Director: Werner Herzog
First screened to rapt audiences at MIFF 1993, Lessons Of Darkness is Herzog's meditation on the apocalyptic aftermath of the Guff War. Tragedy and beauty are blended in aerial photography that glides over the ruins of the battlefields of Kuwait. The oil fires that raged for months afterward, the shells of destroyed tanks, trucks and aircraft, the toll in human life and the attempts to reclaim the desert landscape form the core of this emotive and lovingly constructed film.
Herzog's chopper shots glide through the pall of smoke that almost blots out the sun and pause to observe the efforts of fearless US firefighters attempting to cap gushing wells that spout liquid flames. The director's passionate and cautionary documentary provides a clear glimpse of what total global destruction could look like. Herzog referred to Lessons Of Darkness as a science fiction film, alluding to the cinematography that presents images that cannot be recognised as being shot on this planet. Accompanied by a solemn but unforgettable score consisting of Arvo Part, Wagner, Mahler and Prokofiev, this is a landmark documentary.