The Hauser that Herzog Built

There are many reasons that Pablo Kjolseth, longtime director of CU-Boulder’s International Film Series, decided that Werner Herzog’s lovely The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, based on the true story of a man who spent the first twenty years of his life locked in a basement, was a good choice to kick off his fall schedule. Though it’s a less obvious Herzog film to screen, its star, Bruno S., died in August, so it doubles as a tribute to a strange but touching figure in movie history. Plus, IFS is launching a Wednesday-night showcase of great directors, so Herzog is a natural. At the same time, the classic distributor New Yorker Films, known for its quality roster of films (including Herzog’s ), is making a notable comeback. And New Yorker just happened to have a fairly new 35mm print of Kaspar Hauser that’s in great shape.

“It seemed ordained by the gods,” Kjolseth says. “New Yorker is synonymous with Herzog’s finest work, so I feel it’s the perfect way to launch the series.”

But there is also an ulterior motive: “I’ve seen the film several times, but it was always on a 16mm print. I’ve personally never seen it before on 35mm film, so there is a little bit of a selfish component, too,” Kjolseth admits. A firm advocate of celluloid over newer digital technologies, he’s bent on exposing young audiences to great films they’ve never heard of, such as Kaspar Hauser. It’s a gamble, but one worth taking. “That’s one thing that differentiates us from other series. A growing number of festivals are all going more and more digital. I do understand what’s good about digital, but for me it’s a format issue; there is a difference in the formats. We only do a few things on digital; everything else is 35mm. And I still have a human being in the booth, and he’s a professional.”

See Kaspar Hauser tonight at 7 or 9:15 p.m. in Muenzinger Hall on the CU-Boulder campus; admission is $5 to $6. for a complete fall schedule, go to
Wed., Sept. 8, 7 & 9:15 p.m., 2010

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd