Daybreak Express / D.A. Pennebaker / 1953

Daybreak Express / D.A. Pennebaker / 1953


Footnotes

I wanted to make a film about this filthy, noisy train and it’s packed-in passengers that would look beautiful, like John Sloan’s New York City paintings, and I wanted it to go with my Duke Ellington record “Daybreak Express.” ➡︎

I feel in debt to Ellington and instinctively to all musicians. They taught me my art. The very nature of film is musical, because it uses time as a basis for its energy. It needs to go from here to there, whereas pictures and paintings are just there. With movies, you're putting something together that's not going to be totally comprehensible until the end. It's the concept of the novel and the sonnet — you need to get to the end, to see if you like it and decide what it's about. With stills, there's always the same instant, frozen and beguiling, but lifeless. A single note. With film, the moment doesn't hold — it rushes by, and you must deal with it like you do music and real life. ➡︎

Daybreak Express established a way of working for Pennebaker: no talking-head interviews, thrusting the viewer into the middle of the action, letting the movie be an experience. “Really, I’m trying to be Ibsen,” he admitted in 2007. “That’s my secret hope: that I could somehow turn into Ibsen. There are things happening all the time to real people. You don’t have to enact them or write them. I’m trying to make a play, not an educational device." ➡︎


Extras

 Pigeons / John Sloan / 1910

 Sixth Avenue Elevated at Third Street / John Sloan / 1928

 Third Avenue El. NYC. / Esther Bubley / c. 1951

◼︎ Daybreak Express / Anna Daly / Senses of Cinema / 2006


Sources

Daybreak Express / Pennebaker Hegedus Films

◼︎ Q&A: D.A. Pennebaker (Part I) / Stop Smiling / 2006

◼︎ The Greats: D.A. Pennebaker / Tim Grierson / Paste / 2014


NY, NY: A Day In New York / Francis Thompson / 1957

NY, NY: A Day In New York / Francis Thompson / 1957

Absteigend / Evan Caminiti / Paul Clipson / 2012

Absteigend / Evan Caminiti / Paul Clipson / 2012