WELFARE shows the nature and complexity of the welfare system in sequences illustrating the staggering diversity of problems that constitute welfare: housing, unemployment, divorce, medical... See full summary »
Daily activities of the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, with emphasis on the emergency ward and outpatient clinics. The cases depicted illustrate how medical expertise, availability... See full summary »
Renowned documentarian Frederick Wiseman profiles the doctors, nurses, physicians, and patients at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, as he watches medical staff work around... See full summary »
Also known as The Greater Good, this series of vignettes focuses on the day-to-day work of Kansas City, Missouri police covers the range of circumstances they encounter and the variety of ... See full synopsis »
Follows the 4315th Training Squadron of the Strategic Air Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where Air Force officers are trained to man the Launch Control Centers for the ... See full summary »
The University of California at Berkeley, the oldest and most prestigious member of a ten campus public education system, is also one of the finest research and teaching facilities in the ... See full summary »
A Question of Ethics or an Education in Scientific Studies on Animals? or Both?
In this film the direct cinema legend, Frederick Wiseman, visits and observes the daily activities that take place at the Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia. "Scientists in the film are concerned with studying the physical and mental development of primates. Some of the experimental work shown in the film deals with the capacity to learn, remember, and apply language and manual skills; the effect of alcohol and drugs on behavior; the control of aggressive and sexual behavior; and other neural and physiological determinants of behavior." (from www.zipporah.com) Wiseman begins by showing us the great apes- orangutans and chimpanzees- that are caged in prison like cells, often looking saddened and depressed. Most of the reviews I have read on this film focus on the goals and accomplishments that the scientists have achieved by studying these monkeys and apes. Watching this, I personally feel that Wiseman is attempting to make us question the ethics of this practice. Animal studies, especially those on primates that are genetically similar to ourselves, have become (for the most part) an accepted and ignored element of society. It is believed that the benefits of such a practice far outweigh the gains, but some of the images in this film make you question this. This is what I believe that Wiseman was trying to achieve- similar to his portrayal of the Bridgewater Mental Facility in his film "Titticut Follies". Many images in this film are disturbing...just a warning. This could be viewed as much of an animal rights documentary as could "Meat", but can also be seen as the observation of justified scientific studies on primates. I guess it depends on how you look at it, but regardless of this, Wiseman's editing is not unbiased. The mere selectivity of images and order of their juxtaposition is used to convey his message despite the observational/direct cinema nature of the film. Another winner by Wiseman.
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