Man on Wire (2008)

An extraordinary documentary, constructed like a thriller, about a daring and illegal tightrope walk between the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.

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“A work of art is its own explanation, and ‘Man on Wire’ leaves no doubt that Mr. Petit’s coup deserves to be called art.”
A.O. Scott, The New York Times, 2008

As a documentary-maker, James Marsh has always specialised in finding peculiar subjects and making them even more peculiar through heightened technique. In Man on Wire he found a story that needed few frills, as it already more or less fit the template of a thrilling caper movie. In 1974, the French acrobat Philippe Petit, with the help of a handful of accomplices, gained access to the roof of the new World Trade Center building and walked a tightrope between the twin towers.

Built around interviews with those involved, skilfully recreated scenes and archive footage, the resulting film is not only the compelling story of a breathtakingly audacious stunt, but a moving account of the pursuit of the sublime, and the personal cost of Petit’s unique obsession.

Marsh’s documentaries include The Burger and the King (1996), about Elvis’s diet, and Project Nim (2011). Petit’s walk is the subject of the forthcoming feature Let the Great World Spin.

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