Five Films about Christo and Jeanne-Claude chronicles a 30-year collaboration between acclaimed documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Salesman, Grey Gardens), and the internationally renowned environmental artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The Maysles brothers along with such frequent co-filmmakers as Charlotte Zwerin and Susan Froemke, have captured the artists’ enduring relationship and the grandeur of their large scale temporary public works. The series of award-winning films stands as a permanent document of the process, the political drama, the emotional investment and the transforming effect the finished works have on all those who come in contact with them.
As David Maysles said, “Christo comes up with an idea that at first seems impossible, then lets it grow; so do we.” Albert Maysles agrees: “Both Christo’s projects and our films are outrageous acts of faith.”
After you’ve seen 5 Films About Christo & Jeanne-Claude, your appreciation for art and artists will be permanently enlightened. Spanning three decades of unique collaboration between controversial public-art creator Christo, his creative partner and wife Jeanne-Claude, and cinema verité pioneers David and Albert Maysles (Salesman, Grey Gardens, and many other award-winning films), this DVD set of five captivating, unscripted documentaries is a living chronicle of art as a public challenge, inviting the viewer to witness the creation and installation of temporary artworks that triumphantly illustrate (as noted by Salon.com essayist Charles Taylor) “the collision between art and everyday life.” Whether they are raising a massive “Valley Curtain” of vibrant orange nylon across a Colorado mountain range; a 24-mile “Running Fence” in Northern California; surrounding islands in Florida with gigantic rings of hot-pink fabric; or simultaneously erecting a total of 3,100 huge umbrellas across rolling landscapes in Japan and California, the Christos (who self-finance all of their expensive installations) are both deliriously self-indulgent and open-heartedly generous about their work and the impressive engineering that goes into creating it.
For these and other time-consuming but fleetingly visible endowments of beauty on an epic scale, the Maysles were there with camera and microphone, capturing the impact, controversy, humor, and ultimate glory of Christo’s wondrous vision. Accompanied by an engaging 2004 interview between Christo, Jeanne-Claude, and Albert Maysles (David died in 1987), and an 80-page booklet including Taylor’s excellent essay and detailed statistics on each of the featured projects, 5 Films is a timeless testament to Christo’s assertion that “all of our art is about freedom.” It comes as no surprise, then, that the experience of viewing these inspiring films is so joyously liberating. –Jeff Shannon