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Madison Square Garden in New York is America's best known center for popular, live entertainment. Along with numerous events held there – including basketball and hockey games, the circus, dog and cat shows, rock concerts – the documentary film "The Garden" also shows the nature of the behind-the-scenes work required to efficiently and professionally present these different and complex events.

"Wiseman observes the offerings of mass culture in his accustomed laconic way. He does not celebrate the spectacle, but takes interest in work processes (in a completely unspectacular ten-minute sequence, he meticulously shows the preparations for an ice hockey game) or the mechanisms of staging (during a rehearsal by Salt 'n' Pepa, his gaze concentrates on the movements of the cameras). There are many grandiose scenes in 'The Garden': the exciting observation of a wrestling match that not only reveals the fight's staginess, but is also a brilliant lesson in the montage of documentary images and sounds; or the portrayal of the International Cat Show, which culminates in the depiction of the right way to massage house cats and reveals very plastically the practiced interplay between entertainment, science, and business (and which extends a central motif in many Wiseman films, the relationship between humans and animals). In these scenes, Wiseman demonstrates once again the great potential of Direct Cinema, the interplay of concentrated, unstaged observation and painstakingly elaborated structure (he often takes more than a year for his editing) that gives the documentary material its (often metaphorical) meaning." Constantin Wulff

Production: Garden Film, Inc.

Screenplay, editing, sound and production: Frederick Wiseman

Cinematography: John Davey

Format/screen ratio: 16mm, 1:1.37, Color

Running time: 196 min., 24 frames/sec.

Language: English

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur