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