THIRTY years after the filming of what remains perhaps Werner Herzog’s most famous film, Fitzcarraldo, the notes which the film’s star – and Herzog’s stormily frequent collaborator – Klaus Kinski dismissed as his “distortions” were published in English as Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo (Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, New York; hardback 2009; paperback 2010).

/…/ Reading Conquest of the Useless – and the book is nothing if not a page-turned, stuffed with incident, vivid characters and exotic situations – one is torn between taking Herzog’s word for events, and dragging ourselves a sufficient distance away to attempt something of a more objective perspective. Les Blank’s film Burden of Dreams is a filmed documentary on the making of Fitzcarraldo, but in terms of the written word the only alternative voice is that of Kinski in his memoir Kinski Uncut – a swaggering, self-justifying, disgracefully entertaining barbaric yawp of a book, filled with the most vituperative verbal demolitions of Herzog.

The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!