Ayant été étudiante à Berkeley en 2010-2011 (au moment du tournage), je salue le côté ultra réaliste du film, qui passe à première vue au peigne fin tous les recoins du campus et a ravivé ma nostalgie californienne... Je trouve cependant ce documentaire bien morne, Wiseman n'ayant pas choisi d'angle d'attaque suffisamment précis au moment du montage. Au final, au moins 150 minutes de trop!
Wiseman adopts the administration's POV wholesale. This would be disappointing in any case but given the considerable failures of this particular administration, it's particularly untenable. People speak in this movie in direct relation to their authority. Administration, faculty, students (whose speech is almost entirely mediated by authority), and (silent window dressing, never speaking) staff.
Radical duration is standard for non-commercial movies these days, but it's rare to see it used to such verbal ends: not just to accommodate hours of bubbling speech, but also for a novelistic, dense portrayal of human activity and social dynamics. This is a doc that treats speech as a physical occurrence as well as a signifying act; it's about ideas in conflict with the material and social world. Masterpiece.
http://jacobinmag.com/2013/12/at-some-other-berkeley/ This is an important critique. There is nothing objective about what is going on in universities both in the US and in the UK right now. Administrators are glorified PR agents, saying the right things while at the same time selling off our universities to the detriment of staff and students. I think Wiseman is one of the greats but I am uncomfortable with this.
“When you look at situations where changes have occurred, dramatic changes, always ask yourself, what is the backstory here? Who’s actually behind this, what happened before our great leader decided to actually do the right thing. What was going on before that? Ask yourself that question, and then look into that history yourself.”
Using montage to show us a familiar place under a new organizing logic, Wiseman also shows us how individuals become collectives. In his films, single images become greater than the sum of their parts in much the same way people do: with great effort and tremendous resolve. http://filmcapsule.com/2013/12/03/at-berkeley-2013/
Heads up, film friends: At Berkeley, the latest masterful chronicle of this American life from Frederick Wiseman and the best documentary so far this decade, is airing on PBS tonight at 9pm. Set your DVRs, stay in on a Monday, it earns every minute of its 4 hour runtime and you owe it to yourself to see it.
The 4 hour running time of Frederick Wiseman's sprawling documentary about life at UC Berkeley may be daunting, but it's also a fascinating and essential portrait of the current state of higher education. An illuminating cross section of beleaguered administrators, idealistic students, and a thirst for learning. It's a behemoth, to be sure, but Wiseman's sure hand delivers something quietly stunning.
as in the best of wiseman's work, this view of berkeley the campus sits on the imperceptible line between clear eye-reporting and existential nightmare. ..most unforgettable moments - an empty library, strewn with the remnants of a stillborn protest; a classroom discusses thoreau's view of a pond as hidden place of murder, we cut to a janitor sweeping dust from a stairwell, the dust collects in great pools below...