a blog with cultural bulimia.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Madness and genius: the madness of geniuses

Three of my favorite movies come from the Herzog/Kinski collaboration. Werner Herzog also made my all time favorite movie, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, but that will be a whole separate post.and now?

I have just read this great article on Klaus Kinski at Salon (free one day membership if you watch the sponsor's ad), Devoured by demons, which brought up all these questions on madness and genius and how can we separate or enjoy the product from where it came from.
"I am like a wild animal born in captivity, in a zoo. But where a beast would have claws, I have talent,' Kinski said, and his talent mauled many. But, like any great beast, his bright, untamed power was awe-inspiring."
Having just digressed about the movie Fitzcarraldo with Mr. JJ over the weekend (coincidence?) but not able to convey what I wanted, I will just try again, letting other people speak for me...
Fitzcarraldo: "A gigantic jungle adventure about the concepts of destiny, fate and the power of dreams.
A man dares, what anybody else would call madness.
Werner Herzog on Fitzcarraldo: "According to Herzog, he didn't cast Kinski initially because he thought Kinski would go 'totally bonkers' if trapped on location in the Amazon during the production's lengthy shooting schedule. Herzog's fears were well founded. Once shooting resumed with Kinski in the lead role, Kinski flew into daily rages. Much of Herzog's time was devoted to holding Kinski together. Kinski became so difficult to work with that an Indian chief (who had a small role in the movie) went to Herzog and offered to murder Kinski. The Indians hated him. They weren't used to people ranting and raving at the slightest provocation."

Klaus Kinski on Fitzcarraldo: "Months ago I told Herzog that he could go fuck himself, and I hung up on him. So he began Fitzcarraldo without me, using someone from New York, plus Mick Jagger as Fitzcarraldo's best friend. Now Herzog fucking shows up in L.A. and begs me to star in the movie.
After some four weeks of shooting with the guy from New York, Herzog, even with his moronic brain, must have realized that the result was all garbage and that he had to start all over again from scratch. For the fourth time this blowhard has proved that without me he´s a nonentity. Nevertheless he tries to rip me off in L.A.
Every single word in the contract has to be retyped - until Herzog finally throws the towel: At midnight he runs out of the office of the Beverly Hills lawyer and lets me write anything I like.'

The New York Times Review from 10/10/82: "Fitzcarraldo may well be a madman's dream, but it's also a fine, quirky, fascinating movie. It's a stunning spectacle, an adventure-comedy not quite like any other, and the most benign movie ever made about nineteenth-century capitalism running amok."