The great "New German Cinema" director Werner Herzog described his relationship with wayward actor Klaus Kinski as that of "two critical masses" colliding, and boy did they collide. But they also clicked, spreading their intensity and artistry across five films between 1972 and 1989: Aguirre The Wrath Of God, Nosferatu The Vampire, Woyzeck, Fitzcarraldo and Cobra Verde.
Aguirre set the standard. It's a haunting allegory for colonialist madness, set in the Peruvian jungle with Kinski as a megalomaniac. Herzog milks both landscape and performance for every drop of drama, and the mix of raw intensity and poetic surrealism is matchless. Kinski lost it again in Nosferatu and Woyzeck, as a vampire and a soldier going nuts respectively. Neither match up to Aguirre, but there's still passion and potency in both.
So what did they do next? Go back to the jungle, of course. Fitzcarraldo proved beyond a doubt that Herzog didn't do things by halves, and that no one loses it quite as spectacularly as Kinski. "I am the spectacle in the forest," he cries as a bonkers visionary who wants to build an opera house in the Amazon jungle - even if it means dragging a ship over a mountain. (And yes, they really did it.)
Sure, the epic slave-trading tale Cobra Verde is messy. But Kinski's rage still mesmerises, reminding audiences that he and Herzog burned like no other actor-director team.