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Capone loves the World Trade Center daredevil documentary MAN ON WIRE!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here with a brief word about a great new film that is slowly making its way through art houses around the country. Structured like a great thriller, this documentary from director James Marsh (THE KING; WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP) is an thoroughly entertaining account of a French high-wire walker named Philippe Petit who made a name for himself making illegal walks across the tops of the world's most famous buildings, including Notre Dame Cathedral, getting arrested and rarely paying any kind of serious price for his actions. In August 1974, Petit and a small crew of co-conspirators planned a walk between the barely finished towers of the World Trade Center. The plan was both highly elaborate and 100 percent reckless, and it's fascinating to see how Petit and his multi-national crew came up with a plan, attempted to think of every possible problem and then rehearsed the mission like as if it were a military operation. Director Marsh doesn't just tell us about the day of the event itself. He wisely creates a profile of Petit, who clearly has an ego the size of the buildings he is conquering. Fortunately for us, he documented (with home movies and photos) every step of the process, going back six and a half years before the stunt, when he first read about the plans to build the towers and knew he would be walking between them. The members of his team are also interviewed, and its revealed that some members were more reliable than others, some thought the feat was impossible and some just followed Petit like a cult leader. False documents, hiding from security guards and dumb luck all contributed to putting Petit on the roof of one of the towers, and we discover the complicated process of getting all of the gear to the roof, stringing a cable between the two buildings in a way that would minimize sway and flexural tension and making the walk in as safe a way as possible. We can't forget that even the slightest wind made the buildings sway a bit as well, and that had to be accounted for as well. Much of the film is done using recreations of the actual sneaking into the World Trade Center, but that never really takes away from the enjoyment of MAN ON WIRE, since there is an abundance of genuine footage from the time as well. My favorite scenes involve the self-proclaimed (with a hand-made sign) "World Trade Center Association," which was actually located in the French countryside, where Petit and his team marked off the exact dimensions of the two towers and where he practiced incessantly his perilous walk. The concentration on his face when he's walking the wire is mesmerizing, and he doesn't just walk; he kneels, lays down on the wire and performs other panic-inducing tricks. The plotting documented in MAN ON WIRE is like that of a bank robbery or some terrorist event. The fact that it's for an artistic expression almost makes you forget the location of the stunt. No one in the film ever mentions the fate of the towers some 27 years later, and there's really no reason to do so. What the film and Petit make clear is that these Twin Towers were not built to be occupied by businesses; they were meant to be conquered by one man with a balancing pole walking across a wire some 1,350 feet in the air. This is a fun and exciting viewing experience, with just enough bizarre characters in it to make it entertaining as well. Seek this one out, folks. -- Capone capone@aintitcoolmail.com



Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:56 a.m. CST

    That dude is CRAZY!!!

    by frongbak

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Wow First first?

    by Sirmausalot

    Can't wait to see it

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:59 a.m. CST

    Even the Poster

    by frongbak

    Gives me vertigo, Petit was/is a madman.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:59 a.m. CST

    If a documentary on Donkey Kong can work...

    by Heckles

    Could a movie of this seemingly lame ass subject be entertaining? Nah, I didn't think so either.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 11:08 a.m. CST

    My blood pressure rises every time...

    by Karl Hungus

    ...I read about this feat. I mean, think about it. Picture yourself making that walk, that high up, the slightest gust of wind possibly sending you plummeting to Jellyville. I gasp with anxiety at the mere thought of it.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Jew Hunter Hunter

    by frongbak

    Ya know it's funny that Jew Hunter is obsessed with black cock, after his tirade against Danny Glover and his family I think it is clear that he is suffering from blackcockphobia. He is so unhappy with the width and girth of his own "manhood" that it has manifested into a deep hatred with racist tendencies. You know there are pills you can take. They advertise for them quite frequently on late night television and they may be able to help you with your issue. Maybe you won't be so angry at the rest of us. Seek medical assistance for you pathetic penile problems, and perhaps you'll be able to join us in the 21st Century.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 11:38 a.m. CST

    Karl Hungus

    by Mosquito March

    Same here. I actually get physical pain in my extremities thinking about looking down from a wire at that height. I remember what it was like looking out the window at the 107th floor observation area and imagining there was no glass. That the window glass extended below the platform gave the impression that there was nothing at all between you and the void. I can only imagine what it would have been like to pull off what this guy did.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 11:42 a.m. CST

    BIG DEAL?

    by frongbak

    Uhh yeah, it is a big deal. Who cares about Petit's personality flaws, the guy did something incredible, that no one else will ever accomplish. How many people can say that? You, Mr. Yobo?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 11:43 a.m. CST

    WATCHMEN TRAILER ONLINE!!!Who`s watching??

    by Snikkar124

    http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/watchmen/high.html

  • Aug. 8, 2008, noon CST

    uh... everyone

    by mefrog

    because it's been out for three weeks

  • Aug. 8, 2008, noon CST

    also, this looks great

    by mefrog

    as soon as it gets here, I'm seeing it

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:57 p.m. CST

    by snappy

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Big brass ones

    by snappy

    Petit might be a complete asshole but I can't imagine many of the talkbackers dissing him on this thread would have the cohones to do what he did - just for the hell of it.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:14 p.m. CST

    Here in DC

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Looks like a nice Saturday matinee'

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST

    I have to admire this guy.

    by nyj_et

    In Ric Burns' documentary "Center of the World", he spends about 20 minutes on Petit and his tightrope walk. It is the single historical event that made WTC more than just a couple of buildings. It's one of those great moments in history and the world itself is a little richer just because it happened.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:05 p.m. CST

    MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE! MAN ON WIRE!

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 2:50 p.m. CST

    TOO SOON

    by chrth

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 4:29 p.m. CST

    i love the tune at he middle of the trailer..

    by Mr_X

    it's by x ray dog and the track is called ascension. looks like a really interesting movie/feat. the man has brass balls. ( which helps him keep his balance no doubt)

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 9:14 p.m. CST

    Interesting Perspective

    by The Cosh

    This has been on general release in the UK for a couple of weeks and the focus of most reviews has been the mesmeric presence and self-assurance of Petit.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 1:32 p.m. CST

    What if he had dropped his balance pole...

    by TheBoManKicksAssAndTakesBlame

    It would have impaled some unlucky New Yorker on the street below. Not that that's a bad thing...

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Just saw this last night...

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    ...and it is magnificent. Thank goodness there is a photo-record of this unbelievable event - something that not only proves it actually happened but also provides a much more beautiful memory of man and the WTC than the nightmare we were left with after 9/11.<P>Bravo.

  • Aug. 10, 2008, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Mysterious Yobo

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    FAIL.