Bruno S. was born in 1932 to a neglectful, abusive prostitute and led a life very much like the ones he portrays in the films The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Stroszek. Beaten into shock at the age of three and believed to be intellectually disabled, he was put into a mental hospital. He would spend the next 23 years in and out of institutions and jails. A self taught musician and artist, Werner Herzog saw him in the documentary Bruno der Schwarze – Es blies ein Jäger wohl in sein Horn (1970). Herzog became fascinated by Bruno and his life and decided he was perfect for the role of Kaspar Hauser. At Bruno’s demand, Herzog vowed never to reveal Bruno’s surname, hence the abbreviation ‘S.’. Herzog later wrote Stroszek specifically with Bruno in mind. However, even after several years of partnership, Bruno was extremely distrustful of Herzog and after Stroszek they never worked together again, but Herzog has always spoken glowingly of Bruno, dubbing him “The Unknown Soldier of the German Cinema”. He was in two more films, Liebe das Leben, lebe das Lieben (1977), and Vergangen, vergessen, vorüber (1994) and was the subject of a documentary Bruno S. – Die Fremde ist der Tod (2003) but as far as I can tell, none are available. Bruno remains the most enigmatic figure in the history of cinema and his two brilliant performances alone will forever secure his position as one of the most powerful actors of all time.
The unknown soldier of German cinema spent his last few decades reveling in his true passions of art and music.
RIP † 1932-2010Read less