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also known as Lektionen in Finsternis

Lessons of Darkness1992

  • 4.4
Werner Herzog travelled to Kuwait with producer/cameraman Paul Berriff to shoot the oil fires left blazing by the retreating Iraqi soldiers after the Gulf War. Faced with flames spewing from the earth, a landscape blackened by fire and oil and plumes of dark smoke choking the sky, Herzog transformed his documentary into something of a companion piece to FATA MORGANA. His narration never mentions Kuwait or the Gulf War. Instead, he frames his footage as a science-fiction tale, a vision of apocalypse to FATA MORGANA's creation myth. Only in two scenes with war survivors does he bring it all back to earth and remind us of the human horrors of the war. The rest is war's aftermath as an epic myth, a nightmarish wasteland of deadly fires and bubbling pools of oil like poisonous ponds of a primordial planet, all photographed with a dreamy beauty. - Sean Axmaker

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"The burning oil fields of Kuwait furnish [...] the apocalyptic raw material for [Werner Herzog's] magnificent, harrowing documentary essay." - Nathan Lee, the New York Sun


3 members like this review

A surreal and visually stunning film. Beautifully done.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (11)

92979.small
top reviewer

A surreal and visually stunning film. Beautifully done.

3 members like this review
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top reviewer

Brilliant. Something has happened. The death of big power. The strongest work on a macro level – the weak are micro, cockroaches, they never die, but wait, and re-emerge to wage their own kind of war. Access has enabled this, and stealth. A blitzkrieg is met with a cacophony of tiny battles and blasts, blow-ups, and killing. Technology, too. Communication. Kill 200,000 and three remain to wreak personal havoc on the most innocent, blunting the bombs that drop from the sky. It was always there, but only aired with Vietnam and them some and more and more and then everybody knew. Death, suffering ensued. Fires that never die.

1 member likes this review
Acc79a52601d28812b2d93da7666072f?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0082
top reviewer

Many films can be described as visually stunning but this documentary is one of the few that really achieves such a description.

The US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 may have been misled but there is no doubt that that the Iraqi regime was evil in many ways.

The oilfield fires in Kuwait were ordered by Saddam Hussein personally and such an ecological assault really speaks for how little he cared for the planet (and the people in it) we all share.

1 member likes this review

I didn't know who Werner Herzog was a year ago until I joined Fandor, and now I actively seek out his movies and documentaries. I am consistently impressed. I am 59 and have seen a fair number of films of all types, and while I am no expert, I do believe I possess enough critical judgement to recommend his work to anyone, as I just did on Facebook, which by the way I will be dumping because I detest Marc Sugarburger, but that is another matter.

1 member likes this review

One of Herzog's most inventive and fictitious documentaries. Yet still soundly hits on many truth's. Masterful.

1 member likes this review

Herzog's apocalyptic, ultimately ironic view of the Gulf War.

1 member likes this review
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filmmaker

Almost too much to handle.

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top reviewer

The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by Iraqi military forces setting fire to a reported 605 to 732 oil wells along with an unspecified number of oil filled low-lying areas, such as oil lakes and fire trenches, as part of a scorched earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 due to the advances of Coalition military forces in the Persian Gulf War. The fires were started in January and February 1991, and the first well fires were extinguished in early April 1991, with the last well capped on November 6, 1991. (Wikipedia)

Erie

Lessons of Darkness is a great film. I have heard about it for years. thank

fantastic summary of all that is wrong.