Saturday night I accompanied Mikey J to view the Werner Herzog film My Best Fiend, about Herzog's relationship with Klaus Kinski. I should say, first off, that I have only seen a couple of Herzog films, and Nosferatu was the only thing that I'd ever seen Kinski in. (Although, for the record, Kinski's vampire is, by far, the greatest portrayal of a bloodsucker ever. He is so sad, so lonely, so awkward. Edward Cullen should have skipped all the LONG explanations to Bella about the sacrifices of eternal life and should have just rented Nosferatu. Then maybe the 2000 pages of the Twilight series could have been slimmed down to more like 500.)
But here's the thing--you don't have to know ANYTHING about Kinski, or about Herzog, to watch this film. You just have to love crazy people. And watching crazy people tell stories. And seeing crazy people freak out and yell "lick my ass" when they are not happy with the offerings of craft services. And it helps if you find any of the following entertaining: 1) German understatement 2) nihilistic descriptions of nature 3) possible animal abuse 4) extreme examples of egomania. It turns out, by the way, that I find all of these things amusing.
Herzog is a confounding fellow. I'm not sure that I believe ANY of the stories he tells in the course of the film. And yet, I'm not sure that I believe that HE doesn't believe those stories. He is a man who always seems completely un-ironic, while also appearing completely insincere. How can that be? I am tempted to chalk it up to German-ness, but I'm not sure that my sense of German-ness is not based (almost entirely) on a ridiculously exaggerated caricature. And by that, of course, I mean Mike Meyers's Dieter. So I'm not sure what to think about Herzog. Nor about Kinski.
The greatest mystery of all is WHY IN THE WORLD Herzog made this film. Mikey suggested that he made it because he was tired of answering the question, "what was it like to work with Klaus Kinski?" Maybe. But I'm not convinced that I really understand what it was like to work with Kinski after seeing the film. Herzog does interview a couple of other people who knew and worked with Kinski, but since these interviews are conducted and edited by Herzog, they serve mostly to support Herzog's own interpretation of events, rather than to flesh out the man.
But this isn't really a criticism. And the confusion inherent in the film should not be a deterrent to seeing it. You all should see it. You'll like it. If nothing else, the film offers a surprising suggestion about how to quickly silence a raving maniac. The technique involves chocolate. Go figure.