what the newspapers say, at no time innthe last forty years did its neighborsndetest it. They were merely then asnthey will be in the future — vigilant,nthe normal thing among neighbors.nFor the rest, it will be a symbioticnrelationship, a shared culture. Look atnthe cities: Vienna, Prague, Budapest,nKrakow, Riga, Dresden — they speaknof one tradition, style, religion, andntaste, blending the aristocratic and thenbourgeois, the ensemble celebrated bynchurches, palaces, bridges, and publicngardens. The new society, settling onnthe ruins of the old, will be harmoniousnwith it.nThomas Molnar is the author, mostnrecently, of Twin Powers: Politics andnthe Sacred (Eerdmans).nFILMnOne Wiseman ofnGothamnby David R. SlavittnThe distinguished documentaries ofnFrederick Wiseman presupposentwo things. First of all, there are thentechnical advances in film and camerasnthat allow him to shoot with less cumbersomenequipment than would havenbeen possible a generation ago and tondo so in available light. Second, andnrather more important, is Wiseman’sndiscovery of one of the truths of humannnature, which is that most of us don’tnhave a great deal of range in ournbehaviors. People don’t change much innthe presence of a camera, because theynFrom Frederick Wiseman’s documentary Near Death.ncan’t. Even talented actors and actressesnwho have studied their craft cannotndepart very far from the selves they’venlearned and earned. And when peoplenare convinced that what they’re doing isncorrect—either necessary or justifiable,nor positively admirable — they see nonreason to change their behavior. This isnwhere the drama and the comedy enterninto a Wiseman documentary. Wenwatch in amazement as he catchesnpeople in ethical and metaphysicalnquandaries and impossibilities and, if wenare shrewd enough to see what is goingnon, we are both appalled and amused.nThe right way to watch a Wiseman filmnis to laugh a lot.n• One would think that, sooner ornlater, some smart administrator wouldnfigure out that there is a pattern to thesenthings. In each case, Wiseman comes innand shoots what he sees, sixty, seventy,nor eighty hours of film. Then he goesnback and edits this to make a documentarynin which there is no narrative andnno additional material, just the raw stuffnof what the camera saw, albeit orderednand shaped. And what he offers isnTiticut Follies, or High School, or Lawnand Order, or Welfare, or Manoeuvre,nor Essene, or The Store, or, mostnrecently. Near Death. Often he willnshow the film to the people who are innit — as happened, I think, with HighnSchool. The teachers there were justnnndelighted, recognizing that, yes, thisnwas just how it was with them. Andnthen Wiseman shows these films to thenoutside world, more often than not onnPBS, but frequently at film festivalsnand on campuses. And the outsidenworld looks and sees what is reallynhappening, which was, in High School,nvastly less flattering, or defensible, orneven sane than what the teachers in thenPhiladelphia high school assumed.nThe tendencies to self-delusion arenirrepressible, however, and we see,nagain and again, these do-gooders ofnone kind or another betraying themselvesnand everything they think theynstand for. In Law and Order there is anmemorable scene in a squad car innwhich, in the backseat, a Kansas Citynpolice officer is beating up a suspectnwho is, if I remember correctly, handcuffed.nWhat is astonishing is that,nwhile cameras are smaller and quieternthan they used to be, they aren’t invisible,nand Wiseman was in the front seatnfilming this. What had happened wasnthat the suspect, a black man, hadncalled the policeman a motherf—er,nand this, to the cop, a lower-middleclassnwhite man, was a legitimate warrantnfor a beating.nThe general sense one gets, seeing annumber of Wiseman films, is that therenmay be something pernicious in allncooperative human enterprises, andnJUNE 1990/51n