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A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."
When the irony is thick in a tale it usually leads to great storytelling that will be remembered for ages. And Man on Wire has a whole lot of irony!
Philippe Petit, the man who pulled off the high wire act of a lifetime is a man who's anything but small. If you are a documentary filmmaker, you wait a lifetime to find a subject like Petit. A man who could perhaps be the most larger than life human being ever captured on film. A man who loves life so much, he never asks the questions of how or why but just when, where and with who!
Walking a tight rope like Petit did took anything but walking a tight rope to accomplish the artistic crime of the 20th century. It took a lot of risk, chance and luck to get it done -- and most importantly having the WILL to do actually do it.
And pulling off this stunt of Petit performing the very individual high wire act took dozens of people just as passionate as Petit to get it done. You keep trying to figure out if Petit is one of the greatest motivators and leaders in history or if he has one of the sharpest eyes for people to help him accomplish his goals. Either way, this team of people who we meet in the film were the real reasons why Petit performed this task.
Man on Wire is an inspirational film. We follow Philippe Petit and his team on the journey of the Twin Towers high wire act from its inception to the aftereffects. This is the Rocky of documentary film. A man who's drive to accomplish his goal tells anyone who watches this film that no goal and passion is too crazy or too impossible. This guy actually walked between the Twin Towers for 45 minutes! How can anyone out there not believe that their own crazy dreams can come true?
Director James Marsh throws many documentary style elements in this film. The present day interviews by Team Twin Towers carry the plot throughout ala a Hollywood heist film as Marsh tells the story with old news/stock footage images and surprisingly emotional reinactments of the gang. What keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout is the big question - How did they do it?
Petit leads the interviews by telling the story of him sitting in a dentist office in 1967 and reading a magazine article about how the Americans were building this gigantic two tower building - at the time the largest in the world. Petit tore the article out of the magazine and ran off knowing that this was his ultimate task in his lifetime. He found his passion and dream all in one moment and set out that day to accomplish it. Seven years later he did just that.
Man on Wire is also a family love story of a band of people getting together to follow Petit's dream. You see how these people loved each other but understand that it's also bittersweet because after the dead is done, they really having nothing more to connect themselves with.
For many years after, Mr. Petitís stunt (remember this was an illegal act) was a cherished footnote in the annals of New York history. The destruction of the twin towers in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, revived the memory of that earlier aesthetic assault on the buildings, which is now the subject of Man on Wire. The film never speaks of September 11th but it's always the 80 pound Elephant on the screen. It's almost impossible while watching Man on Wire not to be haunted by thoughts of the fate of these towers.If there's one word to describe Petit it would be mischief. To the blind eye he is a just small time criminal and con man. And he is just that. But the world is very gray and Petit is just a man who just does what he wants to do. He doesn't understand rules and he would never hurt a fly. He's just a guy who does what he's suppose to do and lives life to his fullest. And mischief is just something you need to do in order to do it.
Man on Wire is a story of a world hero. If we can all be more like Philippe Petit, the world would be a better place.
4 stars out of 4! - MUST SEE FILM!