Into the Inferno

2016 Herzog documentary

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Werner Herzog and his new friend travel the world to explore various volcanoes.

Lava movement is mesmerizing, and if you watch this to be impressed with the beauty that our world can produce, there's plenty of that sort of thing in here. Of course, this is a Werner Herzog documentary, and he's never been a documentary filmmaker who is interested solely in showing us pretty things. Herzog's nature documentaries are at their best when he's got science intermingling with the mystical. Herzog brings a volcanologist named Clive Oppenheimer along with him for the science part. Oppenheimer, likely only in this movie because he thought it would help him get chicks, seems to have that bit of obsessiveness that Herzog has made a career being attracted to, and he's a natural in front of Herzog's camera. The mystical is taken care of with interviews of people who live near volcanoes. Some of them are natives, having some spiritual connection with the volcanoes. And some have a church in the shape of a chicken because that's the sort of thing that Herzog manages to find and show us. Like a lot of his work, Herzog shows us that sometimes volatile relationship with nature. There's a volcanologist couple who wind up killed by a pyroclastic flow, which seems to be a horrible way to go. And there's the strange tale of a guy who refused to take off when his village was abandoned due to an impending volcanic blast.

And man, that nature footage! Herzog swoops cameras up and over volcanoes and peers deep within the things, giving nature enthusiasts enough lava porn and magma porn to send them beneath their sheets with fistfuls of Kleenex. The opening shot alone was enough to get me going.

My favorite moment had Herzog on the lip of a volcano, calmly observing and saying, "That was a good swoosh" in that accent of his as hot stuff was projected from below.

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