Jesus Christ Saviour

Jesus Christ Saviour


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Klaus Kinski is an actor famous for giving everything he can for a performance, and infamous for being seen as a dizzyingly intense raving lunatic (See Werner Herzog's documentary My Best Fiend). Prior to engaging with films, he was an enormously successful stage actor, and Jesus Christ Saviour is a document of his second-to-final stage performance. Director Peter Geyer has assembled all the footage of this performance, complete with hostile audience. It is a feature-length theatrical monologue based on the stories of Jesus Christ, with whom Kinski may identify rather too much with.

Blending Seventies details ("weeping Mothers in Vietnam", "hippies, junkies, prostitutes, outcasts and underdogs") with Biblical texts rarely runs smoothly, and often seems dated, but Kinski's performance is exceptional. His text steals wholesale from the Beatitudes and the stories of Jesus in a haphazard manner, but it's fascinating and magnetic stuff.

Copy picture

The fiercely antagonistic audience begin to act up almost immediately, with jeers of "Fascist!" and, getting the biggest laugh, "Heil Satan!". This of course, enrages Kinski all the further and he starts rewriting his text to destroy the hecklers, and inviting some poor loudmouth schmucks onstage to speak instead of him. If looks could kill from that angular face and bulging eyes, there would be live crucifixions all over the audience.

Jesus Christ Saviour is more a challenging and interesting curio for fans of Kinski and Herzog's collaborations than a movie in its own right. If you are unfamiliar with Kinski's work, please stay away. For the rest of us, stick around after the credits for a full 10 minutes, since the performance is not yet over; indeed, it may be the documentary's strongest part with Kinski desperately and hauntingly delivering the final moments of his monologue to a near empty auditorium.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2008
Share this with others on...
Klaus Kinski (so immortally captured in Werner Herzog's My Best Fiend) gives a showstopping performance with a defiant monologue.

Director: Peter Geyer

Writer: Klaus Kinski

Starring: Klaus Kinski

Year: 2008

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: Germany


EIFF 2008
Leeds 2008

Search database: