Herzog Masterpieces to Air in Conjunction with Documentary
This August, The Independent Film Channel (IFC) will present the World Television Premiere of Werner Herzog’s acclaimed film, My Best Fiend. This IFC Original Production, which premieres Friday, August 4 at 8:00PM/ET, chronicles the love/hate relationship between the legendary, iconoclastic director and the late Klaus Kinski.
Directed and narrated by Herzog, My Best Fiend is a personal homage to the notoriously short-fused, inscrutable actor widely considered to be equal parts genius and monster. Herzog takes his audience for a nostalgic but bumpy stroll down memory lane, recounting life with the madman who was his great friendand worst enemy. From cast members offering to murder Kinski to Herzog’s numerous plans to do the deed himself, My Best Fiend is the ultimate personification of the proverbial phrase “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
“Kinski and I complemented each other in a strange way,” recalls Herzog. “His outbreaks of hatred were certainly authentic, nevertheless we worked together again.”
One could say fate brought the two together at a crowded Munich boarding house in the 1950’s. Herzog details Kinski’s reign of domestic terror, which included a rampage lasting two days and two nights. “All this made a deep impression on me thenthat I would work with him later and make five feature films with him was never on my horizon, it was beyond my furthest thoughts,” says Herzog. But the duo later formed a working relationship that would span over 15 years. Kinski starred in the Herzog classics Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu: The Vampire (1978), Woyzeck (1978), Fitzcarraldo (1981) and Cobra Verde (1987).
The tribute to the maniacal muse combines footage of Kinski’s finest on-screen work, and of his most violent off-screen tantrums, with sincere laudatory testimonials from co-stars Claudia Cardinale and Eva Mattes. His sadistic behavior is further illustrated by Herzog’s memory of Kinski reacting to a favorable review from a theater critic by throwing cutlery and shrieking, “I was not excellent, I was not extraordinary, I was monumental, I was epochal.” The two were the closest of friends, each being the first to admit that his success would be non-existent without the other. Still – buddies or not, when these two were in a room together, there was no telling if either one would make it out alive.
In My Best Fiend, Herzog also takes the opportunity to set the record straight about what really happened on the set of Aquirre and to describe his methods for harnessing Kinski’s creativity and redirecting his fury. “It was circulated in the press that I directed from behind the camera with a loaded rifle. Of course, this wasn’t true but he was very docile and disciplined for the rest of the shoot,” says Herzog. “The beast had been tamed after all. His true madness and energy had been contained within the frame of a screen image and I thank his cowardice and instincts for a magnificent ending of Aguirre.”
A smash hit on the film festival circuit in 1999, My Best Fiend was an official selection of the Cannes International Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. The New Yorker Films release made its theatrical debut last fall at the Film Forum in New York City.
Along with the documentary, IFC will premiere three of Herzog’s and Kinski’s greatest works together including:
Aguirre: The Wrath of God
Friday, August 4 at 6:25PM/ET
A hypnotic tale of a Spanish conquistador who leads an expedition through the deadly Amazon jungle in search of the mythical city of El Dorado.
Nosferatu: The Vampire
Friday, August 4 at 9:45PM/ET
Transcendental and terrifying, Herzog’s retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel recasts the figure of Dracula as the lonely and cursed victim.
Friday, August 4 at 1:15AM/ET
Despite urgent warnings by engineers, Herzog dragged a real steamboat across a rainforest mountain, proving he was just as obsessed as his title character, an opera-loving idealist who wants to open up the jungle to the rubber trade.
A prominent member of the New German Cinema that emerged in the 1960’s, Werner Herzog was born in Munich on September 5, 1942. He grew up in a remote mountain village in Bavaria and never saw any films, television or telephones as a child. He started travelling on foot from the age of 14. He made his first phone call at age 17. During high school he worked the nightshift as a welder in a steel factory, and produced his first film in 1961 at the age of 19. Since then, he has produced, written and directed more than forty films, published more than a dozen books of prose and has written as many operas. He can also be currently seen in Harmony Korine’s julien donkey-boy.
The Independent Film Channel (IFC), managed and operated by Bravo Networks, is the first channel dedicated to independent film presented 24 hours a day, uncut and commercial-free. The Independent Film Channel, reaching more than 30 million homes on a full-time basis, is the most widely distributed channel dedicated to independent film on television.