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Man On Wire-Movie Review 09/09/2010

Posted by Films to consider in British, Documentary, French language film, Movies.

Man On Wire (British/French) 2008

Winner, Jury Prize and Audience Award for World Documentary, Sundance Film Festival

Based on Phillipe Petit’s autobiographical book, To Reach the Clouds.
Directed by James Marsh.

The film’s title refers to the police report filed when Phillipe Petit, a charismatic and amazingly agile young Frenchman, crossed between the tops of the two World Trade Center towers in the early hours of August 7, 1974.

There might be those for whom this film is too difficult to watch, considering the events to come, but the feat stands as part of the history of the structures. The towers beckoned to Petit, and he (as he makes convincingly clear) could not help but respond.

The story is astonishing – not just the daring and unbelievable feat itself, but how it happened. Nothing about the plan seemed very organized, especially considering the possible outcome.

The documentary is narrated mostly by Petit and interspersed with present-day reactions from those who helped him. Petit liked to be in the limelight, and there is much original footage shot by one of his small and motley crew. As a result, viewers get an up-close look at the crossing. Petit spent nearly one hour up on that wire. And he wasn’t just walking back and forth. Incroyable!

Footage of previous highwire crossings and street performances reveal a good deal about Petit’s personality. The very short children’s animation in the Special Features gives a clearer picture of what he and his assistants were actually trying to accomplish during their preparations; this sometimes gets a little murky in the main film.

94 min. Rated PG-13.

For more about Petit’s book:
To Reach the Clouds

For a children’s book about Phillipe Petit by Mordicai Gerstein:
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers



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