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Lessons of Darkness / Fata Morgana (1971)

Eugen Des Montagnes , Lotte Eisner , Werner Herzog  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Price: $79.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Eugen Des Montagnes, Lotte Eisner, James William Gledhill, Wolfgang von Ungern-Sternberg
  • Directors: Werner Herzog
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: January 8, 2002
  • Run Time: 164 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059PPP
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,169 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lessons of Darkness / Fata Morgana" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Lessons of Darkness
  • Anamorphic Wide Screen (1.77:1)
  • Werner Herzog Bio
  • Fata Morgana
  • Full Screen
  • Audio commentary with director Werner Herzog, Norman Hill and Crispin Glover
  • German and English

Editorial Reviews

Lessons of Darkness shows the disaster of the Kuwaiti oil fields in flames after the Gulf War. This comes packaged with a special bonus DVD of Fata Morgana, which also takes a special non-linear look at the beauty of the Sahara Desert.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A visually stunning Herzog documentary worth preordering. December 26, 2001
By A Customer
Format:DVD
While I cannot comment on this particular DVD issue, I have seen a PAL video of "Lessons of Darkness" and cannot express how thrilled I was to see that Anchor Bay had scheduled this film for release. In addition, they have included an extremely rare, full length documentary, "Fata Morgana," which I have never successfully been able to track down on video (as if Lessons of Darkness alone were not sufficient incentive to order this DVD). Given the high quality of the video and audio transfers for the other Herzog films in Anchor Bay's catalogue, I have little doubt that this DVD issue, which like the other Herzog issues includes audio commentary, will be nothing short of outstanding. Now if only the catalogue of Fassbinder, Godard, or Resnais films on DVD were equally exhaustive.
Lessons of Darkness is a haunting account of the burning of the Kuwaiti oil fields in the aftermath of the Gulf war, and, with the exception of a few engaging interviews with local village dwellers, is told almost exclusively through images, set to the music of Mahler, Arvo Part, and Strauss. This is perhaps Herzog's most absorbing film visually, and, with due respect to "God's Angry Man" and "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," the latter also being released by Anchor Bay, "Lessons of Darkness" is perhaps the director's most compelling documentary. Moreover, the images of the firefighers struggling to put out the infernal flames rising out of the oil fields are all the more timely and moving given recent events. Highly Recommended!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting and Hypnotic Masterpiece July 1, 2003
Format:DVD
Fata Morgana is an absolute masterpiece. It's Werner Herzog's most unconventional film and the most bizzare film I've ever seen. It doesn't have a plot or story. Instead, we're presented with a brilliant collection of images, words and music woven together by a master filmmaker. Fata Morgana is not a documentary either. Most of the people in this film are directed and given lines to read. It has some of the most beautiful and haunting images ever commited to film. Herzog photographs actual mirages and we see cars and people floating around in the middle of the desert who aren't actually there but hundreds of miles away reflected due to the heated strata of air. All of the tracking shots were done with a camera mounted on top of a VW van that Werner Herzog drove himself. The use of music in this movie is amazing; from Leonard Cohen, Mozart, Blind Faith and the Third Ear Band. Imagine Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey taking place in the desert instead of outerspace. Fata Morgana is so hypnotic that it has the ability to make you feel as though your spirit has left your body. This film is a must see and is not recommended for conformists who've been forced fed a steady diet of Hollywood-commercial fast food movies. It will change the way you view films. Rating: 10 out of 10.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two Examples of "Post-Production Creation" February 3, 2009
Format:DVD
Here are two examples of what I like to call "post-production creation"; i.e., shoot some intrinsically compelling footage and then subsequently "make something of it" in the editing suite and at the typewriter. The earlier film here, Fata Morgana, dates from the early '70s and features a barely coherent narrative built around some hauntingly surreal images shot in the southern Sahara/northern Sahel region of Africa. An off-camera narration tells of an Ancient American story of creation while we see images of desert ecology, eerie natural phenomena, and human dereliction. Along the way, we're "treated" to an interesting myriad of both native and European personages and creatures. The late appearance of an apparent husband & wife musical duo (and a quite bad one, at that!) is a most comical non sequitur in this piece of concocted "alien reportage". I have no idea what the opening sequence of repeated passenger jet landings represents other than perhaps a very far-fetched depiction of a supposed alien landing on this strange planet with its forbidding landscape -- work with me here, folks! Considering that much of the footage in Fata Morgana is roughly shot (jerky pans, static handheld shots, etc.), the film in totality leaves one mostly earthbound emotionally. The eerie images of desert mirages do linger in the mind, however. This film is an obvious indulgence by its creator and possibly a peculiar treat for the more open-minded viewer. Much like Herzog's very fine later masterpiece Fitzcarraldo, the story of its making may actually be more compelling to some. Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A science-fiction elegy about demented colonialism July 29, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
" Fata morgana " means mirage, a metaphore used by german filmmaker Werner Herzog to show us our decadent world as a phantasm, connecting in a very personal way with the pessimist and romantic philosophy of Schopenhauer and a mayan ancient myth that explain the world as a creation that has not been finished. " Fata morgana " is at the same time a disheartened and mesmerezing movie: during the two first parts of the film Herzog blends apocalyptic and ghostly images of Sahara desert ( animals skeletons burned by the sun; tumbledown airplanes in the middle of nowhere )with segments of the mayan myth of Creation ( the " Pupul-Vuh" ) narrated by prestigious cinema essayist Lotte Eissner. The third and last part, ironically entitled " The golden age ", of this shatteredly lyrical movie introduces several sardonic and bizarre vignettes as that one of a west scientist dressed with a picturesque clothing to fit to the new environment holding a lizard, a creature older than man. The message is clear: man is shown by Herzog as an alien; as a grotesque creature that has broken the eerie order of nature in the name of cosmic boredom. In Herzog's words: " Fata morgana" is a "science-fiction elegy about demented colonialism" ( 1 )

