Now complete: The Dissolve's 2014 Movies To See Checklist
A portrait of the day-to-day operations of the National Gallery of London, that reveals the role of the employees and the experiences of the Gallery's visitors. The film portrays the role of the curators and conservators; the education, scientific, and conservation departments; and the audience of all kinds of people who come to experience it.
Wake us when insufferably pompous institutions like this (in which caviar-stinking curators place art on a pedestal) are torn asunder by the hands of the proletariat, and art is restored to its rightful place in the streets. Whereupon the pertinacious Wiseman can make a film entitled THE STREETS, and please us thereby. Until then, we nap.
A few transitional sections focus on frame makers at work, and that may relate to the most important idea in National Gallery: the importance of framing/context and how this affects the creation, observation and interpretation of the artworks. Observation and imagination, the spiritual and the material, the immediate and the distant, the ephemeral and the eternal, and The National Gallery where all of these points converge. There's a popular sentiment that goes something like "you change, but the art stays the same," but what's reinforced over and over by Wiseman's subjects is that that's a bunch of baloney. Time, biological degradation, and the context both cultural and physical (as in the very space in which the art is displayed) all…
It's tempting to look at this in elegiac terms--an 80-plus-year-old filmmaker exploring an institution dedicated to preserving and teaching people about art, continuing vital conversations about centuries-old works and granting their creators a kind of immortality. And I suppose it's even quite effective on that level. But the scope here is utterly transfixing, moving from the gallery spaces themselves and the gaze of laypeople to the educational efforts of docents and scholars to the behind-the-scenes work on everything from budgets to how to light an installation. As a result, it somehow manages to be one of the most extraordinary experiences I can remember about the full range of art within the human experience: as a commodity, as a transcendent view…
The latest from Frederick Wiseman, National Gallery, about the British art museum of the same name. In a brisk three hours, Wiseman takes us on a tour of the place, following his now well-established structure: alternating long sequences of people at work, both "on-stage" (the tour guides, the restorers) and off (the frame-makers, the construction workers and janitorial crew) and administrative meetings where the war between commerce and art is fought, with breaks in-between made of "pillow shots", in this case usually close-ups of people looking at the art interspersed with close-ups of the faces in the art itself. He even manages to weasel in a couple of "interviews" wherein he films a person being interviewed, rather than having to…
Expert documentarian Frederick Wiseman excellently conveys the power and importance of art in a seemingly effortless manner. Information is disseminated at every conceivable instance with Wiseman fixating his camera on any and all aspects and/or department within the National Gallery; be it through behind-the-scenes closed doors discussions or a multitude of craftsmen working on a variety of restorations, just about every possible viewpoint is represented in some context immersing the viewer in the various ins-and-outs of the legendary museum. This all-inclusive approach makes National Gallery one of the most comprehensive visual documents of any institution in cinema.
Even though National Gallery contains an abundance of behind-the-scenes footage it’s important to realize that at the center of all the scenes is…
VIFF FILM #1
a.k.a THE ACT OF LOOKING. Consistently digressive and yet still compelling, i.e. a Wiseman documentary. Fascinating when it explores art, restoration, viewership, artistic integrity, public consumption, and a myriad of other things within the context of the museum or gallery (e.g. context of the piece and the original framing or play of light). Less compelling when it simply becomes an art history lecture, which it frequently does. Played out like an actual museum, with my interest waxing and waning as it would in an actual art gallery. Still, as with most of Wiseman's oeuvre, worth watching if only for the singular experience of doing so.
Wish there was more on that restoration bit though--that seemingly tossed off line about how hundreds if not thousands of hours of restoration work placed on top of varnish are gone within minutes of the next iteration of cleaning seriously floored me.
I love the National Gallery. The art museum, that is, not this film. Tedious, disorganized, utterly uninteresting, with little to no focus on the art or history of one of the world's great art museums, National Gallery was a big disappointment. I have yet to understand how it garnered such high ratings.
PS I did rather like the ballet near the end though.
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
Walked a mile in the -10 degree weather to see a screening of this and it was completely worth it.
Engaging, educational, intriguing. I did not even feel the time pass.
"Zelfs na die drie uur zouden we het liefst nog een halve dag in dat museum blijven rondhangen. Een grotere aansporing om deze documentaire te zien is dan niet nodig. Toch?"
We saw this in Montmartre as one of the few English language options around. For some reason, we were led to believe there would be more dancing. This was quite interesting in a few parts (the restoration processes, and the lighting considerations), but extremely tiring in others (board meetings). Thought about walking out a few times but made it through the ordeal relatively unscathed. Like pretty much all of our European cinema adventures, it was an interesting experience. It was sometimes so incredibly dry and we really didn't know much about it going into the cinema so it seemed like it was going to drag on indefinitely, making for a surreal experience.
I was bored except when they were showing people doing their jobs. I noticed there were only old people in the museum which was odd because you would think there would be a lot of school children.
My first experience, that’s right, my first experience with Frederick Wiseman was an eye-opening one in many different ways, both good and perhaps some bad. Wiseman has been a renowned documentarian for many years, but often his films have felt a bit unattainable to me, focusing on very specific subjects and coming with intimidating run times. National Gallery is no different as Wiseman focuses on the museum of the same name in London, England. The National Gallery is a place I would love to go and explore, as I love losing my way in a museum, and especially one with a collection like the National Gallery.
At a lengthy 181 minutes, Wiseman’s exploration of one of London’s greatest treasures has…
A seemingly endless stream of questions are posed by Wiseman in this 3 hour tour de force. He deftly, and rightly, refuses to supply answers, leaving us to wrestle with our hearts and thoughts. At the center of every second of this film is the entirety of the experience surrounding art. This is vital viewing for anyone that believes in art.
I'm not in love with Wiseman as a maker of images and his editing seemed a too on the nose occasionally, but his skill at creating an extremely thought provoking text and skill of juxtaposition makes him an uniquely powerful filmmaker nonetheless.
I really need to see this again to make something resembling a full sense of the film,…
- Stranger by the Lake
- The Lego Movie
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The New World
- Oki's Movie
- Certified Copy
- Oxhide II
The best movies I've seen from 2005-2014.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Under the Skin
The top 30 are ranked, the rest are listed alphabetically.
Ranking are determined by a point system based on a…