A nighttime bombing raid filmed from the air lights up the explosions far below. A sea of lights, like a Jackson Pollock painting in negative. There’s a perverse beauty to the images of destruction at the heart of this documentary about aerial bombardment, created entirely using archive footage. Nevertheless, director Sergei Loznitsa never lets you forget the underlying devastation. The bombs mark the dividing line between a merciless “before” and “after.”
Loznitsa, who has repeatedly shown himself to be a master of archival documentary, describes The Natural History of Destruction as “his most symphonic film.” He follows in the footsteps of W.G. Sebald, whose collection of essays bearing the same title criticize the lack of attention for the civilian victims of the Allied mass bombings of German cities during the Second World War. But Loznitsa avoids ideology and chronology: images of Allied and German bombings are used interchangeably in this painfully topical work on the nature and absurdity of war.
Nominated for Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award