As previously noted this week, Microkhan recently re-watched the great Fitzcarraldo as part of his ongoing screenplay research. Of particular interest was the second half of the film, in which Klaus Kinski’s aspiring rubber baron encounters a tribe of Amazonian headhunters. Since Now the Hell Will Start contains a similar culture clash, we wanted to learn how the great Werner Herzog handled the mashup of languages, social mores, and religions.
The best scene involves Kinski and his crew anxiously dining while surrounded by dozens of armed tribesmen. The natives are riled up for unclear reasons, and one of them appears ready to spear Kinski through the neck. The intensity is palpable—and, according to Herzog, quite authentic. Turns out that Kinski was a complete monster on the set—Christian Bale times a thousand. So offensive were his antics, it seems, that the tribal actors actually offered to carry out a murder-for-hire. Herzog declined, though judging by his response, he wasn’t completely horrified by the proposition.
Microkhan is always baffled (as well as amsued) by tales of on-set misbehavior by actors. Obviously there is something about being in front of the camera that can inflate one’s ego beyond measure—the flipside of the whole “the camera steals you soul” myth perpetrated by more than a few pre-modern cultures of yore. Then again, as anyone who’s read Easy Riders, Raging Bulls can attest, directors enjoy their fair-share of me-first shenanigans, too. Microkhan will never quite be able to shake the image of Robert Towne on the set of Personal Best, blowing lines in the hot tub with female Olympic shot putters.
More Kinski madness here. Do not attempt to snatch the man’s microphone while’s he imitating Jesus, please.