DER VORMUND UND SEIN DICHTER
(The Guardian and His Poet), 1978
"...from the lofty heights of my unutterably humble self..."
– Robert Walser
Born 15 April 1878, Biel
Died 25 Dec 1956, Herisau
A Film by Percy Adlon
Rolf Illig as Robert Walser
Horst Raspe as Carl Seelig
Screenplay by Percy Adlon
Based on Wanderungen mit Robert Walser
(Wanderings with Robert Walser) by Carl Seelig
Produced by Eleonore Adlon
Produced for television by Benigna von Keyserlingk
Director of Photography – Pitt Koch
Editor – Clara Fabry
A pelemele Film production
Shot on location in Herisau, Switzerland, January 1978
German, 87 min
Subtitle options: English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Robert Walser was confined to the Appenzell-Ausserrhoden mental hospital in Herisau, Switzerland from 1933 until his death in 1956. From 1936 onward, the Zurich critic, editor, and art patron Carl Seelig visited the poet two or three times a year, to go on a day's walk. The meeting of these two very different men provides the dramatic impetus of the film: the man of culture wants to acquire information about culture from a man who has been broken by the vanity fair of culture. The struggle between the artist and the art connoisseur is not without its funny moments, the wooing of the connoisseur not without its embarrassing and humiliating moments. But his unswerving affection makes him credible.
"The fences and the snow are for me like the words on white paper. In our day, critics rank Robert Walser in the same class with Franz Kafka. Rolf Illig, who plays Walser, was at that time a colleague of mine at the radio, a voice, not an actor. His face, never before seen by his audience, now suddenly exposed, is the most vulnerable I can imagine."
– Percy Adlon
Winner of the Adolf-Grimme Prize in Gold, 1979