Kaspar Hauser lives locked in a cellar, where he cannot see or speak to anyone. One day, a mysterious man pulls him out, teaches him to walk and talk, and then leaves him in the middle of a town square with a letter in his hand addressed to the authorities. Kaspar’s journey begins…
Aguirre may be more famous, but many Herzogians hold up Kaspar Hauser as their favorite. Starring Bruno S., a wayward Berlin street musician recruited for the role, the film is quintessential Herzog: a beautiful, tartly comic look at mankind dropped into a large, confusing, wondrous world.
Watching a few of the Herzog films here, I remember how his films acclimate me over time. It does not happen over the course of one film, particularly with his earlier features (there is a different logic to his documentaries; their pleasure and humor tend to be more direct). Eventually, though, I can see them as hilarious and devastating kinetic canvases. This film is a prime example of that tuning process.
Kasper Hauser never dreamed in the cellar, he declares, but the truth is that he knew of nothing else than the cellar to dream about. This movie creates a perfect balance: it is one with great content and it is one with a great cinematography accompanied by a great soundtrack.
Being a con-man is not interesting enough, so Herzog transforms Kaspar into an innocent telling the truth. It allows him to take his life and draw different conclusions. Part of it is in the original title "Every Man for Himself and God Against All". Herzog's casting choice is inspired, as he seems to find madmen everywhere he looks.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is a strange and beautiful film that displays Werner Herzog's personal sense of detachment from the mores of "civilized" society. Bruno S. completely submits himself to the role, and the color palette really comes to life if you get a chance to see a quality 35mm print.
Self-important. Further, it promotes lyricism as an alternative to rationalism. Sure, it doesn't make a lick of sense that someone could live in an unmoving position for seventeen, but if it's all set to Mozart and noble savage sensibilities then...forget it?
****1/2 . Werner Herzog, in a few scenes, manages to recreate the romantic Germany of Goethe, Eichendorff or the brothers Grimm. This is what we may call visionary cinema. The performance of Bruno S. is also incredible. Almost a masterpiece.