My Best Fiend (1999)

 Werner Herzog's documentary tribute to his work with the legendary actor Klaus Kinski. Anchor Bay UK R0 boxset release.

The Film

Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog worked together on five films - rather like brothers, their relationship varied from emotional and understanding, even caring, to outright hostility - with both men seriously plotting to kill each other. But out of that relationship came two of the best films of all time, and three other interesting works. My Best Fiend tells the story behind the relationship.

Presented by Werner Herzog, the film uses footage from the five films, although the focus is mainly on the jungle bound Aguirre (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) - with Nosferatu (1979) barely even getting a mention and only a brief look at Cobra Verde (1987) which marked the end of their partnership. There is a short clip from an earlier film Kinder, Mütter und ein General (1955) which was one of Kinski's first films, as well as some footage from Burden of Dreams (1982), a behind the scenes documentary about the filming of Fitzcarraldo (1982), and some film of Kinski's infamous Jesus Tour of the early 1970s where he ranted and raved to an audience with no script or planning.

Ultimately, the film is trying to achieve far too much with only limited footage (no behind the scenes shots of Herzog's films other than Fitzcarraldo (1982) exist) and so most of the film is comprised of Herzog's anecdotes, which although interesting, will be very familiar to anyone who has read the book Herzog on Herzog or listened to his audio commentaries. Far more interesting would have been a biographical film about Kinski's entire career - including interviews with directors like Jess Franco (who worked with him 4 times) and his various co-stars, from Clint Eastwood to Jack Lemmon. While worth watching for the shots of the 'Jesus Tour' and an American television interview with the duo, the film has very little original to offer. Herzog/Kinski fans may enjoy, but it is not recommended.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? Klaus Kinski - One of the biggest names in Euro-cult cinema, most famous for his 5 films with Herzog.
Directed by anyone interesting? Werner Herzog - one of European cinema's best directors with a powerful artistic vision in all his films.
Any violence/gore? None
Any sex? None
Who is it for?
Of interest to Herzog/Kinski fans, but not recommended.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.77:1 Anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The print quality varies heavily, with lots of grainy old footage. The newly filmed segments look decent but there is a slight softness to the picture. There is a noticable and annoying blue flicker on the side of the picture for most of the run-time.
Audio German and English stereo. The English track includes segments from films in German. 
Subtitles English - transcribes the English track and translates the German film clips. Lots of spelling errors.
AvailabilityAvailable in the Herzog Kinski collection boxset only.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Original cinema trailer.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Anchor Bay R1 DVD - possibly with a sharper print.
Cuts? None known. German language print.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 20th August 2006.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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