Man on Wire (12A)

Film

Documentaries

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jul 29 2008

It all started in a dentist’s waiting room in France, with a magazine feature on a New York construction whose twin towers would absolutely dwarf the Eiffel Tower. The teenage Philippe Petit was so entranced, he ripped the article out and stuck it up his jumper. He dreamed right then of walking on a wire between what would become the two towers of the World Trade Center, and, in 1974, he actually did it.

Just how this act of graceful insanity came to pass is chronicled in Marsh’s captivating documentary, which intercuts the build-up and execution of the walk itself with Petit’s remarkable backstory. This was no spur-of-the-moment fluke, but the result of years of globe-trotting preparation with a support group of like-minded individuals, each of whom pop up in interviews to express awe-struck concern for their fearless leader. Petit himself twinkles here too, exuding such voluble Gallic esprit that he could hold us in his spell for 90 minutes on his own.

Not that seeing the man himself detracts from the palm-slicking suspense the film develops as the mission hits almost surreal snags even before the soon-to-be-famous funambulist steps out on to the thinnest thread. Nor, indeed, does the absence of surviving locations knock Marsh off his stride as he contrives sequences of playful dramatic fakery to sustain the tension. Although some viewers may find the too-familiar Michael Nyman cues and over-used Erik Satie pianism a disappointingly earthbound musical accompaniment, for the most part there’s storytelling magic here which makes the film so much bigger than just some expert BBC-funded reconstruction. There’s no mention of the building’s subsequent fate; instead, a generous, visionary gesture supplanting the communal memory of the site’s unspeakable horrors with an image of human achievement that’s head-spinning, heart-leaping in its absurd purity.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Aug 1, 2008

Duration:

94 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

James Marsh

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
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Paquita

There is nothing wrong with the repetition of Erik Satie music. It fitted the film perfectly. In fact the only thing which really bothered me was the fact that they were not enough moments in the film where music was playing on its own with nobody's comments. Some more minutes of this incredible individual performing on a rope with only music would have been divine.

Paquita

There is nothing wrong with the repetition of Erik Satie music. It fitted the film perfectly. In fact the only thing which really bothered me was the fact that they were not enough moments in the film where music was playing on its own with nobody's comments. Some more minutes of this incredible individual performing on a rope with only music would have been divine.

summacumlaude

I would wish for more people with the attitude of this small band of modern day artists. We are bound by a multitude of petty rules in western societies, and more of us should question them.

summacumlaude

I would wish for more people with the attitude of this small band of modern day artists. We are bound by a multitude of petty rules in western societies, and more of us should question them.

q

"voluble Gallic esprit" Did you have to perpetuate these stupid cliches and the xenophobia they convey?

q

"voluble Gallic esprit" Did you have to perpetuate these stupid cliches and the xenophobia they convey?

Zettel

Descartes meets Camus in the sky above New York Perhaps absurdity defines us best as human beings. When 23 year-old Frenchman Philippe Petit, shortly after a misty dawn on August 7th 1974 stepped out onto an illegally stretched 60 metre cable 1368 feet above a largely unwitting New York, he was doing something that no other creature, man nor beast could, nor would do.For Albert Camus, Man is absurd for still expecting good, believing there is value in the world, when all the verifiable facts tell us otherwise. Well for just under an hour 32 years ago high above New York, one of Camus’ compatriots became absurd man incarnate and showed us unequivocally that there is something beautiful and valuable, and profoundly human about doing something immensely difficult, highly dangerous, terrifying, and utterly pointless - just for its own sake.

Zettel

Descartes meets Camus in the sky above New York Perhaps absurdity defines us best as human beings. When 23 year-old Frenchman Philippe Petit, shortly after a misty dawn on August 7th 1974 stepped out onto an illegally stretched 60 metre cable 1368 feet above a largely unwitting New York, he was doing something that no other creature, man nor beast could, nor would do.For Albert Camus, Man is absurd for still expecting good, believing there is value in the world, when all the verifiable facts tell us otherwise. Well for just under an hour 32 years ago high above New York, one of Camus’ compatriots became absurd man incarnate and showed us unequivocally that there is something beautiful and valuable, and profoundly human about doing something immensely difficult, highly dangerous, terrifying, and utterly pointless - just for its own sake.

Papillon

A truly inspirational tale that is together funny, exciting and very, very touching. It is also a very "human" story which explores notions of courage, friendship and love. A must-see.

Papillon

A truly inspirational tale that is together funny, exciting and very, very touching. It is also a very "human" story which explores notions of courage, friendship and love. A must-see.