My Best Fiend: Klaus Kinski

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

If hearing the names Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog in the same breath prompts an evil chuckle, then you're the person for whom this film was made. Herzog and Kinski made five films together between 1972 and 1987 (Kinski died in 1991), each pairing more tempestuous than the one before. Polish-born actor Kinski was as famous for his terrifying rages as his...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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If hearing the names Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog in the same breath prompts an evil chuckle, then you're the person for whom this film was made. Herzog and Kinski made five films together between 1972 and 1987 (Kinski died in 1991), each pairing more

tempestuous than the one before. Polish-born actor Kinski was as famous for his terrifying rages as his brilliantly moody performances; German director Herzog, apparently mild-mannered, was so provoked by Kinski's lunacy that he once thought seriously of fire-bombing Kinski's home. "Every gray

hair on my head I call Kinski," he says ruefully. Herzog's documentary opens with footage of Kinski performing a one-man show in which he played a vituperative, raging Jesus; the actor went directly from that project to AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD's Peruvian location, apparently neglecting to leave

Jesus the irate behind. The resulting fireworks are the stuff of movie buffs' legend, and NOSFERATU, WOYZECK, FITZCARRALDO and COBRA VERDE were apparently more of the same: histrionics, threats, denunciations. Herzog paints Kinski as a coward, a blowhard and an egotist; worst of all, says Herzog,

his aesthetics were hopelessly bourgeois. At the same time, Herzog admits, they did brilliant work together and were, if not exactly friends, kindred spirits. Kinski didn't mean all those contemptuous things he said about Herzog in his autobiography, the director claims; in fact, they sat together

cooking up vile things for Kinski to write so the book would sell. Hmm, maybe so. And to his credit, Herzog includes interviews that paint Kinski in a far more flattering light. It's all hugely entertaining, even allowing for the fundamental unfairness that Herzog always gets the last word, and

the footage of the original cast of FIZCARRALDO (Jason Robards and Mick Jagger), as well as one of Kinski's notorious tantrums (a mild one, Herzog says) is priceless. (In English and German, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: If hearing the names Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog in the same breath prompts an evil chuckle, then you're the person for whom this film was made. Herzog and Kinski made five films together between 1972 and 1987 (Kinski died in 1991), each pairing more t… (more)

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