La Soufrière (film)
|Directed by||Werner Herzog|
|Narrated by||Werner Herzog|
|Edited by||Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus|
|Werner Herzog Filmproduktion|
|Running time||30 min|
La Soufrière – Warten auf eine unausweichliche Katastrophe ("La Soufrière – Waiting for an Inevitable Disaster") is a 1977 West German documentary film in which German director Werner Herzog visits an island on which a volcano is predicted to erupt. The pretext of this film was provided when Herzog "heard about the impending volcanic eruption, that the island of Guadeloupe had been evacuated and that one peasant had refused to leave, [he] knew [he] wanted to go talk to him and find out what kind of relationship towards death he had" (Cronin). Herzog explores the deserted streets of the towns on the island. The crew of three treks up to the caldera, where clouds of sulfurous steam and smoke shift drift like "harbingers of death" (Peucker), an example of the sublime Herzog seeks to conjure in his films. Herzog converses in French with three different men he finds remaining on the island: one says he is waiting for death, and demonstrates his posture for doing so; another says he has stayed to look after the animals. In the end, the volcano did not erupt, thus sparing the lives of those who had remained on the island, including Herzog and his crew.
Werner Herzog's films tend to focus on those outside of mainstream society, often on individuals who exhibit a completely egocentric picture of the world. Driven by either madness or complete harmony with nature, the subjects of Herzog's films exemplify life at its most spiritually extreme. The people who remained on the island had accepted their fate, and had given their lives to God. One man seemed surprised that Herzog would even question his resignation to die at the hands of the volcano. Others simply did not see the point in evacuating the island. Death (and the eruption of the volcano) cannot be escaped, only temporarily avoided. Those who remained had given their lives to God and did not see the point in trying to run away from that which cannot be conquered, and should not be feared.
- La Grande Soufrière for information on the Guadeloupean volcano.
- Paul Cronin, Herzog on Herzog (London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 2002, ISBN 0-571-20708-1) p. 148.
- Brigitte Peucker, “In Quest of the Sublime,” New German Filmmakers: From Oberhausen Through the 1970s, edited by Klaus Phillips (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1984, hardcover: ISBN 0-8044-2688-0 and paperback: ISBN 0-8044-6648-3) p. 168.
- La Soufrière at the Internet Movie Database
- La Soufriere at Allmovie
- Werner Herzog on filming La Soufrière (Video interview from Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary)
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