The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

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The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is a 1974 West German film written and directed by Werner Herzog about the legend of Kaspar Hauser. Its original German title is Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle, which means "Every man for himself and God against them all". (In fact, a sentence taken from the novel Macunaíma, by Brazilian writer Mário de Andrade.) The film was part of the competition for the Palme d'Or at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, where it won 3 awards including the Grand Prize of the Jury and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[1][2]

The film follows the real story of Kaspar Hauser quite closely, using the text of actual letters found with Hauser, and following many details in the opening sequence of Hauser's confinement and release. One departure is his age: the historical Hauser was 17 when he was discovered in Nuremberg. The film does not specify Kaspar's age, but Bruno S. was 41 years old at the time of filming.

Contents

Plot

The film follows Kaspar Hauser (played by Bruno S.), who lived the first seventeen years of his life chained in a tiny cellar with only a toy horse to occupy his time, devoid of all human contact except for a man who wears a black overcoat and top hat who feeds him. One day, in 1828, the same man takes Hauser out of his cell, teaches him a few phrases, and how to walk, before leaving him in the town of Nuremberg. Hauser becomes the subject of much curiosity, and is exhibited in a circus before being rescued by Herr Daumer (Walter Ladengast), who patiently attempts to transform him. Hauser soon learns to read and write, and develops unorthodox approaches to logic and religion, but music is what pleases him most. He attracts the attention of academics, clergy, and nobility, but is then physically attacked by the same unknown man who brought him to Nuremberg. The attack leaves him unconscious with a bleeding head. He recovers but is again mysteriously attacked, this time stabbed in the chest. Hauser rests in bed describing visions he has had of nomadic Berbers in the Sahara Desert, and then dies. An autopsy reveals an enlarged liver and cerebellum.

Cast

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