I must see this film (National Gallery by Frederick Wiseman) for all sorts of reasons.
When human endeavour sometimes seems to me to be directed in all the wrong sort of places, art acts as a balm to the soul, an electric jolt to the eye, petrol thrown onto the flame of intellect. You can mix those metaphors too and they work just as well: balm to the eye, petrol on the flame of the soul – whatever way you mix it – art makes you feel.
Way back when I moved to London, I spent many hours at the National Gallery. Certain paintings became friends. They still are. I don’t call them, or write them, or send them gifts, but they are fixed in my heart.
Maybe that’s why I once I dreamed of a long conversation in an art gallery. I half-started it once and it may have been the most important almost conversation of my life. I have some slight hope that this film may be the final word on the matter, and then I can wake up.
On the other hand, it may just be a nightmare, if the Guardian review is to be believed.
God it’s boring. I love the National Gallery and I was squirming in my seat. Why doesn’t Wiseman let the paintings speak for themselves? Again and again, he films audiences listening to curators or guides give lectures about the National Gallery’s works of art. One such talk would make sense in a portrait of the museum. But why repeat the exercise, again and again – and again?
Time Out critic’s conclusion ‘The film’s bold, brilliant climax’ sounds better to me.