Monday, 22 August 2011

Man on Wire

I saw this yesterday with Senna in a members' free double-bill - well done Harbour Lights. The second film about an a man who dices with death for the sake of his art.

This is a docudrama - more documelodrama as Philippe Petit flamboyantly narrates the story of his successful wire-walking act between the Twin Towers in New York in 1994. The film charts Petit's childhood obsession with circus style performing arts and the excesses of the circus ring are employed by Petit as he lays on the drama through his exuberant retelling of the story.

The drama builds by showing Petit's walks between the towers of the Notre Dame in Paris and then between the towers of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. It goes into great detail as Petit and his team research and plan the greatest and most audacious high wire act of all time. The tension builds as the narration is mixed with archive footage and a re-enactment of the preparation for the rigging of the wire. To get a team onto the roof of both towers along with half a ton of equipment took a lot of planning, guts and good luck.

The film explores the relationships between Petit and his friends. Petit was able to enthuse and envision people and inspire unflinching loyalty as his drivenness propels everyone on towards the goal. When he finally achieves it, he goes off for romp with a girl in the crowd and dumps his girlfriend from childhood days - Annie Allix. The successful walk transforms Petit and elevates him to a higher plain where these indiscretions are overlooked by his entourage and Allix can only marvel at his accomplishment.

This is a well made docudrama that embodies Petit's flamboyant and showman-like style. It is also an erie spectacle as we fast approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11!

I'll give it 7/10.

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