Bruno Schleinstein

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Bruno Schleinstein
Born (1932-06-02)2 June 1932
Died 11 August 2010(2010-08-11) (aged 78)
Other names Bruno S.
Occupation Actor, artist, musician
Years active 1974–1977

Bruno Schleinstein (2 June 1932 – 11 August 2010),[1] often credited as Bruno S., was a German film actor, artist, and musician.


Schleinstein was often beaten as a child, and spent much of his youth in mental institutions.[2] He was a largely self-taught musician, who over the years developed considerable skill on the piano, accordion, glockenspiel and handbells. He would play in back gardens performing 18th and 19th century style ballads at the weekends, while sustaining himself financially working as a forklift driver at a car plant. Schleinstein said he transmits (German: durchgeben) his songs, rather than singing them.[2]

Schleinstein was spotted by director Werner Herzog in the documentary Bruno der Schwarze – Es blies ein Jäger wohl in sein Horn (1970). Herzog promptly cast Schleinstein (under the name Bruno S.) as his lead actor in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), though he had no acting experience, and the historical figure he portrayed was only in his teens. Schleinstein also starred in Stroszek (1977), which Herzog wrote especially for him. Stroszek has a number of biographical details from Schleinstein's life, including the use of his own flat as the home of Bruno Stroszek. He also played his own instruments.

Herzog has claimed that Schleinstein was deeply suspicious of the director, and nervous of performing in front of the cameras — so had to be "listened to" for several hours on set in order to build his self-esteem. Schleinstein enjoyed his brief period of fame in Berlin following the release of these films, but said later that "Everybody threw him away."[2] Instead, he took up painting and music. Some of his artwork was shown at the 2004 Outsider Art Fair in New York City. He appeared in a film again, being cast in Jan Ralske's Vergangen, vergessen, vorüber (Long-lost and Lay Me Down, 1993). Ralske also made a short documentary about Schleinstein and his art, called Seeing Things. He was the subject of a 2003 documentary Bruno S. – Estrangement is death, directed by Miron Zownir. Schleinstein also released a CD of his music and songs. He was member of the NO!Art movement.

Schleinstein died on 11 August 2010[3] after suffering heart problems. Shortly after his death, Werner Herzog remarked "in all my films, and with all the great actors with whom I have worked, he was the best. There is no one who comes close to him. I mean in his humanity, and the depth of his performance, there is no one like him."[4]

In March 2014 Parte released an album of Bruno S' music. The recordings were made shortly before his death in Berlin.


  1. ^ Martin, Douglas (August 15, 2010). "Bruno S., Street Musician Turned Lead Actor in Herzog Classics, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  2. ^ a b c Kimmelman, Michael (December 24, 2008). "From Berlin’s Hole of Forgottenness, a Spell of Songs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Stroszek Movie Review". A Life At The Movies. September 9, 2010. 

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