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Renowned documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his observational camera on The Spring, a Florida shelter for battered women and children. For one-hundred and ninety-six minutes, Wiseman profiles the women and children that have been victim to domestic violence, showing them endure therapeutic, thoughtful lectures and learn from the tireless social workers employed at The Spring that their sanctuary has been found. Written by
If you are familiar with Wiseman you know what to expect. I found myself
fascinated by all 196 minutes of this film. Two or three times during the film we see a tour group of elderly women who are visiting the battered women's
shelter/rehabilitation center/school where the majority of the film takes place. These old women are spectators in this bizarre and frightening world just as we are. The expressions on their faces - the various ohs and oohs, the cowls, the frowns and the nods of supposed understanding - mimic those of the audience.
The old women are helpless tourists who wonder exactly what it is they can do to help, and the task seems so overwhelming that they're left to sit at a board room table and sip iced tea. Wiseman's observational camera is the perfect
medium with which to view domestic violence, a problem that has probably
always existed and will continue to exist as long as we do. Here is, in three hours and sixteen minutes, its document. A multi-angled and wholly satisfying portrayal. Highly recommended.
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