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Lessons of Darkness

Germany, 1992 (MIFF 2001, Burden of Dreams – Werner Herzog)

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.

See also...

Huie’s Sermon

Werner Herzog claims to have had a divine vision as a child, which may partially explain his fascination with mysticism and preachers. Huie's Sermon was shot in the US while Herzog was preparing to ... More »

La Soufrière

When vulcanologists predicted that La Soufriere would erupt, Werner Herzog rushed to the small Caribbean island of Guadelope to capture the explosion The population had already been evacuated from ... More »

Gasherbrum: The Dark Glow of the Mountains

Before Reinhold Messner's name inspired a Ben Folds Five album title he was known principally as a fearless, and possibly reckless, mountaineer who had lost a brother and six toes in his endeavours ... More »

God’s Angry Man

A vivid account of Werner Herzog's meeting with Californian late-night television evangelist Dr Gene Scott. Scott fleeced fundamentalists to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year ... More »

Bells From The Deep

Near the border between Russia and Mongolia, the nomadic Yulas tribe attempts to reach an altered state of consciousness by making strange, deep, frog-like croaks. Elderly people living by Lake ... More »

How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck?

In one of his most well known documentaries Herzog contrasts the contestants in the 1976 Cattle Auctioning World Championships with the Amish community in which the event is held. The ironic ... More »

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