DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
LESSONS OF DARKNESS (Lektionen in Finsternis) (director/writer: Werner Herzog; cinematographers: Paul Berriff/Rainer Klausmann; editor: Rainer Standke; cast: Werner Herzog (Narrator); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Berriff/Werner Herzog; Anchor Bay; 1992-France/UK/Germany-in English)

 
"Though shot straightforward, it all looks so nightmarish, alien and surreal."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Werner Herzog's ("Wheel of Time"/"Grizzly Man"/"Little Dieter Needs to Fly") riveting meditative documentary, in 13 chapters, takes an apocalyptic look at post-Gulf War Kuwait and at the human and ecological ruin left behind. It opens by telling us the war only lasted for a few hours. It then shows us the before the war look of a clean unidentified city, following that by using CNN footage of distant night-vision explosions during the war and, finally, the after the war look of a bombed out desert country. Except for the minimal narration by Herzog, in a sobering hushed voice, this film could very well be a silent. The stunning cinematography by Paul Berriff, shot from a helicopter, sets its sights on the ongoing oil wells burning in Kuwait, the devastation of the landscape, the rusting military debris left in the sand, the torture chambers, shells of buildings, and the blazing inferno blackening the sky. The images are accompanied by Western classical music from the likes of Wagner, Mahler, and Verdi. Though shot straightforward, it all looks so nightmarish, alien and surreal. It's sure to evoke a sense of horror in any human who cares even a little bit about whether or not mankind will destroy someday his planet, and for that reason the film has an underhanded political agenda. The enormity of the destruction has to be seen to be truly believed.

REVIEWED ON 3/26/2008        GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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