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La Soufrière - Warten auf eine unausweichliche Katastrophe (1977)

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Herzog takes a film crew to the island of Guadeloupe when he hears that the volcano on the island is going to erupt. Everyone has left, except for one old man who refuses to leaves. Herzog ... See full summary »


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Title: La Soufrière - Warten auf eine unausweichliche Katastrophe (1977)

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Herzog takes a film crew to the island of Guadeloupe when he hears that the volcano on the island is going to erupt. Everyone has left, except for one old man who refuses to leaves. Herzog catches the eeriness of an abandoned city, with stop lights cycling over an empty intersection. Written by Mike Konczewski

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Release Date:

1 October 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La soufrière  »

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Narrator: It will always remains a mystery why there was no eruption. Never before in the history of vulcanology when signals of such magnitude measures and yet nothing happened.
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User Reviews

The Potential, the Danger
28 April 2007 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

What makes a movie worthwhile? Do you get whatever value is there while you watch it, or afterward. Is it always complex? Is it always a mix?

I think not. I am coming to the opinion that in addition to all the other variety in films we find, films are weighted differently in their strategies for what rewards the viewer.

An example of this are the films that are otherwise lackluster, but have a particularly intriguing ending. All they have to do is keep you from rebelling through the film, which is all about setting up that end. You wander out of the theater dazzled, and that is the experience you recall.

Other films are all weighted on the entry. The filmmaker takes us to strange and wonderful places. Its actually not difficult to create those places. What's difficult is getting us there in the first few moments of a film. The thrill is all in the beginning of these, and much of the charm of being a tourist in these strange environs is the fact that you are there at all.

I think there is a small catalog of these strategies, just as you can say that there are only a few of what we call genres, which in fact are a collection of conventions agreed upon between the makers and viewers. And which are used as shorthandles in the cinematic grammar.

One of these — the film reward types — are films that aren't compelling as films themselves, but the idea of the film is. Perhaps there are several types within this. I suspect so, one of them having to do with the nature and intent of the filmmaker. I have a small study of one sort of these, where the filmmaker (usually a man) features the woman he loves in the film. Knowing that changes everything.

Herzog may have invented his own type, or at least be the modern exemplar. I've spent some time recently with films about the antarctic, because of my fascination with Frank Hurley. He was a photographer/filmmaker who about 100 years ago accompanied Shackleton on an expedition to the south pole. Even if the journey had been successful, it would have been hard, incredibly hard. But it turned disastrous. The story is one of the most amazing in history, but during this whole time, Hurley kept his cameras active.

Seeing these are transformative because you know the man put himself in harms way, encountered danger and hardship and STILL took those photos (the movie camera being too heavy to keep). Its the IDEA of the photograph, not the things themselves.

Here we have Herzog. He hears that a volcano is to blow. An entire island has been evacuated, streetlights still operating, TeeVees still on. The mountain is seething. Scientists know an eruption exceeding a nuclear bomb is certain. They have the example of a neighboring island where just the same preface presaged disaster. What does Herzog do? Why rush there of course with two cameramen.

He breaks rules, he cheats, he sneaks past barriers to actually climb the mountain where if the wind is blowing right the acidic clouds won't dissolve his lungs. And he waits for the thing to blow. As it turns out it didn't. The mountain settled and the people resettled. But the very idea. It isn't the sort of journalism that war correspondents practice, where we really need to know and danger is involved. Its different.

Herzog went there because the story was in his going.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

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