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 ... See full summary »
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In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »
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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
I wanted to like this film, but it depressed the hell out of me. I notice that several reviews follow the pattern "a fascinating insight into Kinski's mind", but it seems to me (having read his autobiography) that his mind wasn't very interesting. His egomania wasn't matched by competence as a filmmaker, and by the time of this film his acting was reduced to going through the motions - and the motions are often extremely hysterical, but in irritating slow motion! His insistence on using natural lighting doesn't make him a Kubrick - just inept. As a musician, I see no trace of any insight into Paganini here, and the latter was indeed a fascinating human being. I suspect that part of the problem is that Kinski was surrounded by hangers-on, worshippers, arse-lickers (probably literally, in slow motion), sycophants, who either didn't notice that he was producing tripe or were afraid to tell him. The sad, sad thing is that he wasted so much of his life trying to put this farrago together, and that the frustrations of it may have hastened his death. Kinski will be remembered for Woyzeck, for Aguirre, for Fitzcarraldo. His stage performances were extraordinary - the very last one was filmed, and I saw it recently - just an unadorned recitation of the Sermon on the Mount. However, here too his egomania and lack of self-criticism distorted the whole thing: accused of hypocrisy by an audience member, all he can do is throw the microphone stand (not the microphone!) into the audience and storm off. Nearly 30 years later, Paganini has replaced Jesus, but the delusions of grandeur are the same.
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