Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Film Notes: Man on Wire

Man on Wire is the story of French tightrope walker, daredevil, and eccentric Phillipe Petit and his illegal yet exhilarating, tightrope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. In 93 delightful minutes of original photos, contemporary interviews with the participants, historic reconstructions and original film footage, the story of this great event of daring, planning, cunning, beauty, art and exhibitionism is told. The film fast forwards and rewinds in time, so one minute the team are hiding from guards trying to smuggle their ropes into the towers, the next we discover how Petit was gripped by the extraordinary desire to build a tightrope through the skies - and unlike some time-slipping films it works brilliantly as it comes to a grand conclusion.

Fantastically produced and with a sound-track that is achingly beautiful, this film is at once, charming, bizarre, funny, endearing and ultimately curiously moving. The dynamics of the band of eccentrics who pursue this ludicrous dream are fascinating, the planning and the risk-taking is breathtaking and Petit's reaction to constantly being asked "why" he did it - so gloriously French that it is just fabulous! ("I have done something so wonderful, so beautiful and you come along and ask "why", "why?" - there is no why!")

This is the oddest, and perhaps most wonderful DVD I have seen in a very long time. To spend an hour and a half immersed in the strange world of Phillipe Petit; courtesy of this utterly beguiling film, is as endearing as it is terrifyingly bizarre. Utterly captivating.

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