Sunday, August 24, 2008

Man on Wire

When done properly the documentary is a beautiful and moving cinematic work of art. Yesterday I saw an example of just that in Man on Wire, currently being shown at the Landmark Century Theaters.
Man on Wire was mesmerizing in its retelling of the story of Phillippe Petit, the wire walker. It is a
look at his daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century." Artistic it certainly was and while a crime, albeit a relatively minor one, it was presented in a masterful way in this documentary directed by James Marsh. Marsh previously directed the award-winning documentary Wisconsin Death Trip (1999) and he wrote and directed the excellent independent film, The King (2005).
The story of Phillippe's walk was told in the format of a traditional heist movie and the suspense built until the moment early on the day in 1974 when Phillippe completed his dream by stepping out on the wire between the towers. The film provided biographical background for Phillippe and showed earlier walks that were almost as dramatic at Notre Dame Cathedral and a bridge in Sydney Australia. The majesty of each of those successful walks only served to heighten the accomplishment at the World Trade Center. Not since the beautiful documentary Louis Kahn: Silence and Light in 1995 have I been so moved. I found the film truly exhilarating ultimately moving me to tears with the beauty of Phillippe's achievement. This film is worthy of recognition with major awards.

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