Man on Wire

2008

Biography / Documentary

149
IMDb Rating 7.8 10 48,874

Synopsis


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April 16, 2019

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806.2 MB
1280*720
English
PG-13
23.976 fps
94 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.51 GB
1920×1080
English
PG-13
23.976 fps
94 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by WriterDave 9 / 10 / 10

The Best Laid Plans of Crazy Frenchmen...

...sometimes work as director James Marsh and subject Philippe Petit prove in the sublime and inspiring documentary, "Man on Wire." Here we see Petit and his cohorts recklessly plan and execute the most daring stunt in the history of the world. In August of 1974, Petit walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in NYC. As part of Hollywood's increased awareness of the possibilities of counter-programming, summertime has become a haven for documentaries. Thanks to Michael Moore and Al Gore, most of the blockbuster documentaries over the past few years have been in the form of political propaganda. By simply wanting to tell the story of one man's amazing act, "Man on Wire" breezes into this summer like a breath of fresh air. The act depicted is singularly focused, but the logistics behind perpetrating the act are fascinatingly complex, and the aftermath of the successful completion of the act is breathtaking. Director Marsh wisely avoids the typical trappings of documentaries by filming the story like a fictional narrative, jumping back and forth in time, shifting points of view, and creating palpable tension leading up to the death defying act of Petit walking across the wire. The film relies heavily on reenactments, and Marsh stages them like mini expressionistic student films full of stunning cinematography and wonderfully antiquated in-camera effects. The careful juxtaposition and blending of archival footage, still photography, reenactments, and interviews is a master-class in the school of film editing. Also adding to the film is the quietly tense music score composed of pieces from Michael Nyman and Erik Satie among others. For those who never saw the Twin Towers of the WTC in person, the film shows beautiful archival footage of their construction. For those still haunted by their fall, the film offers a bit of catharsis as we get to watch them reconstructed piece by piece on film and lifted again on high through Petit's potently mad dream. The film is as much a love letter to New York City as it is a testament to the power of one person's vision. The film allows us to see how Petit did it, but it also gives a glimpse of the greater "why?" For beauty, for the thrill...for the sad knowledge that no one in the history of the world will ever be able to do it again.

Reviewed by se7en187 9 / 10 / 10

A perfect heist film

I saw this at the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck, Michigan. Man on Wire is an exciting documentary about Philippe Petit who, thanks to his friends, managed to sneak into the World Trade Center in 1974 and do a high-wire act between the Twin Towers. From the very start of the film it pulls you in, this is an amazing story and Petit is an amazing person to document. Sure, he's a reckless person and has a wild personality, but he's fascinating to watch. The interviews with him and his friends and "team" who helped pull off the stunt are extremely interesting and great to watch. It's fun watching old footage of Petit performing some of his previous acts, this guy really has talent, and may be a bit too determined and crazy. The reenactments are also well filmed and a nice job of telling the story. This documentary plays like a classic heist film. It's filled with suspense and has many of those caper moments of mistakes that may ruin the entire job. Even though the final outcome is already known, it's still thrilling and you don't know if they will pull it off. A well crafted film that does a wonderful job of telling the story of one man's dream and how he managed to make it a reality.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 9 / 10 / 10

Art in the sky

What does Philippe Petit do now? Is he Professor of Advanced Balance at the Sorbonne? Is ha a therapist dealing exclusively in acrophobia? He seems to be a man so specialized that he was meant in life to do only one thing, at one time, and this film is about that moment and shows why a moment--a half hour, actually, in the early morning of August 7, 1974--can define a life and reshape one's perceptions. After the long slow methodical buildup, when the moment comes, calmly accompanied by a famous piece for solo piano by Eric Satie, it is so awesome, so still, so transcendent it makes you cry. No question why this film needed to be made. Why is it that walking across a wire up in the air can be an aesthetic experience so exalted it brings you to tears? I don't know, but that's what 'Man on Wire' is about. Philippe Petit is a clown, a sprite, a magician, an athlete, and a dancer. When he was seventeen, before the World Trade Center was even built, he knew it had to be his. It was as if it was invented just for him. . This was his greatest exploit. His triumph. It was to make him world famous. A 'funambule,' the French call them. A tightrope walker: the epitome of risk-taking Only this time he increased the risk. Like his earlier walks between towers of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and pylons of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, only more so, Petit's walk on a wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the tallest buildings in New York City, was illegal, a 'rififi,' a break-in, a caper. Some call it "the art heist of the century." But it's not an ordinary heist. They stole nothing, except the air, our breath. Petit and crew didn't take anything out. They took in a ton of equipment, most importantly enough heavy wire and support wire to secure his pathway across the towers. If you could make a documentary about a successful robbery, it might be something like James Marsh's film about this event. There is the conception, the reconnaissance, the gathering of accomplices, some of whom out of wisdom or fear opt out, even up to the last minute. The false start and bailout. The months of rehearsal. The miniature mock-ups of the top of the towers (handsome, and in wood). The trial runs and on-scene observations, the skillfully made false documents and identities, the changes of costume (for Petit himself, businessman, construction worker, and the ballet shoes and black velvet costume of the tightrope walker And of course Petit and company were documenting all of this. Marsh has admirably gathered all the images, plus simulations, plus the present-day talking heads, several in French, the others in English. This time simulations seem quite justifiable. There are things we need to see--particularly the crew dodging and hiding from guards on the towers. It's all like a game; a lark. And at the same time, lethal, dangerous, and a defiance of the laws of man and God. The simulations are appropriate because this is all so unreal anyway. Why not add a little fakery? Philippe Petit is more than a little bit strange. And in some indefinable way he is also quintessentially French.. Not only has he an incredible insensitivity to danger (and drive to overcome it), but this diminutive, almost weightless fellow has his unmistakably Napoleonic side, his grandiosity. But also playfulness. One of the best moments is when he is being arrested and photographed (charge: trespassing; event description: "man on wire"), he takes a policeman's uniform cap and balances it on his forehead by the bill, then flips it onto his head. His exploit had made him a celebrity and a mascot. He enhanced life, made a partly clunky new landmark beautiful and remarkable. After the event, he knew he was famous. How can you ask me if I'm thirsty, he says to a psychiatrist, when 300 journalists are waiting to interview me? And his first act after release was, as somebody put it "to bang a groupie," which he himself describes as "disgusting." Maybe he was steadier out on the wire, where he remained for half an hour, high over New York, without a net, crossing and re-crossing eight times by his friend's count. And then afterwards, somehow things were so bent out of shape that he ended two key relationships--with his girlfriend and his collaborator (both of whom help narrate this film). This is troubling, but Petit is also wise, a saintly kind of man, immune to ordinary temptations (except groupies?). When asked why he'd done it, he said: "If I see three oranges, I have to juggle. And if I see two towers, I have to walk." The psychiatrist judged him "same and ebullient." His was a pure act, an existential declaration of joy, an example of how to live life daily to the fullest. "Every day for him was a work of art," says his girlfriend. "L'art pour l'art," art for art's sake, is his motto. All of which is pretty thought-provoking, and may be inspiring. At a time of many excellent documentaries, this one seems indispensable. It provides a very pure kind of thrill. Needless to say after 9/11, the buildings gone, the recreation of this moment evokes nostalgia and loss. Actually Petit has done much since the event. Right afterward the charges of trespassing and criminal conduct were dropped with the promise that he would perform juggling acts for children in Central Park, and he was given a permanent pass to the towers. A policeman interviewed at the time says when he watched, he knew he was seeing something unlike anything he'd ever see again. Sometimes you do know. When he was interviewed for this film, he was artist in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

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