It was the first time that I heard of director James Benning, during the London Film Festival 2010, when I thought that in order to feel good about not being able to decide which film to watch, I could simply focus on one category, that of experimental films, and this is how I watched 'Ruhr'.
2 hours of selected scenes of this industrialised region in Germany, the film is dissected into 5 different chapters or scenes, each happening in one area of ruhr. It was interesting to see how a basic structure could construct such a powerful and moving film, even though all is happening in a very slow pace. A sculpture of Richard Serra arises in the middle of a composition and a man is standing facing it, trying to remove parts of a graffiti that has been sprayed on. Benning decides that this is a scene worth being stretched over a certain period of time, this is how we spend almost 20 minutes watching the worker water blasting a tiny part of the huge graffiti...
I was able to capture few stills (below) during the projection, this scene shows the tower of the world's largest Coca-Cola plant, a lot of people have found similarities between this scene and Andy Wahol's Empire State.
This is how the BFI introduced the film, I am pasting it below:
"James Benning brings his rigorous perspective to bear on the heavily industrialised Ruhr region in Germany.
In his first film to be shot outside the US, and the first to be made on high-definition video, James Benning brings his rigorous perspective to bear on the heavily industrialised Ruhr region in Germany. Constructed as a series of fixed frame compositions varying in length from seven minutes to an hour, Ruhr is in part a subjective portrait of a region, but more than this is an exploration of the relationship between landscape, work, culture and art. And as with all Benning's films, it's an invitation to interrogate the process of viewing and the creation of meaning. Each shot draws our eyes and ears to rhythm, repetition, sound, motion – nowhere more so than in the majestic sixty-minute view of the tower of a coke producing plant, where every ten minutes cold water poured into the base creates a cloud of steam to billow out of the building. Benning has long been a skilled manipulator of sound in his meticulously structured films; in Ruhr he takes this further, making subtle interventions in visual images and their temporal structure."
Director: James Benning - Country: Germany - Running time: 121min - Year: 2009
Stills I took with the iphone: