Werner Herzog’s latest documentary Into the Inferno sees him team up with Volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, as they visit the world’s most dangerous and active volcanoes. The film is not just a study of volcanoes, it’s also the history of humankind’s relationship to them.
Herzog first met British Volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer in 2006 when filming Encounters at the End of the World — a documentary about life in Antarctica. Oppenheimer was monitoring the 3,450 m Erebus volcano in Antarctica. They very loosely threw the idea out there of making a documentary film about volcanoes and decided to stay in touch.
Then in 2011, Oppenheimer released his book Eruptions that Shook the World, and sent a copy to Herzog. Herzog recognized they shared a common interest in their work, which both highlighted the fragility of man in the face of nature. So they got together to work on making a film.
Oppenheimer was also a fan of Herzog’s 1977 short film La Soufrière, a film about the refusal of inhabitants of Guadeloupe to evacuate the Caribbean island after a volcano was predicted to erupt there.
The crew filmed Into the Inferno between August 2015 and May 2016 where they went to some of the world’s most remote and dangerous volcanoes — from Iceland, Indonesia, North Korea, and Africa.
The stunning cinematography was shot by long-time Herzog collaborator Peter Zeitlinger. And the soundtrack to the trailer sounds like something from a John Carpenter film.
In the trailer, we hear Herzog’s distinctly German voice narrate:
There was a scientific side to our journey, but what we were really chasing was the magical side.
The film set out to be more anthropological and scientific then other documentary films made about volcanoes.
Oppenheimer presents us with his expertise, as we explore the role volcanoes have had in shaping religion, migration, trade, and agriculture, all with Herzog’s curious gaze and filmmaking poetry thrown into the mix.
The documentary will premiere on Netflix on October 28 before a limited release in cinemas worldwide.