“As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality. 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, the 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,” Albert Maysles wrote on his official website. And for over five decades, largely with his late brother David Maysles, he lived up to his modest goals. Sadly, Albert has passed away at the age of eighty-eight.
Curiously, Maysles actually taught psychology at Boston University before becoming a filmmaker, but perhaps it was that insight which allowed him and his brother to deliver such authentic portraits of musicians, artists, celebrities, and everyday people. Works like the intimate “Salesman,” rock doc “Gimme Shelter,” and the cult favorite “Grey Gardens” continue to resonate to this day, not just for their subject matter, but the unique approach which saw the filmmakers present their stories from surprising, and authentic perspectives. After his brother’s passing, Albert continued to work prolifically, and has been a key factor in establishing their legacy.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the genre of documentary filmmaking without the Maysles and their tremendous influence and passion. He will be greatly missed, but undoubtedly his work will go on. A newly restored “Grey Gardens” opens in limited release today. Check out a series of great talks from over the years, along with Maysles receiving the National Medal Of Arts from President Barack Obama earlier this year.