Country: WEST GERMANY
The subtitle to this short thirty minute documentary from Werner Herzog is 'waiting for an inevitable catastrophe'. Within that statement lies an aspect of Herzog’s approach to cinema that has helped to create a mythology of reckless risk taking, a sense that danger is a fundamental aspect in his never ending search for new images. Although an impression of catastrophe is not inevitable in Herzog’s cinema, there is always an echo within the frame of the extremities and hardships undertaken to achieve the finished product. More so than any other filmmaker, the act of filmmaking itself becomes an essential aspect to understanding the fictional world Herzog creates. The same idea can be usefully applied to his documentaries - but La Soufriere is surely the one in which the spectre of death and destruction looms most palpably in every frame. In late 1976 Herzog along with his two cameramen Jorg Schmidt-Retwein and Edward Lachman travelled to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, an island that had been evacuated due to the imminent explosion of the volcano La Soufriere. However a handful of peasants had remained on the island, despite claims by volcanologists that to do so would mean certain death. Intrigued by this attitude to impending death Herzog was determined to interview these men to get a better understanding of their cavalier approach to life.