Klaus Kinski believed that he lived through the same experiences as the legendary "devil violinist" Niccolò Paganini, who set all of nineteenth-century Europe into a frenzy and through ...
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Klaus Kinski believed that he lived through the same experiences as the legendary "devil violinist" Niccolò Paganini, who set all of nineteenth-century Europe into a frenzy and through whose personality Kinski offers an incredibly profound and honest insight into his own life; a life of extremities. Written by
Klaus Kinski, full-time actor and madman, takes on the character of Paganini in this painterly tableau of the artist's obsessions and world.
Kinski assumes the role of star, director, occasional cameraman and places family members in prominent parts. The film is heavy on symbolism and sparse in the storytelling department. It is basically a series of meditations and the artist at rest before he goes on rampages of sex, as frenetic as his violin playing. The film is full of often beautiful photography (mostly using natural light or candles) and the distorted vision of the period comes to life in a staggering way. In terms of narrative, it is a complete fiasco, but Kinski does not give a damn about the story. He cares about the character and the moment. As such, character and moment are as intense and vibrant as any Kinski performance.
Kinski as an actor always seemed to burn through the screen. This film is 100% Kinski. Therefore, predictably, it is completely overwhelming, unbearable one might say, even if one overlooks the manic sex scenes (a heroic feat): a woman touches herself to the sound of Paganini's playing, while horses fornicate; the camera whirls savagely about as Paganini dives hungrily into an admirer's skirt, etc. Frankly these scenes would be out of place in any other movie. What unsettles here is the fact that they seem entirely at home in this crazed psychopath of a film.
Kinski Paganini is impossible to rate. You will very likely hate it (all the more so if you see it in the company of other people). As a window into Klaus Kinski's mind, it is essential. And, since it is a completely personal work featuring the creator's obsessions and themes, under his complete control, it fits the dictionary definition of art. Art is in the eye of the beholder (so no one need feel personally insulted), and for better or worse, this is one of the rare times I have seen its kind on a screen. You get it or you don't, and on a visceral level since narrative or sense is not the issue (in fact the only similar film is Luis Bunuel's "Un Chien Andalou", where you just follow a train of thought...).
A train-wreck of a film. Filmed with bewildering sensitivity and and fueled by intimidating passion, this is the cinematic expression of a man's soul.
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