top of page


(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

Robert Walser's work  is considered equal to that of Franz Kafka.

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 two Adolf-Grimme Prizes in Gold, for Best Performance, Rolf Illig, and Director Percy Adlon,1979


bottom of page