Karlsruhe, 1812. Shortly after his birth, Kaspar, son of Crown Prince Karl of Baden, is exchanged with an ailing baby by Karl's philandering brother Ludwig, who has ambitions for the throne. The child is deposited with a nurse, but when Ludwig becomes Grand Duke and manifests hostility to Bavaria, with which Baden is in dispute, the boy is sold to a Bavarian minister, who has him hidden away for 12 years in a cellar. In 1828, Kaspar (Eisermann) is released in Nuremberg, unable to talk, walk or fend for himself; he's taken under the wing of kindly Prof Daumer (Samel), whose efforts to educate and protect the youth fail to take account of the fact that his charge is political dynamite. Whereas Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) was a sorrowing, darkly comic meditation on the pitfalls of 'civilisation' and the way education destroys man's essential innocence, Sehr's Kaspar is simply a disposable pawn in Machiavellian power games between and within German states. So complex are these strategies, and so difficult is it to keep up with the narrative, that it's hard to care very much about Kaspar. A polished drama, but not much more than a rather arcane, even academic conspiracy hypothesis.
Cast and crew