National Gallery


Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Joe McGovern
    Nov 24, 2014
    The knowledge that Rembrandt recycled his own paintings doesn't minimize the scene in Frederick Wiseman's documentary where we see an X-ray of one of the Dutch master's portraits — and go, ''Wow!''
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 21, 2014
    Frederick Wiseman’s documentary National Gallery is for art lovers, movie lovers – basically for anybody. Ostensibly a film about London’s famous museum, it’s really about the experience of art in all its manifestations.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 20, 2014
    National Gallery isn’t just about a museum full of famous pictures. It’s about the nature of art, and art’s acolytes; about the mystery of what may lie beneath a particular painting’s visible surface; about the business of art at a time when money can be scarce and attention spans can be short.
  4. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Nov 7, 2014
    Like the Maysles brothers, like Shirley Clarke, like D.A. Pennebaker at his heights, Wiseman has created a body of work that proves him a great filmmaker, period. His latest picture, National Gallery, is a typically lucid, graceful and unobtrusively multi-tiered work.
  5. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Nov 4, 2014
    The popular view of art is that it belongs to the masses. Wiseman casts a more skeptical eye, questioning such egalitarianism with cold, hard historical context. Yet he simultaneously acknowledges that these works live on far beyond their original purpose, even if, as the film’s bold, brilliant climax suggests, they may eventually play to an audience of none.
  6. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Nov 4, 2014
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    May 26, 2014
    It’s beautifully organised, and there’s no way you could possibly watch it without learning all kinds of stuff.
  8. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Nov 20, 2014
    In a time when so many documentary filmmakers take on advocacy roles, National Gallery represents the heart of what Wiseman does best — step back and let the place and its people lead the story.
  9. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Nov 4, 2014
    Like so much of his celebrated work, documentarian Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery is long, leisurely paced, wide-ranging, meticulously crafted, intellectually intricate, and touched with profundity.
  10. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Nov 13, 2014
    In a sense, there can be nothing ordinary about such an extraordinary place. Furthermore, Wiseman’s special gift as a filmmaker has been to show how searching attention reveals that there really is no such thing as ordinariness.
  11. Reviewed by: James Lattimer
    Nov 2, 2014
    In the style of an ambling, yet entirely focused visitor, the film continually circles back to pictures, protagonists, and situations to furnish them with new meanings, alter their perception, or even directly challenge their previous presentation.
  12. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Dec 5, 2014
    It's hard to say what's more fascinating: The engaging explication of various paintings by the remarkably articulate docents, the behind-the-scenes looks at the preservation and restoration processes, or the boardroom discussions about the appropriateness of marketing efforts. Actually, that third one probably isn't the most fascinating, but I still wanted more of it.
  13. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Nov 4, 2014
    Unlike Wiseman’s greatest films, National Gallery never quite finds an overarching theme. There’s a fair amount of material regarding the art/commerce divide, but many scenes have no bearing whatsoever on that subject, and the film generally lacks urgency.
  14. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    May 26, 2014
    Wiseman's film is the most nourishing example of cinematic brain food you'll have all year.
  15. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Nov 3, 2014
    The ultimate value of the famed filmmaker’s latest documentary—a subject National Gallery turns into a reflexive concern—is not that Wiseman makes it possible for a broader audience to see these priceless works of art, but that the scope of his project invites all audiences to look at them through an illuminating new lens.
  16. Reviewed by: Ed Frankl
    May 26, 2014
    In his signature style, without talking heads, narration or explanatory context, Wiseman takes us straight into the London gallery itself and the inhabitants inside - both human and paint-form.
  17. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    May 26, 2014
    The effect of National Gallery is to reinforce the notion that paintings are objects to know and understand.
  18. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Nov 13, 2014
    National Gallery could have used a few more edits; its long run time may limit its appeal. But the film is remarkably engaging and, with close looks at so many important pieces of art, bursting with beauty.
  19. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Nov 5, 2014
    Less tiring than a three-hour tramp through the halls, and considerably less expensive than a plane ticket, National Gallery gives the feeling of having seen everything there is to see.
  20. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    May 26, 2014
    National Gallery feels closer to a pure aesthetic investigation than an organizational exposé, and in that respect is reminiscent of recent Paris-set films like Crazy Horse or La Danse, mostly allowing the art to speak for itself.
  21. Reviewed by: David Lewis
    Dec 18, 2014
    For art lovers, though, there is plenty to savor.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

No user score yet- Awaiting 2 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 1
  2. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jan 5, 2015
    National Gallery was twice as long for me as it needed to be - i say this with the full knowledge that my own lack of background didn't help.National Gallery was twice as long for me as it needed to be - i say this with the full knowledge that my own lack of background didn't help.
    i most enjoyed the brief scenes during which staff puzzled how best to reach a wider audience - i would place myself in that category - and i think the debate will probably continue for the life of the gallery, frankly.
    extended scenes that detailed restoration techniques left me panting for something more visceral/emotional, but i was probably already restless by then..
    perhaps had a critic friend of mine advised me to see the film, one he cited as among the year's very best, i might have been more engaged.
    i was not alone, however, in my response - there was a trickle of exiting bodies from about the 75-minute mark.
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