Friday, October 17, 2008
Man on Wire
I had heard excellent reviews of this film Man on Wire and was lucky enough to attend a special screening which had an Q and A session with the high wirewalker Phillippe Petit himself.
Petit is most famous for stringing a wire between the Twin Towers and crossing the wire eight times, and the documentary traces the planning and execution of this remarkable coup.
As I wrote my thesis on the Twin Towers (or more specifically, 9/11), I found the film to be a beautiful eulogy to the Towers, and a testament to those who built them. It was incredible to think that the highwire act, which has passed into the annals of time, is as now as ephemeral as the towers themselves. After 9/11, I think that there's a really extraordinary sense of impossibility which seems to surround the act of walking between the towers, as if Petit has suspended and eluded the tragic fall to which many others succumbed.
Petit is quite a character, too. A quintessential egomaniac, he had an infectious enthusiasm and excitement about life which was so happy-making. He encouraged the audience to "look to the sky and not to the ground", and to live your dreams.
I thoroughly recommend the film - both uplifting and sort of crazy. It's interesting to me that Petit is good friends with Werner Hertzog, who is also interested in madness and the pursuit of extreme dreams.