Critique de film
Ex Libris - The New-York public library

Après son précédent film, In Jackson Heights (2016), Frederick Wiseman revient à New York et resserre encore plus son regard pour autopsier une institution colossale : la New York Public Library qui se décline en plusieurs lieux, de Manhattan au Bronx. La gentrification, cette exclusion sociale, était au cœur de In Jackson Heights ; ici, il est toujours question des thèmes chers au documentariste (la religion, la science, l’art), mais avec une verve résolument optimiste, civique et salvatrice.

« The most dangerous thing in America ? A nigger with a library card. » Cette phrase brûlante et pertinente vient de The Wire (David Simon, 2002-2008), mais elle pourrait très bien s’appliquer au documentaire. Bien qu’il ait été tourné avant l’investiture de Donald Trump, Ex Libris : The New York Public Library possède une dimension politique et résonne aujourd’hui comme un très bel acte de résistance, d’humanité et de curiosité. La carte de bibliothèque serait l’arme la plus puissante dans une démocratie contemporaine mise à mal. Wiseman capte un tissu social délicatement observé, la bibliothèque est le seul espace où personne ne se retrouve exclu et où tout le monde est égal. Le récit s’étire sur plus de trois heures et laisse le temps à la parole, donne de l’importance à tout le monde pour faire fonctionner concrètement le concept démocratique.

Le dispositif de Wiseman est bien rodé. Depuis plus de quarante films, le documentariste tente de répondre modestement à cette question : comment fonctionne un lieu ? Une station de ski dans Aspen (1991), une galerie d’art londonienne dans National Gallery (2014) ou l’Opéra Garnier dans La Danse (2009). Malgré ce que dit le documentariste de 87 ans, la bibliothèque et les livres sont des motifs foncièrement cinématographiques, qui symbolisent une pause narrative pour le héros en quête de réponses ou de liant vers le merveilleux. Le film serait ainsi une gigantesque parenthèse dévouée au savoir et à la connaissance. Comme dans Le Jour d’après (Roland Emmerich, 2004), la bibliothèque new-yorkaise serait le refuge idéal. Ce n’est pas tant son architecture inébranlable ou sa majesté qui intéresse Wiseman, mais plutôt les petits riens qui la font vivre, palpiter. Dans ses premières minutes, le film répond à une question-fantasme : que font les gens devant les ordinateurs ? Quels documents emportent-ils chez eux ? La surprise, c’est que la bibliothèque n’est pas un espace silencieux qui stocke des livres, mais plutôt un monde qui grouille et bouillonne de toute sorte de curiosités, parfois bruyant et même gracieux. Le cinéaste filme avant tout des rencontres, des ateliers, tout ce qui est mis en œuvre pour aider, hisser la population. Ainsi, on est témoin, à hauteur d’homme, d’un concert de piano, d’une aide à la lecture dédiée aux aveugles, ou d’une conférence avec Patti Smith.


L’argent a toujours été un moteur complexe à la bonne mise en exécution de projets, comme c’est le cas dans At Berkeley (2013), quitte à sacrifier des pans entiers du savoir pour la prestigieuse université américaine. Ici, la volonté des équipes semble plus significative que les fonds publics et privés reçus, ils ne sont pas une fin en soi mais un moyen pour achever des projets.

Le "fil rouge" narratif aussi pose des questions cinématographiques. Que va-t-il rester du savoir ? Comment va-t-il se mouvoir ? De nombreuses discussions sont liées au bouleversement numérique. Les équipes mettent au point un travail conséquent pour la population new-yorkaise défavorisée qui ne peut accéder au wifi depuis chez elle. Le comité leur fournit des boîtiers numériques pour alors introduire et déplacer un bout de bibliothèque, de savoir, dans les foyers. La bibliothèque pourrait alors être une matière qui s’étend comme une toile, qui grossit et rayonne. Il y a d’ailleurs ce sentiment de propagation dans le documentaire, la caméra se balade dans les différents pôles, les étages et alterne protection de la mémoire du monde avec l’environnement archivistique, et aide immédiate à l’insertion professionnelle. Il faut prendre soin du passé, mais aussi du futur. Le montage passe d’un lieu à un autre, refusant d’être statique. Au contraire, la pluralité des espaces et des disciplines enseignées donne au film une aura d’intelligence constante. Ample et lumineux.

Réalisateur : Frederick Wiseman

Acteurs : (Indisponible)

Durée : 3h17

Date de sortie FR : 01-11-2017
Date de sortie BE : (date indisponible)
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Hellen
19 Mars 2018 à 18h52

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Critique mise en ligne le 10 Novembre 2017

AUTEUR
William Le Personnic
[31] articles publiés

Amoureux du cinéma et de l’art pour mieux comprendre le monde, veilleur et archiviste de l’image, c...
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