by Howard Feinstein (July 21, 2008)
[Editor’s Note: Magnolia Pictures opens the film in limited release beginning Friday, July 25 in New York with a larger roll out in select cities August 8.] “Man on Wire” is the perfect example of matching doc director to doc subject. French tightrope walker and juggler Philippe Petit became world-famous when he walked between the two World Trade Center towers, then under construction, on August 7, 1974 — a completely illegal if fantastic act that involved complex preparation and shook up New York City’s police department. (He had to cross back and forth several times to avoid the cops.) Petit had already achieved artistic notoriety for his feats at famous sites like Notre Dame in Paris, but to traverse the air space between what were then the world’s two tallest buildings? It’s not only his unbeatable skill, though, that makes Petit an ideal subject for a doc: He is a ball of fire, a fascinating egomaniac who engages you completely with his energy and confidence. Petit has written several books, including To Reach the Clouds, which recounts the feat in downtown Manhattan.
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