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Askew Review 15

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(Anchor Bay) 1974. DVD. Drama. 109 minutes. NR. In German with English subtitles. It’s 1828 and a grown man suddenly appears from out of nowhere in a small German town. Although he is a full grown man, he can only speak and write a few words and can barely walk. Turns out, the man is Kaspar Hauser and he’s been locked in a basement for seventeen years. Over the next few years, the local town’s folk raise Kaspar and tries to teach him how to be a “normal” citizen. However, along with being turned into the town’s point of amusement, Kaspar also questions just about every aspect of being a “normal” citizen and it’s rituals. Of course, one of the burdens of being a citizen is there is always somebody who wants you dead, and Kaspar’s no exception.
When I read the press release about this DVD, it, for some reason, caught my attention and I decided to review it. As I watched it, I thought to myself, “What the hell is this movie about?” I was totally lost, confused, and almost bored. Then I watched the movie with the commentary by director Werner Herzog and Norman Hill ( I have no idea who Hill is) turned on and I was enlightened to what the point of this movie is. I think, anyways. I believe Herzog’s point was just how badly society stifles one’s individuality and creativity. Please know, I may be way off on this, but that’s what I took home after watching this movie, twice.  This little lesson reminded me of something from my childhood; I remember when I was in second or third grade, drawing a picture of trees with dark purple bark. When the teacher saw this, she said that trees do not have purple bark and to start over. Even at a young age, this annoyed the shyt out of me. Why couldn’t my trees have purple bark? I do not remember if I continued with the purple trees or if I caved and started over. Anywho, this movie is at times funny and odd, but it’s also mostly boring. However, the colors are outstanding and the old time German look and feel is great. Bruno S (Hauser) is one odd dude. I’m not sure if he’s a bad actor, or if he played the role like a champion. Along with the commentary, extras include; Herzog bio and a trailer. This movie is based on a true story. – Denis Sheehan


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