Legendary Documentarian Albert Maysles Dies at 88

March 6, 2015


Albert Maysles--the filmmaker who, with his late brother David, became a legend of cinéma vérité documentaries--has died. The Maysles Center has reportedly confirmed that the 88-year-old passed away of natural causes on Thursday.

The Maysles brothers were pioneers in what's often dubbed "fly-on-the-wall" directing--but the two preferred neither that term nor the word "director." Explaining his technique, Albert said, "as a documentarian you are an observer, an author but not a director, a discoverer, not a controller." He added that simply being a "fly-on-the-wall" would be "mindless."

"As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality," Maysles said, speaking of the purpose of his craft. "It is my caretaker, the provider of subjects, themes, experiences--all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery. And the closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. After all, knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It's my way of making the world a better place."

With that mindset, Maysles and his brother created such iconic, influential films as Gimme Shelter, Salesman, Grey Gardens, and When We Were Kings. His final film, In Transit, a collaborative documentary about passengers aboard Amtrak's busiest long-distance train route in America, will be in competition at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

May he forever unobtrusively watch over us from the great beyond.

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