Error -41: sit by a lake
March 6, 2012 12:53 PM   Subscribe

The most immediately apparent characteristic of James Benning’s film is surely its form: thirteen ten-minute static takes, which (save the leader between shots) comprise the entire visual track of the picture. Far from cursory, this detail accounts for the totality of Benning’s æsthetic. Everything that Benning says in 13 Lakes, he says using this formal language – along with a soundtrack recorded on-site, thought not necessarily concurrently with the image. Moreover, Benning, as has been noted, repeats the same basic framing in each of the thirteen segments, presenting the horizon-line in centre of the frame, dividing lake and sky into approximately equivalent fields. James Benning’s Art of Landscape: Ontological, Pedagogical, Sacrilegious, by Michael J. Anderson for Senses of Cinema (via; see also: 13 Lakes Q&A at LA Film Forum)


* 13 Pozas, or 13 Ponds (2009) by Xurxo Chirro, inspired by/a tribute to 13 Lakes (Google translation).

* The Sense of Cinema article starts with a block quote from a chapter of Jean Renoir by André Bazin (Google books preview), and both the chapter and article refer to La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) (1939) [YouTube Playlist].
posted by filthy light thief (5 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
James Benning is a film maker. If you get the chance, see his films projected. They are amazingly beautiful and subtle seen like that, in a way that doesn't quite make it through in the youtube xeroxed facsimiles.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:13 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I promise I'm not an employee, subscriber, or any other type of shill for this site, but Mubi looks to have a good collection of Benning's films, which you can stream online in better than low quality YouTube clips, but it's a pay service. I haven't tried it out, but it sounds nice enough.

Otherwise, I also hope you can find an actual screening of Benning's films. Until then, you can find a few more low quality clips on YouTube.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:23 PM on March 6, 2012

Great stuff, I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Benning's RR in Dublin last year (which on a tangent of its own led to this post). Many thanks for all the great material here.
posted by nfg at 7:07 PM on March 6, 2012

FLT: thank you!
I probably look once a year to see if I can find Benning's films anywhere.
Now if only I can find 8 1/2x11. I saw a double bill of that and 11x17 Anthology Film Archives years ago. One of my favorites film experiences of all time.
posted by tingting at 6:12 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you have access to a film projector and someone competent to use it, you can rent some of Benning's films on actual film from Filmmaker's Co-op or Canyon Cinema. (Unfortunately neither have One Way Boogie Woogie, which is my favorite!)

I'm a huge film proponent, but I'm also curious about what Benning is doing these days. When I saw him intro a screening of RR a couple years ago he was saying it was going to be his last film-on-film.
posted by bubukaba at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2012

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