"'13 Lakes' is a formal film of astonishing beauty. It is a structural film that tells a story. But its story is ephemeral, and the attempt to grasp it immediately multiplies its transience. This is how '13 Lakes' tells a story about landscape, its virginity, and its culturalization. It reports that landscape is a function of time. It tells Benning's travels across the United States, from west to east, from south to north, and back. Journeys create difference and are an instrument for placing a gaze into a social perspective. Thus, a story slowly unfolds of seeing and the gaze, that of Benning as well as of the audience. Beyond that, '13 Lakes' narrates that a camera was placed and set in operation at a particular time and place. It is a film of witnessing, not a film of observation, not a documentation. A documentary film explores a theme, argues, tries to persuade. In contrast, '13 Lakes' is a reflective film that is its own theme. If it adduces arguments, they consist of a strictly followed set of arithmetic rules. '13 Lakes' is the story of a method brought to its logical conclusion. With optimal efficiency and maximum effect, this method produces a new cinematic form in which structure and narrative do not exclude each other, but mutually overlap and even determine each other. Benning thus succeeds in articulating the necessary relationship between a method, a medium, an idea of nature, and his own person. The result is a cinematic aesthetic that, in this radicalized form, activates a political aspect based in method. '13 Lakes' is thus a political film whose politics consist in method." Martin Beck
Format 16mm, Color, without dialogue
Running time: 133 min., 24 frames/sec.