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The Natural History Of Destruction

Losnitsa has made a film using only archival material about the air war as a total war which also consisted of assembly line work and Wagner concerts for factory workers.


Writer W.G. Sebald once formulated a thesis that German post-war literature failed to artistically represent the experience of the Luftkrieg (trans. air war). Sergei Loznitsas film LUFTKRIEG, consisting entirely of archival footage, is a direct response to this thesis.

The beginning is made up of scenes of Nazi German culture: a fully occupied Kranzlereck, a dance performance, fluttering swastikas in the background – sinister cracks in the harmlessly jovial facade. Then Loznitsa jumps to the destruction of this facade and the entire structure. Airplane bombardments filmed at night give the empty phrase “terrifyingly beautiful“ new meaning. The state of shock triggered by these images is just the starting point of a smartly choreographed film. Loznitsa doesn‘t immerse viewers in a state of constant threat, he shows the Luftkrieg as a total war that also consists of assembly line work and Wagner concerts for factory workers. After the carpet bombings, there‘s the review of the destroyed cities, harm reduction, motivating slogans, stocking up on ammunition and retaliation. Often only the architectural ruins or the symbols on the planes show which side is being bombed. In between, there are chance discoveries, like a row of skeletons from a medical institute on the street or a Jesus statue impaled on a fence.

LUFTKRIEG makes the horror and the historical meaning of this type of warfare comprehensible. The treatment of the archival materials through occasional coloration, elaborate audio dubbing, and background music makes LUFTKRIEG the most convincing artistic representation of the topic: the KOYAANISQUATSI of destruction.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: The Natural History Of Destruction
Deutschland/Litauen/Niederlande 2022, 112 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Sergei Loznitsa
Author: Sergei Loznitsa
Music: Christiaan Verbeek
Distributor: Progress Filmverleih
FSK: 12
Release: 16.03.2023




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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