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  • Summary: The National Gallery in London is one of the great museums of the world with 2400 paintings from the 13th to the end of the 19th century. Almost every human experience is represented in one or the other of the paintings. The sequences of the film show the public in various galleries; theThe National Gallery in London is one of the great museums of the world with 2400 paintings from the 13th to the end of the 19th century. Almost every human experience is represented in one or the other of the paintings. The sequences of the film show the public in various galleries; the education programs, and the scholars, scientists and curators, studying, restoring and planning the exhibitions. The relation between painting and storytelling is explored. Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Nov 4, 2014
    100
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 20, 2014
    100
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe McGovern
    Nov 24, 2014
    100
    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!''
  4. Reviewed by: James Lattimer
    Nov 2, 2014
    88
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Nov 4, 2014
    83
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Nov 3, 2014
    80
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: David Lewis
    Dec 18, 2014
    50
    For art lovers, though, there is plenty to savor.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jan 5, 2015
    6
    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.
    Expand

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