Review — Man on Wire

Posted: July 18, 2010 in Alex Miller, Film, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


[Reviewed by: Alex Miller]

James Marsh, 2008 / “Life should be lived on the edge.”

I had the chance to watch an amazing piece of film today. “Man on Wire” is, without a doubt, the most beautiful and inspiring documentary I have ever seen. In it Phillippe Petit, a Frenchman, does something truly American. He sets his sights on an impossible goal and doesn’t let anything stop him. It is amazing the amount of obstacles this man had to overcome to achieve a goal, which many may not even understand. Why would you want to go through all that trouble just to walk across a rope between two buildings? Why would you when, you may die trying to get across, if you do cross you’ll get arrested, and that’s all if you can even pull the whole thing off in the first place! That’s what I thought before I watched this film. But between those towers, doing “the impossible”, Phillippe taught us all a lesson. Sometimes, “why” just plain doesn’t matter.

The story is famous and was even turned into a popular children’s book and short animated film. This documentary uses archival footage, interviews, and reenactments to show how us they pulled off something akin to a bank robbery. Imagine getting all the equipment necessary, with all the people necessary, to the top of 2 of the most secure buildings in the world, without being noticed! Hell, robbing a bank doesn’t even sound that hard in comparison. Not to mention the easy part, walking across a rope between the two tallest buildings in the world with all the wind blowing and cops trying to get you down. It’s IMPOSSIBLE. I’ve watched the whole film and I still don’t see how they did it. The people who were there just break into tears recalling the moment. Even THEY don’t believe it happened. It truly is amazing what humans can do when they really throw everything they have at something. I’ve always thought the first rule of good storytelling is throw every obstacle you can at the protagonist and show how they overcome them. What makes this “story” so moving is that it was real.

One thing I found interesting was that he didn’t just go from being a “Wire Walker” in the street, to doing it on the WTC. He prepared for years, walking across many other famous buildings, making scale-models, and flying to New York from France about a dozen times just to scout out the building. All the while with this one ultimate goal in mind. Do the impossible. The WTC wasn’t even built yet and he was already planning it. Many of the people in the film say it was almost as if the buildings were built FOR this, and watching how beautiful it was to see him cross, it’s hard to disagree. If 9/11 showed some of the worst in people, “Man on Wire” showed some of the best.

I think this film is amazing but don’t just take my word for it! According to Rotten Tomatoes, this is the best film ever made in the history of cinema. With 145 reviews and not a single one of them negative, this is the best reviewed film ever. There are a handful of other films on the site with no negative reviews, but none of them have AS many positives as this one. It has also won just about every award a documentary can win including:

2008 Sundance Film Festival,
-Grand Jury Prize: World Cinema Documentary
-World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary

2009 BAFTA (British Academy Award)
-Best Film

2009 Independent Spirit Awards
-Best Documentary

2009 Academy Awards (Oscar)
-Best Documentary

So go watch it and let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. Jimmy says:

    I saw that movie last year…it was awesome! I think it’s available on watch instantly on netflix as well.

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