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CrossvilleMRC - Model RailRoads

Entries in screening (1)


Special Screening of RR, at Vanderbilt

Message: Greetings from the Office of the Dean of Students at Vanderbilt University,

We wanted to make you aware of a special screening of RR, at Vanderbilt on Saturday, April 10, in Sarratt Cinema on the Vanderbilt campus. The screening is free an open to the public. The director will be present to introduce the film, and will be available for Q&A at the conclusion of the film.

A review of the film that explains it's significance can be found at http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/james-benning-one-of-americas-finest-filmmakers-trains-his-attention-on-the-railroad-in-rr/Content?oid=1492701 .

Although the film has been screened at venues around the world, its exhibition is nevertheless a rare event. We hope that some of the members of the Crossville Model Railroad Club will take advantage of this rare opportunity. 

F. Clark

 James Benning, one of America's finest filmmakers, trains his attention on the railroad in RR 

Part of his review: In the first shot in Utah, we see a train clear the screen to make way for cars and pedestrians. In shot 4, we see black tankers bisect a small-town street; shot 15 is a kind of prolonged, real-life magic trick I won't spoil. The landscapes, the colors, the distances, the close-up-blurs-to-extreme-long-shots that intentionally recall the Lionel HO-scale train sets of the 1950s and '60s — Benning's film invites us to spend time looking at a fundamental feature of our world, one from which car culture, Internet life, and our general discomfort with the smell, sound and perceived danger of the rails keeps us separate.

That "danger," of course, used to be the romance of the rails, the urge to hop a boxcar and see where it took you. Today, train enthusiasts set up folding chairs and "trainspot," identifying what's left of North America's rolling stock as a hobby. These rail fans were part of Benning's interest in making RR. But one of the reasons this film, and Benning's work more generally, commands interest beyond the avant-ghetto is the fact that what he is showing us — these trains — are objects functioning at the junction of film form and political economy.

In cinematic terms, RR's unbroken shots are grammatically precise: a static situation with an object being moved from one place to another. But like so much of Benning's work, RR is also displaying vital movement along our nation's circulatory system, or what Woody Guthrie called "that ribbon of highway." (Guthrie appears on the soundtrack, as do President Eisenhower and NWA.) We aren't just watching pure forms moving on a screen. We're seeing capital in motion, and, just as often, stopping dead in its tracks.

RR is a film that requires a degree of patience and an adjustment of customary viewing strategies. But its rewards for that adjustment — and its implications as both an aesthetic experience and social document — are staggering.

James Benning will introduce and discuss RR at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 11  see the date above, noted as the 10, at Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema. Sponsored by Scott and Mimi Manzler, the screening is free and open to the public.