Into the Inferno (2016) Movie Script

We are here in the
Vanuatu Archipelago,
a cluster of volcanic
islands in the Pacific,
about 1,000 miles east
of northern Australia.
Below, the village of Endu
on the island of Ambrym.
A year ago, most of it was destroyed
by a tropical storm
of phenomenal force.
But the village also has to endure
to the periodic fallout
of volcanic eruptions.
Punctuated by catastrophes,
time does not seem to have found a grip
on the community.
We met Chief Mael Moses,
here with members of his large family.
This is Clive Oppenheimer,
a volcanologist
from Cambridge University,
who brought us to this place.
Chief Mael Moses, you're the head
of this beautiful village of Endu,
just a few kilometers
from the volcano crater.
You visited the crater
and looked yourself into the inferno,
- into the raging fire.
- Yeah.
How did you feel when you went there?
I felt very frightened
to look at the fire.
I feel that I was not in
the island of Ambrym.
I thought I was
somewhere else.
And, uh... the other thing,
I feel that...
how powerful that fire is.
Do spirits live in the fire?
That's how we believe,
that spirits are in the fire.
The fire is burning
through that spirit.
We believe that the fire
is burning through that spirit.
I read that there was a big eruption
in 1968,
and that there were rituals performed
to stop the eruption.
And then tourists were not allowed
for three years afterwards
to visit the crater
because it was seen that somehow
the tourists had started the eruption.
Is that...?
Well, we believe that
because we thought that the spirits
that are in the volcano...
if they look at you,
they don't know who is this. Okay?
But if they look at one of us,
they know that, uh,
because we are more or less
related to the volcano,
then they will just be quiet.
Sometimes we say that tourists
won't go up there. Okay?
Because you are foreigners
to that spirit, the volcano.
Once I dreamt about volcano,
I saw people in that fire.
People and women and men.
They're cooking their food in there.
So, it makes me believe
that there is somebody who is...
their spirits are there.
The molten rock,
is that part of the spirit?
The lava expresses
the anger of the devil
who are living in that fire, volcano.
Do the ancestors, then,
live under the volcano?
Yes, we believe that anybody who dies here
goes to the volcano,
and that volcano has become their village,
where you can talk to them
and they can talk to us.
- Can you talk to the volcano?
- I'm not, because, you know,
I'm not related to the volcano.
But one of my brothers is.
He was talking to the volcano.
His father... His father,
when he goes up to the volcano,
and if he wants to smoke,
he just calls out
and the fire will come down,
and take the fire
and light his cigarette or pipe
or something like that.
And if you brother talks to the volcano,
is he allowed to tell you
what the volcano has said,
- or is it just a secret?
- No, it's a secret for him. Yes.
- Do you try and get the secret out of him?
- I've got some.
But Chief Mael Moses is worried
about the loss of their ancient culture.
He asked us to follow him
to a ritual site in the jungle.
Once upon a time,
our people were cannibal.
They see somebody,
and they would like to attack him
and kill him
so that they use it for meat.
And this how they demonstrate it.
Many people here
have lost the dance.
They have lost the idea of dancing.
The custom dance
that you're going to see this afternoon,
just my family will perform the dance.
This a happier dance.
The happiest dance.
After we have gone through
a long suffering,
then we are happy to go back
and dance
and to express ourselves.
I studied here ten years ago
with some colleagues,
scientists from Vanuatu.
For you, is it strange to imagine
that someone would come here to work,
to study how the volcano works,
how it erupts?
I'm very surprised to hear
that you people are very interested
in the volcano. Yeah.
I always ask myself,
"Why do these people
want to do with that fire?"
When looking at this,
going in the helicopter yesterday,
I was wondering,
"Why this man is going...
wanting to do with that volcano, eh?"
Yes, I don't know why
you are so interested in volcano.
In a way, this film started
for me ten years ago in Antarctica.
I was doing a film about scientists
on this continent
which took me to Mount Erebus,
an active volcano,
one of the three in the world
where you can look straight
into the magma of the inner earth.
Magma is the heated molten rock
from which lava can be extruded.
It was on Erebus,
12,500 feet above sea level,
that I met a strange and wonderful tribe
of volcanologists,
some of them overcome
by altitude sickness.
This close to the boiling magma,
which frequently explodes,
we were briefed on the etiquette
of how to deal with the stuff.
One very important thing
to keep in mind
when you're on the crater
is that the lava lake
could explode at any time.
If it does, it's vital
to keep your attention
faced toward the lava lake
and watch for bombs
that are tracking up into the air,
and try to pick out the ones
that might be coming toward you
and step out of the way.
The last thing you want to do
is turn away from the crater
or run or crouch down.
Keep your attention toward the lava lake,
look up,
and move out of the way.
What really impressed me
was seeing these scientists
toiling up the side of the volcano
with such heavy loads.
The temperature
on this particular morning
was minus-25 degrees Fahrenheit.
My face is frozen.
One of them stood out.
Despite having that fantastic
lava lake down there,
with all that energy,
we still have to bring old
petrol generators up to the crater rim.
Man vs. machine, chapter 53.
Professor Clive Oppenheimer on Erebus.
Hands in pockets.
Waiting for it to start spontaneously.
I think he'll be waiting a long time.
Have you ever seen two men kiss
on the top of Erebus before?
I like working with Harry.
Is that all right? Thank you.
It was easy
to start a friendship with him.
On one of our first days together,
he insisted upon training
his own camera on me.
Let's turn it off, yeah? Okay?
Do you see them
only in destructive terms, volcanoes?
