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...

IL MIO VIAGGIO IN ITALIA

If Martin Scorsese never made another movie, he could unquestionably sustain a career as one of the greatest ever teachers of film. This is an epic masterclass on how to watch films, how to interpret ... More »

BLUE VINYL

"Arguing that vinyl is the most potentially deadly consumer product on the planet, Blue Vinyl doesn't just draw our attention to the lurking danger. Rather, this enormously entertaining documentary ... 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 »

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 »

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 »

THE EXECUTION OF WANDA JEAN

This unflinching documentary probes a strange and complex murder case. Just before Christmas 1988, Wanda Jean Allen shot and killed her girlfriend in front of an Oklahoma police station. A black ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director