The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser ★★½

Based on a (possibly) true story, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is about a young man in 1820s Germany who has been locked alone in a dark, dank room at the mercy of a silent, nihilist overlord for his entire life. Then, with no explanation, his mysterious captor releases Kaspar, leaving him in a town square with nothing but a letter and a prayer book. Herzog uses this premise to explore the idea that life itself, and the treatment of man by other men, is comparably (and possibly more) perplexing and torturous to the solitary confinement Kaspar endures for his first 16 years. Cheery stuff, Werner.

I like Herzog as an aestheticist. He has a naturalistic style, a good eye, and uses long takes in which the actors have room to create a believable facsimile of life. Herzog's bleak worldview isn't always my cup of tea, but I think I could like it given the right project. My problems with The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser are that I don't really like how this particular story is developed, and I found Bruno S.' performance in the lead role suitably strange, but lacking depth.

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