|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||Ex Libris: The New York Public Library|
|Production country:||USA 2018|
|Running time:||Approx. 197 min.|
|Rated:||From 0 years|
The New York Public Library is the cultural heart of the city. With over 51 million media, the building, opened in 1911, is one of the largest libraries in the world. But here not only books are collected and made accessible to the public. The New York Public Library is a place of learning, education and experience. The documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has captured everyday life with his camera in the library's headquarters and its branch offices in the Bronx or on Staten Island. The result is "Ex Libris - The Public Library of New York", a three-hour documentation about one of the most important institutions of the metropolis.
Wiseman only captures snapshots that are not commented. The award-winning filmmaker has remained true to this style for four decades now. He lets pictures and not protagonists speak. So even his most recent work does not concentrate on a particular figure, such as the director of the library. Interviews or an explanatory voice from the off are not available. This may take some getting used to, but it also conveys a somewhat more authentic image of the institution portrayed. In his 42nd documentary, Wiseman takes the audience behind the scenes, observes employees advising customers on the phone, sorting books, researching in archives or discussing with commitment how new donations can be generated or how the library must change in the digital age.
One is also an observer at numerous events such as career counselling, book presentations by the musician Elvis Costello, socio-political lectures or concerts. There are excursions to the large newspaper and picture archive, relaxation in the Bryant Park adjacent to the library and short snapshots of users of the library. In this completely unagitated way, Wiseman not only conveys a very good impression of the size of the library and all the different things that are necessary for the smooth running of everyday work processes, but also gives the reader a very good idea of the size of the library.
It also shows how important such an archive of knowledge is for democratic coexistence in a country like the USA. In some moments the film also becomes socio-politically relevant and encourages intensive reflection. Even if some moments drag on and one might have been able to do without one or the other excerpt from rather dry lectures, "Ex Libris - The Public Library of New York" has become a fascinating, stirring film, which is not only worth seeing for those interested in literature - provided you have a good seat besides the interest in the library!
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