January 8, 2009

#007: Man On Wire

This post will be dedicated to a 2008 documentary known as Man On Wire. This film tells the story of the French street performer Philippe Petit's greatest achievement. Philippe's main passion was wire-walking, and he thought of it as artwork. While he was walking on the wire he was creating art, just as a sculptor creates art when he carves a stone. The main focus of this film is showing us how he created his masterpiece. His masterpiece being how he illegally broke in to the world trade center, strung a wire between the two towers at the very top, and then walked across that wire... numerous times. To me, just thinking about this seems unreal. I have never heard this story mentioned before. It did happen in August of 1974, exactly 8 years before I appeared on this earth. Still, I would think that I would have at least heard about this happening. The story is great, and the pictures and video they have are breathtaking. Even now, as I sit at my computer, when think back to the photos of him out on the wire my stomach turns. I am afraid of heights, and seeing him balancing on a cable suspended a quarter mile off the ground just blows my mind. Needless to say, I feel that this documentary is definitely worth watching. 
Like most any documentary, it is slow at times. They describe in detail how Philippe and his team were able to plan and execute such a feat. Even though I knew he actually accomplished his goal, and lived through it, I still felt this tension as he talked about it. I felt scared for him, and worried about him falling to his death.
Another reason why I liked this movie is because they didn't even mention 9/11 once. You can't help but think of the eventual fate of those towers as they show them being constructed in the 70's. The filmmakers didn't need to include anything to remind us of what happened, it was already there when you looked at the pictures of the New York skyline when Philippe first came into town. I am glad they focused on what the movie was about, and didn't try to include some social commentary along the way. If you hate watching documentaries, then don't watch this, you probably won't like it either. However, if you have an extra 90 minutes, this film tells a pretty good story that I had never heard before.

3 stars for this interesting documentary.


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