Warten auf eine unausweichliche Katastrophe
West Germany, 1977
Review by Rumsey Taylor
Posted on 14 December 2004
Source bootleg DVD
Features: Directors: Werner Herzog
In Guadaloupe, 1976, seismic activity at La Soufriére forecasts an immense volcanic eruption. In 1902, a very similar prediction on the same island was ignored, and much of its coastal city’s population of 30,000 died. The current prediction results in an exodus of the entire island except for a homeless man, who waits on the side of the rumbling mountain with his arms crossed; an acceptant and inevitable corpse, he thinks.
Knowledge of this remarkable phenomenon inspires Werner Herzog to visit the island with two cameramen. On their first days they tour the vacant town, finding a civilization without any inhabitants: a television on and uneaten meals. The exodus, it is suggested, was excited and in haste. They pivot around La Soufriére, now producing a horizon of deadly fog, and trek up the expectant, precarious terrain in a sedan. There is absolutely no logic to this expedition, that is other than the exceptional footage their strife may yield. Inherently, La Soufriére is fearless, bold filmmaking. I’m not sure Herzog has any invested interest in volcanoes specifically in as much as he does risk.
La Soufriére never erupted (although the team is hurried back down the volcano by a cloud of toxic volcanic gas), and Herzog considers the failed climax an embarrassment. He and his cameramen have survived, but still mourn the potential footage they were unable to capture.