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, knew 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
La Grande Soufrière for information on the Guadeloupean volcano.
Into the Inferno (film) , a 2016 documentary film by Werner Herzog
about the exploration of active volcanoes in Indonesia, Iceland and
Salt and Fire , a 2016 thriller film by
Werner Herzog about the
imminent eruption of a supervolcano in Bolivia.
* 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.