Man on Wire (spoilers...sort of)

I don’t often go out of my way to see movies, but after seeing the rave reviews (100% on RT; take that Dark Knight!) I couldn’t help but Bart into the bowels of San Francisco to catch this film, and boy am I glad I did.

The movie offers a tantalizing look at Philippe Petit’s daring, illegal, and beautiful, look at his walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. The picture is almost structured like a heist film, and it’s amazing to see how much preparation went into his performance. The movie also brilliantly interweaves actual footage with reenactments, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell which is which!

As for the walk itself, while it’s mainly displayed via a series of still images, but it doesn’t at all compromise the majesty of the performance. The movie also did an excellent job of conveying the true height at which he was performing; I got nervous several times (I think I even shuddered at parts) even though we obviously know the eventual outcome.

For reasons that aren’t quite clear, I found myself almost teary-eyed at the end…which leads to my one man complaint. The movie switches gears way too fast from his triumphed walk to the aftermath of his fame – namely his sleeping with a fan, despite (from what I can tell) being in a relationship with his long-term girlfriend. They didn’t allow quite enough time for us to fully appreciate what he had just accomplished and how much it meant to him before they delved into his sexcapade, which almost felt like it undermined the whole ordeal.

That aside, it’s a brilliant film and Petit is a true character, who’s completely engaging the entire way through.

I saw this film recently too, and loved it. I agree that the celebratory tumble with the first woman who offered herself to him seemed disappointing, but hey, I don’t know what it feels like to have just tightrope walked between the twin towers.

I would have liked to know more about what made one of his companions so emotional towards the end of the film, the guy who kept bursting into tears. I didn’t really get what it was that was upsetting him - the beauty of the whole thing, the loss of the bond between the people who had contributed to the stunt, or something else?

I’ve not seen the movie yet but can I recommend the book:
To Reach The Clouds

Finally saw it last night, and found it suspenseful, very funny, inspiring, poetic and extremely moving.

Quite simply, the best film I’ve seen this year. Absolutely lovely.

I think it was because his friend had reservations about the stunt from the beginning, and seemed more aware than the others that he could have helped Petit to his death. Plus, I could be wrong, but I also got the impression the stunt was more or less the end of his and Petit’s friendship.

With regard to the soundtrack, I thought the choice of Erik Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies was absolutely perfect music for the scene depicting the twin towers tightrope walk.

However, I was a little disappointed to find out that music by Michael Nyman was not original work for “Man on Wire”, but reused from the soundtracks Nyman did for Peter Greenaway films. Fortunately I hadn’t seen any of Greenaway’s films, so the music was fresh for me, and I thought it was really well-suited, but I can see how it might detract from the film for people who were familiar with it.

I think that was quite deliberate because that’s how it played out to the members of the team. It reflects the suddenness of how everything changed.

One minute they were jubilantly celebrating the success of pulling off an incredible feat, then he pretty much bails on them. The stunt was sublime. Without his team none of it could have happened, but the second he came off the wire, they were shoved into the wings and forgotten. Everything changed about his relationship with the people who supported his incredible dream. They had practically become family, but as soon as the stunt was over they didn’t really get to celebrate as such. He took off with a groupie, completely disappearing on them.

His behaviour did undermine the whole adventure they shared, and transformed their euphoria to despair. He was the guy on the wire, but they all accomplished this enormous, magnificent achievement. They invested almost a superhuman amount of will (I can’t imagine hauling the wire they way they showed in the movie) and they worked as a group for years. And he abandoned them the second their goal was achieved. It was sudden and shocking. You’re quite right: they didn’t have enough time to fully appreciate what they had accomplished together, because he took off.

In his own words: “I betrayed them.”

I would love to see this, but it probably won’t come to a theater anywhere around me.
I am old enough to distinctly remember when Petit’s walk took place. I remember getting sick to my stomach at the realization of how high up he was, and how easily he could fall and die. And I wasn’t even particularly scared of heights at that time.

His achievement still seems almost superhuman to me. I know that a real human individual did it (just as I know a mere mortal created Michelangelo’s works) but it is still hard to really grasp.

It’s worth an hour’s drive, if you can expand your search. It’s a profoundly great movie about a transcendent accomplishment.

There is an interview on NPR with the tightrope walker. I cannot seem to find it, but I heard Philip Petite interviewed on WBEZ about a week ago. He was marvelous to interview. He said that the owners of the World Trade Center gave him a lifetime pass to the roof of the towers after his feat. He used it often.

He also explored the choice of the director to not

delve into 9/11.

Fascinating interview, but either I’m too impatient to search for it tonight or it is hard to find.

It’s probably this one: