My Best Fiend (Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski)

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Total Count: 25


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,131
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Movie Info

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.

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Werner Herzog
as Narrator

Critic Reviews for My Best Fiend (Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski)

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (5)

  • What's the difference between artistry and bravado? This isn't a question I generally feel inclined to ask, but I'm compelled by the work of Werner Herzog, who scrambles the two until it's difficult to tell which is which.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 1/4
  • My Best Fiend is about two men who both wanted to be dominant, who both had all the answers, who were inseparably bound together in love and hate, and who created extraordinary work -- while all the time each resented the other's contribution.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • With generous clips from Herzog and Kinski's collaborations, My Best Fiend is one of the great portraits of artists fighting, even with murderous rage, to reach the sublime.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • While My Best Fiend -- does a splendid job of chronicling the high drama and creative pinnacles of their work together, it emphasizes the most public and bleakly amusing aspects of their story.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/5
  • A thoughtful and clever examination by the director of his longstanding friendship and creative partnership with the late Klaus Kinski.

    Oct 26, 2007 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…
  • Herzog's and Kinski's collaboration was one of the strongest in cinema, and the movie does justice to that energy.

    May 26, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for My Best Fiend (Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski)

  • Aug 11, 2012
    "My Best Fiend" is Werner Herzog's love letter of a documentary film to his frequent collaborator Klaus Kinski. It also chronicles their turbulent relationship through strange anecdotes and firsthand stories on set. But aside from this notion of reliving Kinski's eccentricity and enigma in a very reflective fashion, this documentary film also serves as a chance for Herzog to analyze and interpret what has been going on inside Kinski's mind all throughout their troubled film collaborations that were often marred by the latter's lengthy diatribes and temperamental unpredictability. Armed with an eloquence that's both strangely moving and profound, Herzog probes deep into his professional and personal relationship with Klaus Kinski not just to feed our minds with how things have occurred between them but also as a form of myth-making on his part. In the end, he just wants to eternalize Herzog not as a restless madman but as a serene friend; not as a difficult eccentric but someone that could have easily been him in a parallel lifetime. "That makes two of us!" Herzog blurted out when Kinski accused him of being a megalomaniac. This is not your ordinary actor-director relationship. This is mania matched with mania. This is artistic narcissism matched with mad ambition. This is a bomb waiting to explode. This is friendship at its most reluctant. This is their uneasy story. Returning to the locations of their two most heralded collaborations, "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo", and even a brief visit to the location where "Woyzeck'" was shot (with a reflective interview with star Eva Mattes), Herzog retraces the path of their insane acts of mutual artistry that's both appalling and fascinatingly magnetic. We are even granted a peek into some rare footages that shows Kinski both at his unstoppably worst (as he verbally assaults a production manager) and at his subtly caring best (as he tends to a wounded cameraman). We also see one of the extras in "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" whose head still bears the scar where Kinski has once hit him with a sword. He also shared a little anecdote involving Kinski, some 45 movie extras and a Winchester Rifle. Judging from Kinski's demeanor, you already have a clue of what has transpired. But despite of these shenanigans, Werner Herzog, with his all too personal analysis of Kinski's psyche in relation to his own, is subtly elegiac about the whole thing. He is fully guilty of the fact that he once threatened Kinski with a gun just to prevent him from leaving the still unfinished production of "Fitzcarraldo". He's also quite repentant that, at one time, he once meditated in 'firebombing' Kinski's house. With these admissions, Herzog knows that even though he claims that he is 'clinically sane' so to speak, Kinski is the only man that can bring out the madman in him. But at the same time, it's not only madness that they have extracted from each other; they have also brought out the best within the both of them. Their monolithic collaborative films can speak for themselves, and "My Best Fiend" may serve as the quiet immortalization of their friendship and film partnership that has made these pictures possible. It's a shame that Kinski died too soon. It's quite interesting to hear his part of the story. But seeing him in the film, tranquil and all, with a pretty little butterfly flying around him is quite enough. In that footage, there's calm in his eyes and certain quietness to his soul; the ideal image that Herzog wants to remember Kinski with. Perhaps Herzog appreciates great irony.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Jul 25, 2008
    L O L what a prick~ i need to watch fitzcarraldo again
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Feb 13, 2008
    Boy oh boy, watching Herzog and Kinski go at it is like watching two rival wrestlers screaming into the mic. Sure they hate each other, but they need each other to co-exist. Like Batman and the Joker, except there is no light and dark... only darkness. Scary, scary darkness.
    Christopher B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2007
    This film made me admire Herzog even more. All directors have regular collaboraters, and here Herzog discusses his work and relationship with the tempestuous Kinski. And he isn't afraid to to tell us exactly what sort of man Kinski was, how he was often arrogant, selfish and volatile. How Herzog once plotted to fire-bomb his house, and also threatened to Kinski's face that he was going to shoot him. And yet at the end of the day they made five films together - including the classic Fitzcarraldo, and the (far better than the original) remake of Nosferatu. It's when Herzog admits that he "sometimes" misses him and then shows footage of Kinski's softer side that you start to understand their friendship. Unmissable for fans of the two.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer

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