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Man on Wire


Winner of the 2009 Academy Award for best documentary, MAN ON WIRE is almost too exciting and extraordinary to be true.

The film tells the story of French wire walker artist Philippe Petit. Philippe grows from a low wire to a high wire, to a walk between the towers of the Notre Dame cathedral.

One day while sitting in a dentist office, he sees a picture of the soon to open World Trade Center towers in New York City and is struck with inspiration for his greatest challenge.

Petit decides that he MUST string a wire between the WTC towers, high above Manhattan.

Petit surrounds himself with an eccentric cast of accomplices, determined at all odds to perform the greatest art piece of his life.

Filmmaker James Marsh captures the entire event through interviews, recreations, animation and the liberal use of Petit's own films of the entire event.

By the time Petit is dancing high above the city for nearly an hour, you'll be shaking your head at his determination and passion.

This documentary became the inspiration for Robert Zemeckis' brilliant 2015 film THE WALK, in which he perfectly captured the seventies setting, the passion and the danger of Petit's quest.

It's interesting to see the documentary, which, compared to the film version, isn't afraid to portray Petit's arrogance in a more frank light. For instance, knowing that Petit spent the first few hours after his release from arrest after the walk bedding a stranger in her apartment, while his crew and girlfriend waited for him, offers a slightly different take on the man and his ego.

The documentary is suspenseful in itself, providing jaw dropping views of Petit on the wire that aren't as visually perfect and arresting as Zemeckis' flawless CGI recreation, but still pack an amazing punch.

There is no denying Petit's passion and artistry, nor this terrific documentary's skill in capturing what many called the artistic crime of the century.

We'll give it a fascinating A.

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