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NATIONAL GALLERY

12:304:157:50

Final Day - Thursday, December 11

DIRECTED BY FREDERICK WISEMAN

London’s National Gallery, one of the world’s foremost art institutions, is itself portrayed as a brilliant work of art in this, Frederick Wiseman’s 39th documentary and counting. Wiseman listens raptly as a panoply of docents decode the great canvases of Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Turner; he visits with the museum’s restorers as they use magnifying glasses, tiny eye-droppers, scalpels, and Q-tips to repair an infinitesimal chip; he attends administrative meetings in which senior executives do (polite) battle with younger ones who want the museum to become less stodgy and more welcoming to a larger cross-section of the public. But most of all, we experience the joy of spending time with the aforementioned masters as well as Vermeer and Caravaggio, Titian and Velázquez, Pissarro and Rubens, and listen to the connoisseurs who discourse upon the aesthetic, historical, religious and psychological underpinnings of these masterpieces.

USA / FRANCE • 2014 • 181 MINS. • ZIPPORAH FILMS

Reviews

      

Click here for Robert Siegel’s interview with Wiseman on NPR’s All Things Considered.

“Both a virtual, extremely privileged tour of the museum’s treasures, and an examination of how it functions.”
– Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times
Click here for full article

“Magnificent… The movie is at once specific and general, fascinating in its pinpoint detail and transporting in its cosmic reach. It’s about art and process, money and mystery… (a) privileged three-hour virtual tour of the museum…Mr. Wiseman’s touch is deft but light here and the experience of watching (the film) is pleasurable and immersive because he’s a wonderful storyteller. It is also unexpectedly moving.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Click here for full review

“Meticulously crafted, intellectually intricate, and touched with profundity. An invigorating portrait. A tribute to the wonders of creative expression. A film about classics and their illustrious home that itself has been made by a modern master.”
– Nick Schager, Village Voice 

“The great Frederick Wiseman… among his densest and best works. A fascinating subtext emerges. Wiseman turns art into a great work of his own.” 
– Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York 

“…One of the greatest I’ve seen all year. Among this movie’s many attractions is the extraordinary geometry of looks that Mr. Wiseman tracesas he draws lines among the people in the paintings, the people looking at the paintings, and, of course, you, the movie’s viewer.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Wiseman remains a preeminent collage artist of the world at large. NATIONAL GALLERY is at once a dense, ideal visit and a restless essay on aesthetics brought alive by (a) bustling matrix of perspectives… Wiseman’s symphonic film (is) cinematically vibrant… (with) art and thought both put on display. A mind-bending work of ecphrasis … (The film) is itself a virtuoso performance by an old master.”
– Nicolas Rapold, The L Magazine 

“Intriguing. Incisive.”
 – Philip Brophy, ARTFORUM online