Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Kinski Files Will Go On

In the wake of the recent disturbing – but not altogether shocking – news that Klaus Kinski's daughter had accused him of molesting her between the ages of 5-14, I wrestled with the future of this blog and, to be frank, my fascination with Kinski.

I've spent years acquiring his films, buying books and magazines, loading up on Turkish posters for largely-forgotten krimis. Would I be able to watch the films the same way again? Or, as The Spiegel posited in a recent article, was it possible to still be a fan of someone that was accused of something so monstrous?

At least one Kinski-related blog – the excellent Du Dumme Sau! – decided to pull the plug and retire, though I find it hard to believe anyone who had looked so closely at his life could truly be "shocked" by this news.

Kinski himself had alluded to such activities over the years, daughter Nastassja implied there existed an underlying real-life villainy to his reel-life madness, and in a book about 80s cinema one director mentioned the actor boasting of an illicit relationship with Pola. So it's not as if this information wasn't there if you wanted to look hard enough.

In the end, this blog and my interest in Kinski has largely been about his on-screen persona and the crazy energy he brought to his film appearances.

And that's the side of the man that I'll continue to explore, though I can't help but think that a darker vision will take shape as my eyes inevitably hunt for clues in his performances.


Aguirrethewrathofdog said...

I enjoy your blog and am glad you're deciding to continue it. I was enthralled by Kinski in Aguirre the Wrath of God and have admired his work ever since. Although I too do not find this news shocking, I was appalled and disgusted to such a degree by these revelations I felt physically ill. I never wanted to believe Kinski could molest his own daughter. I will however continue to enjoy his performances. Kinski is dead, and so in no way is he supported by the consumption of his output. Additionally, so much art would be missed if artists were judged by their characters. That being said, I will always add the caveat that although I love his work, Kinski as a man was a depraved psychopath worthy of neither love nor praise.

Pedro Pereira said...

Disturbing news indeed. But I'm glad that you decided to maintain the blog.

Pedro Pereira

janne said...

I too am a big fan of your site and wouldn´t want to see it being closed down. Although the news are really sad but end of the day you always have to separate the art from the artmakers personal life.
In this case the art seems to imitate the artmakers inner turmoil and it is really horrible.
But anyway I´ll be a regular visitor if you decide to continue this site!

Aguirrethewrathofdog said...

I just had to leave one more post on this site. I think I was a bit too harsh on Kinski, especially given what I know about mental illness through my undergraduate studies, as I'm going to start my Masters in Social Work next year. Although I can't speak German, I've gone and scoured the internet to just find everything I can about him. The diagnosis of schizophrenia, which is not my conjecture as we all know he was diagnosed as having, really seems to fit him. Herzog thought so, declaring him a paranoid schizophrenic, and Jess Franco- I can speak/read some Spanish- said Kinski was psychotic. Paranoid schizophrenia does not necessarily have the very disabling features of other kinds of schizophrenia, like not taking care of one's personal hygiene and symptoms of that nature. Sufferers can seem quite normal, until of course they lash out, start talking to themselves, or talk of their delusions. Violent rages are common among some with schizophrenia as well. In Conquest of the Useless there are so many examples of Kinski displaying these behaviors, the most telling one is towards the end of the book, where Kinski declares himself above the law, and actually tells Herzog and his crew what he did to his daughters, which Herzog just writes as "what he did to his daughters." Psychopaths aren't going proclaim their various crimes to an audience; That's a delusion of grandeur. He always seemed to think of himself as someone akin to a good, which, as it seems delusional, what not his choice.
As for his sex crimes, being attracted to one's own mother, sister, and children is severely disordered thinking that usually indicates childhood sexual abuse. If he did have delusions of being some god-like figure, then he was free to express every whim that came to him.
Tragically, as people seemed to know Kinski had some sort of inappropriate relationship with his daughter in Italy, and how just psychotic he was, no one did anything. I don't blame Herzog, as Kisnki revealed this during the filming of Fitzcarraldo,over a decade after the abuse took place. If Herzog had gone to some authority, would they have even believed him?
If Kinski was delusional throughout his life, which is entirely possible with untreated schizophrenia, he is far less, or even not, culpable for his actions.
Everyone in his life, including he himself, would have been far better if someone had forced him into psychiatric treatment.

Anonymous said...


This is to all the posters as well as the author of the blog. I am a huge Werner Herzog fan and that carries over into being a Klaus Kinski fan. I have seen the Nosferatu remake at least 50 times, it was probably my favorite movie... until these revelations have come to light. I will never watch a Klaus Kinski movie again, including Nosferatu. I could not look at him and keep from being disgusted at what I see.. a rapist, a child rapist! A couple of you almost sound apologetic for Kinski and his actions and that is almost equally as troubling. You have to separate the art from the artist... NO, NO you don't an artist is his art and his art is him. Unfortunately the simplistic view of well he was "troubled" so where a lot of people and guess what they didn't need to molest and rape 5 year olds to get through it. That is just how I see it, furthermore if Herzog knew and didn't do anything then I'm not sure I can ever watch his movies again either. If Kinski could memorize pages and pages of script and function as highly as he did then he knew what he was doing was wrong. Again if he "bragged about it to Herzog" and told him "who would believe him?" he knew what was right and wrong. Why didn't he try to victimize adults or children of other families? HE KNEW it was wrong.