IDFA 2014 #1: The Great Museum 5/10

Editor’s note:

One of the most wonderful things about living in Amsterdam (a city filled with wonderful things) is the recurrence of IDFA every November. The International Documentary Film Festival provides me (and others, no doubt) with a major hit of our drug of choice, film documentaries. I’ve been an addict since 2010 and most years I make it to an average of 10 films. This series documents (ha) my extremely subjective reviews of each film I saw. Take it with as many grains of salt as you need.

A very very slow portrait of the renovation of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. I think this is one of the great museums of the world and was very interested to see how it was shown. Strange style: no interviews, no voice-overs, just fly-on-the-wall long silent scenes. Many shots of people walking down immensely long corridors or of awkward conversations or of cleaners wiping down display cases or of restorers dusting off dusty busts. Not riveting.
Final scene: extreme close-up of a familiar detail in a painting, a king speaking with someone. The camera follows the painting around, catching hundreds of small details: scenes of workers, builders, painters, etc working on the Tower of Babel by Breughel. Such a well-known painting but impossible to concentrate on all the details when looking at the whole. Final zoom-out to show whole painting in context. Beautiful interesting scene, the best in the whole movie.

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