Landscape Suicide (1986) by James Benning

Sunday, September 27, 1987, 8:00 pm

Landscape Suicide

By James Benning


800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA, 94133

James Benning’s newest film (1986) presents sinister, parallel portraits of the American landscape and its presumable, causal connection to the lives of two murderers: Ed Gein, the Wisconsin farmer who in the 1950s cannibalistically mutilated his victims, and Bernadette Protti, a 15 year-old California girl who stabbed a fellow classmate who was more popular. Benning says: “I discovered a matching form of isolation in both the cold, landlocked landscape of Wisconsin and the suburban car-dominated non-communication of California.” He juxtaposes long, static shots of these landscapes with riveting re-enactments of actual police interviews with the murderers, hauntingly uncovering the illogical and frightening aspects of two individuals who, in their homes and everyday environments, isolated themselves so completely.