At Berkeley (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

At Berkeley (2013)



Critic Consensus: Its generous running time will test less forbearing viewers' patience, but for filmgoers seeking more of director Frederick Wiseman's observant brand of documentary, At Berkeley satisfies.

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The University of California at Berkeley, the oldest and most prestigious member of a ten campus public education system, is also one of the finest research and teaching facilities in the world. The film, AT BERKELEY, shows the major aspects of university life, its intellectual and social mission, its obligation to the state and to larger ideas of higher education, as well as illustrates how decisions are made and implemented by the administration in collaboration with its various constituencies. (c) Zipporah


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Critic Reviews for At Berkeley

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (18)

At Berkeley earns credit for documenting a distinctly articulate community.

Full Review… | January 17, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The film contains numerous scenes showing higher education at its best.. But these moments are gradually overwhelmed by scenes of administrators dealing with an ongoing budget crisisdealing with an ongoing budget crisis.

Full Review… | January 3, 2014
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The fragility of public education looms in the background of every scene, but, as always, Wiseman proves a wizard at shutting up and listening and learning.

Full Review… | January 2, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A film is not just about intent. It is also an experience, and this is where "At Berkeley" becomes an iffy proposition.

Full Review… | December 5, 2013
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Anyone who cares about documentary filmmaking, or about the state of public higher education, will find themselves quietly dazzled by the picture Wiseman paints here, in small dabs.

December 5, 2013
Seattle Times
Top Critic

The observations coalesce into a cogent whole, providing insights that are never overtly stated.

Full Review… | December 4, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for At Berkeley

I'm quick to jump the gun that in terms of objective AND subjective quality "At Berkeley" is the "Tree of Life" of documentaries, but I think it's more analogous to being the "Gravity" of documentaries -- this is arguably the most YOU ARE THERE (i.e., YOU GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING) account of real-life filmmaking I've ever seen. It's also hands-down one of the most visibly exhausting this side of "Shoah", and doubles as a comprehensive pamphlet (or, clocking in at just over four hours long, more of a field guide, or a brick) without ever towing the line of intellectual-porn propaganda. Go ahead, roll your eyes at the above and dub it and/or me pretentious. But just because Frederick Wiseman's film is challenging and not Frederick's of Hollywood (LOL had to do it) doesn't mean it should be ignored. Actually, it deserves to be seen by any- and everyone. If ever there was a movie that gets you excited about the prospects of education, "At Berkeley" is it. An unbelievably dense yet picturesque novel-as-film with all the widescreen weight of a coffee table book -- its original 250 hours of footage directed, edited and produced to the nines by the legendary 83-year-old Wiseman -- certain people often (wrongly) forever stick to the ancient adage that "they don't make movies like they used to anymore." Yet with "At Berkeley" at least, that's precisely the sentiment it left me with. (95/100)

Nick Ondras
Nick Ondras

The camera work isn't the issue. I hate to be a contrary to the critics but I found the subject matter to be dull and slightly depressing. The scene of some of the most monumental protests of the 60s is now a university like all the rest with the same dull discussions on direction and even dull protesters.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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