I’m just back from seeing Man On Wire and all I can say is “wow” but that wouldn’t make for a very interesting blog now would it?
Philippe Petit is one of those people for whom laws are obstacles to be overcome. These range from legal laws of the land to the laws of gravity. The documentary is framed in the style of a heist movie and this is definitely one where you root for the robbers while understanding the perplexed authorities who don’t quite know what to do with the team of rather non-malicious law breakers.
Firstly, if you’re allergic to extreme “Frenchiness”, you may come out in a rash. I found it hard to believe that Philippe Petit could speak perfect English throughout while maintaining an accent so comical that it probably would have been rejected from ‘Allo ‘Allo for over-egging the pudding. His girlfriend Annie Allix also provides able support in this area. James Marsh, the director, clearly plays up the campiness and it does add to the experience.
It might sound easy to blend together grainy stock footage with present day interviews but to do it with such wit & humour is quite the accomplishment. Marsh even manages to add suspense into the mix and is aided in this by a superb Michael Nyman score.
As a sometime climber, I could only marvel at the freakish athleticism of Petit as he did his tricks as well as his apparent fearlessness. The film gives some background into his “career” of high altitude jinks as well as the detailed planning required to pull off the grand finale. The “heist movie” format & the extreme campness all add to the experience. Go see it and marvel at one of the most unique films you’ll see all year.
See the trailer below if you wish but my advice is to save everything for seeing the movie itself on the big screen.