September 5, 2008, - 3:12 pm

Weekend Box Office: Interesting But Way Too Long Doc on Tightrope Feat Between WTC Towers

By Debbie Schlussel
There’s just one new movie at the box office this weekend which I reviewed, a documentary. The other new release, “Bangkok Dangerous”, was not screened for critics, a pretty good indication it’s bad. Will try to screen and post review later. Because there’s only this one movie, I’ll revisit my “DVDs I Like”–for great movies you can rent–later today.
* “Man on Wire“: It’s 1974 and self-trained French acrobat Philippe Petit erects and walks across tightropes from the tallest of structures. But there’s one that’s the tallest that he longs to traipse across in mid-air, the twin towers of the World Trade Center atop a thin wire.


While the feat is exciting, this documentary was far too long, and it managed, at times, to turn a fascinating feat into sheer boring cinema. On the other hand, I enjoyed seeing how Petit and his team snuck into the World Trade Center towers and eluded authorities, and you almost fell as if it was yourself, not Petit, who was thousands of feet above street-level, and could fall at any moment. Even though we know that Petit not only made it but went across and back eight times on no sleep, we feel suspense, as if he will fall, and we with him. We root for him to get across.
It’s fascinating to see how they planned and trained for the attempt and how they got the wire across and shored up to the two towers.
Somewhat interesting and entertaining, but way too long. What was 1.5 hours seemed like 3 and could have been told in a half hour. Still I find it mildly amusing, if mixed with lots of slow and inane parts and re-enactions, which are a sore point with me when it comes to documentaries.
It is eerie to see inside, around, and atop the World Trade Center towers that are now gone, eliminated by Islamic terrorists as they murdered thousands of Americans. I found it odd that no-one in the movie found fit to address that and how the participants in “Man on Wire” felt that it was no longer there. The 9/11 attacks on the towers are not even mentioned. That’s a hole in this movie that was glaring.
Other than that, there is nothing objectionable in the film, other than brief nudity in one of the unnecessary re-enactment scenes.

2 Responses

I saw this yesterday at our local art house theatre.
I had about the same feelings of it as you, except it didn’t seem too long for me.
For me, I’d like to have heard more from Petit about how he trains his mind to do these things and more of his motivation.
Too bad there was video of his walking across the Twin Towers. It does seem odd they don’t mention anything about 9/11…but then again, they are French.
BTW, if you ever need to waste about $20, you should check out Crispin Glover’s live “performance” if it comes to a town near you. I caught it later that night at the same location and it’s extremely interesting how you can fool the artsy, tattooed, look at me talk all intelligent like crowd with total nonsense if you present yourself as quirky while talking like a misunderstood genius.

Jeff_W on September 7, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Er, that should say “Too bad there is NO video of his walking across the Twin Towers.”
I’m still in a post Crispin Glover stupor after his rambling slide show and screening of “What is It?” show.
“What is It?” sums it up.

Jeff_W on September 7, 2008 at 6:57 pm

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