This is the story of the quest of the artist Christo to wrap the famous Pont Neuf in France in fabric. It took Christo and his wife ten years to get permission from the Parisian government,...
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This is the story of the quest of the artist Christo to wrap the famous Pont Neuf in France in fabric. It took Christo and his wife ten years to get permission from the Parisian government, and the project created a storm of dialogue throughout Paris.Written by
Martin Lewison <MLewison@utk.edu>
This film makes you ask, Why do this? What does Christo get out of this form of art? Essentially the film is a journey to create art, but it's mostly the journey to get permission for it -- we do see the Pont-Neuf being wrapped, and we see it wrapped in all its splendor (though not the dismantling), but the majority of the film is the various detours that Christo and his wife (who looks like Illeanna Douglas) have to take being allowed by the government to create their unconventional art. (What's just as interesting is the love between the smiling Christo and his wife, who knew in marrying him that he would give her a fascinating life.) We see how even Christo's art, which is not political in any real way, is still dangerous to the politicians that allow it -- Jacques Chirac, the major of Paris, says he will only allow it once the '83 elections are over.
The documentary captures street bystanders so we understand the reaction of the citizens to the wrap -- some find Christo abnormal, others defend him as transforming a famous landmark temporarily (all of Christo's wraps are ephemeral -- here the memory exists in the mind's of those that see it, as well as this film). One observer very astutely notes to one man telling him why he is vehemently objected to the wrap that "if the bridge weren't wrapped, we'd never have spoken to each other." The wrap itself does have its clear aesthetic qualities -- much like wrapping someone's face in clay, it takes away the definition but reveals a broader sense of the overall construction of the face. It's more of a curio than a triumphant masterpiece of art; I think the conceptual aspect of it is most interesting, specifically the fact that it is temporary -- and being such, it is not art that could ever exist for monetary gain.
The Maysles film itself is a very good document of the experience of the bridge, even more so because if it didn't exist, the film, there'd be no way for we Westerners to experience it at all, with the exception of flying to Paris. The music employed in the film is especially good at emphasizing the experience of the bridge. It's a hard film to track down, and I found it in my university library, a copy taped off of the CBC, hosted by Adrienne Clarkson. 8/10
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