Synopsis by Mark Deming
To say the working relationship between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski was often stormy strains the boundaries of understatement. Kinski's tirades against Herzog are the stuff of legend -- Kinski's scabrous autobiography All I Need is Love features a number of venomous rants against the director far too foul to recount here, while Herzog had to threaten Kinski with murder to get him to complete his work on Aguirre, The Wrath Of God. However, the collaboration between these two men, no matter how combative, resulted in the finest, most memorable work of either's career, including Aguirre, Nosferatu, Woyzeck and Fitzcarraldo, before Kinski's death in 1991 ended the partnership. Mein Leibster Feind/My Best Fiend is a documentary by Herzog about his work with Kinski, and portrays the actor with a large degree of affection while making no secret of his volatile nature (an actor displays a scar on his head from a wound Kinski inflicted with a sword, while an outtake from Fitzcarraldo shows him terrorizing a member of the crew). Despite their remarkable differences, Herzog sums up their working relationship with admirable conclusion: "We complemented one another. I needed him and he needed me." Mein Leibster Feind/My Best Fiend was produced for European television, though it did receive a screening (out of competition) at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.
director, filmmaker, friendship