DIRECTOR: PETER SEHR
COUNTRY: GERMANY 1994
CAST: Andre Eisermann as Kasper, Udo Samuel, Jeremy Clyde
One can always tell when a film has budget problems. It is all shot in a stage, and the actors have to carry the whole show. The shots are all close to the action, and rarely is any thought given to the larger picture... so it seems.
There are many versions of this story. Werner Herzog's totally romanticized and original story is one extreme. Historians might like this version better, since it shows what is pretty much accepted as the probable story and events. The details may change, but the appeal of the character will forever be remembered.
In this version, Kasper is a pawn in the political stage of the Germans around the 1800's. Rivals are trying very hard to maintain their own control, and they will do anything they can to try and make sure that their rival does not succeed, and then attempt to take over the ruling family. Should Kasper's father not produce a son, his family will lose Bavaria to the rival family. And the story sets it all up so that Bavaria pretty much loses its whole family. The film, however, does not continue with the political suggestions and implications.
The last person involved in the case is finally done away with and the myth lives on. Who was Kasper Houser, and what was he about.?
But this film is not as bad as it sounds, or looks. It is, another point of view in a story that has fascinated many for a very long time, and a story whose political overtones may have changed the life of a country, if it indeed was such a story. The film is directed as if it were a play, which it is, but not the same one.
Werner Herzog's story was, by comparison, a sort of a remake of Francois Truffaut's The Wild Child, basically using a loose version of Kasper's story. When compared to this film, this one will not hold up very much. Herzog's was witty, cute, had some magnificent music, and was very clever. This one is mysterious, insidious, and on occasion, the political forces get on one's nerves. But it does have some political edges that are very interesting. Like an English upper class crust'r whose involvement is curious, not to mention ... that threatens in some way or another, the outcome of the story. And of course, as soon as the decadent person is gone, the story falls apart, and Kasper meets his end. It's a nice suggestion that as long as he had some high connections, Kasper would connect, but the minute he didn't he would not make it because of the fighting within the imperial houses.
Werner Herzog's films never made us think this way. They always felt like an anthropological study of some kind. This film seems to be trying to define a point in history.
With some good acting, nothing as good as the whimsical material of Herzog's but still some good work. The character of Kasper Houser is the stand out in this film. (with apologies for not presenting enough credits, but there were few and there was no literature with the film at the Film Festival.)
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