In his representation of the KHM he seems to be fascinated by people and the defined role of toiled obsession that is transfigured by the ideal and actuality of an occupation. Holzhausen transfixes the gaze by the conduit of Direct Cinema (a trait he shares with the modus operandi of Fred Wiseman), which means no voice over, titles or non-diegetic music. This approach as ever creates a payoff that surpasses the instant gratification of normalised Anglo-Saxon approach to documentaries shown at the cinema. In this manner he peers inward towards the working, living, breathing existence of an institution that enhances its characterisation the more that it’s observed. Unlike Wiseman’s National Gallery Holzhausen turns away from the the public and the relationship with the displayed art. For him interest lies with the worker bees of the restoration department, the curators and ultimately the head of the gallery: Sabine Haag. In this hyper focused manner he reimagines cinema and its historical imperative upon his film, and the idea of dedication to a higher power.
The moment that powerful conversation interacts with this idea is when he approaches the level of a coup de cinema! He follows a youthful KHM employee as he angles his way through endless rooms and corridors on a scooter, ultimately to pick up some printed documents. In this small intensely focuses scene we think of little Danny in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) and how time passes within buildings of a historical nature and have to be bent towards modernity by the everyday. The Great Museum is a beautiful love letter to obsession and eccentricity, the love is given and received in equal measure. This, at its nature is what art should do, and what cinema strives for and rarely achieves, with this poetic discourse about the difficult question of what to do with the art of robber barons in relation towards a finality that befits such a collection.
D W Mault | @D_W_Mault