National Gallery (2014) - Rotten Tomatoes

National Gallery2014

National Gallery (2014)

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Critic Consensus: National Gallery finds director Frederick Wiseman doing what he does best: Drawing the viewer in with richly detailed, patiently constructed observations on modern institutions.

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Movie Info

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. (C) Zipporah

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Critic Reviews for National Gallery

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (39)

Some of the film's most fascinating moments pay tribute to the gallery's technical prowess and craftsmanship.

August 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Wiseman's fly-on-the-wall style is the perfect formal approach to cut through the surface of pretence that dominates any kind of major institution's vision of itself, and it is this fascination with institutions that has marked Wiseman's lengthy career.

August 25, 2018 | Full Review…

The film upholds the belief that the commonalities of self-expression, storytelling, and insightful observation reverberate through time.

August 3, 2015 | Full Review…

To say Frederick Wiseman makes observational documentaries is like saying Alfred Hitchcock made thrillers -- accurate, but not the heart of the matter.

March 6, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

At three hours, the result is long, but perhaps less exhausting than a visit to the actual gallery, because of how thoroughly the mind is engaged even as the senses are saturated.

February 5, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

We're used to documentaries having a pedagogical or activist itinerary, but Wiseman's have become fastidiously unpedantic -- his simple Terence-like interest in what other human beings do and how they do it is more than enough.

February 4, 2015 | Full Review…

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