Skip to main content

B-52

USA / Germany / Switzerland, 2001 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Harmut Bitomsky

A fetishistic, slyly humorous history of one of America's great war machines, the B-52 bomber. Director Harmut Bitomsky is as fascinated by this gargantuan jet's place in the global power structure as he is by the sensuous curves of wings and fuselage.

Bitomsky pieces together a complete chronology of the 'Stratofortress' from initial design in 1948 to the current digitally equipped weapon. This is interwoven with more personal testimony from pilots and crew providing alternately surreal, humorous and terrifying anecdotes about atomic alerts during the Cold War through to the numerous 'Broken Arrow' incidents, US Air Force code for a crash landing with nukes aboard!

B-52's final narrative thread is a strangely beautiful cinematic essay, lovingly edited footage of a massive warplane graveyard in the Arizona desert where a giant specialised guillotine slices these enormous jets like metallic salami. A thoroughly engrossing account of America's quest for air supremacy.

Author, academic and filmmaker Harmut Bitomsky edited Germany's most influential film magazine, Filmkritik, from 1973, before directing his first feature, By Hook or By Crook, in 1975. Bitomsky's 17 other films include The Theatre of War: The Cinema of John Ford (1976), Highways of the Third Reich (1985) and Cinema and Death (1988).

See also...

NOBLE ART

Noble Art could be a contender to step into the ring with the Muhammad Ali doco When We Were Kings as one of the few boxing documentaries to be of interest to those who usually find the sport a ... More »

ABC AFRICA

Celebrated Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami receives a desperate fax from a Ugandan orphan relief organisation. Assistance is urgently needed and a documentary on the subject by so esteemed a ... More »

THE STRUMA

In 1998 renowned Canadian documentary maker Simcha Jacobovici's ground-breaking film, Hollywoodism: ]ews, Movies & the American Dream enthralled MIFF audiences. With The Struma Jacobovici promises to ... More »

BOUND FOR PLEASURE

Now that New Zealand is synonymous with The Lord of the Rings, don't think that all Kiwi dark pleasures are confined to the subterranean lairs of Trolls. Director David Blyth has embarked on his own ... More »

MAU MAU SEX SEX

They've been called 'The Sunshine Boys of smut' but Dan Sonney and David Friedman are proud of their reputation as groovy grandads who peddled taboo and titillation for decades. Beginning in the 30s ... More »

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

"The world of reality television wouldn't exist without Frederick Wiseman's lingering examinations of fragments of society. And those who've grown up watching such programs should look at this film ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director