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MONDAY-AUG. 18

High-strung German actor Klaus Kinski usually played bit parts because “no one could stand him longer than two or three days,” director Werner Herzog told a National Gallery audience in 1996. “Kinski was completely mad and wacked and dangerous.” Herzog must have been a little mad himself, of course—he cast the actor as the lead in five films. The incendiary clash of the two men’s dispositions forged some of their best work, notably two studies of obsessive Europeans in the Amazon: 1972’s brilliantly evocative Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Monday, June 2, at 6:30 p.m), in which Kinski plays an increasingly deranged conquistador, and 1982’s Fitzcarraldo (Monday, July 7, at 6:30 p.m), a tale of a music fanatic’s attempt to bring opera to the jungle. Intense Kinski performances are also at the center of 1979’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (Monday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m), Herzog’s ravishing version of the Dracula story; 1979’s Woyzeck (Monday, June 23, at 6:30 p.m), based on Georg Büchner’s play about a young soldier who’s driven to murder; and 1988’s Cobra Verde (Monday, August 11, at 6:30 p.m), a visually spectacular if narratively garbled adaptation of Bruce Chatwin’s The Viceroy of Ouidah. Cobra Verde film ended the Herzog-Kinski relationship, and the actor died three years later. Eulogizing his useful nemesis in a 1999 documentary, My Best Fiend (pictured, Monday, August 18, at 6:30 p.m), the director dramatically attests that “every single gray hair on my head I call Kinski.” That the two men’s eccentricities were equally matched, however, is demonstrated by Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams (Monday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m), a 1982 documentary about the chaotic making of Fitzcarraldo. The series runs to Monday, August 18, at Goethe-Forum, Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes, 812 7th St. NW. $5. (202) 289-1200. (Mark Jenkins)