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TIFF 2020 Review – Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds – “Gorgeous and scary”

Reteaming with Cambridge professor Clive Oppenheimer, filmmaker Werner Herzog explores the environmental and societal impact of meteors throughout human history.

Approximately 6100 meteors hit the Earth every year and this is far from being a recent phenomenon.  Academic Clive Oppenheimer serves as the host and interviewer while filmmaker Werner Herzog directs behind the camera and narrates.  The history of meteors is examined from the massive impact situated in Mexico that caused the dinosaurs to become extinct to the present-day microcosmic particles that are found on the rooftop of a major sports facility in Oslo, Norway.  A variety of topics are discussed from the environmental repercussions, religious significance, scientific fascination, and what is being done to prevent another cataclysmic encounter from happening.

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An interesting array of perspectives are presented from scientists, academics, a musician, a Jesuit priest and Papaun tribal elders.  Meteors have proven scientific theories wrong and human-life preservation involves more changing the trajectory of a meteor than blowing up the unwanted visitor.  The religious impact of the alien objects is an intriguing storyline.  The humour that prevails from Oppenheimer and Herzog is irreverent and respectful in a way that would make Michael Palin smile.  It is hard not be enthusiastic, amused and fascinated all at the same time.  The cinematography is gorgeous and scary, in particular with the aerial shots of the massive craters that can be found throughout the world.  If only science could be made this much fun in the classroom.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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