No, I... I do not. Uh...
Something different.
It's good that they are there.
And the soil we are walking upon,
uh, is not permanent.
There's no permanence
to what we are doing...
no permanence to the efforts
of human being,
no permanence to art,
no permanence to science.
There is something of a crust
that is somehow moving,
and it makes me fond of the volcano
to know that our life,
human life, or animals,
can only live and survive
because the volcanoes created
the atmosphere that we need.
Do you have a sense of the different kinds
of volcanoes and different eruptions?
I know you filmed on La Soufrire
de Guadeloupe many years ago,
which is a very...
Well, do you sense differences
in the activity here with...?
Yeah, La Soufrire was very volatile.
It was all the way back in 1976
when I first filmed a volcano.
This was on the Caribbean island
of Guadeloupe.
The mountain was expected to explode
at any moment,
and 70,000 people
were rapidly evacuated.
The fear was intense
because of the memory of an event
that took on apocalyptic proportions.
It was known that, in 1902,
on the neighboring island of Martinique,
Mount Pele exploded.
The signals that La Soufrire
issued in Guadeloupe
were almost identical
to what had happened.
It was measured in 1902.
So, everybody was afraid
it would explode,
and it would explode
with very, very massive force,
many times an atomic bomb,
So, I was not interested in the volcano.
I was interested in one single man
who refused to be evacuated.
A different attitude towards death.
75 people...
75,000 people being evacuated,
and he stayed on.
I actually found him...
I find him sleeping.
I find him sleeping.
I had to wake him up on camera.
And what was wonderful...
he was very philosophical.
A very poor black farmer.
And I sensed that, after a while,
he didn't feel so comfortable
with us anymore,
and he sat up and started
to tie his worn-out tennis shoe.
And then, all of a sudden,
he sings a song against the camera,
and I knew that was that.
So, go away, we'd better get out.
We met in Antarctica
during the shoot
of Encounters at the End of the World,
and I knew a little bit about you.
I'd seen some of your movies
when I was a youngster,
and I knew something of your reputation.
And we, in our field team,
we were anxious that you were going
to have us propelled
down towards the lava lake.
There was some concern that you would be
looking for lengths of rope
with which we could be lowered down
within meters of this fiery lake
on Mount Erebus, volcano.
And instead, you were interested
in what we were doing
and why we were doing it.
For me, there is no personal excitement
to go down.
There's a curiosity.
Yes, I would love to see it from close up.
But since it is too dangerous,
it would be silly.
We have, in some ways, similar...
Um, you know, we both...
As a volcanologist,
of course, there's a risk
doing the measurements,
and you ask yourself, "Well, is it worth
dying to get this measurement?"
And the answer is no,
if you look at it in those terms.
But you're always trying to evaluate
how far you're going
to tolerate the risk.
I mean, even here,
the volcano could explode now
and we could all be hit
by one of these five-meter bombs.
I'm the only one in filmmaking
who is clinically sane,
- taking all precautions.
- That's very clear. Oh, absolutely.
I mean, you wouldn't still be here
if you were insane.
You would've been consumed long ago
by a pyroclastic current
or a gas flare or a grizzly bear
or whatever.
So, it's quite clear that you're sane.
I never doubted that for a moment
from our first encounter.
Deposited out from the volcanic gas.
Very nice.
- That's a good swoosh.
- Yeah, a good swoosh.
- We're very blas about all of this.
- Yes.
But let it come at us.
We'll face it and step aside.
We would often discuss
the life and work of a French couple,
Katia and Maurice Krafft.
They were famous for capturing
incredible images of volcanoes.
But this meant that they had to get
dangerously close to their subject.
Too close,
as it would eventually turn out.
They were both instantly killed
by a pyroclastic flow in Japan,
together with 41 other people.
This is the very avalanche
of super-heated gases that killed them.
What is rushing down this slope
at over 100 miles per hour
has a temperature
of more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
I spent a very formative part
of my youth in Indonesia.
I came to Toba
when I was 19 years old.
And actually, in Indonesia,
I feel like it's my second home.
I've come back
intermittently over the years,
but I immediately feel at home.
The smell of the kretek clove cigarettes,
the sights, the sounds.
It's a very special place to me.
And I think my career as a volcanologist
was partly formed from that first visit
as a 19-year-old.
Indonesia was the right place
for an aspiring scientist.
In fact, there's no country in the world
that has more volcanoes than this one.
Clive Oppenheimer took us
to Mount Sinabung.
It had been relatively quiet
the last few years.
The area we are shooting in right now
had been declared a restricted zone,
with no access allowed to anyone.
But, as we found farmers working there,
we felt reasonably safe.
Eerie relics remained, though,
from an eruption in 2010.
Feeling that this was
distant enough in time,
no one was expecting
what happened next.
Fortunately, this eruption
did not hurt anyone,
and we quickly left the area.
Only a few days later,
we saw this on Indonesian television.
Seven people were killed in the very spot
where we had had our camera.
In order to prevent such catastrophes,
Indonesia has set up
numerous early warning systems.
This is the Babadan Observatory,
which monitors Mount Merapi,
one of the most dangerous volcanoes
in the world.
And each of these stations
is a seismometer somewhere on Merapi,
a different distance,
five, six kilometers from the summit?
Yeah, that's true.
So, we have a summit station.
We have a short east station,
we have short station in Babadan Hill.
And also we have on the west of station.
And these real-time data provide
one of the most important parts
of a volcano-monitoring program
for assessing what the volcano is doing.
- It's the heartbeat of the volcano.
- Exactly.
