Dirs: Albert Maysles, Antonio Ferrera. US. 2007. 100mins.
The Gates takes its name from the 2005 project in which the artists Christo and Jean-Claude lined the paths of Central Park in Manhattan with orange portals draped with orange fabric. The event, which drew thousands of tourists to the park in February of that year, is ably filmed by the artists' friend and collaborator, Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens).

There are some wonderful cinematic moments in the documentary, which spends far too much time heroising the pair as they battle officials and critics who are made to seem dense and uncomprehending.

Despite the huge popularity of the Gates when it was in place - and the popularity of the drawings and photos of the project, which earn the artists their livelihood - the natural home for this film is cable television, for which its audience should be strong around the world. As the latest instalment of Maysles's 30-year Christo chronicle, it is sure to have strong home video demand.

The Gates begins, appropriately, with a press conference from 1979, when wrap-artist Christo and his then-uncredited wife, Jeanne-Claude, first proposed creative 'rivers' of gates in Central Park.

At the time, the gates were to have been dug into the ground, and were rejected by the Parks Department as a dangerous intrusion into the park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1858. The artists were allowed to construct a modified version of that project with more than 7,000 gates in 2005 thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gets plenty of screen time.

The film includes footage of the failed campaign in the 1980s - some of it shot by Albert Maysles' late brother, David - as it follows the Christos to meeting after meeting, then watches them organise construction of the Gates like a military campaign.

Critics, and there are many, view the Christos as hucksters of expensive branded outdoor entertainment. Yet The Gates is more of a Christo infomercial than an investigative documentary. If you're looking for the politics behind the decision to permit The Gates, or seeking more than the public face of the fierce Christo campaign to build it, look elsewhere.

Yet Albert Maysles is a gifted movie-maker and still photographer, and his co-director, Antonio Ferrera, brings a dreaminess to images of the park with enraptured New Yorkers filing through it in winter.

Maysles' job here was to applaud the Christos and document the park festooned in orange, yet certain views of its trees covered with snow or dripping with rain are as elegantly composed as the best landscape photography today. You find yourself thinking that it's a pity the orange drapery got in the way so much of the time.

Production companies/backers
Maysles Films

International sales
Maysles Films

US distribution

Antonio Ferrera
Maureen A Ryan

Executive Producer
Albert Maysles

Antonio Ferrera
Albert Maysles

Matthew Prinzing