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Man on Wire DVD Review
In the early hours of August 7, 1974, Frenchman Philippe Petit and a small team of his compatriots, a New Yorker and an Australian, were putting in place the last logistics of a coup he had been yearning for for ten years – walking a tightrope. between the twin towers of the Word Trade Center. Obviously, this was no small feat. Not only did Petit and his friends have to negotiate their way (without getting caught) through security, over 100 flights of stairs, and nagging doubts that their goal might prove impossible, but they also had to consider the fact very real that things shouldn’t go to plan Petit could dive hundreds of meters to his death.
Man on Wire is the story of this artistic project, from its conception to its aftermath, the title coming from the description given in the police report of the incident. It includes interviews with key players and footage from the planning itself as well as Petit’s previous adventures, including a walk over Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It’s thrilling and despite knowing the outcome, it ticks all the boxes for an “edge of your seat” adventure.
The images, including the stills, are jaw-droppingly scary (especially if, like me, you’re terrified of man-made heights) and the drama heightened by the use of composer Michael Nyman (The Piano , The Cook, The Thief His Wife and His Lover) work.
It’s no surprise that this documentary has won numerous awards, from the Oscar for Best Documentary to the BAFTA for Best British Film. Director James Marsh managed to mirror one of Petit’s goals and turn it into his own work of art. It may sound pretentious, but it’s not a pretentious film. It’s fun to watch, and Petit himself is quite charming, self-deprecating, and funny.
The interviews with those involved are exciting, moving and speak more of friendship than of a daredevil’s crazy plan. Some of the archival footage of people’s reactions to the event (including that of an NYPD member) is also quite amusing.
I hereby add my voice to all those recommending you to see this great documentary. As a bonus, a short film on crossing the Sydney Harbor Bridge and an interview with Philippe Petit.
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