The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
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Director: Werner Herzog, Werner Herzog, Werner Herzog, Werner Herzog, Werner Herzog
1974 / 110min / DCP
After spotting self-taught outsider artist Bruno S. in a documentary about street musicians, Herzog was determined to work with him, and proceeded to cast this troubled man with zero acting experience who’d been raised in mental institutions as the lead in two of his films. In the first of them, he appears as the mysterious Kaspar Hauser, a young man who, after a life of unexplained confinement, is set free into early 19th-century civilization with a vocabulary of only a few words and a letter in hand. Hauser becomes something of a local freakshow before a professor, Georg Friedrich Daumer (Walter Ladengast), takes him under his wing to attempt to socialize him. Closely based on the details of the story of the real-life foundling Hauser, who died in 1833, Herzog’s film is an affecting, distinctive drama, and Bruno S., 41 playing at least half that, is a revelation of wide-eyed, wounded innocence.