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dvaid.PR.140 - Daksha Vaid Writing 140 Section 64560D Dr...

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Daksha Vaid Writing 140, Section # 64560D Dr. David Tomkins 4 th December 2009 Assignment #4 The Horrible Screaming Men Call Silence He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or god. -Aristotle, Politics In his movie The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser , German director Werner Hertzog introduces one of the great unsolved mysteries of modern Europe. The film is based on an actual person Kaspar Hauser, who mysteriously appears in the small German town of Nuremberg. He cannot speak and seems barely human. He has difficulty with simple physical activities and speaks haltingly and strangely. Fascinated, the town tries to civilize him, but soon they begin to treat him as a fanatic wild animal, presenting him as a public spectacle. He is enthusiastically embraced as an attractive money making object, and is treated as an object of curiosity by the entire town. However, when he is stabbed mysteriously by the same man who taught him to walk and write his name, he is quickly deemed abnormal after a study by physicians. Although the movie traces the path of Kaspar’s transformation from a wild human to a civilized man, it questions our understanding of a “beast”. Is a beast any living creature that cannot adapt itself to an organized form of life? Are mannerisms, looks and communication skills the only parameters which classify a creature beastly? Our society’s understanding of beastliness renders any creature
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unable to portray these characteristics as a lower animal from a human being. However, our connotations of beastliness give a false impression of the society as a civilized state of living characterized by taste, refinement, or restraint. Although the townspeople seem very polished and sophisticated, rendering Kaspar uncouth and primitive, it is in fact the townspeople who are more inhuman. The brutish treatment of Kaspar, who is uncorrupt and virtuous, by the townsfolk helps one recognize the crude way in which ordered society corrupts the innate human nature which is free from harshness or roughness of violence. Thus, Herzog’s film demonstrates the ruthless nature of civilized society which in its dismissal of people like Kaspar reveals itself to be more beastly. In his film which is at once stunning and perplexing, Werner Herzog tries to bring about the emotions and struggles of an individual who is rejected from the society due to his lack of discipline in a civilized environment. He uses images and visuals which do not narrate the sequence of events, instead bring about the inner battle within the individual. Roger Ebert, a noted critic in Chicago Sun-Times says - “In Herzog the line between fact and fiction is a shifting one. He cares not for accuracy but for effect, for a transcendent ecstasy. "Kaspar Hauser" tells its story not as a narrative about its hero, but as a mosaic of striking behavior and images: A line of penitents struggling up a hillside, a desert caravan led by a blind man, a stork capturing a worm. These images are unrelated to Kaspar except in the way
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