Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Werner Herzog: 'Into the Inferno' (Netflix, 2016)

Werner Herzog's Into the Inferno (2016), a Netflix documentary, takes us to various places around the globe with its primary focus ever in mind: volcanoes and people. Among Herzog's cerebral meditations and the reliable help of Cambridge volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, there are startling shots of breathtaking ecology, lava flows, explosions, and people's responses over time to the mysteries of volcanic activity.

As one might expect from Herzog (for those who are familiar with his earlier work), there are some weird, offbeat meanderings into associated mysteries. It's all a bit ramshackle at times, but well-worth the effort. 

Where does the film go? Points of focus include Endu (Endu Pahakol) on the island of Ambrym in the Vanuatu Archipelago, featuring the bemused Chief Mael Moses; Mount Erebus, Antarctica, where Herzog met Oppenheimer; La Soufrire
de Guadeloupe (footage from the 1970s); Katia and Maurice Krafft, who filmed volcanic activity and were "instantly killed by a pyroclastic flow in Japan, together with 41 other people" in 1991; Mount Sinabung, Sumatra, Indonesia; Mount Merapi (Fire Mountain), Java, Indonesia; Mount Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland; Mount St. Helens (Lawetlat'la), Washington; the Danakil Depression, Afar Region, Ethiopia, "300 feet below sea level;" the Erta Ale, "one of the three [volcanoes] in the world where magma is directly exposed;" back to Iceland; on to North Korea and Mount Paektu and mass social formations featuring thin, underfed people; and back to Vanuatu, to the John Frum cargo cult village, and Mount Yasur on Tanna Island.

To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again with Werner Herzog (born 1942)!  A salute also to Peter Zeitlinger (born 1960), Czech cinematographer and filmmaker who shot most of the newer footage for and with Herzog.

Today's Rune: Breakthrough. 


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds really interesting. I love that image. Of course, it sends my mind into exploring the far reaches of space

Vesper said...

Fascinating, yes. Wakes in me all those thoughts of adventures... Like Charles, I also see an astronaut on a faraway planet...