My Best Fiend

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Werner Herzog

REVIEWED: 02-28-00

No movie image could ever equal the late actor Klaus Kinski's megalomaniacal image of himself. The same is true of filmmaker Werner Herzog, which may be why their films together are their best. Their working relationship was adversarial -- to the point where, in one legendary story about the making of their shared masterpiece, Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Herzog threatened to empty all but one of the bullets in his rifle into Kinski's head, saving the last for himself. That and other anecdotes of Kinski's operatic insanity and Herzog's long-suffering forbearance (to see the maker of the film Even Dwarfs Started Small in the role of the voice of reason is an unsettling sight) spark My Best Fiend, Herzog's memoir of his collaborator. Oddly listless given the subject and Herzog's mastery of the documentary form, Fiend's mélange of on-set footage and interviews nonetheless provides a glimpse into the creative process at its most extreme -- Herzog puts his crew in mortal danger in order to pull a steamboat over a mountain in Fitzcarraldo even as native extras are offering to kill Kinski for being an insufferable asshole. Was the ranting and raving all for effect? As with the final image of Kinski being caressed by a butterfly, the beauty, even if it was all staged, is undeniable.

--Peter Keough

Full Length Reviews
My Best Fiend
My Best Fiend

Other Films by Werner Herzog
Little Dieter Needs to Fly

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