Thursday, August 14, 2008

Review: Man on Wire (2008)

Once upon a time, there were two buildings in New York, together known as the World Trade Center.

Even before they were built, there was a young man in France named Phillipe Petit, who had found his ultimate dream.

Man on Wire is a documentary like I have not seen before. It starts out the morning of the "heist", using dramatization in its place of real film footage (I'm assuming because there was none to speak of). Every so often, though, we meet new characters of the story and look at other events that lead up to this astonishing feat.

What am I talking about? Why, the rare event that occurred atop the World Trade Center, where Phillipe Petit wire-walked across.

We see before all this that he is a highly skilled wire walker, as well as a unicyclist and a street magician. One day he saw in a newspaper that the WTC were going to be built, and he immediately made it his goal to walk across the air that separates the two building.

The documentary is rich and charismatic and thrilling and emotional. In the very beginning, it looks like a movie leading up to a complicated bank heist. And it sort of is, in a way. In that they had to plan for months and months to infiltrate the building, bringing with them 450 lbs of wire.

No mention is made of the events that took place on September 11, but watching it, you can't help but get that vibe, as you see the slow construction process of the towers take place, or when you see the spot where Petit signed his name on the tour, and pictures of all the other places he's wire walked, like the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Notre Dame.

Man on Wire is a wonderful work of art, a truly captivating documentary that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Grade: A

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