The United States of America

A film by James Benning. In English.

[Credits] [Tickets & Termine] [Trailer]

James Benning’s first film cal­led The United States of America was a 1975 trip across the coun­try, cap­tu­ring its sce­ne­ry through a car winds­hield. This second one also criss­cros­ses the nati­on, but without a car, car­ving it up ins­tead into a seri­es of sta­tic shots of just under two minu­tes, one for each sta­te, pre­sen­ted alpha­be­ti­cal­ly, from Heron Bay, Alabama to Kelly, Wyoming. The names of the pla­ces are non­de­script, but the images atta­ched to them are anything but, imma­cul­ate­ly com­po­sed shots of land­s­cape, city­scape and the spaces in bet­ween. As we move from A to Z, the images coale­sce into a por­trait of today’s USA, tra­cing out its fault lines almost in pas­sing: fen­ced-off faci­li­ties, a river bed run­ning dry, fac­to­ries and refi­ne­ries, run-down streets and gas sta­ti­ons, a camp under a bridge. The past is the­re too, see­ping up through the songs and spee­ches that spo­ra­di­cal­ly pier­ce the back­ground noi­se or the motifs that evo­ke a who­le care­er; the clouds, trains and cabins are stand-ins for films, not just sta­tes. As always, there’s time for more abs­tract thoughts too: each image may stand for a sta­te, but repre­sen­ta­ti­vi­ty is slip­pe­ry. Which sta­te is more cine­ma­tic than the rest?


USA 2022, 98 Min., eng­li­sche OmU
Regie: James Benning

The United States of America | Clip | Berlinale 2022
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