Grand Opera, an Historical Romance

Film Information:


Grand Opera, an Historical Romance




James Benning




16 mm


84 min


  • Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton, George Landlow, Sadie Benning, Yvonne Rainer


  • GUIÓN: James Benning
  • FOTOGRAFÍA: James Benning
  • MONTAJE: James Benning
  • PRODUCCIÓN: James Benning


  • Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art
  • Potsdamer Str. 2
  • 10785 Berlin, Germany
  • T +49 30 2695 5158
  • F +49 30 2695 5111
  • E
  • W


A transitional film at the end of his first decade of filmmaking, James Benning’s Grand Opera introduces a degree of storytelling to his previously more formalist devices. Benning calls the film his “first attempt at writing my own kind of history” and, in a sense, it also serves to write himself into history, acutely measuring his place as a Midwestern experimental filmmaker, then based in Oklahoma, in relationship to the avant-garde scene situated in New York. The film thus features homages to the prominent experimental cinema of the time, including a spoof of Wavelength, as well as cameos from Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton and Yvonne Rainer. Woven with these sequences are other characteristic Benning gambits –a compilation of every house he ever lived in, a preoccupation with the history of Pi, and the looming threat that a building will explode.

Grand Opera will be screened alongside Fire & Rain, an outtake from Ruhr (presented in Panorama / Careers) that was used as the official trailer of the latest Viennale.

Dates and Times