The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
Directed and Written by Werner Herzog
(number 428)

Okay the opening photography was desperately beautiful – the movement of a crop in the wind. Haunting and beautiful, with Pachelbel’s cannon and then the quote “Don’t you hear that horrible screaming all around you? The screaming men call silence.”

One of the first really arty arthouse movies I’ve watched off the list. It’s a cold, very bleak colour palette to start off with. Apparently based on a true story about Kaspar Hauser who arrived in Nuremberg having lived in a small cell all his life.

This… wasn’t the most pacey movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not the slowest either, but it’s one I wanted to sigh while watching, wanted to do something else… That said, there’s a lot of beauty in it, and it’s essentially a movie about how we see the world. How as adults in society we are programmed to see things a certain way. It takes a person like Kaspar, from outside of all those social constructs to see things in a clear way – to be overwhelmed with joy at the sight of a horse, or to cut through a logic problem with a simple answer.

Blair liked it more than I did… I just found it a very hard film to connect to. It reminded me of some movies I’ve seen in the festival like Faust where there was maybe a bit too much unsaid.

The circus sequence was unsettling and sort of amusing. The bear doing a forward roll is my favourite moment of the film, but the mysteries of the spheres were just rather unsettling and strange. An uncomfortable look at how entertainment used to be.

Does it make me love the people? sort of. It’s hard not to love a person who’s had such a shite start to live, and is as easy to please as a child. I did feel upset when he was attacked.

Bechdel test: No, there are only a handful of women and I think only two named.

Best line: “Don’t you hear that horrible screaming all around you? The screaming men call silence.”

State of Mind: Unsure why this was on the top 500… there must be better Herzog films out there.

Watched movie count



movie 498 on the list is Werner Herzog Lars Von Trier’s film that caused a lot of scandal, a lot of people walking out of the cinema when it was screened in the local film festival.

I was afraid to watch it, but then my personal circumstances made me feel pretty crappy so I figured this movie wouldn’t make me feel worse.

It’s a beautiful film, visually. Strange and unsettling, an alien landscape of trees and mist to reflect the mental turmoil of the central two characters.

Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg do an amazing job, it’s a two hander film and they carry it beautifully. The slow descent into something like madness.

There’s an unsettling line drawn between women and evil, but… I dunno. It’s hard to tell if it’s something the film maker intended or if it’s just this particular story. There was the familiar ‘women are of nature’ kind of trope as well with the birds helping her out at one point, deer watching and apparently she could summon hail?

Heh. I dunno, maybe I’m desensitized after seeing a bunch of other movies (The Piano Teacher, Hard Candy, Dogtooth) or maybe it’s my mood, but I don’t think it was the worst/most shocking movie ever. Then again I haven’t watched Saw yet…

That said, there’s no reason anyone should have to watch this. I don’t imagine it will change anyone’s lives, and it certainly didn’t make me love the humans depicted in it. It was more like dispassionately watching their breakdown.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I might though. I may even watch it again as it is aesthetically pleasing and the soundtrack was pretty cool.

Maybe I should rate these, but I don’t know what scale to use heh. No, I know. State of mind in the reaction phase.

State of Mind: shell shocked, confused by the ending, impressed with the visuals, dispassionate.