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VOLCANO

France, 1959 (MIFF 1962)

Director: Haroun Tazieff

Known for years as the world's one volcanologist, Haroun Tazieff, a Belgian scientific explorer, has brought back in this unique film the findings of his investigations of 28 volcanoes in Japan, Java, the Philippines, Mexico, Chile, Tanganyika, Italy and elsewhere. His record, a factual poem, includes the eruption of Etna, Stromboli, with cascades of lava rushing past the camera; San Salvador's Izalca, the youngest permanently active volcano on earth; a new volcano in the Azores which rained its 36-foot crust of ash on an island and then, five years ago, threw up a mountain; the hidden craters of Merapi in Java; all building up to a final "ritual of fire", cut to the accompaniment of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".

Eleven years in the making, Tazieffs monumental testimonial to courage and patient effort is not only a fascinating scientific record, but a provoking parable of man's existence in a world self-threatened. Under the shadow of many of these volcanoes, towns and villages thrive; this sense of everlasting insecurity, of the simultaneous presence of death and rebirth is brought out, as are the temperaments of each volcano. Nothing appears quite as formidable, or as beautiful, as the gigantic forces of nature caught here in action.

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