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Sunday, September 10

(1989) 16mm. Approx. 358 min.


“MIGHT JUST BE WISEMAN’S MASTERPIECE. Wiseman’s access to his subjects is always impressive, but in this film his entrée is amazingly unguarded without ever feeling exploitative. Despite the six-hour length, Near Death is never dull. All the same, remember to bring comfortable shoes and a few handkerchiefs to the theatre.”
– Eric Monder, Film Journal International

“Wiseman’s warmest, gentlest film, bearing witness to both the dying and the doctors.”
– Matt Prigge, The Village Voice

“Fearless and monumental... It isn’t the running time that makes ‘Near Death’ so overwhelming; it’s the subject itself... As it focuses attention on questions of just where life ends and how its ending can best be handled, it inches at nothing. It’s not for the timid... There are scenes of heartbreaking tenderness in which longtime spouses, soon to be left alone, try to comfort the people they love. The families who allowed Mr. Wiseman to film long, uninterrupted takes chronicling private and painful moments have made an invaluable contribution.”
– Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“The viewer begins to feel his own mortality and to wither under the weight of the subject matter over the course of six hours. I, however, told Fred it should have been even longer. I was serious. For a Wiseman film to work it has to be long. Unendurably long. Intolerably long. It is hard to look at Wiseman’s version of reality. One has to be led there and forced to look at it on a leash with a muzzle.”
– Errol Morris

Film Forum