The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Werner Herzog (1974)

Absolutely enchanting. The tenderest Herzog film I’ve ever seen, and the most poetic. Bruno S. is (and I do mean “is”) the foundling who can see the world more clearly than anyone precisely because it’s wholly alien to him. He refutes priests and professors, renders a high society party absurd and ludicrous simply through his presence, plays the part of one of the four riddles of the spheres in a carnival sideshow. And in the end, when asked by the priests if anything is bothering him, he says yes, it’s a story, but he only knows the beginning of it:

It’s about a caravan; and the desert; but I only know the beginning. I see a great caravan coming through the desert, over the sand, and this caravan is led by an old Berber, and this old man is blind. The caravan stops, because some of them believe they are lost. There are mountains before them. They check their compass, but they are no wiser. Then their blind leader picks up a handful of sand and tastes it, as though it were food. “My sons,” the blind man says, “you are wrong – those are not mountains you see, it’s only your imagination. We must continue northwards.” They follow the old man’s advice, and they reach the city in the north, where the story takes place. But how the story goes after they reach the city, I don’t know . . .

Leave a Reply