***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.
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.
Herzog being Herzog, but also letting someone else be the face of his film. There are passages of awe/provocation worthy of the legendary director, but it also shows his tendency for diffusion. That is, it reaches a point where it feels like he traveled the world, filmed various things that interested him, and strung them together in a vaguely connected way. But no fan should skip it.
An extension to 'La Soufrière' rather than a definitive doc on volcanoes (complete with Herzog's daredevil filmmaking nous). The geographical context lends weight to the grandiose and haunting majesty of nature's wildest landmarks. It is a curiosity watch rather than one which challenges our notions of civilisation. For profound accounts of indigenous culture, see Fricke's 'Baraka' and 'Samsara'.
The unfocused globe trotting takes away from the end result despite some indelible images along the way. Herzog is somewhat removed from the subject matter this time both in narration and screen time and the film feels all the less for this change. If the film had focused more on one subject, North Korea or Iceland for example, it may have been more satisfying.
Good to watch after La Soufrière. Or, if it is the first Herzog, one of those self referencial that give plenty of hints for where to go next. There are dozens ahed. (Yes, I do like how he revisits his own work)
So many undeniable riches here, so much room for pacified awe, that I don't really feel compelled to dwell on faults (primarily based in evanescent wishywashyness). Also: after being so resolutely embarrassed for our fearless Bavarian foot soldier in the wake of his terrible webosphere doc, this is obviously a real treat. My favourite Herzog since Encounters at the End of the World, upon which it doubles back.