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RR 2007

Looping, chugging and barreling by, the trains in Benning's latest monumental film map a stunning topography and a history of American development. RR comes three decades after Benning and Bette Gordon made The United States of America (1975), a cinematic journey along the country’s interstates that is keenly aware “of superhighways and railroad tracks as American public symbols.” A political essay responding to the economic histories of trains as instruments in a culture of hyper-consumption, RR articulates its concern most explicitly when Eisenhower's military-industrial complex speech is heard as a mile long coal train passes through eastern Wyoming. Benning spent two and a half years collecting two hundred and sixteen shots of trains, forty-three of which appear in RR. The locomotives' varying colors, speeds, vectors, and reverberations are charged with visual thrills, romance and a nostalgia heightened by Benning's declaration that this will be his last work in 16mm film.

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