Documentary featured

Fire in the Sky: A TIFF Review of ‘Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds’

September 16, 2020Ben MK

Although he has over 70 directorial credits under his belt, acclaimed documentarian Werner Herzog is now perhaps best known for his on-screen role as "The Client" in season one of the Star Wars spinoff series, The Mandalorian. But with Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds, Herzog returns to his documentary filmmaking roots, getting behind the camera for a tale about a completely different kind of shadowy figure from galaxies far, far away.

Along with co-director and Cambridge University volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer Herzog takes viewers on a journey around the globe and beyond our solar system, as he explores the many ways that meteors and asteroids have impacted us here on Earth. From Chicxulub Puerto, Mexico, where the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs came crashing down 66 million years ago, to the commune of Ensisheim in France, where a meteorite hit the ground mere days after Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, the pair show how these visitors from space have shaped not only the Earth's ecosystem but also our cultural traditions and beliefs. And, of course, no film on the topic would be complete without a visit to Hawaii's Pan-STARRS Observatory, where staff are always on the lookout for the next potential existential threat.

Amid their interviews with mineralogists, cosmologists and geochemists, Herzog and Oppenheimer also find the time to visit Italy's Castel Gandolfo and Mer Island in the Torres Strait to ponder how science and religion intersect. But while these segments illustrate how humans have always looked to the heavens for answers, Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds is a resonant reminder that there's still so much yet to be discovered.

Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds screens under the TIFF Docs programme at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 37 min.

You May Also Like