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Every Man for Himself & God against All Movie Review

kaspar herzog hauser bruno

In 1828, a most unusual young man turned up in Nuremberg. For the next five years, he was a source of wonder and, perhaps, fear to the intelligentsia. Who was he? Where had he come from? Why had he been deprived of a normal existence his entire life? Was he descended from royalty? His murder in 1833 only intensified the riddle. Artists and scholars continue to study Kaspar Hauser to the present day. Possibly the most heartfelt view of the subject was provided by Werner Herzog's 1975 masterpiece, Every Man for Himself & God Against All/The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser. Under Herzog's brilliant direction, Bruno S attempts and succeeds at the impossible: stripping his entire personality of each and every trace of socialization. His Kaspar is like a baby who grows from infancy to adulthood without learning a thing. His social vulnerability is the quality that attracts small children who laboriously teach him how to speak, one word at a time; nursery rhymes, as one boy explains patiently to a little girl, are too difficult for him to learn. Kaspar is later exploited as a freak attraction, but he escapes and goes on to lead a life of what appears to be nonstop education in sheltered circumstances. His questions are strong, clear, and childlike, but because he is a man, they are interpreted as a threat. Or so Herzog suggests. The tenderness and compassion with which Kaspar is initially received evolves into suspicion and violence. Just when the whole world appears to be opening up for Kaspar, he is the object of two murderous attacks, the second eventually proving fatal. His efforts at socialization end and he reverts to the infant's heartrending gestures for someone, anyone, to stop the pain. When Bruno S is onscreen, it's impossible to tear your eyes away from his one-of-a-kind performance, but Herzog wisely gives a spare but eloquent context for Every Man for Himself & God Against All/The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser. An anatomical dissection of Kaspar Hauser is quickly carried out, revealing nothing but our eagerness to search for answers, even when they're wrong. In contrast, Herzog shows us the landscapes that surround his story, re-creating the lush color experiments of photographers of the mid-19th century. Herzog's anachronistic images and Bruno S’ newly reborn eyes make more sense of the mystery than all the state-of-the-art scientific bumbling of 1833 or 1998. AKA: The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser; Jeder fur Sich und Gott gegen Alle; The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

1975 110m/C GE Bruno S, Brigitte Mira, Walter Laderigast, Hans Musaus, Willy Semmelrogge, Michael Kroecher, Henry van Lyck; D: Werner Herzog; W: Werner Herzog; C: Jorge Schmidt-Reitwein; M: Albinoni Pachelbel, Orlando Di Lasso. Nominations: Cannes Film Festival ‘75: Best Film. VHS

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