My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

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Released 7-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 98:55 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Werner Herzog

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Isabelle Adjani
Claudia Cardinale
Justo González
Werner Herzog
Mick Jagger
Klaus Kinski
Eva Mattes
Benino Moreno Placido
Beat Presser
Guillermo Ríos
Jason Robards
Maximilian Schell
Andrés Vicente
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Popol Vuh

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Generally speaking, if you see a Hollywood biography, particularly one narrated or even made by someone who knew the subject and worked with them, it turns into a self-serving puff piece about what a fine person/actor/director the subject was and glosses over the less savoury aspects of their life and career. As Marlene Dietrich observed, overpraising someone else who inspired/mentored is one of the best ways to push your own barrow, at least in Hollywood.

    When he came to make a documentary about his friend and colleague Klaus Kinski, with whom he made five films, Werner Herzog avoided this approach. Instead he draws a picture that those who worked with Kinski would have been familiar with: a half-mad, petulant egomaniac. He does this not by detailing Kinski's life and career but by chronicling his own interactions with the actor. This starts much earlier than most people imagine, as when Herzog was 13 he went to live in a boarding house with his mother and two brothers. In the same boarding house for three months was Kinski, then a young actor. Herzog revisits this house which is now a private residence, and tells the surprised owners about the havoc that Kinski wreaked, including breaking down a door and screaming abuse at his landlady for not ironing his collars properly, and having a two day fit in the bathroom in which he reduced all of the fittings to rubble that could be sifted with a tennis racket.

    Herzog revisits the locations of Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, and interviews some of the cast members from those films, including Claudia Cardinale. He speaks with Eva Mattes, Kinski's co-star in Woyzeck. This footage is interspersed with film clips and Herzog's own reminiscences about their quarrels, and his plan to firebomb Kinski's house, thwarted only by Kinski's pet Alsatian. There are also some behind the scenes excerpts from Fitzcarraldo (presumably from Burden of Dreams) in which we see Kinski throwing a major tantrum at a cook. Although Kinski made several hundred films, only one is represented by a clip: Kinder, Mutter und Ein General, an early film appearance in which Kinski orders the death of a soldier played by Maximilian Schell.

    Despite Kinski's behaviour he and Herzog remained friendly until near the end of Kinski's life. Herzog avoids pumping himself up at Kinski's expense, which makes this documentary revealing about both. While it could not be described as a detailed portrait of the actor, it gives much insight into the relationship between the pair and why their collaborations tend to be superior to their solo work (perhaps more so in Kinski's case than in Herzog's).

    As a pendant to the five collaborations included in this set, this documentary is more than worthwhile.

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Transfer Quality


    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    For a film that is only six years old, it does not look as good as it should, and I suspect that it may be an NTSC to PAL conversion. The new footage of Herzog and the interviewees is grainy and lacking in detail. The transfer is sharp up to a point. Colour is acceptable but a little muted. Contrast is good but as in all of the releases in this series the shadow detail is no better than average.

    The archival footage varies from good to average, with the usual artefacts. The quality seems to be much the same as the complete films in the rest of the set, though such material as was originally in 1.33:1 is cropped to 1.78:1.

    Optional subtitles are provided in English in yellow font. Just about everything not in English is subtitled and the subtitles are clear. However there are a few spelling errors. Also, during the interview with Eva Mattes the timing of the subtitles seems to move in and out of synch with the dialogue, with the titles sometimes being a little behind. This issue resolves itself after a couple of minutes.

    The disc is dual-layered but there is no layer break during the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio is German Dolby Digital 2.0 without surround encoding. There are a few bits and pieces in English or Spanish (or maybe Portuguese, I'm not certain). The last of these are overdubbed in German by Herzog himself. There is also an English language version, again with Herzog's narration. He has a pleasant and distinctive speaking voice in both languages.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, though some of the interviewees speak quite softly. All of the audio comes across well with no distortion. There is no significant stereo activity, and none is really needed for the documentary to have an impact. In fact, anything like that probably would have been a distraction.

    The music seems to be mostly taken from the film scores by Popol Vuh, which makes it very idiomatic.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

    The audio is music from the film.

Theatrical Trailer (1:29)

    An original trailer in German with English subtitles.

Trailers-Herzog Collection (15:16)

    Trailers for the other discs in this set

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Both the US Region 1 and the UK Region 2 have identical specifications. The video quality of the Region 1 is reported to be better than the Region 2, so I would have to plump for that release.


    A fascinating and compelling documentary about two men who could both be reasonably described as mad, though one claims to be clinically sane.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is good.

    There are no substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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