James Benning's worrying and also reassuring vision of the Ruhr Valley, shot in six fascinating takes of a tunnel, a forest, a factory, a mosque, graffiti and a chimney.
The American independent film maker James Benning has built up over the period of almost 40 years an oeuvre focusing on places and time. In long, unedited scenes, he shows his vision of, or amazement at, phenomena or landscapes that have long been considered a part of everyday reality.
In Ruhr, Benning allows his camera to roam the Ruhr Valley in Germany, where his parents came from. There are six meticulously framed takes at places where apparently little happens: a tunnel with a single car, a forest where planes race overhead, a factory with glowing rods of steel, a mosque with a hundred bowing heads, a wall where someone takes up arms against graffiti and an enormous chimney from which smoke is occasionally belched out. They seem to come from a different reality, but are also familiar: worrying and reassuring at the same time.
Ruhr is Benning's first film that was shot entirely outside the United States.