Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Werner Herzog, Clive Oppenheimer
Written by: Werner Herzog
Directed by: Werner Herzog, Clive Oppenheimer
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 97
Date: 11/13/2020
IMDB

Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Meteor Hooked

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Filmmaker Werner Herzog returns with another of his amazing nature documentaries that go beyond mere facts and into the cosmic, existential meaning of it all; this one, about meteorites, is glorious.

Herzog and Professor of Volcanology Clive Oppenheimer explore the history of meteorites on earth, and the impact they have had on human beliefs and cultures throughout time. A black stone that is most certainly from space has become a spiritual artifact in Mecca, while a scientist picks up micrometeorites and photographs them at a molecular level to discover new patterns, geometrical possibilities, and even organic matter. Meanwhile, people that live near huge craters feel a connection to them. We even see ancient dances that may be inspired by meteorites. Says one interviewee, "meteorites have meaning."

On Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds, Herzog gives co-directing credit to Oppenheimer, who previously appeared in Herzog's documentaries Encounters at the End of the World and Into the Inferno. Oppenheimer does the heavy lifting here, interviewing the various scientists on camera, and making the information, including some trick mathematics and geometry, clear for the viewer.

Meanwhile, Herzog narrates in his familiar, mournful German-accented voice, with his signature metaphysical, sometimes apocalyptic poetry, lending the images an immensity that makes them seem comforting, like gazing up at a star-dotted sky and realizing that we are not alone.

As in his other movies, Herzog tends to follow his own insatiable curiosity, and he winds up in some amazing places; the pair that photographs the micrometeorites consist of a scientist that is also a jazz musician, and a four-time cancer survivor who prefers to dress like Wyatt Earp. In the end, Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds reminds us that a big one may be coming our way someday, but that, at the same time, we are all stardust.

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