In addition to his critically lauded documentary work, Werner Herzog may be best known for his slightly goofy German accent and intellectual-provocateur public persona, but for another generation Herzog is known as one of a handful of young filmmakers who revolutionized German cinema back in the 1970’s as part of the New German Cinema movement. In South America, however, he’s simply known as the madman who recklessly hauled a steamboat over a mountain in the Peruvian Amazon while engaging in ethically shady dealings with the indigenous Aguaruna people… all in the name of cinema, of course.
Indeed, Peru was the setting of two of Herzog’s greatest masterpieces, Aguirre, The Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo, the latter of which featured Herzog and company blowing up ancient trees and shooting at local villagers to keep things moving for his precious steamboat. Now, after doing the L.A. thing for the last couple of decades, it seems Herzog is finally returning to his South American roots, following up this year’s critically panned adventure-epic Queen of the Desert with a film many are calling a “Bolivian volcanic thriller.”
According to the sketchy details the production has made available, Fire and Salt will follow a team of corporate scientists doing the ethically shady bidding of their employer when an exploding volcano forces them to work with their enemies in order to save the world, or nature, or something like that. The screenplay was written by Herzog himself and produced by frequent collaborator Michael Benaroya — plus our favorite people (who else?) Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have also signed on through their Mexico City-based production company Canana. Pablo Cruz will head up production for Canana.
Now whether or not Herzog will continue with the idiosyncratic filming method that made him infamous in Peru several decades back has yet to be confirmed. Admittedly, making a volcano explode is probably a little harder than hauling a boat over a mountain, but only a little. Either way, we certainly wouldn’t put it past old Werner.
Shooting begins this April. Bolivia: watch out for exploding lava.