Director Frederick Wiseman applies his rigorously patient and observational style to explore one of the great museums of the world: The National Gallery in London.
One of the world’s foremost art institutions, the gallery itself is portrayed as a brilliant work of art in this, 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.
“Like most of Mr. Wiseman’s work, the movie is at once specific and general, fascinating in its pinpoint detail and transporting in its cosmic reach. ”~Manohla Dargis, The New York Times