My Best Fiend
A Film by Werner Herzog
New Books Network 2024
Werner Herzog is a filmmaker with an intuitive sense for showing the right thing at the right time, whether he is offering the story of a maniacal conquistador, Count Dracula, or himself eating his own shoe. Klaus Kinski was, according to many, more monster than man and an actor who resembled the megalomaniacs he portrayed. Together, Herzog and Kinski made five films. Kinski died in 1991; in 1999, Herzog released the documentary My Best Fiend about their relationship. The film combines the ravings of Kinski with the introspection of Herzog and explores the degree to which we are entertained by other people’s volatility, how we fall in love with actors because of small gestures, and our misguided desire to believe that people who create beautiful art are beautiful themselves.
In his 2023 memoir, Every Man for Himself and God Against All, Werner Herzog tells his story in his inimitable voice. Herzog by Ebert is a terrific collection of essays about Herzog’s films by the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic. The collection Klaus Kinski: Beast of Cinema contains essays about Kinski’s films and interviews with filmmakers and actors who worked with him.