Phillippe Petit on the Silver Screen

Alison Morris - August 12, 2008

Are you a fan of Mordicai Gerstein’s The Man Who Walked Between the Towers? If not, what’s your problem?? (Just kidding.) (Sort of.) If so, find a local theatre showing the new documentary Man on Wire and see it on the big screen. I promise you the dizzying photographs and footage of Phillippe Petit making his highwire walk between the World Trade Towers are well worth seeing on something larger than your own television. And this film is more than worth the cost of box office admission. Like Gerstein’s Caldecott Medal-winning book about Petit, it is an artful example of understatement. Director James Marsh doesn’t flood the script with facts or lengthy explanations or extraneous footage. He tells the audience what we need to know about the when’s, the where’s, the how’s of Petit’s grandest artistic coup and leaves us to ponder both the WHY (which is, Petit says, the thing Americans always want to know) and the WHAT — as in, what did Petit’s feat accomplish, and what did it to and/or for his relationships with those who helped him achieve his dream. The latter is the part that I can’t stop thinking about…

In all, I’d describe Man on Wire as engrossing, fascinating, thought-provoking, and beautiful. And I’m not the only one who thinks so, judging from the 100% (!!) this movie is currently being given by Rotten Tomatoes, a site that collects critical reviews from a variety of sources and averages them into a single score. (At last check, their score for Man on Wire was based on 88 reviews.) I particularly love this quote from Aaron Hills of the Village Voice: "Exhilarating… a crowd-pleaser in such witty, poetic ways that even an art-house curmudgeon couldn’t deny its tidy vigor."

You can watch the trailer for Man on Wire below.

2 thoughts on “Phillippe Petit on the Silver Screen

  1. Julianne Daggett

    Wow, just watching the trailer the movie looks amazing. I’ll have to try to find a place that plays it, though knowing Houston it will take some detective work. Also I’ve started a children’s books blog, check it out:

  2. Cynthia

    This is the film I strongly recommended to friends. And the July 25 “Studio 360” interview captures Philippe Petit’s art and being so beautifully. And yes, the event first caught my imagination in Mordicai Gerstein’s book!


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