The 1992 film Lessons of Darkness shows the catastrophic effects in Kuwait after the Second Gulf War and the traces of destruction that turned the whole country into a dystopian battle zone. Herzog’s images, taken either as aerial views or from vehicles, document not only smoldering fires, pools of oil, and barren landscapes. This film enactment also has features of science fiction in which desert-like areas appear as moon landscapes. Between these sequences Herzog lets the civilian population speak, bearing witness to the horrific acts of war; their stories seem as relevant as ever still today. In the context of the exhibition, it is particularly interesting that the two Gulf Wars were the first wars that were shown live on television, making the horror even more “exciting” and thus also “entertaining.” Some people have called the Gulf Wars video game wars. Anyone and everyone was able to tune in and see “live from Baghdad” how the desert was burning, cities were reduced to rubble, and the population fled in rags and tears amidst all the dead. As part of our accompanying program of events, this film encourages reflection on the role of television and, today, the internet, which have the media capacity to bring war zones from far away across borders and time right into our living rooms.
is one of the most important contemporary German filmmakers and directors, renowned for his experimental style and social critique. His work includes feature films and numerous documentaries. He has received many awards, including at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, the German Film Prize, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Venice Film Festival.