Self-serving, untrustworthy, irresponsible. I had some doubts about this project the first time I saw it, but now I find it insufferable. What exactly makes Werner Herzog an objective authority on Herzog/Kinski? He revisits locations from their shoots, exploits lengthy clips from their collaborations, and slanders Germany’s greatest actor for an hour and a half, carefully defending himself against all accusations. Those endless pages of insults in Kinski’s autobiography, where he calls Herzog “a miserable, hateful, malevolent, avaricious, money-hungry, nasty, sadistic, treacherous, cowardly creep?” Herzog claims he actually helped Kinski come up with the abuse. Curiously enough, everybody Herzog interviews–Claudia Cardinale and Eva Mattes among them–only speaks of Kinski’s warmth and professionalism. Kinski clearly had a red-hot temper, but Herzog’s snivelling self-justifications, disguised as objective and authoritative account, add up to the character assassination of a dead genius. Klaus Kinski deserves better than this.

My Best Fiend. Werner Herzog, 1999. **

Here’s a scene from the set Fitzcarraldo. In the voice over, added fifteen years after the fact, Herzog claims: “The cause was trivial, and I didn’t bother to interfere because Kinski, compared with his previous outbreaks, seemed rather mild.” Really?

[tags]klaus kinski, werner herzog, documentary, character assassination, claudia cardinale, eva mattes, film, 2 stars, untrustworthy[/tags]