The winner of the Grand Jury Award at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, this haunting and, at times, disconcertingly whimsical film helped to propel the self-styled visionary New German filmmaker, Werner Herzog, to international prominence.
Herzog's slow and meditative films are fairly unique in contemporary narrative cinema. Landscapes and music are at least as important as the human characters in his work. His protagonists tend to be obsessive dreamers compelled to action by the power of their visions--with consequences that are
sometimes transcendental, sometimes disastrous. At their most excessive, Herzog's films can be regressive, reactionary, self-indulgent and naively romantic; at their best, they are dreamily hypnotic, mystical and awe-inspiring in their beauty. THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER happily falls in the
The film is based on the documented story of a young man, Kaspar Hauser (Bruno S.), who, after living in a cellar for years with only a pet rocking horse, is abandoned by his protector and provider, the mysterious Man in Black. Having been isolated from all humans except his godlike "father,"
Kaspar is suddenly thrust into civilization. Though at first he can barely walk and cannot speak, he is expected to readily adapt to 19th-century society. His past remains a mystery to the townspeople, as does his purpose. Some teach him the mannerisms of the civilized, while others spy on his
every move attempting to uncover some hidden identity. Untainted by society, Kaspar functions as a natural man in this repressed and repressive society. His very existence calls their assumptions into question.
Many consider this, along with AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD, to be Herzog's best film. Bruno S. is of particular interest here. A non-professional actor, Mr. S. is an eccentric German street performer who spent much of his childhood in mental institutions. He also stars in Herzog's STROSZEK.
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- Released: 1975
- Rating: NR
- Review: The winner of the Grand Jury Award at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, this haunting and, at times, disconcertingly whimsical film helped to propel the self-styled visionary New German filmmaker, Werner Herzog, to international prominence. Herzog's slow and… (more)