This one is the electronic
distance measurements.
So, we have a reflector
in the summit of Merapi.
Then we're measuring every morning.
By this measuring,
we're plotting the cone.
So, it's measuring...
It's firing a laser pulse
to a mirror five, six kilometers away,
the light bounces back
and you've measured the distance.
And that can show
whether the volcano is inflating
because magma is rising
into the cone. Is that...
That's right. That's the idea for the
electronic distance measurements.
In a worst-case scenario,
I imagine the observer is at risk
if there's a pyroclastic flow.
If it's too late
for the observer to evacuate,
are there any options left?
Yeah, that's the emergency.
Then, if it is emergency,
we have a bunker.
It's a thick door.
- Yeah.
- After you.
We put the food and also oxygen.
We hope that they can survive
for one month.
It reminds me of the eruption
of Mount Pele in 1902
that killed nearly 30,000 people
in the city of Saint-Pierre
as the pyroclastic flows reached it.
And the only survivor lived
because he was the baddest guy in town.
He was a criminal.
I think he stabbed a prison officer
through the cheek with a pencil,
and he was put in solitary confinement
in a bunker-like cell.
All the other prisoners perished,
but he survived,
albeit badly burnt, because there was
a tiny grill window in the cell,
and he subsequently joined
the Barnum & Bailey Circus
and was exhibited as a celebrity,
as the sole survivor of this eruption.
So, in 2010, the monitoring
was absolutely crucial
in forecasting the eruption
and its escalation.
The first indication was seismic.
A lot of volcanic earthquakes.
This indicates that there is magma moving.
Also, supported by these electronic
distance measurements.
And the gas measurements?
Of course.
I know this looks pathetic,
like a shoebox
with a baked bean tin stuck on the end,
and it also looks
like it's pointing at the ground,
rather than at the volcano summit
over here.
But it's something I'm very proud of.
It's something that we built in Cambridge.
There's a little window here,
and a mirror and some lenses,
connected to an ultraviolet spectrometer.
The device measures the emissions
of sulfur dioxide from the volcano
as the gases rise above the summit,
and this is a very important parameter
in many volcano-monitoring programs
around the world.
And the forerunner of this device
we had working here in 2010,
and it played an important role
in the hazard assessment,
and it's conservatively estimated
at something like 20,000 lives were saved
because of the effective monitoring
of Merapi in 2010
and the evacuation that followed.
I'm very happy to see
that it's still working. Uh...
I hold, along with some colleagues,
the patent for the original prototype,
which we designed
more than ten years ago now.
So, this technology is now found
on volcanoes around the world,
and it's revolutionized the monitoring
of gas emissions from volcanoes.
It's my baby.
I'm really glad to see it.
I haven't seen it for two years,
and here it is, still working.
Obviously, there was
a scientific side to our journey.
But what we were really chasing
was the magical side:
the demons, the new gods.
This was the itinerary
we had set for ourselves,
no matter how strange
things might eventually get.
Here in the palace
of the Sultan of Jogjakarta,
dignitaries are charged with the task
of reconciling the goddess of the ocean
with the demon of the volcano.
The sultan himself does not participate
in the procession.
We marveled at his parked Mercedes,
wrapped in a bubble of plastic,
as if the conceptual artist Christo
had just been here.
The procession stops for a ritual
close to the ocean.
This will be a reenactment
of the sexual union
between an ancient sultan
and the Queen of the Sea.
A doctoral student of Clive's,
Adam Bobbette,
functioned as our guide.
Every year, they have to
reproduce this by giving rituals...
by doing rituals in this site
and then giving offerings
to the South Sea from the sultan,
including his body parts...
fingernails, hair, clothes...
which they launch into the ocean
to appease the Queen of the South Sea.
As a part of their sexual union,
they also created a kind of monster
that ended up occupying the volcano.
So, this hole is where
they will give offerings,
because this is the site
of the sexual union
between the Goddess of the Sea
and the first sultan.
I think it's coming right now.
It's a box.
This is it.
And now the offerings to the ocean.
The following day,
we witnessed the ritual at the volcano.
Merapi, on this morning,
was not enshrouded in clouds.
After the ceremony, the crowd
went right for the flower petals,
an auspicious souvenir.
More strange magic.
Another bewildering alignment,
this time between a building
and the volcano,
here, barely visible,
as if floating in the clouds.
The odd edifice
is still under construction.
Inside, we found nobody
in an empty chair
pretending to watch TV.
On the floor above,
we met a few carpenters.
Yes, I am one of
the workers building this place.
What is it?
What are you building?
I built this.
The owner had a dream.
After that, he built this building.
A building to be used for prayer.
It looks like a chicken?
It's actually a dove, not a chicken.
But maybe it's also related to Merapi?
Maybe the owner thinks that way,
pointing it towards Mount Merapi.
I'm only an ordinary worker
who goes home after working hours.
But it still looks like a chicken, right?
Yes, most people say
it's like a chicken.
They call it the Chicken Church.
- A soap opera filmed a scene here.
- Yes.
It became popular
after the soap opera was shot.
Last Saturday,
someone from Surabaya
who saw the show,
wanted to see the location,
so they came here.
Odder still is the fact that,
in this mostly Muslim country,
this is a Roman Catholic church.
Under the floor,
it even has its own catacombs,
maybe as a shelter for hermits,
as protection against volcanic fallout.
Of all the many volcanoes
in Indonesia,
there is no single one
that is not connected
to a belief system.
For the locals,
all this volcanic landscape
bears magical names.
The Night Market of the Ghosts,
the Flying Foxes,
the Dancing Place of the Spirits.
