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Man from BEFORE I LEAVE, by Albert Maysles
Arts and Culture:
Filmmaker Albert Maysles
More on This Story:
Direct Cinema Clips

NOW asked Al Maysles to make a short film on any topic he wanted. So he picked up his latest camera and created BEFORE I LEAVE. Experience a bit of that special film, and clips from two earlier Maysles masterpieces below.


    Albert Maysles asked a variety of people how they wanted to be remembered — what legacy they wanted to leave...before they go for good.

    "It came from the heart too because I've always wanted to leave a message to my family and I never got quite around to that. And then I had this opportunity to get other people to leave their messages...It's an idea that I've had a long time — with myself — that I would sit down some day with a tape recorder and record a message for my family. And so then I thought, 'Well, why don't I do that with a number of ordinary people.' Because I have to believe that...more attention should be paid to them. And they've got some things to say to others and to us as viewers." --Albert Maysles

  • SALESMAN (1968)

    This real-life counterpart to GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS follows four Boston bible hawkers as they struggle to stay afloat in the cutthroat world of door-to-door sales. Pouring out their hackneyed spiel to bored housewives, widows, immigrants, and distracted blue-collar workers, they wheedle, connive, and cajole their way toward the Holy Grail. But as the pressure of the job bears down, one of the salesmen begins to crack, exposing the dark and lonely underside of the American Dream. SALESMAN was one of the first nonfiction films to bring to the portrayal of the lives of ordinary people the depth of a great literary work, and in 1992 it was honored by the Library of Congress as one of the 25 best American films ever made.

    View another clip from SALESMAN (2:07)

  • Little Edie from GREY GARDENS
  • GREY GARDENS (1976)

    In the mid-1970s, the Maysles brothers began filming the daily lives of a reclusive mother and daughter living in a decaying mansion on Long Island. What emerged was the portrait of a powerful and complex relationship of love, dependence, and resentment between two strong willed and rather eccentric women, each determined to tell her story. The film elicited strong responses, from those who hailed it as a masterpiece of direct cinema filmmaking to those who skewered the Maysles for allegedly exploiting two women who did not have the mental capacity to know what they were getting into. What made the film even more sensational was the fact that the women, Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter "Little Edie," were the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

    View another clip from GREY GARDENS (1:20)

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