David & Albert Maysles
Review by Rumsey Taylor
Posted on 10 July 2004
Source Plexifilm DVD
Features: 5 Films About Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Reviews: Running Fence
Reviews: Christo in Paris
The opening scenes of the Maysles’ brief Christo’s Valley Curtain display Christo fashioning elaborate charcoal drawings and collages. As a preliminary step in each of his projects — which he calls the “software” — Christo fashions these large-scale drawings, and sells them to finance the future project — the “hardware.” This is intercut with the day of the curtain’s unveiling in Rifle, Colorado.
The curtain is a gigantic, fluorescent orange fabric strewn between a pair of accessible mountains. It is anchored via extensive cabling, and requires the efforts of an entire construction crew to be built. This film details the final two days of the curtain’s assembly.
This is perhaps the most lauded of the Maysles’ Christo films (it resulted in their sole Oscar nomination, for Documentary Short Subject), and it is also their briefest. Excluded here are the months of preparation and lobbying, both of which are inevitable hindrances Christo encounters. Nonetheless, Valley Curtain is fascinating as a summary of the Maysles’ subsequent films about Christo.