Director James Marsh’s third film reveals to us the passion and the obsession of one man’s quest to skywalk between both World Trade Towers in 1974. “Man On Wire” takes the viewer into the mindset of French performance artist Philippe Petit whose electric personality fueled his determination to do what had not been done before. First discovering the creation of the towers in France, Petit became enamored with the idea of one day traversing 1000 feet above the ground across the void between both towers.
The film skillfully depicts all the players involved in this daring scheme to enter the towers with all the equipment needed without raising any suspicion. With fear level high as well as the rush to complete the task, we learn the origins of how this passion became ignited, and what interactions ensued amongst those involved. Methodically planning out every minute detail, Petit and his crew, accomplished the unthinkable and brought it into fruition.
On August 7th, 1974, Petit did achieve his dream and for 45 minutes covered moving across the wire a total of 8 times (while agitating authorities) before he was finally arrested. Onlookers peered upward in awe and praised Petit for giving them a once in a lifetime show.
Delving into Petit’s early years as a performer, to reenactments of how the plan was conceived even prior to the towers being finished, and the aftermath of what was hailed as, “the artistic crime of the century”. The film is infused with on your seat energy from the very beginning.
The documentary does an excellent job at showing us what makes Petit tick. The lure of the project appealed to his accomplices, and we learn how they were influenced into seeing Philippe’s dream so that all members were of one purpose and goal. What was the draw? What made these people risk themselves for the sake of art?
The film is never full of bland clips, or static flashbacks, but what it does is it takes us on a rollercoaster ride in every phase of the plan as if you were a fly on the wall. Petit’s fire in his eyes and the enthusiasm for accomplishing his dream is ever evident and as the film progresses, keeping us in perpetual suspense till the day he conquered the structures. Breathtaking to behold.
Weak: 1 Star Average: 2 Stars Good: 3 Stars Very Good: 4 Stars Excellent: 5 Stars