Helmer gets his revenge

Calls his rival 'ultimate pestilence'

SAN FRANCISCO — Klaus Kinski had his say about that dictatorial blankety-blank Werner Herzog in his 1988 memoir “All I Need Is Love.” Now it’s Herzog’s turn.

Helmer of “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” “Fitzcarraldo” and “Nosferatu,” all with Kinski, Herzog is now at work on a docu about his love-hate relationship with Kinski, who died in 1991.

“He was just the ultimate pestilence, the ultimate!” Herzog recalled. “People like Marlon Brando were probably kindergartners compared to him.”

In the next breath, he added, “But he was the ultimate joy as well to work with.”

“Herzog’s Kinski” and “Kinski & Me” are projected titles. Herzog’s favorite: ” ‘My Kinski’ — like ‘Mein Kampf.’ ”

“Of course Kinski has been very close to me,” Herzog said. “So close, I had to make a film, not so much about him, but about our monstrous struggles and our deep, deep friendship and distrust. Which sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not.”

For new footage, Herzog returned to the scene of the crime: Peruvian Amazon locations for “Aguirre” and “Fitzcarraldo,” where director and star engaged in shouting matches that degenerated into threats of bodily harm.

Kinski’s memoir, which cast the author as a cross between Oliver Twist and a sex-crazed Casanova, won’t be consulted. “Much of it is fantasy,” Herzog said.

The pages of expletives heaped on the helmer were the result of Kinski-Herzog skull sessions. “He said, ‘What else can I say bad about you? C’mon help me. I have to sell this book. If I write that we like each other in a single paragraph, nobody would be interested.’ We had a couple of hearty laughs over it.”

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