8.2/10
3,434
26 user 37 critic

Lessons of Darkness (1992)

Lektionen in Finsternis (original title)
This film shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames, with few interviews and no explanatory narration. Hell itself is presented in such beautiful sights and music that one has to be fascinated by it.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

WAYS TO
WATCH:

See all
1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Vietcong, recreating many events for the camera.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Dieter Dengler, Werner Herzog, Eugene Deatrick
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people, this film shows how the deaf and blind... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Fini Straubinger, M. Baaske, Elsa Fehrer
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

About the daring adventure of exploring rainforest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship. Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington embarks on a trip to the giant Kaieteur Falls... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Graham Dorrington, Dieter Plage
Fata Morgana (1971)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Footage shot in and around the Sahara Desert, accompanied only by a spoken creation myth and the songs of Leonard Cohen.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Lotte Eisner, Eugen Des Montagnes, James William Gledhill
My Best Fiend (1999)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale
Wheel of Time (2003)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Wheel of Time is Werner Herzog's photographed look at the largest Buddhist ritual in Bodh Gaya, India.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: The Dalai Lama, Lama Lhundup Woeser, Takna Jigme Sangpo
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A study of the psychology of a champion ski-jumper, whose full-time occupation is carpentry.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Walter Steiner, Werner Herzog
La Soufrière (1977)
Documentary | Short | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Herzog takes a film crew to the island of Guadeloupe when he hears that the volcano on the island is going to erupt. Everyone has left, except for one old man who refuses to leave. Herzog ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The film focuses on a group of Miskito Indians in Nicaragua who used children soldiers in their resistance against the Sandinistas.

Directors: Werner Herzog, Denis Reichle
Stars: Werner Herzog, Denis Reichle
Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

An alien narrates the story of his dying planet, his and his people's visits to Earth and Earth's man-made demise, while human astronauts attempt to find an alternate planet for surviving humans to live on.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Brad Dourif, Donald Williams, Ellen Baker
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The geologist Lance Hackett is employed by an Australian mining company to map the subsoil of a desert area covered with ant hills prior to a possible uranium extraction. His work is ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Bruce Spence, Wandjuk Marika, Roy Marika
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Bells from the Deep is German director Werner Herzog's documentary investigation of Russian mysticism... See full synopsis »

Director: Werner Herzog
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
Edit

Storyline

This film shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames, with few interviews and no explanatory narration. Hell itself is presented in such beautiful sights and music that one has to be fascinated by it.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

| |

Language:

| |

Release Date:

26 October 2002 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Lessons of Darkness  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Werner Herzog says he prefers to think of this as a science fiction film, not a documentary. See more »

Goofs

In an aerial shot, the shadow of the camera's helicopter is visible (about 10 minutes, 8 seconds into the film). See more »

Quotes

Narrator: Two figures are approaching an oil well. One of them holds a lighted torch. What are they up to? Are they going to rekindle the blaze? Is life without fire become unbearable for them?... Others, seized by madness, follow suit. Now they are content. Now there is something to extinguish again.
See more »


Soundtracks

Stabat Mater
by Arvo Pärt
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
not quite science fiction, not quite documentary- science-reality?
26 January 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While Werner Herzog has stated that he looks at his 1992 film Lessons of Darkness as a work of science fiction, it shouldn't be discounted as a documentary either. But unlike the recent Wild Blue Yonder, where Herzog made a true science fiction documentary, this time the line is further blurred by making everything involving humans ambiguous as to their connections with their surroundings. Despite the locations being discernible as to where it's at, and the two interviews being indicative of where the people are possibly from, he keeps his 54 minute plunge into the Kuwait oil fields a primarily visual trip. It sometimes even felt like someone had decided to do a documentary on some civilization in the future in some obscure sci-fi novel (or, for a moment, like some wayward planet in the Dune universe). It's best then, as Herzog suggests, to take one out of context of the period, even if seeing the green-screen images (however brief) of the war conjures up immediate associations. If looking at this without the associations of the Iraq war part 1 or the Kuwait connection in it all with oil however (as with Wild Blue Yonder not associating that its 'just' NASA and underwater photography), it fills one with an immense wonder at what can be captured by a lens not bound by conventions.

But amid the freedom that Herzog decides to use with his resources, he ends up striking his most visually compelling treatise on destruction to date. It's like he decided to take certain cues from Kubrick via 2001, and from just general nature documentaries, in order to capture the sort of alien aspect to this all. Because the act of setting these oil fields, which were left in a state of disrepair following said "fictional" war, is like facing nature off on a course against nature (fire on oil, then water on fire). There's also the element of industry that finds this way in this mix, especially because of the presence of human beings in this mix. Herzog, in avant-garde fashion (ala Dieter and Yonder) sections off the scenes with Roman numerals, and in theme and tone it does work (e.g. a part meant for showing the machines trudging around is labeled as being part of 'dinosaurs', or when the people set the oil on fire and the others are "mad" in coming in on it). And eventually what starts out as just simple, yet spatially complex, aerial takes on the tattered fields, turns into an act of seeing ruin and something that would seem incredible in an objective frame of reference.

But that doesn't mean Herzog limits it completely to total dialog-less landscapes (which, as Herzog has said in the past, he likes to think in grandiose terms he "directs") of fire and obtuse figures fanning and producing the flames. He also gets two interviews with women who were around when the war was there- one who is given no words for what she says except that her husband was killed, another who had a child with her and who is now traumatized- and somehow this too works even out of context. I'm sure that if Herzog had wanted to, even in limited time and circumstances he was in, he could be able to work some political stance in the proceedings. His decision to keep politics or anything of the immediate recognizable in concrete terms is a wise one. Not that there isn't something concrete to seeing destruction of this magnitude. But there's an abstract quality to all of this after a while that makes it all the more real in nature, while still keeping to a control of the subject matter into something that looks out of this world, ethereal, and somehow unnatural while still being about nature all the same (hence science-reality).

It's almost too arty for its own good in a small way, with Herzog's inter-titles and ultra-somber voice-over becoming like gravestones marking the sections of one set of madness to another. But there's also a daring here that is totally unshakable too, and from a point of view of cinematography it actually goes on par (if not occasionally seems to top) what Kubrick did in 2001 or what Lynch could've done in Dune, which is that a filmmaker uses places and objects that are of this world, but then taking the audience to a place that is also assuredly not so. It adds a level of mental discomfort, but then that's likely a big part of the point- seeing the oil burned by order of a government that's been on the news we watch every night is one thing (or rather was), but it's another to suddenly take it in another light, where in the realm of science-fiction it asks the viewer to raise questions via abstractions one might forget when taking it as complete truth. It's a hybrid film that you'd never see this in a cineplex next to the big-bang sci-fi action fare, but then most probably wouldn't want to.


6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What other films can you compare this one to? SurrenderToto
The DVD Tsunami3G
Blu-Ray cgibson14
Another soundtrack question rebekahld-1
Discuss Lessons of Darkness (1992) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?