National Gallery

Synopsis: 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; the education programs, and the scholars, scientists and curators, studying, restoring and planning the exhibitions. The relation between painting and storytelling is explored.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Frederick Wiseman
Production: Zipporah
  9 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
180 min

Good. Yeah.

Beautiful colour...

Let's go...

We know, but I think

it's worth our trying to remember,

that the Middle Ages were religious,

profoundly religious,

in a way that we can't really conceive


I want you now to imagine, if you can,

that you are inside that church,

which you see as a model, and into which

this altarpiece was once placed.

So no big windows,

obviously no electric light,

but a space like this

with very narrow windows.

The light would be filtering in.

You're not in the National Gallery,

you're inside that church.

Low light, maybe the sound of chanting,

maybe the sound of prayers

being spoken slowly.

The smell of incense used

to carry up the prayers of the faithful

to the heavenly realm.

And, if you will, now, just imagine

that you are looking at this painting

by the light of candles.

Candles which flicker. Candles

which would shine against the gold.

And you might think - because, remember,

you can't read, you can't write,

the year is 1377, your houses are

too hot in summer, too cold in winter,

death is part of the threnody of everyday life,

people are dying all the time -

you might think to yourself,

"if I'm good, I can perhaps get up

to the kingdom everlasting,

"where all is good, great and golden

And I think another thing

might also happen.

By the flickering candlelight,

you might think that

these figures were moving.

If they were moving, they were real,

and could hear your prayer and intercede

for you with Christ and the Virgin in Heaven.

So the painting would be acting as a

sacramental channel from earth to Heaven.

And in a sense,

that's how this painting worked.

I don't mean to make this sound as crude,

perhaps, as I am,

but if you will, for a moment, just imagine

that I've brought from my pocket

a picture of a sweet grey, fluffy kitten,

and I've pinned it here,

and I've said, "Here are the darts,

aim for the eyes of the grey, fluffy kitten."

It's just a bit of paper, but in some way,

you feel that you might,

in a peculiar way you can't quite explain,

be hurting some fluffy kitten,

somehow, somewhere.

So I'm not suggesting to you that,

in the year 1377, or any time onwards,

people felt, "Oh! They're moving!

They're real! They can hear me!"

But with a same kind

of grey, fluffy kitten analogy,

I am suggesting to you that

there is a very strong attachment

between representation

and the thing itself.

So we're now in the National Gallery,

having a look quite quietly,

thinking about aesthetics and gold and

colours made from ground pigment.

But what we must remember is how

this was originally intended to be seen.

So, I've tried to sort of pull together

my first thoughts,

and I don't mean this to be a criticism...

I don't... I'm quite keen on criticism.

No, I'm just trying to be very open here.

I think what comes out of it

is that, as an organisation -

I suppose that's probably

a bit why I'm here -

our public voice is quite

weakly represented

when we have forums together

and we're talking about things.

And I kind of tried to chunk

that up this morning, of,

"How does that manifest itself?"

One is that just, quite simply,

I still find it quite amazing

that we don't kind of really talk much

about the public and the visitors.

But actually, I don't think that, when

it comes to a lot of what we talk about,

in some of our meetings

that actually are talking about

communications out to the public,

we're not necessarily focusing on those

52 million people and their needs

as much as I think we could be

and should be.

Rate this script:(0.00 / 0 votes)

Frederick Wiseman

Frederick Wiseman (born January 1, 1930) is an American filmmaker, documentarian, and theatre director. His work is "devoted primarily to exploring American institutions". He has been called "one of the most important and original filmmakers working today". more…

All Frederick Wiseman scripts | Frederick Wiseman Scripts

FAVORITE (0 fans)

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "National Gallery" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 15 Jan. 2021. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    The Marketplace:

    Sell your Script !

    Get listed in the most prominent screenplays collection on the web!

    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.

    Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.