Friday, June 17, 2011

'Klaus Kinski: Jesus Christ the Savior'
Plays at Yerba Buena Center on Sunday

The year before Werner Herzog shot his masterpiece "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," starring the volatile and fabulous Klaus Kinski in his most memorable and diabolical role, Kinski put on a raucous show in Berlin that has since gained legendary status.

Snippets of the 1971 Berlin performance were used in Herzog's illuminating and occasinally perverse documentary about his torturous personal and professional relationships with Kinski, "My Best Fiend." Perverse is the most apt word to describe scenes of Kinski's lunacy on the set of "Fitzcarraldo" in South America shown in the documentary.

Who can forget the sheer terror of his eyes in the scene in "My Best Fiend" on the boat where the crew is having a meal discussing responsibilities and whatnot with the Indians, only the Indian is not really talking about navigation and such. Herzog, in his droll narration explains that the Indian is actually offering to butcher him.

When I saw that documentary for the second time at the Castro theater, I thought what a treat it would be for cineastes around the world to see more footage of that tumultuous 1971 show, when Kinski was in his prime. Let's get real here. He certainly was not a classic, good-looking film actor. But his face was made to be captured on celluloid.

My prayers were answered. There is a film of the Berlin performance called "Klaus Kinski: Jesus Christ the Savior" and it's showing on Sunday at 2 PM at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Here's the center's description of what we'll see:

Notorious German actor Klaus Kinski is Jesus in this long-lost one-man show recorded in Berlin in 1971. Kinski, as always, is completely unhinged. Almost immediately the hecklers start in, pushing him into a rage. You have never seen anything like this before, a riveting document of one man vs an audience of 5,000. And despite the chaos, Kinski somehow manages to convey the severe, uncompromising, and truly radical ideas of some of Christ's teachings.

He surely didn't need much to force him into a rage and he could have easily withstood a hostile crowd of 50,000. I can't wait to watch Kinski in his element.

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