Back to Lake Toba,
where Clive Oppenheimer's
scientific journey began.
This is the largest
volcanic crater lake on Earth.
It extends something like 100 kilometers
off into the distance.
Frankly, it's too big to film.
We should've booked a ticket
on the International Space Station
to look down from above
and appreciate its vast scale.
The eruption occurred
something like 74,000 years ago.
This was a monstrous,
stupendous volcanic eruption,
one of the very largest
that we've documented
in all of Earth history
for a single event.
The skies would've been darkened,
there would've been a conflagration
across this part of Northern Sumatra
as the pyroclastic currents spread out
radially around the crater,
igniting all of the tropical vegetation.
The eruption produced something like
15,000 cubic kilometers of ash and pumice
that was pumped
high into the stratosphere
and spread across the globe.
Enough pumice came out,
to bury everyone in the
United States to head-height.
It's something like 10,000 times larger
than the 1980 eruption
of Mount St. Helens.
It's 100,000 times greater
than the Eyjafjallajkull eruption
in Iceland in 2010
that disrupted global aviation.
This was the stupendous event
in Earth history.
And there's even a theory
that the eruption
almost wiped us out as a species.
Based on the genetic pedigree
of living humans,
we can say that there was a bottleneck
in human numbers around this time period.
And the link is between the climate change
wrought by the eruption,
the decimation of tropical vegetation
that was the resource base
for our ancestors.
Perhaps there were as few as 600
of our species left on Earth.
We would've been classified
as an endangered species.
Somehow, we rebounded.
This theory is very controversial,
And that's because there's
a very limited amount of evidence
this far back in time.
In particular,
there are very few human fossils
to try and establish cause and effect.
If we want to find human fossils
from 74,000 years ago,
we'd better go to Ethiopia,
we'd better go to the Afar Region.
This is part
of the Danakil Depression,
300 feet below sea level.
In terms of average
year-round temperature,
this is the hottest place on our planet.
During summer,
temperatures hardly ever dip
below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Working conditions are only tolerable
in mid-winter,
and even then it is extremely hot.
On top of that,
this is an area of tribal warfare,
and you can only enter it
accompanied by armed soldiers.
This depression is only part
of a long, stretched rift,
continuing down
through all of East Africa.
In millions of years,
the rift will widen
until a strip of the continent
breaks off,
drifting into the Indian Ocean.
In such places, volcanoes form.
This particular one, Erta Ale,
is one of the three in the world
where magma is directly exposed.
Erta Ale is also important
for its significance to early man.
A great amount of obsidian,
a volcanic glass,
was extruded from the crater.
Look at that.
It's translucent at the edges.
Beautiful flake.
And very sharp still.
You could probably shave with that.
Obsidian is very hard and brittle,
and therefore fractures
with extremely sharp edges.
So sharp, in fact,
that up until the 1980s
eye operations were performed
with obsidian scalpels,
sharper than any steel.
This amazing material has attracted
early humans to this landscape
as far back as hominids
a million years ago.
At this site,
a team of paleontologists
are extracting artifacts and remains
of our direct ancestors,
the first Homo sapiens,
who emerged in this area
100,000 years ago.
What is amazing to me is the fact
that the remains are found
almost directly at the surface.
And more so,
why this particular spot
and not back there
where the goats are roaming?
This grid was apparently
a tool manufacturing site.
Hundreds of obsidian chips
are strewn about.
Dr. Yonatan Sahle,
an Ethiopian scientist,
has excavated this prehistoric workshop.
And where did your passion come from?
How did you fall into this field?
Well, I had, I studied history
for my bachelor's degree.
And that's when
I started to fall in love.
So, history was not deep enough for me.
I wanted to look further back in time
and find out what is it, really,
that makes us human.
We are a very unique species.
In a way, we interact
and we collaborate
and we cooperate and we produce,
we modify our environment.
But at the same time,
we fight and destruct,
and we are even a danger
to other species and the planet,
the fate of the planet as well.
So, we are a very interesting species.
So, I wanted to get at the root
of all this
and see, in deep time,
what underlies all these processes.
We're sifting
through the trash of humans
from 50 to 100,000 years ago.
Do you think we have
another 100,000 years on planet Earth?
I would say that, you know,
another thousand years,
we will be in a very critical situation,
and so we will have to learn
from our mistakes
and we'll have to work
toward improving...
the condition of our planet
so that it can have the carrying capacity
to allow our species to perpetuate.
If you had a time machine
that could go
to only one time period in the past,
when would it be?
It would be exactly this time period
because this is...
I believe this is when we started
to look like us, um,
and when we, uh,
as a species, um, started.
And so, this is before we became...
we acquired different skin colors.
This is before we acquired
different languages
and we spread across
different geographies.
So, this is where I want to be,
right at the root.
So, I would love to express my...
uh, my fascination to this ground
by kissing it.
And here I go.
Professor Tim White of
the University of California, Berkeley,
leads the team here.
We were immediately captivated
by his wild style of explaining things.
So, look at the...
It blows in the wind,
it's very fine grain,
it's all floodplain, it's all silt.
But it all started as volcanic rock
from the highlands,
from the rift margin,
ground up over millions of years,
distributed out here,
and redistributed by the Awash River.
If you die today,
your body will decompose
on the floodplain.
If the hyenas don't chew
all the bones up,
the next time the river floods,
this soft, silty material
will be carried in,
and it will encase your bones.
Let's go.
Oh, we're gonna call this
the Werner Herzog Highway.
