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Man on Wire 2008

PG-13 CC

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."

Starring:
Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel
Runtime:
1 hour, 34 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Thriller, Documentary
Director James Marsh
Starring Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel
Supporting actors Jean-Louis Blondeau, Annie Allix, David Forman, Alan Welner, Mark Lewis, Barry Greenhouse, Jim Moore, Guy F. Tozzoli, Paul McGill, David Demato, Ardis Campbell, Aaron Haskell, Shawn Dempewolff-Barrett, David Roland Frank, Megan Delay, Laurence Gates, Bruce Kocher, Joel Ney
Studio Magnolia Pictures
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
On the surface, Man on Wire may appear to be a straightforward documentary about an eccentric high wire artist who is either incredibly brave, or incredibly stupid. But if you look closer, you might discover one of the best suspense thrillers/heist movies of 2008, although no guns are drawn and nothing gets stolen. It is also one of the most romantic films I've seen this year, although it is not a traditional love story. Existential and even a tad surreal at times, it is ultimately a deeply profound treatise on following your bliss.

Late in the summer of 1974, a diminutive Frenchman named Philippe Petit made a splash (of the figurative kind, luckily) by treating unsuspecting NYC morning commuters to the sight of a lifetime: a man taking a casual morning stroll across a ¾" steel cable, stretched from rooftop to rooftop between the two towers of the then-unfinished World Trade Center, 1350 feet skyward. After traversing the 200 foot wide chasm with supernatural ease, he decided to turn around and have another go. And another. And another. All told, Petit made 8 round trips, with only one brief but memorable rest stop. He took a breather to lie on his back (mid-wire) and enjoy what had to have been the ultimate Moment of Zen ever experienced in the history of humankind, contemplating the sky and enjoying a little chit-chat with a seagull.

Now, a stunt like this doesn't just happen on a whim. There are a few logistical hurdles to consider beforehand. Like how do you transport 450 lbs of steel cable to the roof of one tower of the World Trade Center, and then safely tether it across to its twin? A clandestine operation of this magnitude requires meticulous planning, and at least a couple trustworthy co-conspirators. Sounds like the makings of a classic heist film, no?
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Format: DVD
I was lured into seeing this film by my teenage son, who is a circus acrobat by genetic conviction as surely as Philippe Petit was a high-wire walker and as I am a musician. I would never have entered the theater if I'd known what I'd be seeing. I have a pathologically empathetic response to films. When I was a little kid, I used to shout out warnings to Tweetie Bird when the cat got near. During fight scenes, my whole body twitches and my wife gets nervous for the safety of the unsuspecting head in front of me. I'm a climber in real life. I've been to the summit of Annapurna. But my blood pressure rises and I tremble with acrophobia at Hollywood simulations of climbing. This film Man on Wire took two years off my life, I'm sure. It's that intense, with its coy intersplicing of still photos and super-eight footage of Petit in mid-air and lovely slow talking-head interviews of Petit and his accomplices, years later, clearly establishing that they all survived to tell the tale.

Those interviews of middle-aged daredevils, reminiscing about their greatest caper, were as intense for me as the dodgy accomplishment of the adventure. It was literally the end of a love affair with life for all of them, something "too hot not to cool down," an overture too overwhelming to be followed by a mere opera. When Petit's boyhood friend broke down in tears at the waning of their friendship, when Petit's wife-the-love-of-his-life felt the reality that his life no longer needed hers, the whole social cost of Petit's obsession moved me also almost to tears. Hey, I might have cried if my heart had slowed down to twice normal. I felt an urge to grab my son and hug or shake him, saying "don't let your art be more to you than your life."

There's more to this film than a mere victimless heist thriller.
34 Comments 220 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Let me state upfront that I am a sucker for great non-fiction documentaries. I've always believed that life is stranger than fiction. And this is just the last (and perhaps best) example of it.

"Man on Wire" (98 min.) tells the improbable story of Phillipe Petit's dream (and eventual reality) of walking on a high wire between the two WTC buildings on August 7, 1974. The movie starts with his humble beginngins of being a street artist, eventually leading to his wanting to do high wire walks, starting with the Paris Notre Dame, then the Sidney Harbor, and then eventually the World Trade Center Towers. The movie does an excellent job building the excitement into what it took to eventually pull off that implossible event. All of the main players of the event are interviewed now more than 30 years after the event, and Philippe Petit turns out to be a master entertainer and story teller. When you are watching it all unvolve, you can't but help be in awe of it all. Just exilerating, period.

If this movie doesn't get serious consideration of being nominated for best documentary of 2008 at the Oscars, there is something terribly wrong with the entire system. This is one of the most enthralling movies I've seen this year, and I've seen a lot of movies.
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Format: DVD
Don't think a documentary about a high-wire walker could be worth 5 stars? Think again! This riveting and inspirational movie combines still photographs, reenactments, actual video, and interviews with the people involved in Phillipe Petit's high wire adventures. Phillipe shows us what it means to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, follow your dreams, and squeeze every last drop out of life. If he could walk between the Twin Towers, just imagine what you can do...
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