On my travels in Europe recently I stumbled over a documentary that went by the name of Man on Wire. I had first heard of this spectacle in 2008 upon cinematic release but for whatever reason, and despite being a major film buff I missed my chance to catch it at my local. Since that time I have always kept an eye out for it in stores around the traps, hoping to turn it up for a reasonable price on DVD.
My luck ran true in Leeds a few weeks ago. And for the princely sum of £2!
So what is Man on Wire about you ask? Well, are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.
Man on Wire retells the story of a French tightrope walker, Philippe Petit, who had a reputation for climbing the highest landmarks around the world in the 1960’s and 1970’s only to walk between buildings on a tightrope, sometimes hundreds of meters above land and always with no protection. Early in the piece you learn of his walks between Notre Dame in Paris and the Sydney harbour bridge. Petit was arrested many times yet never deterred from his continued antics.
The months leading up to the event are packed with twists and turns as Petit, along with his small entourage set about planning and executing one the most dangerous stunts ever committed by man. There are moments when the escapade appears doomed however, when faced with a brick wall Petit manages to find a way through and goes as far as getting fake ID cards to obtain regular access to the twin towers.
Producer Simon Chinn first discovered Philippe Petit in 2005 whilst recording a radio show with the performance artist. Following this meeting Chinn decided to pursue Petit for the rights to his best selling book, “To Reach The Clouds” and, after agreeing to allow Petit to have an active hand in production the documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008.
What you discover as Philippe’s journey unfolds is that he is a master of rebellion. A man who lives for tomorrow and holds no fear in living his life on the outer. Coupled with a beautiful soundtrack, Man on Wire will leave you desperately wanting to fall in love with New York, to explore the world around you, to take the risks you know you perhaps should not take and most of all, to live your life through adventure. After all is there any other way?