National Gallery


National Gallery

Critics 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.



Total Count: 65


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,134
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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 (65) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (3)

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

    Mar 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.

    Feb 5, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The trick with this kind of subtle, fly-on-the-wall film-making is gradually to change our preconceptions about the subject.

    Jan 9, 2015 | Rating: 4/5

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • An intriguing and valuable record.

    Jan 8, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • One of cinema's Old Masters returns with this poetic and profound dissection of art and storytelling.

    Jan 8, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Sitting there with something like National Gallery, it's not the rush of time you feel. It's the rush of applied skill.

    Jan 4, 2015 | Full Review…

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