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My Best Fiend (1999)

Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski (original title)
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In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »


Werner Herzog
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Werner Herzog ... Himself - Narrator / Interviewer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Claudia Cardinale ... Herself
Justo González Justo González ... Himself
Paul Hittscher Paul Hittscher ... Himself (archive footage)
Mick Jagger ... Himself - Wilbur (archive footage)
Klaus Kinski ... Himself (archive footage)
Tom Luddy ... Himself (archive footage)
Eva Mattes ... Herself
Thomas Mauch ... Himself (archive footage)
Benino Moreno Placido Benino Moreno Placido ... Himself
Beat Presser Beat Presser ... Himself
Jason Robards ... Fitzcarraldo (archive footage)
Guillermo Ríos ... Himself (archive footage)
Walter Saxer ... Himself (archive footage)
Lucki Stipetic Lucki Stipetic ... Himself (archive footage)


In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour fit of rage, Kinski completely destroyed the bathroom. From this chaos, a violent, love-hate, profoundly creative partnership was born. In 1972, Herzog cast Kinski in Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). Four more films would follow. In this personal documentary, Herzog traces the often violent ups and downs of their relationship, revisiting the various locations of their films and talking to the people they worked with. Written by L.H. Wong <lhw@sfs.org.sg>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Germany | UK | USA


German | English | Spanish

Release Date:

7 October 1999 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

My Best Fiend See more »

Filming Locations:

Peru See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,677, 7 November 1999

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR


Black and White (archive footage)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


During Klaus Kinski's infamous temper tantrum on the set of Fitzcarraldo (1982), which he mostly aimed at production manager Walter Saxer, he yells that he "isn't sitting in that shitty costume in his shitty car in Holland this time". He was referring to the production of Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), which was filmed in Delft, Holland during summer, when the temperatures were hot at the time. Kinski was driven to the set in a heated car while in full costume, which irritated him greatly. See more »


Werner Herzog: Every grey hair on my head, I call Kinski.
See more »


Features Cobra Verde (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

Fascinating documentary about two mad geniuses
27 June 2011 | by Red-BarracudaSee all my reviews

This fascinating documentary is not really about a madman. It's about two madmen. While it's quite obvious from the outset that Klaus Kinski is a nutcase, it becomes more and more apparent that Werner Herzog himself is a pretty crazed character as well. For anyone who has seen Aguirre, the Wrath of God or Fitzcarraldo this will come as no surprise, seeing as those two movies were pretty crazy undertakings to begin with. Travelling down the Amazon on primitive rafts and dragging steamboats over hills are not the sort of activities carried out by normal film makers. Repeatedly making films with Kinski was perhaps an even less sane idea but Herzog made five features with this most demented actor. The films themselves are completely engrossing and unique. This documentary is likewise.

Having read Kinski's autobiography 'Kinski Uncut' I was under no illusions of what I was going to encounter here. The book is a quite extraordinary account. Surely there has never been a star autobiography quite like this one? Full of aggression, madness and pornographic detail of his sexual exploits, this was the work of a deranged individual. Kinski didn't really focus on his film career, he concentrated much more on his sexual liaisons and was not shy at hurling insults around at famous people. For instance, he declined a role offered to him from Federico Fellini because the money was not good enough, he dismissed Fellini with the words 'Go and have yourself f---ed in the ass!'. I couldn't imagine Tom Hanks saying this to Steven Spielberg to be perfectly honest. In the book too, Kinski continually makes clear his severe dislike for Herzog. In My Best Fiend, Herzog suggests that both men worked on the insults together in order to make the book more sensational. I do have to wonder to the legitimacy of this claim, as it does seem strange. From what I have seen Kinski needed no assistance in coming up with insults to hurl at anyone, least of all Werner Herzog.

So, similar to Kinski's book, the account given by Herzog in this documentary is a highly subjective one. You really can never be sure the true extent of the truth, and you never will be. But My Best Fiend is a terrific film whatever the case. Herzog is incapable of being boring and he does capture the essence of the relationship between these two striking individuals very well. There are a number of other people interviewed too, who worked with these men on these films and this adds a great deal to the story. While there is some fantastic footage of Kinski to appreciate, from the pure unhinged insanity of his Jesus Christ Savior performance, to his intense ranting over a minor food-based complaint on the set of Fitzcarraldo, to the extraordinary gentleness of his interaction with a butterfly.

This film is a rarity in that it is one that can just as easily be enjoyed even if you have no knowledge of the films made by the two principal characters. Both men are just too unorthodox and the relationship so fraught that the story of their relationship is enough in itself. For fans of the movies themselves, this is of course, an absolute must.

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