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My Best Fiend

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Title: My Best Fiend  
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Subject: Werner Herzog, Fitzcarraldo, Klaus Kinski, Mick Jagger, Films directed by Werner Herzog
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My Best Fiend

My Best Fiend
Screenshot from the film
Directed by Werner Herzog
Produced by Lucki Stipetic
Written by Werner Herzog
Starring Werner Herzog
Klaus Kinski (archive footage)
Eva Mattes
Claudia Cardinale
Narrated by Werner Herzog
Music by Popol Vuh
Cinematography Peter Zeitlinger
Edited by Joe Bini
Release dates
  • 7 October 1999 (1999-10-07)
Running time
95 min.
Country Germany
Language German

My Best Fiend (German: Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski, literally My Dearest Enemy - Klaus Kinski) is a 1999 German documentary film written and directed by Werner Herzog, about his tumultuous yet productive relationship with German actor Klaus Kinski. It was released on DVD in 2000 by Anchor Bay.


  • Plot 1
  • Critical reception 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


The film opens with shots of Klaus Kinski performing – after his own interpretation – the role of Jesus. Kinski harangues the audience for not paying attention to him, curses wildly, has the microphone taken away from him, and, screaming, steals it back. Kinski left one of his Jesus tours to star in Herzog's film, Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). This was the first of five films that the two would make together, the others being Nosferatu the Vampyre (1978); Woyzeck (1978); Fitzcarraldo (1982); and Cobra Verde (1987).

Herzog tours a substantially renovated apartment that he and his family shared with Kinski and other boarders, looks at the first film clip he ever saw of Kinski, and presents footage from the sets of their various movies. He recounts the heated and sometimes violent altercations between them, including the oft-repeated story of how he threatened to shoot Kinski should he leave the production of Aguirre. He also draws on footage from Burden of Dreams (1982), a documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo, which was a particularly difficult film for their relationship.

At the same time, Herzog expresses a deep respect for Kinski's acting talent. Interviews with two of the women who starred opposite him, Eva Mattes (from Woyzeck) and Claudia Cardinale (from Fitzcarraldo), suggest that the actor had a calmer side. The final sequence in the film shows Kinski playing with a butterfly in the Peruvian jungle.

Herzog describes Kinski's death as the result of having lived so strenuously and fully – "like a comet", as he puts it. His voice is heard over the final scene of Cobra Verde, in which Kinski collapses in the surf as he tries to pull a large boat out to sea.

Critical reception

The documentary was screened out of competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

As of May 2013, My Best Fiend had an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2]

[3] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of a possible four, saying:

Jonathan Rosenbaum, writing for the Chicago Reader, was less enthusiastic, calling the film, "The art-movie equivalent to writer-director Blake Edwards's Trail of the Pink Panther":


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: My Best Fiend". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  2. ^ My Best Fiend at Rotten Tomatoes
  3. ^ Janet Maslin's review, New York Times
  4. ^ Roger Ebert's review, Chicago Sun-Times
  5. ^ Chicago ReaderJonathan Rosenbaum's Review,

External links

  • My Best Fiend at the Internet Movie Database
  • My Best Fiend at AllMovie
  • My Best Fiend on YouTube
  • A short transcript from the film explaining both Kinski and Herzog's attitude to the jungle, from Herzog's point of view.
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