Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Man on Wire » User review

Man on Wire

Art House & International and Documentary movie directed by James Marsh

< read all 6 reviews

Ca veut dire rein, donc watch if you have nothing else to do

  • Dec 28, 2008
Pros: At a hundred minutes, at least 30 or so are good.

Cons: This is a crime more than anything else and is basically overlooked.

The Bottom Line: Maddening in its incompleteness.  I wouldn't recommend it in general, but if moments of extreme egotism are your thing, then you will enjoy.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

First off Man on Wire, the tale of Philippe Petit successfully spends almost an hour on a tight rope between the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center.  It would be called Man Fell From Wire if it were otherwise.  So this is a documentary not an obituary.  This is the documentary of a crime.

I watched it because I kind of wanted to get a bit of fright.  I have only a few minor phobias, but falling from a height is the most important (I have no problems being in lofty places, just am a bit blanched by the idea of falling from them).  I got more and less than what I expected.

Man on Wire is a framing narrative.  The main story is the way the half a dozen men were able to string over 200 feet of cable between the towers so that Philippe could perform his talent in August 1974 after the towers were at least finished on the outside.  Within this is a general biography of Mr. Petit and some of his other tricks.  These other tricks were the “more” that I got.  More on this in a moment.

I will not go into what is the real plot of the film which would give far too much away and is the reason for watching it in the first place, one would assume.

The documentary is a hundred minutes long.  It would be a dull tale if the only story involved his last great act.  The film also shows his walk between the two main towers of Notre Dame in Paris and two bridge supports over the Sidney Harbor Bridge.  I think the main reason I liked this footage is that there was essentially no back story and the events were filmed in motion (I’m a photographer so movement is not required, and skill understood; still it makes so little sense that Mr. Petit and his team would spend years planning this event and not think to bring a super 8 camera if nothing else).  The filmed tricks were treats instead of anti-climaxes.

The “less” I got was just how ticked off I got.  I wasn’t expecting to be hacked when I started it; I thought it would be a lark.  The story is one man’s obsession with committing a crime and those abetting same.  More than one person backs out because they determine it is too dangerous.  They were facing potential felonies if they succeeded and potential manslaughter charges if he fell.  Again, Man on Wire is not the documentary of a French street performer and consummate “wire-walker.” 

It seems petty, perhaps, but these sorts of ‘feats’ are intended to draw attention only.  Mr. Petit walked about half a mile, altogether, about a quarter of a mile above the pavement and survived to tell the tale.  Great.  He was arrested and asked why he did it.  “No reason.”  I suppose that “because I’m an egomaniac willing to risk my life and the liberty of others—volunteers though they may be—to do something no one will ever top” would be too solid an answer.  “No reason” is the same idiotic piece of reasoning that left out the moving camera footage.

Here is a man deciding to do something beyond comprehension if you get down to the brass.  Yet the only thing we have is a couple hundred (at most) photographs of the event.  I can say that at least the title isn’t a lie: it doesn’t say Man Moves on Wire.

The main reason I consider it a crime film as opposed to a triumph of human abilities or whatever is that, to this day—unless it was lost in the edits—Mr. Petit gives no reason for doing it.  He is all method and madness but the motive is lost.  The film gives silly detail after detail of the way the feat was put together, but what would be a major piece for me is left only to assumption.

I watched it a couple of days ago and have spent a bit of time playing with a very energetic and imaginative 4 year old (his world is made in his head, toys are props at best).  He put together this bit of Lego construction and brings it to me.  “What is it?”  “It’s nothing.”  I looked at him and just said “Je l’ fabriquais, ce n’est rein.”  I made/did it and it is nothing.


What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
More Man on Wire reviews
review by . February 26, 2010
Pros: beautiful interpretation by one man of life     Cons: none for me     The Bottom Line:   "Would I have walked between two towers,  Just like the man on wire,  Even though he had a chance of falling"  ~Vanders     Man on Wire is the documentary film directed by James Marsh and lightly taken from the book by Philippe Petit. It tells the story of his undying dedication to living his life to the …
review by . June 18, 2009
On August 7th 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire and illegally rigged between the New York's twin towers. After nearly an hour dancing on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released.     Sounds simple, right? It sounds like a pretty amazing accomplishment, maybe a little crazy, but probably not worth a full-length documentary. A fifteen minute news story, perhaps...but that's …
review by . March 23, 2009
James Marsh has created a documentary that pays homage to the early masters of the form and one that will stand on its own for generations to come.     It is the story of Phillipe Petit, a self-talk tightrope or wire walker, street performer, publicity hound and obsessive who captured the world's attention in 1976 when he, with the help of interesting band of confederates, walked a wire strung between the newly erected World Trade Center towers.     More than …
review by . December 07, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
When the charismatic and daring Frenchman Philipe Petit saw a drawing of the projected twin towers of the World Trade Center, he immediately knew. Even though they had yet to be built, he knew that someday he would have to cross them. This intense and exhilirating documentary aims to show us how and why. The how is easier to tell. Its effort to explore the why is what makes this documentary much more than merely exciting. We all need a reason to live, a passion to drive us. The greatest passions …
review by . November 11, 2008
I was lured into seeing this film by my teenage son, who is a circus acrobat by genetic conviction as surely as Philippe Petit was a high-wire walker and as I am a musician. I would never have entered the theater if I'd known what I'd be seeing. I have a pathologically empathetic response to films. When I was a little kid, I used to shout out warnings to Tweetie Bird when the cat got near. During fight scenes, my whole body twitches and my wife gets nervous for the safety of the unsuspecting head …
About the reviewer
Paul Savage ()
Ranked #57
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


Native New Yorkers know to expect the unexpected, but who among them could've predicted that a man would stroll between the towers of the World Trade Center? French high-wire walker Philippe Petit did just that on August 7th, 1974. Petit’s success may come as a foregone conclusion, but British filmmaker James Marsh’s pulse-pounding documentary still plays more like a thriller than a non-fiction entry--in fact, it puts most thrillers to shame. Marsh (Wisconsin Death Trip,The King) starts by looking at Petit's previous stunts. First, he took on Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral, then Sydney's Harbour Bridge before honing in on the not-yet-completed WTC. The planning took years, and the prescient Petit filmed his meetings with accomplices in France and America. Marsh smoothly integrates this material with stylized re-enactments and new interviews in which participants emerge from the shadows as if to reveal deep, dark secrets which, in a way, they do, since Petit's plan was illegal, "but not wicked or mean." The director documents every step they took to circumvent security, protocol, and physics as if re-creating a classic Jules Dassin or Jean-Pierre Melville caper. Though still photographs capture the feat rather than video, the resulting images will surely blow as many minds now as they did in the 1970s when splashed all over the media. Not only did Petit walk, he danced and even lay down on the cable strung between the skyscrapers. Based ...
view wiki


Director: James Marsh
Genre: Foreign
DVD Release Date: December 9, 2008
Runtime: 94 minutes
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
First to Review
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since