What Does Werner Herzog Think About Trader Joe’s, Texas and Meteors?
In 1954, a woman was hit by a grapefruit-sized meteorite while napping on the couch. Known today as the Sylacauga meteorite, this asteroid flew in through the ozone layer, through the Alabama sky and hit Ann Elizabeth Fowler Hodges in her farmhouse. She was bruised on her torso but survived to become the subject of much publicity.
This story and more is featured in Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds, a far-reaching portrait of the fascinating world of meteorites premiering Friday on Apple TV+ Considering that this cosmic dust falls on the planet every day, the film, co-directed by Herzog and scientist Clive Oppenheimer, helps us better understand the phenomenon of meteorites, from their history to how we track them today to their cultural significance.
The duo traveled to over 10 countries, from Saudi Arabia to India and Australia, visiting places where fireballs and massive meteors have fallen — like the Chicxulub crater, the largest asteroid ever known to hit the earth in Chicxulub Puerto, Mexico. They interviewed countless experts on meteors, from geochemist Nita Sahai to Cambridge University’s Simon Schaffer and even the Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA, which protects the earth from incoming asteroids with giant telescopes at the SJ Pan-STARRS Observatory in Haleakalā, Hawaii.
It isn’t all science, however, as it taps into the poetic beauty of meteors and their symbolic meaning, as with a tribe on Murray Island off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where locals have a traditional fireball dance.