My Best Fiend (1999 – DVD)

“Every grey hair on my head, I call Kinski”

I recently picked up the six DVD Herzog/Kinski Boxset for only £6! The collaborations between ambitious Director Werner Herzog and intensly manic Actor Klaus Kinski are uniformly celebrated but I’ve never seen any of them. I’ve only seen Herzog’s brilliant recent international films like ‘Grizzly Man’ and ‘Bad Lieutenant’ so I’m looking forward to a journey into his earlier Germanic origins. It features all five movies they made together in the 70s and 80s and also the documentary ‘My Best Fiend’ that Herzog made about Kinski 8 years after the actors death. I have a soft spot for films about film so I couldn’t resist playing this first.

Herzog starts the film with footage of Kinski raging at a gathered audience with such wide-eyed lunacy that it’s as if the anti-Christ himself has taken the stage. This is the Klaus Kinski the public know and in a way love. Yet he concludes the movie with astounding and beautiful footage of Kinski playing with a butterfly as if he is an angelic puppeteer. In between these two bookends is a surprisingly tender (Given what Kinski put Herzog through) portrait of a quixotic, frustrating, possessed egomaniac who makes everyone around him suffer for his art. One story tells of him shooting the fingertip off of one of the extras from ‘Aguirre, The Wrath Of God’. Then another scene has the great Claudia Cardinale telling of the cute little notes he would pass her on the location of ‘Fitzcarraldo’.

‘My Best Fiend’ is a captivating and essential document of the crazed 70s/80s filmmaking era. I can’t wait to watch the movies themselves, reviews on the way.

Here’s a particularly tempestuous scene:

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