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Meeting and working with Orson Welles and Jean-Luc Godard


My inspiration for In Transit
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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For my train film, what I planned to do is to go to Paris to the famous Gare de Lyon- the train station where the trains leave for the South to Lyon and further on- and I wanna go there because it's a big train station with a number of platforms. And there's a beautiful view of all the trains coming and going, people arriving and people saying goodbye. There's a view from the restaurant above it- this is the famous Blue Train Restaurant- and I want to sit in that restaurant, look through the window onto the view of the platforms and the trains and the people, and, and shoot a continuous shot that'll go the full length of the first movement of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony. That music gives one the feeling of life and death; of the whole story of humankind, if you will. At least, as I feel that it does. And people who comment likewise. With that music and that view I want to start the film. And then when I roam through the trains in different countries and find people- where there's a story that takes place when they get off the train, I want those stories to be so spontaneous and so powerful, so entertaining as engagements, that- or, as I like to put it- and I haven't gotten this kind of story yet but I will, I'm sure, I'd like to put it that somebody like Borges or Tolstoy, if given the opportunity to see that story on film, would put down his pen or pencil and say- yeah, that's what I should be doing. And the curious thing is, and what makes it such an ambitious program for myself, is that we have all heard so many times of people who've produced films based on a book and the comment almost always has been- well, the movie was good but the book was so much better. I want to reverse that, so that people, when they see these short stories, will say- my God, I've read short stories but nothing as powerful as that. And something that I experienced on one of my research trips that I think would be such a powerful story was an experience that I had in Indiana, I believe, when, as I looked out the window onto the platform in the train station I saw a group of three people. There was what appeared to be a couple and a third person, a woman, and they seemed to be quite happy. I don't know what it was that made them so happy because I couldn't hear what they were saying, of course, as I sat looking through the window. But as the train pulled out I took my walk through the train and that third person I saw sitting alone, and crying, and I asked if I could join her. And she very much welcomed me. And as she continued to cry her first words were: I still can't make up my mind; which led me to be quite curious as to what was going on. And she proceeded to tell me- you know, she said, it's so difficult when you're married to a man, as many women are, who keeps changing jobs, and sometimes that means leaving friends behind and moving on to another town. Well, I'm on the train to meet up with my husband who, some three hours from now on the train, where he'll be at this town, where he's putting the final touches on a house that we're moving into. And then she went back to crying again and saying- but I still can't make up my mind, she said- because the couple that I left behind, our best friends, he's the one that I really love. Well, it's hard to put together a story like that, that you imagine- It's hard to imagine such a story. But if you did it, it would be very hard to put it forth as convincingly as what I witnessed where that woman, who went through it all, told me all about it.

Albert Maysles (1926-2015) known for his important documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, pioneered the documentary style known as Direct Cinema. He helped create techniques still widely used in modern documentary production, as well as many of the techniques used in reality TV.

Listeners: Sara Maysles Rebekah Maysles Tamara Tracz

Sara Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is currently doing her BA in East Asian Studies at Columbia University, and working as an Archivist of the photographs and photographic material at Maysles Films Inc., Albert‚s film production company. She spent ten months out of two years working with Tibetan refugees at a center in Nepal, and continues to travel back and forth between America and Asia.

Rebekah Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is an artist living between New York and Philadelphia. She has her own line of clothing, Blackberryrose, and co-runs the store Sodafine in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, a vintage and handmade store that sells clothing, books and other products made by artists.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Paris, Gare de Lyon, Lyon, Blue Train Restaurant, Resurrection Symphony, IndianaIn Transit, Gustav Mahler, Jorge Luis Borges, Leo Tolstoy

Duration: 5 minutes, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008