláha plays commander König, Ilja Prachař the would-be general Berger, and Radovan Lukavský general Gross.


On the battlefield of the Russian front during the World War I a heavy battle is going on. The command after the killed officers is taken over by Corporal Hoferik who pushes the offensive despite vast casualty. After the offensive is over the regiment is withdrawn to the rear just behind the front line. The fanatic Corporal, convinced that he is fulfilling the commands of his superiors, demands the soldiers perform all the time absurd activities. The soldiers hate him for his eagerness. The Regiment Commander Ziegler awaits with fear a visit of the staff headed with a new unable chief, General Berger with whom he does not have good relations. Berger comes with the old General Gross, Adjutant Kostolány, Colonel Reznitzek and the war reporter Wimmer. These men do not know much about the life at the front. Berger hands over to Hoferik a prestigious decoration Signum laudis. The Corporal is very happy, he gets drunk and he offers brandy to his soldiers. But they don't want to drink with him. The following day is the farm where the troop is sitting, surrounded by the enemy. Following Hoferik's advice Berger sends the regiment to the battle and nearly the entire regiment is decimated. The staff with couple of remaining soldiers try to escape without being noticed. On the march it is Hoferik who makes most decisions. General Gross is killed in a sudden skirmish. After a tiresome journey through a swamp where Corporal shouts even on his superiors, they find a shelter in a derelict arbour where they overnight. In the morning the officers decide to surrender. The only obstacle is the fanatic Hoferik. They prepare a martial court to get rid of Hoferik. They accuse the Corporal of the death of Gross and other soldiers and they sentence him to death penalty. Hoferik who does not understand anything is shot. In another unnecessary fight the remaining soldiers lose their lives. The Austrian-Hungarian officers are walking over a green meadow, one of them is carrying a white handkerchief on a club.

Film online


Vlado Müller

kaprál Adalbert Hoferik

Josef Bláha

hejtman Bruno König

Ilja Prachař

generál Friedrich Berger, velitel

Radovan Lukavský

generál Friedrich Gross

Jiří Kodet

lajtnant baron Kostolány, Bergerův adjutant

Oldřich Velen

obrst Reznitzek

Ladislav Frej

obrstlajtnant Rudolf Ziegler, velitel pluku

Pavel Zedníček

feldvébl J. A. Wimmer, dopisovatel Kronzeitungu

Miroslav Zounar

lajtnant Hans von Pallawski

Jan Skopeček

infanterista Reischl zvaný Fotr

Jiří Zahajský

gefrajtr Lorisch

Anna Wetlinská

hraběnka Laskowiská

Vítězslav Jandák

infanterista Müller

Jan Pohan

infanterista Steiner

Jiří Krampol

infanterista Konopásek

Ivan Palúch

infanterista Pirkenbaum

Jiří Kodeš

infanterista Richter

Zdeněk Dušek

infanterista Kostka

Milan Klacek

Voice by Miroslav Nohýnek
burš Franz Hoppe

Jan Kotva


Viktor Maurer

malý mužík

Eva Asterová


Karel Bělohradský

Sepp Niemayer, burš generála Berge

Jan Laibl


Ivan Pokorný

infanterista Horák

Ladislav Dušek

infanterista Fügner

Milan Tichý


Luděk Kopřiva

židovský obchodník, tchán Hedwigy

Jan Kačmáček

šikovatel Stoklasa

Pavel Lehotský


Rudolf Serina


Vladimír Ježek (3)


Vladimír Kaisr


Otakar Němec


Jiří Vach


Pavel Želízko


Jan Baloga

voják na koni

Jan Hrad

voják na koni

Tomáš Kydlíček

voják na koni

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Miloš Kohout, Milan Klacek

Assistant Director

Zdeněk Troška


Vladimír Kalina

Shooting Script

Martin Hollý

Director of Photography

František Uldrich

Second Unit Photography

Vladimír Smutný, Michal Krob

Production Designer

Jiří Hlupý

Assistent Production Designer

Pavel Pitner

Set Designer

Miloslav Dvořák, Miroslav Fára, Jiří Forst, Milan Šilha

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Assistant Film Editor

Eliška Willigová

Sound Designer

Alexandr Vrbata

Special Effects

Trikový ateliér FSB

Production Manager

Jaroslav Solnička

Unit Production Manager

Milan Štěch, Ludmila Venclíková

Unit Production Manager

Irena Sedláčková, Ivan Helcl


Zbyšek Svoboda, František Michálek (jezdectví)


Lenka Mojžíšová (klapka), Václav Beneš (fotograf)


Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by František Belfín)

Production info

Original Title

Signum laudis

Czech Title

Signum laudis

English Title

Signum Laudis




featuretheatrical distribution



Origin country




Production Year


Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 3 September 1979
technical Screenplay approved 4 October 1979
start of filming 24 October 1979
end of filming 7 January 1980
projection approval 21 April 1980
the first film copy approved 11 June 1980


premiere abroad 30 October 1980 (kino Slovan, Bratislava, Slovensko)
premiere 31 October 1980 /unsuitable for youths/



Creative Group

Dramaturgická skupina Vladimíra Kaliny, Vladimír Kalina (vedoucí dramaturgické skupiny), II. tvorivá skupina Moniky Gajdošovej (SFT Bratislava), Monika Gajdošová (vedoucí II. tvorivé skupiny SFT Bratislava)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

85 min

Original length in metres

2 424 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio






Sound system/format




Dialogue languages

Czech, German

Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages




Festival: 4. festival českých a slovenských filmů FINÁLE Plzeň

Plzeň / Czechoslovakia


Event: 9. ročník ankety Film a divadlo „Komu dáte svůj hlas?“

Bratislava / Czechoslovakia
Vlado Müller


Festival: 19. festival českých a slovenských filmů Kladno

Kladno / Czechoslovakia
Zdeněk Liška


Event: Státní ceny Klementa Gottwalda

Praha / Czechoslovakia
kolektiv tvůrců filmu


Festival: 22. mezinárodní filmový festival Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary / Czechoslovakia