Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christo's Valley Curtain (1974)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Documentary, Short Subjects - Albert Maysles and David Maysles

"Christo's Valley Curtain" represents the partnership of two teams of legends: brothers Albert and David Maysles, the legendary and groundbreaking documentary filmmakers, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the completely unique married visual artists.  This documentary short portrays Christo and Jeanne-Claude's efforts to hang a 400-meter long orange fabric across Rifle Gap, a valley in the Rocky Mountains.  The project required enormous amounts of materials, many hours of manpower, and, as is demonstrated in the documentary, stores of resourcefulness from Christo, Jeanne-Claude, and their team.

While I love the Valley Curtain project and find much of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work to be quite wonderful, I wasn't terribly impressed with the Maysles Brothers film.  Just because the story is a great one, if the story isn't told well it doesn't matter how good the tale is (see my previous review of "The Flight of the Gossamer Condor").  The Maysles Brothers cinema verite style, in which there is no narration and the filmmakers attempt to be "flys on the wall" as much as possible, can often feel disengaged, and with little discussion of what the people involved were feeling or even trying to accomplish, we're presented with what appears to be little more than a documentation of technical challenges, hardly thrilling or even interesting.

When the Valley Curtain is finally revealed toward the end of the film, it's hard not to be impressed, and I'm glad we have documentation of this project, especially considering the temporary nature of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects.  Still, this moment is all too brief, and despite some amazing shots of the curtain (my favorite show the golfers casually putting in front of the bright orange banner), there's just not enough story or emotion in this film.

Thanks to the generous uploading of the film by a YouTube member, you can watch "Christo's Valley Curtain" in the video files posted above.

Remaining: 3122 films, 857 Oscars, 5345 nominations

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