A glimpse at the inner workings of one of Europe's foremost - but threatened - cultural institutions.
Frederick Wiseman is the most austere of documentarists so reactions to this profile of the Paris Opera Ballet will depend upon the viewer’s love of dance. Photographed by John Davey in full-figure long shot (as Astaire and Kelly would have insisted), the rehearsal and performance segments are Degas-like studies of kinetic energy and physical grace.
However, those au fait with classical choreography may find the backstage sequences more compelling, as artistic director Brigitte Lefèvre handles staff, sponsors and dancers with the same clipped courtesy. It’s these encounters that clearly reveal the crisis of confidence and relevance facing such elitist art-forms in an age of increasing philistinism.
Beautifully shot and compelling in parts but a love of classical dance helps.