The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

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The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Werner Herzog
Produced by Werner Herzog
Written by Werner Herzog
Starring Bruno Schleinstein
Walter Ladengast
Music by Florian Fricke
Cinematography Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein
Edited by Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus
Distributed by Werner Herzog Filmproduktion
Release dates
  • November 1, 1974 (1974-11-01)
Running time
110 minutes
Country West Germany
Language German

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (German: Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle; lit. Every Man for Himself and God Against All) The title is taken from a sentence in the novel Macunaíma by Brazilian writer Mário de Andrade. is a 1974 German drama film written and directed by Werner Herzog and starring Bruno Schleinstein and Walter Ladengast.[1] The film follows the real story of foundling Kaspar Hauser quite closely, using the text of actual letters found with Hauser.


The film follows Kaspar Hauser (Bruno Schleinstein), who lived the first seventeen years of his life chained in a tiny cellar with only a toy horse to occupy his time, devoid of all human contact except for a man, wearing a black overcoat and top hat, who feeds him.

One day, in 1828, the same man takes Hauser out of his cell, teaches him a few phrases, and how to walk, before leaving him in the town of Nuremberg. Hauser becomes the subject of much curiosity, and is exhibited in a circus before being rescued by Herr Daumer (Walter Ladengast), who patiently attempts to transform him.

Hauser soon learns to read and write, and develops unorthodox approaches to logic and religion; but music is what pleases him most. He attracts the attention of academics, clergy and nobility, but is then physically attacked by the same unknown man who brought him to Nuremberg. The attack leaves him unconscious with a bleeding head. He recovers, but is again mysteriously attacked; this time, stabbed in the chest.

Hauser rests in bed describing visions he has had of nomadic Berbers in the Sahara Desert, and then dies. An autopsy reveals an enlarged liver and cerebellum.

Historical accuracy[edit]

The film follows the real story of Kaspar Hauser quite closely, using the text of actual letters found with Hauser, and following many details in the opening sequence of Hauser's confinement and release. One notable departure is with his apparent age: although the historical Hauser was 17 when he was discovered in Nuremberg and the film implies this, the character is played by actor Bruno Schleinstein, who was 41 years old at the time of filming. Nevertheless, Schleinstein's character is treated and described throughout as a youth.




Herzog discovered the lead actor, Bruno Schleinstein, in a documentary about street musicians. Fascinated, Herzog cast him as the lead in two of his films, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Stroszek, despite the fact that he had no training as an actor. Schleinstein's own life bears some similarities to Kaspar Hauser's, and his own unbalanced personality was often expressed on set. In Herzog's commentary for the English language DVD release, he recalls that Schleinstein remained in costume for the entire duration of the production, even after shooting was done for the day. Herzog once visited him in his hotel room, to find him sleeping on the floor by the door, in his costume.

The Production Designer for the film was Henning Von Gierke, the Costume Designers were Ann Poppel and Gisela Storch.[1]

Filming locations

The outdoor scenes were filmed in the town of Dinkelsbühl and on a nearby mountain called Hesselberg.

Music soundtrack

The music of several classical composers is featured in the film's soundtrack, including pieces by Johann Pachelbel, Orlando di Lasso, Tommaso Albinoni, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


The film was part of the competition for the Palme d'Or at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or and won three awards - the FIPRESCI Prize, the Grand Prize of the Jury and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[3][4] The film also won three prizes at the German Film Awards in 1975.[5] The film was selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 48th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Full cast and crew for The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser". Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  4. ^ Golden Palm Awards for 1975 at
  5. ^ "Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, The: Every Man for Himself and God Against All (Jeder fuer sich und Gott gegen alle)". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  6. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

External links[edit]