Werner Herzog Takes on Outer Space

Herzog is again teaming up with his 'Into the Inferno' co-director Clive Oppenheimer for a film about meteors and comets.

Director Werner Herzog filming Into The Inferno on Yasur Volcano, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
Netflix

Werner Herzog‘s next documentary, Fireball, will tackle space, with a focus on meteorites and comets and their influence on mythology and religion as well as what they can tell us about the origins of Earth, according to Variety.

Volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, with whom Herzog began a connection through the geoscientist’s appearance in Encounters at the End of the World, is co-directing the globetrotting film.

This comes as exciting — and perhaps also a little worrisome — to Herzog fans, myself included. His 2016 feature Lo and Behold, which took on the vastness of the internet, languished in the abstract at times. His best work tends to be, like Into the Abyss, that which follows a tangible narrative. Turning to outer space may cause the film to float away.

According to Cineuropa, Fireball will be a “new peregrination through various impact sites all around the world, with the aim of finding out what information they can potentially yield on the origins of life and the universe — and possibly our destiny — whilst also discussing the ways in which they have influenced mythology and religion.” Yeesh.

On the bright side, Oppenheimer’s scientific background should keep it grounded. Plus, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, another geological study, is one of Herzog’s finest works.

For better or worse, it seems Herzog is stepping back on being the singular driving force of his films. This may be due to his age (he is now 76 years old). His new political documentary, Meeting Gorbachev, was co-directed by his regular producer Andre Singer (who is also on board Fireball, alongside Lucki Stipetic in partnership with Spring Films). Herzog’s other 2016 feature, Into the Inferno (also produced by Singer and Stipetic), was also co-directed by Oppenheimer.

In many of his earlier documentaries, Herzog inserts himself as the German voice of God, and his unique storytelling style takes the main focus. They were very much distinctly Werner Herzog’s films.

This continued collaboration may come as a disappointment to fans of Herzog’s idiosyncratic personality. However, it may come as a relief to those who find that his filmmaking sometimes clouds the truth.

Herzog and Oppenheimer are still looking for funding, but who are we kidding? It’s all but guaranteed. All of Herzog’s work, even the least coherent, is enthralling. And any documentary fanatic, myself included, will likely tune in to this one.

Herzog previously took on outer space in his 2005 sci-fi feature The Wild Blue Yonder, which was fictional but utilized a lot of documentary footage.

Joey Thyne is a recent graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno with a journalism degree. He is interested in writing about film and music along with documentaries.