David & Albert Maysles
Review by Rumsey Taylor
Posted on 10 July 2004
Source Plexifilm DVD
Features: 5 Films About Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Reviews: Christo’s Valley Curtain
Reviews: Running Fence
Javacheff Christo emigrated from Bulgaria to Paris at 23. He would draw portraits and sell them for a meager living. He meets and marries Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, born on the same hour of the same day as he. She describes her first glimpse of Christo’s Paris studio as a smallish room filled, from top to bottom, with little packages. This film documents twenty years of their lives as artists, corresponding roughly with the tenure of preparation to wrap the Pont Neuf in Paris.
Christo’s works, by nature, elicit political, social, and economic stipulation. In preparation for the Pont Neuf project, Christo arranges a meeting with Paris mayor Jacques Chirac to gain permission. Chirac is intrigued with the project for its potential political influence, and promises his endorsement after his desired election the following year.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work is usually busy or panicked during the erection of one of their projects. During construction, the two work in tandem, usually connected via walkie-talkie, and both are rarely in the same place at the same time. This film observes them at a point of rare relaxation. (In this film, Jeanne-Claude does not have a lit cigarette in her hand at every moment.) It is likely the Maysles constructed Christo in Paris from leftover footage from other films (the aforementioned scene with Chirac is first seen in the Maysles’ Islands). The final, panicked hurry of work included in other films, Christo here recounts his past, his meeting with Jeanne-Claude, and discusses his other endeavors, including his ambition to wrap the Reichstag in Berlin, which he would complete in 1995.