Movie Review: My Best Fiend

Dennis suggests My Best Fiend (in Incredibly Strange).  This documentary by Werner Herzog about his, let’s call it tumultuous, relationship with the late actor Klaus Kinski is, like most of their work together, fascinating and infuriating. These two made five films together (Aguirre The Wrath of God, Fitcarraldo, Woyzek, Nosferatu, and Cobra Verde) over a period of several decades, and the stories about that partnership have passed into legend, at least in the annals of film-geekdom.  You might get a sense of this from the cover image: Kinski, with traditional crazed look on his face, holds a machete to Herzog’s throat, while the director looks slightly bemused, while also, undeniably, having a machete at his throat.  There was Kinski’s notorious autobiography (since withdrawn for legal reasons) where he claims utter contempt for Herzog, both artist and human being.  There’s the time Kinski nearly killed an extra with a sword-blow that stove in the helmet he was, thankfully, wearing.  And then there’s the time that he pulled a gun on Herzog and threatened to kill him.  Or was it the other way around.  Well, Klaus is dead now, so what we get here is Herzog’s view and he is, as ever, somewhat cagey on certain points.  What comes through clearly, though is the odd mixture of fascinated revulsion and respect that kept Herzog and Kinski so intimately connected artistically.  Kinski onstage, ranting that he is Jesus and abusing an unseen audience with hate in his eyes versus a sequence of him, blond and smiling in the rainforest, watching a blue butterfly walk over and over his hand.  Fascinating.

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Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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