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Country: West Germany
Run Time: 110 minutes
The recipient of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Herzog's movie is based on an actual story that also inspired a novel by Jakob Wassermann, and the celebrated play, "Kaspar," by the Austrian Peter Handke. The facts of the story are as follows: In 1828 a young man later called Kaspar Hauser was discovered by some German villagers in a virtual state of savagery. Imprisoned in a closet almost since birth, the youth was gradually introduced to the dubious benefits of civilization. Herzog's film is somewhat similar to Francois Truffaut's "The Wild Child" (1970), but whereas the French director's film is a celebration of civilized values, EVERY MAN is an impassioned condemnation of how civilization warps our innocence and spontaneity. Like those great primitive visionaries, Rousseau and Blake, Herzog is essentially anti-rational, and argues that Society imprisons, Nature liberates. The film is an allegorical fable, explicitly metaphysical in its concerns. The characters are stylized into grotesque caricatures, suggesting a Medieval morality tale rather than a realistic dramatization, like Truffaut's film. People either love or hate Herzog's movie, which is very much in the German mode - pessimistic, intellectual, ostentatiously ascetic and steeped in Teutonic anguish and despair. Herzog's universe is airless, neurotic, oppresive: God is an irrational, tyrannical jailor. Cinematographer Jorg Schmidt-Reitwein photographed even the natural exteriors with an emphasis on constriction, barrenness and a profound sense of paranoia. Kaspar is played by a non-professional performer, credited only as "Bruno S." Apparently his own life parallels that of Kaspar: the son of a prostitute, he too was once regarded as mentally defective and spent much of his life in asylums and institutions. Some viewers are put off by the film's self-consciously modernist stance; others have praised its audacity and formal purity.
Werner Herzog Filmproduktion (Production Manager: Walter Saxer)
Bruno S., Walter Ladengast, Brigitte Mira, Hans Musaus, Willy Semmelrogge, Michael Kroecher, Henry van Lyck, Enno Patalas, Volker Prechtel, Helmut Doring, Kidlat Tahimik, Andi Gottwald, Clemens Scheitz, Dr. Willy Meyer-Furst