The Legend of Kaspar Hauser dir. Davide ManuliThe Legend of Kaspar Hauser dir. Davide Manuli
NH Tit-Bits
21 June 2012
The Hero of a New Beginning, the Apocalyptic Kaspar Hauser

This is going to be one of the festival's real hits. Trance music, empty sunlit space, bizarre stylized heroes, and an absurd sense of humor. The Legend of Kaspar Hauser (2012, La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser), a surrealist black-and-white technowestern by Italian Davide Manuli, can be seen in the section "The Happy End - Images for the End of the World". The film features what would appear to be a dream cast, including hermaphroditic Claudia Gerini in the title role; Vincent Gallo, who plays both the sheriff and a drug dealer; and the beautiful Elisa Sednaoui, who last appeared in a film by Lithuanian director Sarunas Bartas.

According to legend, Kaspar Hauser, a mysterious boy who could utter but a few words, appeared in Nuremburg in 1828. Two anonymous letters were found on him that provided his date of birth and suggested that he be taken care of by a particular military officer. He managed to land in the local jail for two months, where he suffered repeated attacks of catalepsy and epilepsy. When he learned to speak, he claimed that he had spent his entire life in a dark cell with straw bedding. He survived on only bread and water, and his guardian was a man whose face he had never seen. Hauser, who was taken into the care of the local authorities, was visited by more and more guests, some of whom took him for a cunning fraud, while others began connecting him with the family of the Grand Duke of Baden. On 17 October 1829, a hooded stranger attacked Hauser with an axe, although he only managed to wound him in the forehead. The attempt on his life was repeated on 14 December 1833. He was lured to the court gardens in Ansbach by a promise that he would discover something about this origins. There, he was stabbed in the chest by a stranger, puncturing his lung. Hauser managed to return home, though he died three days later.

A number of artists have been inspired by the character of Kaspar. For example, Paul Verlaine dedicated his poem Kaspar Hauser sings (Kaspar Hauser chante) to him in a collection called Sagesse in 1880. In 1908, Jakob Wassermann published a novel called Kaspar Hauser, or the Children of Europe (Caspar Hauser oder Die Trägheit des Herzens). In 1974, the German director Werner Herzog brought Kasper's story to the screen in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle).

In Davide Manuli's post-apocalyptic version of the legend of Kaspar Hauser, a holy madman appears, not in Nuremburg, but on Island X on the Y Sea in the year 0. He is an autistic white-haired teen in headphones, moving spasmodically to the rhythm of technobeats, who, like his father, wants to be a club DJ. As a form of identification, he has his name tattooed on his chest. Kaspar makes miracles and is cared for by the old sheriff. The island embodies something different for each of its eccentric residents, with each one wishing to possess its secret. The film is accompanied by the captivating music of DJ Vitalic from the French electronic scene.

Davide Manuli (born in 1967 in Milan) studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York. He is an actor, a poet, a photographer, and a director. He has acted in, among others, Tobias Meinecki's film The Contenders (1993) and in Peter del Monte's film In Your Hands (Nelle tue mani) (2007).He has worked as an assistant director with Al Pacino and with Abel Ferrara. In 2008, his film Beket won the critics award at the festival in Locarno.

Filmography: Girotondo, giro intorno al mondo (1998), Inaduti-Inuit! (2006, dok.), Beket (2008), La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser (The Legend of Kaspar Hauser, 2011)


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