Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Germany/United Kingdom/Finland/USA, 1999. Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Cafe Productions Ltd., Zephir Film, British Broadcasting Corporation, Independent Film Channel (IFC), Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Outpost Studios. Cinematography by Peter Zeitlinger. Produced by Lucki Stipetic. Music by Popol Vuh. Production Design by Ulrich Bergfelder. Film Editing by Joe Bini. Toronto International Film Festival 1999.
German actor Klaus Kinski was famous for being just as striking a personality off the screen as on, and no one knew this better than this longtime collaborator Werner Herzog. Eight years after Kinski’s death of a heart attack at the age of 65, Herzog has compiled interviews, behind the scenes footage and clips from the films they did together for a portrait of the man, the artist, the legend and even a bit of the saint. There is plenty to enjoy when watching Kinski throw a tantrum, he was quite famous for blowing his lid over the smallest matter, but what surprises is the tenderness that emerges in this affecting and informative documentary. Herzog was most often frustrated with the actor and how unreasonable he was (“Every gray hair on my head I call Kinski”) but points out his power and the wealth of creativity that his explosive personality provided. The highlight of the film is a sequence in which the subject’s Woyzeck co-star Eva Mattes gives a beautiful account of the wonderful time she had working with Kinski, totally contradicting the monstrous image he has left behind since his death. It’s more than a biography, it’s a eulogy and a terrific look at the world of film acting.