HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
Mandabi
Seance
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
   
 
Newest Articles
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
   
 
  Lessons Of Darkness Pushing the bounds of documentaries
Year: 1992
Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: none
Genre: WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 1 vote)
Review: 1992’s Lessons Of Darkness, by Werner Herzog, was probably the next logical step in the documentary style of film that was pioneered by Herzog and the –Quatsi trilogy of films by Godfrey Reggio, which, themselves were not true documentaries. This 54 minute film, that follows the post-First Gulf War cleanup of the damaged oil wells left behind by Saddam Hussein’s retreating and vandalous army, has few equals in terms of visual impact, and was nominated for a 1992 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Where Reggio’s films were mere visions for visions’ sake, Herzog’s near apocalyptic scenes of oil-choked death, fire, chaos, and destruction have been labeled everything from a documentary film to a science fiction film, simply because Herzog slips in some snippets of poetry that speaks of the realm as otherworldly. It is amazing how a little sleight of hand can totally confound the willfully obtuse.

What the film really is, though, is film for film’s sake. It is not a political screed nor polemic, because in a hundred years the circumstances that led to the imagery that Herzog filmed will be mere trivia. However, it will be nonetheless mesmeric to those eyes yet to be. Some have charged Herzog with manipulation of facts- such using hyperbolic and Apocalyptic title cards between scenes, or deliberately misinterpreting what a Kuwaiti mother is saying about her child’s refusal to talk, or false claims that the child wept black tears, due to the oil, just so the film will fit more in line with Herzog’s noted pessimism about the world, and the reviewers’ usually Left Wing attitudes on life. But, the ‘interview’ with the mother is merely a respite, an interlude, a bridge, in his visual score. This film cares little of the human element, only its ill aftermath. Thus, in another interstice, we see only the captured weapons of torture, not the scenes of torture, nor its victims nor perpetrators that came before. Others point to the even more blatant manipulation of political and military facts, such as a shot of Kuwait City, filmed after the Iraqis had been driven out, yet claimed as being before the war, or the fact that shots of the prosperous city are then contrasted with the ecological wastes of the erupting oil wells, as if they were one and the same place before and after the war.

To do so, however, is to miss the point, for this film is not a documentary, nor is it Riefenstahlian agitprop. It merely it uses the documentary style to bring home its filmic points in a Wagnerian (Götterdammerung) visual symphony that, again, points top Herzog as the supreme filmic scoring genius of the last fifty years. There are also wonderful scenes to the strains of Mahler’s Requiem and Strauss, as well. Yes, to us, fifteen years on, now in the midst of the shameful debacle we’ve created in Iraq, during the Second Gulf War, the scenes of a war where mere natural devastation is all that need be coped with seem almost quaint, even as the fiery scenes of Kuwait, which often seem from an alien world, far surpass any of the fake Hadean imagery in, say, the final scenes of the last banal Star Wars film. Yes, facts, such as not a single oil facility being attacked nor destroyed in our second foray into Iraq, prove that we learned well our lessons, documented here, as to what we truly value over there, and that the First Gulf War taught us how to take quickly take command and control of what we wanted. But that is not what this film is about, even as Herzog seems to delight in some of the perverse antics of the mercenary American firefighters who, less than a decade later, would get a taste of this hell on our own shores.

It is trite to say something is merely ‘an experience’, but that’s all that one can truly say of Lessons Of Darkness. In a sense it is the sequel to Herzog’s earlier mood film, Fata Morgana, from 1971, and even appears on the same DVD package with that film. Is Lessons Of Darkness profound? No. But that presumes it has an intellectual content. It has very little. Poetry abounds, especially the unconscious sort, and in Herzog’s voiceovers, quoting from the Book of Revelations. Is it an anti-war film? Not really. It has been called such by many critics, but they tend to miss alot. Reductionists often cannot see that a real artist, especially a great one like Herzog, always has more going on up his sleeve than the predictable rabbit or ace in the hole, even if we are not exactly sure what that squirming mass is. Lessons Of Darkness is a primal, emotional film that abstracts ideas of war beyond the conventional good and bad axis, to become something utterly unto its own set of natural laws (both war and the film), and as such makes most criticism of it superfluous, even silly. But, that does not mean it does not have layers to it, nor that it is not art, nor great art. It is. Taste it.
Reviewer: Dan Schneider

 

This review has been viewed 5754 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Werner Herzog  (1942 - )

Eccentric German writer/director known equally for his brilliant visionary style and tortuous filming techniques. After several years struggling financially to launch himself as a filmmaker, Herzog began his career with the wartime drama Lebenszeichen and surreal comedy Even Dwarfs Started Small. But it was the stunning 1972 jungle adventure Aguirre, Wrath of God that brought him international acclaim and began his tempestuous working relationship with Klaus Kinski. The 1975 period fable Heart of Glass featured an almost entirely hypnotised cast, while other Herzog classics from this era include Stroszek, the gothic horror Nosferatu the Vampyre and the spectacular, notoriously expensive epic Fitzcarraldo.

Herzog's subsequent work is perhaps less well known but he has continued to direct both provocative feature films (Cobra Verde, Invincible, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) and intriguing documentaries, most notably My Best Fiend, detailing his love/hate relationship with the late Kinski and 2005's highly acclaimed Grizzly Man. Herzog has also been the subject of two Les Blank documentaries: Burden of Dreams (about the making of Fitzcarraldo) and the hilarious Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (in which he does just that).

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: