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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
Note: I thought it would be more in line with the spirit of the film if I capitalised every instance of KLAUS KINSKI's name being used throughout this review
I have no doubt that this is the most narcissistic film ever to see the inside of a cinema. Even the very title KINSKI Paganini shows a total lack of restraint.
It begins with an audience of pretty women frigging themselves senseless as KINSKI lashes at his violin. The whole movie is pretty much a montage of women losing complete control of their senses at the mere thought of KINS--- I mean Paganini. Even eleven year old girls wish they could, for but one second, experience the full thrust of his virility. He even sends sea-animals into a dizzy frenzy of lust- and horses, too. You see two horses going at it early on in the film and I'm sure both of them were secretly thinking of KINSKI. At least that's what he probably wanted us to think.
Just like with Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie, whatever plot may have been present whilst shooting was completely torn to shreds in the editing suite. What remains is a lot of strangely pretty shots of KINSKI power-walking through a lush 19th Century Europe or cavorting with buxom underrage actresses inside ornate manor houses. It's mostly shot in a cinéma vérité style. If it weren't for the fact that he's on screen for almost every second of the movie, I wouldn't be surprised if it was KINSKI himself manning the camera. The only time you see shots of anyone else is when a beautiful woman is rubbing herself lustfully, her thoughts occupied by the eponymous scowling Nosferatu with sweaty jet-black hair and a bald patch.
Ah, but KINSKI has a more sensitive side, too. Just like that memorable scene in My Best Fiend where he gently plays with a butterfly that's become strangely enamoured of him, we see him care for his exceptionally pretty young son. Although even this relationship seems oddly lusty.
The camera-work, well-staged as most of it is, has far too many close- ups. You almost never see any wide shots showing off the beautiful locations. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind at all this is because KINSKI wanted KINSKI to fill up the frame as much as possible. According to his ol' sparring partner Herzy, KINSKI threw a tantrum for not having the opening shot to Aguirre be a close-up of him walking down that misty mountain, instead of the hundreds of people and cattle that we actually saw. Well, he finally got his way.
In all likelihood, you'll absolutely loathe this movie. And you'll probably be right to. But there is a strange energy coursing throughout- that of a man at the end of his tether, foreseeing his death, and spending all his remaining lifeblood on this one final work.
I believe KLAUS KINSKI may have been an incredibly rare genetic throwback to some transitional Cro-Magnon race. He shows no signs of the tempering of thousands of years of social evolution. He's like some purely physical being. You can tell that by the time this movie was shot, he didn't so much burn the candle at both ends as throw it into the fire and cackle maniacally as it melted. He died two years after this was released. It was the last film he shot in a career that spanned over 130 movies. I can't think of a more fitting way to go out.
If you came here as a Paganini fan rather than a KINSKI fan (as if anyone could be a bigger fan of KINSKI than KINSKI himself), you can always just imagine this is a sexy 80-minute music video to some of Paganini's works. The interpretations by Salvatore Accardo are wonderfully performed.
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