Initially felt a bit like a special feature from some 'disc 2' of Encounters at the End of the World, which tbh would have met expectations & left me perfectly content... But which soon became a deeply absorbing film in its own right - if as much because of Clive Oppenheimer's profound & admirable respect/curiosity/humility, as due to Herzog's uncanny ability to seemingly manifest magic via sheer force of will. 3.5
Starts with a look at volcanoes, then turns into a North Korea documentary, then ends with a great comment on volcanoes which may have, and this is shared throughout tribal cultures, the power to destroy man and its creations. What if volcanoes destroy civilisation every 12,000 years? What if Yellowstone blows up? The author Graham Hancock and his theories on ancient civilisations might agree.
For 40 minutes I'm like how cool is to be a star-vulcanologist traveling around the world studying & admiring the beauty of the unpredictable molten lava symphony; and then, next hour and the rest of my life I will always be like how cool is to be the global trotter filmmaker? A life of strange creatures, ice diving, grizzly bears & volcanos <3 note to self: is john frum a spin off from lost?
This loose sequel to Herzog's Antarctica adventure is about just as good. Though the looseness of topic and structure might disappoint some, Herzog's broad look at the spectacle of volcanoes is beautiful and fascinating. The trip to North Korea is a highlight that feels like history in the making, and the discussion with the island cargo cults is pure Herzog without being condescending to its subjects.
only herzog could weave the anomaly of north korea into a doc about volcanos and make it work. his perspective is always a breath of fresh air compared to the linear narratives of most docs. he shows how interwoven everything whilst still making an acute observation. mind blowing footage of volcanos which literally make you shudder as you see the power and force beneath us..
Herzog is back! Thought provoking (is worshipping John Frum as silly as it seems?), depicting unusual personae (US archaeologist in Danakil, singing individual who decided he won't evacuate despite erupting volcano), going back to "Encounters..". But hey! This is primarily about volcanoes! Or is it?
***1/2. Once you've understood that Werner Herzog is not a scientist nor an ethnologist nor a filmmaker but simply a humanist and maybe the last one of his kind, you'll be ready to explore his filmography that's one of the most impressive of our time. Strongly recommended.
Well, this is all over the fucking place. Like aaaall over the place. And it is still worth because I've obviously never been let down by Herzog, but it stuns way more than it engages and that's the sign of a second tier Herzog filmography. It's not sloppy and it's not for a lack of effort, but goddamn, by the end of it I just wanted him to focus on one subject at a time and turn it into four or five different films.
Some breathtaking cinematography and archival footage that I haven't seen before. It's an interesting look into the modern human relationship with volcanoes, particularly modern mythology and religion. Herzog digresses a bit, so it occasionally loses focus, especially in the DPRK section (if you've already seen a doc on DPRK, you've heard nearly all of this), but it contains more than enough to enjoy.
Watched this to fall asleep to Herzog's narration and aesthetically pleasing visuals, but instead I was wide awake and interested on how he captured spiritual, mythological and scientific research behind these deadly volcanos. He's interested in the people who are so interested in it and this gives a humanistic quality to Nature documentaries.
Easy to forget how much a great guerrilla film maker like Herzog embraces or evolves with technology. He updates both a subject (volcanoes) and character (Oppenheimer) from previous films to sumptuous effect, now being able to inhabit the inferno with adequate awe. Not a successful integration of the science the superstition and the rogue state, but each individual component is Herzog at his best.