TIFF16: Into the Inferno

Werner Herzog teams up with scientist Clive Oppenheimer to explore the world’s volcanoes in Into the Inferno. Ten years ago, Werner Herzog met volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer while in Antarctica working on his doc Encounters at the End of the World. Together they reunite to explore active volcanoes around the world, particularly focusing on the mythology expressed by the locals.

Into the Inferno is in many ways a defacto follow-up Werner Herzog’s Academy Award nominated film Encounters at the End of World, since it was the beginning of Herhoz’s relationship with Clive Oppenheimer, who is the primary on-screen subject of this film. While the film does feature much footage of volcanic activity, it turns out that Herzog is a lot more interested in chasing the “magical side” of volcanoes, with the film featuring many interviews with locals, who tell the stories of the spirits and demons that apparently reside in these forces of nature.

On paper, a documentary about volcanoes by Werner Herzog sounds like a great idea. However, in execution, Into the Inferno didn’t exactly turn out to be the film I was expecting. Herzog’s typical existential narration is downplayed in favour of the on-screen actions of Clive Oppenheimer, which is either too scientific or mundane, with me ending up quite bored throughout much of the film. That said, there is some great footage of volcanic activity and a few flourishes of the “Werner Herzog Volcano Documentary” I wanted Into the Inferno to be.

7 / 10 stars


  • Sunday, September 18, 12:15 PM – Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).