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Man on Wire

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Product Overview

On August 7th 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between the New York World Trade Center's twin towers. After nearly an hour dancing on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before finally being released. This documentary incorporates Petit's footage to show the numerous extraordinary challenges he faced in completing the artistic crime of the century.


Studio Magnolia Pictures
SKU 209306005
UPC 876964001564
UPC 14 00876964001564
Format DVD
Release Date 10/1/2014
Rating Rating
Aspect Ratio
Widescreen  1.78:1
Name Petit,Philippe
Link Search Link
Independent Spirit (2009) James Marsh, Nominee, Best Documentary
Oscar (2009) James Marsh, Simon Chinn, Nominee, Best Documentary, Features
British Academy Awards (2009) Simon Chinn, Nominee, Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer,Simon Chinn, James Marsh, Winner, Outstanding British Film
Sundance Film Festival (2008) James Marsh, Winner, Audience Award - World Cinema - Documentary,James Marsh, Winner, Grand Jury Prize - World Cinema - Documentary
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review Man on Wire is a fascinating time capsule: a combination of talking-head interviews, actual footage, and re-creations that evokes a kinder, gentler world and provides insight into one of the most audacious stunts of the 20th century. Pieced together with some of the rhythms and beats of a heist movie, James Marsh's examination of Philippe Petit's 1974 high wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center explores every aspect of the feat, from the detailed planning to the execution. Petit's action remains as head shakingly, jaw droppingly improbable today is it did on the morning of August 7, 1974...At the time when this documentary transpires, the World Trade Center was a relatively new complex. The Twin Towers were still in their infancy. They were big and bold, but not yet iconic. Many New Yorkers hated them: utilitarian, austere monuments to modern technology that reached to the sky and blocked out the sun...There is, of course, an elephant in the room. While Petit is Man on Wire's undisputed star, his co-stars are the towers. It's impossible to look at them and not think of their fate. 9/11 is not mentioned in the film (although it would have been interesting to hear Petit's feelings about the demise of the site of his greatest triumph), but the WTC is perhaps better known now for its end than anything that came before that. There are some eerie moments. A shot of the construction site from late 1966 or early 1967 is strikingly similar to images of Ground Zero after most of the debris had been removed, and one of the stills of Petit on the wire shows an airplane in the background. Ultimately, however, Man on Wire represents a remembrance of the Twin Towers that has nothing to do with horror, death, and destruction and of the man who accomplished something that few would even consider, let alone attempt.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 8
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review I am afraid of heights. Now you know. That is one reason I was helplessly engrossed in "Man on Wire," the story of how Philippe Petit crossed eight times on a tight-wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center on Aug. 7, 1974. Another reason is that the documentary, a hybrid of actual and restaged footage, is constructed like a first-rate thriller..."Man on Wire," directed by James Marsh ("Wisconsin Death Trip"), has access to all of Petit's film, video and photographs of the assault on the towers. But there is more than that. Ingeniously using actors and restaging events, Marsh fleshes out the story with scenes that could never have been filmed, such as the episode when Petit and a partner crouched motionless under tarps on a beam near the top floor as a security guard nosed around. Petit has gathered a motley crew, including a pot-addled musician and an executive who actually works in an office in one tower. He trains these amateurs on how to rig a high wire. Properly, he hopes...The installation of a wire between the two towers was as complicated as a bank heist. He and his friends scouted the terrain, obtained false ID cards, talked their way into a freight elevator reaching to the top -- above the level of the finished floors. Incredibly, they had to haul nearly a ton of equipment up there. You may have heard how they got the wire across, and how they guy-wired it, but if you don't know, I won't tell you...They did it, anyway. Their plan worked. And on the morning of that Aug. 7, Petit took the first crucial step that shifted his weight from the building to the wire, and stood above a drop of 1,350 feet...It was dangerous, foolhardy, glorious. His assistants feared they could be arrested for trespassing, manslaughter or assisting a suicide. Philippe Petit was arrested and eventually found guilty. The charge: Disturbing the peace.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 10
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal James Marsh's documentary raises the bar for the genre to skyscraper height.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune ...perfectly poised between artistry and audacity. It's beautiful.
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald As suspenseful as a full-blown thriller.
Robert Koehler, Variety One of the most wildly entertaining docs of recent years.
William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer ...the first film that plays on what could become a phenomenon of the new millennium: World Trade Center nostalgia.

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