In 1975, Bruno S.went to the film festival in Cannes where he was celebrated like a star. Up to that point, his whole life had been spent in homes, in asylums for the homeless and in psychiatric institutions. His performance of Kaspar Hauser in Werner Herzog’s film, Kaspar Hauser – Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle seemed to have helped him break out of his isolation and shake off his reputation as a rather derided fringe figure. Bruno S. was also cast in the leading role of Herzog’s next film, Stroszek ; it was the filmmaker’s declared intention to make the film a monument to Bruno S.
Bruno S. is now 70 years of age and regards this part of his past as a closed chapter. The distance he creates by talking of himself in the third person seems to enable him to view from the outside the many wounds his spirit has sustained over the years.“They sought him and used him. Bruno is just a disposable article”, he says. Bruno’s short period of stardom was followed by many years of loneliness during which the mailbox remained empty and the telephone in his tiny apartment stood still.When asked about Bruno S., Werner Herzog, the man who discovered him, responded in surprise,“What, is he still alive?”
This documentary shows exactly how Bruno S. lives. The film does not seek to portray him as a victim of institutions and prejudice, rather as someone who, in spite of all manner of disadvantages and discrimination, has managed to find his way in life on his own, without any help from others. In an attempt to rebel against the injustice he has encountered, he paints; he has also spent thirty years doing the rounds of the pubs and clubs in Berlin with his musical instruments. The lyrics of the songs for which Bruno provides accompaniment reflect his emotions perfectly. —Berlinale