Into the Inferno (2016)
Critic Consensus: Into the Inferno finds director Werner Herzog observing some of the most beautiful -- and terrifying -- wonders of the natural world with his signature blend of curiosity and insight.
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Critic Reviews for Into the Inferno
A series of portraits of obsessed people, each painted by one of the most likable obsessives in cinema.
Into the Inferno may be relatively minor Herzog -- it's sweet and rambling rather than laser-bolt intense like Fitzcarraldo or Grizzly Man . But it is enormously satisfying, filled with wisdom, insight and molten lava.
This intersection of nature and culture is filled with insight.
It's an exhilarating trip, filled with strange stories, fascinating rituals and ethereally beautiful images of bubbling magma and flowing lava, some of which were captured using drones.
Audience Reviews for Into the Inferno
Werner Herzog is a captivating man who has grand pursuits and a varied set of interests. He has made many films since his breakout hit, "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," in 1972, and all of them have either been exceptionally interesting, complex, fantastical, or illuminating in nature. Herzog makes both fiction and non-fiction films that deal with issues as diverse as colonialism, the savageness of the wilderness, ecological disasters, opera, and ski flying. With his newest film for Netflix, Herzog once again shows us that fascination is an oft neglected but empowering feeling that can be applied to numerous aspects of life. He starts us off with the topic of volcanoes, but he becomes much more fascinated with humankind at large, evidenced by his own reticence to even get close to a volcano. Herzog reels us in with the help of Clive Oppenheimer, a Cambridge University volcanologist that he had previously worked with in the documentary, "Encounters at the End of the World," which was a film about Antarctica. Oppenheimer is a playfully compelling, if timid, guide into the world of volcanoes. He and Herzog travel the world and study volcanoes in Indonesia, Iceland, North Korea, and Ethiopia. At each of these junctures, the cultural importance of the volcano is made the fixture of the film, rather than focusing on hard science. The peoples of these regions all seem to be in awe of volcanoes, and either have a deep fear or respect for what it's capable of. In Ethiopia, a nearby volcano is the key to finding fossils of Paleolithic hominids, the rarest of human fossils. In North Korea the region's fierce patriotism is linked with its local volcano where the leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il once stood, proudly displaying to their nation that they were strong and resilient in the face of outside vitriol. Though some of these excursions seem to undercut the fact that this is a film about volcanoes, this film never bores its audience. Between the panoramic shots of tropical foliage and the drone sequences that pan across villages and volcanoes alike, this is a feast for the eyes. There's a great contrast between the beauty of these regions and the oft-confusing shots of the magma that these ruptures expound with horrifying regularity. The inner regions of volcanoes look both like fire and water, and the magma often looks pitifully tame when it moves slowly down a mountainside, though it is actually a most dangerous force that will destroy all in its path. Herzog talks a bit about a couple who were volcanic photographers and were eventually killed by a fast moving cloud of volcanic ash (at 100 mph). While this tidbit is unprompted, it proves to be yet another interesting facet of these quaking mountaintops. Herzog finds many ways to look at these geographic forces, which can be seen as either benevolent or destructive in power.
Werner Herzog is one of the weirdest, hardest working men in film making today. If you haven't seen any of the 68 films and documentaries he's directed, including "Aguirre: Wrath of God", "Fitzcarraldo", and "Grizzly Man", I would highly recommend you acquaint yourself with his work. This year alone he has directed this, another documentary "Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World", and a feature length film "Salt and Fire". However, this documentary concerns vulcanology and the mythic histories of volcanoes throughout various cultures around the globe. Of particular note amidst all of the beautiful shots of lava flows and boiling mountains, Herzog actually managed to secure filming rights in the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea. It is worth watching for the elaborate arena celebration sequence for Kim Jong-what's-his-name alone.
If you have Netflix, this is another fascinating documentary by Herzog that examines both the natural and spiritual/cultural aspect of volcanoes.
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