Museums on Film

Yes, it’s a seemingly straightforward supercut. But there’s more here than meets the artistic eye. For one, it’s a very well made supercut. One that doesn’t just go for (loudly scored) fast cutting: it foregoes that barrage of bluster. Museums are places of peace and quiet, and these characteristics are shared by this video: it nicely weaves together fast paced sequences with lulls. More importantly, this work by 24LiesPerSecond reveals several interesting aspects of the relationship between museums and film.


Museums are decidedly cinematic environs. They function as an artistic peepshow: the act of looking is front and center in a museum. As it is in film. This essay features a nice segment where these looks – eyes that meet, or don’t – replace verbal communication.


Museums are decidedly non-cinematic environs. The fine art works they exhibit are motionless, frozen in time. Is that why there are so many sweeping camera movements in the excerpts featured in this essay? Is that film flaunting its mobility and moves?


This video essay handily illustrates how the architecture of museums apparently inspires filmmakers to go for cinematic flourishes. Many of the clips feature extensively choreographed action, as if the museums are ballrooms that make the visitors move more gracefully, more artistically. Whether it’s a shoot out, an intricate burglary or a simple entrance: the elegance of museum architecture invites, even prescribes elegant blocking and movement of the characters. This video essay stresses those almost dancelike choreographies by mixing and matching scenes with similar kinetic energy.


Finally, film is not awed by museums, not hushed by their grandeur. Instead, many scenes set in museums are decidedly iconoclastic. Film may be the seventh art, but these museums are usually reserved for older, more revered and established art forms. Is that why film shows its wild side when it films in these temples for the other arts? From the Bildersturm of Batman’s Joker to the infectious tomfoolery of Ferris Bueller and friends: films sees the fun in museums.