Review: HIGH SCHOOL (1968)


Shot by documentary film maker Frederick Wiseman at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the aptly titled HIGH SCHOOL transcends standard fare by inadvertently offering a daring (editing provides a themed narrative) look into the flaws and pitfalls of government schools, also known as public schools, through a time portal of crisply preserved sound and video quality.  Chosen in 1991 for preservation by the National Film Registry, the film, which was indubitably controversial upon it’s release, is perhaps even more so today in light of the US education system being so hotly contested state-to-state, nationally. Certainly student behavior was superior decades ago, but do we really want schools to go back to the way they used to be, or are we not seeing the real, objective challenges for everyone involved mouthing their opinions?  A beautiful piece of work as inspired as it is a slice of life, some viewers may be left wanting more (an established, not implied, context for starters), but to deny the power and poise here would be elementary.

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