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469 Ratings

High School

Directed by Frederick Wiseman
United States, 1968


Richard Schickel, writing in Life, called this a “wicked, brilliant documentary about life in a lower-middle-class secondary school.”

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High School Directed by Frederick Wiseman
The film is beautifully photographed, abundant in close-ups; Wiseman’s ability to get up close to students and render smaller narratives all while going seemingly unnoticed is an incredible feat. The way Wiseman’s directorial presence disappears in High School is an extraordinary and captivating effect. And although it’s a well familiar style, it’s still just as effective nearly 50 years later.
April 12, 2017
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The film represents a time capsule — a cinematographic record not only of those sorts of characters frozen immemorial in Lions Club halls’ gilt-framed photographs but also of the attitudes and fears of an era. Only from the vantage of the future has High School assumed the form of secret look or infiltration. Nevertheless it remains the single Wiseman film whose milieu its audience is most likely to have experienced collectively.
April 24, 2012
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HIGH SCHOOL has been found heavy-handed and didactic by some critics in comparison to [Wiseman’s] later productions… But the hoi polloi subjectivity-thermometer of IMDB’s user reviews suggests that, if anything, it has retained its multiplicity of interpretations: for the radical anti-authoritarian, it is a concise proof-of-concept of Ivan Illich’s classic text Deschooling Society; and for the less critically minded, it is a series of captivating snapshots of an urban generation-gap long past.
January 22, 2010
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