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From Ants to People: The Humanizing Power of Zoom


April 3, 2022 by woodjm

For blog post 9 I again chose to use clips from Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness, which at this point is clearly my favorite movie we have viewed this semester. While this clip is admittedly the shortest I have submitted; I feel that its length does not impact the message that it sends in any tangible way. This sequence is one in which a helicopter is flying over the Kuwait oil fields surveying the damage that has been done at a distance. This distance works as a means to contextualize what the viewer is looking at. This gives the planet below an alien appearance that could easily be written off as happening somewhere in a galaxy far far away. However, by zooming in on this destruction we can get a better idea of what is going on, and as a result, it almost humanizes the scene in front of us. What initially appears to be an alien field from afar can be clearly recognized as a blowout or an uncontrolled release of natural gas. Suddenly the scene in front of us becomes one of horror as the viewer is forced to realize that what they are actually looking at is the ramifications of oil extraction in post-Gulf War Kuwait.


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