How D.A. Pennebaker Changed the Art of Documentary Filmmaking

How D.A. Pennebaker Changed the Art of Documentary Filmmaking
Robert Greene is a documentary filmmaker whose credits include the Sundance-acclaimed “Bisbee ‘17” and “Kate Plays Christine.” He teaches at the Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The first word that comes to mind while watching D.A. Pennebaker’s 1953 debut film “Daybreak Express” is love – love of light, love of movement, love of music, love of ideas. In five wildly inventive minutes, the great filmmaker, who died earlier this week in his home at the age of 94, uses various cinematic techniques to capture and recreate the rush of a New York City subway commute. Edited to an exuberant score by Duke Ellington, “Daybreak Express” was part of a groundbreaking group of films that revealed the abstract and musical potential of the observational camera. It was created by a man who loved the act of making things and loved pushing the documentary form forward.

A few years later,
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