Nominated for an Academy Award in 1978, RUNNING FENCE depicts the long struggle by the artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, to build a 24 mile fence of white fabric over the hills of California disappearing into the Pacific. Cost: 3 million dollars. The idea at first must seem the limit of absurdity for the fence was taken down as planned at the end of two weeks and now exists solely on film. There is a struggle between the artists and the state bureaucracy, who want to prevent the fence being erected, even though the ranchers whose land it crosses want it. Opposition seems insurmountable.
The fence finally unfurled brings the community together in celebration of its beauty. After four years of work, Christo sees the vision realized. “See how it describes the wind.”
“By far the finest film I have seen about an artist and his work. Technically brilliant, beautifully paced, with not an image wasted or held too long, the film somehow makes it possible for the viewer to become involved at a deep and personal level with the whole mad, marvelous epic. Valley Curtain is never didactic; it neither explains nor describes, and this is its great strength. On its own terms the film is as novel, as surprising, as hilarious, and in the end as beautiful as the work of art with which it deals. –Calvin Tomkins, THE NEW YORKER
“Running Fence picks up where Gimme Shelter left off. Gimme Shelter, the Maysles Brothers (with Charlotte Zwerin) Altamont film, dealt with the breakdown of community, the exhaustion of the youth culture of the 60’s; Runing Fence, their new movie, in a sense deals with the survival of community, the way in which people discover the meaning of integrity and integration through a creative act.” — Robert Taylor, THE BOSTON GLOBE