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USA, 1983 (MIFF 1984)

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Frederick Wiseman's latest work in an extraordinary succession of fifteen documentaries on the American way of life turns its pitiless glare away from institutional "casualties peace" to concentrate upon affluence and consumer excess.

Its chosen subject is the legendary Neiman-Marcus luxury department store in up-town Dallas, during the Christmas spending orgy. Conspicuous consumption is the key note: like pampered children wealthy Texans pick and choose-ables, diamonds and gourmet items, obsequiously attended by employees who consider it a privilege to be on the Neiman-Marcus staff list.

Juxtaposed with footage of the sales-front arc behind-the-scenes observation of management practices and personnel administration: e.g., the salesladies being conducted in morning callisthenics and smile exercises(l). Wiseman's chosen method is again in evidence: no introductory- "perspective", no voice-over narration or interview; fifty hours of camera and microphone actualities were painstakingly edited down to this final two hour release.

See also...


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Iconic documentarian Frederick Wiseman (La Danse, MIFF 2010; Titicut Follies) returns with a fascinating look at the tight-knit world of a suburban boxing gym. ... Battered equipment is held together ... More »


Welfare is the ninth in a series of documentary films about American institutions by Frederick Wiseman. His films since 1967 include studies of the law, the medical profession, schools, the military ... More »

PRIMATE (1974)

“It is essentially about one set of primates who have power, using it against another who haven't.” - Guardian ... Prolific documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman (whose La Danse is also ... More »


"The world of reality television wouldn't exist without Frederick Wiseman's lingering examinations of fragments of society. And those who've grown up watching such programs should look at this film ... More »


For the past 35 years, Frederick Wiseman has meticulously documented a unique and penetrating view of American social relations and the institutions that try to mediate them. In Domestic Violence ... More »

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