< Back to main Festival page

The Natural History of Destruction

  Sergei Loznitsa

  Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands     112 minutes


In a quaint peaceful European town, horse-drawn carriages clip-clop along the cobblestone streets, while children enjoy snacks by a Gothic fountain, and an old man plays a folk song on a clarinet. Only later does it become clear that the picturesque scene is one from Nazi Germany—and soon bombs begin raining down, their explosions a flurry of flashes against the night sky. Inspired by W.G. Sebald’s treatise and created entirely from archival footage, The Natural History of Destruction mounts a harrowing critique of the killing of civilian populations during war-time—as seen in the devastation unleashed across both England and Germany during WWII. Ukrainian-raised Cannes-winning filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa (Maidan, Donbass) returns to the Festival after last year’s winner Babi Yar. Context with another brilliantly edited, immaculately restored, and exquisitely sound-designed clarion call, as tragically urgent today as the missiles continue to fall.


58th Chicago International Film Festival Silver Hugo. Learn more…

 English, German with subtitles 

Content Warning

This film contains scenes of violence.

Learn about Festival content warnings...

Screenings & Events


Film Credits

  •   Regina Bouchehri, Gunnar Dedio, Uljana Kim, Sergei Loznitsa, Maria Choustova
  •   Danielius Kokanauskis
  •   Christiaan Verbeek
  •   LOOKSfilm, Studio Uljana Kim, ATOMS & VOID


Documentary Sponsor

Logo: WTTW (2019)

Documentary Patron

Cynthia Stone Raskin