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By Joe McElhaney

Albert Maysles has created probably the most influential documentaries of the postwar interval. Such movies as Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens proceed to generate severe debate concerning the ethics and aesthetics of the documentary shape. during this in-depth research, Joe McElhaney bargains a unique knowing of the ancient relevance of Maysles. through heavily concentrating on Maysles's expressive use of his digicam, relatively on the subject of the filming of the human determine, this ebook situates Maysles's motion pictures inside of not just documentary movie heritage yet movie heritage as a rule, arguing for his or her broad-ranging value to either narrative movie and documentary cinema. entire with a fascinating interview with Maysles and a close comparability of the variation releases of his documentary at the Beatles (What's taking place: The Beatles within the U.S.A. and The Beatles: the 1st U.S. Visit), this paintings is a pivotal research of an important filmmaker.

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Indd 16 Albert Maysles 1/12/09 4:05:30 PM these films (especially Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens) are relatively “open” texts. While their meaning is not infinite, the diverse range of responses highlights the need for careful attention to the formal structure of the films and to the nature of their reception over the years, especially as the reception of some of them has shifted over time. Maysles films, like virtually all films that emerge out of the direct-cinema tradition, partake of what one may loosely term a liberal humanist viewpoint: a belief in the ultimate solidarity of cultures, races, and classes; an investment in the notion of spontaneity and freedom; and a skepticism toward the value of overly organized and systematic belief systems, including those of politics, labor, and organized religion.

Theoretically, in the purest type of direct cinema, as in so-called classical narrative cinema, the traces of authorial inscription are least apparent—films that appear to present unmediated access to the world and in which the filmmaker does not overtly intervene in the filming process. Maysles has expressed discomfort with the very word director “because I don’t feel that the way I shoot that I’m directing anything” (Haleff 21). He thus refuses (at least officially) the conventional role of the controlling metteur-en-scène while insisting on the ability of the camera and microphone to record spontaneous events.

Classical cinema often depends upon a perpetual opening up and closing down of spaces and worlds: The opening of a book as a visual metaphor for the opening of a film is a cliché of Hollywood, particularly if the film is adapted from a well-known literary source. ” And the door is one of the most persistent tropes of classical cinema, portentously marking the passage from one space to another. ) future. But there is no attempt at character development or metaphoric use of space in Showman or Meet Marlon Brando.

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