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Man on Wire (2008)

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A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".

Director:

James Marsh

Writer:

Philippe Petit (based on the book "To Reach the Clouds" by)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 45 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Philippe Petit ... Himself
Jean François Heckel ... Himself (as Jean-François Heckel)
Jean-Louis Blondeau ... Himself
Annie Allix ... Herself
David Forman ... Himself
Alan Welner ... Himself
Mark Lewis ... Himself
Barry Greenhouse ... Himself (as N. Barry Greenhouse)
Jim Moore ... Himself
Guy F. Tozzoli Guy F. Tozzoli ... Himself (as Guy Tozzoli)
Paul McGill ... Philippe - Drama Reconstructions
David Demato David Demato ... Jean-Louis - Drama Reconstructions
Ardis Campbell Ardis Campbell ... Annie - Drama Reconstructions
Aaron Haskell Aaron Haskell ... Jean-François - Drama Reconstructions
Shawn Dempewolff-Barrett Shawn Dempewolff-Barrett ... David - Drama Reconstructions (as Shawn Dempewolff)
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Storyline

On August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit, a French wire walker, juggler, and street performer days shy of his 25th birthday, spent 45 minutes walking, dancing, kneeling, and lying on a wire he and friends strung between the rooftops of the Twin Towers. Uses contemporary interviews, archival footage, and recreations to tell the story of his previous walks between towers of Notre Dame and of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, his passions and friendships, and the details of the night before the walk: getting cable into the towers, hiding from guards, and mounting the wire. It ends with observations of the profound changes the walk's success brought to Philippe and those closest to him. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

1974. 1350 feet up. The artistic crime of the century.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and nudity, and drug references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

29 August 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Man on Wire - Der Drahtseilakt See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$51,392, 27 July 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,957,978, 1 March 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color | Black and White (some scenes)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The helicopter reporter heard describing the tightwire walk (at 1:20:50 on the DVD) is Neil Bush, traffic helicopter pilot/reporter for WCBS NewsRadio88. See more »

Goofs

In the reenaction of Philippe Petit and his friend hiding from the night watchman at the WTC, a box on the floor has a present-day USPS logo. See more »

Quotes

Alan Welner: The fact that I could not speak French, and didn't know what the sound was or what had happened with the wire... was probably just as well.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Docventures: Sankaruus (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Albatross
Written by Peter Green
Performed by Fleetwood Mac
(P) 1968 Blue Horizon Records under exclusive license to SONY BMG Music Entertainment (UK) Limited
Courtesy of SONY BMG Commercial Markets
Published by Crosstown DowntownSongs(BMI)
See more »

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User Reviews

The triumph of will as genius
19 December 2008 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

"Genius is a transcendent capacity for taking trouble first of all" Frederick the great by Thomas Carlyle

"Genius: the mental endowment peculiar to an individual; that disposition or aptitude of mind which qualifies a person for a certain kind of action or special success in a given pursuit." Webster's International Dictionary

This is Phillip Petit, the 25 year old who in August of 1974 walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the WTC. Yet what is that which makes a documentary on such a fantastic, quixotic accomplishment relevant to us mortals? Is it not the same kind of awe the passers by experienced when they saw that morning a tiny figure suspended above the void, the same kind of marvel the people interviewed experienced again when they described Petit's walking on air some thirty years later? What is Petit's accomplishment if not a profound religious experience, a form of divinity in itself? And it is exactly because Petit's action bears no explanation, it has no rationale behind its daring do, no tangible end by which to hold it and examine it in the light of logic. The action in the same time the reason of it. What did Petit accomplish but a monument of human perseverance, enduring will and the triumph of mind over matter?

If MAN ON WIRE is so successful at what it does, it's not only because of the feat it purports to describe but because of the path it takes in describing it. Staging it as a heist thriller, filmed in black and white in shades of noir, orchestrated like a bank robbery of sorts, the same kind of films Petit laboriously studied as he was preparing his takeover. By presenting us with real people who emote better than a lot of actors could even dream of. By placing Phillip Petit pivotal in the narration of the events unfolding, a passionate man with an almost half-mad gleam in his eye but also a love of life that leaps across the screen as utterly genuine. By adopting the skeleton of a real movie - not a sterile "went there, did that" documentary but one with a premise, plot, setup and payoff, climax and conclusion.

Filmed with true cinematographic flair, in turns suspenseful, faith-reaffirming and awe-inspiring, MAN ON WIRE is the unexpected show-stealer of the year, sneaking under the nose of Hollywood behemoths with 50 times its budget and doing what they're too sluggish to do, too dazzled by their own spectacle. A simple story beautifully told.


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