Man on Wire is another documentary I have inexplicably just avoided. I blame the year it came out, 2008. Right now I am only watching things from 2010 and on! A five year window is very important for my website to feel modern and fresh. If you ever google recommended good documentaries, Man on Wire will be a relatively recent one always recommended, along with Grizzly Man.
Needless to say, it has almost always been on Netflix as well. A very easy documentary to get access to. There is also the ticking clock element here, with The Walk coming out in a couple weeks. You know, the movie version of this same old story that was probably only made because of how allegedly good the documentary was. I have to watch this, because a film based on a film is totally something I should do as a reviewer. Nothing like reading a book before the movie. And that is why I chose Man on Wire for my 4th day of Fucking Finally week.
The documentary is about Philippe Petit, an eccentric French man, who is really confident in his balance.
And he had dreams. He had dreams of showing the world how good he could balance. He was just a guy who had a type rope and would walk it in the park, getting better over time. But he wanted to reach for the stars. He wanted to tight rope walk on national land marks.
Kind of like my own goal to take a poop in every National park in America. It is just something that can drive someone to do weird things.
Hey look. A dude on a string!
How weird? Well, homeboy went and tight roped on top of the Notre Dame chapel thing. Kind of cool. But not that impressive. Then he went to Australia and did it on top of the Sydney Opera House. Boring. Gravity works differently in Australia because they are all upside down. We all know that.
Those things were all for the kids though. His real life long goal was the Twin Towers in NYC. He knew it when he first saw a picture of them in a magazine before they were finishing being built. That would be his greatest life moment. One day.
So he did it! Before they were even finished. With many months of planning, sneaking, with a group of friends and acquaintances to help him pull of the best art crime of the century. Man on Wire is his story, told by him and his friends (yes, still alive!), through reenactments and real footage.
And despite knowing the outcome (success, good job!), it is still somehow unbelievably tense. The music department does a fantastic job, along with the reenactments of keeping away from the guards in their many trips to make their plan work.
But the reason this documentary works is Philippe Petit himself. This man has a huge ego and is clearly in love with himself. But he is also giddy and excited in the telling of his own story (I would be too if it made me world famous and helped me not have to really work much again). His enthusiasm is contagious. He doesn’t even sit still for the interview, getting up several times to make a point more clear by acting things out.
Petit is the kind of guy you invite to a party, assuming you don’t care if it becomes all about him.
Petit is the kind of guy who can make a really good sandwich, and will share it with you, but only one type of sandwich.
Petit is the reason this documentary is so well loved and a fantastic thing to view and listen to. I hope Joseph Gordon-Levitt can pull him off!
4 out of 4.