Frederick Wiseman Mary Frazer - Essay

Mary Frazer

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[All Frederick Wiseman's films] have had as their subject a particular aspect of American society: an organization, a profession or an occupation. Model observes the world of fashion in all aspects—agencies, photographers, commercials, techniques. Here as elsewhere Wiseman aims not to present a point of view but to show his subject as it is (or as it appears to be)….

This absence of a point of view makes the film more, not less, interesting: we have all the fascination of looking into another world and none of the annoyance of being told what to think about it. Nevertheless an attitude emerges; one in which, somewhat surprisingly, everybody involved comes out quite well. The models and photographers are highly professional and treat each other with respect and patience.

If Wiseman's aim is to render the camera as much like the human eye as possible …, his camera, like the eye, is not merely passive. It has the power to focus on something particular, to observe it and to be the means of our intelligence about it. And perhaps because how close film can come to the "truth" has always been one of Wiseman's concerns, Model is as much about methods of photography and filming which are, in varying degrees, in contrast to his own, as it is about the world of models.

Mary Frazer, "Ways of Seeing," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1981; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 4069, March 27, 1981, p. 349.