And what we're doing here
is opening up a space for the cars...
so we can come through
with a full crew tomorrow morning...
to recover the additional pieces
of the hominid
that we found just up on top there,
on the eroding sediments.
So, we'd like to pull the cars in
as close as we can get
so we can get all the equipment there.
And we'll start an extraction process
to pull that hominid out.
How phenomenally lucky are we
to have arrived now
and you've found
this 100,000-year-old human?
This does not happen very often.
These hominid fossils
are very, very rare.
Finding an artifact, that's easier,
because during any hominid's lifetime,
they can make dozens, thousands,
of stone-age calling cards
scattered all over the landscape.
But they only have one skeleton,
one dentition.
They only die once.
So, think about it.
Acres and acres of eroding sediment.
How in the world can we find the place
where this dead person's bones
came to rest
and arrive just at the geological moment
that erosion is carving
these sediments out,
exposing these ancient surfaces,
with the monkeys and the hippos
and everything else,
thousands of bones and artifacts
all over the surface?
And there's one guy,
one guy in the world.
If I had to say, "Get that guy out here
on the surface.
He's gonna find the hominid. "
You know who that is?
That is Kampiro Kayrento,
the world's greatest fossil finder.
This is Kampiro Kayrento.
He is one of the world's experts,
if not the world's expert.
He's the guy I want on the aircraft
to find things.
He can recognize what's an antelope,
what's a carnivore,
what's a fish, what's a baboon,
what's a zebra,
what's a giraffe, what's a rhino.
He's got all that.
Not from the whole animal,
because you never find the whole animal.
You find pieces of animals,
pieces of the bones of animals.
He knows what they are.
You got anything, Tim?
More pieces for the puzzle.
Cranial vault piece,
freshly out of the ground.
That one needs to be squirted off.
This bone is beautifully preserved,
completely silicified,
completely fossilized.
So, we've got now
a number of different elements.
The most diagnostic and...
important one, ultimately,
will be this one here, which is...
the top...
of the left orbit.
So to sort of place it in Clive's head...
- Whereabouts?
- Other side. There you go.
I'm looking into the eye
of a Paleolithic hominid that lived here.
So, it's a three-dimensional
jigsaw puzzle.
Yeah, no one's gonna argue
that those two pieces fit back together.
That's a nice fit.
In evolutionary terms,
here in the Middle Awash,
we have six million years' worth
of rocks.
The ones on the bottom
have small-brained early bipeds.
These are close to the top
of the succession.
These are much more like you and I.
They have chins, vertical foreheads.
We still have a lot to learn about them,
but the importance for humanity
is that this is the right time,
100,000 years ago,
and the right place, Africa,
according to the archeology
and the genetic evidence...
to know the people who were the ones
who expanded from Africa to Asia,
to Europe, and then beyond.
While these people were living here
in tropical Africa,
dining on hippos,
Europe was locked under ice.
Let's go get more pieces.
Are we ready to rock 'n' roll?
Let's get brushes.
We've taken all of
the surface-exposed bone off the surface.
We suspect there's going to be
sub-surface bone in here.
We've maximized where we think it is,
and now it's a matter
of going to the casino
and rolling the dice
and hoping we're gonna get
some nice human anatomy,
fossilized for 100,000 years,
right out of this unit.
We're just gonna brush and find bone.
Whoa! There's a piece of bone
right there.
That one's not identifiable,
but it might join other ones
and become identifiable.
So, that's a keeper.
Every single piece of bone
is a keeper.
See the piece?
So, that's a limb bone shaft.
I can't tell which limb bone.
It's one of three.
It's tibia, humerus or femur.
Here we go.
That's a nice shaft piece.
Again, it's tibia...
It's one of the major long bones.
It's this one, this one or that one.
You can see these things are...
they're completely turned to stone.
They're completely fossilized,
so they're brittle.
And when erosion comes
and exposes them,
they just shatter.
And so, we have to be careful
to get all of the shattered pieces.
My skeleton has 206 bones.
Same with this person.
They're human.
But now we're looking for literally
probably 4,000 pieces
because all of those bones
each shattered.
I can already see something
that discriminates you and I,
which is, we've been here
the same amount of time.
You've pulled out half a dozen
of these bone fragments.
I haven't found anything.
There's clearly an expertise
that goes with this business.
But the greatest thing about the game
is the combination of the expertise
and the luck.
Like Las Vegas.
Viva Las Vegas!
Courtesy of Bizayu.
Bizayu! Got a limb bone shaft.
Thank you.
What's wrong over there, Clive?
- Ohh!
- Ohh!
Check it out!
Where does it fit in?
Check it out. This is a distal humerus.
Definitely hominid.
It is right down at the end
of your upper arm bone.
So, if we were to place this
in our anatomy,
we'd set it up something like that.
I figured out, Tim,
I'm holding the brush wrong.
There's got to be something wrong
with my technique.
Come on, Clive,
move over into the hot place there.
I'm moving K.K. out.
This is your chance.
- You don't think it's too hot for me?
- This is your chance.
You got to get in here, man.
This guy's finding everything.
I was right there.
He planted it.
It's just to make me look bad, isn't it?
- I'll stick to volcanology.
- Brush, man, brush!
He's going to lose this race.
Piece after piece
after piece after piece.
Maybe we'll get it all
back together again.
If we're lucky.
If Clive would just find something!
- I'm not gonna give up.
- Come on, Clive.
Huh? Look at...
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Whoa! Bingo!
- Is it a human?
- Yeah.
All right! He's got it.
Clive scores!
It's such a relief.
Just out of the dirt,
where it's been 100,000 years, maybe.
