The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

Sorry this post is so late and so short - I watched this movie earlier in the day, but then I had family and friends over, so I didn't get around to posting or anything like that. I really liked today's movie - The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, directed by Werner Herzog in 1974. It stars Bruno S, the strange fellow who was also in Stroszeck. It's a great movie, and one that I've meant to see for a long time. It's been on my Netflix queue for forever, I just never ended up watching it for whatever reason. I'm really glad that I did now.

The film is based on  a true story, but in typical Herzog fashion, he's not really concerned with the facts. He's just fascinated by people, and loves to focus on anyone who is different, strange, or interesting. Some people, I imagine, would be annoyed that he doesn't always tell the truth, but I like it. I guess I feel like I share his gaze, sometimes. I went to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams when that came out, and there is a scene where a guy dresses up in furs and plays a flute for no apparent reason. The way Herzog lingered on him felt like it mimicked my interest in that guy - he didn't really make sense or have anything to do with the plot, but he was part of what Herzog experienced in making the movie, and what he was interested in. I love that he's so interested in people and weirdness.

The movie "is based upon the true and mysterious story of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who suddenly appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to speak or walk, and bearing a strange note; he later explained that he had been held captive in a dungeon of some sort for his entire life that he could remember, and only recently was he released, for reasons unknown. His benefactor attempts to integrate him into society, with intriguing results," (From IMDB). Like I was just saying, "based on" is used pretty liberally when Herzog is around - I sort of doubted that the movie had many actual facts in it. I didn't mind, though. The story that Herzog tells is a fascinating one, and maybe is better for it's added melodrama.

I really liked the story, which was really, 100% the selling point of the film for me. I was so interested in seeing what happened to Kaspar, how others treated him, and how his life was after he was free from the dungeon. Some people try to help him learn how to talk, write, and play the piano. Others want to show him off, as a "noble savage" and boast about their own abilities through him. I was just really intrigued by the idea of a character like Kaspar, which I see that Herzog was as well. It's not about the reality of the actual person - it's about the idea of someone so isolated from life and society. Being able to wonder about what he would learn, how he would function, the type of people who would take him in and the type who would exploit him is really interesting just on it's own. I love that Herzog's film explores all of these things and creates a really engaging story out of these sort of questions.

I could write about the cinematography, but I didn't really notice it too much - I was really just interested in the story, in the characters. I hate to make a blog post this short but it's 4am and I'm feeling a little sickly. I think this was a great movie, a fascinating character study. It was full of really interesting moments, and I just found Kaspar's take on the world to be really neat to watch. I feel like I didn't really do the best job of explaining why I liked the movie, but that was really it! The characters and their interactions were honestly so engrossing that it just made the whole film awesome. It's really something worth seeing for yourself - it's hard to explain "why" the characters are interesting. I just liked them, I liked the idea of Kaspar and his story, and I liked how Herzog used it here. It's a great movie, and has everything that I love about Herzog in it. Let me know if you check it out1

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
Buy it on Amazon


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