" Lessons of darkness " is a haunting documentary shot in Kuwait where Herzog follows the traces of the disasters perpetrated during the Gulf war. ( 2 )

Full-frame ( 1 ) / Widescreen edition ( 2 ). Extras: biofilmography of Werner Herzog; Herzog commentaries about " Fata morgana "
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Do not waste your time with Fata Morgana
No rhyme or reason, no explanation why you see what you see. Never an indication where the film was shot (Cameroon), and why he went there with his crew. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Heinz Hammerling
1.0 out of 5 stars Publisher fail
This came with two copies of the Fata Morgana disc and no copy of Lessons of Darkness. I assume this was a publisher error rather than Big Box Bargains' fault. Read more
Published 12 months ago by SPPL Collection Management
4.0 out of 5 stars Fata Morgana
I've seen Fata Morgana four or five times--twice with the commentary turned on--and I'll return to it again in the future. Read more
Published 17 months ago by farington
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Images
I always give Herzog benefit of the doubt, but Fata Morgana's narrative isn't worthy of the stunning images. Read more
Published on June 11, 2012 by mr. contrarian
4.0 out of 5 stars Unimaginably Gripping, Though Not Entirely As Described
I can only comment on "Lessons Of Darkness" as I have not seen "Fata Morgana". The former is an utterly fascinating film, filled with unforgettable images of the horrors left... Read more
Published on February 26, 2011 by David R. Moffatt
5.0 out of 5 stars Release Lessons of Darkness on Blu Ray
Dear Hollywood studios,
Release this great film on Blu Ray and I'll buy it. Will not purchase DVD that does not do this incredible film justice. Read more
Published on May 16, 2010 by T. Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Two of Herzog's most fascinating, strangest works....
I first saw Fata Morgana (the "bonus" movie here) on a double bill with Even Dwarfs Started Small at Facets Multimedia. Read more
Published on September 21, 2008 by Grigory's Girl
4.0 out of 5 stars Fata Morgana- mesmeric
Fata Morgana, the 1971 documentary-like film by German filmmaker extraordinaire Werner Herzog, filmed over several years in the late 1960s, is one of those rare DVDs that should be... Read more
Published on September 11, 2008 by Cosmoetica
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting montague of distruction
This dark documentary is disturbing in showing the depths of evil. I purchased the movie and from what I gather, Hertzog assembled it solely from CNN clips (from the credits at the... Read more
Published on July 25, 2008 by Doug D. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars MONSIER VERDOUZ, LESSONS IN DARKNESS, EMIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER, PATH OF...
I HAVE NOT REVIEWED ANY OF THESE FOUR FILMS. I HAVE BOUGHT THEM FOR
SOMEONE ELSE, BUT I DID GET GOOD SERVICE AND RECEIVED THEM IN AMPLE TIME.
Published on April 20, 2008 by Fraye Rusanoff
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