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The Store

Screening on Film
Directed by Frederick Wiseman.
US, 1983, 16mm, color, 118 min.
Print source: Zipporah Films

With Model (1981) and The Store, Wiseman swerved over from investigations of generally stark, ethically compromised institutions into the glossier, more glamorous end of American industry. Though financially exclusive, the Neiman-Marcus department store and its headquarters in Dallas may seem like a more superficial and less concealed choice: its excesses are transparently promoted and world renown. However, in his multidimensional view of all facets above, behind and below Neiman-Marcus’ well-engineered, highly staged universe, Wiseman allows the viewer a fascinating ringside seat, not as a consumer but as sociological observer. Filmed during the 1982 holiday season, The Store may provide slightly quieter, less shocking revelations, but the banal, the comical and the seemingly trivial gestures accrue and coalesce into larger patterns of behavior that Wiseman has impeccably arranged. On particularly exquisite display are the entertaining array of performances—from those on both sides of the counter— at every stage of making the sale.

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2018 Norton Lectures in Cinema:
Frederick Wiseman

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