Frederick Wiseman | Interview
The vérité legend takes another look at bodies in motion with Crazy Horse.
In Crazy Horse, cinema vérité legend Frederick Wiseman peeks inside the eponymous Paris nude-revue cabaret. Like 2010’s Boxing Gym—which portrayed an Austin sparring house as an unlikely site of peace and utopia—Crazy Horse reverses expectations, seeing beauty in a salacious subject.
After La Danse, Boxing Gym and now Crazy Horse, you seem to have a recent interest in bodies in motion.
One of the themes that connects several of the films is the uses to which the body can be put. Obviously, dance and boxing are somewhat similar—long periods of training, discipline, coordination, short careers. [But] the monastery movie is in part about the denial of body. Hospital and Near Death are about degradation and destruction of the body through disease. Basic Training and Manoeuvre are about the use of the body in the service of the state. Model is about the aestheticization of the body to sell consumer goods. The Store is about the adornment of the body, also to sell consumer goods. Domestic Violence is about the abuse of the body.
What brought you to the Crazy Horse club?
It’s the usual crapshoot. I make a judgment that if I stay at a place long enough I’m going to have enough material out of which I can cut a film. What the themes or the subject or the content is, I don’t know, because I haven’t had the experience yet. I was at the Crazy Horse once in 1957, and I was there twice two nights before I started shooting.
You’ve always maintained that your presence doesn’t influence events.
99.9 percent of people don’t object to being photographed and don’t act for the camera. One of the reasons I think you can make these kinds of movies is that not just the people in the film but all of us—we always think what we’re doing is okay, but we don’t necessarily see it in the same way that somebody else sees it.
Crazy Horse comes to VOD Tuesday 11.