Five Films about Christo & Jeanne-Claude: A Maysles Films Production


An Academy Award-nominated film, Christo's Valley Curtain follows the construction of the artist's grand idea, a drape hung between two Colorado mountains. Known for surrounding a Florida island in pink and covering Berlin's Reichstag in silver fabric, Javacheff Christo set his sights in 1972 on the Rifle Gap in the American Southwest. Using nine tons of orange nylon, the project took ironworkers by surprise. As they helped to hang the wind-blown curtain over a quarter mile, they slowly fell for the unusual ...
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An Academy Award-nominated film, Christo's Valley Curtain follows the construction of the artist's grand idea, a drape hung between two Colorado mountains. Known for surrounding a Florida island in pink and covering Berlin's Reichstag in silver fabric, Javacheff Christo set his sights in 1972 on the Rifle Gap in the American Southwest. Using nine tons of orange nylon, the project took ironworkers by surprise. As they helped to hang the wind-blown curtain over a quarter mile, they slowly fell for the unusual artist. The Maysles brothers document the gradual acceptance of the extraordinary by the everyday. Sarah Ing

When Christo set out to erect a fabric fence across 24 miles of California ranch land -- seen in Running Fence -- he encountered massive resistance from landowners and bureaucrats alike, in addition to conservationists who thought he would harm the landscape. Permission was eventually obtained from the California Coastal Commission, among other county, state, and federal agencies. The fence extended across the rolling hills of northern California to the Pacific Ocean, and provided what Christo referred to as "an obstructive membrane" that he hoped would change the public's perception of the land. Alice Day

Christo's Islands records artist Christo's major wrapping projects and is one means for him to gain both recognition (which he has in ample measure) and funding. All of his enormously large-scale wrappings -- including those of buildings, trees, the Pont Neuf in France, and the hanging of a cloth fence for 24 miles along the California coastline -- involve almost as much labor as an architectural construction and are funded by himself and his wife Jeanne-Claude. His wrapping of the Berlin Reichstag took 17 years to complete. Featured here is his transformation of several islands off the coast of Florida into grandiose pink water lilies floating on a deep blue sea. But Christo does not just walk up with a full crew and machinery in hand and get to work. As shown here, his confrontations with august city fathers from Berlin, Paris, and Miami further illustrate the classic, head-on clashes between art and a pragmatic bureaucracy that can either nip a project in the bud or promote it. Eleanor Mannikka

The works of Christo have usually met resistance whenever he has attempted his large-scale projects. Due to their unconventional nature, communities have not been totally accepting of his ideas. However, the results have generally been favorable once the projects are completed, and the public sees the effect of the work. Christo in Paris gives viewers a chance to judge for themselves, presenting the Pont Neuf project from its planning stages to the final wrapping in September of 1985. The Pont Neuf bridge was enveloped in a woven fabric, including all 12 arches, the sidewalks, and street lamps, while traffic continued to flow. Alice Day

One of the latest efforts of famed outdoor avant-garde artist Christo is chronicled in 1994's Christo's Umbrellas. Christo's 1991 project, on which he and his wife Jeanne-Claude spent $26 million, was to erect over 31,000 20-foot high umbrellas along certain Japanese and California valleys. They were to remain in place for two weeks. Nature did not cooperate and people on both sides of the Pacific died for Christo's artistic vision. The film follows the birth of the project through its problematic execution. The relationship between Christo and Jeanne-Claude is also observed. Sandra Brennan

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Special Features

Interview: video interview with Christo, Jeanne-Claude and Albert Maysles (December 2003); Feature commentaries: commentaries with Christo, Jeanne-Claude and Albert Maysles on all five films ; Deluxe booklet: 82-page booklet with essays, project histories and exclusive photos
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Bill Pearis
The world could use more people like Christo and Jeanne-Claude, artists whose apparently simple ideas usually translate into work of immense scope and impact. Using the earth's topography -- occasionally manmade landmarks -- and a variety of fabrics, he challenges popular perceptions of the world. Through the latter half of the 20th century, their projects included wrapping a Parisian bridge in silky gauze; stretching a bright orange curtain between two mountains in Colorado; erecting an undulating, 40-kilometer-long fabric fence in California; surrounding small islands off the coast of Miami with woven pink polypropylene; and opening 3,100 giant umbrellas simultaneously in California and Japan. The husband-and-wife team retain complete creative control over these very expensive works because they finance them themselves, selling copies of the plans and other artwork. Acclaimed filmmakers Albert and David Maysles have documented the long and arduous process of bringing five of these projects to fruition, and the films are included in this wonderful box set. In each documentary, Christo and Jeanne-Claude initially meet resistance: In Valley Curtain and Running Fence, it comes from skeptical landowners whose property is needed for the project; in Christo in Paris and Islands, from jaded politicians who can't get it through their heads that Christo isn't, somehow, getting filthy rich from his art; and from nature itself in Umbrellas, with tragic consequences. In most cases, the couple's spirit and grand vision win out, and the reactions to his finished works captured in these documentaries are truly inspiring. Also included in this set is an entertaining 2004 interview with Christo, Jeanne-Claude, and Albert Maysles (David died in 1987) in which they discuss their 40-year friendship as well as the upcoming project The Gates in New York City's Central Park.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/27/2004
  • UPC: 082354001728
  • Rating:

  • Source: Plexifilm
  • Region Code: 0
  • Time: 4:42:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Technical Credits
Albert Maysles Director
David Maysles Director
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Christo's Valley Curtain/Running Fence
1. Preparation [9:13]
2. Setbacks [8:13]
3. Execution [3:57]
4. Reactions [4:06]
5. Credits [:24]
1. Conception [3:48]
2. Opposition [6:29]
3. Gaining Permission [7:43]
4. Construction [8:41]
5. Grand Opening [9:05]
6. Racing Against the Clock [11:24]
7. Realization [7:33]
8. Credits [2:14]
Side #2 -- Islands/Christo in Paris
1. Prospects [7:26]
2. Rejections [4:51]
3. Reconsiderations [5:35]
4. Other Projects [13:05]
5. Significant Flow Back [3:25]
6. Surrounding the Islands [12:38]
7. Completion [7:10]
8. Credits [1:18]
1. Inspiration [7:40]
2. Discussions [4:47]
3. Portraits [9:40]
4. Convincing the People [7:47]
5. Politics [4:41]
6. Transformation [7:26]
7. Reflections [14:02]
8. Credits [1:45]
Side #3 -- Umbrellas/Interview
1. Introduction [7:12]
2. A Joint Project [9:40]
3. The Waiting Game [7:52]
4. First Opening [10:26]
5. Snapshots of the East [6:22]
6. Second Opening [6:19]
7. Heavy Winds [12:34]
8. Snapshots of the West [10:57]
9. Tragedy [6:38]
10. Credits [2:35]
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Side #1 -- Christo's Valley Curtain/Running Fence
   Christo's Valley Curtain: Play
   Christo's Valley Curtain: Play With Commentary
   Christo's Valley Curtain: Chapters
   Running Fence: Play
   Running Fence: Play With Commentary
   Running Fence: Chapters
Side #2 -- Islands/Christo in Paris
   Islands: Play
   Islands: Play With Commentary
   Islands: Chapters
   Christo in Paris: Play
   Christo in Paris: Play With Commentary
   Christo in Paris: Chapters
Side #3 -- Umbrellas/Interview
   Umbrellas: Play
   Umbrellas: Play With Commentary
   Umbrellas: Chapters
   Interview: View Interview With Christo, Jeanne-Claude and Albert Maysles - Play
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