It was German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck who said, “There are two things you don’t want to see being made: sausage and legislation.” Having examined the former in landmark 1976 docu “Meat,” cinema verite dean Frederick Wiseman now explores the latter in “State Legislature.” Proving the statesman wrong, the pic reps a dependably pro addition to the helmer’s canon, and will follow the fest, public TV and ancillary path of his 33 previous examinations of social institutions and the average Americans working within them.
During the 2004 session of the Idaho legislature, Wiseman and longtime lenser John Davey observed the minutiae of lawmaking in Boise’s state capitol. Chief concerns for this rural, beautiful Western state include environment and lifestyle: Some two dozen bills wrangled over courteously and, in great detail, focus on water policy, smoking in public places and relationship between church and state. While the pic does nothing to change the idea that politicians love to hear themselves talk, what emerges is the thoroughness with which the system treats even the most contentious of issues and eccentric of constituents. Crisp package showcases the intimate, nearly extinct art of 16mm lensing.