1968. USA. Frederick Wiseman. 75 min.
Saturday, January 23, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
1968. USA. Directed by Frederick Wiseman. One of Wiseman’s masterpieces—a riveting, often caustically sardonic companion film to Basic Training, and a counterpart to his decidedly more optimistic High School II, made twenty-five years later. With the country descending into the chaos of race riots, a cultural and sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War, the teachers and administrators at a large Philadelphia public high school cling ever more anxiously and defiantly to a curriculum that values conformity and obedience over independent, creative thinking. The school’s dean of discipline, who with an iron fist will turn boys into men, and its poetry teacher, who fails to see the irony of deconstructing Simon and Garfunkel’s song “The Dangling Conversation” to a classroom of bored, passively mute students, are but two of many unforgettable figures in what critic Stuart Klawans calls a “parade of knaves and buffoons. 75 min.