Hathos For Herzog

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 24 2015 @ 6:44pm

Werner Herzog narrates one of Klaus Kinski’s outbursts on the set of Fitzcarraldo (language is NSFW, especially for German speakers):

Kinski appears to have experienced the “compulsion of revulsion” for the director. Charlie McCann, who recently saw Herzog speak at the New York Public Library, elaborates:

At one point [event director Paul] Holdengräber read a particularly vivid passage from an autobiography by Klaus Kinski, the mercurial actor who starred in several of Herzog’s films:

“He should be thrown alive to the crocodiles! The sting of a deadly spider should paralyse him! His brain should burst from the bite of the most poisonous of all snakes! Panthers shouldn’t slit his throat open with their claws, that would be too good for him! No. Big red ants should piss in his eyes, eat his balls, penetrate his asshole, and eat his guts! He should get the plague! Syphilis! Malaria! Yellow fever! Leprosy! In vain. The more I wish the most horrible of deaths on him and treat him like the scum of the earth that he is, the less I can get rid of him!”

Herzog’s reply? “It’s good prose.”

He wasn’t just being game. When Kinski was writing this invective, he came to Herzog for assistance. Herzog pulled out his pocket OED and together they looked for choice metaphors and better epithets. It turns out even his sworn enemies come to Herzog for guidance.