Frederick Wiseman – National Gallery (2014)


Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman goes behind the scenes at the National Gallery in a journey to the heart of a museum inhabited by masterpieces of Western art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.

This three-hour epic has no voiceover, no score and no added sound effects. The nearest thing to music is the drone of the polishing machines at dawn. In a richly detailed, beautifully nuanced portrait of the gallery’s working life, we are guided gently from board meeting to retouching workshop, from gallery floor, to seminar room, from the difficult financial decisions facing the charity’s executives to visitors’ awed appreciation of the exhibitions.

Combining a vivid sense of how vast the gallery’s many activities are with an eye for droll observational detail, the film reveals how the gallery works and its relations with its staff, public and paintings.


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