The Elements

film 6 of 7

La Soufriere

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

This is a good subject, set in a pretty spectacular setting. It comes off as a stunt, though.  Maybe it’s the fact that Werner Herzog always insists on droning over the top of the people he’s interviewing. What’s wrong with subtitles? Let us hear their actual voices, and intuit the truths that come from intonations, emphases, hesitations and such.

Herzog is a very important filmmaker, and an estimable documentarian as well. He would go on from this comparatively early effort to make any number of distinguished contributions to the idiom. And yet, in a pretty basic sense, all of his documentaries are about him. Here, there, he strains for portent and symbolism that would have been sufficiently there if he’d just gotten out of the way.

We have Rachmaninoff, Brahms and, way too predictably, Wagner at the end.