“A planet in our solar system. Wide mountains ranges, clouds, a land shrouded in mist.” The landscape of Lessons of Darkness at first glance looks like the desert counterpart to the Carpathian Mountains of Werner Herzog‘s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, a land shrouded in myth as much as in mist. But those initial ethereal images give way to a wasteland of death and fire. It could be a primordial planet in the throes of it birth or the aftermath of an apocalyptic war that has left the planet dying, choking on its own blight.
In 1990 Iraq invaded the tiny, oil-rich desert kingdom of Kuwait on the Persian Gulf and occupied the country until an international military coalition led by the United States drove the Iraqi army back over the border. The Iraqi forces set fire to over 700 oil wells in their retreat. It was an ecological disaster, polluting the skies with thick black smoke and soaking the sands in a smothering slick of spilled oil. The inferno burned for eight months before the last of the fires were extinguished.