Werner Herzog is Making a Volcano Disaster Movie Called Salt and Fire

By  · Published on February 9th, 2015

Paramount Pictures Corporation

Reviews out of Berlin for Werner Herzog’s latest, the Gertrude Bell biopic Queen of the Desert, are extremely disappointing (as of this writing, the Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson vehicle has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes). But the filmmaker is probably unbothered by the reception. He’s already announced his next project from the festival and is set to begin shooting in two months.

The new film, another fictional effort, will reunite Herzog with the subject of volcanoes, 38 years after the release of his documentary La Soufriere: Waiting for an Inevitable Disaster. That took him to the real, titular peak in Guadalupe as it was about to blow, only it didn’t (sorry for the spoiler). This time, I’d also be surprised if Herzog gives us a full-on disaster flick with explosive spectacle.

Titled Salt and Fire, the “romantic thriller” will star German actress Veronica Ferres, according to Screen Daily. She is playing a scientist who goes up against the head of a corporation regarding an environmental disaster in South America, but then they have to team up when there’s warning of a supervolcano nearby that could prove to be a global catastrophe.

That sounds like the plot of a comic book movie where two superheroes battle each other before having to unite for a greater threat, but unfortunately we’ll likely never get a Herzog-directed entry in the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. We also probably won’t get his equivalent of a Roland Emmerich disaster movie, either – though he did make a movie partly set during Hurricane Katrina (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call), so who knows?

Salt and Fire is the second volcano project for Herzog this decade. A few years ago, at the same time he announced plans for Queen of the Desert, he talked of another documentary teaming up with Clive Oppenheimer, the volcanologist who appears in Encounters at the End of the World. As of last fall, this 3D IMAX doc, called Volcano, was still moving forward with footage to be shot in five different countries, according to Real Screen. Maybe he’s making both simultaneously so he can employ some of the real material in the thriller?

Herzog is heading to the Bolivian salt flats in April to begin the latter.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.