Man on Wire


Director: James Marsh (2008)

Country: United States

Duration: 94 minutes



“I saw Philippe up there. It was extraordinary and so, so beautiful!”

Nowadays, most of us associate the Twin Towers with an act of unspeakable horror, memories of staring in utter disbelief at the fate of the buildings, as each met a catastrophic end in 2001.
27 years earlier, in 1974, when the sibling steel and glass behemoths stood tall and proud, a completely different type of spectacle was performed upon them: a young French trapeze artist, Philippe Petit. had walked on a thin metal wire between the towers, balancing 1 368 feet in the sky.
“Why?” everyone asked him.
“There is no why.” he replied.
Indeed such a remarkable piece of daring requires no further explanation. It is merely a wonder to behold.
Like its protagonist, Philippe Petit, the documentary Man on Wire (2008) is a graceful and mischievous telling of how Petit and his fellow accomplices conspired and executed his walk on the wire, without the permission or knowledge of the Twin Tower authorities.
The film perfectly balances poetic observations with humorous re-enactments, so that the audience gets a good feel for the joyful, artistic personality of Petit.
It doesn’t try too hard to be profound. That is achieved effortlessly with simple shots of Petit on the wire, taken from good archival footage. He is also used to energetically narrate the story of the adventure, alongside vivid interviews with his former co-conspirators, all of whom still speak of it with such deep feeling, as if it had taken place only yesterday.
What they achieved on that day was incredible. They showed, on a cloudy, nondescript morning in New York City, the true heights to which the human spirit can scale. 

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