The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser


Herzog’s long-term fascination with misfits living outside the boundaries of “normal” society achieved full flower with this strange, haunting and uniquely moving drama inspired by a true story.

“One of Herzog’s two or three finest films, and surely his most humane.” -Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser dramatizes the odd case of Kaspar Hauser, a real-life “wild child” who appeared as a teenager in the streets of Nuremberg claiming to have been raised since infancy in a small dark cell, divorced from all contact with the outside world. Sparking the curiosity of a compassionate schoolmaster, who attempts to civilize this strange creature, Kaspar soon becomes a cause célèbre of the local clergy, academy and high-society elites, but his mysterious past returns to haunt him, threatening to destroy his dreams of normalcy.  Built around a hypnotic central performance by the late Bruno S., a street performer who had spent much of his life in a mental institution, The Enigma of Kaspar Huaser is no ordinary bio-pic, but an unforgettable, dreamlike meditation on the nature of civilization and the fine line between sanity and madness. (Dir. by Werner Herzog, 1974, Germany, in German with subtitles, 110 mins., Not Rated)