13 Lakes

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13 Lakes is a 2004 16mm film by American independent filmmaker James Benning. It is an instance of slow cinema, placing emphasis on introspection and contemplation.[1] The film was added to the US National Film Registry as a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film" in 2014, being the most recent film on the Registry as of 2017.[2]

The film is 135 minutes long and consists of 13 ten-minute static shots of lakes from throughout the United States. There is no conventional plot, characters or dialog. The composition has been described as "symmetrical, minimalistic and repetitive", encouraging "sensory and sensuous engagement".[1]

In several cases, boats can be seen and sounds such as waves, motors, bird calls, thunder and rain can be heard. Benning has said that he does not intend the work to be about environmentalism.[3]

According to the credits, the lakes are:

  1. Jackson Lake
  2. Moosehead Lake
  3. Salton Sea
  4. Lake Superior
  5. Lake Winnebago
  6. Lake Okeechobee
  7. Lower Red Lake
  8. Lake Pontchartrain
  9. Great Salt Lake
  10. Lake Iliamna
  11. Lake Powell
  12. Crater Lake
  13. Lake Oneida


  1. ^ a b "Book Review: Slow Cinema edited by Tiago de Luca and Nuno Barradas Jorge". 2016-02-19. Retrieved 2016-07-29. 
  2. ^ "2014 additions to National Film Registry". CBS News. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "James Benning's Art of Landscape: Ontological, Pedagogical, Sacrilegious". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 20 February 2016.