This Werner Herzog epic launched one of the most dangerous actor-director films.

Consider a lot Werner Herzogbreakout movie of, Aguirre, the wrath of God will be admired by many cinematic icons, the passion of which he will pay back tenfold through his relationship with the star of the film, Klaus Kinski, which marked the beginning of one of the most dangerous actor-director relationships in film history. Although their first collaboration was marred by constant conflict between them, most of which were reported to be caused by Kinski’s sudden and often violent outbursts (there is strong evidence that Klaus Kinski suffered from a severe case of psychosis), the two would continue to work together for four more Herzog films, mostly as directors.

The movie in question that shows this symbolic pairing includes Nosferatu Vampyre (considered by many to be the best Dracula film), an adaptation of the unfinished play WojciechAdventure – epic Fitzcarraldo (a favorite that holds a contender for the craziest Werner Herzog shot, which by his standards is saying something), and finally, Cobra VerdeAbout a fictional slave trader who arrived in the kingdom of Dahomey (think A female king meet… well, Klaus Kinski). The differences within the films he made with Herzog alone should not leave the audience in question about the man’s acting abilities, but Kinski’s credits stretch far and wide, having appeared in more than 130 films, many of them Spaghetti Westerns, including one of the most daring transgressions of all time. Both on and off camera, Kinski is one of the most dangerous presences of all time, and that is compared to Herzog himself, the man who once hypnotized an entire movie set (a skill he used with chickens).

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Who is Klaus Kinski?

Klaus Kinski as Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald in Fitzcarraldo
Image via Filmverlag der Autoren

Facts about Kinski’s life are hard to come by because of his erratic behavior, it is unwise to judge his biography as true. However, the rumors are wild, probably the highest with the sending of a soldier into the German Wehrmacht during WWII and his capture by British soldiers (where he reportedly made his first appearance), only to try to be sent home as quickly as possible by drinking his own urine and smoking cigarettes (under the assumption that sick POWs will be sent home first). Steven Spielberg reportedly trying to oust him as a leader in Raiders of the Lost Ark, only for Kinski to dismiss the script as “a yawn-making, boring, pile of shit.” It’s safe to say the world dodged a bullet there.

Werner Herzog tried to fix the relationship between him and Kinski through a 1999 documentary. My best enemy, a passion that offers a beautiful overview of both Kinski’s madness and his sensitive side (although it should be noted that the occasional evidence of sensitivity is not an excuse for the amount of anger that this man inflicts on those around him). for Aguirre In particular, the film that started it all, the film takes place in the harsh Peruvian jungle to chronicle the journey of the conquistador Lope de Aguirre as he leads a group of colonialists down the Amazon River in a futile search for El Dorado, the mythical city of gold.

Herzog was well aware of the insanity required for the role and sought out Kinski in particular, who, while insanely excited by the project, proved infuriatingly unproductive when he wasn’t the center of attention. All this while the sailors and crew cut through incredibly difficult terrain and rapidly descend on the ill-fated ship. It is not only a miracle that the film was successful, but the fact that no one lost their lives is a very special achievement, especially such as …

Why did Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski threaten to kill each other?

Man with medieval armor in front of dirty water
Image via Filmverlag der Autoren

The most famous story related to the filming of Aguirre Can be found on the DVD commentary track of the film as well as the aforementioned My best enemy. In one instance, Kinski was irritated by the noise of the cast and crew playing cards in the hut. His response involved firing three shots into the same hut, blowing off one poor man’s fingertip. To be honest, the man should have been arrested then and there, but when Kinski threatened to walk out of the project during production, Herzog recalled, “I told him I had a big gun. (If he didn’t come back) there would be eight bullets in his head and the ninth bullet would be mine.” Kinski reportedly understood instinctively that Herzog was no longer joking and thus finished the film.

The story would later evolve into the claim that Herzog directed Kinski for the rest of the film by shooting the gun, which Herzog said was apocryphal. Although no movie is worth facilitating such behavior, the result is one of the most insane and deranged performances ever seen on screen. To understand the gravitas that Kinski brings to his characters, one needs to look no further than the scene My best enemy Where Herzog contrasts the performance of the original lead Jason Robards and Mick Jagger (whose footage had to be scrapped due to Robards’ contraction of dysentery in the jungle) with Kinski’s. As great as it was to see the Jagger-Herzog collaboration, it’s hard to argue that Kinski’s performance as Fitzcarraldo isn’t a surprisingly powerful piece of performance art (which, it must be reiterated, is no excuse for bullying).

‘Aguirre, Wrath of God’ leads to the birth of the Klaus Kinski Spiral

Klaus Kinski as Renfield and Maria Rohm as Mina in Count Dracula (1970)
Image via Variety Distribution

Klaus Kinski is not only an outstanding actor, but a filmmaker. The truth behind that statement is evident in his command of cinematographic principles to improve his own practice. Herzog gave special praise to this story My best enemyuse Aguirre was his main example for the birth of what he would dub the ‘Kinski spiral’. In explaining it, Herzog says that entering the frame from both sides of the camera robs the scene of any tension. However, Kinski’s method involves standing next to the camera and twisting his legs around the tripod so that his body is forced to “spiral itself into the image”.

The result, combined with Kinski’s terrifying face, created an incredibly frightening and dangerous effect. Kinski repeated many of these changes, one of which can be seen in Fitzcarraldo clip above, although in that particular shot, he’s from below. It is a genius cinematic technique that goes to show the strength of the actors at work with The camera is instead just in front of it. Although Kinski’s background comes from theater, his mastery of film performance is truly worthy of study. Suitable for certain ethical protections.

Whether it is his performance For a few dollars more Or Doctor Zhivago (Another terrible production, though that doesn’t appear to be Kinski’s fault), Kinski’s legacy is cemented among cinephiles as one of the worst actors of all time. One can only hope that the victims of his explosion find peace after the continuous suffering that he inflicted on them, Herzog included (and that is the man who was shot during the interview with. Mark Kermode, just shrug the chance off as “not important”). Herzog’s films often cost a torturous production cycle, but even for him, his Kinski production is particularly hellish. Herzog once described Kinski as “one of the greatest actors of the century, but also a monster and a great plague.” In the case of Kinski’s cinematography, the separation of the art from the artist is not only debatable, it is absolutely necessary.

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