A little piece of my direct ancestor,
It's quite heavy. It's, uh, fossilized.
One skeleton from Kenya.
One skeleton from two meters up,
500 meters away,
in the Middle Awash.
And this one.
That's how rare...
even partial skeletons of human
ancestors are in that time interval.
Just the first surface sweep,
we've probably got another 30 pieces
of this individual,
and all of this came out
in about 30 minutes
of simply sweeping.
As these piles that we've swept up
go through the sieve,
we're gonna have
a bunch of other pieces of bone
that escaped the brushing
but won't escape our sieve.
we'll see a cranium take shape,
and we'll come to know
the anatomy of this person.
I just...
What a phenomenal cornucopia
for half an hour's work
with a dustpan and brush.
It's just... just sensational.
One of three in Africa
ever recovered.
Your timing was very good.
What? Wait a minute.
There's a Konso dance going on here
in the background.
- It's gonna be good.
- This is gonna be good.
- Moya!
- Moya means, in Afarinia, "head. "
Got the moya.
We got a moya!
The extraction begins.
This fragment
is of particular importance,
as it is part of the cranium.
Time for a Shakespearean moment, perhaps,
to soliloquize on...
my deep ancestry.
I can see the curvature.
It's the biggest piece we have so far.
As dusk came,
we made our way to the volcano.
Looking into the magma at night,
the interior of our planet
reveals its strange beauty.
Compared to Ethiopia,
Iceland's history
is a mere blip in time.
Less than 1,200 years ago,
it was settled by Norsemen.
All of Iceland is volcanic,
including the Westman Islands
to the south.
Out of nowhere,
in the early morning hours
of January 23, 1973,
a trench of fire opened
right at the edge
of the town of Heimaey.
The eruption occurred
without any previous warning signs.
As bad as it looks,
no one lost their lives here.
The fishing fleet
had just returned to harbor
and rescued many of the inhabitants.
Forty years after the event,
Clive Oppenheimer brought us here.
Grass has grown again,
and there are still curtains
in the windows.
But Heimaey was hardly
an isolated event.
Not a season goes by in Iceland
without an eruption.
This event happened in 2010
and is remembered as the ash cloud
that paralyzed air traffic for weeks.
Very quickly, the heat from the eruption
melted the thick ice covering
on top of the mountain,
creating enormous floods.
But an event of this magnitude
is nothing
compared to earlier eruptions
in Iceland.
This area is the site
of the so-called Laki eruption.
Beginning on June 8, 1783,
this entire landscape
exploded into flames
as far as the eye could see,
from horizon to horizon.
The molten rock
came up to the surface
and rent open
a 27-kilometer-long fissure
that stretches in this direction
for something like half of that distance.
Overall, about 140 vents were active,
building up cones above them
with fire fountains rising into the air.
And after a few months,
the fissure opened up in this direction,
again, another 13, 14 kilometers or so.
And another few dozen vents open up,
and they spewed out lava
to the northeast of us.
Everything we see now
has been set in stone.
The lava has solidified and frozen.
But if we'd been here at the time,
we would've seen jets of fire,
fountains of fire,
rising a kilometer-and-a-half
into the air
and then cascading down
to the ground again.
And that built up the cones,
like the one that we're standing on now.
And from the bases of these cones,
lava gushed out
at a phenomenal rate.
This is very, very hot lava,
very, very fluid,
and it poured down the valleys,
filling them to depths
of 100, 150 meters.
These primordial occurrences
influenced the sense of mythical poetry
of the Icelanders.
There is a text that defines
the spirit of the people.
It exists only in a single manuscript.
For Iceland, it is as important
as the Dead Sea Scrolls are for Israel.
The codex was given as a present
to the king of Denmark
by an Icelandic bishop
in the 17th century.
The Royal Codex, or Codex Regius.
In 1971,
Denmark returned it to Iceland.
Knowing that it constituted
the soul of the country,
the codex was put
on Denmark's largest battleship
and escorted by a whole fleet.
No amount of money in the world
would be enough
to purchase this manuscript
from Iceland,
although it is battered and crumpled
and filled with holes.
In the opening passage, called
"The Prophecy of the Seeress,"
there is an apocalyptic vision
of the end of the pagan gods.
This seems to describe
a huge volcanic event.
"'Neath the sea the land sinketh,
the sun dimmeth,
from the heavens
fall the fair, bright stars;
gusheth forth steam and gutting fire,
to very heaven soar
the hurtling flames.
The fates I fathom,
yet farther I see:
of the mighty gods
the engulfing doom.
Comes the darksome dragon flying,
upward from the Nitha Fells.
He bears in his pinions
as the plains he o'erflies,
now he will sink. "
Right on the border with China
lies a volcano
in the Democratic People's Republic
of Korea,
better known in the West
as North Korea.
It has been inactive
for more than 1,000 years,
but it plays a huge role
in the imagination of the people.
For millennia, it was considered
the mythical birthplace
of the Korean nation.
Today, the socialist government
co-opts this myth.
This is the site of pilgrimages.
Out of the mist, we saw a formation
of uniformed men with a flag emerging.
We believed they were soldiers,
but it turned out
they were university students
come to rejoice in the power
that emanates from this place.
And now they are singing
in praise of Mount Paektu.
Everything is different in North Korea.
Imagine if these were students
at a campus in California.
A unique opportunity
presented itself to us.
The near-impervious country
opened its doors
to a joint scientific program
between the University of Cambridge
and North Korean volcanologists.
And so we were invited to film there.
