Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

Man on Wire

In 1974 I had a summer job at MetLife (where I later worked for 17 years) in between the two years of grad school. One morning I got to work to find everyone glued to the windows facing downtown. A guy was walking on a tightrope between the towers of the World Trade Center! How was this possible?

It was Philippe Petit, whose stunt made world headlines. He was arrested and sentenced to perform community service, which consisted of another walk on Belvedere Castle high above Central Park. This agile Frenchman became a New York icon, as did the newly built towers.

The astounding documentary "Man on Wire" details this amazing feat. Using interviews, old footage and photographs, and a few re-enactments, we see the incredible amount of planning and practice that went into Petit's hour in the sky. Not a word is mentioned about 9/11, but that memory shadows every moment, making the story that much more poignant. Even though we know the walk was successful, the audience feels nervous as "le coup" approaches, and intensely exhilarated as he takes the first step. Like I said in another context, "I'm crying just even thinking about it." Tears of joy.

I saw the movie at a Museum of the Moving Image event Thursday at the Times Center (where in stunts reminiscent of Petit, two men recently climbed up the building). The director was present, and afterward, he and Philippe Petit (in person! wow!) were interviewed by Dick Cavett. Despite some of Cavett's strange tangents, it was a fascinating evening.

The movie opens in New York this week, and is playing later this summer at indie theaters. Don't miss it.

Update: NYC Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston
Director James Marsh In Person with
High Wire Artist Philippe Petit on Fri & Sat, July 25 & 26 at 7:15, 8:05 & 10:20pm

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