Signum Laudis

drama

Typology

feature

Czech title

Signum laudis

Runtime

85

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1980

Production year

1980

Premiere

31.10.1980

Language version

Czech

Director

Martin Hollý

Screenplay

Vladimír Kalina, Jiří Křižan

Screenstory

Vladimír Kalina

Summary

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.

Synopsis

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

Cast

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

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

burš Franz Hoppe

Jan Kotva

voják-kočí

Viktor Maurer

malý mužík

Eva Asterová

Kateřina

Karel Bělohradský

Sepp Niemayer, burš generála Berge

Jan Cmíral ml.

hrobař

Jan Laibl

lékař

Zdeněk Novotný

feldkurát

Ivan Pokorný

infanterista Horák

Ladislav Dušek

infanterista Fügner

Miloslav Šindler

telefonista

Milan Tichý

holohlavý

Luděk Kopřiva

Žid, otec Hedwigy

Jan Kačmáček

šikovatel Stoklasa

Pavel Lehotský

voják

Vít Pešina

voják

Rudolf Serina

voják

Arnošt Böhm

voják/kaskadér

Petr Drozda

voják/kaskadér

Antonín Hausknecht

voják/kaskadér

Josef Hrubý

voják/kaskadér

František Jákl

voják/kaskadér

Vladimír Ježek (3)

voják/kaskadér

Miroslav Jíra

voják/kaskadér

Vladimír Kaisr

voják/kaskadér

Jiří Kalenský

voják/kaskadér

Jaroslav Klenot

voják/kaskadér

Jiří Klenot

voják/kaskadér

Zdeněk Krumpl

voják/kaskadér

Ladislav Lahoda

voják/kaskadér

Pavel Myslík

voják/kaskadér

Otakar Němec

voják/kaskadér

Jindřich Sejk

voják/kaskadér

František Stupka

voják/kaskadér

Jaroslav Šanda

voják/kaskadér

Jaroslav Tomsa

voják/kaskadér

Stanislav Tůma

voják/kaskadér

Jiří Vach

voják/kaskadér

Jaroslav Vlk

voják/kaskadér

Pavel Želízko

voják/kaskadér

Jan Baloga

voják na koni/kaskadér

Jan Hrad

voják na koni/kaskadér

Tomáš Kydlíček

voják na koni/kaskadér

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Miloš Kohout, Milan Klacek

Assistant Director

Zdeněk Troška, Marie Beránková

Screenstory

Vladimír Kalina

Shooting Script

Martin Hollý

Second Unit Photography

Vladimír Smutný, Michal Krob

Production Designer

Jiří Hlupý

Set Designer

Miloslav Dvořák, Jiří Forst, Milan Šilha, Miroslav Fára

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Sound Designer

Alexandr Vrbata

Special Effects

Trikový ateliér FSB

Production Manager

Jaroslav Solnička

Unit Production Manager

Ludmila Venclíková, Milan Štěch

Unit Production Manager

Ivan Helcl, Irena Sedláčková

Consultant

Zbyšek Svoboda, František Michálek

Cooperation

Lenka Mojžíšová, Václav Beneš, Eliška Willigová, Pavel Pitner

Music

Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

František Belfín (FISYO)

Production info

Original Title

Signum laudis

English Title

Signum Laudis

Copyright

1980

Production Year

1980

Premiere

31.10.1980

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 4. festival českých a slovenských filmů FINÁLE Plzeň

1990
Plzeň / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

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

1982
Bratislava / Czechoslovakia
Vlado Müller

Vítěz

Event: Státní ceny Klementa Gottwalda

1981
Praha / Czechoslovakia

Vítěz

Festival: 19. festival českých a slovenských filmů Kladno

1981
Kladno / Czechoslovakia
Zdeněk Liška

Vítěz

Festival: 22. mezinárodní filmový festival Karlovy Vary

1980
Karlovy Vary / Czechoslovakia