Whether it’s working in narratives (Fitzcaraldo) or documentaries (Grizzly Man), filmmaker Werner Herzog is passionate about breaking new boundaries, and he often takes his cast and crew to the far reaches of the earth in search of a good story.
With Salt and Fire, Herzog’s latelst cinematic adventure takes him to Bolivia, with Veronica Ferres playing Laura, an ecologist who’s sent to report on the expanding salt flats El Diablo Blanco. Michael Shannon is Matt the head of a terrorist group who captures Laura and her colleagues for his own mysterious gains. What begins as a battle of wills between Matt and Laura evolves into a survivalist drama with Laura stranded in the salt flats with two blind boys!
It’s an unpredictable narrative which features Herzog in peak form. “This is a philosophical movie,” said Ferres. “It’s a typical Werner Herzog movie. There are changing perspectives, points of view, it’s unpredictable but it is bigger than life.”
Both Ferres and Shannon deliver fine work in the film, but that execution came with a price. The Salt and Fire cast and crew stayed at a hotel which, for a spell, didn’t have running water. With a lack of internet or telephone access, the crew eventually revolted and were about to go their separate ways when Ferress delivered an impassioned, midnight hour speech that kept everyone together. Upon returning home from a hard day’s work, running water was restored at the hotel in serendipitous fashion.
Herzog’s productions may have their share of drama and challenges (shooting Salt and Fire at 15,000 feet of altitude isn’t exactly a vacation), but Ferres loved the experience. “You trust him 100% because the movie is the king,” said Ferres, whose recent credits include The Comedian and Pay the Ghost. “We are all serving the movie. We are doing the best in every second and with every inch of our body. And then you are just happy.”
Salt and Fire opens in select theaters April 7 and is also available on iTunes and VOD.