Rental Format(s): 16mm film

"James Benning marks the centennial of Utah's statehood with his excellent experimental documentary, DESERET. As befits its structuralist maker, the film examines the imposition of human design, both physical and conceptual, on nature. A chain of beautiful, static shots frame details of Utah's landscapes, from windswept waters, to snowy pines, to immobile oil derricks and silent government buildings. Meanwhile, texts from the New York Times describing the state's social history, 1852 to the present, are read in voice over. Just as the terrain is contained within human constructs - Indian paints mark rocks, graffiti mark the Indian paintings, the graffiti are enclosed in the filmmaker's frame - the state's human inhabitants are circumscribed by the stringent codes of Brigham Young and his burgeoning Mormon sect - fascinatingly described in the Times pieces - and that group's resistance to outside control and interference. (DESERET was the people's original choice, rejected by Washington, for the state's name.) Benning imposes his own strictly defined filmic formula, and it's that intriguing complicity that gives DESERET the authority to transcend mere prettiness. ..." - Hazel-Dawn Dumpert, LA Weekly

Rental Fees

16mm film $325.00  

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