But everything we saw
was an act of presentation,
and we went for it.
There is no other way
to see this enigmatic country
other than how it wants
to present itself.
In propaganda films seen frequently
on North Korean television,
the images display monumental unity
and fervent emotion,
all dedicated to the leadership.
One thing that's remarkable
and I'm very aware of as I work here
is the sanctity of this mountain.
This has a very long history,
going back 5,000 years,
as the mythical birthplace
of the Korean people from this volcano.
And through the medieval period
and to the more modern period,
this is the sacred mountain
of the revolution,
where the struggle was fought
against Japanese occupation
70 years ago.
And the spirit of the mountain
is in all the Korean people,
and this is something very, very special
about this place.
It seems like we're on a tranquil
boat trip on a Norwegian fjord,
but actually we're at ground zero
of what was a most monumental
volcanic eruption
nearly 1,100 years ago,
the so-called Millennium eruption.
The crater here
is about three miles across.
And actually these cliffs are all part
of the crater rim,
all around us, 360 degrees.
The amount of pumice
that came out in the eruption
would be enough to bury
the whole of New York City.
Only the highest buildings
would poke out of the top.
In a way, if you look at the crater
surrounding us
and imagine that once there was a cone
built over our heads,
that missing volume alone
accounts for a huge amount of rock
and pumice and lava.
So, this has been spewed out
over the Korean peninsula,
it's in parts of China,
it's in parts of Russia,
and there's even
about three inches of ash
that fell over parts of Japan
that you can still find today.
Around ten years ago,
there was a swarm of earthquakes
that were detected
by sensitive instruments
around the mountain,
and that really ignited
the scientific interest in the volcano
and whether there might be
signs of reawakening.
Over the last few years,
we've built a really strong
and unique collaboration
with scientists from Pyongyang
who've worked here for 10, 20 years,
so they have very detailed knowledge
of the structure of the volcano.
So, we've learnt a lot from them.
It's very difficult for scientists here
to attend international conferences,
so we've really shared our experiences
and expertise
to better understand this volcano.
So, two years of data.
Yeah, we've collected
two years of seismic data.
Uh, which is pretty incredible. Um...
And the seismometer sitting here
will record all the earthquakes.
It looks just like a paint pot
linked to a laptop,
and yet that's recorded
this unique data service,
so that's really something.
Looks can be deceptive.
It's an incredibly sensitive instrument
in there.
So, it records, you know,
um, just minor movements.
Even us walking around here
will be creating noise.
So, this is Mr. Yun Yong-Gun.
He's the vice-director
of the Earthquake Administration
and kind of leads the DPRK side
of the project.
The Earthquake Administration of
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
pays special attention to this project
of international joint research.
Great importance is given to this mountain
just because around this mountain,
our great leader President Kim Il-sung
fought against the Japanese imperialists.
Kim Il-sung, the founding father
of the communist North Korean state,
appropriated the myth of the volcano.
He established his secret
military headquarters
in a forest right here
at the foot of the mountain,
thus transferring its power and dynamic
into his revolution.
This monument is a gateway
to the sacred ground.
This group sculpture
is about the camping life of the guerillas
in Chongbong Camp.
They were very much moved
to put their foot
the first time on the homeland,
and they could not sleep.
You can see there are lady guerrillas
who are now sewing the buttons
to the clothes.
A guerrilla who is reading a book
under the fire.
A little guerrilla is now dreaming
about returning back home
after the liberation of their country,
and one of the guerrillas
is now playing the pipe.
Those guerrillas are now rejoicing
over the sight of Mount Paektu.
From the 21st of July, 1979,
our great leader
Generalissimo Kim Jong-il
came to this place
and particularly highly appreciated
that that lady,
who is now standing in solitude,
was greatly depicted.
This is the biggest lake, number one.
And over there we have
the lake number two.
And a little further up,
we have the lake number three.
When our great leader Generalissimo
Kim Jong-il came here in March, 2003,
he highly appreciated
the beauty of these trees.
This is the mosaic mural painting
The Glory of February.
The mural painting represents
the great leader President Kim Il-sung
and the anti-Japanese hero
Kim Jong-suk,
who are celebrating
their first birth anniversary
of the great leader Kim Jong-il.
And here,
the secret log cabin of Kim Il-sung.
Daily, thousands of people
make their pilgrimage
to this humble place.
In the Christian world, this would be
like visiting the birthplace of Jesus,
the stable in Bethlehem.
For North Koreans...
the founding father of their revolution
still lives on.
Kim Il-sung became
president of the nation,
and then president for life.
After his death,
he was declared president for eternity.
The propaganda appears to create
a quasi-religious experience.
the life in the secret camp in those days
was so difficult
that they had no blankets at all.
That is why the guerrilla soldiers,
collected their pad wads
from their own padded clothes,
and then made that blanket
for our dear Kim Jong-il.
The birthplace
of the socialist revolution
manifests itself
in collective formations
of the North Koreans.
In the country's biggest stadium,
more than 100,000 people participate
in creating a unique art form.
The picture of the hut in the snow
is not a painting.
It is made of human pixels.
And this is how it's done.
A prearranged pattern of color cards
is held and flipped over in sync.
Here, the rising sun over the landscape
of Mount Paektu.
And here, father and son
of the revolution.
All this appears like a cosmic metaphor
for a society aligned
in a unified pattern
behind a common ideology.
But in all this display of the masses,
I find an underlying emptiness
and solitude.
Because of the North Korean ideology
of political and economic self-reliance,
and because
of internationally-imposed sanctions,
the country is unique.
