[Marxism] At Berkeley; Birth of the Living Dead | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 11 12:00:10 MST 2013

Although his name is virtually synonymous with cinéma vérité, Frederick 
Wiseman disavows the notion that he adopts the perspective of the 
impartial “fly on the wall”:

	All aspects of documentary filmmaking involve choice and are therefore 
manipulative. But the ethical … aspect of it is that you have to … try 
to make [a film that] is true to the spirit of your sense of what was 
going on. … My view is that these films are biased, prejudiced, 
condensed, compressed but fair. I think what I do is make movies that 
are not accurate in any objective sense, but accurate in the sense that 
I think they’re a fair account of the experience I’ve had in making the 
movie. (from Wikipedia)

I saw “Titicut Follies” in 1967, the first documentary Wiseman ever made 
at the age of 37. Now 83, the director came to filmmaking relatively 
late in life, having started out as a lawyer. The film was an indictment 
of the treatment of inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital for “the 
criminally insane” that allowed the doctors to be hoisted on their own 
petard through their callous treatment of their wards. Viewed as the 
ultimate dregs of society, the patients were the Guantanamo prisoners of 
their day, putting up with forced feedings and the like.


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