The population at large
has very limited contact
with the outside world.
There are no international phone lines
or Internet available to the public,
no radio or television
from the outside world.
To our eyes,
it is strange to see people
not glued to their cell phones.
There is no advertising anywhere.
just the ever-present propaganda.
There are no newsstands,
only the official party newspaper
on display.
In the subway, in the streets,
almost everywhere,
you'll find pictures of the leaders,
always in the vicinity of the volcano.
Back on the mountain, we spoke
to a historian who was assigned to us.
We asked him about the photos
and the precise location
of where they had been taken.
He probably stood exactly at the place
you are standing now.
Not this place, but up there
on the Janggun Peak.
Yeah. They're famous photos.
We know them.
About this monument,
it dates back to what time, roughly?
It dates back to the early 20th century.
It was erected by the heavenly people
living around this area.
And, according to the inscription
on the monument,
they prayed to Mount Paektu
and Lake Chon here
to give birth to a prominent person
who can give prosperity and happiness
to the Korean nation.
And the person materialized?
You are quite right.
This kind of miserable nation
was rescued and saved
just by our great leader,
the fearless patriot Kim Il-sung,
who fought against
the Japanese imperialists.
And how do you feel,
as a historian,
with all the thousands of years
behind you,
how do you feel personally?
Is there pride? Is there patriotism?
My question was meant
to elicit a personal response.
However, personal opinions
seem to us a mirror image
of the omnipotent ideology
of the people and their leadership.
All the Korean people
frequently climb up to this mountain,
but every time whenever
they climb up this mountain,
they have a new feeling,
a solemn feeling,
and at the same time,
they make up a new determination
to work harder for the country
with patriotism.
And all the Korean people
are now singing the song
whose title is
"Let Us Go to Mount Paektu. "
And it clearly reflects
the spirit of the Korean people.
We are back now where we started,
the Vanuatu Archipelago,
this time on Tanna Island
in the south.
There is an active volcano here,
Mount Yasur.
Similar to North Korea,
this volcano has created a new god.
John Frum,
the mythical American G.I.
who descended from the clouds.
Each Friday night,
the islanders celebrate his cult.
Chief Isaac of this John Frum village
tightly controls the dogma
of the new faith.
Different denominations
and even a schism in the church
seem to have materialized,
and so we were only allowed
to speak to him and his son.
He flies the Stars and Stripes
because John Frum is an American
who promises to return
with copious cargos of consumer goods.
I understand that John Frum
one day will appear to all the people
and that he will
bring many things...
chewing gum, fridges, Cadillacs,
maybe Boeing airplanes.
He thinks that...
He says that it is a promise
that was made one day.
He says that it is a promise
made by the spirit
that one day, it will be like
the Americans will do all that.
Is John Frum like a god?
John Frum is like a god to us.
The one god?
John Frum is like a god,
and it is like...
John Frum is like a gate.
It is like Jesus. You have to pass through
before going to God.
What happens when people die?
His believing
is that when the dead are buried,
they are in a room...
waiting for the Last Kingdom.
Will they meet John Frum
in the Last Kingdom?
So, he thinks that the Last Kingdom,
John Frum is like a walking person,
like Jesus.
In the Last Kingdom, it is thought
that he'll be searching for people.
His son had
direct encounters with John Frum.
You're next in line to be chief
of this John Frum village,
and I understand that you have spent time
living in the volcano.
You spent some nights there.
What were you doing,
and did you speak to John Frum
while you were there?
He's answering that yes, he's been there.
He stayed there for one full night.
He had seen someone
and he spoke to him.
We... It's said that John Frum
uses the volcano as a portal,
a doorway, to travel
from Tanna to America.
Does John Frum live inside the volcano?
He's telling us that John Frum
has a special room that he's living in.
But there is one day that we will meet him
in a different form of a person,
like Jesus.
When I was on the volcano...
I found it amazing to watch,
but also quite terrifying.
How did you feel spending a whole night
up in the crater?
Were you afraid?
He's telling us
that when he went there
and spent the night,
he wasn't afraid
because he knows that
that is God,
and He's the one
that's allowing him to go there.
So, he went inside the volcano
and he saw Him,
and he spoke to Him.
They had a conversation.
Are you allowed to tell us
what the conversation was about?
He says that the message
that the spirit gave to him,
he didn't tell to his father
and even the followers
that are following John Frum.
It is only for him.
I'm a volcano man.
You can't whisper it to me in my ear?
It is hard
to take your eyes off the fire
that burns deep under our feet,
everywhere, under the crust
of the continents and sea beds.
It is a fire that wants to burst forth,
and it could not care less
about what we are doing up here.
This boiling mass
is just monumentally indifferent
to scurrying roaches,
retarded reptiles
and vapid humans alike.
When I went there...
I started to walk to the lava lake.
I didn't think that I would see something
like what I saw.
And when I looked down there...
I thought that I was looking
at the seawater.
But it was red.
And I didn't understand.
I started to think about
why there's water there
and the water is red.
I didn't understand.
I thought that perhaps this fire
will someday come
to that seawater.
So, I was very frightened.
According to our culture,
I think the volcano will...
will destroy everything.
I believe that.
Because I hear about,
from various people,
that there are volcanoes
around the world.
And I think that, uh...
I believe that someday
this volcano will erupt,
and the one at Lopevi,
and they will join together
and will burn everybody.
This is what I'm thinking of.
I think everything will melt.
That's what I'm thinking.
Everything will melt.
The stone, the soil...
trees and everything, will melt.
Like water.
And so, I believe that this volcano
will destroy this world someday.